The Good Wife: Taxed

E: You know what your problem is, Alicia?  You care too much.

Ah, it’s been quite a while since that could be said of our Alicia.  What a refreshing change!  Huzzah!  Woop woop! Please excuse me while I rung around the room with some noise makers.  It’s really nice to see that desire for justice awake in her, isn’t it?  Now, maybe the show’s point was that the injustice is going to make her run away, because she can’t be properly uncaring like she ought to be, and maybe I’m just pathetically grateful for even the smallest sop to her old personality, but it was awesome while it lasted.

The episode starts with a vlog episode playing on a computer screen; a young woman named Alexa talks to her loyal followers from her vacation in Oregon.  Shockingly, she’s not there for the hiking or the fauna: she’s suffering from a glioblastoma multiform (“which sounds like the worst IKEA piece ever,” she laughs through tears and snot) and so she’s there for the suicide drugs.  Judge Thomas Treem (Saul Rubinek, Artie from Warehouse 13) and a middle aged man and woman watch gravely, sitting at the front of a graciously paneled, empty courtroom vast enough to house Bond Court at least twice. “So I just dined on some applesauce du jour,” she says, devastated and bravely mocking, “with broken up pentobarbital mixed in.  My last supper.” She tilts her head and smiles, winsome despite her obvious distress. “Some gallows humor.” She waggles her eyebrows, trying to retain a sort of ironic distance from her impending death, but can’t; her eyes mist with tears. “It’s … I can’t live with the pain anymore.  I don’t want to live with only misery to look forward to.”

A tall, gaunt, gray haired man stands. “You can see why we want this video excluded from trial, Your Honor,” he explains, voice gravelly.  “It is intended to bias the jury.”  Of course you think it’s biased, Louis Canning contends, standing to teeter about the room on an arm brace. “The fully abled have a bias of the blessed.”  Ah.  Interesting, seeing him on the liberal side of an issue. “They can’t fathom having to make a decision like the one Alexa Banner had to make.”  Sad as Miss Banner’s story is, the gray man counters in his folksy voice, this video has no relevance… and that’s when Canning disrupts his rhythm by dropping a brace.

The tiny trickster apologizes, and bends with glacial slowness to retrieve the brace. “It is merely an attempt,” the Gray Man begins, and now I feel certain he must do voice over work for investment companies or the like, his tone is so fatherly, so kindly, as reassuring as a warm cup of tea; alas, even he can’t help by being fascinated (as is the judge) with Canning’s slow stretch for the cane, and his voice fails.  (He’s played by character actor and singer Don Sparks, so of course he’s familiar.)  Eventually, Judge Treem gestures to the fallen brace, and the Gray Man, awoken, surges forward to restore it.  In the gallery, Diane rolls her eyes. The point, The Gray Man says, is that the two doctors Canning is defending (presumably the providers of the pentobarbital) broke the law and so they’re the plaintiffs in a wrongful death lawsuit.  Canning, in answer, once again knocks over his cane, throwing Earl Gray there off his rhythm irreparably.  The judge can’t take his eyes off Canning as the small man stands and, one hand on the defense table, tries to execute a slow motion ballet-like lunge for the brace.  Early Gray can’t even get his thesis sentence (assisted suicide bad!) out of his mouth.

Again, Diane shakes her head.

That’s when Peter Gallagher plunks down into the seat next to her.  Peter Gallagher!  (They seriously, seriously, need to do some sort of cast album.  Can you imagine? I was completely obsessed with the Guys & Dolls revival he co-starred in with fellow Good Wife guest star Nathan Lane and eventual Oscar winner J.K. Simmons.  What a gorgeous, gorgeous voice.)  Who’s winning, he wonders, making her nervous.  She doesn’t want to say; I don’t know, she lies.  Oh, I think you do, he smirks.  Do I know you, she wonders. “I don’t even think Canning needs those canes,” he suggests, his tone droll.  “I think they’re props.”

Sir, I’m sorry to interrupt, but I have to focus on this, she tells him. I know, he says, turning toward her, leaning into her personal space. “I’m Mr. Dipple’s personal counsel.”  Oh.  Interesting.  “Ethan Carver,” he says, extending his hand. “Are you checking up on me?” she wonders; perish the thought. “No. Him,” Carver says, jerking his head toward Earl Gray. “That’s why he’s fired. And you’re replacing him.”  Diane’s jaw drops.

(Oh, God, I’ve totally fallen down the rabbit hole of that album.  It’s just so good.)

In the courtroom hall, Diane follows Carver as he thumbs through his phone. Her silk jacket has black shoulders and band of orange across the chest, with a strip of brown beneath it. “Mr. Dipple assured me I would not have to argue in court,” she tells him, blocking his path, but when he looks up she doesn’t have his attention.  “What does AWTTW mean in a text?” he wonders before railing against the texting-produced butchery of the English language, fitting right in with Diane’s complaints from last week about the lack of proper commitment from new lawyers.  A word to the wise, she explains, while insisting that she was only there to prep Oakman (Earl Gray) on what the defense might argue against him; a devil’s advocate. She won’t argue the case in court. Yes you will, Carver insists, putting his phone and its offensive language conventions back in his pocket; you’ve been prepping for it for six months.

Not to make the arguments in court, she protests, and not in an anti-euthanasia case, which it’s clearly no matter how much he insists that the true issue is parental rights. “But Mr. Dipple wants to use this to beat back advances in physician assisted suicide, right?”  Though I don’t really remember hearing her talk on this issue before, it calls out of her the intensity and fervor normally inspired by gun control and the death penalty. “I can’t support that!  I am pro-euthanasia!”

“Miss Lockhart,” Carver puts up a defensive hand, “I hate being a bully.” Gee, why do I think that’s the start of an uncomfortable moment for her?  “I get very tense. Mr. Dipple compensates you very well. If you don’t take over this case, we will lose. There is no one else who knows it as well as you.”  As a devil’s advocate, she reminds him. “Yes, but who knows the advocate’s case better than the devil?” he suggests, leaning in again. His voice is pleasant, but there’s no getting around it. Do the case, or lose Dipple’s millions.

In contrast to Judge Treem’s expansive, wood-paneled domain, Judge Schakowsky’s glass, metal and plastic terrarium looks even more cramped and miserable than usual.  As always, an unseen baby cries as a sheriff calls in the new crop of defendants. “Gentlemen, you have been arrested,” he says, varying up his pitch a little. “It is our job to determine if you deserve bail, and how much.”  He looks at his desk. “Think of it as a sorting hat,” he adds, which makes me smile and wish I could like him even a little. “From Harry Potter.  We’re sorting you.”  I’m not sure it’s a good metaphor for this experience, but whatever.

“So where are we?” red-faced Bernie asks Lucca: like Don Weingarten, sitting on her other side, Lucca and Bernie are ignoring the crowding courtroom for their phones.  “I lead with 12,560 pounds,” she announces, head high. The men complain. “I got the last guy. 320 pounds, it was on his arrest report.”  What? So who’s second?  We have a tie, she says, and Alicia walks in, greeting them politely. “What’d I miss?”

“We just got back from lunch, and we are tied,” Bernie says. “11,300 lbs. Alicia, 11,250 lbs. Bernie, a virtual tie,” Lucca reads off her phone. I’m sorry, what, Alicia asks in confusion. “And Don brings up the rear…” Bernie continues without looking. “…that’s only because I got anorexic shoplifters,” Don interrupts. “More shoplifters sinned against than sinning,” Lucca snarks. “Don, at 9,650 lbs of anorexic shoplifters.”

Excuse me, Alicia repeats, but what are we talking about here?  Why Alicia, that’s a very good question. Perps for pounds, Bernie adds.  Today’s shoplifter day (is that a thing, that everyone arrested for shoplifting gets prosecuted on the same day? weird) and they’re in a contest to see who gets the heaviest or most clients. Are they serious?  Yes, Bernie says, deadly serious. “Whoever wins gets choice of which days to work.”  What?  Wow, how classy and empathetic.  You’re competing for who clears the most cases by weight, Alicia half-laughs, horrified. “We are,” Lucca corrects her; oh no I’m not, Alicia answers. “Ah, you’re in second place.  Yes you are,” Don insists.

And now we’ve reached the point where Schakowsky calls up the four bar attorneys in attendance.  As he warns them that not hiring the bar attorneys will result in them not getting sorted until tomorrow, we get a look at the incoming crop of men: a moderately muscled guy, one who’s fat but short, then an absolutely enormous man who must weigh well in excess of three hundred pounds. “Are we all understanding?  Bully!” Schakowsky calls out, sticking with his catch phrase if nothing else.  He assigns the attorneys their cases.  They all seem to have around 18 cases, though there aren’t nearly that many men in the holding terrarium.  For the first time since we’ve seen him, Bernie hustles so he’s first to call for a client.  “Male 118!  It’s on your hand, look at your hand!”  As the smaller fat man look at the back of his hand, Bernie’s mouth curves up in an avaricious smile.  Sadly for him, Male 118 stands, a scrawny, wild haired fellow in a tank top.

Behind him, Lucca smirks. “Male 98? Where are you, Male 98?” She stops smiling when she sees her guy, who can’t possible reach five feet in height. “Too bad, Lucca,” Don doesn’t quite whisper.  Alicia, setting herself apart, calls for her client by name, Daniel Rojas.  (Not merely humanizing, but more efficient!)  As Don walks around her, he looks at Daniel Rojas’s width approvingly.  “Good, good,” he says. “Keep Lucca from winning. She always wins.”  I’m not playing, Alicia insists. “Well, that’s fine with me, but what are you gonna do? Not clear his case?”  Alicia rolls her eyes, and then turns to broad and intimidating Rojas, who’s glares at her, unamused.

And the luck of the draw is definitely with Alicia, because she’s also snagged the enormous man, perhaps six and a half feet, his blue t-shirt swaddling his rounded belly.  He’s released at time served (repeat offended but hey, he only stole 45 bucks; no Javerts here) and Lucca steps up to take the next case. “Way to wipe that cocky smile off Bernie’s face,” she grins. I’m not playing, Alicia snaps.  “I’m not!” Well, it’s good to know she still has some standards, though it’s perhaps sad they had to dig this deeply to find them.

Anyway.  We’ve moved on to a terrarium full of women; Alicia gets a sad middle aged looking woman who pilfered something from a liquor store.  As that woman wanders, our attention (and Alicia’s) is caught by a woman insisting to Bernie that she’s innocent.  It’s your first offense, he says; the judge will go easy on you, you get probation, you go home today. “But I didn’t steal anything,” the woman repeats. “It was a gift. I brought it back so I could exchange it.”

There’s no time for this, Bernie tells her as we’ve heard Alicia tells man clients before.  “They said I was making a false return,” the woman explains, African American, probably in her late twenties, slight.  Her clothes are casual, middle class without looking expensive, a button down and a denim jacket. “I stole it so I could get money.”  If you want to fight this, it’ll take months of your life and thousands of dollars, Bernie presses; Alicia watches this with interests as her own client struggles to puts on a vest, wasting their precious moments. I couldn’t look at my kids after saying I was guilty, the woman complains. We don’t have time to discuss this, Bernie insists. “The State’s Attorney might even add charges if you insist on your innocence,” he adds, and Alicia’s eyes go wide.  He can do that, Bernie’s client asks, shocked. “He can do whatever he wants,” Bernie tells her. “He’s a real son of a bitch.”  It’s hard to disagree when the ASA in question is Matan.

I don’t care, the woman decides.  I’m not guilty.  Okay, I’ll see what concessions I can wring from the prosecutors, Bernie frowns. “But you have to get yourself in a  new frame of mind, m’am.  You’re under arrest.  Sometimes it doesn’t make a difference if you did it or not.”

Well.  That’s about as cynical as they come. It’s not super shocking, but it doesn’t sit well.

Shaking her head in disgust, Bernie’s defendant notices Alicia watching her. “You trying to guess my weight?” she asks. “I heard your friends laughing.  You score points based on your clients’ weight, right?” Well none of them are going to want you, girl; what are the chances she’s even 100 pounds?  Alicia looks ashamed. “I’m not doing that, m’am,” she says, looking at the floor. Well, then what IS she doing?  Making a decision, that’s what.

Alicia leans forward. He’s lying, she says, looking briefly toward Bernie. “The prosecutor can’t add charges because you won’t take a plea.”  At that moment, when the young mother’s eyes are wide with hope, Alicia’s recalcitrant client finally shows up, breaking the brief connection; she’s quickly followed by Bernie with a plea deal of  a year’s probation.  “No,” the woman frowns, sounding empowered. “You’re fired.  I want her.”  Alicia, reciting her rote speech to Vest Lady, looks up in consternation.

“This is nothing more than a ploy, Your Honor,” Diane stands. And clearly it is; Louis Canning wants the trial transferred to Oregon, where the drugs were sold, to get a more favorable outcome, and obviously Diane wants to keep the trial where the suicide occurred, Illinois, where assisted suicide is not-coincidentally still illegal.  Really, it’s all an excuse for Canning to pull one of his patented tricks – he staggers back into his seat and collapses into it.  I’ll be okay in a second, he waves off the judge’s concern bravely, scratching at his jacket pocket for a pill bottle.  Immediately Diane walks over to him, takes the bottle, and opens it.   Having blunted his performance, Diane wins back the judge’s attention, and keeps the trial where it is, much to the pleasure of Ethan Carver in the gallery.

“Why’re you doing this, Diane?” Canning asks once the session ends, trying as ever to crack his opponents resolve. “You’re fighting for a cause you fundamentally don’t believe in!”  Because you make me angry, she snaps, stooping toward him.

“Mr. Dipple has been very pleased with the work you’ve been doing these last few months,” Carver tells the elderly board at Lockhart, Agos & Lee.  Sigh.  “So keep it up,” he finishes jovially, “but keep the billable hours down.”  Ha ha.  They laugh and clap, sycophants that they are, and as the board disperses, Cary asks Carver what else they can do for him.  Unsurprisingly, there’s something.  It seems that there’s a bill in front of the Illinois State legislature to legalize assisted suicide, something which has a better chance of passing since a prominent local medical association just dropped its opposition. And that would give the governor a chance to approve or disapprove it. “I understand you know the governor’s wife, Alicia Florrick,” Carver continues, and Diane, deeply uncomfortable, looks at the floor.  What a nightmare for her; burnt bridges, arguing the wrong side of a case…

“You want us to talk her?” Cary realizes. “Blocking assisted suicide is an issue Mr. Dipple feels in his gut,” Carver nods. “He wants to fight this on every front possible.”  In a dangerous tone, Diane weighs in. “Alicia doesn’t’ work here anymore because Mr. Dipple didn’t want her,” she reminds Carver, and Cary steps in to smooth the moment over.  We’ll see what we can do, he promises.

“You screwed me out of my fee,” Bernie accuses Alicia. “You try to sabotage me so you can take the day.”  Alicia smiles, patronizing; does he really think this was about his little game? “She was about to take the deal until you stuck your nose in it!”  Yeah, I didn’t get that impression at all, although your lying to her had made her resolve waver.

What’s going on, Lucca asks, breaking in to their conversation.  She’s trying to screw me  out of my fee, Bernie declares, outraged. When Alicia tries to explain, Lucca cuts her off; it’s a professional courtesy not to snake each others’ fees.  “Florricks apparently do.  Need an election? Just steal it.”  Oh dear.  Talk about burning bridges. “Go to hell, Bernie,” Alicia tells him, cold. “No,” he snaps. “You want her and her 120 pounds so much? Go for it!” He slaps her file into Alicia’s hands; the two women exchange a serious look as he charges off.

So when Female 42 steps out of the terrarium, it’s Alicia who pleads her case. Or rather, it’s Alicia’s client who refuses to plead out. Unfortunately my client cannot allocute, Alicia explains, despite the amazing deal of a year’s probation for a $899 theft accusation.  It’s a good offer, Matan pipes up helpfully (is it really?), and the judge wants to know why she won’t take it.  I mean, I get that’s a really expensive sweater, but still. The judge asks the client to take the deal, saying her records can be sealed six months after the probation ends.  But I didn’t steal anything, the client insists, and everyone turns to look at her, apparently stunned she’d dare speak.   Schakowsky calls the counselors up to do away with any such outbursts.

Sweeten the deal, Matan, he says, it’s her first arrest. “I can live with six months,” Matan decides, “but that’s my basement.”  Good to know, but I don’t think any of you are hearing this woman. My client won’t take it, Alicia warns them. “Then do your damn job and sell it to her,” Breakfast wags a threatening finger at her. “And don’t you dare slow me down.”  Oh, God. “I’ll call you in a minute.”    He calls the next case.

I could probably get her to do it if you reduce the charge to a misdemeanor, Alicia tells Matan, but he won’t budge on a guilty plea. Alicia tries.  “What?  All I did was return a sweater,” the woman frowns, outraged. “This is… I’m not admitting to anything.”  Good for you!  “Maia, listen to me,” Alicia says. You won’t serve an hour in jail, and it won’t stay on your record for more than a year total.

Breakfast calls them back up. “So, we, ah, closing this out?”  Nope. “Seriously?  He offered you six months!  Six!”  Yes, sir.  She can hear. And she can also count.  But the client, Maia, is not guilty, and won’t say that she is.  Breakfast calls her up again, and instructs her to give the rest of her defendant sheets to the sheriff so he can redistribute them to the other three lawyers who aren’t pissing the judge off.   “Call it quid pro quo for the time you’re costing this court,” he says, rubbing his finger tips together in classic villainous fashion. “Your Honor!” she protests, outraged by his pettiness. “You can sit on that pew with your precious client until preliminary hearings, for all I care!” he declares, and then calls the next case. “Your Honor, this is unfair,” she sputters, and he looks her full in the eye. “M’am, when did you think Bond Court was about being fair?”  She backs away from him.

What’s going on, Lucca wonders after seeing Alicia hand over her caseload to the sheriff. “I’m being taxed,” Alicia snarks, furious.

Alicia opens her apartment door to Cary’s smiling face. “Remember me?” he says, and aw, it’s nice to see him in charm mode.  And remember his electrifying appearance at her door at the end of season four, except that just reminds me of the disasters since… okay, back to the present.  I love her color blocked white jacket with the greige and black sections, linear and stark and striking.  That’s much better to focus on.

They sit down in her office, where she’d previously been going over campaign scheduling with Eli. In a nod to their old partnership, they sit next to each other on the near side of her desk instead of on opposite sides of it, which makes me smile. “I like your office,” Cary decides, and she looks around the room, filled with pretty blues and whites, pleased with it too. “It reminds me of when we started out here.” Indeed.

“So,” he moves on, “I came to ask you if you’d lobby Peter on a bill.”  Okay, I’m glad he just came out with it, I guess.   Of course, when he says its the physician assisted suicide act, Alicia assumes he wants her help getting Peter to sign the bill; it takes a little pulling to get the whole story, but Cary explains that if she can give Reese Dipple this win, he’d let her come back to the firm.  “You sway Peter on this bill, and Dipple will sprinkle rose petals as you step off the elevator.”  It seems clear Cary would really prefer to have Alicia back at the firm — he’s clearly not enjoying his time there without Alicia, Kalinda or anyone else his age — but I fear he may be making promises he can’t keep.  It doesn’t matter, though; Alicia’s enjoying her independence too much to give it up.

“I’m happy here, Cary,” she smiles, looking relaxed. “I like what I’m doing.”  You do?  Really?  Even after the pounds of perps and the taxation and the bribery and the whole crazy?  Its not a lot of money, Cary points out, but when I look at her new office furniture, I don’t really see someone who’s hurting.

“I know,” she concedes, “but when I ask something from Peter, and he asks for something back … and I don’t want to be asked for something.  Especially not physician’s assisted suicide.” You’d think Peter’d be leery of landing on either side of a controversial issue during a national campaign. Eli, tapping on his phone, looks through the open french doors into Alicia’s office.  What big ears you have, grandma.

“No mother should have to watch their child go through what Alexa did,” Alexa’s mom tells the court from the stand; she was the woman from the opening scene.  Also, obviously not. “I just wish she could have held on a little bit longer.”  But isn’t that selfish, Diane wonders.  Why make her hold on if she was in so much pain?  You can see that Carver’s a little nervous in the gallery; is Diane throwing it? “I could have let her go if she was terminal,” the mother says, “but she wasn’t.”  Canning almost falls off his chair so he can object to the mother making her own diagnosis; his clients can speak to that, he says, far better. You’d be surprised what kind of an expert you can become when your child is gets brain cancer, the mother interjects. I have a feeling that Google University won’t really count as a degree.   Let me rule on the objections, m’am, Judge Treem politely tells the witness – and then overrules the objection.

So Diane bring sit up directly; didn’t the doctors say she was terminal?  A mere week before they prescribed the pills that killed her, Duke University announced a new treatment for glioblastoma.  As soon as the words are out of her mouth, Canning pushes a brace of the table. “Let me help you with those, Mr.Canning,” Diane offers with alacrity, smoothly and gracefully plucking the braces from the floor and setting them just outside easy reach at the far edge of his massive, ornately carved wooden table .  From the size to the decor to the judge’s behavior, the contrast between the two courtrooms couldn’t be greater.

Okay, so the deal with the Duke study is this: they inject the polio virus into the tumor, and it kills the tumor, but somehow not the healthy cells. “And if your daughter had been told that there’d be hope in this treatment?”  Mrs. Banner starts to cry, her face crumpling. “She’d still be here.” Diane pauses.  Does Mrs. Banner need a moment?  No.  “If I knew about this treatment, why didn’t they? Why did they give her drugs to kill herself, instead of giving her hope? That’s not what doctor’s are supposed to do.”

Jason Crouse lounges outside Alicia’s apartment, raising his eyebrows over his glasses and smiling at her through his gray beard.  Why didn’t you go in, she asks after greeting him; I thought you found another investigator, he flirts, and my feelings were hurt.  What’s with this guy and all the flirting and never ever telling the truth? He’s an interesting enigma, no?  Well, Alicia shrugs, we were broke.  What?  I thought they’d called him last week and we just didn’t see him?  Whatever.  There is flirting.  He’s back.  That is all.

We found a client, she tells him, walking in, who’s willing to pay for three hours of your time. “Really?” he grins, “how extravagant.  Starting now?”

“She’s telling the truth,” an genteel-looking older woman in a mustard colored top under a royal blue cardigan tells them. “I bought the sweater for my daughter on her birthday.”  Of course, the trouble was, she doesn’t still have the receipt for the sweater she bought on or around August 16th.  (Oh no!  We’re getting close to school time!  I’m so going to miss Grace as Alicia’s assistant.)  And even worse, she pays cash for everything.  Cash, for a 900 dollar sweater?  Good grief!  Who carries around that kind of cash?  “I’m guessing that’s not good,” she says, noticing the looks on Alicia and Jason’s faces.  Well, it’s so much harder to prove; not having the receipt wouldn’t matter if you’d bought it with a credit card, because there’d still be a record of the sale. “You’re not covering for your daughter, are you, Mrs. Sachs?” Jason asks, eyes narrowed.

“No,” she says. “Have you ever shopped at the store?  Salvatore’s?” He hasn’t but Alicia has a few times. “They don’t want me to shop there,” Mrs. Sachs explains. ‘They make it difficult for you.”  OH.  I actually did not see that coming, foolishly enough. “Not for you, but for us.”

“Are you saying your daughter was targeted because of her race?” Jason asks.  Heck yeah she is. “Actually I am saying that. My daughter is no thief.”  Alicia looks even more concerned, and Jason promises he’ll check into it.

From today’s adventures in Eli’s supply closet office, there’s now a very loud air-conditioning machine humming as Jackie sits in his guest chair, her hands primly clasped.  This is more classic Jackie, prim and tiny voiced; she makes politely derisive comments about how the mighty have fallen into small closets.  His way of fighting back?  By suggesting she’s more dressed up, something she denies. “Are you sure?” he asks waspishly, “I don’t ever remember you showing so much … cleavage.”  You can see him relishing the word, relishing unsettling her, hoping to make her feel cheap, and even though she’s a spiteful old crone that’s still unpleasant. “You had a haircut,” she responds. “It’s … very different.”

Yes, he agrees. Many changes. It’s a world in transition.” What’s with all the barbed wire, guys? I’m starting to think you don’t like each other. “What is it you need from me, Mr. Gold?” Jackie smiles evilly, nestled next to the copy paper. Eli’s fiendish plot of the week: working Jackie up about the physician assisted suicide bill.  I’m not even sure if he knows this, but he tells Jackie that Peter’s being pressured not to sign it, which astounds her. “But he doesn’t believe that,” she says, shocked. “That’s probably true,” Eli trips over his words purposely, sighing. “but the Catholic and conservative lobbies have his ear.”  He looks so regretful. Jackie screws up her lips, and Eli suggests that hearing from his concerned mother might be just the ticket. “Only if you have the time,” he finishes. “I’ll make time,” Jackie says, standing, clearly ready to go that very second.

He has a new campaign manager, you know, Eli says.  “Ruth Eastman.  She likes to limit access to Peter, but just you tell her you’re his mother and I’m sure she’ll make an allowance.”  Giving him a shrewd look, Jackie lets herself out.

Back in Bond Court, Matan and Alicia argue over whether Alicia deserves to get discovery.  Specifically, she wants the sku from the sweater, and the surveillance tape of the alleged crime.  Of course they have to explain to Breakfast what a sku is (the computerized shelf number with which the store tracks each individual piece).  “Oh God,” he complains, calling Alicia up to his bench; Matan looks just like the bully who’s pushed a target into responding in front of a teacher, happily watching the other kid get hauled away to the principal’s office for something he started.

“This is not To Kill a Mockingbird,” Judge Breakfast declares, thoroughly exasperated. “This is not Anatomy of a Murder.  This is a constitutionally mandated necessity. It is Lucille Ball wrapping chocolates on an assembly line.  Cases get processed. Justice is served to the greater whole. Not to you, not to her. For all people. And I will be damned before I allow you to gum it up.” Is he kidding? Wow, that’s some speech. “Motion denied. Now step the hell back.”

So she requests a continuance. “Preliminary hearings are for the prosecution. Are you ready to proceed, Mr. Brody?”  100%, Matan smirks.  Then call your first witness, the judge tells him. “Your Honor, this is wholly unfair,” Alicia complains. “Damn straight, Marie Antoinette,” he barks. “Because every other defendant in this room and in that hallway isn’t going to get to see their kids tonight, thanks to you.”  Well, he’s committed to his world view, I’ll say that much. “Now step back.”

She does.  The Bond Court Baby cries.  Brody begins his case.

Except the person on the stand is a pale young man with curly hair and freckles who used to have glioblastoma multiform — emphasis on the used to.  Thanks to that Duke trial, he’s cancer free. “Elvis has left the building,” he jokes as a jury listens with rapt attention. Huh. “And when you were ill, did you contemplate suicide?” Diane asks; Canning, too, looks enthralled. “Every day for about a year,” the young man smiles. “I didn’t want to go on.”

“Mr. Linklater, do you consider yourself a medical miracle?” Diane asks, and the young man (wearing a light blue button down and khakis) considers. “Objection!” Canning calls. “Miracles have no basis in fact.”  The judge gives him an incredulous stare. “Really? I saw the ’69 Mets.” The jury titters, and Canning asks for a recess.

They take the recess all the way to the main conference room at LAL, with Ethan Carver sitting next to Diane.   At Diane’s prompting, Canning makes his first offer: $1 million, no admission of guilt (which is to say liability), and a gag order.  Okay, I’ll take it to our client, Diane says, but Ethan has a comment. Is Canning willing to drop the gag order?  Cagily, Canning sees the chink in their collective armor; you can see the wheels turning in his head.  No, it’s non-negotiable.  Carver nods; then he can expect a no, he says, much to Diane’s obvious annoyance.

And so Canning approaches her alone, out in the hall. “Dipple must be paying you one hell of a retainer,” he says. “That’s a good offer I made you in there.”  Is it?  Our clients will hear it, Diane promises. “This is such a farce,” Canning laughs. “You of all people support physician assisted suicide, Diane.”  Why her of all people?  Does she have a personal connection to this issue I don’t remember?  Or that we haven’t talked about?  Something to do with her father, perhaps, or is it just because it’s a liberal cause?  Because Canning sounds like he’s well aware of her convictions on the topic.”Why’d  you go mercenary?”

She frowns at him, unbowed. “And who’s paying your bills, Louis?  You win, more people kill themselves, and insurance companies save billions on hospital expenses.”  Are you kidding?  That’s incredibly gross. “I may be the insurance companies’ shill,” he admits, “but they happen to be on the right side of this issue.”  Does Canning actually believe in a right side?  Shocking. I’m not going to debate morality with you, Diane stops him.  Good idea.

“Carver and Dipple don’t care about your clients,” he says, changing tactics. “They just want to raise malpractice rates, to stop doctors from helping people die.”  Well, but that means that Dipple doesn’t care as much about the individuals as he does about the issue, which seems exactly like Dipple to me.  Forcing doctors to opt out by raising their insurance doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe in the issue, though; just that he’ll use any tactic to achieve his desired outcome. I’m not shocked, but Diane seems to be.

Ah, look, it’s Eli at Alicia’s door, dropping something off with Grace – this week’s invitations, color coded by importance. Of course, this cute little craft project isn’t really why he’s here. He pretends to leave, and then turns around, staring at the teen in her cream silk blouse with rows of brown and tan triangles. “What do you think about physician assisted suicide?” Delicately, she wrinkles her nose.  Why? “You’re still… Christian, right?” he asks with some distaste.  Gracefully, she just smiles. Yes, she’s still Christian.  (Which is kind of interesting; the last time we touched on this, they hinted she’d stopped believing last year after Alicia used her as a pawn in the election.)   Well, Eli says carefully, I think your dad might need some advice from someone who’s against this.

Aaaaand the sound of a crying baby lets us know we’re back at Bond Court; they actually just play that over the loud speaker there. A guy named Edward Waller, who’s a security guard at Salvatore’s, is on the stand/witness chair.  Matan Brody wants to build him up as a hero, so has him talk about his record in the army; when Alicia objects for relevance, Breakfast continues to tax her.  He has a really short memory, doesn’t he?  Or maybe he understands that Eli saved him rather than Alicia, and it’s to Eli that he owes his freedom, because while he was being nice to her last week, boy, he’s really kicking her this time.  What a shame the sting didn’t work…

Anyway, Matan gets out a police report that Waller filled out over Maia Sachs’s alleged shoplifting. “We see this ruse every day.  A customer walks in with an empty Salvatore bag, rips the tags off some item, drop the item in the bag.”  Well, I can think of a few ways to fix that.  You’ve got those special tags that have to be removed at the counter.  Or  you have a doorman who makes sure that if someone’s coming in with a bag, they go right to the desk with the returns. Or you have mesh in store bags.  Anyway.

“Mr. Waller,” Alicia begins. “We’re done here, Mrs. Florrick,” Breakfast tells her.  Wow. “We’re done here. You can cross tomorrow. Factory whistle’s blown.” My questions will only take a few minutes, Alicia pleads, shocked. “Mrs. Sachs, you’re spending the night in the Cook County jail, unless you choose to plead.”  Man, he is a piece of work, isn’t he?  “This is… this is blackmail,” she gasps, absolutely outraged, and he stares her into silence. “Plead or jail, Mrs. Sachs,” he glares. “I’m not pleading,” she says, defensive. “Fine. Henry, would you please escort Mrs. Sachs to the Cook County jail?”  Watching her tiny client get hauled off, Alicia calls out to her, saying it’ll be okay. “And if it’s not okay, Mrs. Sachs, you can blame your attorney,” the judge declares, slamming down his gavel.  Alicia rolls her eyes, only to notice Bernie, Don, and the women in the terrarium all staring at her.  Ugh.

In a glass and chrome store, Jason Crouse pretends to being looking at a row of white jackets (with one similar, but not as interesting, as the one that Alicia’s wearing now) to a thumping techno beat; actually, however, he’s watching the clientele. A pretty, well dressed young white woman with a braid tucking her hair to the side so we can see her face peers through a rack, watching a pretty, well dressed young black woman look down at a display case.  The white woman (who, to be fair, could be latina or middle eastern) makes eye contact with Waller at the back of the store, prompting him follow the black woman through the racks.  Jason calls Alicia, looking over his shoulder to make sure he’s not overheard.  “You ever argue a case against racial profiling?” he asks.

“I’m optimistic. The wind’s blowing our way,” Carver tells Dipple, calling from Diane’s office on his cell. Ah, but not for long, because Diane bursts in wanting to know if the suit’s a Trojan horse; Carver has to tell his boss he’ll call him back. She comes at him with Canning’s accusation; is this really about effecting changing through malpractice insurance rates? “Yes, of course,” he agrees; that’s the secondary purpose. “So this is the first of many suits?” she realizes.  “Doctors are rarely moved by ethical arguments against euthanasia.  But they do understand money,” he literally points at her to emphasize his point. “Rising malpractice rates tend to sharpen the mind.”

She purses her lips, exasperated, but it’s the code she lives by too, isn’t it?  Win by whatever legal means?

“Do you know any terminally ill people, Mr. Carver?,” she asks, crossing over to her desk. “I mean gravely ill and in constant pain?” Yes, he tells her simply, conveying a glimpse of his own pain in that short word.   So doesn’t he think that person should be able to decide how much pain they can take?   “I don’t think doctors should be in the business of killing, if that’s what you’re asking,” he says, hands in his pockets, which is an answer but an unsatisfyingly imprecise one. “I know it’s a strange concept, but I don’t like when categories get confused. When a fireman starts fires instead of putting them out.” Fahrenheit 451, Diane nods; I thought this was a quote, but it’s really the whole idea behind the story, set in a dystopian world where houses are fireproof and firemen burn books instead, considering them as dangerous to peace as a loaded gun. “I thought you’d appreciate that,” Carver smiles.

“So, you’re fine with civilian volunteers helping people die instead of doctors?”  Nope, of course he isn’t. “But at least it would take the veneer of medicine away from it,” he concedes. “I don’t understand you people,” Diane declares, sitting down. “We people?” he wonders, walking over to her desk. “You want to get government off our backs, until it comes to issues like abortion and euthanasia…” Don’t forget birth control and gay sex!  Holding up one finger, Carver sits. “A perfectly healthy woman was allowed to kill herself at an assisted suicide facility in Basel,” he says, which I assumed, correctly as it turns out, meant Basel in Switzerland (and boy, can you spend forever reading up on this one: I had no idea that this was a whole Swiss industry).  “She wasn’t terminal.  She wasn’t sick.  Her only rational was, she was afraid of getting old.”  If it’s the woman in the last article, at 85 she already was old.  Maybe that doesn’t’ negate his point, though. “And losing control,” Diane explains; clearly for her this is about the individual’s right to determine the course of their life. “Doctors killed 1807 people last year in Belgium.  Some only suffering from depression.”  Only depression?  If this were Belgium, then that would be relevant, she replies.

“Dominoes fall fast in this country,” Carver suggests, standing. “Just ask gay couples getting married in Alabama!”  I don’t know that I’d call the marriage equality movement fast, exactly, since they’ve arrived after decades of legal work and slow cultural change, but the events of the last 18 months or so did seem to have arrived with domino-like speed.  “Ouch,” she says, putting slim hands in front of her face, “my head is hurting from the wrongness here.”  He smiles, leaning into the debate, his enjoyment evident. “You ask anyone who’s survived a jump from the Golden Gate Bridge what their last thought was,” he suggests. You’ve done a lot of that questioning, she laughs, placing her chin on her hand, while I’m stuck on his phrasing and the fact that it’s obviously not their last thought if they survived. “It’s always this, what a stupid mistake I just made.”  And so, she counters, you’d use that to take away everyone’s ability to determine their own fate?

“I don’t think this country should make it easier for people to die,” he shrugs.  Not even the terminally ill, she presses.  Nope, not even them. “We should make it easier to manage pain; that should be the goal.”  Why not both, she snaps, exasperated.  He stares at her shrewdly, a slight smile on his lips. “Do you want off this case?”

Ah. The topic switch and the question stop her cold. It’s difficult for her to come to the choice, but no, she doesn’t.  “But I want it to be about this case, not every case,” she insists.  Okay, he agrees.  He can live with that.

And, huh.  Eli was right; when Jackie walks into the governor’s busy office suite, she’s wearing another suit (this one flowered) with a deep v.  My goodness.  As she speeds through, heels striking the floor, we can hear staff members in what they think are hushed tone remarking on her arrival.  Uh oh.  Here she is.  I’ve got eyes on Mrs. Florrick.  Most staffers shift out of her way or merely greet her by name until she reaches the door, where Ruth Eastman has very quickly interposed her body, blocking entry.  “Mrs. Florrick, hello,” she coos, her smile ever so wide and welcoming. How have they not met yet?  What a very attractive purse!  Peter’s in a daily meeting with his staff.  Would you like to wait?  Each time Jackie tries to move forward, Ruth mirrors her, dancing to keep the mother out. When Jackie does make it to the door, knocking and calling her son’s name, she’s told that the staff is instructed to ignore noise from the outside.  To add insult to injury, Ruth first offers to wait with Jackie, to share some tea and get to know each other, but then takes a phone call, actually shuts the door in Jackie’s face, and leaves her standing alone near Nora’s former desk.  Surely the governor would have a formal waiting room for important guests?  It wouldn’t look nearly so pathetic, though.

Also, Ruth, you just played right into Eli’s hands.  And even if you weren’t being manipulated, alienating Jackie wouldn’t be smart.

“Yes, I prescribed 10 grams of pentabarbitol liquid to Alexa,” a doctor says on the stand, much to Diane’s disapproval.  (Didn’t she say it was broken up in the apple sauce?  I was picturing broken capsules.) At Canning’s prompting, the doctor explains that he examined Alexa and determined she had a terminal illness that would likely cause death within six months; Diane doesn’t challenge his impressive, even God-like ability to diagnose a terminal brain tumor based on a visual examination.  And of course we talked, he continues; about whether this was voluntary, about whether it was what she wanted, about whether she was depressed.  Sure, the law requires it, but just he’s the kind of swell guy who would do it anyway.  In the gallery, Ethan Carver gets tired of hearing the doctor promote his methods and texts Diane.  Why isn’t she objecting?  She doesn’t acknowledge him.

She does, however, stand and begin her cross examination, her voice low and respectful as Canning’s had been. “Dr. Brenton,” she begins, “the law also says patients need to be advised of their alternatives. Did you tell Alexa about the Duke study?”

He frowns. “That’s not what the law means — it means like hospice care.”  Oh, so treatment alternatives don’t count?  So you didn’t tell her, Diane cuts through the excuses.   Nope.  He knew about the study, though; Diane takes her glasses off as the judge and jury watch the doctor, enthralled.  “But the odds of success were very low, at best one in twenty. I didn’t want to give her false hope.”  False hope, Diane repeats. “Yes. Patients look for any scrap of good news from a doctor.”  But there was good news, wasn’t there?  Not in my opinion, Dr. Brenton states. Gee, Diane wonders, isn’t the opinion that counts there Alexa’s?  Shouldn’t she have been the one to make that choice?

Canning shimmies to a standing position.  “Objection!  Badgering.”  Pointed, yes, Judge Treem replies, but badgering, no. Overruled.  (Sometimes I’m baffled that the casting directors bring us recognizable and quirky actors as judges and then the writing staff does nothing with them, and such is the case today.  We have so many terrific and diversely written judges in our company, but I guess they can’t all be quirky. Treem seems pretty utilitarian.)  “She did make the ultimate call,” the good doctor insists.  But without all the information, Diane presses. “It wouldn’t have made a difference,” Brenton repeats; you don’t know that, Diane declares, and I can’t decide if she’s more angry with the doctor or with herself for making the argument in the first place, but whatever the case, she’s exuding outrage.  From his seat in the gallery, a smiling Ethan Carver approves.

“I looked at the arrest record out of the clothing store.  It’s almost all African Americans,” Jason tells Alicia as the two walk toward court.  She wonders if the security guard is a racist, but he thinks it could be the spotter, too – while he was in the store, the spotter was the girl in the red dress who alerted the guard to the girl with long braids and her alleged malfeasance.  “But it’s also possible the spotters are targeting African Americans just to keep them away; it’s like the New York stores last year. Couple of them settled an attorney general’s investigation…”  He looses focus.

“What?” Alicia asks. “That’s her,” he nods in the direction of the terrarium, and indeed, there’s the pretty African American girl from Salvatore’s with her long braids and really cool, upscale white and blue patterned dress; Don, of course, is telling her she’s better off pleading out, and like Maia she’s protesting that she’s done nothing wrong. (Hmm; the fact that Alicia and Jackie are both wearing new suits makes me think the poor woman just spent the night in jail.) “Miss Todd, Betty, you’ll make your life a lot easier if you do what I say,” Don insists, utterly patronizing. Wow.  Like Bernie, he offers to talk to the prosecutor, but you know that’s still going to require she plead guilty.

When he turns to head toward the ASA, however, Alicia rushes to stop him. “Don’t plead her out,” she says.  He’s baffled.  Why not? Of course that’s when Judge Breakfast calls Betty Todd’s case, and so Don has to ask for thirty seconds with Matan.  You can have twenty, the judge graciously allows.  Quickly Alicia makes her pitch; the boutique is targeting her for her race.  She didn’t do anything.

“Uh uh, this isn’t your case,” Don tells her, “back the hell off.”  Behind him, Betty’s close enough to hear, and her face lights with a painful hope. He pushes past Alicia, who turns toward his back. “But I have a witness who can testify!” she calls after him, and he turns, infuriated. “I don’t care, you’re slowing things down!”  Not that!  The horror!  “Can I change attorneys?” Betty Todd pleads, her hands pressed against the glass. Uh boy.  That managed to piss pretty much everyone off.  Apprehensive, uncertain of whether she’s done the right thing, Alicia stares out at the court; behind her, Betty Todd has her fingers splayed against the plastic shield, desperate in her hope.

Ah.  And Jackie is still waiting for Peter to get out of that 10am staff meeting.   Finally staffers spill out into the larger office, including Ruth in her same light blue sweater; before anyone can stop her, Jackie sneaks in and closes the door.

“Mom!” Peter says, startled by her sudden appearance and ninja-like stealth.  “I didn’t know you were coming in.”  I didn’t realize I needed an appointment, she sniffs.  Man.  I’m sorry, but I hate that pant suit.  What the hell is that material?  It’s a departure for her, certainly (the beige fabric looks somewhere between watermarks and a kaleidoscope, and then there’s the mossy olive colored blouse underneath) but it’s making my eyes cross. Of course not, Peter soothes, asking her to sit, but she’s sat long enough. “I’d rather stand, Peter… it’s hard enough to… I came here intending to discuss an issue of real importance to me,” she begins, most flustered than we’ve ever seen her, “but now I…”  She stares at the floor, centers herself, and then looks up at him.

“Well, your campaign manager, Miss Eastman, is not serving you well, and she’s disrespecting me,” she tells him, finding focus in her anger, and now it’s his turn to look at the floor. “Whether you were State’s Attorney or governor, I still always had access to you, but now with this presidential run…” she tells him, and you can see him squirm. Nothing’s changed, Mom, he tells her earnestly, but her words come faster and faster. “Now there’s a palace guard!  Wearing a pant suit and cheap shoes, and she showed no remorse.”  Now, Mom, he starts, and ruthlessly she cuts him off. “Peter.  Listen to me. She needs to get her priorities straight or you need to dismiss her.”  Hee!  He looks like a 10 year old kid, he’s so intimidated.

“Okay,” he says, biting his lip, “I will talk to Ruth.” She nods, accepting this. “You want to discuss this issue of importance with me?”  We’ll have to talk about it another time, she declares; I can’t in this state.  And she really is in a state.  Peter warns her that he’s soon got to be in the state of Iowa, but she’s just not listening. On her way out, Ruth opens the door and tries to greet her, but Jackie cuts her dead.

Peter frantically gestures for her not to engage.  Okay, that’s fine with her.  She’s here to let him know that Grace stopped by, wanting to talk to him about the assisted suicide bill.  “But I handled it, don’t worry.”  She’s ready to walk off on that note, but it seems that Jackie was lurking in the doorway. “What do you mean you handled it?” she rounds on Ruth, livid. “First you come between a mother and her son, and now you feel comfortable coming between a son and his daughter?” Aghast, Ruth tries to smooth things over with her folksy charm. “No no no, that’s not what I mean!” Peter rolls his eyes.

“Is that why your wife wanted to end her life? Because of the pain?” Canning asks a very wrecked and nervous looking young man, neatly combed and turned out except for the panic in his eyes. Yes, he says.  Huh.  I don’t know why, but I hadn’t thought of her as being married. Maybe because she was young, or because she still seems to have the same last name as her parents.  “She was afraid she was losing control over her life,” he says, sounding shell-shocked.  (Sigh. Welcome to every day of parenting.)  Of course, Canning’s plan is to have the husband insist that Alexa wouldn’t have cared about the Duke study, had she known, and it wouldn’t have changed her mind; Diane of course fights the contention that he can speak for the dead, but without success.  (Interesting — they switched sides of the courtroom.  Is that normal during a trial?  I thought that even in civil cases, they picked a side and stayed with it.)

Alexa was beyond hope, the young husband says. “She said she wanted to go out on her own terms.”  He looks at the jury, most of whom look back. Displeased, Diane chews on the inside of her lips; what’s she possibly going to do to counter that?

The Bond Court baby wails as Alicia puts Jason on the stand for Betty Todd, and has him describe the scene at Salvatore’s.  Betty gives him a hopeful, grateful smile.  Someone believes her!  There may be justice in this suddenly upside down world!  Of course, we still have Matan’s cross to sit through, and it’s a dozy.  “Mr. Crouse.  Were you disbarred as a lawyer six years ago?”  Oh, poor Alicia and Betty.  That’s not cool at all.  Even worse, it’s true; he admits to it with that charming, mocking smile that suggests he’s laughing on the inside, that he’s too cool for anything Matan can say to bother him.  (Did Matan know this off the top of his head?  Otherwise it’s impressive he was able to come out with this so quickly; it’s not like Jason was on a list of approved witnesses or anything.)  Guess why he was disbarred?  Because he punched a judge who found his client guilty.  Outstanding.  Alicia objects, but since it damages her the judge wants to hear it. “And were you investigated four times before that for altering evidence?”

Oh my gosh.  How can Jason remotely work as a p.i. if he can’t give evidence in court?  And how can he ever give evidence in court?  No one’s going to believe him.  So much for that glowing resume that Diane purred over.  Obviously Alicia objects, but Matan keeps shouting, and Breakfast just doesn’t care if he’s assassinating Jason’s character so long as it hurts Alicia’s case.  Although, frankly, it kind of sounds like Jason did that to himself.  Why should we believe your version of the events at the store over heroic Mr. Waller’s, the ASA asks.  His past has no bearing on what he saw, Alicia declares. “Yet in my mind, it does,” the judge takes a malicious pleasure in telling her. “Why should you believe my account?” Jason repeats. “Because I’m telling the truth.”  Of course you are, Matan responds, patronizing as ever.

In the background, we hear Bernie fighting with a client.  Despite how poorly Alicia’s case for Betty is going, the mere fact that she’s fighting has made an impression.  “I don’t want you, I want that lady,” a thin woman with short dreadlocks protests. “Yeah, you should be doin’ what she’s doin’,” Don’s client of the moment agrees.  “Look, I don’t care what Mrs. Florrick is doing, the best way to get out is to plead,” he snaps.  “Sure, if that’s what you want,” Lucca tells her client, and then walks over to dump the file in Alicia’s arms.  “Congratulations,” she says, “you’ve just stolen another client.”  Don and Bernie follow suit silently, slapping their files down on top of Lucca’s, and Judge Schakowsky tries to bore a hole in her head with his blue, blue eyes.

Okay, come on.  In the other three weeks we’ve been doing this, not everybody had to plead out.  Is shoplifting different?  I mean, it’s kind of awesome, this little revolution, but it’s also pretty funny.  Or maybe it’s not funny, that even attempting to fight can seem so much more appealing than capitulation.  Maybe the Duke polio trial sounds better than no hope after all.

“Grace,” Jackie says, sitting on one of the sofas in Peter’s office, “if you believe in the sanctity of life…”  Peter rolls his eyes, while Grace, who seems to be dressed in her school uniform (boo!) can’t contain herself. “It’s not a choice, Grandma!  That’s what the Bible commands!”  Okay, okay.  You’ve got to have a better theological reason than “the Bible says so.”  I went to Sunday School, dear, Jackie (still garbed in the same pantsuit) replies.  It’s interesting to me, actually, because I can’t recall hearing her ever debate an issue with such articulation; mostly she’s just an embarrassing, politically incorrect nightmare, or else she’s intentionally mean.   “I think what Grandma’s trying to say, Grace,” Peter interjects, “is that when it comes to euthanasia there’s possibly a broader…”  I can speak for myself, Jackie tells her son, her tone coolly implacable. “Grace, all religions preach respect for every human being, which means respecting their choices about end of life.”

Huh.  I’m so intrigued to see Jackie in this light, mastering her temper to make valid points.  But if there’s a higher authority, Grace begins, leaning against the arm of her chair. “He wouldn’t want somebody with n-stage ovarian cancer to go suffering,” Jackie replies.  Peter’s saved from watching this verbal tennis match by a call from his receptionist saying  that Alicia’s on the line. As Grace and Jackie continue to debate, Peter hops back to pick up his phone, only to find out that it’s Veronica on the line instead.  (Impressive vetting on his staff’s part, huh?  Because Jackie and Alicia sound so much alike?  If only there were a technology that would enable them to identify where a call is coming from…) And guess what it is that Veronica’s calling about?  To Peter’s great relief, Ruth (still in that aqua sweater) pops in the door way, and he uses the excuse to end his call and tiptoe into the reception area.

“What the hell is going on today?” he asks, his voice low.  Oh, we know. “When one family member shows up, it’s a surprise.  When two do, it’s a coincidence.  When three do, it’s Eli,” Ruth rages. “He’s messing with me, governor!”  I don’t care, Peter tells her, bending forward, large and intimidating. “Do you hear me? I don’t give a damn. Your little skirmishes are not my problem.  I’m running for the most powerful office in the world. I need you to fix this, and I need you to fix this now.”  He walks up to his office door, but stops short, thinking better of going in, and turns tail.  Yes, very impressive and powerful, Peter.

“What have our people found?” Carver asks Diane, standing awfully close to her back in her office. He’s got real personal space issues; it’s bothered me from the start. She’s wearing the black and gray floral inspired jacket of the last few scenes.  “They must have dug pretty deep for this,” she says, staring at a piece of paper. “Anything for the cause, Miss Lockhart.”  Perhaps because she doesn’t agree with the cause, she gives Carver a look that speaks to her discomfort with the tactic she’s about to use.

“Who is Karen Cassavant?” the reluctant assassin asks Alexa’s husband, back in court.  His red rimmed eyes flick up at Diane, but he doesn’t speak until pushed a second time. “She’s my friend,” he pouts, his tone aggrieved. She’s not satisfied with the definition.  “Your girlfriend?”  Canning objects for relevance; as it goes to bias, Treem allows it. “When did you start seeing Miss Cassavants, sir?”  7 months prior, Mr. Alexa says, playing with his ring finger. “So, a month before Alexa committed suicide?”  Justly ashamed, he looks down; the jury can’t stand to look at him.

Taking a fortifying breath, Ruth pauses slightly before pushing open Eli’s door – but instead of her adversary, she finds a startled Grace, sitting in the former supply closet, looking up the 60 different Bible verses that speak about the preciousness of life.  Ruth starts listing them: Genesis 2:7.  Acts 2:25, and so on. Grace lowers her phone in surprise. “Lutheran Church of Hope, born and raised,” Ruth smiles, raising her hands. “I know where you’re coming from.”

“My nephew Andrew just joined the Marines out of high school,” she tells a mistrustful Jackie, having their own tet a tet on some more comfortable couches. “He could have been going to an Ivy League college. Instead he’ll be doing push ups in the mud on Paris Island.”  Well, that is an unusual choice. “But it’s what he needs right now; an ordering principle for his life, something to believe in.”  Ah, there’s the point. “I don’t understand,” Jackie asks, confused.  Ah, there’s the Jackie we’re used to.  Grace, obviously, Grace and her religion. “If they’re not idealistic at that age, when can they be?”

Now back to Grace, the other flank of this charm offensive. She’ll always have her Daddy’s ear, Ruth tells her. “I promise you you’re always gonna have mine, too,” she soothes the young girl.  “We need you on this campaign.”  By now Grace is beaming. “You’re always gonna have your boy’s ear, Mrs. Florrick,” Ruth repeats with a much warier Jackie, who continues to give her the fish eye. “And I promise you, you’re always gonna have mine too. I’m realizing we need you on this campaign.”  Ha; that’s done it. “Yes,” Jackie agrees, excited, finally hearing what she wants, “thank you.”  “And I’ll tell you something for nothing.  The smartest men listen to their women.”  Oh, that’s perfectly old school.  You can tell Jackie loves to be the neck that moves the head. “And the smartest women are those with more than a little experience. Am I right?”  Despite herself, Jackie smiles.

“This is a list of the clients I’m representing, all of whom were arrested for theft at your store,” Alicia tells a platinum haired woman at Salvatore’s.  The list takes up at least one full page, more than twenty names; youch!  How were there that many in just two days?  “You’ll notice that a disproportionate number are African Americans,” Alicia adds, causing the woman to raise her dark eyebrows, glaring. “This is the kind of thing that sometimes heats up.  Especially when there are rumblings of a class action.”  Alicia pauses to let that sink in. “On the other hand, if I could see some security tape,” she suggests.

And just like that, she’s sitting in her office in the dark, watching the security tape on her lap top.  With Jason. Cozy. “The only thing more boring than watching security footage is nothing,” she whines. “It’s the best viewing in the world,” Jason says, perhaps because he always has to take a mocking and opposing view. “Especially because it gives you insight into human character.”  Oh, really?  Alicia’s unconvinced.   Why are they watching this in real time?  It’ll take them forever.

“So you beat up a judge?” Alicia asks, letting her curiosity get the better of her. “I hit a judge,” he corrects, smiling. “I wanted to beat up a judge, but I got tackled after the first punch.”  Right, that makes sense.  I’m enjoying picturing the flying leap up onto the bar, though. “Hmm,” Alicia replies, arms crossed over her chest. “Anger issues, maybe?”  I don’t think she’s comfortable being around him; her posture is so defensive. I’m sure all that flirting sets off her alarm bells.  “I am the calmest, sweetest man on the face of the earth,” he tells her in his low rumble, “but there are times…”  She laughs lightly. “And there are people that sometimes just don’t listen to reason.”

She stares at him as if just realizing something. “Do I need to worry about you?” she asks. Yeah, he answers, looking her in the face. “Seriously now,” she presses. Yes, he’s being serious. “Why do you think you got me so cheap?”  It’s pretty damn expensive if she’s never going to be able to use the testimony or evidence he gives her because he has a reputation of faking evidence!

“There’s your client,” he points out, happily changing the subject.  It’s Maia Sachs, but the video doesn’t actually show them anything, just her at a counter with thin, brightly colored cardigans.  Jason checks for another camera angle, and we see from the video files that she was arrested on September 12. Which, aw.  That means Grace is already back at school.  Boo. The other angle doesn’t help either, so Jason has an idea; they ought to check for the mom buying the sweater on August 16th.  And they zip through a few minutes of footage and find her on the sweater cam almost immediately, wearing an orange dress with a ballet neck.  Alicia and Jason stare at the screen. “Huh,” Alicia says. “Not what I expected.”

OH.  Well.  That is unexpected.

It’s the mom who shoplifted the sweater, rolling it into her bag, and got away with it.

“I don’t believe this,” Maia says, staring at the footage on Alicia’s laptop in one of the courthouse conference rooms the next morning.  Of course she’s still in her pastel jacket and top, but Alicia’s wearing a fitted gray long-sleeved dress. “The only way to get you off is to show the judge this footage,” Alicia explains unnecessarily.  “And she gets called into court?” the daughter realizes. “And that judge calls her number in front of all those people.”  Yep.  Trying not to cry, trying to remain dignified, Maia slumps back into her chair. “I’ll take the plea,” she says simply.

I don’t need to say it, but that just sucks.  That really, really sucks.

Diane and Ethan make their way into court, ready for closing statements.  I’m crossing my fingers, Diane says. “I trust in good arguments, not magical happenings,” Carver counters.  Okay, whatever, that was just an expression, you stuffed hat.  Diane stops in worry.  Why’s Alexa’s husband back in court?  For a re-direct, of course.

Canning gets Mr. Alexa (who can barely raise his eyes from the floor) to confirm that his wife had an account on Scabbit, and then uses his canes dramatically to pull the video cart toward him. “Listen to this posting she made May 12th.  Can you read that? ”  The post says “Garbage!” – with an exclamation point, Canning notes. (Wait, May?  Didn’t she die in February?) “Let’s just scroll up and see what thread she was responding to,” he says (although honestly, I’d swear he said squirrel up instead of scroll – that’d be my favorite new slang word). Guess what’s the thread heading?  It’s the Duke study which offers miracle cures through the polio vaccine. It’s only by a brief tightening of her lips that we see Diane’s reaction, but Alexa’s parents grab each others’ hands, their eyes wide with shock.  “Alexa did know about the study, and made the decision that the slim chance of success wasn’t worth it,” he sums up. Diane takes off her glasses. We don’t need to see anything more; that was her case right there.

Bam goes Eli’s door against his desk.  “Ruth!  Come in!” Eli greets her cheerily. “I don’t want to interrupt you, Eli,” she lies, slipping inside wearing a red cardigan over a brown geometric pattern top.  It’s nice to see her in new clothes. “I just wanted to say thank you.”  He tilts his head. “I know you were trying to make my life hell by siccing all those Florricks on me, but you know what?  It wound up bringing me a lot closer to Jackie and Grace.”  Well, I suppose anything would be a lot closer considering that you hadn’t even met either one of them, but I take your point. Eli smiles and nods, the skin stretching tight around his lips. “So thank you.”  Then she bends down, hands on his desk. “And just remember; I’m good at what I do. You wanna get me, you’ll have to bring your A game.”  Hee. Open or closed, she asks, stepping out the door. Oh, she decides for herself, I guess it doesn’t matter.

And what a perfect segue; not giving a damn brings us over to Alicia and Lucca sitting together as a bar, Alicia in her gray dress and Lucca wearing sequins. Nothing says legal eagle like sequins, I say it every day.  “It’s really not as bad as you think,” the more experiences bar attorney commiserates with Alicia. “You came in second in perps by the pound!”  Alicia manages a reluctant smile. “All the bar attorneys think I’m a slimy bitch who poached their clients,” she complains glumly. “Who cares about them?” Lucca says.

“I also gave up a possible class action suit for some video footage I couldn’t use,” Alicia continues her pity party. “The way I see it,” Lucca lays down some wisdom, “you have two problems.  One, you spend too much time on your cases,” she says as Alicia fiddles with the olives in her drink. “Which is why you’ll always be a disaster in Bond Court.”  Alicia laughs. “And two… no, one problem,” Lucca changes her mind.  What, Alicia cries. You have to tell me.  I don’t know about you, but I know exactly what she’s going to say: you care too much, Alicia Florrick. Frankly, after what we just saw, Lucca’s standard for caring too much is appallingly low – but then it would have to be if Alicia was going to be able to cross that bar after everything we’ve seen her do. But she says it anyway: “You care too much.  There.  Happy?”

“Not really,” Alicia replies.  Of course she’s not happy to know she still has some integrity left to lose. “There’s no glory in this slog, Alicia,” Lucca shakes her head. “Shake the trees for better paying cases!” Thinking, Alicia gets a small grin on her face, staring openly at Lucca. “What?” the latter complains. “Wanna do it together?” Alicia asks.

Yes.  Lucca, the answer is yes. Yes they should.

 

So that was the moment we’ve been waiting for since they announced that Cush Jumbo was going to be a series regular: Lucca and Alicia will strike out on their own.  Huzzah?  I’ll be glad to leave Bond Court, I’m not going to lie; the format doesn’t facilitate deep cases.  But especially considering how on the outs this duo was last week (and several times this week) I’m curious to see if they can make a partnership work.  After all, Alicia doesn’t have a good record of working with anyone.  On the other hand, Lucca seems to forgive as easily as she gets annoyed, and Alicia really, really wanted not to be alone. Now she has a partner she doesn’t think will diminish her. I guess we’ll see.

What kind of makes me sad about all this is that episode proved that the Bond Court system is a horror badly in the need of a crusader — and that Alicia’s so beaten down by the unsatisfying system (and lack of lucre) that she’s not even going to try anymore.  It’s not that I don’t understand it — I do — but we get the Old Alicia because the plot of the week is so outrageous (racial profiling, morally bankrupt judges) that she can’t help but look good in comparison, yet the very nature of the set up means that glimpse is fleeting.  I wish she’d still file that civil action.   I miss Alicia Florrick, crusader, hand-holder, person who cared about the integrity of the system.  About justice for all.

I missed this story the first time around, but it seems there was a major fuss two years ago when Barney’s Department Store was found to be doing this same thing in New York.  Really gross, but obviously the source of this story.  I wouldn’t have minded spending more time on it, but I did like all the Bond Court politics involved.   Interesting stuff.

One again, the presidential election was played for laughs (a funny thing to say about euthanasia debates, but there it is) which was fine, I guess.  That’s hardly better than the actual candidates are doing. I was much more interested in the Salvatore’s story, but it can’t be said that the pieces didn’t hang together cohesively or that it wasn’t an intellectually exciting episode filled with an almost obscene amount of plot and issues.

Do you care that Diane had to compromise her beliefs to help the Banners with their case?  Do you think she did believe in the individual case after all, as the show hinted?  Is it all about keeping Dipple’s business, and do we care how far she strays to make that happen?  Will Grace and Jackie stay impressed with Ruth?  And hey, whats with Jackie’s magical new ability to argue in a calm and ration way?  That was weird, right?  Let me know what you think about this and Alicia’s return to sainthood in the comments, as well as anything else that inspires you. Like Jackie’s pantsuit.  Dude, that was not cool.

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12 comments on “The Good Wife: Taxed

  1. […] Basil leaves the locker room without talking to reporters I wish I could help AMC renueva a The Walking Dead para una séptima temporada Patriots make a meal of the Dolphins in 36-7 route Bates Motel: Season 3 – DVD Review Yuletide Letter 2015 Guest Post: Aussie Pundit – The truth about Abbott (and Turnbull) Remarque en 1976 dans Don’t Refactor. Rebuild. Kinda. The Good Wife: Taxed […]

  2. Starli says:

    I really, really love your recaps! I gave up on the show early Season 6, because I was never a particular fan of Alicia and instead of adressing those issues, they just seem to be making them worse while simultaniously clinging on to the myth of underdog St Alicia and then they messed up the relationship between Cary and Alicia (even more than it already was), which was one of the few things I was still heavily invested in, and, well, I just let go of the idea that they were ever going to do anything with Cary at all. Can you tell I’m a little bitter? Any way, the original point was that despite the fact that I’m not really fond of this show at all anymore, I still love reading your recaps. I keep up with the airdates, just so I know if I can look forward to an email from here. You have such a wonderful balanced view on things and desite the fact that you’re not very pleased with the direction of the show either, it never comes off as overwhelming negativity or being negativ just for the sake of being negativ. You put so much thought into everything, viewing things from all perspectives and an incredible amount of thoroughness. It’s always so nice how you seem to appreciate all the different characters, rather than viewing it as a zero sum game, which I have to admit I’m sometimes guilty of. Really the only reason I wouldn’t want this show to get cancelled is that I’d hate to miss out on your views on the issues this show brings up or the actions of the various characters, so I thought I’d let you know how much the enormous amount of effort you must put into this is appreciated even if I can’t really bring anything to the discussion due to the not watching anymore.

    • E says:

      Starli, thank you so much. You have no idea how much that means as I struggle to find the time — and the will — to continue these. I feel like I need to finish what I started (how could I do this for so long and quit this close to the finish line) but it’s becoming more and more of a struggle.

      • Xuan says:

        i’m sorry to hear that! your recaps are hands down the best, not for the thoroughness alone, but also the humour and your insights and interesting theories.
        “close to the finish line” don’t say that DDDDD:
        (plot twist: alicia divorces peter, show will produce a spin-off titled “the ex wife”
        and matthew goode will be in it)

        • E says:

          How much do I wish they’d do something radical that would actually shake her up! I just don’t see it, though, and I fear Finn is gone for good. What a tease that was, them giving her a love interest who acts like a grown up.

          Ah well. Thanks for the kind words, Xuan; I do appreciate them. I’m sorry to sound so down, because there’s still plenty to love about the show.

  3. SusieQ says:

    I actually really enjoyed this episode. Maybe I didn’t get all the nuances, but I felt closer to Alicia than I have in a long time. I really, really miss Alicia and Cary together. They have such a fondness for each other. Even when they were at odds, they kind of stuck up for each other. I know, I’m probably romanticizing their relationship, and I’m sure there are times where they stabbed each other’s backs, but I choose to view them through rose-colored glasses. 🙂 I miss Cary having something, anything to do. When was the last time they showed him arguing a case? It’s good to see Diane in court, even if it is for slimeball Dipple. And where the hell is Kurt this season? Alicia seems to be sporting her own hair again. Haha. I know, I’m all over the place here.

    I think Jackie’s dimwittedness is basically an affectation. She knows how to cut to the chase when it’s something she feels is threatening her precious son. Grace seems to be getting more savvy to the outside world, maybe she’s not living so much inside her head these days. I don’t think Ruth will pull the wool over their eyes for very long. In fact, I doubt that Ruth is going to survive as Peter’s campaign manager. She will pull some stunt that even Peter won’t be able to overlook, and she’ll be out the door as Eli is slamming it shut on her heinie.

    I’m still an ardent watcher, and starting to regain my admiration for the writing. I’m loving Judge Breakfast. He brings some needed comic relief.

    Love that Alicia and Lucca are probably teaming up. That should be interesting, especially with Jason in there to make it even more so. I agree, though, it’s gonna take some finagling to use him as a witness with his record. Maybe that will just never be heard of again. It’s happened before.

    • E says:

      I liked it a lot too. Old Alicia who cares about people other than herself! Amazing! I fear I won’t like another plot nearly so much. I’m sort of nervous about tonight, because it’s been so long since I’ve genuinely liked her, and I fear there’s no way it can continue.

      I didn’t even notice that the offensive wig was gone! Thank heaven. I don’t think Ruth is going to last, either, but then that’s sort of easy to say when we know Alan Cummings’ is a series regular and Margo Martindale isn’t. 😉

      I agree, I really miss Cary and Alicia as a team, and I miss him having something to do. I feel like after his prison plot, they’re like “oh, you’ve already got your good material. You weren’t expecting any more, were you?”

      And yeah, other than deciding to ignore Jason’s past, I don’t know what they can do with him from now on. Ugh.

  4. shamim says:

    Hello…I like reading your blog you have extra spices in your review so its fun…..in last episodes I have felt that they trying to make story alive again and searching for a motive to continue the same for 8th season but its not working….

    and it seems this show is getting dragged unnecessarily …

    • E says:

      Please God let there not be an 8th season! Which I know is a weird thing to say about a show you love, but there it is. They need to right this ship and then put it in port.

      Thanks for commenting, Shamim!

  5. […] one’s yours.”  Her advertises music by Midnight Criminal, and his leather loafers from Salvatori’s racist department store.  (What an awesome little piece of world building.)  She clicks the refresh button. “I get […]

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