E: Before I get down to business, I just want to take a second and observe that this is our 100th post! Thanks for reading, everyone. M, C and I love doing this, and we kind of can’t believe we’re lucky enough to have people reading and (hopefully) enjoying it, too.
Aaaaaaaaaand back to the show (delayed by our V detour). Well, that was uncomfortable. Am I glad no one attempted anything actually conjugal during the so called conjugal visit! Shudder.
Lots more legal education for a civilian like me, though of course it’s TV, so who knows how accurate it is. Must start asking my lawyer friends about this; all my medical professional friends decry medical dramas, but do lawyers watch legal dramas? I don’t know. It seemed to me, anyway, that they brought up interesting issues of racial identification as well as the structure of the appeals process.
At any rate, our intrepid associates got assigned to the automatic appeal for a death penalty client because Legal Aid was overwhelmed. We get to see a TV movie of the case, as the defendant cries “kiss the floor” to shoppers in a convenience store as he brandishes a gun, and hear our lawyers argue that the movie was prejudicial to the jury. Alicia is taken to task by the man’s wife for not knowing anything about him personally; he’s innocent, the wife says, and all you people can do is fight over technicalities? But just when we’re thinking that our Alicia is the only empath in town, we find out that the wife has made the same plea to Cary, and it’s actually worked. “This is odd,” Alicia says. “Yeah, we can compete tomorrow” Cary replies, noting that all the good generational nicknames are taken. “What’s left – the surprise generation. So, surprise!”
Fine – technically that exchange occurs a touch earlier in the episode when Cary and Alicia fight against the clock and another lawyer to add a new argument to their appeal brief. It applies here, too, though. There’s much less passive aggressive testiness in this episode, which is interesting. (Not that I said less, not none.) The appeal fails; we learn from Will that 95% of automatic appeals are rejected out of hand.
Cary and Alicia petition the senior partners for a chance to prove the man (Clarence Wilcox, on death row for killing a cop during that convenience store robbery) is innocent. Fine, Diane says, it’ll burn off some pro bono hours we owe. The evidence? Wilcox matches the description of the killer by the young blonde doctor witness; a six foot tall black man wearing a Bulls sweatshirt. The sweatshirt had a bloody sleeve, though the blood had been degraded (ie, Wilcox had tried to wash it out) and couldn’t yield DNA; the real evidence is from the witness identification. Kalinda initially refuses to help, but yet another overpaid expert changes her mind with a educational game devised to show the difficulty of cross-racial identification; at first she just thinks less of Will when he misidentifies someone out of a “six pack” photo line up, but she’s appalled to see that she can’t pick a white man out of a six pack after seeing a video of him, either. She checks in with the arresting officer, and finds that Wilcox was photographed for the six pack wearing his Bulls sweatshirt. The witness is still sure of what she saw, but the lawyers, they have doubts.
And so because Kalinda goes to prison to see Peter, because he knows where the bodies are buried, and he might be able to help. He says he might be able to, if he were allowed to talk without prison surveillance (I’m still not sure why that was so necessary), and he demands a conjugal visit, since of course those aren’t recorded. Ick. He immediately sees that it’s to his political advantage to have the verdict overturned, since the prosecuting unit was headed by the guy who’s taken over as State’s Attorney. “You know what I like about you,” Kalinda asks. “You’re 3 months into a 10 year sentence and you’re already planning a political comeback.” HiIs rejoinder? “Politics are like Chutes and Ladders, and I’m square one.”
When the case gets totally stuck, Alicia agrees, and Peter gets lucky – lucky in the sense that he gets to shower alone for the first time in 3 months, anyway. He suggests that the arresting officer has been accused in the past of planting evidence, an offense scrubbed so thoroughly from the record that it seems to exist only in memory.
The case has been bounced back to the original trial judge, and he puts his displeasure very much in evidence. This is so clearly a little man with a Napoleon complex. The prosecution submits the record of the first trial and then rest. “I must admit that we’re caught a bit off guard,” says Will, who assumed he’d have more time to prepare. “Yes, I believe that was Mr. Brody’s intention,” says the judge. “Yes, it was, your honor,” says Mr. Brody – a fellow we’ve met before and know has a huge chip on his shoulder about Alicia and Peter.
And so Will has Alicia question the police detective, despite Cary having prepped for it. Alicia is our secret weapon, he tells Diane (Cary clearly having run to her and cried on her shoulder); she makes the State’s Attorney’s office people crazy. She’s only doing it to make her husband look good, Diane counters. But Alicia did do a good job of ripping up the cop’s reason for picking this one Bulls sweatshirt wearing man over any other, and for explaining the plausibility of Wilcox’s story about the blood being his own from a pick up basketball game. There’s a funny bit where about half of the people in the courtroom cop to owning that exact sweatshirt; the cop loses the judge’s support when he claims not to. Add in Peter’s evidence to complete the decimation of the cop, and the only thing left is the eye witness. Cary and Kalinda (perhaps a bit flirtacious? weird) beat the streets and find an armed robber who hit up convenience stores in the area, using the phrase “kiss the floor.” And when she’s presented with a photoshopped image for that man (now dead) in the Bulls sweatshirt, the witness identifies the man in the sweatshirt as the killer.
In court, she recants her testimony. And she cries, begging Wilcox’s forgiveness. Wilcox cries, and forgives her. I cry.
Will and the furious judge hit upon an exit strategy; blame the whole mess on Peter’s corrupt administration. And that’s what they do. Are you okay with this, Will asks Alicia? Sure, she says. And the cute family is reunited, and we’re all good.
Except, I don’t know. First of all, an enormous deal is made over Wilcox being made to keep the sweatshirt on for his line-up photo, even though you’d imagine it would have been processed into evidence immediately. Yet Alicia never confronts the cop on this point. Why not? Because they didn’t want to repeat information? I don’t think that’s enough of a reason, sorry. And while there were real emotions in the whole ‘conjugal suite’ scenes (he sleeps on the floor – he succeeds in holding her hand for about 5 seconds before she pulls away, they joke about the cinderblock decor), it seemed pretty unnecessary to me. Peter’s looked through files for her before. Why did it have to be private this time? And what on earth was she going to tell Zach and Grace? No, I don’t buy it. It seemed forced – one more “what uncomfortable thing can we do to Alicia” which wasn’t earned by the dictates of the plot. And we still haven’t gone back to whether she’s going to testify or not. Also, I’m sorry, I know Will was testing her by blaming everything on Peter, but I don’t know why she’d be cool with it. I mean, fine, he’s the boss so there’s a sense in which everything that happens is his fault, but he didn’t have the personal oversight over the case that they implied, and when is Alicia down with false accusations? This is the second weak episode in a row. I’m starting to wonder if this is the best show for me to be recapping (even though I still really like it). What do you think? Too serious? Too detailed? Just right?