What dirty secrets are hidden in your email? The Good Wife has some fun this week with the Sony hack in “Undisclosed Recipients,” imagining the internal chaos that could be unleashed if all of your coworkers knew what you say about them behind their backs.

Would lawyers be quite so reckless in written records as Diane, Alicia and Cary are portrayed here? (Julius, upon being reminded that he called David Lee “a racist fruitcake” in an email: “I mean, I know he is--but I don’t remember writing that.”) And would hackers really attack a law firm first, rather than going directly to the filmmaker who’s suing the creator of an open-source website that helped pirate his latest film?

Perhaps not, but the broader point--anything written down is vulnerable, at any time, to hacker attacks--is timely, relevant and funny. And it’s related to the other (equally funny, equally tense) portions of the episode, in which Alicia learns not to say “no” to friends and enemies alike.

“I’m afraid I came across more boldly than I meant to,” she says at one point, and isn’t that a well-timed refrain for the weekend of the Ellen Pao verdict? The show is pretty consistent about how carefully Alicia has to control her tone, and when she lets that slip--as she does in the first few minutes of this episode, basking in her victory and its implicit power--things get chaotic.

In those heady early minutes, Alicia drops her likeable facade with old opponent Castro, gross sexist donor Redmayne and threatening drug dealer Lemond Bishop, before Eli shows up to shriek at her about her tone.

“You never, ever say, ‘No,’” Eli tells her, later adding of Redmayne: “Men like him don’t’ want you to say ‘No.’ They want you to say, ‘I’m listening.’”

It’s advice Alicia hates but eventually adopts, seemingly to her benefit. She calls back Redmayne and Castro to make nice, parroting Eli’s line that she’s “keeping my options open." And she ends the episode on a veiled, velvety threat to her partners as they negotiate her severance package, having been reminded that all too often, it's tone more than words or underlying intent that matters.

Published on: Mar 29, 2015