‘The Good Wife’ Season 6 Episode 21 Recap: “Don’t Fail”


It’s difficult to pinpoint precisely when it happened, but at some point it would appear that Robert and Michelle King decided they’d really rather be making a sitcom in 1986. Last week, it was evidenced by the farcical simple misunderstanding that presaged the end of Alicia’s tenure at… whatever they’re calling that law firm now and this week it’s evidenced by a super elaborate pseudo-flashback episode that’s sole purpose is to point out just how much things have changed over the last six years. Things have changed over the last six years and that’s not something that needs to be illustrated with an entire episode. Do you know how I know that The Good Wife has changed over the last six years? I watched the 132 episodes that preceded “Don’t Fail.”

But no matter. If the Kings want to talk about how things have changed, we can talk about how things have changed. Alicia, now unemployed, has resigned herself to a life divided between professional puttering and obsessive wine-related clock-watching. Her attempts to write her memoir/have her memoir written seem to be stymied by the fact that the most interesting thing about her to outsiders at this point is that she may or may not have had sex with her boss who got gunned down. And with so little left in her life that Grace coming home from school is the highlight of her day, it’s no surprise that she lets herself get drawn into a case that she already represented once in her past.

Alicia agrees to help Brett Tatro, a former strip club bouncer/drug dealer who was wrongly accused of attempted murder six years ago and was acquitted, when the victim in his case dies from a sudden brain hemorrhage that doctor’s link to his previous injuries and Tatro suddenly finds himself being tried for murder. Since he’s now being tried for murder, as opposed to attempted murder, the case falls outside of the restrictions of double jeopardy. Long story short, thanks to the meticulous notes from the past, combined with her improved lawyering skills, Alicia is able to again free Tatro from his charges.

But the episode was never really about an innocent guy getting charged with murder, any more than it was about the broken legal system that landed him there. It’s about how Alicia’s changed, man. And how maybe she’s not happy about those changes. At some point during the episode, probably around the fifth or sixth time that Alicia smiles fondly at a remembered incident from her past, she realizes that all of the friendships that she so valued have slowly disappeared. Diane is a non-entity, Cary is still a slave to the law firm that he and Alicia built together, and Kalinda has disappeared into the ether, as she is wont to do. It’s all fine and good that Alicia has realized that her relationships have faltered in the face of her other pursuits but it’s not exactly territory the rest of us are unfamiliar with.

More than that, though, Alicia is also grappling with how she feels about the law as a whole. She feels a deep-seated cynicism about justice that, sadly, seems rooted largely in her disappointment in getting screwed out of her position as State’s Attorney. Which honestly feels like the saddest, most privilege-laden POV possible, as she’s spent six years watching the legal system chew up and spit out those who can afford it least and yet it’s only when things go poorly for her that she decides it’s time to sit down and re-evaluate her life. By the time the episode ends, she comes to the realization that maybe she can still believe in the law, so long as she can pick and choose her clients and go totally small scale.

On the heels of that realizations, Alicia rushes to Finn to invite him to join her new fledgling imaginary law firm that is currently operating out of her son’s bedroom. He doesn’t get a chance to answer before the episode ends, so let us instead examine just how little some things have changed when Alicia decides to solve her problems by A) starting her own law firm and B) trying to work with someone that she desperately, subconsciously wants to bang. Insert Einstein’s apocryphal definition of insanity here.

But maybe Alicia’s not the only one who’s grown jaded by being wronged. Maybe I just can’t see past the doldrums of The Good Wife’s sixth season to appreciate where the show might be headed in its finale and beyond. Either way, there’s only one episode left in the season. There’s always hope that Alicia will wake up suddenly next to Will and tell him all about the strangest dream she had.

Quick hits:

  • For those of you who are easily confused, like myself, the case in tonight’s episode wasn’t actually a throwback to a Season 1 case and all of the flashbacks were filmed for this episode specifically.
  • Except for that one between Alicia and Kalinda at the bar — the first one, not the second one that was clearly filmed without the two actresses interacting.
  • Which, no offense, as amazing as Julianna Margulies and Archie Panjabi are as actresses, it’s just really difficult to believe them as star-crossed friends when the women won’t agree to share a scene together.
  • That said, Kalinda is said to be back for next week’s finale and actually sharing a scene with Alicia so that’s worth the price of admission right there.
  • Leave it to The Good Wife to use the worst song off of Challengers by The New Pornographers.
  • Aya Cash as a young, upstart lawyer was lovely and amazing.
  • The fact that Finn and Alicia still haven’t smooched is a goddamn travesty.
  • Opening credit appearance: 9:04