Fresh from her election victory, a triumphant Alicia returns to Florrick Agos Lockhart and a guard of honour from her delighted (but not entirely supportive) colleagues, including Julius – Julius! Hurrah! – who explains his lengthy absence and sudden return with a simple “We’re closing the New York office!” Um…. that’s awesome, Julius, great to have you back, but did the New York office not belong to Lockhart Gardner/LG? When did Florrick Agos Lockhart open one? Has Florrick etc taken over all of LG’s staff and premises now?
This is the first sign that there’s something a little wonky about the storytelling in this episode – almost as if it were spliced together from parts written before Alicia and Cary broke away, back when everybody worked for Lockhart Gardner the first time – and the same weird disconnect affects the case of the week storyline. In a very TGW-type story, the firm represents a film-maker suing a file-sharing network for copyright infringement, his film having been uploaded to the network and shared all over the place. There are various “OMG – shenanigans!” before the Friends of File-Sharing take their cue from the Sony Hackers and start publishing the last four months of the firm’s emails, prompting everyone to lose their damn minds.
The emails themselves range from believably offensive (Julius and David Lee) via slightly unlikely (Cary being a jerk about Diane’s sex life during the period she was defending him against drugs charges) right the way through to “come on, now, there is no way that character wrote that” (Diane being so callous about Cary’s when he was on trial? No way.) but even if you accept that everyone did write them – and people do write things in email they would never want the world to read; see the aforementioned Hack, Sony for proof – the shouting and bickering that goes on is funny, but somebody spitting on Diane’s window without getting fired is ridiculous. It’s a law firm not St Trinian’s, FFS.
That’s not the only thing about the storyline which does not compute, either. After the first batch, the hackers threaten to publish two year’s worth of the firm’s emails if the case isn’t dropped. This sends Alicia into a panic: her two years apparently include some very racy stuff and publication would be a disaster for her public image. This part of the episode entertained me no end – I laughed and gasped as much as anyone – but, in my search for screencaps of what Will’s emails actually said (I’m not proud of myself) I came upon this post from the Fug Girls and the attendant comments and my God they’re right. (And not just about the logistics either – no WAY Will Gardner wrote that.) Florrick Agos Lockhart hasn’t been going for two years, has it? How are these people’s emails back from when they worked at LG in play? Is everyone using some generic @Iamalawyer.com address that they carry with them from firm to firm? And Will (who never worked for FAL) and Alicia’s affair ended more than two years ago – so how and why would he be sending her intimate emails? Especially when she was his sworn enemy at the time for leaving LG?
Like the weird Julius moment at the beginning, it’s symptomatic of the way the whole episode fudges the timeline and the firm’s split, treating FAL as if it’s just LG Mk II, which it does now seem to be in terms of offices and personnel (if everyone’s back, what was the point of the split again?) but can’t be in terms of old emails, surely?
Maybe it’ll make more sense later in the season. Although Alicia’s block-headed stupidity when dealing with Castro, Redmayne and Bishop suggests otherwise. Eli’s outbursts this week were hilarious, but really, how can Alicia still be naive enough to need this sort of basic reminder? I read somewhere that showrunners the Kings said The Good Wife’s overarching story is “The Education of Alicia Florrick” but this year’s election arc seems less about her learning and more about her forgetting everything and everyone she already knew. I enjoyed “Undisclosed Recipients” a lot, in fairness, but it doesn’t stand up to even rudimentary scrutiny and this show is, or at least used to be, capable of a lot more than that.