When Lucca Quinn breezes into the conference room of Lockhart, Gardner, & Lee, she introduces herself and then pauses a little too long before announcing her partner: Alicia Florrick. The pause is unapologetically dramatic, and it’s sparks the soapy fun that lights up “Driven.” Cary and Diane can’t take their eyes off Alicia during the deposition, both knowing that she poses a formidable threat, but neither quite know how to act around her. All eyes, in fact, are on Alicia for much of “Driven.” Jason continues to hit her with seductive looks every chance he gets. Courtney Paige (Vanessa Williams), a new potential donor for Peter’s campaign, studies both Alicia and Peter, wanting to give her money to a candidate whose marriage isn’t a sham. The public once again focuses their attention on Alicia’s private life when a Vice article reports she and Peter haven’t shared a bed in years.

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All eyes should be on Alicia, because she truly is on fire all episode. From her quick “watch it” thrown at Louis Canning to her casual delivery of “you want to get laid?,” Julianna Margulies adds a little hot sauce to every little moment in this episode. Every once in a while, The Good Wife lets Alicia get what she wants, and in “Driven,” she’s definitely in control, letting herself indulge in pleasure and fun. Of course, based on the show’s track record, that probably means we’re headed toward some new devastation that’s going to take it all away again, but let’s just enjoy this Alicia while we can.

The character drama The Good Wife grapples with so well is on display in “Driven,” but beyond just the characters, the different spaces occupied in the episode also play their own parts in the story. Just like the characters, these spaces have arcs and change significantly as the characters themselves go through changes in their lives. When Peter and his staff invade Alicia’s apartment as a stunt to make it look like the Florrick marriage is functional, her place becomes too crowded in the same way it did in season five when Florrick/Agos used it as their first office. Visually though, it’s much different this time. It’s now overrun with very serious suits who barely know Alicia, who ignore her as they go about their business. The tone is much different, too. Instead of the exciting bustle of Florrick/Agos in this small space, it just feels suffocating. Eli’s office has had an arc of its own that tracks with Eli’s arc: Over time, Eli has figured out how to use the office initially intended to make him feel small to give him power over Ruth. He has turned his insultingly small office into a weapon, using its vent to spy on Ruth and keep him in the game.

But the most important space in “Driven” is that Lockhart, Gardner, & Lee conference room, which brims with tension from the moment Alicia enters. It’s in this room that the entire Case Of The Week unfolds. It’s an interesting case, about the ethics as well as mechanics of self-driving cars, but the details of the case don’t even really matter that much. A threeway case between Florrick/Quinn, Canning, and Lockhart, Gardner, & Lee doesn’t need to try too hard to be a thrilling event. Just shoving Alicia, Lucca, Cary, Diane, and Canning in a room together already brings enough complicated and enthralling character dynamics to the table to make for a strong plotline. The quick, frigid exchanges between Cary and Alicia have more meaning packed behind them than anything these tech guys shouting about cars have to say. Put these lawyers in a tight room together and get them talking about anything, and it’s bound to be great. And the space is definitely significant to why the scene works so well. Alicia has history with this space as much as she has history with Diane and Cary. The success of her cross is amplified, because she’s winning in a space that used to be hers. As Alicia explains to Lucca, she doesn’t miss working within the walls of Lockhart, Gardner, & Lee. But the little smile she flashes as they walk in for the deposition makes it clear that she’s happy to be back as an outsider, ready to win on their home court.

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The biggest mistake “Driven” makes is not spending enough time in that conference room. Despite its grand start, the threeway case doesn’t quite get the screentime it deserves. And unfortunately, some of the other moving pieces at play just drag without ever really finding their rhythm. The least effective storyline is undoubtedly all this political mess Alicia has gotten herself back into with Frank Landau and the board he placed her on. Even though The Good Wife seems to be spinning a larger web with the Landau business, nothing is really sticking at this point. There’s a lack of emotion behind the drama, and the storyline’s only purpose seems to be making the point that Chicago politics are corrupt as hell. But hello, that’s a point that has been made over and over again since the show’s pilot, and usually it’s done so within storylines where the characters and their feelings matter at least a little bit. But the boardroom scenes here are lifeless when compared to everything else happening in the episode. They’re all plot and no personality. Even Alicia’s fiery attitude in the rest of the episode can’t spice up this storyline, which will hopefully lead to some sort of payoff sooner rather than later.

Stray observations

  • Does Alicia Florrick sustain herself on mini tacos and tequila these days?
  • Peter chooses sex with Alicia over a million dollars.
  • I’m loving Williams as Courtney so far.
  • “Sex is sexier without love.”
  • Alicia looks amazing in that sleeveless dress. Alicia should just get rid of the sleeves on everything she owns.

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