Previously on The Good Wife, Alicia and Lucca ran out of money and were poised to rejoin Lockhart Agos; Alicia and Jason made out after months of a sexual tension that left our recapper cold; Alicia represented an FBI agent named Roland who was trying to incriminate Judge Schakowsky for bribes, but Eli tipped off the judge for a narrow escape.
Already a sign that the latest development is going to be a positive one: I only have two subheadings for this summary, instead of the usual “each of Diane, Alicia, and Cary gets her own A-plot” shitshow.
A Few Bumps
The episode opens on a canned video introduction to Lockhart Agos Lee that would be utterly charmless, in the way of these productions, if it weren’t narrated by the irresistible voice of one Diane Lockhart. She’s introducing a new crop of associates, presumably hired to replace the ones who defected as a group to Canning, and bragging about the meritocracy that allowed Cary to rise to the top so quickly.
Yep: all you have to do is start your own firm, get the old firm’s biggest client to come with you, and then reabsorb your old firm after one of its name partners dies and is replaced by its sociopathic nemesis, and you too can be a partner in just six years! The American meritocracy at work!
The video warns that not every associate will get an office right away, but it’s Alicia who suffers most from the overcrowding in this episode, since she’s assigned to an office with a chair that keeps suddenly tilting in the middle of her conversations. It’s a thinly veiled retread of territory that was sillier and, yes, funnier when it was with Eli’s tiny office. Cary and Diane greet Alicia with guarded warmth, and to Lucca all they can say is that she must meet Monica, they’ll love each other. Both Lucca and Monica (who spends the entire office working on “the Dipple filing,” i.e. sitting in a room doing paperwork) take this quite well, which I’d have expected from Lucca but which quite surprises me from the more fiery Monica. (“Do you know any spirituals?” Monica does quip around the eighth time they find themselves in a room together. Heh.)
In their first thirty seconds as underlings, Alicia and Lucca get a client. Alicia, later, will keep referring to Lucca as the person who “caught” the case, but that’s not really accurate; she and Lucca are hanging out in Alicia’s office, clinging to the familiar, when the firm’s IT person, Howell, shows up telling Alicia he needs to hire her. Apparently he went to an electronics con and his girlfriend found a prototype of the Foil, which is the Chumhum version of the Chrome tablet: the first tablet from the Good Wife universe’s biggest tech giant. He posted online that he had it, and now he’s getting offers from tech blogs and news sites. Can Alicia and Lucca help negotiate?
Lucca’s about to agree blithely, but Alicia, used to working in a bureaucracy, knows that Diane and Cary will be worried: they don’t want to piss off Neil Gross, ChumHum’s CEO. Lucca, used to being her own boss, is kind of impatient at all of the hemming and hawing. When Diane starts talking about giving ChumHum a chance to recover the lost property, Lucca goes rogue: she calls customer service, asking to return a Foil to them. Since she speaks to a supervisor with authority to accept the stolen property, and the supervisor hews to the party line that no Foils have been leaked and refuses to accept a return, she claims to have fulfilled Howell’s duty under the law.
It’s cutesy and clever, but Cary orders Alicia to drop the case by email anyway. She storms into his office and says “Things have really changed around here.” Right, because they didn’t suck up to Neil Gross before? Soon enough the issue is moot, since Howell gets arrested right in the office for the “theft” of the device, which forces Diane and Cary to change their tune. But they still try to take Lucca off the case, though they allow Alicia to pursue it, sticking Lucca on what is obviously grunt work: the Dipple filing, where she just happens to be working with Monica.
Jason’s on the case, which leads to a scene full of some of the silliest flirtation I’ve ever heard coming out of the mouths of supposed adults. He’s waiting outside Alicia’s office with a grin on his face, and Alicia is equally delighted to see him. She interrupts a work-related conversation by asking about his beard: “At a certain point, you’re either clean-shaven or you’re Abraham Lincoln, right?” “Nope,” Jason says, “it stays like this. Since birth.”
What wit! What banter!
Then Alicia asks if it’ll be weird working together. I dunno, Alicia, at least he isn’t your boss who’s been desperately in love with you since law school and has an office with glass walls? Sooo, I think you can handle it? Jason, too, reminds her that he’s “freelance.” They both give what I can only describe as suggestive smiles when they say this word. Cut it out, you two. I don’t want to think about Jason’s lance.
Anyway, Jason figures out that the agency that arrested Howell is called TAPS, and they’re a technology task force closely involved with Neil Gross. Neil Gross actually convinces (but really, orders) TAPS to drop the charges of theft if Howell returns the device and turns in the person who gave it to him. Howell refuses any deal of this nature because he won’t betray his faceless girlfriend (I guess the show didn’t want to spend too much on guest stars, because she never shows up).
Alicia digs in on TAPS at the probable cause hearing, forcing them to admit in court that they have a “steering committee,” unlike any other law enforcement agency: a committee that includes not only law enforcement, but the CEOs of Silicon Valley’s fourteen largest companies. Wow. Unlike with most episodes, Googling hasn’t revealed to me whether this is a thing that exists. But I would not put it past our country at this point.
Anyway, this makes the law enforcement agency look terrible, but it doesn’t get Alicia a win. Then she interviews the software engineer who lost the device, calling him out on a tweet where he admitted to taking out the tablet to impress a woman, and suggests that he might have lost it and not wanted to admit it.
When this doesn’t work Lucca brings in Dedowitz, the dramatically uncharismatic tech nerd who was last seen testifying about ChumHum’s self-driving cars. (“Hello, lawyer. Other lawyer,” he greets Alicia and Eli when he arrives. I love it. This guy is brilliant in everything I see him in.) He argues that this is a marketing stunt, a ploy that Neil Gross has used before, from the loss to the arrest to the courtroom. If it were true, it would mean that there was no theft and there would be no probable cause. Neil has suggested doing this before. Dedowitz can’t resist throwing in several insults to Neil Gross, including saying that he “tried to write code with his own feces.” Gross takes it all fairly calmly, but when Dedowitz mentions that he wrote the code for ChumHum after visiting a certain other lab making a similar product, all bets are off. Gross manages to get the attention of the lawyer (who supposedly isn’t even representing him) and just like that, she is finished questioning Dedowitz. “I think we just landed a sucker punch,” Alicia whispers.
But another wrinkle comes up: Lucca has the Foil device, because she grabbed it when Howell was being arrested in the heat of the moment. She insists she didn’t take it to negotiate a sale for him, but let’s just say no one is pleased about this.
Diane brings Alicia into her office and speaks very kindly and professionally, if coolly, saying that she expected some bumps when Alicia came back and that they need to improve the working rhythm. “Tell me how you’d like me to improve,” Alicia says in a superciliously icy voice. Diane tells her that she shouldn’t have taken Lucca off the Dipple case without checking with the partners. Alicia gives a direct apology that sounds so insincere as to be almost rude, and somehow Diane still keeps her cool and insists that Lucca needs to know she’s answerable to the firm, not just to Alicia.
Then Alicia gets even more absurd and starts bragging about all the clients, cases, and knowledge she’s coming back with (um, no. She had way more clients before, right?). “In bond court?” Diane says with delicious meanness. Talk about landing a sucker punch. Alicia is obviously feeling the sting, but she calmly agrees, talking as slowly and condescendingly as possible. “Yes. I do mean. In bond court. Lucca is good. She’s smart. And forward-leaning. And a prodigy.” (She pronounces it like she’s French, prodizhie. I have no idea why.) “And. With respect. She shouldn’t be doing grunt work.” Diane decides that she can’t be bothered to parry with this inexplicably hostile former protege anymore, and kicks Alicia out of the office, putting her glasses back on.
I love when Diane puts her glasses back on and becomes Business Diane. I do not love when Alicia becomes self-righteous and bitter for absolutely no reason. She’s come back to this firm with her tail between her legs, and earlier in this season it was very clear that there was plenty of remaining warmth and affection between her and Cary, her and Diane. So what is the reason behind this pissing match she’s decided to start with Diane? It’s so strange and unnecessary! They should all be hugging and skipping around holding hands! The threesome is reunited! Alicia could take her new fuck-it-all attitude and unleash it on her real enemies, like that one judge who wants everything to be “in your opinion,” or that Castro dude who I think is still State’s Attorney, or Schakowsky! So why is she wasting her time fighting with the best woman on the planet? (And when I say “best,” I mean, “until this episode turned her weirdly racist for no reason”… more on that later.)
Alicia tries to negotiate with Neil, but he’s still insisting on Howell turning in the name of the person who gave him the device. So they move on to the next phase of the hearing, where Neil argues (continuing a conversation from earlier with just Alicia) that TAPS agents are heroes, because “Goliaths are the new Davids.” He’s not, luckily, arguing that he’s put-upon because of his wealth (as in “The One Percent,” an amusing episode from season three), but making a weird convoluted argument that since corporate labs are having the great ideas now, instead of young kids named Steve in garages, they’re the ones who need protection. Um, fine, but that doesn’t make you David… do you even know what the metaphor means?
Speaking of people who don’t know what words mean, Alicia objects to Neil’s argument on the basis that this is “self-aggrandizing.” I somehow do not think that’s a legitimate reason to object to something in a court of law.
Anyway, Neil argues passionately that he would never have allowed the Foil to be released in its current buggy state, so it couldn’t have been marketing. The judge immediately rules in favor of probable cause without even letting Alicia cross-examine him.
But it’s not over yet. Jason mentions to Alicia that someone’s offered Howell two hundred fifty grand for the Foil. Alicia freaks out, thinking Lucca’s been negotiating on the sly (“You can’t dig in on principle at a firm like this” — oh really? Isn’t that literally what you spent all of the first three seasons doing, not to mention plenty of episodes in the next three?), but Lucca shows her Howell’s Facebook profile, which has 419,000 followers. Alicia gets an idea: Howell is a journalist. With this many followers, his possession of the Foil is now a matter of public interest. This argument gets him released. Win for Alicia!
But if Alicia wins, continuity takes a pummeling in this episode. I already mentioned the fact that there’s no reason for her to act like she hates Cary and Diane’s guts. But there are so many other strange things going on. Like, why is Alicia suddenly the least racist one, while Diane is suddenly convinced that all black women under 35 should be friends with each other? Alicia seemed to have very little interest in progressive ideas, though due to her natural compassion for underdogs, she has frequently ended up helping black people who were the victims of racism. But Diane hangs out with liberals. She was the one arguing to hire Monica. She has always seemed to “get” it, and suddenly she’s basically Howard Lyman in a better outfit?
And what’s with Alicia acting like Lockhart Agos is this giant bureaucracy, and she’s such a maverick? For one thing, she took lots of unremunerative cases, constantly, when she was working with Cary, and even before then when she was at Lockhart Gardner and pretty much had the run of the place. For another, she and Lucca didn’t do anything all that interesting when they were on their own. It just sort of seems like they’re rewriting history here to pit Alicia and Lucca against Cary and Diane when there is absolutely no reason to do so. It’s manufactured conflict, and it’s making Alicia look crazy and Diane look racist and those are not the characters that I love.
Marissa Does Eli Proud
Marissa is working at a juice bar that is like a slightly more accurate version of what your grouchy grandpa thinks hippie juice bars are like. They serve a thing called “Selfies” where you design your own smoothie and then take a selfie with it. One notable ingredient is bee pollen. Gross. Marissa has the same reaction as I do.
A cute, hangdog-looking guy shows up at the bar. My first reaction, since the cbs.com stream didn’t include previouslies, was that he looked familiar and had probably been on some other show that I watched, but more careful watchers will recognize him from the third episode of this season, “Cooked.” He says his name is Scott Deveraux and he apparently finds Marissa’s mildly-disgruntled-employee routine charming. He asks her to go to lunch with him, and gets noticeably intrigued when she mentions her father’s job.
Marissa sprints over to Eli’s office afterward and tells him, “A young man took me to lunch, but he had a lot more interest in you than in me.” As soon as she shows Eli a picture, he identifies the guy as Roland Lavin, the FBI agent. Thank you, Eli, because I recapped that episode in great detail and I still wasn’t able to place Roland’s genial, nondescript face. He’s alarmed—like any man with a guilty conscience, he’s convinced Roland’s after him for tipping off Schakowsky.
He sprints right over to ask Schakowsky about it, and Schakowsky says, “That little smart-ass?” Heh. It turns out that Roland came by Schakowsky’s but he was asking about Alicia. Which is like, really? You spent years trying to take this guy down for corruption and you think he’s going to be a good source on some other investigation? I suppose his blind hatred of Alicia might help, but still.
Anyway, Eli shows up to Marissa’s work and makes her pay attention to him instead of her customers. I am starting to foresee a ninth firing in Marissa’s future. He confirms with Marissa that there were some questions about Alicia, and then runs over to Alicia. After making her confirm they’re still “okay,” he notes that things seem to be going well for her at her new firm. “Yes,” she says bitterly. “First the tragedy, and then the farce.” Alicia, this firm took you in when you were broke and you’ve had a sour face all day. Maybe try a little politeness, if for no other reason than that you need this job and it’s your first damn day?
Anyway, he tells her he thinks that someone’s after her, and she complains that it never ends. They’re interrupted by Dedowitz, however, so Eli leaves and returns to his office, to find Ruth waiting there. She asks about the painting he got from Courtney Paige. He flails while interpreting it as being about “revolution,” and concludes lamely, “You know, art.” Heh. Anyway, Ruth thinks he’s setting her up for something. (I know, I know, how could she suspect Eli of such a thing?!) Apparently she’s had a grand jury subpoena. Eli pretends he’s not worried, but Ruth knows better than to stay calm, and tells him not to mess with her. They have another staredown. “We may be mercenaries, but even mercenaries have a code,” Eli says.
Then he calls Marissa again and makes her set up another date. But of course he shows up to see Roland instead of Marissa. Roland suggests that Eli’s on the outs with the Florricks, and promises Eli that he’ll find out what this is about soon enough.
Back to Ruth: Eli meets with her, musing about what the problem could be. He admits her prediction from the end of “Iowa” that Peter would now be a walking target has come true. She doesn’t give him much information, but she does wish him luck. Finally, she visits Alicia, bringing her an officewarming gift of tequila. (The tequila is so strong that Alicia can barely drink it, which… I don’t even understand how she could taste it, given that at this point her body is basically seven gallons of tequila sloshing around inside the skin of a beautiful woman.)
Ruth tells Alicia, very seriously, and mysteriously, to leave Peter before it’s too late. He’s going down, and he’s going to drag her down with him. “Not only destroy everything you’ve done, but everything you want to do. Cash out while you still can.” Interesting metaphor for a woman who just almost went bankrupt, eh?
The old Alicia would probably believe that she married Peter and it’s her job to go down with his ship, no matter how much or little he’s at fault for drowning (and in Peter’s case, perhaps unfairly, he seems to have been fairly innocent in the Iowa defeat—but I don’t think anyone would argue he deserves to be President, or Vice President, of a charity board let alone the United States, or that he didn’t deserve some sort of comeuppance just by virtue of being a sort of terrible, slimy human in general.)
But the new Alicia might just decide to burn another bridge, and walk away with music blaring in her headphones and Peter’s career in flames behind her. Is this the “inevitable and surprising” ending we’ve been promised?