The Good Wife: A Few Words

E: Oh, you beautiful show.  You beautiful, beautiful show.

Some of my favorite returning characters showed up for an American Bar Association conference in New York City – at which Alicia is scheduled to give the keynote address about her personal experience as an “opt out” mom – and they really delivered.  This was one of the funniest episodes in ages, which is a pretty welcome relief after the impending doom of the previous (outstanding) episode.  Oh, not that it’s all fun, games, and drunken duets; we have various forms of entrapment, stage fright, and a very serious walk through memory lane, with a very nasty pop up demon/guilt complex in the form of  – well, we’ll get to that later.

The whole idea of opting in and opting out is a huge one for our society and for Alicia.  (And for me, too – anyone want to pay me to write these recaps?  Because it’s getting to be time for me to opt back in.)  Just like last week’s NSA eavesdropping episode, this one is ripped from the headlines. Now, okay. I can’t help feeling that the stunt casting of the very delightful Jill Hennessy moved against the storyline. Come on – did anyone really believe she’d end up at either Lockhart/Gardner or Florrick/Agos?  With a lesser known actress, there would have been doubt.   I’m absolutely thrilled, however, with the writer’s solution for her; that, my friends, is an odd couple spin-off I desperately wish someone would make possible.  (And hey, I am looking for a job…)

At any rate, instead of being a normal plot, Alicia’s vexing rhetorical issues forced her to face her strongly conflicted feelings about the help she got on the way to the top, and not merely the way that she repaid that help, but how comfortable she was with receiving it in the first place.  It wasn’t so much the stuff that happened, even though we did advance the “impending federal doom” plot.  No, this week was about Alicia’s feelings and thoughts, and how Alicia felt about having those feelings and thoughts.  In many ways, it’s her chance at a decision tree; her chance to go over not what will happen, but what has, and how its made her who she is. As for how that might determine her future, that we have yet to see.

We look down from the ceiling as Alicia paces a well appointed hotel suite, one filled with quiet, traditional patterns. Cary sits in an easy chair, and his stillness contrasts starkly with her nervous energy.  “What was that?” she asks, twitching over nothing, and he looks up. “You nodded, what part?”  He looks up from a small stack of papers and gives her a quelling look. “Alicia,” he warns, and she holds her hands up, promising to back off.   She twiddles her fingers,  then plays with the cellophane wrapping of a fruit basket (right, because that wouldn’t be distracting for Cary, not at all) before plunging her hand in for an apple she tosses around instead of eating.

“Okay,” he sighs, setting down the pages. “You hated it,” she groans. “Not hated it,” he weighs his words, looking to express the precise level of indifference.  “No, I….”  “Self-serving?,” she guesses. No, that’s not it. “Boring?”  Wow, it’s really easy for her to hate on her own work – and it’s really hard for him find the words for just how underwhelmed he is. He shoots her another look, and she backs off.  “It’s dry,” he says plainly, and she wilts. “Oh my God, Cary, I spent two weeks on that speech.”

“Yeah,” he agrees, “and it feels like you spent two weeks on it.”  Too labored, then?  “I have to give this speech tomorrow,” she whines, as if he’s not aware of their schedule. “So re-write it,” he shrugs, supremely unconcerned with excuses, and she reacts as if he’s slapped her. “They didn’t ask you because you’re an expert on opt-out moms,” he reminds her, pulling his ringing phone out of his jacket pocket, “They asked you because you were an opt out mom.”  After glancing quickly at his caller i.d., he decides to answer it.

“Clark, where are you?” he asks.  In traffic, Clarke grumbles, and winces as an incredibly loud commercial begins to play on a screen in the back of his cab.  Wait, this is Bill de Blasio’s much vaunted cameo?  He appears in an ad for the city?  Um, okay.  I guess that’s – appropriate? Believable?  Self-serving?  Anyway.  “It’s a different adventure every minute,” he proclaims of his city’s endless possibilities; poor Clarke tries in vain to lower the volume, but even the cabbie’s no help at all, and he apologizes uselessly to Cary.  “Rayna Hecht called.  She wants to have the meeting now.”  Who else likes Clarke’s plaid tie?  That fat knot is awesome. “She what?” Cary leans forward, as if that could help him hear better.

“She wants to have the meeting now, not tonight, and I’m stuck in traffic,” Clarke hollers. “Rayna Hecht wants to meet right now,” Cary relays to Alicia, who panics. “Why?”  Oh no, not Rayna Hecht!  We don’t want to meet with her!  Noooooo!   “Clarke, we’re not ready,” Cary insists. “You are ready,” Clarke affirms Cary, like a coach with a second string quarterback. It seems she wants to learn about the firm?  “She doesn’t’ care about our size. She wants to go somewhere with a future.  She’s down in the lounge.  She’s waiting right now.”  Oh. I guess we do want to meet with her?  Bill de Blasio, seriously, shut up.  (This is a clever use of him, I have to say.  He doesn’t have to awkwardly try to act, which is probably for the best.)  With that, Cary and Alicia start moving for the door.

“Cary,” Clarke cautions, “she brings a full portfolio with her of 60 million a year in billing.  We need her.”  Holy crap.  How can one person bill that many hours?  Anyway, the problem obviously isn’t that they don’t want to meet with Rayna, but that they care too much about meeting successfully with her.  That’s something of a theme for this episode, caring so much that it messes you up, wanting something so much that you get in your own way.

“She is the very definition of a rainmaker!” Clarke admonishes them, but Cary can’t hear.  Damn you, Bill de Blasio!  “I can’t hear you!” Cary pleads, now walking through a busy hall with Alicia, presumably on the way to the lobby, “Clarke, can you turn down your TV?”   I’m trying to, Clarke says, poking the touch screen, “but the mayor won’t stop talking!”  Ha.  They don’t  usually play Clarke for laughs, but this is good stuff. He manages to make it stop, and sighs in the sweet relief of silence. I’m sighing in the sweet relief; that was crazy loud and annoying.  Don’t ever make a real promo like that, Mayor di Blasio.  “Rayna Hecht is a rainmaker,” Clarke sums up quickly. “We need her.  Every firm in Chicago will be chasing her.”  And, there it is, our favorite commercial starting up again. “And he’s back.”  Curses!  The defeated look Clarke shoots the screen? Genius.

Poor Cary essentially hangs up on Clarke, but that’s okay.  He’s exposited on us enough; we’ve got plenty of time for Alicia to have an anxiety attack. “Ugh!” she moans, frustrated. “Why am I having so much trouble with this speech?”  Look, Cary says, stopping her. “It’s the keynote speech at the ABA…” what, really?  damn! “…and you’re trying to impress people.”  She nods, because duh. “Don’t.  They don’t wanna hear facts and figures, they wanna hear your story.”  Alicia looks like she bit a lemon. What does Alicia like more than sharing personal details with strangers?  Pretty much everything.  Hell, Alicia doesn’t share personal details with her family members. “You went from an opt out mom to a partner in a law firm in four years.  That’s your speech.”  You can see his pride in her in his face, which is touching – but oh.  No wonder she’s nervous.  You don’t have to impress them with your knowledge, Alicia – you have to make them like and admire you.  “Thanks,” she smiles, taking a little of his passionate belief for herself.

And whoa, that’s Jill Hennessy of Law & Order and Crossing Jordan!  I love her!  It’s been ages, ages since I’ve seen her anywhere.  “Every lawyer’s after her,” Cary stares wistfully.  And ah – that’s the back of Diane’s head, so we know who’s first in line.  “Great,” Alicia sighs, and that’s before Will turns around and looks at her, which is when she really can’t believe it.  Is she ever going to get away from him?  (No.  In case you’re wondering, the answer is no.)

Hennessy/Hecht shoots Will and Diane a frank look. “I’ll be honest with you,” she begins. “I like you guys.  And I’m going to make a decision within the next 48 hours.  But” and you could hear that but coming a mile away “I want a partnership I can believe in.”  Here’s another serious look. “I’m leaving Hartly & Jenner because of the indictments.”

This prompts one of those telepathic looks between Will and Diane.  “If you’re worried about my suspension from a few years ago,” Will looks Rayna right in the eye, “that’s past, and I’m a better lawyer for it.”  I don’t know if that’s true – and he’s certainly not without legal troubles of a different sort – but he’s playing this just right. Rayna nods. “Good pitch.  Well, let me get my little ducks in a row, and … we’ll talk,” she says, standing.  They shake hands, and Diane sashays right up to her former underlings. “So you’re a big firm now,” she drawls. “Making a presence at the ABA?”  Sounding slightly on edge, Cary answers her. “Out shaking the trees, just like you.”  Hmm. Is it that you don’t like seeing Mommy and Daddy here, Cary, or that you want to make sure they don’t spook Alicia?  “Good luck with the keynote tomorrow,” Will tells Alicia, his tone mild.

She nods, and the pairs pass. “Don’t let him get in your head,” Cary whispers, grabbing her elbow. “Miss Hecht? Hello,” Cary says, introducing himself and Alicia, but it’s in vain – Rayna’s jaw drops.  “Sorry, if I don’t sit down, but I have to make some calls.  Uh, why don’t we do this another time?  Good to meet you.”

Ouch!  That was a chilly brush off for sure. “What happened?” Alicia wonders, her eyes glassy. “We lost our slot,” Cary explains.

“She’ll vet us,” Diane tells Will in the line for the elevator.  It fascinates me that no one seems concerned about being overheard in this crowd!  “Good,” shrugs Will. “No one’s under indictment.”  He’s being typically cavalier, particularly since he’s got Ken Starr looming over his head. The elevator dings open behind them. “Damien?” Diane wonders (and not without cause), but Will shrugs it off. “He’s not under indictment.”  Well, we want her, Diane says. “60 million in client billing?”  Right, who wouldn’t want her? “You coming?”  No, Will says, I’ll meet up with you later.  And, ha, that’s because Ken Starr – or rather, Nelson Dubeck – is literally looming over him – or at least, skulking a few feet away.

Seriously?  We’re paying him to fly around the country so he can harass witnesses everywhere they go? As Diane walks into the elevator, he closes in on Will. “Lot of lawyers at this thing, huh?”

Will dignifies that remark with all the answer it deserves – which is to say, none. “Do you have a minute?”  No, he snaps. Dubeck follows him like a puppy. “I can take my time, Mr. Gardner.”  You know, it doesn’t really look like it.  I mean, you followed Will half way around the country to apply more pressure. “I was on the Blagojevich case.”  Bully for you, bully. “We always knew that sooner or later, the lawyers would talk.”  What? Did they? (Short answer: no.) “They want to talk. They need to talk.  They know that attorney/client privilege only gets them so far.”  Geez, this again.  He keeps blathering at the back of Will’s head as Will walks through the lobby.  “Ear plugs, please?” Will says, walking into a store filled with crystal tchotchkes.

“The problem you have, Mr. Gardner, is that voter fraud is an on-going crime.”  Um, okay.  Also, he’s really having this conversation in public?  “Conspiracy!  If you’re protecting the governor, you’re just as guilty, that’s why you’ll talk.”  What must the shop girl think of this?  Will finishes paying for his ears plugs. “The Governor is not your friend!”  That’s true enough. He cranes his neck, getting up in Will’s face. “No one – no judge, no disciplinary body, will blame you for breaking attorney/client privilege!”  Good luck selling that bill of goods, Mister.

How much do I love Will for slapping the ear plugs into his ears?  It’s so balls out. “You can’t freeze me out Mr. Gardner!  I’m an agent of the Office of Public Integrity!”  I’ll say it again; bully for you! “I have subpoena power!”  Will points to his ears. “I’m sorry, I can’t hear you!” he yells, and then walks out, leaving Nelson Dubeck staring at the wall in shock.

Really?  Does he expect people to want to talk to him?

Just outside the little gift shop, Cary and Alicia pace the halls. Grumbling, Cary says he’ll try to get Clarke to set up an actual meet with Rayna.  “Okay,” agrees Alicia, plunking at her phone, “and I’ll get on with Robyn, have her look into her background.”  No no no, Cary shakes his head, you go back to your room and work on that speech.  When she protests, he stops. “Alicia, you’re procrastinating. Go back to your room.  Remember, personal stories.”  Right, that’s the ticket.  Just put her bruises on display – there’s nothing she likes better!  He gets on the phone with Robyn – surely Alicia could have done that on the way to her room – and Alicia toddles off to do as she’s told.

But back in her room, it’s not going very well. We look down on her again as she tries to look back at herself.  She paces, flapping her hands against each other.  Then she sits and stares at her blank laptop screen.  She sighs, the cursor mocking her, as gorgeous classical music plays again in the background. It says complexity to me, and contemplation, rich themes woven together.  “Just write anything down,” she tells herself, shaking her head.

She types the word “anything.”

She sighs, staring at her thin wedding band.  What happened to the gaudy new diamond?  Ah.  It’s a flashback.  She stuffs the band into her pocket and rubs her fingers.  This is scandal Alicia, looking wan without make up, her hair pulled back behind her head, white blouse buttoned to her throat, baby blue blazer fusty and prim.  Wow.  You’d think that’d be a good color on her, what with her dark hair, but it manages to be infantalizing and aging at the same time.

Actually, I take that back.  What she looks like is a nun.  That high collar?  Total nun.  The color scheme even says convent. Formal, modest, buttoned up. Not comfortable and not luxurious, either.

“Mrs. Alicia Florrick!” a blowsy woman in a tan pantsuit swans into the tiny room, her greeting a weird blend of formal and too familiar. “Hi!  I’m Lorraine Joy. Thank you for coming in.”  Lorraine takes Alicia’s hand in both of hers before sitting across from her. “Thank you for inviting me in, Miss Joy,” Alicia folds her hands over the purse in her lap, the city skyline behind her proclaiming this a firm with a view (and therefor a large and successful one). “How could I not?” Lorraine Joy laughs, “Your name just sort of popped out at me!”

Alicia turns white.

“Oh my God,” Lorraine continues, “your husband!”  Really?  “If my husband did that to me, I don’t know what I would do.”  In a baby voice, Alicia starts to thank her. “No, I know what I would do,” Joy snorts, shockingly rude and tone deaf. “I would probably scratch his eyes out, that’s what I would do.”  Back in the present, the visual contrast between Alicias is shocking.  She looks pretty fragile in each time, though. “Oh, you don’t need to give me a resume,” Joy waves it away. “Just … tell me about yourself.”  Alicia squirms at the memory; back in the little interview room, she becomes aware of the open door, where three of Joy’s colleagues have clustered around a counter, pretending to be busy, the better to overhear.  GOD.

“When did you last practice law?” the interviewer wonders.  Officially, 13 years ago, Alicia hangs her head. “But I helped on a lot of cases.”  On your husband’s cases, Miss Joy snorts.  What kind of person does this? Yes, Alicia admits, still unable to look up. Huh.  I was expecting her to say the PTA or something. “Good!” Joy declares, condescension in every drawn out syllable.  “Listen, here’s the thing, Alicia.  We don’t really have any positions available here at the moment,” she explains.  So you brought her in why, because you thought you’d get a few juicy tidbits out of her?  Bitch. “The position we have is for a starting associate.”  Oh, that’s fine, Alicia perks up. “Noooo, that wouldn’t really be appropriate,” Lorraine smiles insincerely. “We make a big play for the Ivy League pool for that, so…”

I’m torn between wondering how I can make an effigy of this woman to burn, and wondering why Alicia’s looking for this type of job.  You can be a lawyer and not work for a big firm.  Of course, that’s where the money is, but still. They’re clearly not looking for her. They’re looking for the Ivy League boys, perhaps the new graduates sitting in another reception area with her now.  I want to hug her, she’s so self-conscious, her knees clamped together as she sits, lady-like, leafing mindlessly through a magazine.

Or at least, she’s leafing mindlessly until she finds a picture of herself in that hideous boxy jacket at Peter’s disastrous press conference, under the headline “Collateral Damage.”  Ouch.   She snaps the magazine closed, and with a quick glance to see if anyone’s noticed (they haven’t) hides it under a stack of other journals.  “Alicia Florrick,” a man in a brown suit finally comes calling.  What horrors await her here, I wonder?

“When can you start?” the man asks, not looking up from her resume. She starts, shocked. I am too; I was expecting another horror show, what that we know she only works at Lockhart/Gardner. “When can I start work?” she stammers, and he looks up, smiling softly. “Yes. You wanna work here?”  I do, she stammers.  “Now!”  she recollects her self, and smiles primly. “Tomorrow, if you’d like.”  Good, he smiles, setting her resume aside. “Come on back in, and I’ll assign you a desk.”  Poor Alicia nearly cries, right there in his office. She manages to contain herself until she gets onto the elevator, where she gives an adorable, girlish little dancing hop. “Yeah!” she squeals quietly.

And that’s when Will Gardner steps back into her life, his hand reaching into to the elevator, a look of wonder and delight on his face.  In the present, Alicia blinks, trying to shake off the intensity of the memory.  He’s standing like a knight in shining armor, like an angel in a glowing nimbus of light. She clears her throat, looks at her text (which talks about her desperation and the loss of this initial job offer), takes a swig of an energy drink, and reapplies herself to the task.  Fortunately, she writes, a second opportunity presented itself. Except, of course, it wasn’t quite that smooth a transition.

It won’t go on the market until tomorrow, says Alicia’s long time real estate agent Marina.  Damn, look, it’s her kitchen, but without the island!  That looks so weird.  How much, Alicia wonders. “Well,” Marina says regretfully, “I warned you you’d fall in love with it.  It’s not really within your range.”  I have a job now, she trills. “My range has changed.  How many rooms?”  3 plus a maid’s, Marina says, and Alicia finds delightful  – which totally throws me until I realize they both mean bedrooms. “I have a three bedroom on Fifth, it’s half this rent,” Marina cautions as Alicia coos over the windows. She spins around. “I like this.

As she writes about a glimmer of hope, present day Alicia looks up, caught again in the memory. “I’m sorry, what?”  The man who offered her a job looks down at his desk, twitching. “It’s a … paralegal job,” he admits unhappily. Today’s white suit is prettier than the nun habit, even if it’s still prim and her hair is still back in a barrette. “Mr. Acocella, I – uh, I thought it was an associate’s position,” she stammers. Yes, he agrees, sounding mortified. “I know, but it’s more of an … internship.”  He looks apologetic and pained.  Wait – a paralegal internship? “Mr. Acocella, I made plans on that understanding – I made financial outlays.”  Without getting a contract?  Oh, love. I’m sorry, he replies. “I … told the partners,” he explains, pained. “They were worried about your last name.”  Ah.  So it’s not really an internship, even – it’s just a really strong suggestion that she doesn’t come back. I actually feel bad for him, in marked contrast to the vile Miss Joy.  “They don’t want you here as an associate,” he whispers. “I need a paycheck!” she gasps. “I’m sorry,” he tells her, and I believe him. Wow. She steps into the elevator, her eyes wild, and when the doors close she clamps a hand over her mouth to quiet her shuddering sobs.  Deep breaths.  Deep breaths.  Her hand turns red, she’s pressing it to her face so strongly, and then she pinches her nose hard and shakes her head, trying to bring herself under control, gasping for breath.  Quickly she calls Marina.  Is there any way to get out of the lease?  No.  Of course not.   I’m glad they cut away to present Alicia, because I cannot bear to see all that desperation and pain.

But the pain is super-ceded by joy, by that image of Will’s hand in the elevator door, and his welcoming face, and finally she smiles, gratitude and fondness in the memory.  She’s breathing hard again to steady herself. So maybe it’s a good thing that her phone rings now, reminding her of a commitment.

“What is the key to litigation?” a gray haired man muses in a small conference room. “What is it?”  Settling down by Will, Diane proves you can’t pull anything over on her by asking about Dubeck. “Who’s that man by the elevator?”  What man, Will prevaricates, his eyes trained on the speaker. “Have we stopped trusting each other?” she asks, pulling out her glasses: she gives her partner a second to think about it before giving him a very frank look, and after dutifully thinking about it, he caves and gives her a quick outline.

Her eyes widen. “The ballot box?” she guesses.  “Why you and not me?”  Indeed.  That’s a good question, Diane, one Will doesn’t look pleased to answer. “There’s a surveillance tape.  Smoking gun.  I took it to Peter Florrick.” He rolls his eyes, refusing to look at her. “What’re you going to do?” she wonders after recovering a little from the shock. He keeps staring forward. “I don’t know.”

And that’s when the gray haired man reveals that he’s not the real speaker, but instead it’s someone else who agreed to step in for the guy who’s stuck somewhere due to a hurricane. “Please welcome a new voice to this ABA conference, Elizabeth … Elsbeth Tas-ci-on-i”.  No! YES!  Everything is right with the world when Elsbeth’s here, even if she’s waving hello inappropriately and dropping her notes all over the floor.  There’s something so endearing about her oddness and her refusal to conform to expected norms of business behavior.  Diane flattens her lips in disbelief, but fondness suffuses Will’s features. “Okay,” she says, banging on the podium. “What is my approach to litigation.”  Will’s smile grows. “No,” Diane tells him, seeing where this is going.  YES, all the fans of this show cry. Yes! Will turns his head to look at his partner. “Will, no.”  He looks back at Elsbeth, still smiling.

“I want everybody to close their eyes and picture a pillow,” she tells the assembled 30 or so lawyers. “A big pillow, the size of this room.”  She gestures widely with both hands, her eyes closed. “And you’re lying in the middle of it.”  She slices the imaginary pillow down the center. “Now, take off your shoes,” she commands, leaving Will smiling like a blissful drunkard.

“And I’ll give a brief introduction, and you’ll enter from that wing over there,” a voice tells Alicia, outside our view.  Wow. That is an absolutely enormous ballroom. “Are you sure there’re going to be that many people,” she wonders, horrified.  I can see why.  Even though there are tables set up instead of chairs (reducing the number of audience members) it still looks like the U.N.  “Yes,” a gray haired man smiles, “There’s been great interest in your keynote. Now, is there anything you’ll need tomorrow?”  You mean like a speech, she asks, and the man nearly chokes. “No, I meant, bottled water?” he suggests.  Ha.

Surprising the gray haired man (either a conference organizer or an employee of the Harrington Plaza) , Cary sprints up onto the stage with a call for Alicia from Clarke.  It seems they have a reprieve with Rayna.  “Hello, Mr. Hayden? I can’t hear you,” Alicia says.  How shocking!  Poor Clarke, finger stuffed in one ear and phone pressed to another, is trying to talk around Bill di Blasio’s ad.  There – ugh.  I know what this theme is.  Something Broadway?  Why can’t I remember the name of it?  Ah well. It evokes Broadway, anyway.  “How’s that?” he asks, settling into the seat. Better, she agrees.

“I just talked to Rayna Hecht.  She wanted to apologize for her abruptness. She didn’t know you were you.”  I was me, Alicia puzzles. “The governor’s wife,” he explains.  Ah.  There it is.  She’s always being judged in relation to Peter. “She’s coming to your keynote. She can’t wait to hear what you’ll say!”  Oh, lovely.  No pressure or anything. “Speech?” Cary guesses. “Did he tell you your speech matters?”  The speech is very important, Clarke confirms.  “You need to do a good job with your keynote.  She wants to wait to decide whether to meet until after your keynote. And that’s the most I’ve ever said keynote in my entire life.”

Oh. My. God.

Shell-shocked, Alicia hands the phone back to Cary. “So how the speech coming?” her partner wonders. She doesn’t answer. “Alicia?  Alicia, where are you?” Clarke wonders over the phone, suddenly clear, and instead of pressing Alicia, Cary reaches out to Clarke and tries in vain to figure out what he’s saying.

And instead of her pressing worries, Alicia sees Will Gardner’s hand in the door, and his smiling face, so very happy to see her.  “Hey,” he smiles. “Hey,” she replies (wearing the powder blue of the seemingly successful interview), surprised and thrilled.

And all I could say was hello.

“Do you work here?” she asks, clutching her purse, standing next to him in the elevator.  “In this building?  No,” he says – he works down on Madison.  “What about you?” he adds, drinking her in. “I just got a job,” she beams. “You did?  Where?”  Wells & Bowen, she says, and he congratulates her on joining such a good firm. She looks down at the floor, a little awkward, and notices his muddy sneakers. “Nice shoes,” she snarks – but delicately, as if she’s not sure he’ll laugh back.

He laughs a little to himself, looking down. “A baby threw up on my shoes,” he says, and I don’t know about you, but the first thing I thought was huh, does Patti Nyholm have older children?  Maybe baby Bite Me has an older sister Vomit.  Alicia’s going to the garage, Will’s going to a deposition, so he heads off. But no – half out the door, he stops. “Hey.  I’m sorry about all that crap with your husband.”  Because there’s nothing salacious about the way he says it – because he’s not there to feast on her pain but merely acknowledge it – she smiles her thanks. “It’ll die down,” she nods hopefully.  It will, he agrees, and then walks off, leaving her smiling brightly to herself.

But no.  He’s back, hand in the door once more – that’s always the way of it with them, isn’t it?  “Call me sometime.  Stern, Lockhart & Gardner.”  Hey, she says, impressed. “You got top billing!”  He did?  The most important person goes last?  He shrugs. “I’m an impressive person,” he makes light of it. “I never doubted it for a minute,” she smiles, chin up.  “It was good seeing you,” he says, something in him awakened. You too, she smiles.  In her hotel room, Alicia looks thoughtful.  And now she looks at the mini-bar.

Well that was predictable.

She finds a small bottle, and then pulls out a plainly inadequate corkscrew/bottle opener, and stares at it in disgust.  She flips through lower drawers.  Nothing.  Damn it!

“Ooh, thank you so much,” Elsbeth Tascioni coos at a large furry bear with patches and a straw hat as she snaps a quick selfie with him.  “I love bears,” she grins (of course) as she snaps another.  It looks like Time Square behind them, I think?  Oooh, I love her ruffly white scarf.  She backs away. “Okay, can I just have one hug?  Okay?” She extends her arms and leans in; he doesn’t turn to face her, but stands dumbly as she wraps her arms around his furry neck. “You dirty Jew,” he says, sounding like a clip from a James Cagney gangster flick.

She backs away, orange mittens swinging from her wrists. “Excuse me?” Now he does turn to face her. “You dirty stinking Jew,” he embellishes his original statement. What, seriously?  Wow, New York.

“Did you just call me a dirty, stinking Jew?” she asks, stunned. “What’re you, deaf?” the bear answers, looking innocent with his arms raised up, and then he waddles off, flowers bouncing in his straw hat. “Oh my God,” she wails, and of course that’s when Will shows up, thanking her for meeting him.  “There’re too many lawyers at the hotel.”

She barely hears him. “Did you hear that?  That bear just called me a dirty Jew.”  Will’s face goes blank.  He looks up as the bear poses for pictures with a few children. “What?”  She repeats herself, turning around to face her new nemesis. “He called me a dirty stinking Jew! Watch out,” she calls to the family taking photos, “that bear is … anti-Semitic!”  (Hilariously, if you watch this on the CBS website, there’s a background ad for NYC vacations.)  Grasping Elsbeth firmly by her shoulders, Will walks her away from the bear.

“Elsbeth, look, about my situation?”  She pulls her focus back to him. “I’ve been subpoenaed by Nelson Dubeck,  the Office of Public Integrity.” She nods, as if she’s somehow heard of him. I’d be impressed if she’d only heard of the office! “He’s using it to pressure me to get to Peter Florrick, but it would mean breaking attorney/client privilege.”  Our Elsbeth, she’s a quick study. “Right,” she says, and it seems like that was just the edge of her coat (gorgeous) and not a scarf at all, “you risk disbarment if you testify against Governor Florrick, but if you don’t, you risk contempt of court.”  Yep, that’s the problem, he agrees. Awesome.  “Not good,” she says, “it’s that one percent doctrine.”  As he asks for an explanation, she starts shouting at passersby to avoid the Evil Bear.  “One percent.  If you’re even one percent vulnerable, you’re vulnerable.”  I’ve heard that in a slightly different way – that it doesn’t matter if you have only a 1% chance of an adverse outcome if you turn out to be that 1% – but I think we all get the point.  Now her mittens are on, and they’re making me laugh even though the situation is horrifying rather than funny.

“Who got you this video?” she asks.  Did he mention the video?  I suppose he could have back at the hotel, because it isn’t in this scene for sure.  Anyway, he says he got it from Kalinda, which pleases her. “Good. Good. I’ll call her.  I like Kalinda.”  Hee. “Hey, are you with that bear?” she calls out to a black bear in a striped sweater and pink tutu. “Somebody needs to talk to him!”  So you’ll represent me on this, Will asks for confirmation; there’s an enormous picture of Emma Thompson’s head behind him, from the wonderful and criminally under-appreciated Saving Mr. Banks. (That probably puts shooting time back in December, although it’s fitting now as well because it just came out on video.  Rent it!  Rent it now!)  “This Dubeck guy, he’s at the hotel?”  He is.  She pushes her hair out of her face with a mittened paw. “Good.  I’m feeling a bit vulnerable, but I’m going to use it.”

Yes!  Outstanding!  I’m there’s nothing better than Elsbeth at work.

Immediately, Will calls Kalinda back in Chicago. “How’re things there?”  Fine, she says, spinning in her chair to see the associates playing soccer.  “Things are different when the lawyers are gone.”  Indeed.  She’s amused. Will puts her on the line with Elsbeth. “Kalinda, hi!  Oh, I miss you!” Elsbeth kind of sags down with the feeling.  “I miss you too,” Kalinda smirks to herself.  Of course Elsbeth asks her to look into Dubeck the Bully. “Anything you can find.  Dirt.  Past arrests. Maybe he has a drinking problem.” I’m watching her huge mittens and ruffled coat with delight until the Neo-Nazi Bear walks by. “I am NOT a dirty stinking Jew!” she calls after him, very upset.  Um, the lack of accuracy is not all what’s wrong with him calling you that – but it’s worth the lack of logic to see the look on Kalinda’s face.

You’ll never guess, so I’ll just tell you – Alicia’s drinking red wine!  In a crowded bar.  By herself, with her laptop.  After a gulp of wine and a moment, she slips into a memory, walking around her new apartment kitchen, talking to Marina. Isn’t there some way to even delay the lease?  There isn’t. “Okay,” she says. “I – I’ll figure something out.”  Oh, honey.  You know, the suit jacket doesn’t look so terrible when you see it with the black pants.

“You could always move in with me,” Jackie offers, slipping out of the pantry like a pink girlish ghost.  I jumped about a foot. The hope on her face is terrifying. “Thank you, Jackie, but this is a good school district, and I…”  “Oh, you don’t have to worry about a good school district,” Jackie smiles.  What?  But before we can hear why that shouldn’t concern her, Cary plunks down next to Alicia, looking to share his phone call with her.  Damn your timing, Cary!  “That was Robyn,” he says, tucking his phone into his pocket. “She has an instinct on Rayna Hecht.”  Cool. “How’s your speech going?” Clarke Hayden staggers forward, his pink tie on it’s way to being loosened, highball in hand.

“Mr. Hayden, you got out of your taxi!” Alicia notes.  Man, they are so formal. I get that they’re all law snobs, but I hate she won’t call Clarke by his first name, yet doesn’t accord Robyn the same respect.  Just saying. “Yes,” he acknowledges, flopping into another chair. “I decided to walk.  It was only fifteen blocks.”  Definitely worth it, although he looks pretty tuckered out. Gleeful, Alicia smiles, but Cary’s fairly bursting with his news. “So Robyn thinks Hecht isn’t leaving her firm because of the indictments, or just because of the indictments.”

What then, Alicia wonders. ‘The firm has ten senior partners, and Hecht was the only woman.”  Ah.  “A boys club,” Clarke nods. “So she probably wants a more woman friendly firm,” Cary concludes.  Well, don’t bother looking at Florrick/Agos, then!  I mean, I know Alicia’s a name partner, but can you name even one other female lawyer there?  That we’ve ever heard speak?  It’s worse than Lockhart/Gardner, even, where at least some of the extras playing the partners were women. (Not cool, Good Wife staff, not cool.) “Okay,” Alicia frowns, wondering what this has to do with her. “Just play up the feminism angle in your keynote,” Cary says. “Play up your story as one of female empowerment,” Clarke suggests.  Um, her story IS a story of female empowerment. There’s no frame necessary.

“Okay, thanks,” she says, and then hints that they should leave her to write. “And I’ve been talking up the keynote a lot,” Clarke adds, because you see there’s not enough pressure on her already.  “A lot of potential clients are excited about.”  Smiling like a cat, Alicia brings her wine to her lips.  I’d like to think Cary reads this as the panic it is because he suggests letting “the master at it.”  You’ll be great, Clarke smiles, standing. His faith in her is really rather sweet even if it is absolutely paralyzing as well.

They toddle off, and just like that, she’s back into her memories.  “Mr. Gardner,” she says into the phone.  Mr. Gardner?  Really?  I know she’s all about the formality, but wow. “I just wanted to say…” and here she draws a deep breath. “I’m a worthy lawyer who needs a job. Women are underrepresented in this business, and I shouldn’t be overlooked just because…”

We break back to the present. That’s funny, right, women being underrepresented in the law?  Because law schools enroll roughly equal numbers of men and women, but the higher up you get in big firms, the fewer women you see.    Anyway, this memory doesn’t sit well with Alicia, who deletes the paragraph about being a worthy lawyer in need of an opportunity to show that worthiness. “Hello, Will, it’s Alicia,” her memory replays. “Do you have a minute?  No, really?” her smile is enormous, and she laughs loudly at a joke he’s made. Ah.  So does this mean she wasn’t that formal in real life?  “You did not,” she laughs, her eyes crinkling. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure she’s wearing make up now, where she wasn’t before. “I don’t look anything like those photos anymore.

In the present, Alicia considers this version of the truth, almost but not quite smiling.  “Well, um,” she says, “You said I should call if I got a chance, so – this is me calling.”   It’s clear she doesn’t know how this is going to be received.  She’s also flirting. Whether this is on purpose, or because she’s comfortable with Will – it seemed perfectly spontaneous in the elevator – is another question.

And she’s using make up for sure now, sitting in a very pretty short sleeved gray dress with a rather daring neckline and straightened hair, holding a compact up to her eye.  She’s sitting in reception at Lockhart/Gardner. “What’re you wearing that for?”  Jackie asks her, disapproving, again like a ghost.  Or a hallucination, because there’s no way Jackie could actually have been there.  “You aren’t even here,” Alicia gasps.  Jackie’s in the same outfit that she wore when inviting Alicia to live with her, a pink sweater and a long knotted scarf with ends like a bug’s mandibles. It’s creepy and startling. Don’t change the subject, she snaps.

Alicia’s clearly self-conscious. “It’s business-like,” she defends herself, looking away. “You spent three hundred dollars on it,” Jackie growls, her tone rich with insinuation. “Well that’s what a good dress costs,” Alicia defends herself, but not very vehemently.  She’s no Jiminy Cricket, but Imaginary Jackie’s definitely picking at places where Alicia feels vulnerable.  “Your husband is wasting away in prison, and you’re trying to seduce your way into a job,” Imaginary Jackie denounces her daughter-in-law, chin up, hair elaborately curled.  “Your son is the one who put me here,” Alicia bites back. “I have two kids.  What am I supposed to do?”  Again we go back to Decision Tree.  Was Alicia aware of Will’s weakness for her, and did she consciously, deliberately exploit it in her desperation?  I wouldn’t have thought she could do such a thing back then.  I’d like to think she couldn’t do that now.  She lied to herself for so long about the depth of her feelings for Will; their friendship was so clearly precious and disinterested. If they’re trying to re-write that past, I’m going to be peeved.

“No,” Jackie says, leaning over. “You like nice things.”  Well, she’s got her there.  “So go be a whore.”

Damn.   Is this Alicia’s worst fear about herself, I wonder?  That’s what it feels like.

“It did do that, didn’t it?” Will laughs, leaning back in his desk chair, his head thrown back.  Today Alicia’s crossed her legs, giving Will a side view of her bare knee. She laughs, too; one piece of hair has curled up across her throat like a dark slash over her pearls. “So,” he settles down. “That covers me up to last June.  How about you?”  When he says it, you can see that he means it, that he’s not just asking.  A tough question, though, given how much of her life is currently playing out in the press. Her answer is stiff and brittle; if I had never seen her before, I would know that she hates talking about herself. “Oh. Well.  There’s not much to say.  I’m a mother. A wife. And now a disgraced spouse!”  She gives a little self deprecating smirk. Sorry, he says immediately, because the awkwardness must be overwhelming. “No no no,” she says, “that wasn’t self pity, that was me trying to make light of it.”  She opens her hands to him.

Oh, he says awkwardly. “I think I’ve lost my touch,” she muses. “No, the touch is still there,” he lies kindly, and his laugh ripples out, calming her. “And now you have a new job,” he nods to himself. Ah yes. That.  “Unfortunately it was a paralegal job,” she grimaces. “Voluntary?”  You’re kidding, he asks. “Yeah.  No! I was, um, misinformed,” she jokes, and she’s very definitely bitter.  “Well, um.. have you thought about working here?” he asks, as if she has all the options in the world.

Back in the present, Alicia smiles softly, but it takes only a second for her expression to darken.  And that’s when she notices her large new diamond ring, moves her hand around to display it.  The square-cut stone is beautiful, the facets clear, but it brings shadows.  We see her old ring – smaller but with lovely side stones – as we move back to the past. “Is there an opening here?” she asks, girlish, not wanting to seem to eager but still very clearly hopeful. “Well, we could,” he offers.

“I haven’t worked in thirteen years,” the words rush out. “Are you saying you’re rusty?” he smiles, bemused.  No, no, she scrambles for words.  Is she trying to salve her conscience, I wonder?  “I’m good!” she says. “You’ve always been good,” he chuckles, and her face softens. A little bit of pride shines through; he sees me, he remembers. In the future, Alicia’s on the verge of tears, pressing her lips together. “Will, I – I’m  – my connection to my husband hurts me.”  He smiles, sunnily unconcerned. “Why are you trying to dissuade me now?”  Because she cares?  Because she wants to prove that she’s not using you? Her smile fills with complications and emotion and dimples. “I don’t know.  Because I’m making no sense?”

“Hey,” he says. “We’ve all got a past that can hurt us.” Will, you would know that more than most. “Don’t let yours hurt you.”  Her answering smile still wobbles a little.   Am I wrong, or is that Matthew Ashbaugh’s favorite music playing in the background?  Back in the hotel bar, Alicia drinks, and watches Cary and Clarke chat with fellow convention goers. Someone’s playing a piano now, and I’m pretty sure it’s “Someone to Watch Over Me,” which couldn’t be more perfect.

“You here for the job?” Cary asks Alicia, sitting in the waiting room in her pretty new $300 dress.  Oh my gosh, his hair.  Was his hair like that when we first met him?  Because I don’t remember it being terrible. “I think I am,” she confesses.  “You?”  “Yup,” he says, drawing out the word.  She looks away.

“Cary,” she calls out across the room, and he walks over. “What did you think of me, when you first met me.”  Sitting, he frowns. “Is this about your speech, or more procrastinating?”  The speech, she says. “I liked you,” he says decisively, and she tilts her head, smirking. “You did not. Do you even remember where it was?”  He does, accurately. “I thought you were going to get it, and I wasn’t.”  She smiles and reaches for her wine. “I thought you were a cocky new associate.”  Yes, but that’s before you knew he was a passive-aggressive, game-playing cocky new associate. How far you’ve both come!  “I was a cocky new associate!  I thought you were entitled,” he admits. She drinks. “I was a little entitled,” she agrees. “Poor, but entitled. Can you be both?” Absolutely.

“So, who would you hire if we had to hire someone today?” he wonders.  She thinks about it. “You,” she chooses decisively. “Yeah, me too,” he agrees. God. That should make you sick, Alicia. She opens her mouth wide, shocked. “You’re supposed to say me!”  Oh, all right, maybe she was just being nice?  Cary clearly thinks this is hilarious. “No, no, and you wouldn’t hire yourself either.”  She thinks about it. “No.  I hate that about myself,” she admits.  I really hope that’s not true.  I’ve always thought she was good at seeing and using talent wherever she found it – and her experiences made her even more empathetic. She was such a great mentor to Caitlin despite her initial disapproval of the girl, so eager to provide a good workplace for the working mothers on the staff. Also, you’re having this conversation in public. I imagine your keynote’s going to look pretty hollow when you advocate for opportunities you wouldn’t give other women.

“No,” Cary leans forward. “It’s smart.” Is it?  Wasn’t Alicia worth it?  “So why did Will hire you?”  Why indeed.

Hallucinatory Jackie leans forward. “Because you’re a slut,” she says, right in Alicia’s face.

“What?” Cary asks.  Poor Cary. She smiles oddly  – she not going to admit to these fake memories. – and shakes her head. “Nothing,” she says. “I need to finish.”  Okay, he smiles, knowing he’s been dismissed. “Good luck.”

“Thank you, Kalinda. That is great.”  Elsbeth barrels through a hallway in this massive hotel, hidden behind a large bouquet of orange lilies.  When she notices Bully Dubeck sitting in an arm chair by the wall, she practically leaps backwards and very loudly tells Kalinda she needs to go, phone clutched in both hands. He too is on the phone, but he can tell he’s being stalked. “Ah, I gotta go,” he says. “Someone’s here.”  He closes his laptop protectively. “Um, hello?”  She hops into the chair next to his and introduces herself, beaming. “I’m Elsbeth Tascioni.  How are you?”  “I’m good,” he says warily. “But do I know you?”  “Oh no,” she grins. “But you’re Nelson Dubeck from the Office of Public Integrity. You helped prosecute Rod Blagojevich!”  I did, he snaps. “Did you need something?” Seeing him so disconcerted is making my day. “Yeah, uh,” she breathes, leaning forward on the edges of the chair, “I need you to leave Will Gardner alone, or I’m going to sue you for harassment.”  She gives slightly apologetic smile.

Nelson looks away, laughing without humor. “Mr. Gardner should consider how seriously I take this,” he says. “Take what?” she wonders, eyes wide. “He acquired a video tape of a stuffed ballot box.  He brought that videotape to the governor elect.”  Um, no, to candidate Florrick, actually. “And he attempted to show it to him.”  What videotape, Elsbeth asks. Aren’t you wondering why they haven’t tried to go after Kalinda – which is to say, that they haven’t looked into where Will got the tape? Heck, I’ve always been curious where she got the tape. Obligingly, he pops it up on his laptop. “What is that?” she asks.

Mr. Dubeck, he has no patience. “That is a videotape of three men taking a ballot box into a polling place,” he says. “No,” she interrupts, “it looks like a GIF. Or is it a JIFF?”  GIF, he growls suspiciously. “Have you ever seen the GIF of that bear falling onto a trampoline and into a pool?”  He puts away his laptop, clearly done taking her seriously. “That is so funny!  But I was surprised to find out that the pool was faked.”  Bazinga!

“All digitally fu…” That puts his back right up; he gets very loud, and – what I didn’t think possible – more self-righteous. “If you’re suggest that the videotape was in any way manipulated…” She’s so quick with a comeback. “Oh, 8 bits per pixel makes a GIF highly manipulatable… ble,” she answers. He stares at her. “I hope you have the original, because otherwise I’m gonna object to the JIFF being admitted into court.”

“The Governor’s guilty,” Nelson Dubeck announces. “How do you know that?” she wonders. “He’s the Governor of Illinois,” Dubeck wags his eyebrows, trying to stare her down. Elsbeth looks at him in some confusion, laughing a little. “You think they’re all corrupt?”  “No,” he raises his voice again, “they just happen to be all corrupt.”  Good to know where he stands, huh?  I mean, we did already, but he’s not making any bones about it. “So, you don’t care what the facts are,” she clarifies, “you’re going to prosecute Peter Florrick for voter fraud?”  He thunders now. “Peter Florrick spent six months in prison.  He is a criminal.”

Right, because that’s the attitude I want law enforcement officials to take.  Guilty!  Once guilty of one thing, always guilty of everything else!  Thanks, Javert. He was exonerated, Elsbeth is quick so say – she should know, since she was the one who made that happen. “No, his case was dismissed,” he snaps. “So you’re out to get him,” she realizes. “I’m out to get a criminal.”  I am – this I swear by the stars!  “Even if there’s no proof?”  she asks. “I’ll find the proof,” he bellows.

And that’s when she gets out her iphone, which has recorded their whole conversation.”This is Elsbeth Tascioni, recording Nelson Dubeck in the  lobby of the Harrington Plaza at 11:33pm!”

I love you, girl.

“I’d erase that, m’am,” he tries to bully Elsbeth, because that’s what he does. “You did not have my permission to make that recording, and without that permission you are subject to prosecution.”  Oh no, she cries, not in New York. “Two-party consent is the law in Illinois, but not New York, and this is New York. One party consent is enough here,” she adds, lifting up her phone to her chin, “and I am one party, and I give my consent.”  It’s so great to see some remain clear-headed in the face of his tactics and his demeanor and his office. Javert hangs his head, momentarily defeated by our wily little fox. “I suggest you leave Mr. Gardner alone,” she finishes, putting away the phone. “He’s a nice man.  He has no part in your vendetta against Governor Florrick.”  She stands – but no, she’s back.

“Oh!” she adds, popping her hands together, leaning down to his face. “By the way. You should look into an anti-Semitic costumed furry bear in Time Square.”  Her look is deadly serious.  He doesn’t know what to think, but he watches her go with a lot more respect than he afforded her when she first sat down.

There’s clapping where Gray Haired Man is standing at the podium in front of the massive conference hall.  “Very few lawyers could reach their prime after a decade as a mother in suburbia,” he begins, oily. “Alicia Florrick is … special.”  Off stage, Cary whispers Rayna’s seat number. “Great,” Alicia grouses.  Seriously, do they not understand that this was already her worst nightmare – letting herself be vulnerable in front of her colleagues – and they’re making it even worse? Remember to be loud and smile, Clarke advises. “People will believe whatever you tell them.  Oh, and Rayna Hecht is here.”  You don’t say! “It would help our cause if you could dazzle her.”

And that’s when the Gray Haired Man triumphantly calls her name. Slowly, she walks up the stairs and across the stage. Is it helpful, I wonder, that the hall is mostly in shadow (instead of the brilliant, pitiless white lighting you’d expect from a conference) or will all those the eyes glinting in the gloom make the situation feel even more predatory?

Out in the hall, Elsbeth plays a portion of the recording for Will – you know, the bit where Javert says that Peter is guilty by virtue of being governor of Illinois.  “You got him to say that?” Will can’t believe it.  “I didn’t get him to say anything, he wanted to say it!”  Elsbeth can’t believe it either.  “If he comes after you, we’ll use it.”  But he’s not coming after me, Will guesses.  (You can wish!)  Perhaps because she doesn’t know she’s a character on a television show, Elsbeth doesn’t think Dubeck has any more tricks up his sleeve.  “Not with what he has!”  Smiling in relief, Will pulls Elsbeth in for a warm hug. “Ah, you’re a life saver,” he says, and she flutters modestly, not hugging him back.  She didn’t do anything, she implies, which of course is not true at all.  In an episode about women and their place in work hierarchies, this strikes me as telling – especially in confluence with Alicia’s extreme reluctance to talk about herself in the face of her male colleagues relentless self-promotion.  As Elsbeth wiggles away, Will takes a long look at the poster for the keynote, with its large photo of Alicia’s beautiful, smiling face, before slipping into the main hall himself.

“I prepared by looking in a mirror,” Alicia says, producing a ripple of laughter from the audience. “It was the only interview I could still get.”  Ha.  Now that draws a real laugh.

“When you’re sitting across the desk from someone who can hire you, you feel every one of those thirteen years.”  The audience laughs again – was that funny? – and Will takes the seat of a man who’s slipped out to talk on his cell phone.  “Fortunately I had a very good interviewer.” Will looks away, embarrassed and surprised.  “He asked me if I was up to it, coming back to the work place.” Gosh, her delivery is so stiff – it surprises me a little because she’s so good in interviews, but I guess that’s a different beast.   “The interviewer pointed out that I was arguing against myself.”  Will looks thoughtful. “I should stop pointing out reasons why I shouldn’t be hired,” Alicia continues, and though the audience titters, she seems strongly moved.

“What did I learn from this?” she asks. “Use everything you have – to get the job.”  Will’s face goes cold. Is she saying she was playing him, even then?  God. It really is Matthew Ashbaugh all over again. “And don’t feel entitled.”  Uh, was she entitled?  She was practically begging.

Will puts his hand in the elevator door again. “Will Gardner!” Old Alicia smiles. In the present, Will hangs his head, shaking it. “Just hear me out,” he tells Diane in his own memory. “The hiring committee has voted!”  Yeah, but we shouldn’t penalize her, Will insists as the two of them walk down a hall back at Lockhart/Gardner. “Her face is on the news 24/7.  Every political blog is writing about her,” Diane counters.  Um, what was he just saying about not penalizing her?  “She wasn’t the one who slept with the hookers,” he protests, hands waving, as they reach Diane’s office.

His partner turns, a slight smirk on her face. “Were you involved with this woman?”  The question throws him off. “What?”  Her smile grows. “You never push for associate hires.”  He shoves his hand in his pocket, ducks his head. “She was my friend,” he defends himself quietly, “and the smartest person in our class.”  Diane sighs, letting out her breath slowly. “Give me something I can sell to the other partners.”

“There’s a lawyer I’m trying to bring in, but I’m getting some push back. I need you to put together a dossier on her.”  Okay, Kalinda says, standing in front of him clicking open her pen.  Who?  “Alicia Florrick.” The investigator looks up in shock. “Peter Florrick’s wife?”  It’s unusually expressive for her. “Yeah, why?” Will wonders. Oh, no reason.  Just that I slept with her husband, that’s all.  Kinda weird.

There’s applause now in the conference hall; Will looks haunted. “Of course, the advantage of being a woman opting in is that no one ever questions why you opted out in the first place.”  That’s fair, I guess, though I don’t really see how it makes things any easier. “Women are cut little slack on this. Men even less.”  The audience laughs.  Is it funny?  Really?  Oh, Will’s face!

“I looked into Alicia Florrick,” Kalinda says, walking back into Will’s office later the same day. “I spoke to her old firm. She managed to win a couple dozen cases before taking her maternity leave. Even managed to bring in some small clients.”  So why the sad face, Miss Sharma?  “But?” Will asks, because it’s clear there is one. “They were about to fire her.  They thought she wasn’t tough enough.  She never knew, but they said she lacked a killer instinct.”  How awful!  (I can’t decide if it’s weird or not that someone remembers that 13 years later.)  God, that would devastate her, knowing that. Will frowns. “What do you want me to do with this?” Kalinda asks, raising up the gray folder with her research in it.  Still frowning, Will tells her. “Bury it.”

“The one upside to a scandal or a tragedy in your life is that it is the best kind of wake up call.”  How so, keynote speaker Alicia Florrick?  Saying this, she sounds more like herself than she has the entire time. “Would I have done it any differently if I were a man?” Wait, you’re not going to say how?  Damn.  “Would I have…”  Suddenly a man in the front row jumps up, phone to his ear, and it throws her. “Would I have done – I mean, would I have felt differently if I were a man?”  As another audience member stands, Alicia loses not only her train of thought and her rhythm, but all the expression that had finally warmed her voice a moment ago; Will looks around the room for the source of her distraction.

In the next few moments more and more of her audience scurries away, and Alicia herself looks offstage as if Cary and Clarke can explain the sudden exodus. “What’s going on?” Cary asks the oily Gray Haired Man, who explains that it has nothing to do with Alicia. “Findler just announced a hostile take over of MRG Pharmaceuticals,” he tells them, eyes trained on his phone. “Everybody wants to get in on it.  Excuse me,” he adds, making the attempt to profit himself.

“The answer is that I would never do it differently,” Alicia takes up the torch firmly.  Rayna cranes to see her through the scavengers who’re still fleeing the room. “The key is to raise your profile.  Opt out moms are held to a higher standard than anyone else.” Sigh. I think I need to go someplace and cry. “We have to work harder,” she admits, helpless.  There’s no one in the front row now. “We have to make up for lost time.”

Well, she’s making up for something, anyway; Alicia sits in a dive coffee shop, tossing back a beer beneath neon signs, surrounded by blue collar looking folks in flannel and ugly sweaters.  She must have wanted somewhere no one from the conference could find her.

But of all the gin joints in all the world, you know who has to walk into hers.  And get seated at the tiny table absurdly close to hers.  Of course it’s Will Gardner.

“Hi,” he says. “Is there any other…” he tries to get the hostess’s attention, but she’s long gone.  Who else is reminded, not just of our perpetual favorite Casablanca, but of You’ve Got Mail?    You know, the less famous Meg Ryan diner scene.  I don’t know, maybe I’m seeing things, but I feel like they love to throw in little allusions and homages to romantic movies on this show.

Sitting, Will mutters something about the restaurant being across the street from the hotel.  Really?  Don’t worry, she tells him, I’m almost done. “Scotch, no ice,” he asks the waitress.  “They only have beer,” Alicia grumbles bitterly from a few feet away before the waitress can explain the menu’s shortcomings herself. He changes his order.

After draining the last dregs of her mug, she cups it in her hands.  “It’s hard to get drunk on beer,” she observes, grumpy. “Mmm,” he replies, cutting up his food. “Maybe you just gotta try harder.”  Ouch. She waves the mug in the direction of the waitress, who calls out “yeah yeah!” from the distance. Her expression sour, Alicia sets down the mug. “She doesn’t like me, and I don’t give a flying crap.”  Ah.  Even if you’re not as drunk as you want to be, Alicia, I think you’re at least part of the way there. Will chuckles at her prim language. “Flying crap!”

“Go to hell, is that better?” She hasn’t looked at him this entire time. “You’re in a bad mood,” he observes.  Um, duh. It’s a little mean, mentioning it. “I just had three hundred people walk out on me,” she complains.  Which sucks. “Looked like four hundred,” he observes, tossing something into his mouth, and now she does turn and stare at him.  It’s the kind of thing that he might have said to make her laugh off her self pity if they were friends, but that’s now what it feels like now.

“Why do you hate me,” she asks, and again, it’s a pointless question. How can she not know the answer to that?  She betrayed him.  He always stood up for her – he gave her a job when she wouldn’t even have done it herself – and she was the last person he ever thought would betray him, and she did.  “Mmm,” he considers, chewing. “Well. I don’t like you.  Hate’s probably too strong.”  You can wish, Will, but I don’t think there’s any part of you that is indifferent to her. “Why?” she asks, her eyes flicking up and down, and he turns to look at her for the first time. “Are you serious?”  She really is.

“Because of that?” she leans over, disbelieving. “Three weeks,” he says, still eating.  The food’s a convenient buffer. “Three weeks you were scheming.”  She tosses her head. ‘That wasn’t my fault!”  Which he was supposed to know how?  “I wanted to leave right away.”  With our clients, he reminds her. “Wow,” she says.  Wow?  Really?  I mean, okay, we all know there’s more than that, but why is he not allowed to mind losing tens of millions of dollars?  “It just never ends,” she observes.

He gives her a long look before picking up his beer. “Don’t ask the question if you don’t want the answer,” he shrugs. Though he goes back to his meal, she stares at him until he stops.  “What,” he asks, uncomfortable. “We could never make it work,” she says quietly, and he stares, stares. “You’re linking two things together that I never did,” he tells her.  Is that true?  It’s her turn to stare while he drinks – at least until the waitress slams down her new mug of beer and walks off with her empty one. “Thanks a lot!” she yells after the girl. “You wanna say bitch, say bitch,” Will encourages her. What a good influence he is!  “Bitch!” she yells, giving a little attitude with her face, wagging her head.

And then she’s back on the old subject, emphatically waving the hand not wrapped around her mug. “So, you’re saying if I were any other partner leaving,  you’d hate me as you do?”  “I’m saying if you were any other partner leaving, I’d be as unhappy and competitive as I am now,” he tells her with a straight face. Yeah, you can wish.  She tilts her head, squints.  “I don’t believe you,” she decides, and he shrugs. “That’s your right,” he replies. “You’re enjoying your pain too much,” she realizes.  “Yup,” he agrees, and drinks.

“So,” she asks as he downs the beer, “you’re going to fight me on every client?  Every case?”  Setting down the beer, he agrees. “I’m a competitor!  You’re up for it. You’re a big girl.” He sticks out his chin in acknowledgement of her accomplishments. Okay, she replies, her mouth turning into a wide flat line as if she’s done all that could be expected to mend their rift and is giving up trying: “I guess it’s something.” It’s something, he agrees, drinking, but she can’t stop looking at him, and when he lets down his glass, she extends her hand.  He looks at her with suspicion. Slowly, deliberately, he wipes his mouth with a white cloth napkin (this didn’t look like that kind of place, somehow) and with the air of someone who’s rising to a challenge but want you to know it’s on his own terms, reaches out to shake her hand.  Her answering smile vanishes quickly.

Then Alicia’s phone rings, and the moment of honesty – such as it was – ends.  Listening covertly, Will hears her tell Cary that she’s not in a position to talk. “Is someone sitting near you?” Cary asks, and from the way Will rolls his eyes I’m assuming he can hear the question. “Yes,” she drawls, and then Cary goes ahead anyway. “Rayna Hecht was impressed with your speech – she wants to meet.”  Shocked, Alicia’s eyebrows make their way toward the roof.  “Um, when?” she wonders as Will fails his attempt to look disinterested.

Yeah, that’s the catch (and no, it’s not that Will’s listening in).  It’s that she wants to meet now.

“I’ve had a few,” Alicia’s reply is slow, and she winces once she delivers it, waiting for Cary’s response.  As if that weren’t embarrassing enough he doesn’t even understand what she means. “Nothing,” she says, still wincing. “Now where?”  At the lounge. Great.

“A meeting?” Will asks.  A very important meeting, Alicia confirms, giving him a goofy drunken smile. “How to destroy our competitors.”  Good, he replies briskly, “I expect no less.”  The look they share now is far less hostile. “May the best man win,” Alicia offers as way of goodbye, and he raises his frosty mug to her, knights before the joust.  Fitting in this episode rife with gender discussions that she refers to herself as a man to fit the cliche.

But when Will returns to the Harrington Plaza, riding up the escalator looking at his phone, he’s met with a less honorable opponent.  It’s Jim Moody, in New York City, calling him by name despite the fact that they’ve almost certainly never met. Cause that’s not suspicious at all.  “We’ve never met. Jim Moody.  I used to work for…” “Yeah, I know who you are,” Will cuts him off. “I need five minutes of  your time, the political fixer begs. Oh no. Looks like Nelson Dubeck isn’t going to roll over and die after all, Elsbeth.

“No,” Will says, looking around him, and takes off for the nearest door. “Please,” Jim calls, following him through it into a hallway. “Look, this guy from Justice, Dubeck, he’s turning the screws on me.”  I’ll bet.  I bet he had you on the red eye from Chicago right after Elsbeth’s stunt, too.

“Listen to me,” Will wheels back around.”You and are both witnesses in a grand jury hearing. Legally we cannot talk to each other.”  The hallway is totally deserted. “I just wanna make sure you and I are telling the same story,” Jim insists. “Did you hear what I just said?” Will asks him. “I only did what Eli Gold told me to do that night,” Moody lies.  He’s wearing a wire, isn’t he?  He is so wearing a wire. Danger, Will Robinson! “I don’t care,” Will growls. “Now you stay the hell away from me or I’ll call hotel security.”

Shudder.  Well, at least he didn’t say anything that could get him in trouble.

“Five minutes isn’t much time, so just keep it all bullet points,” Cary advises  Alicia and Clarke. “I’ll talk about firm culture, and Alicia?”  She points a finger at the sky and slurs her words ever so slightly. “I’ll handle women friendly policies, our crapital structure…”  Our what, Clarke cuts her off.  Ha!  “Capital structure,” she repeats, condescending. “You said crapital!” he gasps. “No I didn’t,” she declares, slurring her words more markedly.  “Mrs. Florrick – are you inebriated?” Clarke asks, utterly shocked.  It takes a second for her to pick what she feels is the correct answer, which turns out to be “I’ll be fine.”

Oh dear God, he moans.  Calmly thinking on his feet, Cary pretends that it’s all fine – the men will do the talking – and Alicia doesn’t even have time to respond before the cool and confident Rayna Hecht has joined them. “Oh, don’t get up, don’t get up! Please!” she demurs, in time to stop Clarke and Cary from straightening up completely; Alicia, who’d been facing the opposite direction and hadn’t seen Rayna coming, simply remains in her chair.  “I’m so sorry I blew you off  earlier,” she smiles. “And don’t say I didn’t, because – I did.”  Huh. Perhaps I should have said warm and confident – she’s being very kind. Or at least she is to Alicia – it’s like she doesn’t see Cary and Clarke at all, her body angled away from them. “So. Mrs. Florrick.  Powerful speech.  I’m sorry so many of our colleagues had to miss it.”  Smiling slowly a genuine, pleased smile, Alicia thanks her.

“So we wanted to talk about our firm,” Cary interrupts. “We’re just getting started, but we read your article…”  She holds up a hand.  “I’ll be honest.  I like you guys. I do.”  Ha.  Now that sounds familiar. “And I’m going to decide in the next 48 hours.”  I love that she has a scripted brush off; she’s quite good at it, at sounding sincere and without pretense.  She turns to look at Alicia. “Aaaand, I’m interested in your firm because you have female partners.”  Ha.  They have Alicia, anyway.  And what, presumably that one other woman from the original rebellion whom we never actually see?  “Yes, we try not to discriminate in promotion at all,” Clarke replies earnestly, and I know they’re worried about Alicia’s ability to string together a coherent sentence, but Rayna was not talking to him.  It’s going to come off as patronizing to someone who’s very concerned with gender parity.  Um, also, it’s not like they’ve been in business long enough to promote anyone to anything!

“Good,” Rayna says, and then she turns back to Alicia. “Were you unhappy at Lockhart/Gardner?” she asks.  Ah, tricky question since we know she’s looking at them too!  “Oh,” Alicia replies, surprised and without a prepared answer. “I was happy, up to a point. They let me grow.  They let me…” The pause here is so long that Cary and Clarke start to panic. “Learn,” she decides on. “And then I had to … put what I learned on its feet.”  Rayna (gosh, I just want to call her Jill!) leans back in her seat, smiling in understanding.  “That’s what we’re doing at Florrick/Agos,” Cary interrupts, “so, Clarke, why don’t you go ahead and talk about the, uh…” God, leave the woman alone!  Can’t you see she’s not interested in you?  “Yes, the, uh, crapital structure,” he stammers, and Alicia blinks at him, tilting her head. “Capital,” he corrects himself, utterly humiliated. “Capital structure.”

Smirking, Rayna turns back to the person she actually wants to talk with. “What do you want, Alicia?”  Ah.  Alicia’s being interviewed again, but in a totally different way.  Fascinating. “What do I want?” Alicia thinks about it. Yes, Rayna nods, totally fascinated. “What do you want?”  Cary inhales deeply, apparently afraid that Alicia would say something outrageous or misunderstand the question. He bites his lips. “I want a happy life,” she smiles simply. “And I want to control my fate.”

Rayna nods at her, and there’s understanding and even perhaps a little awe in her gaze.  “Thank you, gentlemen,” she says, turning back to Clarke and Cary, who sit, paralyzed in fear.  Seriously? How do they not know that she said the perfect thing?  “Alicia,” she finishes, and something in her tone and expression tell us that she means this, “really nice talking to you.”  She gets up, and as she walks away Alicia moans and slumps down in humiliation.  Don’t you know you said the right thing, either?

“Was that a good thing?” Clarke frowns. “How were you supposed to answer?”  She collapses into her chair.

Ah, someone’s at the piano again!  Lovely.  And, oh wow.  Elsbeth Tascioni’s singing “High Hopes” and oh my goodness, she’s aggressively dreadful.  “Just what makes that little old ant/think he can move the rubber tree plant?”  Ha!  It’s Clarke at the piano!  I adore seeing the two of them even in the same room.  Magical.  Even if it’s hard to imagine anyone could sing this badly by accident. “Anyone knows an ant can’t move a rubber tree plant!”  Well, she’s going for it with gusto, anyway; Clarke gives her a hopeful, encouraging look as they move into the chorus. I loved this song so much when I was little.  It still makes me happy. “Cause he’s got high hopes,” and wow, that cracked in the worst way, “high hopes!  He’s got … “

Taking his fingers off the keys, Clarke stands. “Miss Tascioni,” he says gravely, “don’t take this the wrong way, but – you have an awful voice.”  Hee.  She practically whoops with laughter. “I know!  I know, but this city, it inspires me.”  Really, Clarke asks, dubious. “I find it makes me sweat.”  Hee.  “I’m going to treat us to some more drinks,” she beams.  “I’m old fashioned, Miss Tascioni,” he replies. “I’ll treat.”

OH MY GOD HE IS FLIRTING WITH HER.  CLARKE. IS FLIRTING. WITH ELSBETH.  I AM DED.  DED.

No, no, she grins hugely. “I’m having a good day. I just landed a new partner I met.  We’re starting a two woman firm.”

Okay, I just love that.  Wonderful!  I hope that means we get to see Rayna in action at some point.  I’m sorry for the way Clarke’s face falls, though. “May I ask your partner’s name?” You don’t really need for her to say it, do you? Elsbeth looks full to bursting. “Rayna Hecht!” He nods, trying to be happy for her.  “Excuse me. Buzzy buzz!” she says, leaning over to fish her vibrating phone out of her pocket.  Ha.  Both times I’ve watched this I thought that was my phone.  She gasps. “I gotta go.  I’m sorry!”  One she’s sped away, Clarke lets his disappointment show. He sits down at the piano with a discordant clang.

“Please excuse the cramped quarters,” Javert tells Elsbeth.  Did he drive here in that van, or does the DOJ place them at the disposal of traveling agents in repositories all over the country?  Also, really?  The best place he could find to park it was Time Square?  It does make a nice visual, though; the lights shine brilliantly through the darkened windows. “What’s going on?” Elsbeth asks briskly as Will slides in next to her.

“From the start, Wayne,” Javert instructs his toadie of the week, and Wayne dutifully presses a button on a laptop and spins it around so Elsbeth can see hotel security camera footage of Jim Moody approaching Will in the Harrington lobby. Will blinks, shakes his head slightly as Moody follows him into the empty hallway.

“That is you and Jim Moody conversing in private, Mr. Gardner.” That’s even worse entrapment than I figured.  When they didn’t get anything on the wire, they resort to this?  And I am absolutely convinced he was wearing a wire – but maybe that was never the end game.  “Look, there was no ‘conversing.’  I told him to stay away,” Will defends himself.   Immediately, Elsbeth shushes him, looking more serious than we’ve ever seen her. “Well, to a grand jury, it’s going to look like two witnesses trying to cover up election fraud.  That’s ten years in federal prison.”

“Ha!” Elsbeth squeaks, shocked. “You can’t be serious!”

“The best part, Miss Tascioni, is that this is the original surveillance footage. The chain of custody is perfect, and unimpeachable in court.”  You cut a deal with Moody, Will realizes.  Well, duh!  Didn’t you realize it was odd for him to be in New York in the first place?  Come on, Will. “Mr. Gardner. You still have to see the forest through the trees. I’m not interested in you.” Just like you’re not interested in Jim Moody, as long as he does your bidding. “I want Peter Florrick.  All you have to do is testify against him.”

Before the words can come out of Will’s mouth, Elsbeth says they’ll think about it. “You have 48 hours,” Javert nods, and unlike Rayna Hecht’s moveable feast, I suspect this deadline is quite fixed. Face half in shadow, Will stares back at him, seething.

“My plane lands at 9am,” Alicia tells her cell phone.  It’s a new morning, and she’s glowing in red, standing in the lobby with all the other lawyers at check out, one hand on her suitcase . “I’ll see you at home?  Love you.”  Zach?  Grace?  Peter?  We’ll never know. She hangs up – and is immediately accosted by a smiling woman with her coat thrown over her shoulders.  “Hi, Mrs. Florrick!  Lorraine Joy.” No! She shakes Alicia’s hand vigorously. “From Clements & Holloway, you came in for an interview a few years ago.”  I cannot even believe she has the gumption to bring that up.  “Of course, Miss Joy, hello,” Alicia replies pleasantly.  I think pretending she didn’t recognize Joy immediately was a bit of a kindness.

“Lorraine, please,” Miss Joy insists with a wave of her hand. “I heard your speech last night. It was terrific.”  Now that’s ironic.  “Thank you,” Alicia replies, bemused. “Look.  I know you have your own shop now, but, we were wondering, if you could come in for a chat, see if we could convince you to come work for us.”  Well.  Success is the best revenge, I guess. There’s quite an edge in Alicia’s tone when she thanks Lorraine for the offer. “But I’m happy where I am.”  Giving a measuring look to see if she’s really serious, and apparently finding that she is, Lorraine accepts this with plastic grace. “Well, okay.  Maybe down the road!”  She actually makes a gun out of her finger.  Polly Draper’s done an excellent job of being a loathsome, oily corporate shell.  Alicia watches her go with a wondering smile and a shake of her head.

“You’re hired,” says Will, and I don’t even want to make the obvious Donald Trump crack because gross. “I… what?” Alicia asks, standing in his office in a gorgeous wrap dress. “First year associate. You start on Monday,” Will says, moving to sit behind his desk.  Poor Alicia looks as though she’s caught in a dream. “Ha!” she almost collapses with the relief. “I thought you were going to say, ‘sorry, the position is filled.’”  She’s beaming. “Nope,” he grins, leaning back in his chair. “You’re stuck with us now.  You’re going to have to impress us.”  “I can do that,” she nods, so eager and then she practically breaks down. “Will, thank you, I know you didn’t have to,” she gushes, but he waves her off. “Alicia, when I’m broke and lying in an alley somewhere, do something nice for me.”  Oh God. “Okay,” she nods, “promise.”

“Good,” he tells her. “Now go start reading up on contract law.”  On my way, she beams.  As he watches her go,  a sincere, joyful smile breaks out on his face. That is a man feeling satisfied. As she comes to the threshold she turns, ecstatic, and flashes him a smile of such genuine and unalloyed gratitude that it breaks my heart.

Oh my gosh, there is just so much to talk about? Where to begin?  I could talk about this episode for hours – and already have, actually, because I got the chance to watch it with my friend Ma (not alone, huzzah!) and talk we did, not the least because we’re both stay at home moms facing a return to the workforce. What a pleasure that is, watching with a friend and fellow fan – I normally only get that chance when my cousin S visits once a year from the other coast. And this episode was such an incredible treat in and of itself.

One thing – I saw Polly Draper’s name in the credits, and thought it looked familiar, but didn’t realize that I mostly knew her as career girl Ellyn from 80s workplace/home life balance drama thirtysomething. That casting is ridiculously fitting and awesome (not that Ellyn was callow and evil, just that she was the official “opt in” woman on the show).  She was ideal as a woman who knows how to play the game. Standing O!

I was a little annoyed at first with the casting of Jill Hennessey (like I said at the start, it was always clear neither firm was getting her, or else we’d have heard that Hennessey was joining the show) but I think I’m okay with that now.  In the end, Hecht was there for one reason; to show us that Alicia is no longer willing to undersell herself in an interview.

Now, it’s clearly open to debate, but the presence of hateful, super-vicious Jackie felt like a signal that Alicia doubts the purity of her interactions with Will.  I don’t think this necessarily means that Alicia was guilty of using him or crossing a line – just that she’s afraid she might have.  And part of her fear comes because she can’t figure out why he gave her that job in the first place. Why was he nice to her?  Did she deserve it?  Did she use him?  Would it be wrong if she did? Is it really okay to use anything you can to get a job?  Anyone?  Where’s the line?  Not that there isn’t something inherently indelicate about a job search – the constant self-promotion, the careful crafting of resumes and cover letters, the endless networking, the pleading, the plotting to show oneself off to best advantage – but there it is.  Job searching calls for traits we don’t always consider to be feminine. Or at least, it’s not what a “good” girl is taught is “good.” (You hear it everywhere. Modesty; that’s what makes you beautiful.) So how do you choose – do you adopt one model wholesale, or do you try to reconcile the two?  And that gray area between competing expectations and definitions of “good”?  That’s where this show lives, baby.

Has there ever been another show on television to truly deal so deeply with what it means to be a woman in America?  With what it means to be a mother, a wife, to opt out, to opt in?  With all the myriad ways you can lose for winning?  I’m in awe.  I’m just in awe. Maybe you can say it’s because the topic means so much to me (how do you opt back in and find work with meaning?  Who’s going to want me?) and maybe you can say I’m just a fan of the show (which I am) but this episode simultaneously horrifies the soon-to-be job-seeker in me, and strikes a deep chord of sympathy. It gives a good view of the way women are squeezed out of certain prestigious industries even when they’re well educated for them and capable.  To think Alicia was going to be fired before she quit her first job, despite doing what sounds like exemplary work!

This episode was the perfect counterpoint, as I noted earlier, to The Decision Tree; instead of Will attempting to predict what Alicia would say in her testimony, and what would logically follow from her word choices, we saw Alicia dissecting the choices she’d already made and wondering what moral worth to assign to those them – wondering how to assess and judge herself. It’s easy to pretend the past would be less plastic, less open to interpretation – but it isn’t.  Our memories prove fickle, our motives obscure.  Just as Decision Tree proved a tour de force for Josh Charles, A Few Words brought us Julianna Margulies at her brilliant best.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed seeing Alicia’s transition from frump to fashion plate.  We knew it happened, because we’ve all seen those boxy jackets and the hair in a barrette, but it was intriguing to see the direct inspiration.  I’ve often commented on her black dresses making her look like a severe but sexy priestess; I’m fascinated that her first interview outfit made her look like a nun.  (Trust me.  I know a lot of nuns.)  And Jackie, so poisonous, speaking at least one truth that Alicia knows in her bones but doesn’t like to admit to.  She does like nice things – look at the way she took the too-expensive apartment the second she felt she could afford it.  She’s ambitious.  She likes being successful, and though she dislikes being the center of attention, she definitely likes being seen as successful.  What a beautiful tightrope the team walked here, letting Alicia question herself over behavior that feels less than exemplary.  Wanting those “nice things” too much, for one thing. Allowing her to admit to being part of the problem women face in the workplace, for another thing.  It was disappointing, but real, and only served to highlight Will’s grace in fighting for her hire.

On a lighter note, oh, the brilliance of Nathan Lane at his most subtly comic, and Carrie Preston!  Carrie, that Emmy was so richly deserved.  The Neo-Nazi Bear!  Amazing.  And her reaction, so great.  And the singing!  Oh the singing.   And oh the flirting.  I know, I know, maybe I don’t sounds like a serious recapper because I’m being such a swoony fan, but this episode so beautifully melds the comic elements with the serious and philosophical ones.  (And hey, I can rip the show apart when it doesn’t live up to my high expectations.  It’s just that this week, the show exceeded those expectations.  The more I watch it, the more I see, and the more it makes me think.)  I meant what I said before – I want to see Elsbeth and Rayna practicing law together.  I want that so much.  A buddy dramedy about two women lawyers with radically opposing styles?  I could think of a lot less appealing premises in tonight’s prime time line up.  Of course, The Good Wife could power an entire network full of spin offs. David Lee, Nancy Krozier, Patti Nyholm, Viola Walsh, Louis Canning, Lemond Bishop, at least five different judges – the list of characters rich enough to carry their own shows goes on and on.

Should I say something about Javert and his unceasing pursuit of Peter by way of Will, Alicia, Marilyn and Jim Moody?   He really does remind me of Clinton gadfly/special prosecutor Ken Starr in his blind obsession with wrecking anyone who stands between him and his quarry.  Awesome try, Elsbeth, although we all knew it wouldn’t be that easy!  I hope she eventually uses that recording, though, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this plot line.  I’d say Will has no reason not to sell Peter down the river – except he’d probably be disbarred for doing it, which is pretty great motivation.  Plus, he’s just too cussed stubborn to let an axe-grinding slime like Javert force his hand.  But what we’re all wondering about is the chivalrous part of him, right?  No matter how hard he fights Alicia in court, no matter how he punishes her for leaving or himself for trusting her, I just don’t know whether he could pull a trigger he knows would hurt her that badly.  But who knows.  If you apply enough pressure, people break in unexpected ways.

Then again, maybe the person to break will be Eli.  Or Kalinda.  Or Peter.

No, I could talk for hours about this episode and still barely scratch the surface.  I could write a dissertation about this season – and perhaps someday, someone will.  But for now, I’d really rather talk to you all, and I’m fervently hoping you still want to talk about it too. So, please.  What did you think?  Is this yet another reason to call Season Five the best yet?   Is the show, like Alicia, just getting better with time?

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25 comments on “The Good Wife: A Few Words

  1. Starli says:

    Wow, this was a fascinating read, because you watched the episode from a completely different angle than I did. I loved your insights and I agree that this was a wonderful episode about Alicia and her struggle back to the workplace, though I was really in love with it for the showcasting some of Cary and Alicia’s relatonship. I adored that she came to him with that speech and that she took his advice and how well they mostly seemed to work together. That conversation between them about how they first met and that he remembered that so well. I also loved that they both admitted to being “difficult” back then, because I usually really, really have to grit my teeth the show or people in general talk about early Cary, because I adored him from pretty much the start and that really got cemented on my recent re-watch of some early episodes. By the way, that “may the best man win” from Alicia really brought me back to the pilot when Cary says that to her and tips her off, that something is going on with both of them being first years. Either way, it’s always nice when it shines through that Cary might have had some legitimate problems with Alicia and that the tension on that relationship certainly didn’t all come from his side once it went south for a while.
    I also think it’s an interesting call back that they both accept, that on paper he probably was the better candidate, both when they first hired them and when they had to decide between them at at the end of season 1, which is something that played into Alicia being called “entitled”, I think. Through Cary’s perspective he worked incredibly hard both to get this job and keep it and he had earned it, except that Alicia came along with having this relationship with Will and calling in favours with Eli to get clients and suddenly he was out on the street. As amazing as this was for Alicia and as much as she needed it, none of that really matters to Cary, just like it didn’t matter to her that he had his own reasons for needing and wanting this job, and that’s really how this should be. Neither one of them is wrong for what they think, because from their perspective it’s the truth. It’s just that, as my mom likes to point out, there is no THE truth, everyone has their own truth
    In case you didn’t notice, I mostly watch this show through a Cary filter XD I agree, though, that it’s interesting that Alicia herself wouldn’t hire ‘herself’, though I didn’t really take it as a general statement on optout moms and more on who she was. Don’t know whether that makes it’s better or worse.
    Watching how she and Will first re-met really drove home why he is so pissed and betrayed. But I think I could deal with that better, if he owned up to it and how it’s affecting him, instead of saying that he doesn’t “hate” her or that it’s just being “the competition” and steamrolling Diane with his plan for the firm while insisting that he’s being level headed. Somehow it just comes off being self-righteous and vindictive, which is weird, because he’s got such good reasons for what he feels and she’s got such good reasons for doing what she’s doing and technically neither one of them should be in the wrong, despite being on very opposite sides, but it’s not working for me. That might be my Cary-goggles, coming into play, though, because obviously by coming after Florrick/Agos he’s also coming after him and you just don’t do that as far as I’m concered. Talking about Florrick/Agos, didn’t Cary give Alicia top-billing by putting her first? That comment about the naming of Stern, Lockhard&Gardner really threw me as well.
    Okay, I think I need to stop writing before this post gets any longer, but best of luck on your upcoming job hunt, allthough I hope it won’t keep you from this recaps too much, because they’re always such a pleasure to read.

    • E says:

      Hi Starli! First let me say, part of what makes this season so great is that a) Cary finally has something meaningful to do, and b) he and Alicia have such a supportive and healthy partnership. It’s really a thing of beauty. So when I talk about Cary and Clarke playing the interview with Rayna wrong, it’s not that I think they are patronizing Alicia,but rather that it would appear that way to Rayna. They were attempting to be helpful because of Alicia’s intoxication, but since everyone was so successful at making Alicia appear sober, it just looked like they weren’t willing to let her talk. I think it’s very clear that they trust and believe in Alicia (hence the high expectations for her speech); they know what she’s capable of and plan accordingly.

      On the other hand, I’m sorry that none of the extras who play the other partners in the new firm are women. I know we lost Beth, but the original conspiracy of third years was 3 women and 2 men, right? So it just seems crazy – not to mention disappointing – that Alicia is the only female Florrick/Agos lawyer we consistently see. And I do definitely think that Alicia meant she wouldn’t hire someone with her qualifications (ie, 13 years of not practicing) over someone straight out of Harvard like Cary. I would have assumed she’d have a more nuanced view with an actual candidate in front of her – that she would fight for someone she liked (as she did with Martha) and follow her instincts. (She’s also so capable of admitting where she’s wrong, and seeing unexpected merit where it exists – eg Caitlin – which yet again makes me feel like she’d be better at hiring and mentoring employees than that.) Of course, just based on their academic credentials you might have to consider Cary over Alicia.

      I think you’re right about competing truths. Cary and Alicia both worked hard and won cases and learned. He was willing to network where she wasn’t – but she had connections he didn’t that she was able to use to swing the eventual win her way.

      One of my favorite things about them is that she taught him how to win in court instead of just negotiating – I think they’ve always been brilliant about making you like as well as dislike Cary even when he was Alicia’s competition. Of course that’s where this show excels in general – giving us fully realized characters, who have good and bad days, make good and bad choices, who do things we cheer and then decry.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one puzzled by the top billing comment. Perhaps all she meant to acknowledge was that he was a name partner? Like, not top billing over Stern and Lockhart but over the firm in general?

      Thanks so much for your kind words, and for talking about the show with me! It’s the best, especially since I really don’t know if I’ll be able to do something this time consuming next season. I guess it will all depend.

      • Starli says:

        I really need to rewatch this ep, I got so caught up in all things Cary/Alicia that I’m not sure I’m remembering everything else correctly. And I definitly wasn’t trying to sound like I was “complaining” about your commentary on Cary, that somehow didn’t come out quite the way I wanted it to. I was really talking about the show and probably should have kept it at that. That episode you mentioned where Cary and Alicia work together and he learns how to not just negotiate his way out of court is one of the many reasons it bothers me how Season 1 Cary is refered to. Alicia laughingly calling him a jerk (4×07) – as great as that scene was – undermines that they worked really well together and in Hi both said, that while obviously they wanted to win, they also didn’t want the other one to loose. I mean, she could have ratted him in out in that episode and she didn’t, because I think they did, begrudgingly, like each other. So I was a little more happy that at least this time Cary got to have a “say”, too and she swallowed it just as easily as he did. It seems they only bring up early Cary to call him names, so that gets my defenses up. Oh, and something else I forgot to mention is that entitled also reminded me of Diane telling Will that “it’s teaching an entitled dog new tricks” about Alicia in the pilot. I do think that Alicia has some areas where that word fits her, but I also think that’s true for most people.

        Like I said, I really need to re-watch, but from what I remember Alicia in her early interviews wasn’t someone I would really want defending me in a court room. I completely get why, with everything that was going on, but I think that’s what I thought Cary was refering to and Alicia brings it up again in her speech. She should want to hire herself and I mean herself as a general person aswell as an opt out mom, because otherwise why would anyone else hire her and she certainly needed to have that self-assurance in court. I also felt a little disconnect between Alicia in those interviews and in the pilot, but I guess that’s because in the pilot she already had the job, time to prepare mentally and get back into a more steady headspace because she knew how she was gonna feed and clothes her kids, not to mention put a roof over their head.

        I also agree she’d be far more nuanced in how and who she hires (actually, they’d both be, I think), but again, Cary was specifically talking about her and I think it’s easier to see things from the outside in others, that she can’t necessarily in herself. She probably feels her own shortcomings much more strongly, than she would in someone else if they sat across from her in an interview.

        Oh, and that interview with Rayna was really tough, because I agree it came across as weird that they tried to get the attention away from Alicia, but on the other hand I’m not sure how well Alicia could have covered, so I guess they were kind of stuck between making her appear sober and patronized or not patronized and not sober. And of course they had no warning, so that probably made both of them a little more frantic

        Thank you so much for your recaps, they must take forever to write and you have such a great way of dealing with this show and seeing it in different ways. I’m gonna miss them, when you don’t have as much time for them anymore, allthough I hope you’ll still share your insights every know and then.

        And I just remembered that thing I keep forgetting. No, Cary’s hair was most definitly not like that when we first met him. I mean, it’s kind of a running gag with some friends, that you can’t talk about Season 1, without going “oh my god, the hair”, but that flashback was an entirely different level of terrible and I say that as a very devoted Matt-fan for almost 7 years. He could not make it work.

  2. Kate says:

    Thanks so much for your analysis – you helped me to understand the episode better (I was horrified to think that Alicia had purposely seduced Will into hiring her… I hadn’t imagined it happening like that at all). Alicia’s smile at the end broke my heart too – I actually felt teary. What a great actress JM is!

    I’m an “opt out” mom too (I hate that term SO MUCH!!!) formerly a lawyer – out of the full time work force for 14+ years now. I still have such mixed feelings about the choices I have made but at the time of opting out I truly felt I had no choice. Very interesting topic!

    • E says:

      Hi Kate! Thanks for reading and writing in!

      Opt out moms, stay at home moms – I guess it feels better than housewife but none of the terms feel that great. It’s such a hard thing – on the one hand, you want to be with your kids, but on the other, you also want to set them an example of empowerment.

      And, ugh. That implication – that Alicia used Will – is so upsetting. Of course, asking a friend for a job is using your relationship with them to a certain degree any way; I prefer to think Alicia was wrestling with how much she owed Will, and what she feels about him. I’m still not super comfortable with it, but if anyone really needs to think about what they feel and why it’s Alicia Florrick!

  3. RC says:

    Hi E,

    It’s been a while since I left a comment on one of your recaps but rest assured, I’ve been reading them religiously each week…or, given the erratic scheduling, each time an episode has aired! I love how you love the show. It’s something I think should be a requirement for a reviewer…I could never understand any negativity. While there have, of course, been some disappointing plots *cough Nick cough*, TGW has always been one of the best shows on tv and at the forefront for positive representation of women on the small OR big screen. All that said, this season has, in my opinion ;), been the strongest. I’ve loved all the callbacks to past seasons, the deliberately plotted arcs, the risks taken…It’s been refreshing and I can hardly believe we’re in S5.

    Speaking of risks taken, this ‘impending federal doom’ plot has got me convinced that Eli, not Peter, not Will, will go to jail! It reminds me of the scenario last season, where promos led the audience to think Alicia would choose either Will or Peter but she chose Cary and to start her own firm! I certainly think Eli is the character who is most vulnerable, given Moody has flipped. Now, that last exchange of the episode hardly instilled me with confidence for Will but then again, it could be a red herring! At least Will has Elsbeth’s recording to deal with. Peter’s safety really depends on Will adhering to client confidentiality but also loyalty, something Eli has. There would be a very cruel irony in Eli being punished for something he had no knowledge of. Of course, he and Peter both maintained a certain distance from Moody and the potential of something illegal but Eli has a reputation and was Moody’s superviser. I could be wildly off the mark here but i thought it was an intriguing possibility and worth sharing!

    I simply adored this episode. Beautifully written, acted, scored, directed, you name it. I have a fondness for Alicia-centric episodes, perhaps because she’s so reserved that it’s nice to have an insight into her thoughts. What I saw, and have for some time, is a woman who is in love with Will and is denying what she wants for fear of turning out like her mother. I agree with everything you wrote, especially Jackie’s (What does it say for my perception of Jackie that I didn’t think her comments were SO out of line for her!) role in her flashbacks, or as Robert King prefers to call them, memory pops. Julianna Margulies is such a talented actress,every episode is like a masterclass of her craft.

    Oh, Will. You know, I’ve defended Will for so long because I’ve always believed he has had Alicia’s best interests at heart and, while not dismissing his behaviour post-finding out Alicia was leaving, I understood he was hurt and felt betrayed. The way he conducted himself was not pretty but guess what, human behaviour sometimes isn’t! I’ve never been able to comprehend those who insist on categorising TGW characters into good and bad, this show is one of the most morally grey out there! I loved everything I saw of him this episode. His admission that he thought Alicia could keep up with this new competitive edge was a side I simply hadn’t even thought of. Now, I’m not saying Will was doing that for some greater good but it reaffirmed the fact he thinks highly of Alicia and believes in her. I also laughed at his acting casual when he met her for the first time in years! His act was only given away by the smile, the number of times he kept coming back to the elevator for one last remark! I’m fascinated to see where this new dynamic to their relationship goes. Neither has been above using personal stuff so far this season but this did seem to be a thawing.

    I’m here if you ever want to talk Good Wife! I got both of my sisters into it back in the first season so I’ve been able to have conversations for years, thank God! I acted as if I was doing them a favour but really, I had my selfish reasons. :D I hope you can keep these recaps going, they’re among the best out there.

    • Rachel says:

      Shame there’s no edit option! Just wanted to add that there is always room for criticism when the show deserves it (I’m still not very impressed with how Kalinda’s being written/used. I know the Nick plot was horrific but the writers need to keep being brave and continue revealing the character). What I meant with my original point was that I love reading an opinion from someone who is a genuine fan. Of course critiquing involves looking at both the positive and negative, which you have done.

    • E says:

      I agree, RC, the show has been absolutely at the top of it’s form this season. And while I hope I call the show on it when things don’t work, I am first and foremost a fan. I could never spend all this time on the show if I didn’t just love it like crazy!

      I don’t think I’d read the “memory pop” term until you guys all started using it here, but I can see how perfectly that captures what they’ve been doing. The Decision Tree was all about the subjectivity of memory, the way that we’re unreliable narrators of our own past. And Jackie was the perfect vehicle to express Alicia’s self-doubt as she examines her past. Because like you say, those comments are not too far outside the bounds of what we’ve seen from Jackie. It’s only the fact that she couldn’t have been in the L/G reception area that tells us she never said those things.

      Good for you for getting your sisters involved! I’ve never succeeded in getting either of my sibs – or even my husband, for that matter – to watch with me. That’s yet another reason I value the great discussions we have here so much! I can’t wait until tonight to see what the big shocker is. It’s entirely plausible that Eli could take the fall, but that will only work if they can’t force Will to testify. I’m going to be very curious to see if a judge would actually hold Will in contempt. Or if Javert will try a parallel construction to get the information in anyway – through Marilyn, maybe? It’s interesting that no one has yet wondered how Javert knows to come after Will.

  4. Jo says:

    Hey E, just wanted to say that I really enjoy your recaps, and have been reading them for some time now. For me your writing strikes the ideal balance between being passionate and insightful about a show, but without being biased so as to disregard some parts to try to reinforce one’s opinions. It’s surprisingly rare amongst reviewers of TGW to just follow writers’ vision, because the show is so complex that people can basically carve out their own shows out of it. Some are still crying for Alicia/Kalinda or want more Peter, Cary, or Elsbeth, only Florrick/Agos, or only LG. It shows what a full world the writers managed to build, but it can be sometimes annoying when the whole point of someone’s complaint is that an episode should focus more on something they find more interesting, so thank you for your appreciation of the show just the way it is :) I always rewatch the episode while reading your writing at the end of the week, and it never fails to make me notice something I missed on the first viewing.

    Now on to the episode. Loved the discussion as to whether Alicia can be truly seen as a feminist figure. I wonder if she’s ever even aimed for that, unlike Diane she never struck me as someone who’s very interested in these kind of questions. Do you think she was being honest in her speech, or were those just her biggest fears? Initially I thought that her conclusion would be that you sometimes have to rely on other people, I never expected her to say ‘use everything you’ve got’, which was really cold. I used to think that Will and Alicia would make a good couple, but lately I’m wondering if they wouldn’t be better off without each other. They seem to be more than a little obsessed with each other, and I think that much of that has to do with them idealizing the other person. Even after everything that happened they seem to be unable to let go of each other. Also I sometimes wonder whether they were really ever true friends, because judging by those memories there always seemed to be a kind of underlying romantic tension between them. I don’t know.. I’m going back and forth on these two. Because while I think that Will’s attraction to her obviously played a role in her hiring, in her memories he treated her like an old friend, and someone he knew was a good, smart person, a competent lawyer. Sure they were flirty, but Will seems to be that way with his female friends, or at least with Diane and Kalinda. It visibly hurt him when she admitted during the speech, that she essentially used him. This episode certainly made me realize that there is lots more of self-loathing in Alicia, than I ever thought. She’s far from ideal, and that’s very refreshing when most of female leads in TV series act simply as stand-ins for the audience.

    Also what do you think about the use of the ‘memory pops’ this season? I love that by making them not flashbacks but fallible memories, they avoid giving away any clear answers, instead they’re just quick glimpses into characters’ heads.

    As to season 5 in general, I read somewhere that it’s become more of a soap this season, and I can see this point to some extent. Certainly the episodes right after the split were full of dramatics which strained the reality of the show a bit too much. However it seems to be returning back to normal, and without all that hurt and animosity we’d never get that feeling of the end of an era, and beginning of a new show. Also TGW has always been a bit melodramatic. Alicia’s walk in slow-motion to ask Will about his message?;) Or Kalinda sleeping with Peter? At the centre the show has always been kind of a gushy romantic, so I don’t really have a problem with it showing a bit more heart lately, especially since the Kings always find a way to deal with these issues in an unexpected way.

    And what do you think is going to happen next week? I thought that it was just promo hype with the most shocking moment ever. However I watched an interview with Alan Cumming who said something similar, and I don’t think he would if he didn’t really believe it, so now I’m really excited!

    • E says:

      Jo, it is lovely to meet you! And not just because you’ve been super kind in what you said. I guess I’m an omnivore where TGW is concerned – I really do genuinely like it all. I can totally see why people carve out their own shows, as you put it (great phrase!), because the show really is so complex and beautifully written. That’s why these recaps got so long – for most of the first season, I tried to just summarized the various plots and interactions, but I just kept adding more and more text until it basically turned into an annotated transcript because there is almost nothing wasted here.

      I couldn’t agree more – the question Alicia was asked to address forced her to look at her life from a feminist perspective, but it’s not a question she would have asked or the way she would have framed it, which is part of what made it so damnably difficult for her to answer. She’s really not one for introspection (intriguing because she can be so thoughtful in her work) and she’s certainly not living her life to be a role model. I think her answer to Rayna was the real truth of her career; she wants to control her fate. She’s spent the last five years desperately at the mercy – not just of those initial interviewers like Miss Joy, or Will and Diane and David and Derrick, but of every person who had an agenda involving Peter. Glenn Childs, Wendy Scott-Carr, Matan Brody, Andrew Wiley, Mandy Post, Mike Kresteva, Javert, the list goes on. I don’t think I’ve thought of it before this moment, actually, but she joined that firm for independence from Peter as much as from Will (which was a huge motivator). Of course we’ve heard Will and Diane grapple with this issue – that control is an illusion, that you never really have it – but that’s what she wants. To have control over her own life, and to make sure no idiots have control over her. Has she been feeling out of control because of what Peter did to her, which has to do with traditional gender roles? Yes. That started her journey. If other people see that as heroic and feminist, that’s good, especially if she can use it to help the firm, but you’re right, she’s not motivated by that the way that Diane is.

      As I mentioned above, I love the “memory pops.” It’s perfect that they’re going out of the way to let us know that we’re seeing past events from the character’s pov, not as omniscient truth from the show creators, which is how we would normally think of a flashback. Human memory is faulty, and colored by ensuing experiences and events – so this tactic is spot on.

      It occurs to me now that perhaps it’s easier to Alicia to say she used Will in the past. If she can convince herself that everything that happened between them was just about her getting a job, securing her future, saving her kids, then she can walk away without regret. It’s a lie, but she’s very good at lying to herself about pretty much everything.

      I think the show has always had melodramatic flair to it. It’s hardly Scandal, with a shocking twist every week. I think don’t think this season has been soapy at all; it’s television, for heaven’s sake. If nothing happened, we wouldn’t watch! I can be very critical of plot directions (everything to do with Blake and Nick, Kalinda being all sex all the time, cough cough) but for the most part I think that kind of commentary now is just a backlash against the overwhelming critical love for this season’s amazing plot change-up.

      Now.

      I. Cannot. Wait. For. Tonight.

      One of the biggest things I value about this show – and maybe this will make you laugh – is that I totally suck at predicting what’s going to happen next. Whenever I think they’re setting up some big move, I’m wrong. I thought we’d see a custody battle for the kids in season three – nope. I thought we’d see Kalinda or Cary on trial for Nick’s murder by the end of season four. NOPE! And I am normally very good at that. I know who the murderer is. I can watch most tv shows and recite what a character’s going to say before they say it. (Mr. E is very good about not getting annoyed by this.) I try not even to anticipate TGW anymore, because I have been so, so wrong. And that makes me crazy excited about it.

      3 hours! Yay!

  5. angee says:

    Hi E! Wow what wonderfully thoughtful and insightful comments everyone is leaving and thank you E for encouraging such thoughtful and respectful commentary on an awesome television. It is the nuance and the respect for the viewers’ intelligence I love about The Good Wife as well as terrific guest stars. I am loving this season and so glad it got picked up for another season.

    • E says:

      Me too, Angee! I can’t wait for tonight. It’s such a great episode for discussion – there’s way more food for thought here than any other show I can think of.

  6. Kiki says:

    Hey E!!!!!

    Excellent as I read I wanted to jump in and say something about what was Alicia getting out with the memories and how this connected to TDT, but I am glad I waited to finish your whole review. Cause at the end you finally summarize it, is not that Alicia wanted to use Will, it wasn’t her plan. She was desperate and she used more than her resume to get the job and thats what the episode was about. It was an episode about feminism, but also showing that how Alicia got there is not a feminist story perhaps. Is everything she did afterwards to prove herself that makes The Good Wife a story about women empowerment. It was so excellent, the Kings did an amazing job with it. I was in tears first 15 minutes and the amount of respect I have for Alicia went up higher than it already was. Because she never gave up even with all those set backs. And not only did she not give up, she ever found room to forgive and move on. Thats a story of Alicia Florrick, a woman who a lot of perseverance. I love her <3

    • E says:

      KIKI! What an amazing episode! And they’re billing tonight as being the big one? I cannot wait.

      I was just writing to Jo that one thing that’s really cool about this episode is that Alicia got asked to write up her life as a feminist story, but that’s not the way she sees herself. I mean, I’m sure she’s for all the standard feminist things (equal pay and opportunities, etc) but she’s not a stand in for a group of other women. She’s just one woman who needed a job. For her, I think it’s what she said to Rayna – she wants to control her fate. It makes me think a little bit about Scarlet O’Hara – “I will never go hungry again!” She’s taken charge. She knows no one is going to rescue her. She’s going to take the initiative.

      Of course, Peter and Will keep trying to rescue her, don’t they? Will gives her a job, gives her the partnership – Peter sends her clients, networks for her, denies Diane the judgeship for her and threatens Neil Gross to make him toe the line. I think it messes her up a little from both of them. She’s enough of a pragmatist to take the help, but she doesn’t want to spend her life being grateful, being beholden to them. Maybe she’ll end up with the one who figures that out first. ;)

      This show. It just blows me away. SO GREAT! Ugh, make it 9pm already…

  7. Andrea says:

    Catching up on last week because my mother has forewarned me not to go anywhere NEAR any potential spoilers before having seen last night’s episode, as she did. Right now in “A Few Words” I’m only up to the point where Elsbeth taped the conversation, but as soon as Dubek started to object, I thought, “Wait — is this going to be something like the law here in Texas where as long as one of you knows, the taping’s OK?” Grew up as the daughter of small-business owners in a business where that phone evidence often proved crucial in making a case when someone tried to get out of a fee or do something else sneaky they could’ve gotten away with if there were no record of the call. :) Going back to the show now, back in a while…. and in the meantime, I’m not readin’ the recap!
    #——
    At the 36:00 mark now, and how is it that I already have a feeling that the Jim Moody approach was about Dubek turning the tables by getting him to tape Will?
    #—–
    How great is it that Nathan Lane, who is playing a nerdy lawyer, gets a chance to show his far more famous musical side?
    #—-
    At the end: Another “how great” – I had wondered if it was truly possible that they would waste Polly Draper on that one tiny scene at the start. And it’s a fabulous sneak attack that they pulled the Elsbeth-Reina switcheroo, which I didn’t see coming, in that way that’s always all the more thrilling because I’d looked for every twist I could imagine yet still was caught off-guard when E. said she was celebrating and I just knew.
    #—-
    Last thoughts: E, it sure would be great to see you get a job as an actual paid TV critic in some respect, because your analyses of TGW are as satisfying to me as any by Alan Sepinwall (if admittedly a bit more wandering – but hey, context is all). To those whose comments on last night’s episode were simply, “Didn’t expect THAT” *****BLESS YOU!***** Off to watch it now.

  8. Andrea says:

    Accidentally omitted middle section of my original post – these are the thoughts right after “At the 36:00 mark” (I know, I know, like y’all care!)

    As for the pop-up guilt complex, that had so many layers of great. Just the other day I was thinking “hey, when are they going to use the moms again?” Another fantastically layered aspect, as layered as baklava, was all the different callbacks within the flashbacks, all the things we suddenly remembered we knew and remembered only because the writers hinted at them from the shadows rather than distrusting our investment in long-term story. Kalinda’s reaction to Alicia’s name (“oh, that’s right, this ISN’T the first she’s heard of her!”), Will talking about how everyone has a past, where Cary fit in, where Diane fit in, even where the apartment fit in.There were uses of flashback repeats from different angles that reminded me of the wrenching twist in Mad Men s5 “The Other Woman” where at first we can’t figure out, wait, we already saw that happen, how is it happening here, OH WAIT NOW IT’S *HIM* REMEMBERING. (And isn’t it oh so Will-the-Bitter that he doesn’t in any way let on that the mass departure during the speech has absolutely nothing to do with her.) Also liked that the then-vs-now cues were much more subtle than even my beloved West Wing — oh, look, CJ’s hair’s overpermed, we must be in the flashback mode. Even a shout-out to the maid’s room we’d all forgotten about from when Peter was in disgrace.

    Elsbeth – Don’t you love that we never even get to see where that room-sized-pillow image was going? The writers must have had a blast thinking up what’s a crazy thing she could say that would draw us all in and that they would then never have to follow through on.

    re: Mr. Hayden / Robyn – While I would’ve thought by now they’d be on a first name basis, it should be remembered that he initially was OVER them, for quite a while and in a super-formal context where they’d needed to kiss up, and that might be hard to get used to with regard to names. I was a teacher at the same school for six years, and the other night I ran into a good friend, who despite having been reminded in the past that we’re not at school and we’re friends, still fell back into the formal-in-front-of-the students habit of addressing me as Ms. ____. It cracked me up.

  9. […] “A Few Words” – which seems a million years ago now, a naive, happy past – Alicia told also […]

  10. […] of Outside the Bubble, the visceral thrill of Hitting the Fan, the philosophical meanderings of A Few Words, the devastating gut punch of Dramatics, Your Honor and the abject despair of A Material World.  A […]

  11. […] how are you?” the fakest woman in the world pumps Alicia’s hand, over-articulating as always. I’m fine, she says, how’re you? […]

  12. […] getting a view inside of her very original perceptions; I feel like she’s talked about visualizations on multiple occasions, and I so much enjoyed getting to see what she sees, the other side of […]

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