"For the first time in my life, I don't have to answer to anyone."
That's what Alicia (Julianna Margulies) says to Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) on the Season 7 premiere of The Good Wife (Sunday, 9/8c, CBS) -- and for the first time, it's actually true. "Alicia is starting from scratch," executive producer Michelle King tells TVGuide.com. "She is truly on her own this year, which we haven't really seen yet."
Though she found herself in a similar position as two years ago in the Season 6 finale -- with someone asking her to partner -- Alicia will turn down Louis' offer and instead attempt to revitalize her career as a bar attorney while launching her own firm.
How will she fare? Who are all the new faces? Get the scoop below.
1. The name is bond -- bond court: It was a no-brainer for Michelle and her husband/co-executive producer Robert King to have Alicia turn to the gritty bond courts after the State's Attorney election scandal. "Alicia has had sort of a blessed life after coming back from [Peter's] scandal. She had Will Gardner get her into a law firm and protect her there. It hasn't been easy and there's been a lot of office politics, but it hasn't been like her coming right out of law school," Robert says. She'll get a taste of the life of a newbie lawyer in bond court, where bar attorneys help arrestees seek bail and it's a rush of cases one after another.
"They're arrestees who don't need public defenders because they're not that poor, but they're not rich enough to have their own attorneys," Robert says. "It's really about her dealing with more what the law is like for people, which is going to bond cases every day. It's like 90 seconds per case. We wanted to see Alicia deal with the law the way most people practice, which is not for rich people like Colin Sweeney or ChumHum. It's really like what is it like for someone today who is arrested on the streets of Chicago. That fascinates us obviously."
2. Lucca Quinn: While in bond court, Alicia befriends the gung-ho Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo), a fellow bar attorney who's a few years out of law school. "They're working side by side, but the irony is Lucca is more recently out of law school but is more familiar with this world," Michelle says. Though they compete for clients, there's no outright hatred between them, and they each later bail the other out of a jam. So might Lucca be Alicia's new drinking buddy? "We love Cush and I think their relationship is an interesting one," Robert says. "She takes Alicia under her wing. It's weird. Alicia is not in the mentor position; she's in the mentee position. But she's showing her the ropes."
3. Jason Crouse: Alicia can't do this completely alone. That's where Jeffrey Dean Morgan comes in. The Extant star plays Jason Crouse, a rakish, leather jacket-wearing investigator with a mysterious hand injury that he won't tell Alicia about. There's instant chemistry there, but Jason won't be exclusive to Alicia -- professionally, that is. "He comes in freelance. The question is: Is he going to make himself available to Lockhart, Agos and Lee?" Robert says. "He plays both places at once." And as for romance? "The sparks do fly," Michelle teases.
4. The Good Second Lady? Yup, Peter (Chris Noth) is going full steam ahead with his presidential campaign to position himself as a viable VP candidate on the Democratic ticket. That puts the onus back on Alicia to decide if she still wants to be the picture-perfect good wife. "She's savvy enough now to know that her public image isn't her image. It isn't who she is. She knows that it helps Peter's campaign if she's seen as the good wife who has cookie recipes," Robert says. "They referred to Hillary back in the '92 campaign where she in a sense had to pretend to be the housewife and mother. Does Alicia Florrick have to do that because it helps Peter seem more like a family man? That's what she struggles with."
5. Peter vs. Hillary: Don't worry, the show is not going to cast Hillary Clinton or any other real-life presidential candidate. Instead, the Kings plan to follow the Democratic primary in real time and write in Peter's campaign. "It's gonna comment a little bit on what's going on in the Democratic primary, but yes, Peter will be running against the real Hillary," Robert says. "Peter, as the governor of Illinois, is trying to come in at least second place in the Iowa caucus because that's the way he can make himself look better to Hillary Clinton as a vice presidential candidate or whoever gets the nomination."
6. The Miracle Worker: To maximize his chances, Peter will recruit Ruth Eastman (Margo Martindale), a renowned campaign strategist who puts hopefuls on the map, usually in Iowa. "In campaigns past, she basically was the Iowa Whisperer," Robert says. "She was the one who was able to get candidates who were unknown there some mileage in the caucus, either come in the top or second place. She is not working for Hillary, so it's someone Peter and Eli [Alan Cumming] want to pull in for their campaign and get her magic."
That magic includes a sweet, grandma-esque personality, but don't be fooled -- Ruth puts the "ruth" in "ruthless." "She really is a cunning Machiavellian woman who is just as strong as Eli and goes toe to toe with Eli on a lot of issues," Robert continues. "Margo and Alan are fantastic together. It's like Eli has finally met his match."
7. Cary in crisis: Poor Cary (Matt Czuchry). After going to jail and losing Kalinda last year, he will now face a quarter-life crisis of sorts. "He's one of those Caucasian graduates from Harvard who seems to be blessed and everything goes his way," Robert says. "But what's funny is everything wasn't going his way. He was fired twice from Lockhart Gardner. He was fired from the State's Attorney's Office. He brought Alicia over and then he was arrested last season. This season, we wanted to see what happens when Cary gets all his wishes. Every single wish he's had in life, which is to run one of the top firms in Chicago, have his name on the letterhead, have people obey him, have now come true."
And yet, Cary will be unhappy, as he finds himself caught in between the senior partners who are 20 years older and the younger associates. "He looks at the associates across the hall and everyone seems to be having more fun," Robert says. "He kind of looks back to when he was struggling nostalgically, kind of like when people get what they want and they look back affectionately. He needs a new challenge. But we learn he's really nostalgic for when he and Alicia were working together. There's something about the struggle they had, the yin and yang of it, that made Cary a better person in a sense. Does he need Alicia again? He needs to find what his next goal is, which is frankly very exciting."
The Good Wife returns Sunday at 9/8c on CBS.
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