Like Entertainment Weekly’s Jeff Jensen and the recommendation of my wife, CBS’ “The Good Wife” somehow eluded my attention for its first four seasons—mostly because of the glut of great cable shows on Sunday nights, from AMC’s ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ to HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire’, to Showtime’s ‘Homeland’ and ‘Masters of Sex.’ Of course, that’s what your DVR and On Demand are for, where you can spread one intensive evening of viewing through the rest of your week—not to mention fast forward through those pesky commercials—but ‘The Good Wife’ has now achieved first-run status in its fifth year as warfare has broken out between Julianna Margulies’ Alicia Florrick and ex-boss/old flame Josh Charles’ Will Gardner, as her old firm, and new one, battle for position in this week’s “The Next Month” episode, the follow-up to “The Next Week,” available on Streampix.
Sunday night’s episode, directed by Charles, begins with his Will announcing the firm’s plans to expand to New York City and re-brand its old Lockhart & Gardner name to the more streamlined LG. Gardner then ducks into his office for a session with his new gal pal, the fetching but dim-witted Hannah Sorenson’s Isabel, as Zach Grenier’s David West looks on disapprovingly, no doubt sensing Will’s eyes have been diverted from the prize, sneering “Do we have a Yoko Ono problem here?” West later plants the seeds of discord by intimating Isabel’s merely a rebound from Will’s heartache over the break-up of his affair with Alicia. Let’s say Isabel is on the endangered species list now that the scheming West, whom she says looks like a jack-o-lantern, has her in his crosshairs.
This week’s episode revolves around Alicia taking a case from America Ferrara’s recurring Natalie Flores, an ex-Lockhart & Gardner intern turned lobbyist, and love interest for Alan Cumming’s Eli Gold, whose undocumented immigrant friend is being threatened with exportation to Mexico if he doesn’t testify against a vicious drug lord. Natalie first takes the case to the newly renamed LG, but is put off by the casual political incorrectness of senior partner Jerry Adler’s Howard Lyman, who mentions how he loves Mexico, especially those drinks whose name he can’t recall and the short skirts worn by the women. She heads over to Florrick & Agos’ new low-rent headquarters in a former T-shirt printing plant, where Alicia is informed by Ben Rappaport’s Carey Zapps, working his iPhone, that Flores is a member of powerful lobbying firm with a potential of huge billing. Lyman is later forced to apologize to Flores, joking she’s a “hot tamale,” then compounds his errors by comically trying to soul shake, then fist-bump the African-American head of her firm, to the slack-jawed consternation of both Will and Christine Baranski’s Diane.
Meanwhile, Eli Gold spots Flores while taking the meeting at Florrick & Agos’ new digs, and asks her out for a dinner date after learning she’s in town to attend Chris Noth’s Governor-elect make a speech to a minority group on redistricting, which Melissa George’s morning-sickness-suffering ethics chief Marilyn Garbanza and Gold himself has urged him to cancel because of its controversial nature. When Eli does a 180 and tells Florrick he should go ahead and make the speech, Garbanza becomes suspicious of his motives, and tells the Governor-elect her worries, and he calls Eli on the carpet.
Meanwhile, Florrick & Agos in-house investigator Jess Weixler’s Robyn Burdine, overhears a conversation between the two Careys that, since she was the last hired, they must lay her off, per orders of Nathan Lane’s cost-cutting Clarke Hayden. Burdine then tries to get her old job back at LG, where Archie Panjabi’s Kalinda tells her it’s not going to happen, but she should be strong and make herself indispensable to her new firm.
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Alicia secures an agreement from the U.S. Immigration Attorney to allow her client and his family to stay, but when the poor guy shows up in court to spook the drug lord, he flees, and the government deports the guy-in a case of mistaken identity, it turns out-because he never actually got to the witness stand to testify against him. That sets up a race against the clock, as Alicia and her cohorts race from one court to another, as the guy heads on a transport back to Mexico, where he will undoubtedly be killed as a "snitch," encountering one judge who delivers his decisions by quoting Bob Dylan. Robyn then shows her resolve by first locating the actual guy whom the government meant to deport, then planting fake evidence in the hope of securing amnesty by indicating a "blood feud," and finally heading to the Mexican embassy to warn them they are allowing a man who made "unsafe air bags" into their country. The bus is stopped at the border and Alicia's client is let back into the U.S.
The incipient romance between Eli and Natalie looks likes it might be nipped in the bud by the Governor-elect’s admonition to his trusted aide to put him first, but Gold ends up not only showing up at their dinner date, but sharing an intimate kiss, indicating the affair might have some legs yet.
Noth's Governor-elect makes a late-night visit to his wife's new office, takes a look around, and ensures her she can conquer the world from there. As Dylan might have said, "The times they are a-changing."