The Good Wife, Season 5, Episode 1: “Everything is Ending”
Written By Robert King and Michelle King
Directed By Robert King
Airs Sundays at 9pm (ET) on CBS
Every season of The Good Wife begins with a resounding reminder of just how great this show is and how much television has missed it over the course of the summer. The Good Wife is a whip smart, lightning quick legal procedural with dramatic heft and a sense of humor. It has also developed serialized elements over the course of its run that put it on par with the best of what television has to offer. Few shows are as great at building out their world with recurring characters and developing plotlines and at its best, The Good Wife has enough on the stove that something is always sizzling.
As much as “Everything is Ending” is about the way things are preparing to come apart at the seams for our characters, it’s a jubilant reminder of just how great things are when they’re working well for the show. The show stands on the precipice of completely remaking itself. Peter is now the Governor of Illinois. Diane is now a potential nominee for a seat on the State Supreme Court. Alicia is planning to leave with Carrie and the other fourth years to start her own firm. Will is about to lose much of what he loves and is oblivious to the storm he’s about to weather. There’s plenty going on this season on The Good Wife before the first frame even hits our retinas. “Everything Is Ending” teases out each of these threads a bit (though Diane’s judicial nomination is left on the sidelines for now), but also has a crackling good case of the week at its center that manages to be a lot of fun even as it carries huge dramatic weight.
Eddie (Malik Yoba) is a death row inmate facing execution while proclaiming his innocence, and Lockhart Gardner is handling the appeal. The season opens with an attempted execution, but difficulty finding a vein allows Diane to make an Eighth Amendment objection that buys the firm just a little bit of time. The rest of the episode follows the many threads the firm chases to keep Eddie from execution, as Kalinda and Robin try to find new evidence while Will and Alicia join a class action suit in a blatant attempt to buy more time. This is the sort of case Alicia can’t hope to get in her early years out on her own and it lets her see all the people she’s about to leave behind in their prime. Will and Diane are passionate advocates for a pro bono client, Kalinda is a whiz bang investigator, and with the resources of an established entity behind them, they manage to move mountains and save a man’s life. Throw in an excellent turn by Jeffrey Tambor (who gets to show off both his comedic and dramatic chops) as the judge of the week, and its also a canny reminder of just how good this show is when it is on its game.
Ultimately, “Everything Is Ending” seems to be an episode about Alicia reconsidering her decision even as it reaffirms why The Good Wife is one of the few series on television that could actually pull off a shake-up this big (one of the only others is Mad Men, which has basically done this several times before). This is a show that excels at juggling multiple plotlines across several genres and settings, and so long as it doesn’t return to the mid-‘90s psychosexual thriller it was attempting to pull off in Kalinda’s plotline last season, there’s no doubt the show could keep pace with both Lockhart Gardner and Florrick Agos should this separation end up happening.
Over on Peter’s side of things, Melissa George appears as a beautiful blonde ethics advisor who reminds Peter of his personal weaknesses a bit too readily. Eli advises having her moved because of “optics” early in the episode and Peter blows him off, but its clear to the observant viewer Eli was never overly concerned about a pretty blonde being photographed near the new governor. He was concerned about a pretty blonde being near Peter, and by episode’s end, Peter has come to the same conclusion. The fact that this blonde is played by Melissa George, and the fact that The Good Wife rarely lets a character out of its orbit for too long, implies that we haven’t seen the last of her. Hopefully this is going to more interesting places than it appears at this venture. Exploring Peter Florick as a flawed man trying to make good is fertile ground for this show. Yet we could potentially be back in bad soap opera territory on this front and quickly (and this show is so much better when it’s a good soap opera), so fingers crossed this doesn’t explode like Kalinda’s storyline last season.
“Everything Is Ending” is a reminder of all of the things this show does well. It is smart, funny, quickly paced, and dramatically resonant. It pushes forward a variety of plotlines while delivering a solid done-in-one. And it promises great things to come in a season that could rebound from the uneven fourth. For our characters, it seems a lot of things are about to end, but for The Good Wife, this may just be a beautiful new beginning.
-“Thanks, Monica. Good point.”
-“Eli, I said death row appeal. Did you hear me?” “Oh. I thought that was hyperbole.”
-Will and Alicia still won’t get on an elevator alone together.
-“That was a great point, your honor.” “It wasn’t a point, Mr. Sheck. I just wanted you to finish.” “Well let me address that point, your honor. But before I do…” Jeffrey Tambor!
-“You know, it doesn’t please the court. Not very much pleases the court these days…”
-Visceral reaction of horror to what was done to Eddie
-“What’s going on? West Side Story?”
-“Alicia, you and I are the new Will and Diane.”
-“Don’t end up hating me.”