The Good Wife (2009–2016)
7.8/10
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3 user 1 critic

Red Meat 

Peter deliberately sabotages Alicia's chances of victory the morning of the election, Diane tries to court a billionaire for the firm at a hunting retreat, and a new tail causes new problems for Kalinda and Lemond Bishop.

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Cary Agos
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Kalinda Sharma
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Eli Gold
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Finn Polmar
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David Lee
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Diane Lockhart
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Frank Prady
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Kurt McVeigh
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R.D.
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Lemond Bishop
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Marissa Gold
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Josh Mariner
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Gil Berridge
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Storyline

Alicia's political future is on the line when Peter gives an interview that could influence voter turnout on Election Day. Meanwhile, a weekend getaway with Kurt and his affluent hunting buddies could lead Diane to a prosperous new client for the firm.

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Crime | Drama | Mystery

Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

22 March 2015 (USA)  »

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16:9 HD
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Did You Know?

Goofs

When Finn gives Alicia the Halo game, the casing is green with the authenticity sticker on the right. This indicates that it is an Xbox game, yet later on when Marissa and Alicia are playing, they are using Playstation controls, not Xbox. See more »

Connections

Features Halo: The Master Chief Collection (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Home On the Range
(uncredited)
Lyrics by Brewster M. Higley
Music by Daniel E. Kelley
Performed by Lisa Loeb
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User Reviews

A Wonderful Hour of Television
28 March 2015 | by See all my reviews

Even though "The Good Wife" has dedicated episodes, and memorable ones at that, to elections in the past, they put a compelling spin on the story device this time, which is both efficient and compact in its storytelling.

After watching "Red Meat," it dawned on me why the previous episode was so weak from a narrative perspective: the writers room passed off "Open Source" quickly in order to dedicate more time to priming "Red Meat," the episode where it counts. Not only is this a wonderful hour of television, but there's an enormous sense of revival in the dominant narrative. Though "Mind's Eye" is one of the greatest episodes in the entire series, "The Good Wife" has not been running through plot like it was the first half of the season. "Red Meat" reminds me of how I felt after watching "The Line," like Robert and Michelle King hit a literal "Refresh" button on their eminent creative talent.

It's a tricky writing blend that "Red Meat" manages, but it handles every tricky challenge with subtly striking execution. Each point of the episode is carefully decided and carried out in the teleplay; writer Nichelle Tramble Spellman has leaped over that mid-season hump by covering so much plot in the most simplistic, yet sly, methods possible. The way Johnny and Alicia's relationship was handled is fascinating, because the titillating apex and the affecting conclusion was hidden from us, whereas most expected their affair to be shown explicitly. "Red Meat" is pulled so tightly that literally every moment counts for something: there's a plethora of character development, a great utilization of the roaster of characters, an expert summation of this individual's story episode and lingering story threads for the writers to grab onto for the rest of the season.

Going into "Red Meat," I knew Alicia was going to end the episode as the victor of the race. So as much as that arc was satisfying, the point at which the episode shocked me was the kitchen scene between Bishop and Kalinda. Bishop unleashes two bombshells on Kalinda, and we are as dumbfounded as she is: 1) The car following Kalinda and Dylan to school was in fact the State's Attorney's office tailing Kalinda, not Dylan. Archie Panjabi majestically expressed Kalinda's mini- panic through body language and her eyes, and even though this was a guessable pivot, it still shook me. 2) Bishop is "quitting" his drug empire and funded Alicia's PAC to cultivate his relationship with her, so that she would help him when he decided to quit. This was the bigger revelation of the two, because it was so unforeseeable yet fits perfectly into the arc that has been building since October.

"Red Meat," besides revealing the outcome of the election, is the reawakening of Diane Lockhart and Christine Baranski. Part of season five's success involved Diane's prominence to the plot, and a criticism of Baranski's devout fans have wailed all season is the exchange of focus from Diane to Cary/Kalinda. But "Red Meat" features the most screen time for Diane since last year, and her portion of the episode is a bundle of political fun. Aren't Baranski and Gary Cole just the cutest couple you have ever seen? An element to Diane's character that has been lost since season one is her perverted relationship with guns. "Red Meat" brings that curious political paradox back to the character, and exercises a motif of power using guns by Diane's conservative adventures and Alicia's electronic distractions.

I have always said Alicia is the supreme female television character (especially when compared to other imposing roles like Carrie Mathison from "Homeland"), because she's ever-changing. Every time we think we have her figured out, the Kings set her in a new direction that we were not expecting. And this unexpected complexity is where Julianna Margulies is able to thrive. Though Alicia is not in love with Peter anymore and resents him for her missed opportunity with Will, when she saw his name on the caller ID after her victory was announced, Margulies exuded a thorny sense of disappointment when Alicia heard Eli's voice, not Peter's. It may be my favorite, most authentic moment of "Red Meat."

Now that the State's Attorney's race is over, the most logical plot development would be to make the Florrick's marriage the primary focus, and maybe have their strained marital arrangement erupt. Peter and Alicia have been squabbling all season long, "Red Meat" is evidence of their cold, antagonistic professional partnership beginning to detonate. The two characters spent the entire episode at odds, yet they come together in the final scene to promote their brand. When you look back on "Red Meat" you'll likely picture Peter joining Alicia at the victory celebration and the feigned stability of their marriage simulated for the public eye. It's a bracing final scene, especially when we take into account that her lust lies with Johnny, who leaves when he sees Peter and Alicia rising as a power couple in the final scene, and her heart, unbeknownst to Alicia herself, belongs to Finn, who diverted her anxiety for the duration of uncertain election drama.

"Red Meat" is undefeated in its attentive scripting of such a crucial turning point for the season, one that will impact the rest of the series and the characters forever. It masters brevity in an episode where a profusion of plot advancements transpire in dramatic and comedic ways.

Grade: A


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