E: We open with Zach skyping with nasty Becca, and Grace frustrated that he’s monopolizing her computer to get some privacy from Alicia, who’s interviewing nannies in the living room. The aspiring Mary Poppins, Molly, is getting a dual masters in ed and finance. Does that combination make sense? Maybe she wants to be a school superintendent? Anyway, Alicia gets a call from Will (zhuzhuing his tuxedo on the way to the elevator) who asks her to stop by a hospital which is anticipating possible malpractice issue with a “heater” (or VIP patient). When Alicia steps into the Emergency Room (eek! Julianna, back in the ER! I expected to hear the theme song) she finds Kalinda waiting, and a dead high school football player with oxycodone in his bag. The sight of the dead kid hits Alicia where she lives. Me too.
In the hall, the family doctor (Sean Wesley, played by Russell Hornsby of Lincoln Heights and In Treatment) comforts the boy’s grieving mother. Alicia pulls him away, impressing upon him that there will be questions about the overdose and about the dosage of the drug, and that the police will need to see him. Even the smallest condolence could appear later as an admission of guilt. He’s too focused on the boy, Ben, to want to hear Alicia at first, but once she cracks through, he veers towards panic; she wisely calms him down. As she send Dr. Wesley off to his downtown office, Alicia notices the cleat – once taped to the athlete’s foot – on the floor.
At home, Zach primps to sneak out with Becca (Dreama Walker – seriously – of Gossip Girl) and her friend Leah. Becca could absolutely be a character on Gossip Girl. Yick. Anyway, before they can go, Grace starts to scream, because Grandma Jackie is suddenly unconscious on the floor. Becca drives them all to a hospital after failing to get through to 911. Alicia talks it out with Peter at the prison; he’s as bothered by Zach becoming the toy of older girls as he should be, and he’s deeply concerned about his mom, now hospitalized for a stroke. While discussing the medical issues, Alicia hands Peter what she says is some legal documents, but chiefly turns out to be a note letting him know that Childs (as was revealed last week) tapped their phone. Alicia looks smug at her cleverness. Peter looks invigorated. And pissed off.
The State’s Attorney’s Office is coming after Dr. Sean for murder. Stern, Gardner & Lockhart is out in force to protect him. Their defense: he proscribed the low and proper dose, but Ben overdosed on stronger pills he got elsewhere. They dispatch Kalinda to investigate. She waltzes into the autopsy over the objections of the detective in charge, which is pretty funny. Not so funny: Alicia almost breaks down talking to Ben Bowers’ single mom about parenting. “You want to be there when they fall down, but you can’t…” Ms. Bowers weeps when she talks about understanding the bafflement of the Columbine killers’ parents – again, these kids are a lot older than my kids, but as a parent, it’s so hard to watch and to think about. And if there’s anything Alicia understands, watching the person you care most about be dissected by the press and having your faith in them shaken would be it.
Kalinda heads to Ben’s gym, hoping to find out where the other drugs in his system came from. Power smoothie full of ephedra? Cary thinks so. Alicia thinks the missing shoe indicates that our star athlete might have been ‘parked’ (left waiting too long) in the ER. Well, she would know. Kalinda spies the dealer but needs Cary to follow him into the men’s locker room to catch him dealing. Cary manages to score some – smoothie mix?
Peter meets with his lawyer, who cautions him that if they force Childs to produce the wire taps, everything on them will come out. That’s a lot to consider, says Peter. Ugh. So does that mean Peter made shady deals on his home phone, or that he called his hookers? Either way, gross, but I guess I’m hoping he’s not guilty of everything. He’s more complicated than that, I’m afraid. Ah, Chicago politics. How lovely you are. Yet another reason this series feels true. Good for the show, but not for his family. Poor Alicia, to get this break for his case only to have him either not use it (unlikely), or have personally humiliating things come out with it.
Oh God. Alicia finds out that Dr. Wesley saw Ben at home before school, despite having it in his records that the visit was a hospital one. The hospital (and thereby S,G&L) decides to drop covering him, what with the falsifying of records and all that. Ouch. The doctor seems like a really good man. He begs Alicia to keep working for him on her own – he’ll pay her on an installment plan, God love him – and she agrees. He wants her even though he knows she was the one who essentially got the hospital to drop him. There it is. Good man.
On the other hand, we see Kalinda dining out with Childs (most assuredly not a good man) who threatens to prosecute her if she doesn’t work undercover for him digging up dirt on Peter. He plans to tie her to Peter’s scandal, though we don’t have any idea why she thinks this will stick. She does seem unnerved. We don’t get to see her response.
Jackie wakes up; Alicia visits her for some tense chatter about how Jackie can’t take a compliment (I love how they have a cordial, yet difficult relationship – grown ups) and inspiration. Alicia runs over to a pharmacy for some instructions on prescribing and dispensing pills. Zach, meanwhile, has the loathsome Becca in his room. Seriously, this girl makes my skin crawl. She’s just so – so – obvious. Ew! ew ew ew! That’s gross! She’s making him recite the sex tape with her in order to make out. That is so beyond nasty. Molly the new nanny (can you really call her a nanny when the kids are in their teens?) doesn’t want to infantalize him (!) so she just lets them “study” in his bedroom with the door closed, despite knowing that Alicia wouldn’t approve. Yuck.
Alicia turns her pharmacy visit into a home run; the pharmacy could have accidentally given him the higher dosage, which might be enough reasonable doubt to keep his license. Or maybe it isn’t a home run – it turns out the hospital owns that pharmacy, and when the State’s Attorney’s office starts looking into their practices, the hospital fires S,G&L. Oops.
Kalinda tells Peter about Childs’ offer; Peter wants Kalinda to go undercover with Childs so he can get a preview of the tapes. I know she brought him the offer, but still, Peter’s being awfully trusting. Is it clear they have a deal?
The pharmacy angle doesn’t pan out (turns out they don’t stock the higher dosage) and Dr. Wesley is in serious trouble. The entire thing is stressing Alicia to the point that she doesn’t even care. Cary steps in with the cheering proposition that they blackmail the ex-client, the hospital, into taking Wesley back by proving that they parked Ben for 15 minutes. Which would be no surprise given emergency rooms; I find them maddeningly slow as a rule. But then again I guess I’ve never been in an ER when minutes mattered. (We never find out how this worked, but I hope it did. I also enjoyed seeing the three of them excited and conspiring together. Very very funny. Funnier than Cary trying to win over Kalinda by telling her about his past girlfriends, even.) Be that as it may, Cary’s also getting a hit from the dealer.
Damn! Molly the nanny tells Zach he needs therapy or he’ll be psychosexually warped. After all, he’s got a picture on his computer of his dad and hooker and a crack pipe, so he’s clearly not coping with the situation well. Crap! This girl is scaring me. Is she just nuts, or does she have an agenda? Was she planted there? Shudder. And no, therapy in his situation isn’t a bad idea, of course, but telling him that instead of his mother? And going through his computer just days after she got hired? She’s got some odd notions of privacy, that’s all I can say.
Cary leads a sting on the dealer – oh, he must have loved that. Ben Bowers is in the dealer’s little black book. Or is he? Kalinda and Alicia show up at the Bower home. Now that’s a ominous moment to break for a commercial. Holy crow. The higher dosage of oxycodone belonged to the mother. And the son stole some. Oh my God. This is just… oh my God. That makes me want to hide somewhere.
Clever clever – Alicia comes home, hoping desperately that her relationship with her kids will be different, will lead to different results. Grace and Zach have embroidered on Molly’s therapy comment and invent a farrago about Molly promoting the HVP vaccine. Impressive, kids, since clearly neither of you want to say what you specifically don’t like about Molly; it’s near enough to the truth to outrage Mom without getting either one of you in trouble. Alicia immediately fires her. “This is about what I saw on their computer, isn’t it?” realizes a stunned Molly as the door closes on her. Grace and Zach are lucky that Alicia’s distracted, but how long can it last? And again, like with Harry Potter, I can’t help but thinking the kids have done all they can with the information they have; Alicia and Peter can take it further. This is a conversation they need to be having!
Kalinda meets Childs under a glowing beer sign. She tells him that Peter wants to hear the tapes. Well. Not the way Peter wanted that to go, I’m sure. That’s disappointing. You have to give me something to give them, she says wearily. That’s the way this works. So, does that mean she really is working for Childs? It’s looking that way, and that sure doesn’t make me happy. Fine, I know Kalinda has had issues with Peter, but Childs is clearly slime, and I hate to see her as his beck-and-call girl. Leaving aside the damage it could do to Peter and so to Alicia, it’s just – beneath her considerable dignity, you know? And, of course, a bomb for Kalinda and Alicia’s friendship. The episode ends with a family visit to Jackie’s bedside, a call from Kalinda promising tapes, and Jackie hoping everyone will be home soon. “Then things can go back to normal. Wouldn’t that be nice?” I don’t think there’s any going backwards from now. Perhaps there’s a way to move forward, but I don’t think even that’s a guarantee. Even if there weren’t ugly surprises yet to be detonated, and even if the past she longs for wasn’t built on lies, there can be no returning.
The thing that stuck with me about this episode is that – like Mrs. Bowers – we really know nothing at all about Ben. We never went through his emails, or learned whether he was just getting high or had a specific injury, or what lead him to play fast and loose with his future. We can guess, perhaps, but we don’t know, and the show doesn’t even try to tell us. Atypically for a TV murder mystery, the focus is completely pragmatic and solely on the living. It’s as if the writers – like Alicia – have no emotional reserves to explore Ben’s inner life; they just want to resolve the case and get it over with. Or at least, they’ve focused their sympathies on Dr. Wesley, Mrs. Bowers, and the Florrick family. Which truly is enough for one 44 minute show.