Sometimes everything you do to clean up a mess only makes it worse. From legal defenses to political maneuvering, everything goes terribly, painfully, occasionally hilariously wrong on this week’s The Good Wife.

"I’m bad at asking for things. I don’t like asking.” That’s Alicia Florrick, successful lawyer and businesswoman, realizing that her ability to demand what she wants in business, in court and in her family life hasn’t carried over to her newly embraced political career. She gets pushed out of her comfort zones repeatedly in “Message Discipline,” and lands with some big splats.

Most of those splats involve three deeply uncomfortable conversations with David Hyde Pierce’s Chris Matthews-type TV commentator. (I haven’t cringed in vicarious discomfort this much since the early seasons of The Office.)

Alicia fumbles her initial request for his endorsement, to an extent that’s not completely believable--this is the woman who just spent a night cramming to ace an interview with a YouTube pastor, so I doubt she’d go in quite this cold to ask for an endorsement. But then, hilariously, she preps and the prep totally backfires; braced for a hard-hitting television interview about her son’s abortion and her business partner’s criminal charges, Alicia doesn’t know how to handle softball questions about what she talks about with her kids over dinner.

Finally, just when she thinks she’s regained her equilibrium--and set boundaries for what she’ll allow Eli to push her into on the campaign trail--he undermines her spectacularly, by inadvertently angering David Hyde Pierce into jumping into the race.

It’s unusual that Eli’s schemes backfire this badly, but none of our heroes were having a good week: Finn clashes again with Castro and eventually resigns, when it becomes obvious that Castro’s political ambitions are driving his prosecution of Cary; Cary is reduced to sending lovelorn texts from across the courtroom to Kalinda, who now has to stay at least 30 feet away from him; and Kalinda finds the witness who could clear Cary’s name--only to have him die in an awfully suspicious car accident by the end of the episode.

Pretty much the only person having a good week was Ramona, “the mother of the intern,” as Eli spits. The old Florrick family friend, and likely future Peter Florrick fling, gets hired as Peter’s new lawyer after twelve years off to raise her family. And then, after some struggling to find her voice and her professional confidence, she promptly faces off with Diane and saves the day for the governor in court.

It was a little on-the-nose to have Peter draw verbal parallels between his estranged wife and his new hire, but Ramona's an interesting echo of where Alicia started and how much she's grown in the past six years. That's not all good growth; Alicia was abrupt and distracted in her conversation with Ramona, and continued her foot-in-mouth streak with questions about Ramona’s current law firm (nonexistent) and husband (divorced).

But even on a bad week, Alicia's clearly become a success story. That's not something that happens without asking for things, or occasionally accepting the consequences of asks gone awry.

Published on: Nov 2, 2014