Okay, it’s official: We’re on the final nine episodes of the glory that is The Good Wife. So every show has to count — no do-overs. With “Monday,” we get off to a great start as Alicia receives both welcomes and warnings.

No time for grieving, as we jump right into Alicia’s first day back at Lockhart, Agos, & Lee. Did she make the right decision to rejoin the firm? Let’s find out.

The Good Wife to End After 7 Seasons >>>

Welcome Back, Sort of

We open with Diane conducting orientation for new associates – including Lucca. Yes, Lucca’s back in associatesville after her partner-time with Alicia. Meanwhile, Alicia’s in an elevator (what else?) ready for her first day back. She’s feeling uncertain, but Cary seems overjoyed to see her. Office space is at a premium, by the way. (And where did all these people come from anyway?)

Despite a shaky chair and substandard office, Alicia’s already got a case. Howell, the firm’s own tech director, wants to know if it’s legal/kosher to sell the new Chumhum tablet, the Foil. His girlfriend Amy found it under her chair at a big conference. It’s not actually due on the market for two months, but after tweeting about it, Howell’s got several online sites eager to get a first peek. He wants Alicia to help him negotiate, but she’s not so sure it’s a good idea.  

Alicia and Lucca bring Howell’s case to Diane and Cary. Lucca’s right that technically the tablet is lost property, so Howell could keep it. Diane and Cary don’t want a lawsuit from Chumhum, so Lucca calls the company directly to give “constructive notice” of the tablet’s whereabouts. They tell her she can’t have a Foil – it’s not on the market.

With no way to return it, she and Alicia say Howell can rightfully sell it. Diane and Cary are still wary, though. “So this is bureaucracy,” Lucca says, realizing there’s something to be said for staying small.

A Juicy Revelation

In the outside world, we learn that when Marissa Gold couldn’t convince Alicia to hire her back, she found alternate work at a juice bar. A customer asks her out for lunch and quizzes her about her life, including Peter, Eli and Alicia. It’s not long before Marissa – smart cookie – picks up on the fact that he’s more interested in her dad than in her. She even starts recording the conversation.

You know how you’re not paranoid if they’re really out to get you? When Marissa takes her suspicions to her dad and shows him a selfie with the guy, Eli’s aghast. That’s not a student named Peter Devereaux, that’s a (young-looking) FBI agent named Roland Lavin. Eli’s so proud of his daughter for her good instinct, he positively beams. (So cute!)

Someone Poked the Bear

Jason stops by the office to see Alicia. They flirt. They discuss the fact that they kissed. They decide it’s okay since he’s freelance. Okay! She’s smiling until she learns they’re dropping Howell’s case. “We’re in a weird place with Chumhum,” Cary says. “We don’t want to poke the bear.” Alicia, too, is realizing there’s something to be said for staying small.

Talking about weird – a bunch of police from the “TAPS” unit show up to arrest Howell for trafficking in stolen property. As they lead him away, Alicia asks, “Who are those guys?”

Howell could get three years, so now the firm is representing him. (He is an employee, after all.) Chumhum CEO (and former Lockhart, Agos client) Neil Gross shows up at the police station, offering to drop the charges if he gets his prototype back and if Howell admits who gave him the tablet. Since that was his girlfriend, Amy, he’s not inclined to give her up. But what’s really going on here? Why is Gross allowed in an interrogation room with the cops?

Who Are These Guys?

Jason discovers that TAPS stands for Technology Allied Protection Service. It’s a multi-agency taskforce working with Silicon Valley companies to crack down on technology theft. They’re the “I-Police.” Despite being a governmental agency, they’re pretty cozy with the business titans.

At Howell’s preliminary hearing, Alicia scores several points about the role of TAPS and its relationship to companies like Chumhum. But the judge just wants to focus on whether Howell should stand trial.

Back at the office, Cary and Diane take Lucca off Howell’s case and put her to work with Monica on one of their many Reese Dipple filings. The two women realize they’re expected to like working together because of their “common experiences.” Since they seem to be the only non-white faces in the firm, neither of them is fooled.

As Old Friends Reunite, Old Enemies Face Off

So glad Eli and Alicia are speaking again! It’s especially helpful because he needs to warn her about the reappearance of Agent Lavin. They don’t know what the FBI could be after.

Just then, Anthony Dudowitz, Neil Gross’s former business partner, bursts in and accuses Gross of being a fascist. (Think of Dudowitz as Wozniak to Gross’s Jobs.) He wants to stand up for Howell’s right. When Lucca comes to drop off her files on Howell and explains that she’s been reassigned to the Dipple work, Alicia says she’ll talk to Diane about it. I sense a wee bit of conflict coming.

In court, Dudowitz claims the stolen property charge is a marketing stunt conjured up by Neil Gross. Lucca argues that means it couldn’t be a crime. He then all but accuses Gross of stealing the original Chumhum code. Suddenly Gross tells his attorney to drop this line of questions.

Gross’s team must be worried, because the TAPS force suddenly shows up at Lockhart, Agos. They want to search the premises for the missing tablet. But they won’t find it, Lucca says, “because I have it.”

Diane and Cary are furious with Lucca, especially because they didn’t want her involved in the case at all. Diane seems just as annoyed that Lucca’s sticking with Alicia and calls her old partner into her office to discuss it.

Diane admits she was worried about situations like this when Cary invited Alicia back. Lucca isn’t Alicia’s associate – she’s the firm’s. The partners have to agree what cases the associates work on.

Alicia keeps her cool. “Diane, I’m thrilled to be back,” she says. “I want to be of service. But I also return with some cases, clients, and knowledge.” Alicia champions Lucca’s experience and smarts. “She shouldn’t be given grunt work.”

Diane says the partners will take her advice under consideration. Yup, bureaucracy sucks.

The Good Wife Spin-Off: Could the Show Survive Without Alicia? >>>

Corporations Are People, My Friend

Alicia approaches Gross with a hypothetical: If she could return the prototype, would he get TAPS to drop the charges against her client? Only if he tells where he got it. Since that’s a no-go, then there’s nothing to negotiate. Alicia accuses him of buying his own police force. He says, on the contrary, the TAPS agents are heroes.

He even takes to the stand to testify to that opinion. He portrays giant corporations as the victims, facing off against hackers and thieves. He denies any kind of publicity stunt – because he’d never leak a defective product. (Something about the swipe function being substandard.) The judge decides there’s probably cause to take the case to trial.

Over at the governor’s, Eli arrives at his office to find Ruth Eastman sitting behind his desk, which used to be her desk, after it was his desk. She’s furious because the FBI has issued her a summons to appear before a grand jury. She thinks he’s setting her up, but he denies it vigorously. “We may be mercenaries,” he says, “but even mercenaries have a code.”

Now he’s really worried. Since he knows that “Peter Devereaux” asked Marissa on another date, he asks her to set it up.

At the juice bar, Agent Lavin’s waiting for Marissa, but gets Eli instead. Gold tells Lavin to back off from Ruth. What do you really want? Lavin won’t tell, saying “you’ll find out soon enough.”

Eli brings his suspicions to Ruth that the FBI is after Peter. But why? Eli admits that Ruth was right – when Peter returned home after losing his bid for the POTUS nomination, he had a target on his back.

Curses, Foiled Again!    

Jason tells Alicia it’s a good thing that tech blog upped its offer for the tablet, because now Howell can make bail. Alicia’s taken aback. That means someone has been negotiating with him. But who? Maybe no one – maybe it’s just the buzz surrounding the case.

Back in court, Alicia offers a new defense. Howell has 450,000 followers on social media, so she declares him to be a “citizen journalist.” As such, he’s entitled to protect the identity of his source. He tweeted about having the Foil, which set off a public discussion about the tablet across the Nets. The judge, who seems like a kind of cool guy, decides to go with it. He declares Howell a journalist. “Go free and go crazy,” the judge tells Howell.

Cary congratulates Lucca on the journalism angle. “Now I need you on something else,” he says. And she’s back in a conference room with Monica. “Do you know any spirituals?” she asks her new colleague with a laugh.

A Warning and a Dilemma

Ruth comes to see Alicia with a gift – a bottle of powerful booze. It was a bumpy reentrance, she says, as they share the tequila. But Ruth hasn’t just come to chat. She’s come with a warning.

“Mrs. Florrick, I don’t want you to get too comfortable,” she says. “Your husband has a target on his back. No question Peter loves you, but he can hurt you. Drag you down. Not only destroy everything you’ve done but everything you want to do. Cash out while you still can.”

She leaves a baffled and concerned Alicia to her tequila as the camera pulls back to show the busy office outside her door.

Summary Judgment

This definitely counted as a winner in the final nine. Alicia and Jason! Alicia and Cary! Alicia and Eli! Alicia and Diane! (And did I mention Alicia and Jason?) Whether Alicia made the right decision to rejoin Lockhart, Agos remains to be seen, but at least we can get all the main players in one (court)room without having to force it.

Clearly the FBI investigation into Peter is part of the end game for the show. It’s a clever way to bring us full circle, right back to his original corruption charges. That time, the case against Peter turned out to be bogus (sleeping with hookers, yes; taking bribes, no). But with so much pain, experience, and hard-won wisdom tucked away under her fabulous designer belts, Alicia may not be so willing to stand by her man.

Next week, the investigation goes deeper, and the end inches closer. Fortunately, that means the return of some favorites, starting with Elsbeth Tascioni, played by the inimitable Carrie Preston. With the bitter comes the sweet.

The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9pm on CBS (for 8 more episodes – sob!).

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV