Tomorrow, my favourite show of 2013 celebrates a milestone – 100 episodes. I tend to complain, sometimes incessantly, on twitter that for a show that’s so great and is on air so much (unlike cable shows which are on for three months, this network show is on for at least eight months a year) The Good Wife is spoken of too little on the internet. This current season examining the civil war between Lockhart/Gardner and the new Florrick/Agos has seen more attention being paid to the show but there’s still room for more.
So, in celebration of what will tomorrow become 100 episodes of Good, I got together with a few other fans of the show and compiled this list – a collective top ten of the show’s finest moment. Each participant ranked their favourite of the 99 aired episodes and these ten came out on top. Here’s what they had to say about the top 10.
10. “Closing Arguments” (Season 2, Episode 23)
There’s nothing better than a cliff-hanger to act as the cherry on top of a nail biting season. That’s what happened in “Closing Arguments” when we were treated to 43 minutes of sinful perfection. On the one hand, things were all business: a first-degree murder trial, a bloody glove landing on Alicia’s desk, learning Lockhart Gardner hired convicts to work in their mailroom (though that poor fellow was oddly less sketchy than David Lee) and watching Will have an emotional reaction to a case. On the other hand, we had a more personal storylines brewing: Owen watching daytime television (and the Florrick’s frustrating offspring), Alicia being asked to act as liaison to Eli during his in-house move and then being privy to the infamous quote, “Without her, Peter is a John who overpaid for a prostitute. With her, he’s Kennedy.” It was an episode that altered the show’s course, but not because of the trial, our favourite brother, the convict sorting letters or even Eli joining the firm; it was those last seven minutes.
- Kari Marlowe
9. “Heart” (Season 1, Episode 17)
With a procedural series you have to mix things up and the Kings have done a good job with finding settings that break the norm on The Good Wife. “Heart” takes place in a hospital and the lawyers are all working against the clock. It’s a weekend which means casual clothes. (Cary rocks a chunky knit turtleneck and plenty of stubble. But, alas, there is not a hoodie in sight.) It’s not just the clothes that are different (less cutthroat and professional), but our characters are too the case shows a softer, different side of Will too. The conflicting factors of protecting one couple while maintaining the interest of both the firm and the wider civil suit is a question of ethics and there’s no easy answer other than to try and stay emotionally detached. This is where Patti Nyholm comes in; using her own baby as a prop, as she shows how few scruples she has in her second appearance on the show. But the “Heart” of the title is about the professional life of our characters, as well as their private lies.
- Emma Fraser
8. “What’s in the Box?” (Season 4, Episode 22)
“What’s in the Box” is loaded with casual pleasures – the hilarious shifts of standing in the lawsuit, the alliances casually made and then tossed aside, and the sheer delicacy involved in balancing such a large cast of essential characters. But I want to focus instead on how well this episode foreshadows what’s to come beginning with that evocative title. The title refers to an old episode of The Twilight Zone, wherein a faulty TV becomes fixed on a channel that reveals the past, present and future of a beleaguered married couple. The reference does triple duty in this episode. The first and most obvious is the ballot box itself. But the more direct reference is the security camera footage of Peter’s goons fixing the election. Where this particular storyline is concerned, the footage doesn’t so much delineate the multiple phases of Peter’s career but demonstrates, in a fairly final way, that his past/present/future are one. Tl;dr: you can (maybe) take the corruption out of Peter, but you can’t keep Peter out of the cesspool.
After three seasons spent in atonement (whether legitimate or not), Peter reveals once and for all that he does not tread the path of angels. We’ve had hints throughout (his casual bullying of the private school headmistress jumps to mind), but now Peter sees something mind-blowingly corrupt and chooses to stand idly by. When the footage surfaces (and you can bet that it will) everyone will learn about the true Peter Florrick, and I look forward to the flying wreckage.
- Yashoda Sampath
7. “Hybristophilia” (Season 1, Episode 22)
6. “Another Ham Sandwich” (Season 3, Episode 14)
“Another Ham Sandwich” is one of the watershed episodes in the series. The power structure of Lockhart/Gardner is under attack and legal warfare ensues. Will is put on trial for suspected judicial bribery and those on both sides of the case must do their best to come out on top. On the surface it seems like a private problem for Will, but Diane's disappointment is evident. Even though she tries her utmost best to conceal it, there's a strong sense that this can negatively impact the firm in the future. And future episodes prove this. What makes the high stakes proceedings so riveting though, are the committed performances from the entire cast. From Monica Raymund's furious slap, to the amusing psychosexual mind games going on between Alan Cumming and Amy Sedaris. Every actor is on a their A-game. It's an episode of endless thrills and it makes for great television. It all culminates in a grand triumph, a gratifying conclusion for both the Lockhart/Gardner team and us as the audience (albeit somewhat short-lived, as the final scene indicates).
- Shane Slater
....top five episodes below the jump....
5. “Nine Hours” (Season 2, Episode 9)
“Nine Hours” is perhaps not the show's flashiest episode and no big truth bombs were revealed (other than Cary's cousin inappropriately wanting to jump his bones), but it does feature so many elements that make The Good Wife so damn good. First and foremost, this episode puts on full display its talented ensemble as nearly the whole cast is present in one capacity or another either working on the case of the week or part of Alicia's home life. Alicia is obviously at the centre of it all, but the rest of the cast gets to do their own things: Will manning the office/courtrooms, Diane in prison with their client, Peter and his team prepping for his upcoming debate, Grace hanging out with her friend and finding religion, Zach heavily crushing on Kalinda, Cary helping out his old firm, and even Jackie just milling about. By doing this, the episode also highlights an intrinsic part of the show, which is people balancing their work and home lives. It's most noticeable with regards to Alicia as she’s forced to stay home while still being the point person on her firm’s death row appeals case, but it's also true with Peter who gets upset during his debate when his relationship with Alicia is brought up. It’s even applicable, though to a lesser extent, to all the other lawyers who are forced to work on a Saturday.
4. “Ham Sandwich” (Season 2, Episode 17)
3. “Red Team, Blue Team” (Season 4, Episode 14)
- Maxwell Haddad
2. “Executive Order 12334” (Season 3, Episode 7)
- Jess Rogers
1. “Hitting the Fan” (Season 5, Episode 5)
By the time the credits of "Hitting the Fan" roll, the episode has already deployed most of the story beats we could have expected from an hour billed as a game-changer. One of The Good Wife's chief virtues is that it is always breathlessly paced, but often such pacing tends to stem from the myriad number of stories a given episode seeks to (usually successfully) juggle. Here, though, everything stems from a single major storyline that's been in the making for well over half a season: the complete upending of the show's universe, courtesy of Alicia and Cary's split from Lockhart/Gardner. As a result of this unusual level of single-mindedness, things flat-out happen. Alicia and Will having it out? Opening scene. Diane and Cary doing the same? Ditto. The camera becomes an invaluable addition to this rapid series of events, tracking characters around the offices with a frantic sense of purpose mirroring that of the people it's following.
- Greg Boyd
- Season 2 was the season most cited overall with 3 episodes listed, coming in at #11, #12 and #13 were three Season 3 episodes: “Alienation of Affection”, “The Dream Team” and “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
- Each season had a #1 episode from someone, and the only #1 ranked episode to not make the top 10 was “Death of a Client” which is at #15.
- Every season premiere and season finale made someone’s top ten except for the 2 premiere.
- Eight of Carrie Preston’s ten episodes on the show made an appearance on someone’s top ten. The only two that didn’t were “Mock” and “Going for the Gold”.
- Other than “Death of a Client”, top 3 episodes that didn’t make the top 10 were: “Running”, “Silver Bullet”, “A Defense of Marriage”, “The Penalty Box” and “I Fought the Law”.
- Although being the top episode, “Hitting the Fan” was only #1 on two lists. Also gaining double #1 votes was “Executive Order 13224” and “Heart”.
- One of my favourite aspects of the show is its excellent work at episode titling, we polled for our five favourite titles and the clear winner was: “Je Ne Sais What” with runners-up “”Hybristophilia”,”Boom De Ya Dah”, “Don’t Haze Me, Bro” and “Rape: A Modern Perspective”.