The Good Wife (2009–2016)
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The Debate 

A new rumor of Peter's infidelity is leaked to Alicia moments before her debate, but social unrest over a courtroom verdict puts the debate on hold. Meanwhile, a messy divorce settlement cause Cary and Diane to make a deal with the Devil.

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Cary Agos
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Kalinda Sharma
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Grace Florrick
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Eli Gold
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David Lee
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Diane Lockhart
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Peter Florrick
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Neil Gross
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Jeremiah Easton
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Pastor Isaiah Easton
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Marissa Gold
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Deena Lampard
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Josh Mariner
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Storyline

Prady and Alicia go on a debate to discuss their policies. The debate is cut short because of a verdict resembling the Ferguson case. Meanwhile, Cary and Diane try to get a fair settlement in a divorce case between their client Neil Gross and his ex, who is represented by David Lee. Written by Mary Hanna

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Crime | Drama | Mystery

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TV-14 | See all certifications »
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11 January 2015 (USA)  »

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16:9 HD
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A news anchor says the two police were found innocent of manslaughter, in court of law people are found not guilty. See more »

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References TMZ on TV (2007) See more »

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The Good Wife Theme
(uncredited)
Written by David Buckley
Performed by David Buckley
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User Reviews

A Sour Note to Leave Fans On For the Winter Hiatus
28 January 2015 | by See all my reviews

BY RYAN C. SHOWERS

The dust has settled and there's been enough distance away from "The Debate" for me to really analyze its strengths and weaknesses, and interpret it what The Good Wife attempted to do by producing this episode. If you thought this was a weak or even a despicable effort, you cannot deny the amount of debatable content left open for discussion.

Season six of The Good Wife has been magnificent, and even holds its own to season five's monumental run. But like all great shows, The Good Wife does have its occasional flubs. "The Debate" is a poor episode for the team who produced a collection brilliant episodes of television so far in the 2014-2015 season, but as an episode of television in general, it's better than some of the harsher things being said about it. But if we compare The Debate, the worst episode of The Good Wife so far this year, to anything else CBS is rolling out on its best day, it wouldn't look as bad.

My biggest problem with "The Debate" is the amount of story forced into this single 43-minute episode. Not researching the creative names pegged for this episode in advance, it was shocking for me to find Robert and Michelle King's names credited as the writers. (Sure, they write all the episodes, but every page of this shooting script came from their hands.) The Kings usually have tenacious control and insightful instincts as writers to plow through flaws that might stand in their way of crafting a script. But those skills were not adjusted properly in "The Debate", even if they may have had some good ideas floating around.

"The Debate" is not as centered around the actual political debate between Alicia and Prady as one may think. It's erected around a Ferguson-like event, where a riot transpires as a result of a police officer being found not guilty of killing a black man in cold blood. No matter how the execution of this idea played out, The Good Wife team does deserve credit for at least initiating this conversation and reminding everyone of its relevance. The way the idea is implemented is fine, but it does feel a tad strange since this is the first time the show has demoted the central storyline to a subordinate status in favor of a special, one-time-only plot. Some of the discussions that the characters have about the event and racism is thoughtful, but it doesn't work on the larger scale The Good Wife wants it to function on.

In addition to that, "The Debate" has, of course, the debate between the candidates, but as I've stated before it gets pushed to the side before the halfway mark. "The Debate" is unwieldy as a result of the Kings going overboard with their profuse ideas. For instance, Alicia distracts her nerves by playing with a piece of tape and gets frustrated by a ink-less pen. Two interesting concepts to play with in any other episode, but here it feels like too much, especially when the ideas are not elaborated on. A highlight of "The Debate" is when Alicia unleashes an assertive answer back at a reporter who's threatening to break a story about Peter sleeping with Ramona. The writing was sharp and Julianna Margulies brought heat as an actress, which accumulated for a moment that would have the fans of the show and its heroine cheering.

The most critically divisive point of "The Debate" amongst fans and critics is the second/real debate which occurs in the kitchen of the hotel. Some find it ridiculous, while others see it as intriguing; I find myself in the middle and leaning to the intriguing side. My interpretation of what the second debate means is: the Kings are trying to point something out about a flaw the political-electing system. Alicia and Frank are both intelligent individuals whose talents would serve the State's Attorney's race adequately. When you take away the time limits, the restrictions, and the sensation of the official debate setting and allow the candidates to freely and affably discuss issues without the drama, real discussion and result can ensue.

My favorite scene of all the multiple story lines was the brief interaction with Alicia and Johnny discussing their spontaneous kiss after the debate preparation. This scene not only showed the complexity of Johnny as a character, but allowed for Margulies and Steven Pasquale to lacerate the screen with terrific acting and their palpable chemistry. (Not necessarily romantic, The Good Wife doesn't resort to such sexist generalizations of its characters, but the pull between them as characters.)

Sadly, the worst moments of the episode involved three of the four principle characters, Alicia, Cary, and Diane. Now I've been waiting for this conversation to erupt since "Oppo Research", Cary and Diane showing their discomfort with Alicia running for State's Attorney. The move to bring David Lee back into the firm was great drama in it of itself, and the altercation between Alicia vs. Cary and Diane was going pretty well until the feminist portion of the dialogue came into play. I'm the first to argue sexism, anytime, anywhere, but Alicia accusing this of Diane, of all people, is out of character and makes no sense. I believe the Kings wanted to leave the two- month hiatus on a strong feminist message in some way, in any way. But the route they went is actually absurd, because Diane often, ever since the first scene the two shared in the pilot, has vocally expressed her feminist ideology.

And what a sour note to leave us on for winter hiatus. Hopefully in March, The Good Wife can pick up with its usual, upstanding standard, because "The Debate" is the worst episode since "We, the Juries". (Ironically, "We, the Juries was the twelfth episode of the fifth season, just as "The Debate" is the twelfth episode of the sixth season.)

Grade: B /B-


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