As we’re just one week away from The Good Wife‘s fifth-season finale, this is where you’d expect hints to start appearing and pieces to begin falling into place. That’s exactly what happens in “The One Percent,” which handily dispatches a case of the week while playing out various scenes meant to ramp up the underlying tensions before we get to the finish line.
One of Alicia’s clients, Fortune 500 CEO James Paisley (Tom Skerritt, Leverage) gets pied in the face, then opens his mouth and threatens a very pricey merger (is there any other kind?). It’s then a struggle for Alicia and Cary to deal with the stubborn Paisley and try to find a jury that won’t hang him at trial. It’s a case that does what it’s here for: give our main characters lawyering to do through forty-two minutes while their bigger problems start to rear their heads. And there are several of them.
Most of the trouble comes on political manuevering front. Eli reveals the final report on the Jeffrey Grant shooting, which clears Finn of any responsibility and blames the State’s Attorney instead. However, lest you think it’s all good news, he then runs down a list of skeletons in our hero’s closet: his sister’s overdose, his wife’s miscarriage, his subsequent divorce. Then Finn’s opponent and ex-BFF James Castro (Michael Cerveris), not done being a massive kiss-ass, shows up at Peter’s office with a picture of Finn leaving Alicia’s apartment building and tries to spin it six ways to Sunday. Peter responds to this by throwing water in his face (which hasn’t been so awesome since Dana Scully did it on The X-Files), so you’d think that means he recognizes it as a ploy.
But he doesn’t, because the truth about Peter and Alicia’s relationship status finally comes out when Eli finds Peter blatantly flirting with the most obvious giggly intern in the history of television. The moment is so on the nose it borders on parody. Eli doesn’t take this well again (really, whenever this show ends, there should just be a spinoff of Alan Cumming snarking at people). In a surprisingly touching scene, Alicia confirms the death of her marriage to Eli. Good to get that out in the open so that we can enjoy the fallout in next week’s finale. Especially with that last scene, which implies that Peter might still be tempted by frisky interns.
And there are plenty of guest stars to keep the party lively. Alicia’s opponent this week is none other than Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox), who also continues to complicate matters for Diane. Rayna Hecht (Jill Hennessy) is back, too, after her first appearance in “A Few Words”, although she’s just here for two scenes, for us to find out that her partnership with Elsbeth Tascioni has fallen apart and to question Diane’s fitness as a managing partner. The Good Wife has a remarkably deep guest talent pool – what happens when you’re the best series on network television – and much like on the original Law & Order, it creates a nice sense of continuity and world-building when you know characters can do more than just pop up for one-off visits. (Although we’re bummed that Rayna and Elsbeth didn’t get along, because we would’ve been all for more guest appearances by Carrie Preston.)
We now know all the plotlines we’re probably going to see next Sunday. There will be the future of Lockhart/Gardner (or Lockhart Gardner Canning, as it stands now), likely tied into the future of Florrick/Agos. Diane being Diane and re-proving herself to the firm. Finn’s battle against Castro for the State’s Attorney’s position. The ultimate demise (or maybe not?) of Alicia and Peter’s marriage, or at least everyone else catching on to the fact that it’s dead. Hopefully more of Cary, who deserves to be more than just Alicia’s sidekick. And we’re going to guess at least one more Eli Gold mini-meltdown.
It’s all been built up to so well that there’s enough drama here without needing the usual hype or stunts that most TV shows use in season finales. And it’s all pointing toward a major face lift for The Good Wife in Season 6, which is a prime time to do it – this show isn’t flagging one bit, but after a few seasons is when viewers tend to start looking for something new. Next week, it looks like they’re definitely going to get it.
The Good Wife fifth-season finale airs next Sunday at 9 PM ET/PT on CBS.