With Will Gardner’s death addressed and Finn Polmar officially added to the team, The Good Wife is picking up where Season 5 left off before its crushing revelation, with legal wrangling and personal complications. “A Material World” is not the show’s most perfectly put together episode, but this one will definitely leave you wondering.
The episode opens with Diane and Alicia having drinks after Will’s funeral. Soon, they’re more than slightly inebriated and riffing on not only the ceremony, but their professional futures. Diane suggests that the two firms merge and become one again, which is just a little bit more hilarious since they’re on opposite sides of a difficult divorce case. If only Damian Boyle (a returning Jason O’Mara) wasn’t eavesdropping on that bar conversation and blabbing about it.
David promptly blows up a proposed settlement with a damning video and sends the case back to court. And just when a judge is about to rule, he whips out a motion for full custody of the couple’s child. Alicia becomes angry with Diane for David’s underhanded tactics, saying it’s “always nice to see how Lockhart/Gardner works.” The conflict between the two firms resumes in earnest.
And David isn’t stopping there. Kalinda soon tells Diane that David and Damian are trying to unseat her as managing partner, seeing her as “unprotected” in the absence of Will. Not that Kalinda is exempt from the drama, as she’s willing to cheat on new boyfriend Cary with ex-girlfriend Jenna (Jordana Spiro) to take down Damian (not entirely surprising since Jason O’Mara just had a pilot greenlit to series). Yeowch. David retaliates by calling up Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) and proposing a merger to him.
The Jeffrey Grant case still has its thorns, too, as Jeffrey’s father wants Florrick/Agos to sue the State’s Attorney for malicious prosecution and thus, the State’s Attorney is looking to scapegoat Finn. “You take this case, I quit the firm,” Alicia decisively tells Cary, before tracking down Finn, who doesn’t think the State’s Attorney will come after him since he’s known the guy since law school and was best man at his wedding. Well, Alicia can testify to how knowing somebody since law school doesn’t mean you really know them.
Finn soon finds that out the hard way, and after Alicia leaves him hanging, he finds her at home in the throes of a minor freakout or potential midlife crisis. Now he’s the one that’s offering help to her – and she might need that, because then Peter’s confronting Alicia over her behavior in the wake of Will’s death; he thinks she’s grieving too much. “We’re all that we have,” he tells her, but Alicia disagrees. She decides that while she won’t actually divorce him because of their mutual professional needs, their marriage is over.
We can call “A Material World” Matthew Goode’s official first episode as a series regular on The Good Wife, since now his biography is up on the cast page of the show’s official website, and he’s got a gallery headshot like all the other main cast members. Although we’re still only seeing a handful of scenes with him, he’s displaying the chops to fit into this talented ensemble. We’ve already been teased with a few facts about Finn’s backstory – that he had a friendship with Will, that he’s married and that his wife once lost a child – that are a solid start to developing him into a character we want to know more about.
The question will be how he makes the jump from the State’s Attorney’s Office to private practice, and when he does, if it will be with Lockhart/Gardner, Florrick/Agos, or a reunited single firm. The latter would seem to be the option that makes the most sense from a storyline standpoint, but all signs so far seem to indicate that the separate law firms concept will hang around for at least the rest of Season 5. At least now there’s another conflict in play than just the repeated clashes between the two firms.
Our bigger curiosity, though, is whether or not the show is serious about having Alicia permanently move on from Peter. After all, she moved on once before when she started having an affair with Will, but then she ended up back with him. And, as she points out, they professionally need each other. So is this just an inebriated, emotional decision she’ll renege on? Or is she really determined to be effectively rid of him? And if that’s true, what does that mean for Chris Noth’s role in Season 6? And how interesting would it be to have an Alicia that doesn’t have a romantic entanglement with anybody? That could be a brave way to head next season.
This isn’t the cleanest or most organized of episodes, but in all the chaos, there are an intriguing number of possibilities. As we head toward a season finale that we already know – by virtue of the loss of Will Gardner and Josh Charles – will be setting up a markedly different series next season, we’re looking at plenty of ways it all could go, and they all have merit. Broadcast TV’s best drama series might just be taking things in a bold new direction.
The Good Wife continues Season 5 next Sunday at 9 PM ET/PT on CBS.