Life in bond court isn’t getting any easier for Alicia on The Good Wife. But defending clients that a crooked judge treats as less than human may be just the motivation she needs to reexamine her future.

On the other hand, at least Alicia’s doing what she believes in. Diane’s still working for her billionaire on his social causes — and pretty unhappy about it. She’s learning quickly that when you make a deal with the devil, you just might become the devil’s advocate.

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A Case of Life and Death

In this episode, “Taxed,” we begin with a classic ripped-from-the-headlines Good Wife case. Our old frenemy Louis Canning (the returning Michael J. Fox) is defending two doctors in a wrongful death suit. They’re accused of assisting with the suicide of Alexa, a terminally ill young woman.

As Diane watches from the back, a dapper man sits beside her. He’s big-deal billionaire Reese Dipple’s general counsel, Ethan Carver (played by the ever-youthful Peter Gallagher). 

Reese wants Diane to take over the case from the current lawyers. Physician-assisted suicide is another of Reese’s hot-button issues. Diane protests that she’s an observer only — she supports the right of terminally ill patients to choose when and how they’ll die. “I’m just the devil’s advocate,” she says.

Carver responds, “Who knows the devil’s case better than the advocate?” For once, Diane Lockhart is speechless.

Back at bond court, it’s shoplifting day! Apparently, all shoplifters gets processed together. The four regulars (Alicia, Lucca and two guys) wait to see what cases they’ll get from Judge Schakowsky. (He’s still free, thanks to Eli tipping him off about the bribery sting during the previous episode). 

Bukovitz, oe of the other bond attorneys, gets a client, Maia Sacks, who insists she’s innocent. Bukovitz tries to convince her she should plead out or it could get worse for her. When Alicia tells the woman that he’s lying, Maia switches over to Alicia. Bukovitz is furious about losing his fee, accusing her of “snaking” him. Even Lucca scolds her, though we know Alicia didn’t do anything wrong. 

Diane faces off with Louis in the euthanasia case. Carver watches, impressed. He later tells Diane and Cary that Dipple is concerned that the Illinois legislature is considering making physician-assisted suicide legal in the state. Dipple wants to block it, even if it means using Alicia to get the governor’s ear. Ironically, the only reason Alicia’s not with her old firm is because of Dipple, but Cary says he’ll look into it.

Don’t Look for Fairness Here

Alicia’s client won’t plead guilty — she’d get one year probation. The judge wants her to keep things moving, so the prosecutor — Matan Brody — offers to reduce it to six months, but Maia won’t budge. Alicia apologizes to the judge for the delay, but he won’t listen. Instead, he distributes all her other cases to the other three bond attorneys.

“When did you ever think that bond court was about being fair?” he asks her. First, he’s crooked. Now he’s being mean to Alicia. This shall not stand!

As Alicia walks out, Lucca asks what’s going on. “I’m being taxed,” she says angrily.

Cary Asks for a Favor

Cary visits Alicia at her apartment/office. He’s there to ask if she’s willing to lobby Peter about the upcoming bill — to veto it. This could be your ticket back to the firm, he tells her. Dipple will loooove her if she sways Peter. 

But she says she’s happy on her own. Besides, she doesn’t want to owe Peter any favors just now, especially not on this particular bill. Eli walks in just in time to hear her. 

Back in the Diane-Louis courtroom, the mother of the dead girl testifies. She claims her daughter wasn’t terminal — there were alternatives, specifically a new clinical trial at Duke University. 

Jason (yay!) comes to see Alicia. Maia wants him to prove she’s innocent and, in fact, he may have found proof. Maia’s mother insists that she bought the sweater in question for Maia, as the young woman claimed. Maia wasn’t shoplifting — she was returning the sweater to exchange it (as she told Alicia). Mrs. Sacks says the store makes it uncomfortable for black people to shop in. There may be a racial aspect to the case. 

Eli and Jackie Florrick confab in his broom closet. He tells her that Peter’s being pressured to take a stance against the physician-assisted suicide bill. But that’s not what he believes, she says. (And who would know better than his mom?) Eli thinks it would be a good idea if he heard her thoughts directly, which she agrees to do. He also reminds her that Peter has a new campaign manager, Ruth Eastman, who likes to limit access to him. But I’m sure she’ll make an allowance for his mother.

Jackie smirks. Eli’s up to something, but what?

No Atticus Finch in Bond Court

To support her client’s case, Alicia asks for more information from the store, including security tapes. But it’s a no-go. The judge monologues about how this isn’t To Kill a Mockingbird — the court has to keep moving to give the greatest amount of justice to all. He denies her request; she in turn requests a continuance. Instead, the fuming judge forces them to conduct the hearing right now.

Diane calls a witness who claims he’s cancer-free from the same brain tumor the dead girl suffered from. He was in that clinical trial. Louis fears his case will go down in flames. He offers Diane and Carver a cash settlement for the girl’s parents that includes a gag order on the outcome. Carver wants to drop the gag order, but Louis won’t budge. Then that’s a no. 

Louis can’t believe Diane is attacking physician-assisted suicide. He accuses her of selling out. “I won’t take lessons in hypocrisy from you,” she retorts. But he spits back that Dipple doesn’t care about dying patients; he just wants to intimidate doctors and raise malpractice insurance rates. He suggests she talk to her clients and find out for herself. 

At Alicia’s place, Eli stops by and drops off paperwork with Grace. He asks her what she thinks about physician-assisted suicide. Maybe her dad would want to hear from her about it, since she’s a Christian.

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Ruth Tries to “Handle” Jackie and Grace

Jason goes undercover at the department store to watch how they treat their customers. He sees the same guard who testified against Maia follow black customers around the store while leaving white ones alone. Jason calls Alicia and asks if she’s ever based a case on racial profiling.

Diane asks Carver if the case is actually a Trojan horse to raise malpractice rates so that doctors won’t help dying patients end their lives. Carver admits that using this tactic works — raising insurance rates “sharpens the mind.” He doesn’t think doctors should be in the business of killing. He also doesn’t want civilian volunteers doing it either. (At least he’s consistent.)

Diane points out that Dipple and his kind are against government until it comes to issues like abortion and euthanasia. Carver says things are moving too fast on these things — just look at gay marriage! (“Ouch!” Diane winces aloud.) He asks her if she wants off the case, but she says no. But I want it to be about this case, not every case. He agrees.

At Peter’s office, Jackie meets Ruth face to face. Jackie tries to see her son, but Ruth tells her the governor’s busy. It’s our weekly staff meeting. No one can interrupt him. When Ruth takes a call, she leaves a flustered Jackie alone in the hallway.

In court, one of the defendants explains how he gave the dying girl medications to help her end her life. Diane asks him why he didn’t tell her about the Duke study. He said it was too late for Alexa — it would have given her false hope. Diane says that wasn’t his choice to make. Carver sits in the back of the courtroom looking pleased.

As Jason explains to Alicia what he observed in the department store, he spots one of the customers he saw during his investigation. Guess what? She’s been picked up for shoplifting — and she’s denying her guilt. Alicia stops her bond attorney from pleading her out. The department store’s targeting African Americans. 

After Peter’s meeting, Jackie slips in to see her son. She tells him she dislikes Ruth and she’s not respectful. He promises to talk to Ruth. Jackie is too flustered to discuss the physician-assisted suicide bill. (In fact, she doesn’t tell Peter that’s why she came.) Then Ruth comes in and tells Peter that Grace stopped by to talk about the bill, but she “handled it.” 

Now, Jackie is really ticked. (And smart as Ruth is, she’s no Olivia Pope.) 

Jason’s Surprising Back Story

Louis questions Alexa’s husband about her death. She was in terrible pain and worried about losing control over her life. She wanted to go out on her own terms, he says.

In bond court, Jason testifies that he saw the girl in the store being followed. It’s compelling stuff, but then Matan brings up the fact that Jason is a disbarred attorney. He even punched a judge that he believed was treating a client unfairly.

Alicia’s surprised at the background info but also furious — it’s character assassination. Jason seems stunningly cool through it all. Meanwhile, several other clients ask to switch their cases to Alicia.

Grace, Peter and Mama Florrick argue over physician-assisted suicide. Grace is against it; Jackie’s in favor. Ruth accuses Eli of setting up the family fracas to make her look bad. Peter doesn’t care — he just wants her to fix it. 

And, in fact, Ruth does clever damage control with Jackie and Grace. We’re finally seeing how she got to be such a top-gun campaign adviser. Later, she stops by Eli’s broom closet to thank him for bringing her closer to Jackie and Grace. “And don’t forget,” she says, “I’m good at what I do. So if you’re trying to get me, you’ll have to bring your A game.” Mr. Gold looks none too happy.

Unexpected Answers to Tough Questions

Alicia goes to the department store and presents the manager with a list of clients accused of shoplifting. Funny how many are African American, something the local media might be interested in. The store agrees to share its security footage. She and Jason watch it together, and she questions him about his past. 

“Do I need to worry about you?” she asks. “Yeah. Why do you think you got me so cheap?” We can’t actually tell if he’s joking or not.

Unfortunately, all the footage shows is that Maia’s indeed innocent. The shoplifter was her mom! Maia really was trying to return the sweater. The only way to clear Maia is to accuse her mother. To save her mom, Maia agrees to take the plea deal.

In the euthanasia case, Louis proves — based on comments Alexa made on a website — that she knew about the Duke trial. Even with that knowledge, she decided to continue with her plan. As with many Good Wife cases, we don’t actually see the outcome, but we get the picture. Whether Louis won or not, he really won. 

At the lawyer hangout bar, Alicia and Lucca share a drink. Lucca consoles her and advises her not to spend so much time on her bond cases. “You care too much,” Lucca says. “There’s no glory in this slog. Shake the trees for better-paying cases.” 

Light bulb moment! “Wanna do it together?” Alicia asks her new buddy.

Summary Judgment

After a so-so outing last time, now we’re back to fine form. Classic Good Wife: two alternating cases, an important — and truly complex — social issue (and a nice showcase for Diane), a Ruth and Eli showdown, a Jackie intervention and the return of Jason, who is way more mysterious than we knew. Plus, the moment we’ve been waiting for all season — Alicia decides to expand her firm. Finally!

I hope Lucca says yes. And I hope a restless Cary joins them. Remember, a bigger firm means more work for Jason!

The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9pm on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV