The Good Wife "Undisclosed Recipients" Review: Advanced Persistent Threats

Noel Kirkpatrick

The Good Wife S06E17: "Undisclosed Recipients"

Naturally, I happened to be on vacation the week that Alicia won the election (boo!) and played Halo with Marissa and Finn (yay!); Diane went hunting with Republicans (yay!); Bishop decided he wanted out of the drug game and that's why he wanted Alicia in the State's Attorney's office (interesting!); Finn revealed he was seeing someone (yay?); and Johnny departed rather than pursue something with Alicia (boo?). I was staying in a cabin near a lake that didn't have cell reception, internet access, or a TV when that episode aired. (It was pretty great!)

"Undisclosed Recipients" welcomed me back with Alicia doing what people who were just elected to office aren't supposed to do, in tandem with the The Good Wife staging its own rendition of what probably happened at Sony following the company's recent hacking debacle. The show also seemed to be setting up a probable riff on the recent Hillary Clinton email scandal with Alicia using her campaign email more than her Florrick/Agos/Lockhart email. (We were also treated to a steamy Will email that I took the time to transcribe for you all, below.)

The challenge I ran up against in "Undisclosed Recipients" was that, while much of the hour was sort of fun and generally well-executed, none of it was particularly compelling. In fact, "generally well-executed but not particularly compelling" may end up being Season 6's epitaph, depending on what the remaining five episodes have in store. Part of the reason I feel this way is that I ended up souring on the election storyline—when Alicia won last week, causing me to let out a groan of despair. But the other part is that Season 6 has struggled to build a solid foundation upon which big plot events can occur.

Of the storylines that swirled about in "Undisclosed Recipients," the negotiations surrounding Alicia's exit package were the least important in terms of the overall episode, but also the clearest sign of this season's structural issues. Her presence at the firm has been non-existent for weeks now, and while she may very well be doing all she can to retain her clients at what is soon to be Agos/Lockhart/[Lee and/or Cain], the dismissive attitudes we saw from Cary, Diane, David Lee, and Julius Cain should've been expected. They also needed a lot more screen time to actually develop, as opposed to simply being voiced a bit more routinely. Alicia's campaign and her absence from the firm she founded just never seemed to matter all that much, only becoming an issue when The Good Wife decided it should be one.

That's basically what happened here. In an episode where a ton of animosity was coming to the forefront due to the hacked emails—a result of the firm's case against a torrenting site and its founder's subtle rallying cry for an advanced persistent threat from hackers—the professional breakdown of a team made for a nice parallel, but it was a hollow one without the sense that anyone really cared that it was happening. Alicia may be tired this part of her life, and she might've run for State's Attorney for any number of reasons (even though her ego was mostly what was driving her by the end), but no one else seemed all that frustrated that Alicia was leaving the firm in her dust.

Provided Alicia survives the upcoming episodes to make it into office, this particular thread does set up the notion of Alicia and her former colleagues taking on a sort of antagonistic rivalry. The Good Wife has at least sliced that prospect finely enough that neither side would be the obvious villain of the show's still-unannounced-but-probable seventh season, but the fact that Alicia would even politely threaten the firm indicated just how much things have shifted, albeit probably too subtly even for my tastes. Like her defection in Season 5 and the election this season, the idea of Alicia vs. the firm would allow The Good Wife to continue shaking up its status quo, but it may've already pushed its chaotic rejiggering a bit too far.

And while the leaked emails stirred up some entertaining stuff—it's difficult to top characters reading nasty things about other characters, really—and drew some weak connections to Alicia's break from the firm, the newly elected State's Attorney still had to learn how to handle running her new office, and she hasn't even taken over yet. Showcasing the pressures of the office with Redmayne, Castro, and Bishop each wanting something from Alicia demonstrated just what she has to look forward to when she officially assumes the job. It was odd that Eli wasn't Johnny-on-the-spot with all this, but since we haven't really seen Eli be Eli in a while, let alone Eli turning his "people are stupid" ire toward Alicia, I'll let it slide.

People are stupid, however—or at least Redmayne, Castro, and Bishop are, if they each really buy into Alicia's handling of them. That appears to be the case, and while the first two are probably non-entities going forward, Bishop still poses a threat to Alicia's political success. Once again, though, oddness abounded in the presentation of that threat. Bishop losing his cool was, frankly, pretty out-of-character for a guy who normally takes things in stride with a good deal of calm precision, even when he's not exactly getting his way. His return with a mention of his captains working on a "get out the Florrick vote" initiative seemed like something he would've said earlier, but "Undisclosed Recipients" needed him to come back so Alicia could feel threatened and so she could assuage Bishop's fears a bit.

All of this was perfectly fine, but I'm just not feeling the same level of investment in The Good Wife that I've had in the past. It's clear that the series is approaching its endgame and thus building up to that, but the progression of Season 6 hasn't been as successful as we might've hoped it would be. There are still five episodes left to change things up, though.


SIDEBAR

– I loved that Marissa gave herself a battlefield promotion. I loved even more that Alicia just rolled with it.

– Alicia, I don't believe for one second that you wanted to share that cheap champagne with Kalinda. WE'VE BEEN INSIDE YOUR HEAD.

– "Bygones." Finn lifted from Ally McBeal, and now I'll love him and his cottage cheese spine forever.

– "Let me tell you how you sent me to heaven this weekend. The feel of your soft lips against mine, your inner thighs against my cheeks... My only purpose? To be a servant to your body Thinking about kissing you...Everywhere...You leave me exhausted, baby. Will"


What'd you think of "Undisclosed Recipients"