Alicia’s having an Alice in Wonderland kind of week in this episode of The Good Wife, “Cooked.” Her new case has gone down a rabbit hole, her client may not be who he claims to be, she and Lucca are on the outs and Diane’s crying “Off with her head!” derailing a possible fresh start before the former colleagues.

To make thing’s worse, the pressure’s on Alicia to help Peter’s campaign out by playing wifey — something she hasn’t been interested in for years. But none of that matters if the feds have her in their sights again. Let’s try to untangle this web, shall we?

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When Lawyers Sue Lawyers

The episode picks up where we left off last time. Surprisingly, Howard Lyman’s still in the picture and now hanging out in Alicia’s apartment/office. (Apartfice?) Offiment?) He wants to avoid being moved to emeritus status and asks her to represent him.

His would-be lawyer is skeptical but tells him if he actually worked harder (something he hasn’t done for years), then he might have a case for an ageism suit. Maybe. But you can’t quit — they have to fire you, she tells him. Alicia’s tepid advice will come back to haunt her.  

As he leaves, Howard runs into Jackie Florrick and takes an immediate shine to her. She seems to welcome the attention. And a good thing, too, since he later calls her for a date.

The War Between Eli and Ruth Continues

Over at the Peter Florrick campaign HQ, Eli discovers Ruth’s staff is freezing him out. It’s particularly galling to Gold, since the number one topic of discussion is Alicia and her role in the campaign. Ruth wants more of Alicia’s time, despite Eli’s reminder that she’s got a full-time job. Eli’s caution falls on deaf ears. 

To add insult to injury, Ruth offers him an office right near hers. That might seem like a positive development, but it’s the size of a broom closet — if you don’t have many brooms.

Plus, Ruth wants Alicia and her mom, Veronica, to appear on a cooking show, Mama’s Homespun Cooking. Eli tries to explain that it’s a very bad idea, but again — deaf ears.

Alicia’s really getting the hang of this bond court thing. Her newest client, Roland Hlavin (the “H” is silent), faces charges for manufacturing and selling a controlled substance, the party-drug GHB. Lucca nabs his co-defendant, a dealer. The assistant State’s Attorney offers the two women an “exploding plea”: one of the men takes a one-year jail term in return for testifying against the other. 

Hlavin tells Alicia he won’t take a deal. His defense? He wasn’t making GHB, but rather a safer variant that isn’t technically illegal. There may be an opening here. She runs to tell Lucca not to take the deal for her client, but she’s too late. It’s likely her client’s going to jail for a long time. Alicia calls Grace and asks her to get Jason to find an expert on synthetic drugs. (Sadly, we don’t actually see Jeffrey Dean Morgan in this episode.)

In court, Hlavin pleads not guilty. When Lucca catches on to Alicia’s strategy, she enters the same plea for her client, the dealer, despite having agreed to it earlier. The ASA is furious. Lucca tells Alicia this idea had better work — she’s just made an enemy.

The Case of Coke vs. Pepsi

Diane’s got the mentoring jones now that Alicia’s gone off on her own. Her enthusiasm sours when the young woman she’s chosen, Naomi, says she’s honored but worried she won’t have time for work, mentorship and a personal life. But maybe Diane’s really just missing Alicia. Wearing a truly amazing blue leather suit, she calls a partners’ meeting to discuss the governor’s wife.

In bond court, Jason’s expert witness verifies Hlavin’s statement that his chemical compound isn’t a true controlled substance; it’s an analogue of the real thing. Alicia tries to convince the judge that it’s like the difference between Coke and Pepsi. The ASA argues that Hlavin’s compound is so close to GHB that it’s still probably illegal. Alicia loses her motion to dismiss the case, but Lucca has an idea that might still save the day. 

Veronica visits Eli in his broom closet. He proposes the idea of doing Mama’s Homespun Cooking with her daughter. She would teach Alicia a recipe on-camera. Veronica laughs so hard she almost chokes but says she’ll do it.

In the partners’ meeting, Howard tries to catch Cary making ageist remarks. Diane discusses turning down the heat on Alicia. How about if we send her our overflow cases? It’s not all about friendship; they want to keep her from teaming up with Canning. 

Lucca tells Alicia that intent counts in the analogue (i.e., Coke vs. Pepsi) case. Lucca’s client, the dealer, thought he was buying real GHB. But Alicia’s client intended to make fake GHB. So he can’t be convicted for making fake GHB if he meant to make the real thing. It’s a fine needle to thread, and we’re all thoroughly confused. 

Hlavin testifies that he was trying to make GHB, but ended up making an analogue. The judge says it’s tricky but a valid point. But then the ASA badgers him to admit he’s a loser who couldn’t make the right drug. Hlavin gets angry and admits he was actually trying to make the fake. His intent was to make a fake. So that didn’t work for Alicia either. 

Things get even more interesting when Grace calls Alicia. As far as Grace can tell, everything Hlavin’s told Alicia is a lie. He doesn’t seem to exist. Later, her digging shows that he might be connected to the FBI. (Little Florrick’s turning into quite the sleuth herself.)

Dueling Aprons at Dawn

Alicia and Veronica meet on set for Mama’s Homespun Cooking. Despite the importance to Peter’s campaign, Veronica’s snockered. (Thanks, Mom!) Things go downhill fast between mother and daughter. Ruth watches the disastrous taping and does an honest-to-goodness spit take. Get me Eli Gold!

Alicia confronts Hlavin about his fake identity. She wants the judge to take her off the case, but he threatens her with telling the judge that she asked him to lie (which she didn’t … umm … maybe … so … confused). He says he wants his day in court, and she’s got to be his attorney.

Alicia visits Eli’s broom closet. She worried she’s being set up by the FBI. She denies coaching Hlavin to lie but admits it could be misinterpreted. Eli wants to know if the strategy with her client was hers, but she remembers it was really Lucca’s idea. 

Ruth comes in. (They do a dance, trading places in the closet.) She’s furious about the cooking show. Eli denies any responsibility. He warned her that Veronica and Alicia have an untraditional relationship.

Alicia comes home and finds Diane waiting to offer her the overflow cases. Have the former friends and colleagues made peace? Before they can really talk, Lucca stops by and launches into an argument about Hlavin. Alicia’s equally unhappy, implying that Lucca isn’t completely ethical. 

Alicia says it would be best to sever their cases. A furious Lucca says, “Great. Thanks. Screw you!” and stalks away. And they were getting along so well!

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Howard and Jackie, Sittin’ in a Tree

In court, the dealer (Lucca’s client) testifies that Hlavin always meant to make fake GHB. Alicia’s case is going downhill as fast as that cooking show. She and Hlavin argue, and he finally confesses that, yes, he’s an undercover FBI agent. Is it about her? Thankfully, no. 

The sting is actually about … the judge! He’s been taking bribes, and the feds need to prove it. Hlavin instructs her to go back into court once more and move for dismissal. By then, their target will have taken a bribe. Alicia lets Eli know he can stop worrying about her; the FBI’s after the judge.

Howard and Jackie go on a date. They’re really hitting it off. They snuggle! They kiss! It seems to give Howard new energy. He calls Alicia to tell her he wants to drop his possible suit. Unfortunately, David overhears only the first part of the conversation, and he narcs to Diane that Alicia’s working against them. Out goes Diane — a woman on a mission. 

Diane shows up to berate Alicia for taking Howard’s case. Ms. Lockhart thought they’d “smoothed over” their differences (even though we know there was an ulterior motive related to Louis Canning). 

This isn’t what it seems, Alicia says. Oh no? says Diane. She won’t listen to her former friend’s explanation. (And, indeed, nothing is what it seems in this episode.)

When is a Sting Not a Sting?

Back at Lockhart, Agos, the main partners meet. Howard tells them he brought in a new client — the Food Service Union. It’s millions in billing. With Jackie by his side (and her contact at the union in his pocket), Howard’s back on his game. They can’t let him go now.

The judge meets with an old friend. He makes a case for Hlavin as a “good kid.” Can’t you cut him a break? He offers the jurist bribe. Does he take it?

Alicia offers for dismissal of all charges on Hlavin. She says the state’s main witness isn’t credible. The judge denies her motion — the case will go to trial. Huh. Not what the FBI planned. Hlavin is furious, thinking she tipped the judge off. She denies it, but he fires her as his attorney. (Still confused. Is this even a real case if he was an undercover agent all along?)

In bond court, everything seems back to normal. The judge hands Alicia and Lucca several new cases, and the two women seem friendly again. (Presumably, Alicia told Lucca about the bribery sting.)

Then the big surprise of the episode. It turns out Eli tipped off the judge (who’s almost certainly crooked). Eli wants something in return, of course — a little help with Democratic Party boss Frank Landau. Oh, Eli!

Summary Judgment

Well, this wasn’t my favorite episode of the season (from a grand total of three). The fake drug case about fake drugs felt confusing and lacked much urgency, except for worrying that the FBI had targeted Alicia — a passing echo of the NSA storyline from a couple seasons ago. I was also disappointed that we didn’t see more of the cooking show (given the hype in the previews). 

Plus, two plot points turned on people jumping to conclusions by either overhearing incomplete information or refusing to listen to explanations. Or maybe the folks at Lockhart, Agos just have anger-management problems. Plus, no Jason Crouse (aka Jeffrey Dean Morgan).

But even less successful Good Wife is better than most TV. So what worked? The continuing tangle of Alicia’s business, personal and political lives. The blooming love between Howard and Jackie — those two deserve each other. And Grace! Who would have thought that Little Florrick would develop into such a good sidekick for her mom?

What did you think of this episode? Did you have the same reaction to the fake drug case? Should Diane have actually listened to Alicia? What’s with David and his tattling? Can someone tell that guy to grow up?

The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9pm (depending on football overruns) on CBS.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV