E: Man, but it’s good to have this show back. I want to write down every rich little moment, share every nuance, celebrate it. I want to just sink my hands into this show and luxuriate in the feel of it.
Ahem. We start with the closing scenes of “Hi”; Alicia, Jackie and the kids waiting, Peter at the door with the policeman, saying hi. Alicia says hi back. They hug. She’s uncomfortable. Zach greets his father warmly, Grace with conflicted tears. “We baked you a cake,” she says. “Would it be a pineapple upsidedown cake?” It would. She rushes to him, exhales.
Peter likes the apartment, even if it is a fifth the size of their old house. He and Alicia share a tense, beautiful moment in the kitchen. What will he do when she’s at work, and he can’t live the apartment or use email or a cell phone? (Why the cellphone restriction, I wonder – do you suppose it’s so they can tap his phone? They didn’t say, and I’m curious. Is that an official part of house arrest?) Will he become a househusband? I confess it. I would like to see him cooking and folding laundry, or helping the kids with their homework and playing solitaire with Jackie. That’d be pretty funny. I don’t suppose it’ll happen. We will definitely be seeing more of the inside of the apartment, though.
Alicia’s case of the week is so ripped from the headlines that they’re actually using real names: an executive, Wagoner, was found brutally murdered after Bernie Madoff lost all the money in Wagoner’s mutual fund. Diane’s client Brad Broussard is an employee who lost his retirement fund, and the courtroom is full of similarly screwed Chicagoans who cheer him on and scream for death to Wagoner. Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, the defendant was caught by the police (without the murder weapon and without the $50,000 Wagoner had been carrying) performing CPR on the victim. Nothing says cold blooded killer like CPR! Richard Jewell, I’m sure you feel his pain. (Er, or he would if he were still alive.) It’s such a pithy little piece of information, though; immediately we know how to feel about the defendant and the case. The judge – I love their stunt casting, but it’s driving me mad that I can’t remember her name, and it’s not up on the imdb yet, grr – I do not appreciate it. Ah – it’s the fabulously dry Joanna Gleason. Thank you, credits. Love her!
Alicia brings Brad an ultrasound picture; his girlfriend is pregnant with their first child. “He wanted a girl. It’s not a girl,” the girlfriend Judith says. Brad seems pretty happy anyway.
Back at the office, amidst enormous fruit baskets showing support for Broussard (on the assumption he’s Wagoner’s murderer), Diane tells a packed conference room that they need a likely suspect to create reasonable doubt. The problem, Kalinda informs us, is that there are too many potential killers here. Just look at the fruit baskets. So dig up anyone, Diane returns, and find out what happened to that money! Then Diane tells Alicia she’s off the case. After Alicia has prepped Cary to take her place, Kalinda insists that Alicia confront Diane. Cary’s going to screw it up, Kalinda informs her, and you’re better than that, but you can’t sit around waiting for someone to give you a break.
Peter is waiting around at home, looking for something to do. Reality tv? No. Finding the source of the beeping noise in the kitchen? No again. Playing handball in the hallway, inching right up to the threshold (where his electronic monitoring anklet will go off)? Not successful, but that’s the most perfect picture we’ve ever seen of Peter, pushing it right to the edge. He calls Kaia and Golden over to find the beep (unsuccessfully) and to discuss hiring a campaign consultant, Eli Gold. Golden is for, Kaia is against (he’s too pushy, too brutal). He’s got sharp elbows, it seems. Golden wants him for a shark, a guard dog, and Kaia feels sure that if they hire him, Childs will know that Peter’s planning to run again. What, like that would be a surprise? Of course Childs knows he’s going to run. He’s paranoid, not stupid. Zach interrupts their debate to finally sit Dad down at the computer and unburden himself; the photos, the surveillance, hiding it from Alicia, he tells it all. Peter immediately picks up the phone to set up a meeting with Gold.
Gary Cole shows up as a marvelously laconic character “out of Melville”, wearing a plaid shirt, suede jacket and big belt buckle, which go perfectly with his shaggy hair and shaggier mustache. (Love that, but why Melville? Whom does Diane have in mind, I wonder?) Is it his clothes that make this ballistics expert so fanciful? No, it’s the fact that he won’t testify for anyone who’s guilty. How refreshing. Does he think Broussard is innocent? Yes. And he says he can prove it. Diane twits him about his name (McVeigh) being unlucky. He growls about hating the city and takes in the picture of Diane with Hilary Clinton before stalking out, waving. “I think I’ve just been visited by the Marlboro Man,” Diane giggles to Alicia. Alicia has worked herself up enough to proclaim that she’s a better lawyer than Cary and doesn’t deserve to be taken off the case; Diane hits her in the face with the news that Will was the one who wanted her off the case.
A bewildered Alicia tries to corner Will, but she can’t grab him. She conspires with Kalinda over this latest bit of puzzling news. Why would Will ever take her off the case? “You two do have a complicated relationship, you know, an unrequited thing,” Alicia is frustrated and doesn’t want to admit the obvious. “What does that even mean, an unrequited thing?” “Look, I don’t do this high school stuff” (hee). “Complicated relationships are a breeding ground for misinterpreted actions.” Ouch. Very true, but ouch. You can see that Alicia doesn’t want any of this to be an issue.
Back at court, we have a very humorous witness claiming to have seen Broussard run into the parking garage (the crime scene) at 9:30 on the night of the murder. How plausible is that, that someone essentially busking across a major street would be able to identify one tall dark haired man in a suit rather than another? From 50 feet away? Cary demolishes Santa Claus – yes, the witness is a Santa – on the stand. Awesome. Turns out Santa is a drunk. Well, that’s a bit cliched, isn’t it? And, yikes. He acted in a holiday themed porno movie? There are holiday themed – oh, never mind, I really don’t want to know.
Peter assembles his team back in the kitchen to meet a smartly tailored Alan Cummings playing the ‘consigliere’ Eli Gold! That’s fantastic. I wonder if it’s an oblique reference to Ari Gold, Jeremy Piven’s Entourage agent based on Chicago native Ari Emmanuel? Gold seems to have the thuggish reputation of Obama’s elbow thrower in chief, Ari’s brother Rahm Emmanuel. Otherwise Peter is right in making recapper’s jokes for me – Gold, Golden, what’s up with the names? The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced I’m right. What do you say, Robert and Michelle King? I’ve seen Cummings play fey evil, and campy evil, but Eli Gold is a twistier beast. Delicious. He sets out to bait Kaia, calling her Shiksa Bambi. Nice. Also nice? Three piece suits. Thank you, Simon Baker, for bringing them back in style. Eli, of course, finds the source of the beeping noise, which is the strainer in the dishwasher. Eli says they should hire Zach, because his little camera phone picture of the guy photographing the Florrick’s door is their best lead. It tells them, he says, that Peter is under federal investigation.
Well. He’s managed to scare the crap out of Peter. Impressive. And hired.
I love the way this show unfolds little details. Broussard was Wagoner’s body guard, and not merely an investor. (And that makes sense of him owning a gun, too, doesn’t it?) I love this show so much, the way it makes you work for understanding. They could have set us up with that piece of information immediately, but no. Love it. We hear this from Wagoner’s partner Knox, who claimed to have “deepened his memory” of the evening of the murder to include a distraught phone call from Broussard. We have more protesters yelling at Knox, but what counts is that the team now has a target. Knox (with his deepening memory) is going to be diversion suspect number one.
Alicia finally corners Will, who senses that she needs to talk to him alone. Wow. That was an electric moment. Will has a bit of trouble spelling it out, but he had Alicia taken off the Broussard case so that she would have more time at home with Peter. “Peter is irrelevant to this. I want to be here,” she declares passionately. “I want you here,” Will responds, his voice more intimate, practically pinning her to the wall with his eyes. “Then… then I’m here,” she says, receiving the current. He searches her face, wondering what it means.”Then… okay.” She has more trouble controlling her face than usual. She almost smiles. He almost smiles. She looks as if she’s going to say something when he walks her to the door, but doesn’t. Damn. Damn.
I wonder if Will realizes, however, how much of her insistence is tied up with her ambivalence and anger about Peter? She needs work. She needs to be out of the house. There’s so much going on here, between the two of them and between Alicia and Peter. The acting here is superlative, it really is; they convey so much while ostensibly talking about completely different things.
Knox’s wife is his alibi, and she’s protected by spousal privilege. He does have a sweet little motive; the Feds had been trying to get the partners to flip on each other. Though they were ostensibly committed to a shared defense, Knox could have killed Wagoner to prevent a betrayal. (This is especially plausible if Knox was in some way at fault and not merely a dupe of Madoff’s.) They call in Alicia to talk to the wife, what with her touch with witnesses and the class connection thing. Alicia smiles now, knowing she’s back on the case.
At the beautiful brick mansion, Alicia and a senior associate (“we’re looking for the truth!”) meet smart Irish woman Rachel Knox, finds how disgusted she is with her husband. She basically tells them that Knox was out and that – if she could – she could help their case. But there’s no way to make an end run around spousal privilege. They have a few ideas of how they might try, but it’s not hopeful.
Back at the Florrick apartment, Bambi and Eli have a pissing contest. He actually starts taking off his pants “so that she could kiss his *ss”. Well. I thought he was going to say (or do) something nastier. Meanwhile Kalinda questions an FBI agent about Broussard and Peter. Oh, I forgot that she was still working for them. She wants to know whether Peter’s under investigation (assuming Gold is right, which it looks like he is). Dinner at 9, the FBI agent says?
Gary Coles and Christine Baranski have hilariously great chemistry. Boy, I really hope this is the first of many appearances for his character. She goes out to his (gorgeous) barn office, where he’s framed up a picture of himself with Sarah Palin. “Is that photoshopped?” Diane wants to know. No, he says , it was taken at a pro-life rally – but it’s there because of you. “You remind me a little of her?” “Which part – winning the governorship or the mouse hunting?” “Standing up for your values,” he shoots back. Yep, definitely flirting. Oh, I love this. He takes her into his lab – which is super cool, wow – and proves to her that Wagoner had to have been shot while sitting in the passenger seat of a car. And when McVeigh arrives on the stand, we find that Knox is missing a car he’s claiming was stolen. Oh, nice.
Things are looking up. Will tries to smooth things over with Diane, but she’s too interested in a present McVeigh’s had delivered. (“Whatever happens, I respect you, Diane.” “Didn’t they say that to Secretariat before they put him down?” “I don’t think they said Diane.” I love their conversations.) McVeigh’s present is a copy of Sarah Palin’s autobiography. She laughs.
Kalinda’s out to a chilly dinner with the pretty young (female) FBI agent. Well, that’s going to throw some fuel to the fans who think that Kalinda’s a lesbian. Over dinner, the FBI agents flirts, and then strokes Kalinda’s hand and says “I’d like you to work under me.” Fire! Kalinda was intrigued when she thought the woman wanted her to join the FBI; she balks at being an informant, and pulls back her hand. She doesn’t respond, or flinch away either, so there’s really no new information on this front except explicit confirmation that Kalinda flirts with everyone. Oh, and we find out that an anonymous person (one guess!) has dropped Brad’s gun off at the police office, where it’s confirmed as the murder weapon.
Gold shows up at Alicia’s office. He tries a bit of flattery, and asks her if she likes Kaia (assuming correctly that she can’t). Alicia refuses point blank to be used as a tool in their political machinations. It’s clear he values her straightforward intelligence – and still sees her as a potential ally. “You and I are going to be the best of friends, Mrs. Florrick, and do you know why? You’re cautious. And so am I. Your husband isn’t. Nice meeting you.”
Diane tells Brad that he needs to consider making a deal. Despite the fact that the ballistic evidence is helpful, it might not be enough. He could plea bargain to a 4.5 year sentence, rather than risk 35 years without parole. He tells girlfriend Judith that at least this way he’d get to know their son. It’s a brutal thought. Cary and Alicia avert their eyes.
But never fear! The team of Kalinda and Alicia ride to the rescue; it turns out that Knox had his estranged wife donate Wagoner’s missing 50,000 to a childhood cancer charity. They’re able to use this conspiracy as an end run around spousal privilege, so the bitter wife can testify (though why she’d want to admit to a conspiracy I’m not quite sure – I guess she just hates her husband that much) and Brad goes home to Judith and their unborn son. This show walks an thin line; we see a lot of ugly, and we hear a lot of talk about the defense attorney’s morally ambiguous game, but in the end, we almost always find the truth, and the truth is good.
Diane sends McVeigh a thank you present – Going Rouge, a Palin satire which appears to be an empty book. He laughs. I hope you’re around to stay, McVeigh.
Alicia goes home to find Peter playing baseball on the Wii with Zach and Grace. She’s having some trouble with it, and retreats into her room with a glass of wine. Peter follows and explains about the kids’ deception, the photos and presumably the federal investigation. She’s dumbfounded, and wants to charge right out and call them on it; Peter intercedes, and says they’ll all discuss it tomorrow. Everything will be alright, he insists. Alicia watches her husband and children through a sliver of doorway, now on the outside of her own home.
*This recap was brought to you by CBS’s streamed video, and the storm that knocked out my Directv last week (boo, Directv!). The streamed video was generally a pleasant experience, good quality with minimal commercials. Granted that the 10 second commercials came irrespective of scene breaks, and you can’t fastforward through them, it wasn’t as invasive or obtrusive as you’d think.