Indeed, the honeymoon period ends almost as quickly as it begins for Alicia, the new State’s Attorney. It sucks for her to have so much drama so early in the game, but it made a great episode for us.
At the top of “Undisclosed Recipients,” Alicia walks into my absolute worst nightmare—a room full of champagne that she can’t drink, because ethics. But, more importantly, props must be given to The Good Wife writers for a brilliant opening scene that accomplishes something the Scandal writers struggle with—a feminist critique where nobody screams the words, “Because I’m a woman!” or something to that effect.
Castro, the disgusting Mr. Redmayne, and Lemond Bishop all respectively pay Alicia a visit, and all are demanding something or another of her. But Alicia’s not a politician; she’s a lawyer. And she’s always handled her cases and clients with a certain transparency. She’s far too honest with these men, and she basically tells them “Hell no, I’m not helping you,” infuriating them all. It’s so bad, that Eli storms in and schools her on the realities of her position.
“You’re supposed to be keeping her in line!” he yells at Marissa (who has swiftly promoted herself from Body Woman to Executive Assistant). The men who have been barging into her office (each one reminding her that they bought her) are pure ego, and Eli knows this. And it’s a fascinating lesson that he teaches Alicia. She can’t say “no” (or, “I’m going in a different direction”) because it hurts their feelings! It make for an interesting parallel to rape culture. Better to tell a man “maybe later” than “no.” “No” could get you slaughtered, or cost you your job. “Maybe later” gives them hope, and makes them feel like you’ll be thinking about them, and their needs. So, that’s pretty horrifying.
But the highlight of the episode is the e-mail hack, courtesy of WharfMaster and the anonymous hackers out to defend the creator’s honor. As Cary said, the law firm turns into a pirate ship, and we get to see what the good people of Florrick/Agos are really like when everything is out in the open. This might be one of the very best Good Wife scenes of all time, and watching the lawyers read aloud these horrible e-mails felt reminiscent of Mean Girls and the burn book. Or that episode of Girls where Marnie’s boyfriend finds Hannah’s diary—or any other scene where people devour a secret text they were never supposed to get their hands on. By the time they call a firm meeting, David Lee needs to make an announcement about his sexuality, the New York lawyer needs everyone to know that he’s not a friggen Affirmative Action hire, and Cary is as incredulous as we are about Diane referencing him as a good lawyer (“not great”), who won’t really be missed if he ends up in prison. Most importantly, Kalinda has some ‘splaining to do, regardin Howard Limon in the supply closet.
I just about died laughing over that awful, imaginary image.
But the drama gets real when the hackers threaten to dump out two years’ worth of e-mails. This is a great storyline because we also get to see how much people everywhere really trust their e-mails. Consider the things we leave in print, because we believe we’re protected by passwords. And even though we’ve seen and heard countless hacking stories like this one, we keep on keeping on. In “Undisclosed Recipients” we also see how even these brilliant smart lawyers believe they can hide online—they believed they had a certain anonymity while logged in, so there’s an interesting critique of private vs. public in a new tech-based society.
The lawsuit is also, in a way, a conflict between young and old—new technologies are trying to tear down fences, and old folks (like the filmmaker and even the members of the firm) are desperately trying to keep them up. The hackers are putting things out in the open that the old fogies would rather sweep under the rug. And that’s why WharfMaster’s creator demands an apology—some sort of public acknowledgement that, while they may have lost the case (because it turns out he downloaded that movie, and perjured himself), they are still a force to be reckoned with.
“Undisclosed Recipients” is one more notch on The Good Wife’s stellar season. Hilarious, modern, fascinating, feminist, and one incredible burn in the final scene:
“I want you all to know that this offer does not in any way impact my consideration of your criminal cases when I’m State’s Attorney.”
ODB Translation: You know my name now give me my money
Stray Observations and Quotes to live by:
Eli political math is everything: “Absence of “yes” X time = “no”
“I’m sorry, are we in upside-down land?”
“Maybe we could ask McVeigh to do a better job in the [hesitates] sack; get the stick out of her ass.”
“Who wrote that? David Lee?”
“Oh, but I have said it to your face, Blanche! I have said it to your face!”
“I gave enough to the Negro College Fund to give the whole friggen Congo a scholarship.”
“What did we send over? A chess board made of human teeth.”
“There’s this whore from Arizona…” is always a great way to start a conversation.
Best Quote of the Episode:
“I don’t like pornography, I just get targeted! I get targeted!” (Harold, FTW)
Shannon M. Houston is Assistant TV Editor & a film critic at Paste, and a writer for Pink is the New Blog and Heart&Soul. This New York-based freelancer probably has more babies than you, but that’s okay; you can still be friends. She welcomes all follows (and un-follows) on Twitter.