Payback, episode five, begins with a recording between Maggie Rossum (Justine Lupe) and an aggressive APY debt collector, Bob Bondi (Michael Mulheren). The camera zooms out from a close up on the cell phone, playing a recording between Maggie and her debt collector, Bob. She passes a cancelled check to Alicia. Then Alicia passes it along to Lucca (Alicia’s new partner), who passes the check to Jason Crouse (her new investigator); meet firm Florrick 2.0. “Strangely enough Bob, I know you…you live at 4211…,” explains Jason as he retaliates against Bob, with the collector’s same harassment tactics directed towards Maggie. This setups the cohesive thread tying together the Florrick, Lockhart-Agos, and Gold story threads, it’s all about the revenge plan(s). This is a filler episode, simply tying up loose ends from the previous ones and directing our central characters towards more relevant plot points. That being said, between the smooth, exceptional directing, witty father-daughter Gold banter, and Alicia’s palpable chemistry with Jason; I did not mind all the filler.
“Peter chose Ruth over you…you have to let it go…this is very unhealthy.” –Marissa Gold
Based on this episode it appears that Eli is the only person in the world who hasn’t heard Idina Menzel’s song, Let it Go. He’s still mischievously stalking the Governor’s mansion hallways, waiting for Ruth to trip up and for him to save the day. “I can’t leave, when he comes to his senses and realizes that Ruth is forcing a losing strategy on him,” explains Eli, while watching Peter talk to the press at a local event. Then after overhearing Peter questioning Ruth’s strategy, Eli begins to make his swoop-denied. Nope, Ruth’s use of Republican tactics is working in Peter’s favor as he is number two in the polls. Don’t count Eli out yet, because he still has the queen of hearts, Alicia Florrick, up his sleeve.
After discovering that their client has been scammed, Alicia decides to take this little collections case and sue Maggie’s alma mater, Colosseum University. Denied any grievances against the institution will be resolved in arbitration court, if made within eighteen months of graduation. “The reality is the vast majority of Colosseum students end up worse off then when they started,” explains Lucca Quinn. This arbitration hearing is edited together with the Lockhart-Agos’ mediation regarding Howard Lyman’s ageism complaint, “I’ m aggrieved!” Both attempts to peacefully resolve the matter fail, as Alicia and Lucca try to turn Maggie’s case into a class action lawsuit; and the Lockhart-Agos mediation trial evolves into sensitivity training. Have no fear, because Eli Gold is here. Remember, Eli continues to work for Peter’s campaign, because “he’s looking out for Alicia.” So, when he observes Alicia’s attempt to conduct a class action lawsuit against Colosseum University, he simply advises her to take an alternative route “debt strike.” Later, during Peter’s campaign rally the Food Services Union rep, Ronnie Erickson (Dan Lauria, points out that Alicia’s spurring a debt strike, unionizing college students; this goes against Peter’s non-unionized campaign platform. All according to plan, right Eli, “No-no, I’m not running Peter’s campaign.”
The episode concludes with Eli relishing in his small victory, and Jason Crouse tracking down the scam artist that started the whole thing. He patiently stalks the mail stop that Maggie has been sending her student loan payments to, and then follows an unsuspecting fraud home. Jason calmly knocks on the man’s front door, while tightly gripping his crow bar-awe sweet, bloody revenge indeed. “I persuaded him, by being persuasive…I will tell you everything you want to know,” says Jason to Alicia during the final scene. Remember, last week’s episode, we learned that Jason has some very violent demons; please tell me that more will be revealed about Mr. Crouse pre-midseason finale. Also, keep an eye on Food Services union rep, Ronnie Ericksen, because he’s a Lockhart-Agos client. So, many plots, so many games, but is it just me, or is Eli Gold the one running everything…stay tuned.