The episode opens with a clip of a charming, self-deprecating young woman talking about her glioblastoma multiform to her webcam followers. She dined on “applesauce du jour with broken-up pentabarbitol mixed in. My last supper.” She starts to cry and says she can’t live with the pain.
The video leaves everyone in the court visibly shaken. One lawyer objects to this as an attempt at bias, but Louis Canning gets up with two canes, twice as many as usual, and makes an excellent point about the “bias of the blessed.” Of course, he does it in his usual slimy way: Dramatically dropping his cane, making a big fuss, the usual thing. Diane, watching in the back, gives a superb eyeroll. We get some background on this, frequently interrupted by Canning shenanigans: a doctor is the object of a wrongful-death suit, due to state law preventing the doctor from prescribing pento-barbitol for euthanasia.
Meanwhile, Peter Gallagher sits down next to Diane and starts talking to her familiarly, with a smug, lawyerly smile. He introduces himself as Mr. Dipple’s general counsel, Ethan Carver. He’s checking up on Dipple’s lawyer, and wants Diane to replace him. Diane objects that she was assured she wouldn’t have to argue in court. The show puts in its usual little joke about kidstheezdays: “What does AWTTW” mean?” Peter Gallagher interrupts Diane’s protests to ask; she explains it’s “A word to the wise.” OK, I realize I’m twenty-eight so maybe I’m just behind on texting trends, but I’ve never heard anyone use that. Diane has been prepping this case, but not to argue in court, because it’s an anti-euthanasia case. She is pro-euthanasia and doesn’t support Dipple’s eventual aims. Carver promises her good compensation, and says they need her. She’s like, but I’m a devil’s advocate. “Who knows the advocate’s case better than the devil?” parries Carver. His nonsensical wordplay (or the seductive power of those eyebrows) apparently wins the day.
Bond Court. The usual spiel from Schakowsky. The lawyers are playing “perps by the pound” (Lucca’s winning). It’s pretty much what it sounds like, although Alicia pretends to be shocked and not understand the joke. The prize, apparently, is that whoever wins gets first choice of which days to work. So one of the lawyers makes a funny, disappointed face when he sees he’s got a skinny, drugged-out guy—fewer pounds of perp, ya know? They all talk tactlessly about the game, though Alicia still pretends she’s not playing. While she tries to help a liquor-store shoplifter, she hears another client yelling that she’s innocent. The client is a pretty, young (thirties) black woman, whose name turns out to be Maya. Maya was accused of making a “false return” (you pull something into an empty bag and try to return it). She doesn’t care that the prosecutor might punish her by adding more charges, as the unscrupulous male lawyer warns her: she’s not going to plead guilty. The other lawyer goes off to break the news to Matan. “Trying to guess my weight?” she says, hostile, to Alicia. She’s figured out the game. Alicia hesitates, and explains that the other lawyer is lying. Before she knows it, she’s the young woman’s new lawyer.
Diane is now fighting Louis Canning to get the case heard in Chicago. He pulls the same tricks again, but she calmly opens his pills and picks up his canes for him while she talks, without missing a beat. After the very brief court skirmish, she tells Canning she’s fighting a cause she doesn’t believe in because “you make me angry.” Meanwhile, Carver is giving some charismatic guff to everyone at Agos Lockhart Lee, or whatever it’s called. In private, Carver wants Diane and Cary to use their pull with the governor’s wife to influence the decision on a new act that will allow physicians to help with euthanasia. “Blocking physician-assisted suicide is an issue Mr. Dipple feels in his gut,” he says. “Alicia doesn’t work here anymore because Mr. Dipple doesn’t want her here,” Diane says pointedly, but Cary is all, I’ll do it! I guess we won’t get any of the Diane-Alicia push-pull that we got last week, which is too bad.
Alicia’s in trouble with the other lawyer, who thinks she’s trying to screw him out of a whole $135. “Florricks apparently do. Need an election? Just steal it.” Alicia is now the least popular lawyer in bond court. (Oh wait, she already was.) Alicia says her client can’t take the one-year probation offer. The judge demands Matan sweeten the deal to six months’ probation; Alicia knows Maya still won’t take it, but is ordered to sell it to her. This fails, of course, and the judge is horrified and, naturally, blames Alicia. She apologizes, but he takes her defendants away. “Call it quid pro quo for the time you’re costing this court.” On her way out, Alicia tells Lucca (who’s mildly sympathetic, but not exactly thrilled with Alicia right now): She’s being taxed. Episode title spoken by character – love it! It’ll never top this gem from One Tree Hill, though.
Cary shows up at Alicia’s door. They exchange warm smiles, which makes my heart sing. He reminisces about when they started the firm in the same apartment, to soften her up. He wants her to lobby Peter on a bill. “You wanted to return to the firm. This could be your ticket back,” he says. Oh, yuck. Don’t be like that, Cary. Alicia says she’s happy, despite the lack of money, and she doesn’t want to owe Peter, either. Eli hears the end of this conversation, and looks crafty.
Diane examining Alexa’s mother (and still handling every absurd distraction Louis can throw at her while still arguing skillfully), who says because the young woman wasn’t terminal, she didn’t want to let her go. Basically, a week earlier a new treatment had been announced. The woman bursts into tears, talking about how the doctors should have given her daughter hope.
Jason is waiting outside Alicia’s door when she comes home. “I thought you found another investigator, I felt rejected,” he smarms. Although, I admit I would also be peeved if I found out Grace was doing my job. But Alicia hires him for a few hours on Maya’s case. They interview Maya’s mother, who bought the sweater for her birthday, and paid cash, unfortunately. (The store is called Salvatore but is, at least ostensibly, not Ferragamo.) “You’re not covering for your daughter, are you, Mrs. Saks?” asks Jason. I can just imagine the writers giggling as they came up with that soft pun. The woman says, no, “They tend to make it difficult for you. Not you. Us.” You know what that means: racial profiling.
Jackie in Eli’s office. “It’s not as big as it once was,” she says calmly. Eli swiftly hits back. “I don’t remember you showing so much cleavage,” he says, looking at the teeny tiny sliver of upper sternum showing at Jackie’s collar. After a few more feints at each other, Jackie asks what he needs. Eli tells her that Peter is being pressured to take a stance against assisted suicide by the Catholic and conservative lobbies, and not to let Ruth shut her out of her access to Peter. For some reason, Jackie is completely horrified by the idea of Peter not approving euthanasia. I like how Jackie isn’t just a knee-jerk stereotype of a conservative old lady. Sure, she thinks women should stick by their men (and let the men “stick” it wherever they want!), but the rest of her views are often much more pragmatic.
In bond court, Alicia is arguing against Matan, saying she needs the SKU (stock-keeping unit – an electronic identifier) from the sweater and the store surveillance video. Schakowsky says, literally, “Oh, God.” He calls her up to say, “This is not To Kill a Mockingbird,” and that “Justice is served for the greater whole.” This makes no sense. Then he calls her Marie Antoinette and says everyone else isn’t going to see their kids tonight, thanks to her. I don’t think Schakowsky knows what any of his references actually mean.
Diane is now examining a recovered glioblastoma sufferer, who was in the Duke trial that discovered a new treatment. He contemplated suicide while sick, but now he’s well. “Would you consider yourself a medical miracle?” Diane says, managing, somehow, to make this sound non-idiotic. Cut to negotiations, where Canning is offering some concessions but not to lose the gag order, and so Carver says it will be turned down. Canning finds Diane in the hall and presses her again on her beliefs, calling her mercenary. She says, “I’m not gonna take lessons in hypocrisy from you.” But he hints that her clients aren’t exactly on the up-and-up either.
Eli shows up looking way too innocent and friendly to give Grace something for Alicia. Then he appears to suddenly think of something, which is in fact the reason he came over: he wants to know if she’s still Christian, and says that her dad might want to hear from her on assisted suicide. Oh, Eli. Let’s get out of the kiddie pool here. Think Will in season 5, not Howard last week. You’re not peeved: you’re righteously furious! Don’t play little games with Jackie and (for goodness’ sake) Grace, two of the least powerful humans on the planet. Blow some shit up! Burn some bridges! Give us some excitement!
Back in bond court, Alicia is objecting to Matan on the grounds of relevance. “Oh dear God, are you serious? Overruled,” says Schakowsky. Heh. The witness testifies that yes, Maya took the sweater. The judge then ends before Alicia can cross-examine, so that Maya will have to go to jail another night. “This is blackmail!” says Alicia, for the benefit of the promo department. And Maya still won’t plead, so she gets dragged back to jail.
Jason is in the department store, very convincingly browsing some ladies’ sweaters with his giant grey beard. He watches the security guy from bond court, still all suited up, go up to the black woman who’s browsing and start talking to her. Racial profiling zomg!
Diane asks Carver if the case is a “Trojan horse,” to make it so expensive that doctors will never help another patient commit suicide. He says, yes, of course, that’s the secondary purpose. She asks if he knows anyone terminally ill, and he dodges by saying that he thinks doctors shouldn’t kill, and firemen shouldn’t start fires instead of putting them out. This is a Fahrenheit 451 reference, which Diane immediately identifies (Carver’s references appear to be a bit more on point than Schakowsky’s). He starts talking slippery slope—that in Belgium they’re helping people with depression commit suicide. People who jump off the Golden Gate Bridge always regret it, he says; Diane says not to take away their choice. “Do you want off this case?” he says, cutting to the chase. Diane breathes in. “No. But I want it to be about this case. And not every case.” Carver says OK to this, but I’m thinking, good luck with that, Diane. It is about every other case. You can’t escape that just by getting Carver to say it’s not.
Ruth Eastman greets Jackie cheerily outside of Peter’s office and tries to stop her from bothering Peter. Jackie tries to push through, but Ruth won’t let her: it’s a staff meeting. Jackie knocks anyway, and no one answers. In every other season this would induce universal rage at Jackie, but now she’s a sympathetic figure, being played by Eli and demeaned by the insufferable Ruth. Ruth smilingly draws her aside to have tea, but then immediately gets a phone call and fully slams the door of her own office in Jackie’s face. That is cold. I have a new respect for Ruth. Jackie is left standing awkwardly in the hall. Poor Jackie.
Canning is examining the doctor who prescribed the pentobarbitol for the girl. Meanwhile, Carver texts Diane from the cheap seats to ask why she’s not objecting. She rolls her eyes and waits until she can cross-examine, digging in to why he didn’t tell Alexa about the new study. He says that he didn’t want Alexa to get “false hope.” Diane says that she should have been able to decide whether her hope increased. Over Canning’s objections, the judge says, “Pointed yes, badgering no.” Nice. More TV judges should make that distinction.
Jason tells Alicia there’s a racist “spotter” – someone who looks out for shoplifters – or it’s possible that they’re just targeting African-Americans to keep them away. He spots the black shopper from yesterday being convinced to plead it out by her lawyer, even though she insists she didn’t do anything. “Don’t plead it out,” Alicia says to the other bond lawyer. “Salvatore’s, the department store. It’s targeting African-Americans.” He says he doesn’t care and she’s slowing it down, so the client overhears and asks to change attorneys.
Jackie is waiting primly outside Peter’s door when the staff meeting gets out. Peter welcomes her to sit. She definitely is wearing more makeup. Oh, Howard! What a stud. Jackie tells him that Ruth is disrespecting her and that she needs access to him. He insists nothing’s changed. “Suddenly there’s a palace guard! Wearing a pantsuit and cheap shoes.” Hee. Peter tells Jackie rather condescendingly that he will talk to Ruth. Jackie isn’t sure she can discuss the original issue “in this state.” She leaves, utterly snubbing Ruth on the way. Ruth is coming to deliver a message from Grace. “I handled it.” Jackie doubles back to accuse Ruth of coming between a son and his daughter. Ruth is in trouble.
Canning asks Alexa’s husband if the study would have changed her mind. He says no: she was beyond hope.
Jason on the stand. He testifies in bond court that he saw the new client being followed by a spotter even though she didn’t do anything. Matan asks if Jason was ever arrested for punching a judge, or if he’s ever been investigated for altering evidence. Alicia says this is “beyond the pale. It’s character assassination 101.” Nice try, Alicia. I think it’s called “questioning the credibility of the witness.” The judge says “I… don’t… care! Overruled.” Jason says he’s telling the truth and that’s why he should be believed. This works about as well as you would think. Can I state an unpopular opinion? Jeffrey Dean Morgan is playing this with what I think is supposed to be “wry charm” and is instead coming across, to me, as “smug and grandpa-like.” I don’t see chemistry between him and Alicia at all. I mean, I think she deserves to have fun naked times with people who aren’t the still-gross Peter, so I’m all for this flirtation, but it just doesn’t really capture my emotions. I suppose the chemistry Julianna Margulies had with Josh Charles is a tough act to follow.
Back in court, other clients are now begging to switch to Alicia. The other lawyers hate this. Lucca says, “Congratulations. You’ve just stolen another client.” Schakowsky gives Alicia another withering look as she gets case after case plopped into her arms. He really only comes in one flavor, huh?
Jackie and Grace are now having a full-out debate in Peter’s office. Peter is trying to play peacemaker, but Jackie says, “I can speak for myself, thank you.” She tells Grace about respect for human beings. That is hilarious. Jackie has respect for exactly three human beings: herself and Peter, and maybe Zach. Peter is fielding a call about the assisted suicide bill from Veronica while Grace and Jackie keep arguing. Ruth beckons to him and explains that “When one family member shows up, it’s a surprise. When two show up, it’s a coincidence. When three do, IT’S ELI.” Peter tells her he doesn’t care about their “little skirmishes” and that she needs to fix this.
Diane and Carver are consulting – and he’s standing pretty close to her, which I will just note for the record in case that becomes something, although I suspect that he’s just one of those guys who feels entitled to step all over other people’s personal space bubbles. “They must have dug pretty deep for this,” Diane says, and he says it’s to help the cause. We find out what it is in court: “Who is Karen Cassavant?” It turns out she’s Alexa’s husband’s girlfriend, whom he started seeing a month before Alexa died. Uh-oh. Of course Diane loves this, because now she can just skewer the husband to win her case.
I’m trying to decide how I feel about this Diane storyline. I usually really admire Diane, but I think she’s being dishonest with herself here about her motivations. If she really thought it was wrong to advance the conservative cause, she wouldn’t really have taken Dipple’s original offer, which was essentially nonsensical: strengthen our case by being the “devil’s advocate,” but don’t worry, you’ll be helping the liberal cause by increasing the level of discourse in general? No. You’ll be strengthening the conservative case. I think Diane a) has a weird attraction to being around conservatives; whether it’s because she kind of likes getting the better of men who think they are smarter than women or because she’s actually attracted to them I think depends on the conservative; and b) is too susceptible to the combination of money and flattery to turn down a client just because she disagrees with him. She wouldn’t have started the show with her own, highly successful firm if she hadn’t been, in some ways, as ruthless and hungry as her partner Will was. And that’s OK, but it makes all of her objections seem a bit silly here. I’ll help you, as long as you don’t make me stand up and actually speak for you? Is she afraid, embarrassed, or just trapped by the false logic she’s already pretended to accept?
Anyway, Ruth finds Grace in a closet looking for Bible verses that talk about the sanctity of life. Ruth rattles off a few chapter and verses, and says she was Lutheran and knows what Grace came from. Then she talks to Jackie: says that her nephew needs an ordering principle for his life, just like Grace. “If they’re not idealistic at that age, when can they be?” She works both Grace and Jackie, saying that they will always have a voice and are needed by the campaign. Jackie is like, “Yes! Thank you!” Hah. “The smartest men listen to their women,” Ruth says. She’s completely won over Jackie, and of course Grace knows nothing and will love whoever’s nice to her.
Alicia is showing some evidence that black shoppers are disproportionately targeted to a frosted blonde woman at Salvatore’s, saying that the papers will eat this up. “On the other hand, if I could see some security tape?” So she watches the tape with Jason, and in a lull asks, “So you beat up a judge?” He clarifies that he hit the judge and didn’t have time to beat him up because he got tackled after the first punch. She gives him the patented Alicia sidelong look of “maybe I shall flirt with you now BUT WAIT NO ’tis wrong.” She asks instead, “Do I need to worry about you?” He answers, “Yeah. Why do you think you got me so cheap?” Alicia looks horrified, but he finds the client, who keeps wandering off the frame. He decides to look for footage of the mom buying the sweater. Twist! The sweet old mom slides the sweater into the bag. When Alicia shows the footage to Maya, she explains, “The only way to get you off is to show this video to the judge.” Maya sighs tearily and says she’ll take the plea to save her mother from being hauled into court.
Diane tells Carver all that’s left is closing and “crossing fingers.” He gives her a mini-lecture about believing in arguments rather than “magical happenings.” Get over yourself, Carver. But there’s a problem: the husband is back on the stand. Canning is showing a screenshot (and using his cane to maneuver the screen, amusingly). He has found a forum message from Alexa saying the Duke study was “garbage.” Diane buries her head in her hand.
Ruth comes into Eli’s office, banging the desk with the door. She thanks him for failing at making her life hell “by siccing all those Florricks onto me,” and helping her get closer to Jackie and Grace. “And just remember, I’m good at what I do,” she warns him, leaning over his desk and lowering her voice. It would be threatening if it weren’t, you know, Ruth.
Alicia and Lucca are hanging out at a very quiet, classy bag with martinis. Alicia’s in complaint mode: “All the bar attorneys think I’m a slimy bitch who poached their clients. I also gave up a possible class action for some video footage I couldn’t even use.” Lucca tells her she’s spending too much time and is always going to be a disaster in bond court. “There’s no glory in this slog,” she says. Alicia gets an idea, which she’s very excited about, but which all of us have obviously seen coming all season. “Want to do it together?” she asks.
Ooh, big cliffhanger ending! I wonder if Lucca will say yes! See you next time!