Elsbeth premiere twist: Why is Elsbeth really in New York?

The premiere of Elsbeth revealed the surprising real reason the quirky lawyer is in New York. What does this mean for the show?

Carrie Preston stars as Elsbeth Tascioni and Wendell Pierce stars as Captain C.W. Wagner in ELSBETH, a new drama based on the character featured in THE GOOD WIFE and THE GOOD FIGHT. The show follows Elsbeth Tascioni, an astute but unconventional attorney who, after her successful career in Chicago, utilizes her singular point of view to make unique observations and corner brilliant criminals alongside the NYPD. ELSBETH premiers in the 2023-2024 season on the CBS Television Network, and available
Carrie Preston stars as Elsbeth Tascioni and Wendell Pierce stars as Captain C.W. Wagner in ELSBETH, a new drama based on the character featured in THE GOOD WIFE and THE GOOD FIGHT. The show follows Elsbeth Tascioni, an astute but unconventional attorney who, after her successful career in Chicago, utilizes her singular point of view to make unique observations and corner brilliant criminals alongside the NYPD. ELSBETH premiers in the 2023-2024 season on the CBS Television Network, and available /
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Elsbeth just premiered on CBS, but fans of The Good Wife may be confused as to why the titular character is going from legal cases to crime-solving. Just why is Elsbeth in New York? 

Caution: This article contains spoiers for Elsbeth Episode 1

For fans of The Good Wife, seeing Elsbeth Tascioni back on television is a joy. The character played by Carrie Preston became a popular recurring face on the Emmy-winning drama, an incredibly quirky attorney whose oddball persona hides her legal genius. Preston would play the role in several episodes of The Good Wife and its spin-off, The Good Fight, and earned an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.

Now, this spin-off puts Elsbeth front and center as the Chicago lawyer moves to New York as part of a “consent decree” to oversee the cops there. It’s meant to be just a legal job, but Elsbeth soon sticks her nose into a murder investigation and figures out she was killed by a teacher (played by Preston’s True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer), which the audience had already seen. 

Captain Wagner (Wendell Pierce) wasn’t sure about Elsbeth but eventually recognized her skills as she helped prove who the killer was. The episode ended with the pair ready to begin a new partnership…only for a twist to come in. 

The surprise twist of Elsbeth’s move to New York

In the final moments, Elsbeth got a call from her bosses at the Justice Department as it turns out the real reason she’d gotten into this investigation was to look at Wagner, who was suspected of corruption. Elsbeth couldn’t believe it, but her boss ordered her to keep at her job. 

Thus, the series will have the subplot that Elsbeth is trying to figure out if Wagner is corrupt or not while dealing with mysteries. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Preston shared how this unique dynamic plays out. 

"There’s a wonderful tension because she loves this job and she has to answer to the Department of Justice. She has to answer to the people who brought her there, so she does have to carry through with this investigation, but she’s finding that she really likes Captain Wagner and finds him to be incredibly upstanding."

Preston mentioned that after years as a defense attorney, Elsbeth is now about “finding truth,” and that may mean finding some secrets Wagner is keeping. It’s an intriguing spin on the premise as Elsbeth has to keep up secretly investigating her new boss and makes this new series more intriguing than ever.

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Elsbeth airs Thursdays at 10/9c on CBS and streams the following day on Paramount+.