‘The Good Wife’ Season 6 Episode 17 Recap: “Undisclosed Recipients”

As invigorating as Alicia’s election triumph may have been last episode, the victory yielded very little in the way of plot progression when it came to this week’s episode of The Good Wife. In fact, the episode’s three storylines can be easily distilled into basic representations of Alicia’s past, present, and future — and, unfortunately for her, none of the paths seem particularly appealing at this juncture.

Let’s start with her past, then. Though not actively working on the case, the firm is representing a client who is suing a file-sharing website for illegally distributing his film before its box office debut, resulting, he claims, in soft box office numbers. The site in question is called Wharf Master (likely a rough analogue for The Pirate Bay, a site that’s encountered many legal problems of its own), and the case has plenty of the expected twists and turns, like the client’s PR company being the one to originally leak the film to produce buzz and the representative of Wharf Master perjuring himself by claiming he’d seen the film in question in theaters.

But things don’t really get interesting with the lawsuit until the Internet gets involved. After a seeming call to arms by the head of Wharf Master, Florrick, Agos, Lockhart, Draper, Pryce, Dewey, Cheatum, and How (sorry, I have no idea what the official name of the firm is anymore) find that their system has been hacked and the last four months of in-house emails have been leaked online. Essentially, the firm has been doxxed. It’s a curious thing to see the series attempt to take on something as serious as doxxing and, again, it’s vexing when they seem to drop the ball.

In the wake of such online uprisings as Gamergate and the ongoing threat of Anonymous, doxxing serves as a legitimate threat to the well-being and safety of any number of individuals who incur the wrath of the wrong set of internet denizens. However, The Good Wife chooses not to really engage in the full scope of damage such an attack wields, settling instead for using the release of old emails as a way to wreak hilarious havoc in the office, providing plenty of background entertainment, including, but not limited to: spitting, scrapping, screaming, and sulking. And that’s a fine choice to make, in and of itself. But the show wanted to have its cake and eat it too, pushing the doxxing into blackmail territory, warning that they would next release two years’ worth of old emails, a move that would crater the firm, and ruin Alicia’s State’s Attorney position before she even got sworn in, among other dire consequences.

Ultimately, disaster is averted. They give the hackers what they want and further emails aren’t released. They’re able to stave off more damage than necessary because it just so happened that the people attacking them were reasonable. That’s all well and good for the firm, but it’s largely an unrealistic representation of what actual doxxing is like. There’s no reasoning with people who want to destroy you. There’s no putting the cat back in the bag. There’s no undoing or mitigating the damage done. At least not when you’re just one person. Maybe things are different when you’re a rich law firm. Either way, my sympathies are conflicted.

This case, which ends up so mixed up with the emails of previous years and sins of days past and the law that Alicia used to practice, also begins to affect the storyline representing Alicia’s present-day prospects, the negotiation of her exit package. Her election to office means that she needs to divest her interest in the firm that bears her name immediately, but the current partners are lowballing her, offering her just over half of what she’s put into the company. It’s a difficult position to be in, as Alicia has no real power in these negotiations, seemingly. More than that, her longtime friends and co-workers all bear a bit of a grudge against her, since she’s largely abandoned them for her campaign for the last four months. The firm’s offer drops to an even $100k in the wake of the email leak, claiming high costs for equipment replacement. Alicia assures all involved that she will consider their offer and in the same breath assures them that this offer will not affect her decision regarding the firm’s cases in the future. Apparently, Alicia has learned to play hardball.

Which is a development that we should have seen coming, seeing as how the plot foretelling Alicia’s future played out. For much of the episode, while Diane and company are dealing with the Wharf Master lawsuit, Alicia and right-hand woman Marisa are holed up in Alicia’s office as rich men stride in to yell at her and tell her what to do. James Castro (Michael Cerveris), Guy Redmayne (Ed Asner), and Lemond Bishop all stop by to try to pressure Alicia into giving them what they want, all of whom are abruptly sent away hat in hand. The problem then is Alicia’s prompt dismissals of their concerns, which results in Eli coming around to yell at Alicia and tell her what to do.

That’s all fine. With how muddled the morality of Alicia’s campaign became, it’s no surprise that she’d have to pay the piper at some point. And while it sends a clear message that all of this political glad-handing begins the moment after the election ends, it may have made for a more cohesive episode to focus solely on the in-office fallout surrounding Alicia’s election. There was more than enough material to focus on, especially in an environment that’s gotten short shrift with regards to Alicia’s involvement this season.

The episode ends with Eli intoning to Alicia, “So what have we learned?” to which she quips, “Hell if I know!” I couldn’t describe Season 6 of The Good Wife better myself.

Quick hits:

  • Listen. As much as I’d love Finn to be Alicia’s #2, she has got to stop shitting where she eats.
  • Not that their burgeoning love affair would be much more above board if she was going against him in court.
  • Dammit, why won’t they just smooch?!
  • Marisa appointing herself Alicia’s executive assistant is a huge relief, as Alicia needs all the sane counsel she can get these days.
  • Kalinda and Alicia STILL didn’t share a scene together, despite the hacking brouhaha and the fact that Bishop visited the office twice. Madness.
  • And though I complained about the storyline, Eli advising Alicia to be a secret Disney princess with her decision-making was some sound career advice.
  • Sexual orientation: Diane Lockhart snarling: “Well, you and your case can go to hell!”
  • Marisa’s main takeaways from her time spent in Israel: It’s hot. You get gassy.
  • She’s a girl after my own heart.
  • “Do you like Taylor Swift?” Well, Alicia? Do you?
  • Howard doesn’t look at porn. He is targeted.
  • Opening credit appearance: 11:13