The Good Wife, Season 6, Episode 17: “Undisclosed Recipients”
Written by Leonard Dick
Directed by James Whitmore, Jr.
Airs Sundays at 9pm ET on CBS
Remember Eli Gold? Oh, sure, Alan Cumming has been one of the few series-long mainstays not named Alicia on The Good Wife, but Eli has been so one-note for so long that he’s become very easy to take for granted. One of the things that makes “Undisclosed Recipients” one of the most enjoyable episodes of this season’s spotty back half is that it reminds us what made him such an entertaining character in the first place: his sheer, hateful disdain for people who behave incorrectly. After Alicia (drunk with power!) opens the episode by pissing off some of her biggest contributors and key associates (Lemond Bishop, Ed Asner’s Guy Redmayne, and outgoing S.A. Castro), Eli tells her what’s what. The trick, he says, is to never tell people like them “no” – at least, not outright. “Absence of yes times time equals no!” is the new credo.
In truth, “Undisclosed Recipients” is a scattered affair. The legal plot of the week is as tossed-off as those generally have been this season, a piracy/intellectual property case complete with a very thinly-veiled version of piracy haven The Pirate Bay – honestly, if The Good Wife had actually used The Pirate Bay instead, what could they do, sue? – with a whimper of a conclusion. (The easy highlight of the legal scenes has to be the opposing counsel’s pointed question to Alicia: “Do you watch a lot of porn, mademoiselle?”) The case is really just an excuse for a mass email hacking of the entire Florrick-Agos email network, which makes the episode accidentally timely thanks to its proximity to certain Clinton-related current events. (That’s much, much better than the version of “timely” we got in “The Debate.”) The hack turns legal brother against brother, with literal fisticuffs arising once everyone reads the trash-talk everyone’s been dishing out in secret. Alicia is spared because the timespan of the leak coincides with her campaign period, but the threat of a second, more inclusive leak looms large.
Watching the feuds break out is all well and good (and we can be glad that the series still remembers David Lee’s Gilbert and Sullivan costumes), but the antics bury the lede somewhat. Alicia is now effectively the enemy, and “Undisclosed Recipients” begins the process of drawing those battle lines. If it weren’t for the tender Cary-Alicia scene in which they agree to not read any emails about each other that they may have written in anger, this would feel akin to a bloody coup, with the heads of Florrick-Agos (including Julius, whom we haven’t seen for ages) trying to determine how best to handle Alicia’s exit package without compromising their status. That the episode’s negotiations end with Alicia making a barely-concealed threat to undercut future cases probably isn’t a great sign for the future of Alicia’s moral direction.
Reasons to be more optimistic remain in the form of Marissa Gold and the ever-reliable Finn Polmar. Marissa seems to have promoted herself to the position of Executive Assistant and, frankly, I’ll be surprised if Sarah Steele doesn’t get promoted to series regular status next season. Marissa has been a godsend for this draggy back half, and continues to be a total delight every week, even if she doesn’t know how to make the Guy Redmayne scenes any more bearable. (Ed Asner continues to be just a bit much, though he’s not quite as dialed-up-to-11 as last time.) As for the inestimable Mr. Polmar, he finally seems to bristle a bit in Alicia’s presence, and it seems unlikely that he’ll be taking that job as her second. That leaves either a third-stringer like Geneva Pine or a new character, and frankly, The Good Wife really needs fewer characters at this point, not more. Frankly, the quicker the series settles all this and gets Alicia in that new chair of hers, the better off we’ll all be.
So Elfman really is gone, huh? Must be shacked up with the Missing PI, Robin, somewhere.
Despite the fact that Kalinda’s been tasked with representing Bishop’s interests with respect to Alicia, they still don’t get a scene together. Only five more chances!
“Just hot. And gassy. You eat a lot of falafel.” Marissa: probably not heading for the Israeli tourism board anytime soon. (Also, more Marissa interacting with the Florrick kids, please.)
“Thank you for your advice, Eli. All options are open to me, and I plan to decide in 48 hours.”