The Good Wife
Episode 13: The Seven Day Rule
By: Carlos Uribe
The Good Wife is a show about Alicia Florrick and her career and scandalous personal life.
The weekly case of the episode involved the return of Neil Gross. Neil is the inventor of that search engine and he's getting married. He's getting a prenuptial with his fiance and that's where our characters come in. Neil's fiancee hires David Lee to look over the prenup to ensure it was in her best interest. While she may not have cared that much about the money, her father had convinced her to seek a second opinion because she was being represented by Neil's law firm when the prenup was drawn up. In what should come as no surprise, it's a prenup that completely favors Neil. David and Cary are able to resolve this by manipulating their client and Neil's lawyers in order to get the best deal possible. It's actually pretty genius how they won. The whole bankruptcy plot is basically about how the firm conducts business in a cynical and dirty fashion. They might not break the law but they'll subvert it for their benefit. They might not be a decent law firm but they do get the job done for their clients. They managed to get the best deal for their client was accomplished in a questionably ethical way. That the show was able to show us Clarke's problems with how the firm handles it business in an episode that relied so heavily on it was a smart move. That the show didn't feel the need to call attention to this is a sign that this show might have stumbled with some of the plots but that it's just as smart as ever. The weekly case managed to serve as a subtle reminder that Clarke's complaints about the law firm are completely legitimate. That's just smart plotting-and it was also a fun weekly case on it's own but it was best used as a sub-plot.
The bankruptcy plot is just as fun as the weekly case. The two name partners of the firm have to go in front of a judge to get a five month extension to finish paying off the debt. They have evidence that they'll be able to meet this deadline. We don't actually see any documents but I'd like to note that they paid have the debt in five months is pretty convincing evidence to a layman like me. I guess that's why I'm not an accountant or bankruptcy judge. This reasonable request is being objected to by Clarke and their creditor, Canning. The two try to claim that the firm has been using client money to pay off the debt. This failed so they shifted tactics. They brought up that all of the four-year associates have been given a chance to become equity partners. This acts as a small plot twist that might or might not have caught you off-guard. I kind of saw it coming but I didn't realize the extent of it. The way the show laid it out was smart. It began with Alicia finding out that they wanted to promote her to a partner. This would make sense. She's not only the protagonist who barely loses any cases but she's married to a prominent politician. It would be good press just to have her as a partner. It's believable that she would be asked to become a partner within four years especially because television characters tend to advance through their careers at an advanced pace. It helps that they think she can pay the absurd capital investment of $600,000. The high amount of cash is a huge investment into the firm but it's also the first sign that the show gives out that she was only offered the promotion so they can use the money into showing further progress into the debt. This is only confirmed when Cary reveals he was also offered the promotion but it's not until we learn that two other associates got the promotion that we realize the extent of this scheme. A scheme that doesn't help Canning because Clarke is a straight arrow who admits that Canning basically offered him a job in exchange for his assistance. Clarke might not like how Lockhart & Gardner does it's business but he chooses to follow a straight line.
This all leads to the episode's conclusion where Alicia is pouting in her office because she realized she wasn't getting promoted by her own merit. Diane comes in with the advice to suck it up and accept it. When Diane got promoted to partner it was because Stern was involved in a sexual harassment suit. He needed a female partner to make him look good. She took the job despite the reason she was offered it and used it to her advantage. It's a cynical viewpoint but it's one that does carry some hope with it. That advice would have worked on any old regular day but Diane wanted Alicia to appear like she was invested in the firm. Diane basically threatened to rescind the offer if Alicia didn't go out there with a big smile. That's exactly what Alicia did but with the public smile that has no real meaning to it. It's a blow to Diane but it manages to present some interesting ideas. Diane's advice to Alicia suggests that their mentor/mentee relationship is going on another level but the threat it carried might cause problems between the two. That Alicia found out the real reason she was getting promoted might have also shook her loyalty with the firm. There's many places the show can take this and they're all just as compelling as the other. It might not have been the world's most exciting cliff-hanger but it was effective in just how complicated it really was.
Law firm drama and weekly cases are good but there's an election sub-plot as well. It basically deals with the religious denomination of the characters. Maddie turns out to be an atheist which would normally be a good thing because the voters don't like people who are certain there is no God. It's a viable attack except Alicia makes the situation complicated when she admits that she's also an atheist. It's a decent way to explore the religious component of any politician but it didn't really make for compelling drama or great comic relief. It was good in that it added pressure to Alicia but it seemed to distract from what was actually interesting. The political sub-plot took a lot out of the narrative momentum simply because it didn't really felt essential. That this plot lacks tension is probably the biggest indicator of what's wrong with it. We need to feel like Peter might actually lose and that this actually matters. I'm hoping that Alicia joining as an equity partner will somehow make the governor's race relevant by tying the stakes of the election results to their economic wellbeing. I have no idea but the stakes of the election simply aren't working on their own. That might be the reason that what worked so well in the second season has been so disappointing in this one-there feels like there's nothing really at stake here.
The Seven Day Rule is a pretty great episode of the Good Wife. The weekly case and what's happening with the bankruptcy perfectly compliment each other. The ending of the episode helps to give the show multiple options of where to go from now. This manages to show that the series still has it. The only weakpoint is that while the election sub-plot had some moments, it still hasn't gotten to be interesting. This only goes to highlight that the season still has problems that need to be fixed and soon.