Faith isn’t just about religious belief, as this week’s new Good Wife reminds us. It can also be about faith in a loved one or a trusted mentor’s faith in your abilities. Alicia isn’t the only one who gets tested and questioned, but her experience will have the biggest repercussions. 

“The Seven Day Rule” features four main threads — two legal, one political and one personal –all cleverly intertwined on that particular “F word.” We’ll take them apart one by one.

Marry in Haste, Pay Up at Leisure

Neal Gross, the Lockhart & Gardner nemesis from the ChumHum case, has proposed to a young woman who works for his law firm. The woman, Deena, wants L&G to give a second opinion on her pre-nuptial agreement. Family law whiz David Lee sees this as an opportunity to snag a lot of future business from the future Mrs. Gross, whom he predicts could become a philanthropist like Melinda Gates.

Gross hates L&G and resents them for what he sees as interfering in his relationship with Deena. And the client herself doesn’t seem to care that the pre-nup tilts heavily in Gross’ favor — she has faith they’ll never, ever divorce. Moreover, there’s a ticking clock: because they agree to abide by Texas law (where Gross has a house), they have to work under the “seven day rule.” This means they have to have an agreement in place for a full seven days before the wedding, which is only nine days away. 

After failing to get Deena to push for better financial terms, Kalinda suggests they use non-monetary demands to win. David and Cary proceed to offer a master class in maneuvering an opponent into a corner. They first make all kinds of non-financial demands on Deena’s behalf, and then turn the requests against Gross by making him look stubborn and selfish. 

Cary and Kalinda have one additional card to play. They uncover evidence that Gross has been making child support payments to the mother of a one-night-stand from several years ago. The billionaire caves to their financial demands to keep the information from Deena. Apparently, he really does love her and just wants to get married. Her faith in him is rewarded. It’s also a big win for L&G, especially when Deena says she’ll give them a lot of work in the future. 

Lockhart & Gardner’s Day in Court

It’s time to settle up in bankruptcy court, and settlements are a big part of the problem. Will and Diane ask the judge for a five-month extension to repay the rest of their debt, which they’ve reduced by half. Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox), who now holds the remaining debt, protests the extension — he wants them liquidated now. The judge gives L&G another day to make their case.

Canning tries to prove that Will and Diane settled an abnormally high number of cases in the last six months rather than go to court, which could mean they short-changed some of their clients. (He also works on the judge’s sympathetic nature by milking his disability for all it’s worth.) Things turn sour, however, when one of Canning’s business partners admits he doesn’t like how L&G brings “nuisance suits” against some of his clients. Diane protests that Canning is looking for any reason possible to shut L&G down.

The case doesn’t improve for Canning when he puts bankruptcy trustee Clarke Hayden on the stand. He thinks Clarke is an ally, until the trustee testifies that Canning offered Clarke a job in return for insider information on L&G. The judge doesn’t look too kindly on such shenanigans and grants Lockhart & Gardner the extension. At the celebratory party, Clarke almost admits that he’ll miss being around L&G. Almost.

The Whole Truth, So Help You [Fill in the Blank Here]

Eli and Jordan believe they’ve found a weakness worth exploiting in the Maddie Hayward campaign. She was recorded at a public event failing to bow her head during a prayer. Alicia admits to Eli (after some coaxing) that Maddie once confided she’s an atheist. Alicia believes that shouldn’t be important, but Eli says voters prefer their elected officials to be people of faith. 

Even though Peter became a Christian following his jailhouse conversion, Alicia won’t tell either of the campaign operatives what she believes. Eli decides to go with the story that Alicia is a “spiritual seeker” who is open-minded about all religious beliefs. Good enough!

At a big event honoring a women’s forum, however, a reporter does Eli and Jordan’s work for them, flat out asking Maddie about the prayer “incident.” Maddie readily admits to being an atheist. Though Alicia still bears a grudge against her former friend, the honesty of Maddie’s statement clearly impresses her. 

So when the reporter asks Alicia about her religious beliefs, the tipsy (okay, drunk) candidate’s wife admits that she, too, is an atheist. Poor Eli!

Job Offer or Legal Pyramid Scheme? 

And why is our usually buttoned-down Ms. Florrick drunk in public, you might ask? It could be because Will and Diane offer her an equity partnership — quite the coup for a fourth-year associate. Sounds good, right? And at first, even though the buy-in costs a whopping $600,000, Alicia is elated and proud. She’s even prouder when Peter — in a show of a different kind of faith — offers to loan her the money himself rather than force her to take out a second mortgage.

But her mood crashes to the ground when she discovers all five of the fourth-year associates got the exact same offer. So much for all of Will and Diane’s talk about what an amazing job she’s done. Even worse, she discovers the truth from Louis Canning during the bankruptcy proceedings, when he raises the very real possibility all those partnerships will just put money into L&G’s coffers. 

Despite being bested by Will and Diane, Canning retains his respect for Alicia. During the party to toast the bankruptcy extension, he stops in to see her. Observing that she’s not in a partying mood, he hands her his business card, tells her it’s a “get out of jail free” card, anytime she wants to use it. 

Diane chastises Alicia for not attending the party, saying it sends a message that she’s not grateful for the opportunity she’s been given. Don’t pout, Ms. Lockhart says, just because this didn’t go exactly the way you’d hoped. Alicia puts on her big-girl pants and starts working the room.

Diane may not be sure what she’s unleashed. As Alicia thanks one partner after another, telling each one that “I won’t disappoint you,” the older woman’s smile fades. 

The Best Evidence

Many classic Good Wife lines in this season 4 winner:

“They’re giving out partnerships like popsicles.” — Cary to Kalinda, after she congratulates him on his possible promotion.

“Jordan is … awkward.” — Alicia to Eli, after he tries to get her opinion on the new political consultant. Naturally, he’d love for her to convey her feelings to Peter, but she begs off.

“There’s no scheme, Mr. Canning, unless you consider the promotion of someone who has billed thousands of hours and won dozens of cases a scheme.” — Alicia to Canning, when he questions whether all the partnership offers are just about making the firm money.

“I want you to be St. Alicia — it’s a selling point for Peter, and voters don’t want to believe St. Alicia is an atheist.” — Eli to Alicia, while trying to get her to admit to having some sort of spiritual beliefs.

“I’m an atheist.” — Alicia to the reporter at the women’s forum. Poor Eli! (That bears repeating.)

Summary Judgment

Excellent episode all around. Several interesting, intertwining plot lines, smart dialogue and the chance for Julianna Margulies to really show why she’s the star here. 

Just consider her last two scenes of the night. First, she plays drunk at the women’s forum and then she turns on the charm for the partners at the celebration party. Great range, always subtle. I’ll say it again — she was robbed at the Golden Globes last week.

So what happens next? If the firm is really pulling through, is Clarke gone for good? Did Alicia’s confession hurt Peter’s campaign? Most important: will Alicia stick with Lockhart & Gardner or will she test the waters with Louis Canning?

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(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV