I wasn’t familiar with the term “feeding the rat” until the latest episode of The Good Wife, called — you guessed it — “Feeding the Rat.” It means that no matter how immersed you are in your day-to-day life, once in a while you have to go a little wild, give in to your passions, pursue your dreams.

What that means to the characters on The Good Wife, however, varies greatly — as Alicia’s romantic rival, Celeste, finds out to her chagrin. In fact, we’re left to wonder: Is Alicia turning out to be Will’s rat?

The Case in Evidence

The episode begins with a young man–broke as can be–who enters a convenience store to buy his son a birthday gift. As he stands in the back, someone enters the store to rob it–and then shoots the clerk. The young man, Trevor Dolan, cowers in terror in the back, but steps forward as a witness. Unfortunately, another witness, Mr. Boylan, fingers Dolan as the shooter. Cary charges him with murder.

Alicia takes Dolan’s case under Lockhart-Gardner’s pro bono agreement with Legal Aid. Even though we’re pretty sure Dolan is innocent, things don’t look so good for him. But he won’t accept a plea bargain. Julius, L-G’s head of litigation, takes an interest in the case and steps in to help, despite Diane’s edict that they pull out of their Legal Aid work until the economy improves.

The whole case hinges on what the Boylan saw and what he couldn’t have seen from where he stood. Kalinda (but of course!) finally cracks the case by proving that Boylan must have been the killer himself. Dolan goes free when Cary accepts the new evidence.

Approaching the Bench

Eli’s increasing demands on Alicia’s and Kalinda’s time cause a minor crisis at L-G. He wants both women working for him full time. Diane and Will say no, but he points out how much money he’s bringing into the firm. His logic is irrefutable, but they still resent his meddling in the firm’s business.

Diane says the only way they can stop “dancing to the tune of Eli Gold” is to become more profitable. They need a strong bankruptcy arm–and that means pursuing Celeste, Will’s old flame. Over his objections, Diane sends him to woo Celeste to join L-G.

Will finds her at the annual Mid-West Bar Association conference, where she’s set to give a seminar. He begins negotiations with her to bring her to L-G-. But it turns out she’s not really interested in becoming part of another firm. She and her colleagues are forming their own practice, and she wants Will to come with her.

She offers him something she knows he wants–the chance to become the next Commissioner of Baseball. That’s the “rat” that Celeste thinks Will would give up his settled existence to “feed.” He thinks about it, and even allows himself to be lured into a high-stakes poker game in her hotel suite (her “seminar”).

After a night of gambling, though, Will tells her he’s tired of her games. He realizes he has what he wants already–he doesn’t want to give up what’s right about his life to chase a dream that may or may not come true in 15 years. Celeste looks disgusted with him, but she knows she’s lost. For now, anyway.

Friend of the Court

Meanwhile, Diane decides to “break up” with Legal Aid in person. She’s immediately taken with the organization’s head (an engaging turn by Weeds alum Romany Malco.) He explains that he understands why she’s cutting back on pro bono work and hopes they’ll return when the economy turns around. He’s so gracious that Diane is particularly upset to find out Legal Aid has lost its funding.

Though she doesn’t say anything, we can see the wheels spinning in Diane’s head. When Will tells her that Celeste won’t be joining L-G and is forming her own firm, Diane’s not upset. Instead, she says, “I don’t want to be careful anymore. I want to do what’s right.”

She tells Will she wants to give Legal Aid their extra office space, even if it upsets Eli. But she won’t do it without Will’s agreement. He agrees with her plan.

It’s pretty clear “doing the right thing”–even if there are financial consequences–is Diane’s “rat,” and he’s going to help her feed it.

Legal Briefs

  • Most Awkward Moment: Celeste, jealous at Will’s relationship with Alicia, maneuvers him into a very personal conversation with Peter. (Florrick is still in the dark about the Will-Alicia fling.) Neither Will nor Peter can figure out what Celeste’s up to. We know she just wants to make Will uncomfortable.
  • Most Entertaining Conversations: Eli and Kalinda’s bantering have become real highlights this season. (How did it take so long to get them in the same room?) Her efforts to resist being drawn fully into his world are so far paying off. But as he says, “I don’t like to share,” so we’ll see if she can hold out.
  • Biggest “Oops!” Moment: Will inadvertantly blurts out “I love you!” to Alicia while they’re on the phone. He immediately retracts it, and she tells him not to worry about it. But even though we know from last week’s show that Alicia doesn’t love him, maybe Will feels more for her than he wants to admit.

Summary Judgment

The most solid episode of the season by far. The facts are many: A “did we see what we thought we did?” case. Cary facing off with a federal-level “observer” who puts him on the spot about possible racial bias in his plea bargains. Harvey Fierstein’s cameo as the “hippy” Judge Flamm. Celeste’s tempting offer to Will. Diane’s decision to put the firm’s fortunes on the line. And that “oops!” moment on the phone.

So, riddle me this: Have we seen the last of Celeste? (Would you be glad if we did?) Will Cary end up in hot water with the U.S. attorney for releasing Dolan (a white suspect) and arresting Boylan (a black one)? How will Diane’s decision about giving space to Legal Aid play with Eli? And has Alicia displaced becoming baseball commissioner in the role of Will’s rat?

Photo AlbumThe Good Wife – 3.04 – “Feeding the Rat”

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV