Natalie Busch ’19 / Emertainment Monthly TV Staff Writer
The first episode of The Good Wife’s seventh and final season aired this past Sunday, marking the beginning of the end for the critically acclaimed CBS series. In season six, the good wife herself, Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), ran for state attorney and won, but was promptly forced to resign amidst a voter fraud scandal. In the final scene, Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) knocked on Alicia’s door — now out for blood after Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry), Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), and David Lee (Zach Grenier) fired his wife — with one question: “Wanna partner?”
From the start of season seven, it’s clear that Alicia did not take Canning’s promising offer. After the scandal, Alicia is unable to find work at any law firms, so she is now working as a bar attorney, working at bond hearings for $135 a case on behalf of arrestees who aren’t poor enough for a public defender. In bond court, speed is the name of the game and the judge is wary of Alicia wasting his time, calling her “a Marie Antoinette.”
In this new setting, Alicia is as she was at the start of season one: inexperienced, naive, and notorious, although this time because of her own scandal instead of her husband’s. This is a smart move on the part of the writers because the beauty of The Good Wife is it’s ability to shake things up, to build Alicia up and break her down again. When Frank Underwood finally becomes President of the United States of America, is House of Cards as compelling as when he ruthlessly clawed his way to the top?
Back in bond court, Alicia befriends fellow bar attorney Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) who has excitingly signed on as a main cast member for season seven. Quinn is clearly meant to fill the void left behind by Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi), who left for good last season after crossing drug kingpin Lemond Bishop (Mike Colter) to keep Cary from going to jail. The first episode does not show Quinn too much, but she is an exciting new character and definitely one to watch as her relationship with Alicia develops.
Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) revealed last season that the Democratic Party tapped him to run for President of the United States, lose, and become Vice President instead. Now, Peter has decided to fire Eli Gold (Alan Cumming), the last person on earth who actually likes and is loyal to him, and hires Ruth Eastman (Margo Martindale) instead. Martindale is sure to get some award love for the role — The Good Wife is known for their great guest stars and Martindale has previously won acclaim for supporting work on both The Americans and Justified. Eli is suitably enraged and tells Peter, “You just lost your greatest asset and made your worst enemy,” setting Eli on an exciting story arc that the character deserves after six seasons in Peter’s shadow. When Alicia has to go on live television with Peter, she is also infuriated by Eli’s firing, so she ironically and hilariously praises Peter for his greatest asset: his loyalty.
Cary doesn’t get much to do this episode. He worries that Lockhart, Agos, and Lee are getting lost in the shuffle and that the other partners are too old to stay relevant. Cary also gets hit on by a younger, male lawyer at the firm. It is unclear how this plotline will be relevant later but it cannot have been written for no reason. Also, Diane is barely in the episode, which hopefully isn’t true for the rest of the season.
The case of the week for Alicia — her first as a private lawyer — is one of inheritance. Her new client is Madeline Smulders (Bridget Regan), a woman whose mother has passed away, leaving a signed Marc Chagall print worth $8 million. The case is surprisingly entertaining as Alicia and her opposition, David Lee and Diane of course, alternately call adhesive, aerodynamics, and suction experts to the stand to discuss a fallen sticky note that names who will inherit the print.
As a whole, the episode is no doubt enjoyable. Still, it served mainly as groundwork for the rest of the season by setting up Eli’s vendetta against Peter, Quinn’s relationship with Alicia, and Canning’s beef with Lockhart, Agos, and Lee. Many of the characters are also isolated and underused in the premiere, and hopefully the rest of the season will bring the cast together more while continuing to shake up the traditional procedural format.
Best Quote: When Eli starts drinking smoothies and Vera calls him out, Eli manages to capture the spirit of the episode and possibly the season by saying, “I know, I’m changing. Like a butterfly.”
Episode Grade: B+