All hail Elsbeth Tascioni, The Good Wife’s undisputed* best recurring guest star! (*Not actually undisputed.)
Alicia’s will-she-won’t-she-run plot has taken up almost a quarter of the season; fortunately, we get some relief this week via Diane’s lack of basic tech literacy and the return of Elsbeth Tascioni, The Good Wife’s resident oddball.
Never Click On Pop-Up Windows
Diane clicks on a pop-up window, thereby unleashing a piece of ransomware on the firm’s computers. If they don’t pay $50k within the next 72 hours, all of their files will be deleted. The partners decide the only immediate option is to pay up; if this goes public, or they ask for a delay, they’ll lose clients. Diane pays, but something happens and the deactivation key doesn’t come through.
They call the Trojan Lock Help Desk (apparently that is A Thing), and are immediately put into hotline hold hell. Bruce finally picks up, and confirms that an email was sent to Diane’s old Lockhart Gardner email address. The company won’t resend to a different address, so Diane is forced to call David and ask him to turn over the email. Kalinda tracks down the origin of the ransomware, but he turns out to be an unwitting middleman who responded to a “make money at home” ad. Dead end!
Diane visits David Lee; he tries to use the email as a bargaining chip. The lease for LG’s offices is still in Diane’s name, and David Lee wants it back. She agrees to think about transferring the lease, if he gives her the key. He does so, but entering the decryption key just makes the countdown go faster. Kalinda finally tracks down the Russian in charge of the operation, Boris Ivankov, and coerces him into both returning their money and releasing the files by placing anti-Putin propaganda on his computer.
Meanwhile the Florrick Agos Lockhart offices are in disrepair. Pipes over Diane’s desk drip, and she finds a cockroach1 in her desk. Diane suggests that they take over the lease of the current Lockhart Gardner offices.
Sexism is Okay When It’s the Chinese That Do It
After an unseen epiphany to open the show, Elsbeth convinces her trial partner Rayna to change their strategy. Their client, the tech firm JServe, is being charged with sexism in the firing of their female CEO. Elsbeth’s strategy — to blame the CEO’s “tough” management skills — is compelling.
Dean and Alicia start to compare this situation to the previous CEO, who also had a “brash” management style, and who got a raise instead of fired. Elsbeth reframes it, eliciting testimony that the company promised itself never to let another CEO treat employees the same way.
To knock Elsbeth off her game, Dean and Alicia employ a strategy of distraction. Pictures of an ocean liner and penguins cause Elsbeth to completely lose her train of thought, forcing Rayna to request a recess and begin settlement talks. Elsbeth pulls it together, and practices asking questions without getting distracted (by clowns, by creepy xylophone players with broken cell phones, etc).
In court the next day, she’s immune to a kitten photo Alicia springs on her, and proceeds to argue that JServe made a business decision, as advised by an outside consultant, based on the sexism of an outside partner (in this case, a Chinese firm).
Just as she’s on the verge of winning, Elsbeth’s distracted by the entrance of Josh Perotti, an A-USA played by Kyle MacLachlan. Some background: Perotti and Elsbeth squared off back in Season 4, when Elsbeth defended Eli against charges that he bought votes during Peter’s reelection. Perotti came on to Elsbeth after the trial was over; she rejected him because he played dirty in the courtroom.2 Perotti’s not here for Elsbeth, though, even though he comes onto her — he’s actually here to stop the civil suit against JServe until a criminal case involving theft of trade secrets can be resolved. Elsbeth and Rayna lobby Florrick Agos Lockhart to team up with them against the government. It’s unclear whether they’ll do so.
Odds and Ends
Finn agrees to introduce Alicia at her campaign announcement, but Eli and Peter refuse to have the Governor share the stage with someone so far below his level. Alicia tries to blow Finn off with a “this is for your own good / I’m asking too much of you” speech, but Finn resists, and Alicia changes her mind (again) to include him.
Johnny and Eli fight about whether Peter will stay onstage, or stand in the wings, after he introduces Alicia. Eli and Peter want to avoid recreating the photo from Peter’s scandal at the beginning of the series; Alicia wants him to stay onstage. Peter tries to assert his power over Alicia about Finn, but Alicia reminds Peter that he needs her as much as she needs him. Peter threatens not to come if Finn is there, and Alicia calls his bluff. Just as Finn finishes his introduction, Peter sweeps in at the last minute to save the day — or at least his own hide.
Kalinda and Cary, gross.
Kalinda and her federal agent “friend” Lana, slightly less gross. Lana wants to have a heart-to-heart about their coming out stories, but Kalinda wants nothing to do with it. Later, Kalinda uses foreplay to accuse Lana of stealing information about JServe from her apartment and giving it to the feds for their case. Kalinda’s not upset, but Lana is, and walks out.
Missing in Action
The chances of us ever seeing Robin again are slim-to-nil, I think, but I’m assuming we will hear from the as-yet-unseen Jackie as Alicia’s campaign progresses.3 We had a perfect opportunity for a Zach appearance to help with the ransomware, but if I were him, I wouldn’t be taking Alicia’s calls, either. Grace was similarly absent, but of course she only shows up when Jesus is required. Has anyone seen Louis Canning? And do they have a proper name for that firm yet? Will is dead and Diane is dead to them, so retaining “Lockhart Gardner” as a name seems … lazy. You know who else I’d love to see? Patti Nyholm.
… of the Week
Kalinda Moment: Along with Carey (not the gross one) as translator, Kalinda uses the Russian ransomware author’s location against him, changing his laptop background to a series of incriminating photos.
Eli Moment: Once again, Eli is stuck delivering bad news from Peter to Alicia. This time, it’s about Peter not playing second fiddle to Finn. He’s clearly not happy about the situation, but he takes his job seriously and does what it takes.
Cameo: I considered the clown for this, briefly, but then I realized that TGW hired a legitimately trained actor who has appeared in a ton of stuff to play Creepy Xylo Guy. They even gave his character a name — Carl Orff.4 I assumed he was just a well-known New York orchestral member … with that hair5 he would be unforgettable.
Supporting Actor: Elsbeth. Always Elsbeth. I’m not pleased with how The Good Wife handled her return; in the past her quirks seemed like part of her brilliance. In this episode, it seems like she is brilliant despite her quirks. It’s the difference between laughing with and laughing at, and I don’t like it. Not one bit. I do, however, like having Elsbeth back and hope she will play a bigger role in Season 6 moving forward. In the meantime, we have these GIFs of her awesome daydreams to tide us over. (Advance warning: they get a little creepy, and there are clowns at the end.)