Anger for Diane. Anger for Jason. Anger for the judge. Anger for everybody in this season's fourth episode.
The Good WifeAirtime: Sundays, 9 pm
Cast: Julianna Margulies, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, Chris Noth, Christine Baranski
Subtitle: Season 7, Episode 4 - "Taxed"
Air date: 2015-10-25
"Diane, why are you doing this? You're fighting for a cause you fundamentally don't believe in."
"Because you make me angry."
Ahhhh, yes. Anger. It's at the heart of so many The Good Wife stories. Here, Michael J. Fox's Louis Canning is fighting on behalf of doctors for a person's right to choose to go down the assisted suicide road, most notably in the cases of terminal illnesses. Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), at the request of her Republican BFF, Reese Dipple (the never-seen Oliver Platt, who I referenced last week in hopes of seeing him soon), agrees to argue against her own pro-assisted-suicide beliefs after the always-stoic Peter Gallagher turns up in the form of new character Ethan Carver to represent Dipple's desires. A clear play on the Brittany Maynard story that made headlines in 2014, it's yet another superbly current issue that creators Michele and Robert King tackle in their own provocative ways. Morally. Politically. Practically. All the things that make this world go 'round were in play in the seventh season's fourth episode, "Taxed".
That equation also includes anger. In addition to Diane's reasoning for taking on this week's case, there is the revelation that Jason (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) was once arrested for punching a judge (mad!). Then, of course, there's the ongoing tit-for-tat between Eli Gold (Alan Cumming) and Ruth Eastman (Margo Martindale), which takes a turn this week when all the women in Peter's (Chris Noth) life – Jackie (Mary Beth Peil), Grace (Makenzie Vega) and Veronica (Stockard Channing) -- are riled up about the aforementioned assisted suicide debate (madder!). And, as if that's not enough, there's that pesky bond court judge, Don Schakowsky (Christopher McDonald), who continues to have smoke pour from his ears every time Julianna Margulies's Alicia Florrick speaks because … because … because … well, just because, dammit (the maddest!).
So, step right up, people: Anger for everybody!
No, but seriously. Without such a damning emotion, The Good Wife oeuvre just wouldn't be the same. So much is done out of spite in this series that being mad has essentially become the default emotion for the characters. Even when Canning calls check-mate near the end of the episode, and the camera shows Diane sighing in defeat, you have to wonder if she's more mad at Ethan, for making her go against her beliefs, or herself, for allowing herself to go against her beliefs in the first place.
Speaking of beliefs, we find out this week that Jason has a ton of them, and no, if his disruptive past is any indication, he's not backing away from any of them. Which, all told, is kind of refreshing, especially if this means he won't just be another Object Of Romantic Affection for Alicia. So, he gets upset and he's made some mistakes. Who cares? With that smile and weirdly cheesy charm, he demands your attention when he's on the screen. Plus, all things honest, you kind of find yourself wanting him to be included more each time a scene passes that doesn't feature him in it. The guy brings a different energy to the story and while at first it seemed cheap, I'm kind of/sort of beginning to wonder where it's going to go now. That's a good thing.
Another good thing? The inevitability of Alicia asking Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) to go into business together (I believe I had that, thank you very much). The good thing about it is that we're only four episodes into this season, and instead of playing the will they/won't they game that this very series played to infuriating lengths between Will (Josh Charles) and Alicia in seasons one and two, the Kings have decided to address the elephant in the room before the point gets belabored beyond belief. It's the equivalent of everybody understanding Eli was/is using Alicia to get back at or in with Peter. At least they established that from the jump, instead of going through the requisite reveals and plot turns that such shenanigans often require.
The only question now is this: will Lucca join forces? Smart money says yes, but just think for a minute. How interesting would it be if we start episode five with Lucca turning Alicia's proposition down? Through her tenure so far as a bond court confidant, Lucca has admittedly been hot and cold when it comes to her relationship with Alicia. She was mad this week when it appeared as though Mrs. Florrick was poaching her potential clients, and let's not forget how dismissive she was when Alicia first stumbled into Judge Schakowsky's chambers a month ago. Plus, lest we be reminded of last week, when Ms. Quinn may or may not have been in on that FBI sting that threw everybody for a loop.
Was all that done with the purpose of establishing Lucca as a strong woman who can stand up to (and alongside) Alicia with grace and respect? Or was this all done with the purpose of giving us, the audience, a false sense of trust for a character who might ultimately turn out to be like everyone else on the show: out for only themselves, fueled by deception, fueled by selfishness, fueled by change …
… And, of course, fueled by anger.
Approaching The Bench
I'm fine enough with Peter Gallagher carrying the flag for Oliver Platt, but let's make one thing clear: Peter Gallagher is no Oliver Platt.
Again, one more time for effect: I believe I had that whole Lucca Quinn/Alicia Florrick partnership weeks ago. Check the archives!
Which leads me to the one quibble about that final sequence. Can we just stop with this narrative that Alicia cares too much? That just seems overplayed at this point. Hers is a character that's been compromised too many times for us to have sympathy for her on the grounds that she merely "cares too much". Should we have sympathy because her husband is a lying, cheating, selfish asshole? Forever and ever, we should. But this idea that she's a victim of her own conscious has worn thin. Let it go.
“Who knows the advocate’s case better than the devil?” You gotta love that line.
Speaking of playing Devil's Advocate, don't you think Lockhart, Agos, and Lee would have found out about Jason's checkered past? And if so, why would they have offered him tons of money to work for them? And then subsequently, why would he make that comment about how Alicia was able to land his services at a cheap rate … due to his checkered past? Something doesn't add up.
So … that whole Perps By The Pound thing must have been inspired by someone who knew something about being a bond court lawyer, right? It's too bizarre (read: needless) to pull out of thin air, so some consultant somewhere must have actually partaken in such nonsense at some point in his or her career as an actual bond court lawyer, no?
Don't think that quiet nod from Cary to Alicia about starting their old firm from her house -- and how much he missed it -- went unnoticed. Oh, foreshadowing.
Are Team Eli and Team Ruth now tied at 1?
Give Michael J. Fox another Emmy, dammit.
Crazy Prediction of the Week: Lucca turns Alicia's offer down, calls Cary, and starts Quinn, Agos, & Associates.