For a while there, The Good Wife was the best show on television, so I’m not sure how we made it to the penultimate episode with me dreading each new missive from the writers, but here we find ourselves. We’ve already been put through a lot, and these characters are all but unrecognizable, so let’s put Season 7, Episode 21 together, and hope that “Verdict” somehow takes us back to the show we fell in love with. Please. Do it for the series you used to be.
We begin in court, where Connor Fox and Diane Lockhart are coming at each other real hot. It’s so contentious already that Judge Richard Cuesta (David Paymer) is promising to hold whoever causes the most instances of cross-talk in contempt. Just to give us some flavor for what’s coming.
We also have some Alicia Florrick/Jason Crouse drama to look forward to, as Alicia gets eyes from a juror when she goes to text Jason back after he asks about the trial. So she needs to be in heavy “Mrs. Florrick mode”, as Jason puts it, which can’t be fun to be on the receiving end of. But on the other hand, things are not looking good with Lloyd Garber’s (Howard McGillin) testimony, so it’s probably best if Alicia keeps her texting fingers in her lap, or better yet, intertwined with those of her husband, silently showing her support like…well…a good wife. You knew it was coming.
Meanwhile, back at Lockart & Florrick, just to drive home the fact that we’re nearing the end of things, they are quite literally dismantling the conference room in front of our eyes. Might as well get a head start on breaking down the set, y’know? It turns out to have been a mistake — another firm in the building was expanding, and the construction guys started their work on the wrong floor, but Diane suggests they take it as a sign and expand to the 29th floor anyway.
In better news, Diane seems to be making some headway in court, with some of those incisive legal arguments that I remember from the show’s better days, but Louis Canning shows up to court and basically tells Alicia not to get too comfortable. Cary Agos won’t be testifying against Peter, which is a relief, but the secret star witness that Connor was so smug about is Geneva Pine, and Canning says that if she testifies, Peter is going to prison. Dun dun dun DUNNNNNNN. It’s not totally clear why Canning would help out their case like this, but I guess it’s faster and more interesting than just having Jason find out and tell her. That said, let’s definitely have Jason dig around and find out what Geneva knows because she wasn’t even a prosecutor on the case.
He does that by meeting with Emily Parkes (Kate Arrington), who offers up the information that Geneva was sleeping with Peter during her time under him (no pun intended), and that as far as she knows, the affair ended only a few months ago, and that’s why Geneva is testifying, out of spite. At first, it was unclear whether we were actually supposed to believe this, though, because it seemed like Shannon was just trying to offer Jason information he can use to undercut her testimony against Peter, and that tidbit was the most likely to do it. But then Canning pulls Alicia into the hallway to warn her that Geneva is lying, and it is in fact because she had an affair with Peter, and he has a bunch of affidavits from her coworkers saying so. I guess he’s expecting her to be jarred by this information, but instead, she just does a really weird fake-crying thing directly outside the court that surely wouldn’t be good for anyone to see? But again, pretty on-game for the new Alicia, lacking as she is in self-awareness.
Alicia brings the affidavits to Diane, Eli Gold, and Peter, but again I can’t tell whether this affair is real or not, because Peter denies it and says they can’t use that strategy, because the rumors were just office gossip, affidavits or no affidavits.
And because this isn’t prickly enough or involving enough spouses yet, Diane goes to her husband Kurt McVeigh to ask him to share his preliminary findings with the court, even though he wasn’t able to complete his testing on the bullets, after they went missing. That in itself would be okay, I guess, but the way she phrases it to him, asking him to present it in a way that’s favorable to her case, not only seems sketchy but makes me nervous that something will definitely go down while he’s on the stand. Because if there’s anybody who loves to err on the side of the whole truth and nothing but the truth, it’s Kurt McVeigh. He shares his opinion that based on his early findings, the bullets didn’t come from Locke’s gun, which is important because, as Lucca Quinn points out, Peter would have no reason to disappear the evidence if it exonerated Locke.
Back at Lockart & Florrick, even amidst the construction, Diane has a flock of lady lawyers that she’s trying to lure into the firm, headed up by Shannon Janderman (Victoria Clark), a process that David Lee is trying to undermine by being a real pill and threatening a discriminatory suit because Diane hasn’t been interviewing any male lawyers, only female. Cue massive eye roll. Elsewhere in the office, Jason hasn’t been able to independently confirm Geneva and Peter’s affair, and he’s announced his intention to be finished doing investigatory work for Peter. Um yeah, about time. Talk about an uncomfortable position to put your lover in. I stand with Jason on this one.
But in court, things are starting to go the way I was predicting, with Kurt’s old student Holly Westfall making another appearance, saying he oversold the preliminary evidence in this case. She has a really valid point, and what sucks is that even in responding to it and adapting their argument to fit it, Lucca is casting doubt on Kurt’s reputation. It’s a really tense, awkward moment in the courtroom, and I feel like it’s one of the most well done in a while because no one behaved necessarily badly, they were just operating in a moral gray area and got busted for it. That’s the pocket that The Good Wife used to be in all the time, and it’s bittersweet to return to it for a moment, to see what we had.
Oh, and lest I forget, Holly manages to point a finger of guilt at Cary Agos, by saying he was the one handling the evidence, so Louis Canning is no longer interested in helping Alicia out. He was only doing that so long as she kept him out of the line of fire, and that’s no longer the case.
And we continue the lovely, surprising scenes with Cary taking the stand. I foolishly assumed he’d be out to hurt Peter, but the writers artfully punished me and Alicia for worrying the same thing, and had him tell the truth and admit his biases, and all around be a stand-up guy. And afterward, when he’s scolding Alicia for thinking he’d do any less, I felt as guilty as I imagine her character would when confronted with the sentence, “I’m here to tell the truth. What are you here to do?” Damn, dudes. These are the writers I know!
We then cut to a scene that’s partly mixed with annoying tropes of Lucca telling Jason that he needs to go for it with Alicia and calling him out on being in love with her, and half really intelligent, salient points by Jason about how Alicia will never divorce Peter if he goes to prison. Instead, she’ll visit him every week and drift away from Jason, and be “the stoic spouse”. It’s something we viewers of the show have probably known for a long time without knowing it, so it’s smart to call it out here, and really show us what’s at stake for the last episode and a half of this show.
Oh and then!!!! These assholes made me cry with the scene where a fully-clothed Diane gets into bed with Kurt to apologize, and he just lies there for a second, and then takes her hand without speaking and she starts sobbing? Ugh you guys, where have you been all season with the heart and the wrenching and the writing??
Peter wants to go on the stand, so Alicia is prepping him for the stand, and it swiftly verges into the personal, with her bringing up his past indiscretions with prostitutes, and the conviction that was thrown out, both of which he weathers beautifully. But by the time she gets around to asking him about Geneva Pine, he seems emotionally exhausted, probably by the fact of how insane it is to be asked about this stuff by a woman who’s both a lawyer and his wife. She has no mercy though, which I think is great, and once again! Totally harkens back to old Alicia, who’s emotionally ruthless in order to sink her teeth into the logic that she hopes can save her husband from prison.
And it turns out to be good that Alicia prepped Peter so unforgivingly, because Connor Fox is hitting him hard on the stand, and Peter is taking it like a champ, and using it as an opportunity to give a speech on the stand about why he was “a hardass State’s Attorney”, and why that was a good thing and not a bad thing.
Speaking of bad things though, not only is David Lee still trying to ruin the new all-lady firm by claiming he’s a persecuted minority group — thank you for joining me in that eye roll, Lucca — but also a man named Greg Cady (Sean Cullen) shows up to casually let the Lockhart & Agos firm know that a load-bearing wall on the floor above them has been removed, and they need to evacuate to the 28th floor right this very minute, lest it comes literally tumbling down on top of them.
Which is where Connor finds them when he comes to offer a two-year plea deal, down from eight, which Alicia promises to take to Peter. It’s a tough call because we don’t know what the jury will do, and it’s ten years on the line. It really comes down to what the jury thinks of the two of them, and nobody has a good read on that, so Alicia suggests Peter sleep on it. But he’s already made up his mind, and decided to take the deal. And the moment he says that, you can see Alicia inhale in a way that shows it’s not what she wanted, but that she’ll deal with it. And true to Jason’s fears, the first thing out of Peter’s mouth is asking Alicia if she’ll come visit him — “The hardest thing is being forgotten”, after all, and she promises, “I won’t forget.” And it’s a lovely, poignant moment until Alicia gets a text and WHOOPS THE JURY IS BACK DEAL IS OFF THE TABLE. And credits roll because it’s, of course, a cliffhanger leading into the finale.
But for once I’m actually feeling optimistic about the final episode! I feel like the writers showed their true colors again, and gave me a glimpse of the magic this show used to have, so I’m hopeful that we get the goodbye we want, and also the goodbye we deserve. See you back here next week one last time!