Welcome back, Good Wife-ers! I hope you're having a better new year than our heroes, as Peter, Alicia and company try to make a strong showing in Iowa while suffering dim-witted journalists, loose meat sandwiches, and a rapping colonial fanatic. All does not go as hoped.
The episode picks up where the quietly shocking mid-season finale ended: Eli admitting to Alicia that he erased Will's love-confessing voice mail from her phone. He prevented her happiness and took away a choice that could have changed her life. Alicia spends the rest of the episode wondering about it.
After Eli's reveal, Alicia calmly takes his glass of Scotch and tells him to leave. While he stands there, not leaving, she takes a stack of dishes from a cabinet, sorts out the fancier of them, and then takes the not-so-good plates and throws them at Eli. It's scary, and sad, to see Alicia lose her temper so terribly. But Eli gets the message and leaves.
She even misses any shot she may have had with Jason, when he visits before heading off to San Francisco, because all she can think about is Will. Heartbreaking.
Problem is, Alicia has to spend hours in Eli's presence on a bus tour of Iowa. Fortunately, Ruth Eastman and the rest of Peter's campaign provide a buffer, allowing Alicia to give Eli the cold shoulder. She's too busy hiding under dark sunglasses and drowning herself in mope rock to pay any of them any mind—even Zach and Grace.
Ruth notices and talks to Alicia, who admits she's second-guessing her life all the way back to Georgetown, where she would have said yes to another man who loved her. Ack! Ruth attempts to fix the problem by saying Alicia probably would have ended up more or less in the same place. It's interesting to see this sympathetic-in-appearance side of Ruth, while questioning whether she's really genuine.
The campaign tries to complete "the full Grassley," visiting all 99 counties of Iowa—and apparently eating 99 loose meat sandwiches, Iowa's staple—before the caucus. The remaining three counties are a crapshoot. The first appears to be a ghost town, with only one real supporter: Season 2's odd high school teacher and "Florrick Fanatic" (played by the brilliant Broadway star Christopher Sieber). But they gather enough fans to look like a massive group on camera, and Mo Rocca's idiot journalist Ted Willoughby helps sell it.
The second county appears to have a healthy crowd—but they're all booing. Turns out Willoughby's shrewd producer leaked footage they took of Alicia telling Eli that it's a nightmare for her to be on the bus. She's forced to do another interview so full of spin that it's dizzying, to appease the viewers and explain what she "really" meant by the comment.
But things are worse at the final county: Peter can't quite choke down that last loose meat sandwich and spits it into a napkin—while unknowingly on camera. Oh Peter. That offends all of Iowa, who if we didn't already know of its weirdness from "The Music Man," we sure know now.
When the group gets to the caucus, where they need at least 29 supporters to be considered viable, they discover not a single person waiting for them. They rally for 30 minutes, looking touch and go for a while, but Peter's fanatic steps up at the last minute and saves the day.
It turns out to be moot, however, as Peter's campaign falls very short. Despite hoping for second place, they end up all the way in "a distant" fourth. We viewers knew he couldn't have won, or the show would end up in some alternate reality where Florrick competes against Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. But it's sad for Peter and Ruth.
Alicia, however, doesn't seem to care. She even admits to Peter that she and Eli fought about the past, and that Peter is better off not knowing about that. Eli tells Ruth that she overreached, and that Alicia is the real candidate anyway. She's the one audiences love.
So who knows what lies ahead for Peter's political future, or how Alicia fits into it. At least they'll both be gaining a new father-in-law.
Remember that? Peter's mother, Jackie, remains engaged to Howard Lyman, and Lucca helps her settle their prenuptial agreement. Jason discovers Howard has $2.2 million he hadn't disclosed. Apparently David Lee hid it when they were negotiating Alicia's exit package—which is fraud.
After briefly suspecting Howard of senility, then learning about Peter's caucus experience, Jackie decides to drop the prenup, thinking Peter will no longer push it now that he's lost the election. And I'm just starting to warm up to the idea of Jackie and Howard, at least a little.
That's not the only problem Cary and Diane face, as the Fair Employment Practices Agencies investigate the firm for discriminatory hiring practices, even though Monica, who initially complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is now part of the firm. Eventually Cary blames Howard for the office's racially insensitive climate (technically at least partially true), and appeases the FEPA board by promising his retirement.