The Good Wife is always clever, but occasionally it veers into “too clever for its own good” territory. That’s how I felt after this episode featuring the election night of Alicia’s State’s Attorney run. A shooter video game matched with Diane’s hunting excursion gave me much more than I needed in shooting/aiming/hunting metaphors. A misstep right at the very beginning: that clunky “Home On The Range” cover sprinkled with sounds of gunfire. Later the song is reprised at dinner. Y’know, I bet they have more than one song in Wyoming.

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Let’s start with Diane’s journey: It was entertainingly novel to see her take the lead in an entire subplot, and more views of her marriage to Gary Cole’s ballistics investigator Kurt McVeigh are never a bad thing. At a hunting party for .001-percenters in Wyoming, Diane at first gets shoved off to a spa day with the other ladies, until her husband conjures up an excuse to have her join the men on the hunt. There she winds up in a two-hour-long conversation with R.D. (Oliver Platt) about abortion, because Democrats and Republicans have nothing else in the world to talk about?

The show ably points out how Diane, a true power-player, is also a hunter: able to immediately jump into girl talk at the spa, than needle a tech exec in the snow about his legal representation (too bad she didn’t realize she was quoting his mistress, not his wife, whoops). Finding out that her new friend R.D. is the fourth-richest man in the country, she changes tactics, and only then is she able to eat her dinner of her own fresh kill. Diane falteringly admits to her husband that she liked the hunt, but of course she does: It’s just the way she likes snaring that major new client. She focuses, aims, and shoots, and it’s why she’s as successful as she is.

Alicia also learns how much she loves the hunt this episode, thanks to Halo, her election gift from Finn. In Alicia’s case the game is more of a noisy distraction from the ups and downs of her election day, but it’s slightly unnerving to see her in front of the TV blowing things up on the biggest day of her career. While Alicia, like Diane, has had to plan and strategize and work very hard for things in her professional life to happen, in this episode she is reminded who really holds the power here.

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That person is her still-husband, Peter Florrick. After almost preventing her victory by suggesting she’s a shoo-in who doesn’t need a strong election effort by voters, he saves the day with a well-timed speech that snarls Prady’s downtown district. Alicia just smiles and shakes her head, but it’s clear that Peter is a political animal on a completely different level. I can’t believe everyone in the Alicia camp is so shocked that Peter’s pissed after Alicia threw him under the bus last episode. So Peter sticks it to her a bit to remind her who the real politician in the family is, then saves the day at the end. I am a complete sucker (and Chris Noth fan) who has always hoped that Peter and Alicia could work things out, but his dodging his wife’s question about sleeping with Ramona made me finally hate him just a little bit.

After Peter’s last-minute save, Alicia is elected State’s Attorney. Honestly, I thought that David Hyde Pierce was killing it so much they were going to have him win just to keep Prady around as Alicia’s friendly nemesis. Also, if the focus of the show is going to switch to the State’s Attorney’s office, what’s a graceful way to keep the firm of Florrick Agos Lockhart involved? This move means another large jolt in the trajectory for The Good Wife, and will probably either be the best thing or the worst the show has ever done; we have one more season to see how this plays out.

Another looming change: Since Josh Charles was able to depart this show without anyone knowing beforehand, I wish Archie Panjabi had had the same luxury. Now that we know Kalinda’s days are numbered, her every scene appears to be just setting up for her inevitable departure. If her role is now reduced to babysitting and driving around Lemond Bishop’s kid, that leave can’t come too soon. My prediction: She’ll have to testify against Bishop to save Cary once her falsified evidence comes up, and she’ll be put into witness protection. I don’t think TGW could handle the death of another beloved character.

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It looks like Steven Pasquale is leaving us as well, in an abrupt turnaround once he spies Alicia with Peter at the victory party. At least Johnny got in a fine last day, as he and Josh (David Krumholtz) scramble to save Alicia’s campaign with a pathetic robo-call attempt. I think Alicia’s wondering if they’re fine at the top of the episode was not about the election, but how the two of them were after they slept together. Johnny was awkward and fun, but to my mind was just the man Alicia had to be with before she could be with Finn. But now that she’s such a major public figure, any chance of a romantic life outside of her husband should be nearly impossible.

As I’m not sure where The Good Wife’s big picture is headed, I find it’s the little things that sell this show for me: Peter and Johnny’s glare at each other as Alicia switches cars; Kurt unzipping Diane’s camo gear, cutting to R.J. pointing out, “You’re late”; Josh wanting to hold hands with Alicia and Marissa before hearing the election results; Eli’s expressions every single time he can sense something going horribly awry.

On to the bigger moments: If we follow the show’s heavy-handed theme to its logical conclusion (the last shot before the opening credits is of that Halo shooter), sometimes when we get caught up in the hunt, we fail to consider what happens at the end of it. Diane has to eat the red meat of the title; for Alicia the red meat is the State’s Attorney job, I guess. She’s been chasing it for so long, what will happen now that she finally has it?

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Stray observations:

  • Not that I actually miss Zach and Grace, but shouldn’t they have been around for their mom’s big day? Or at least the victory party?
  • Good Wife nit-picking corner: The parking meters have already been privatized (which was a huge scandal, as Marissa points out, which pretty much prevented Richard M. Daley for running for re-election) so how could parking have played much of a role in this race? Nice meta shoutout to keeping viewers waiting, but that’s really not the way election victories are announced. And in such a tight race, I doubt the victor would have been announced immediately after the polls were closed.
  • The always-supportive David Lee: “Diane, what did you do?”
  • Hope there are plans to make room for Marissa in Alicia’s new office, as she’s chastised for making cappuccino: “Hey, at least I have a skill to fall back on if this falls through.”
  • Thanks to Kayla for letting me sit in this week for my first review of a show I’ve loved for years. Not to worry, she’ll be back next week.

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