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The Good Wife - Payback - Review: "We Need To Part Ways"

7.05 - "Payback"

Alicia and Lucca take on their first case together against a predatory debt collector, which ends up being a bigger, and more complex case than expected. Cary and Diane face further aggravation as Howard Lyman's "ageist" threats continue to make a mockery of the firm. 

"I know your number."

In Alicia's (and now Lucca's?)  office, a sympathetic young woman played the recorded calls she'd had recently with a debt collector for her final payment of $8,500 towards her student loans. They essentially threatened her and viciously ignored her claims that she had in fact already paid off the loans. She didn't have much money, but they took her on, just the same.

While Alicia and Lucca looked into figuring out how to make the case into something profitable, and look into suing someone for the harassment, Jason looked into what happened to her money that she'd sent. It was a scam -- her information had either been hacked or bought to be used, and they impersonated the collections company.

After some discussion, Alicia and Lucca decided to pursue a case against the for-profit college that Maggie, their client attended. Maggie graduated from the school with terrible prospects for an actual career, in debt, and without a decent education, after all. It was perfect timing, as the school was in the middle of being acquired, so they pursued it at that angle. It didn't exactly work out. Through arbitration they found that while the school wasn't very effective, they could argue just as well that Maggie wasn't a very good student, having missed most of her classes, and having spent most of her loan on non-school purchases. She made the point to Alicia and Lucca that it was to make ends meet, but that didn't change the legal situation.

"I just don't trust you anymore."

Cue Marissa trying to get her father to come to his senses regarding the whole "Destroy Ruth Eastman" thing. She tried, valiantly at that. She dangled an Israeli political position in front of him, stating he should just leave this petty stuff behind. He didn't listen. So, Marissa made her next move, and tried to convince Alicia to fire Eli as her Chief of Staff. She obliged when Marissa made her point about how he needs to get out of the situation so that he can move on.

In a quite troubling scene, Alicia effectively fires Eli, citing they both need a "fresh start." He looks almost as hurt as the first time when Peter fired him. He was, in many ways, closer to Alicia... They had an unbeatable rapport. He crafted the "Saint Alicia" image, and all the good fortune that came with the name. So, after a moment of dejection, he looked around and found a different angle: He told Alicia that in her case, since they couldn't legally force a suit, they could instead incite a debt strike, amongst the students. So they did, and in doing so, Alicia made a move that went against a public matter that Peter spoke about. Furthermore, the school hit Alicia and Lucca with a lawsuit of their own, as they argued tortious interference with a business decision. At this point, it seems, Eli has effectively put Alicia on his shit list.

"You're creating the climate."

Meanwhile, in Lyman, Lockhart, & Agos, (get the joke?) Howard continued to meddle in Cary's lawyering (is that a term? I'm using it anyway), when he told the new Food Union client about Cary's stint in prison. This causes a second matter of arbitration between partners. The whole situation feels like a bizarro version of last year's case against Cary, where he was present for it, but mostly only to be framed in the accusations, and to submit to the will of the legal circumstances, and even though others said "oh it's ok just go along with it" things got worse. Well, in this case, things took a turn for the hurtful, when Howard said that it wasn't just little digs at him, or insults--he was being harassed. Associates would put prune juice in his coffee, they'd leave adult diapers in his office with his name on them, catheters, all kinds of stuff. While Diane and Cary didn't intentionally mean to demean Howard, he was not being properly respected by the associates.

The core of this scene was actually probably one of the strongest parts of this episode. The student debt case was a strong and decently-twisty case of the week, but in the one plot I legitimately don't care about, I had to stop and think "am I being manipulated by Howard Lyman?" I really couldn't tell if he had been making it up, or if he'd really been a victim of ageism. So, when Diane profusely apologized for what had been going on, I was perplexed...

Then, the humorous sensitivity training may have cleared the question up for me... Howard was hamming it up with the sensitivity teacher, laughing at the weird things the other employees had to go through, and then making an about-face to sob into a napkin about how hard it was to be old. I wish Alicia was there so she could do one of her patented eye-rolls. Either way, well-played, Howard. I just wish that the bulk of the talent of the main cast of this show wasn't in the middle of the comic relief sketch of this season. 

"What do you drink?"

Jason spent his time mostly doing the Jason-ified version of Kalinda's investigation scenes. They paint him as a different character, but who is the blatant sex-symbol clad in leather, intimidating folks, and saving the day with their off-centre tactics? In this case, he intimidates/smirks his way into finding out about how Coliseum might have been targeting veterans to get around the 90/10 rule, where 90% of money must come from the private sector for for-profit schools. He gave Alicia enough info here and there for Alicia to ramp up the pressure on the school's representatives and was able to settle, I believe for her client. Honestly, I can't really remember how that ended, because of what else Jason did.

Also, remember that time Kalinda was framed for beating up a witness with a baseball bat? Well, when Jason finally tracked down the money trail to the fraudulent source, he gripped a crowbar as he smirked at the asshole that had been scamming students out of their loan payments, and then the scene cut away. Next thing you know, Jason has the lost money at Alicia's door, ready for Maggie so that she can make her final payment.

At the beginning of the episode, Jason, charmingly defended Maggie from a debt collector who had verbally assaulted her for her payments. In that later scene, however, he might have kicked the candy out of a scam artist for all the trouble he had been putting people through. Either way, the seeds are being sewn here both by Eli and Jason to possibly later mess with Alicia and Lucca's newfound success with their firm. There's all kinds of ways for this to go south... Let's see where it goes.


- Cheers for another Marissa Gold sighting! AND she was once again trying to dissuade her father from doing something petty. Marissa Gold is the best Gold.

- Speaking of which, I can't tell for sure if this is straight up character assassination or what... Eli was always overzealous, but in his own way he always had dignity... At this point, I am sure he's going to do some major damage in some way, but in the process his character might just jump the shark.

- Jason is just as charming as he is unsettling at times. This is going to be a 1-season thing, I am guessing.

- Are we going to see more Marissa? I need more Marissa. Wait, what if, in a good twist, Ruth Eastman hires Marissa to spite Eli, and to work with Alicia? I don't think that's likely, but that would be interesting.

- Alicia doesn't seem to be giving much thought to the Eli situation. It's a bit odd, really... I guess she hasn't put it together that he kind of hung her out to dry with his suggestion to cause a debt strike... I am guessing that they'll sort of come to verbal blows at some point. Eli and Alicia know how to handle each other, but if he keeps it up, he's going to be the one receiving one of her righteous speeches, soon. They're scathing, he better be ready for that.

- Anyone else think it's interesting that Grace is the one having to tell her mother they need to find a way to get more money out of clients?

- Please, please, please... Let Cary have a case... that isn't against him...where people don't end up saying things like "he's such a bad lawyer" like it always seems to go.

What did you think of this week's episode? Start a discussion below in the comments!

About the Author - Wilson Crawford
I watch way too much television. But nevermind that, something's on. Currently obsessed with The Good Wife, The 100, and Hannibal (RIP). Other favorites include Damages, Breaking Bad, 30 Rock, Mad Men, and Veronica Mars.
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