E: Well, that hurt.
You know the episode title reflects back on different aspects of the show. This week, we have a musician in a video strumming on his acoustic guitar. We have end of life debates. And we have more than a few characters lose hold of their moral anchors.
And here I was, afraid Alicia was going to have to get in bed with Will in order to keep her job, when what she really needed to do was get in bed with Eli Gold. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
Cause you know, that was so much better.
Unplugged begins with the Lockhart Gardner model/assistants/stick insects eating their salads standing up, in the lobby, on the job. The plastic cases snap open in unison. What, is Will having more inappropriate conversations in the lunch room, or have things gotten so bad that they’re making everyone work through lunch? Just saying, if I were a swank potential client, I doubt I’d want to see the lobby used as a staff lunch room, or talk on the phone with someone who was also chewing her lunch. Not to mention that it’s, you know, technically illegal not to give your employees a lunch break. Anyway. There’s chatter about someone coming in for a divorce – someone Alicia and Cary’s assistant Courtney thought was dead. Hmph. We also find out that there’s a gap in the new Lockhart & Gardner sign which enables clever assistants to eavesdrop on Will and Diane’s cost cutting summits in the conference room. Courtney takes up the oh so inconspicuous post just time to hear divorce attorney/Peter Lorre lookalike David Lee squeeze Will and Diane for a raise. He laughs at the now mythic notion of the third partner (“I’ve been hearing about that for two months!”), nicely addressing a viewer concern. Zach Grenier is so good at playing happily amoral. Not psychotic levels of amoral – hopefully he has some sort of standard – but he sees his advantage and presses it. He’ll leave for another firm if they can’t cough up more cash.
Just to make it more interesting for Courtney, the talk then turns to more lay offs (balanced between Gardner folk and Lockhart devotees – seriously, CBS should keep some sort of counter on the official site with the fluxuating number of L&G employees – how big is this firm, anyway?) and finally to the bakeoff. Friday, says Will, and let’s keep it under our hats. Will doesn’t want a lot of last minute lobbying. Gee, that’s be unpleasant. Let’s avoid it, shall we? Good plan.
Courtney, of course, plays the spoiler. She walks back into the main office floor. She looks into both offices. Alicia is talking to someone she can’t see, and Cary is on his iphone. Of course he is. She knocks on Alicia’s door. Alicia shoots cultured, elegant daggers with her eyes. “Mr. Gold. In my office. Again.” Courtney apologizes (she wasn’t there to stop him) and tells Alicia she needs to meet Lee in ten minutes. She walks out with that look on her face that you get when you’ve been unjustly chastised, rather like a controlled but mutinous grade schooler. You know the face I mean. Cary pops his head of his office to compliment her for her work on a brief, and to offer her any assistance in his power in her goal to be a paralegal.
Gee, I wonder who won that round? Courtney asks Cary if he has a moment.
I hate to see this. Courtney always had your back, Alicia, and it’s just not cool that you took your frustrations with the whole situation out on her. Oh, sure, you were only chilly rather than actually mean, but still. That was enough. Cary is all about catching those flies with honey. How ironic is that, that she cares and cares and cares, and is going mad holding everyone together, only for one tiny lapse to mean so much? Although it’s probably not the only lapse, given how stressed Alicia’s been. It’s an extra shame because when Cary flatters he only means it (or backs it up) intermittently, while Alicia is a woman of her word. I give Courtney props for continuing to try to help Alicia even after she’d told Cary. Alicia, thoroughly irritated by Eli, shoots her down again (chiefly because Courtney is trying to be circumspect). Darn it!
Eli, by the way, has shown up because he needs Alicia in his corner. Turns out that Childs is going to drop the retrial now that Kozko has killed himself. Well, that’s a lucky break for Peter and his campaign. And it turns the show’s focus squarely on the campaign itself rather than the retrial, something we’ve all been wondering about. Which means that Alicia can’t delay figuring out how she feels about the renewed campaign. “Peter’s gotten it into his head that he won’t run unless you approve. I know, I told him that wives just get in the way, but he’s adamant.” Alan Cummings handles this speech beautifully – he’s jokey, and but he also clearly conveys to Alicia that her support needs to be true and deep. No lip service will content Peter. In some ways, this makes him a little bit of a love emissary from Peter, doesn’t it? Alicia takes it as such and politely tosses him out. He offers a parting shot at her door. “Think about it, Mrs. Florrick – Glenn Childs is a disastrous state’s attorney. But of course you know that better than I do.” Well played, Mr. Gold. If you can’t successfully exploit what you know about her marriage, then use her sense of civic duty and fair play. She’s not in any conflict about that.
Lee arrives, bearing flavored kettle corn, to escort her upstairs for his divorce case du jour. “This one’s got a pre-nup” he says darkly. The soon to be divorcee is Caroline Wilder, played by the gorgeous industry vet Paige Turco (late of Damages but perhaps most famous as a cop from NYPD Blue), and she couldn’t be more thrilled to learn survival from expert Alicia. Seriously, she shakes her hand like she’s meeting a celebrity, which takes Alicia back a touch.
Lee and Alicia bounce off of each other in a really impressive way. Have they only worked together the once? He told her on the way to his office they need to get the client thinking about a smaller settlement; when they arrive in the room, he suggests that thinking smaller is Alicia’s idea, and Alicia explains his reasoning smoothly. Turns out that Caroline is the soon to be ex-wife of a famous musician, who is trading her in for a newer model. “I could go to couples therapy, I could get a face lift, but I can’t be 28 years old again.” That’s beastly. And since the husband, Max Wilder, had his hit records before Caroline married him, the pre-nup is pretty limiting. “You know what the best revenge is, Caroline?” Alicia asks. “Let him see how happy you are. Let us be angry for you.”
As it turns out when Max arrives with legal team and mistress Shaina in tow (“it’s my right,” she says, making us all hate her immediately), the concept of “limiting” really depends on your perspective. Most of us would be pretty pleased to live on $140,000 a year (especially with no children to provide for) but given Max’s $40 million dollar estate, and the life style to which she has become accustomed, Caroline is pretty horrified. Yeah, whatevs. I’m not about him tossing her aside, of course, or devaluing their multi-decade relationship, and of course the whole younger model thing is vile, but I don’t have a huge amount of sympathy for someone who can’t live on $140,000 a year. On the other hand, I like Caroline, and I definitely don’t like Shaina. Also, Max signs autographs for some of the assistants on his way in. That’s not very professional, is it? Of course, neither is wrapping herself around him the way that one girl does with Stern, but this guy is not their client, he’s their competition. Well, actually, I think that girl leaped on Stern when he was also her employer’s opposition. Just thinking, it’s kind of a weird line. On the other hand, it does clearly establish his rock star image, and it identifies him as the one Courtney and the receptionist were discussing at the episode’s opening.
Anyway, Lee says the number is unacceptable, but Max’s lawyer, Kreutzer, isn’t budging. He wants to wait for the court date, the following day. Kalinda shows up with the news that Max got special permission (despite this violating the terms of his probation) to fly to Bora Bora in two days, where it appears he and Shaina plan to get married. Assuming, of course, that the divorce goes through. Do you know how long it takes to get to Bora Bora? They’d practically have to exchange vows on the tarmac to keep that schedule. “Where do you get this stuff,” Lee wonders. “A friend,” says Kalinda, evasive as always. “Give me an army of women,” shrugs Lee, grinning at Alicia and Kalinda. Well, indeed. New strategy: delay the case long enough to force Max to pay or miss his wedding. Alicia plays bad cop, and Lee pleads it up to $300,000. Caroline is pleased, but she didn’t think it’d be so hard to see Max again (and, likely, Max with Shaina glued to his side). She thought she was over him.
Next we see a montage of Cary nearly splitting his face open with smiling and glad handing, looking to get his coworkers to put in a good word for him. If there were babies in the L&G men’s room, he’d be kissing them. “I like Alicia, I do, and I think she’s done a great job especially considering all the problems that she has at home.” Oh, the boy is smooth and nasty. He makes insinuations about her age as well.
Peter Gerety’s Judge Stanek, who has amused us before, throws Kreutzer’s cell phone into the trash. Ooops. We have a signed divorce agreement sitting on the table, but Wilder’s missing, and the judge gives Kreutzer 5 minutes to figure why his client is late. As Lee has surpetitiously discovered via text message, the rock star crashed his motorcycle on the way to court. “Is he alright?,” asks Alicia, as Kreutzer struggles with a pay phone. “No, he’s in a coma,” grins Lee. Ah, Lee. He gleefully speculates that Caroline could now get half the estate, since the divorce isn’t through and she should still have power of attorney. “We should tell her,” says Alicia. “We should make her filthy rich first,” he grunts. He then sprints into the courtroom and snags a page off the end of the divorce agreement, crumpling it and passing it off to Alicia. Kreutzer sees him fussing with it – and to be honest, the judge heard him say it was complete before – but the trick stands, and we’re all off to the hospital to see what we can see there. First, Alicia stops to comfort Caroline, who has clearly received the news and is literally staggering. Shaina is no where in evidence. Lee calls Will for backup.
Will and Diane exposit the ugly situation for us. Caroline will get all his money while he’s in the coma. It’s likely Shaina had Max write Caroline out of his will, so if he dies, Caroline goes back to the bargain basement prenup price of $140,000 a year. “So we’re cheering for him to stay in a coma?,” Diane sums up nicely for us.”We’re like ghouls.” “As long as we’re solvent ghouls,” Will replies. But oh! What do you think about Vernon Jordan, Diane wants to know. Think about him how, Will wonders. “As a third partner. He’s been sniffing around us. He’s looking for an opening into Chicago.” Huh. Here’s the real world political aspect again. Wasn’t one of the Clinton’s lawyer’s named something similar? Will is astounded, and Diane’s going to try and set up a meeting.
Cary passes by, pumping hands like a politician. Does he really think kissing anyone’s backside other than Will and Diane’s will make a difference? I mean, I don’t know, maybe it will, but I’m not sure it’s the best use of either his time or his boot licking skills. Diane smirks. Will sends him off on to serve Lee, because the Wilder divorce “just became important.” They both realize the word is out. “I didn’t say anything,” Will replies to Diane’s look. Actually, Will, you did, but not the way Diane thinks. How could you know that the assistants would be listening in through the walls?
We open to the sight of a comatose Max Wilder, hooked up to machines in a hospital bed. Alicia and Caroline walk in, where Caroline’s greeted by Max’s tearful manager, Jay Van Zandt, a squinty eyed fellow who looks totally familiar to me, though the actor Justin Hagan has nothing on his resume that sticks out. Maybe he’s a type – which is to say, could he look like an actor I do know? Oh well. I’m confused. He just swerved into oncoming traffic, Jay tells Caroline. Ouch. You know, Max doesn’t appear banged up, and you’d kind of think he would. Presumably his helmet would protect his face, but still… Caroline wonders if she should be there. Jay intimates that Max still talked about her, but Caroline’s having none of it. She touches Max’s hand tenderly. Lee stalks the halls, counting up Max’s assets loudly (and oh so tactfully) over his cell phone. When a nurse reminds him that cell phones are banned in hospitals, he laughs. “You know that’s a myth, right?” The myth presumably being that cell phone frequencies interfere with medical equipment. I’m glad there aren’t a lot of lawyers like him at L &G, but he’s so nakedly avaricious that he’s also kind of delicious. In small doses, of course. “Where’s the doctor?” In with Mrs. Wilder is the answer. “Mrs?” Lee repeats dangerously.
The doctor describes to Shaina the dirty mistress how the back of Max’s helmet snapped up and thwacked his cerebellum, creating a subdural hematoma which has rendered him brain dead. “Brain dead, but not dead dead?,” Lee wonders as he leads his posse past one doctor and in towards the young fellow giving the not quite Mrs Wilder the terrible news. “I’m his wife,” Caroline adds testily. “You divorced him,” Shania grouses. “She did not,” Lee practically sings. He’s such a kid, Lee. Like I said, he’s completely amoral, but like Patti Nylholm, he is just so much fun to watch. Kreutzer, the young doctor and Lee bicker about what constitutes life (“a million to one is still life, and live needs to be cherished,” Lee intones hilariously); Alicia’s watching the older fellow leaning against the wall. She follows him out to get his opinion. Turns out he made the same speech back in 1981 over a patient who fell off a ladder. The man was in a persistent vegetative state until he … wasn’t. 21 years later, he woke up. “Yes, he was a one in a million shot, and science and medicine deal in repeatable phenomena, not this. But… I don’t make that speech anymore.” Alicia turns around, mulling it over, only to see Caroline standing in the hall, trembling with hope.
Back it the L & G conference room, Cary tells us that Shaina’s filed a petition to unplug Max. Will doesn’t care what she’s filed – “wife trumps girlfriend.” Lee gives Alicia credit for stealing the page of the divorce papers; that’s not entirely deserved, and it pisses Cary off, because that’s one vote in this non-democracy he won’t get. Kreutzer will argue that the intent to divorce was there, as well as the intent to marry Shaina. Alicia wonders whether they should attempt to bargain with Shaina for half the estate. Cary thinks that’d be stealing from their client, and Will agrees that they need to retain her business. And keep as much of that $40 million as possible in her possession. Cary shoots Alicia a fierce look.
Kalinda takes Alicia out for a drink. “You have until Friday,” she says. What would Alicia do if Kalinda didn’t have her back? Alicia was certain it was two weeks. She’s stunned. Kalinda delivers the blow: Cary heard it from their shared assistant, and has been going door to door, lining up equity partners to support him. She expects he’s going to start calling in overdue accounts as well. “How are you with Will?,” Kalinda asks. “I don’t know,” says Alicia. “What happened?” “I don’t know,” Alicia repeats. “You do know, you just don’t want to say.” This girl has superpowers. She’s like a prevarication detector. “Did you sleep with him?” Alicia flinches. Oh, seriously. Can you imagine what a wreck she’d be if she did sleep with him, given how guilty she feels over a kiss? “No,” she exhales. “So that’s the problem, you didn’t sleep with him?” “No. We talked. We had..” she searches for the right word, “a moment.” She bites the T sound hard. Kalinda’s wheels are turning. “You have three problems,” she begins. Oh, only three? That’s a relief. I bet Alicia could list a few dozen if she wasn’t pretending so hard that none of them existed. “Cary’s a good finisher. He got a head start. And Will is going to work overtime to appear objective. Unfairly objective.” “I’m just – I’m just so tired of this,” Alicia says. She can barely look up. “I know,” replies Kalinda, “that’s what people like Cary count on.”
Ah ha. At the other end of the bar, we see the piratical detective Burton leering at Kalinda. Ick. James Carpinello, no offense, but you really need a bath. This guy, I don’t know. He has moments of being really attractive and then moments where you think you must have been seeing things because he’s so Color Me Badd. Kalinda reminds Alicia of how bad the job market is, and instructs her to play up the mentoring aspect of her relationship with Diane. After a grateful Alicia sets off for home, Kalinda slinks over to Burton’s side of the curved bar. We find out (unsurprisingly) that he’s the source of her info on Wilder. They toss back some shots, and he spins this tale of how he was fishing 300 miles away, on his day off, thought of her, and drove back to Chicago. She’s watching him with some interest. Then he starts meandering about how he’s divorced and he has a kid, and her face hardens up. He’s forgotten who he’s talking to. “Am I boring you?” “Yeah.” She leaves. He follows. On a dark and gritty street – where else – he grabs her arm and spins her around. Um, get your hands off Kalinda, buster! He pulls her in and kisses her. She pulls just out of reach, rejecting the kiss without making a scene of it. “What am I doin’ wrong?,” he pleads. She tells him to get in his car. “Why?,” he wants to know, but like a good little doggie, he does it. Once he’s in the driver seat, she checks out the fishing tackle in the back. “300 miles?” she confirms. “Seven hours,” he replies. (Surely there’s good fishing closer to Chicago than that! I mean, seven hours for a one day trip? If he meant seven hours one way, well, that better be one hell of a lake.) She leans in and kisses him. I’m not sure how I feel about that. She’s had this guy on a leash for so long. Is she playing with fire? Will all her great leads dry up now, if she doesn’t stay with him? And is he worthy of her? Is he even her type? My guess would have been that she leaned the other way. Or maybe she’s just bi. I’d buy that. Still doesn’t make him worthy of her, though I guess the fishing story is mildly romantic.
Back in family court, Kreutzer brings up the suspiciously missing page of the divorce agreement and argues that Max clearly wanted to be rid of Caroline. Will – who has now taken over the “litigation” aspect (the speaking role) – trots out his little “wife trumps mistress” line again. Kreutzer decides to bring in some new evidence – Max Wilder Jr, Shaina and Max’s five month old son whose existence they’d somehow managed to keep completely secret. That seems awfully unlikely to me. But, fine, whatever. Judge Stanek summarizes the case admirably, over the lawyer’s sputtering. Shaina – fiance and mother of Max’s sole child – wants to unplug Max and keep his $40 million. Caroline wants to keep Max alive and spend his $40 mil. No doubt you all have Max’s best interest at heart, he says, (ha!) but I think the court will take over control of Max for now. Nicely done, Judge. Nicely done. It’s all becoming very judgment of Solomon, isn’t it? Is either of them their for anything other than his money? Caroline’s pleading eyes say yes. Stanek wants to hear arguments on whether Max would want to be left on life support or not. Will sends Cary and Alicia to Max’s house to dig up anything – emails, lyrics, what have you – that might point to his valuing life. Perhaps a living will? Kalinda, meanwhile, is missing. Oh really? Now that’s interesting.
Manager Jay lets them in to Max’s marble palace. No, there can’t be a living will, but Max used to talk about being cryogenically frozen so he could come back eventually. That’s a point for us. Of course, Jay says, like most creative geniuses, his convictions changed hourly. Hmph. I don’t suppose Einstein’s convictions changed hourly. Perhaps because science geniuses aren’t generally spoiled and fawned over the way rock musicians are? (Sorry, I know that sounds judgmental; it’s just that the superstar lifestyle seldom seems to make rock starts happier people, you know? Not that happiness is necessarily the issue. Maybe what I mean is that being able to indulge all your whims and surround yourself with yes men doesn’t always help the development of one’s authentic self.) Could he have downloaded a will online, Alicia wonders? From, say, Legal Zoom, Cary questions? Just pulled that name out of your hat, did you, Cary? Yes, I’m sure you did. Iphone carrying, Buick driving Cary is totally the shill on this show. Alicia asks for Jay’s number, in case she needs to prep him for testimony. Wouldn’t that happen, like, later today? So wouldn’t you know pretty much immediately if you were going to use him or not? I suppose Will does have to come up with an official strategy, so she probably can’t say without his input. At any rate, she gets his business card, just as Kalinda show up, refusing to explain her lateness.
Alicia tenses up as soon as Kalinda arrives. It’s so much easier for Alicia to lose herself in the short term when Kalinda’s not there to remind her of the bigger picture. They declare how okay they are. Neither one looks it. Ugh. If she had a tryst with Burton last night, does this mean it didn’t go well, or that she’s regretting giving anyone power over her? I’m okay with being puzzled. Make me work for it, writers! Everyone walks into Max’s lavish, animal print covered rehearsal space. He had a permanent set up with a camera to record whatever tidbits came to him, but the memory card is missing. Interesting.
Diane tells Will she’s got their meeting set up with Vernon Jordan tomorrow at 1. Let’s close up the empty offices, he says. Already done! “And your flowers – you should get your flowers back.” Oh, that’s nice. I like that touch. She doesn’t want to go overboard. Alicia steals Will for a sit down. “This isn’t me,” she opens. Oh, poor honey. She just loathes talking about this. She doesn’t want to play politics. She wants to have earned it and she’s far too proud to beg comfortably. Which is to say, what Cary would see as making the case for himself, Alicia sees as begging. She tells Will she knows about Friday. “That really wasn’t supposed to be circulated,” he responds, looking out the window. “I just.. I’m really proud of the work I’ve done here,” she says. “As you should be,” he’s quick to reply. “And I wanted to make sure that you saw that.” Will cocks his head, really looking at her for the first time. “Look, Alicia, I don’t know what you’re hearing, but that’s all we’ll be looking at.” “Okay, good,” she says brightly, but he’s not convinced. He’s got his serious, concerned look out. He leans forward and focuses on her utterly. “You have my word. When we decide, nothing else will enter the picture besides your work.” They stare at each other. Some of her fear leaks out. Cary sees them talking, and using this as a chance to have his own one on one with the partner officially in his corner. As Alicia goes home, Cary stays late to lend a “personal touch” to overdue fee collection.
The nurses have shaved Max, which brings Caroline back in time, seeing only the charmer she fell in love with. Kalinda’s curious about Max’s bag from the accident. She fishes out the memory card from the camera, which turns out to show him slurring a song and falling off his settee. Kalinda’s seen the tox screen, which says he’s clear of drugs and alcohol, but the Alicia rightly points out that he’s too drunk to answer the phone that keeps (distinctively) ringing. The tox screen is missing something important. Ah, but Diane beckons. I love that all the internal walls here are glass. Everything’s open – which means that people have to work harder to keep their privacy, to keep their secrets hidden. “Play the mentor card,” Kalinda reminds Alicia. She knows.
Just as Will did, Diane decries the leak which has resulted in this undesired politicking. “I know, but can you hint to me where I stand?” “I like you, Alicia,” Diane smiles. There’s a flicker on Alicia’s face. “I didn’t start out by liking you.” Now the flicker is a small but real smile. “And of course you know Will likes you.” There goes the smile. “You’ve more than proved yourself.” Pause. “But…” Pause. “We’ve never seen an economic climate like this.” “I’ve second chaired a lot of winners,” volunteers Alicia. “Yes,” agrees Diane. “So has Cary. He works more billable hours, and his receivables are coming in high and immediate.” (Which, huh? Is that legalese for “his clients are paying on time”? Oh well – we get the point.) “I don’t know what to do. I’ve worked hard. You say that’s not enough, so I’ll worker harder. You tell me Cary’ll work harder still, so what do you want? Tell me what you want, because I can’t lose this job.” Her pride is starting to crack. I actually expected her to use the word mentor, but this is probably better, this absolutely naked appeal for help.
“You’re not Cary. You can never be Cary. But you don’t have to be.,” Diane smiles. “I don’t understand,” Alicia replies. “Your name,” says Diane. “Your connections. You’ve been reluctant to use them.” “You want me to use my connections.” “I want you to want the job,” Diane finishes. Alicia sighs slightly, and straightens her shoulders.
We see numbers. Numbers on billing statements, adding up to thousands of dollars. There’s somber music. Alicia, wrapped up in the same grey cardigan she wore the morning after her tryst with Peter (half comfort, half armor), files bills and signs checks. (Left-handed, just like Juliana – thanks for pointing that out, FC!) She can’t hold back the tears anymore, though she tries, her right hand curved over her mouth. Her fear and desperation are plain. This is when the demons come, when she’s alone at night and doesn’t have work to distract her. She’s making me cry. She has both hands on her face by the time Zach finds her. “I’m sorry, Mom.” “Why, what’s wrong?,” she gulps – and while I’m sure she’s not happy he’s upset, she immediately starts collecting herself so she can worry about his emotional life and not their financial troubles. “I found out … about Becca. The things she was saying about you. I’m sorry.” It doesn’t look like her name tastes good in his mouth anymore. He has trouble saying it. “Oh honey,” she says, reaching out to him, taking his hand. He sits down at the table with her. “We broke up.” (Would it be wrong to cheer during such a tender and affecting scene?) Alicia pats Zach’s hand and starts to lose herself in tears again. That her poor children are so caught up in this mess, and being hurt by it in ways she could never have imagined… it’s another blow.
“Please don’t be sad,” he begs. Really nice acting, Graham Phillips. “It’s not about you,” she promises, red eyed. “Dad’s going to be fine,” he volunteers. “I know. It’s not us,” she tries to reassure him. He notices the table papered with bills. The ball drops. “Are we going to be okay?” ‘Yeah,” she lies as brightly as she can, leaning forward to caress the side of his face. “You’re a good mom,” he says, and she smiles at him, but she can’t say anything back without crying. He leaves. There are undoubtedly more tears.
So they really never told Zach that Becca was the tweeter? Unreal. I can’t think of single reason not to tell him, and about a hundred that mean he deserved to know. What is that, forbearance? Letting him make his own mistakes, even if it costs Peter’s campaign and a little piece of Zach’s heart? Or could it mean that Eli never told Peter and Alicia the source of the leak? This is so not my family that I can’t even conceive of it. And he never wondered? I’m glad to have that finally resolved, anyway. And the way he stepped up made me tear up. I can’t deny it. I don’t think we’re done with Becca, unfortunately, but that was lovely. Seriously, these are great kids. Not perfect – which is to say, unrealistic – but well-intentioned, smart and thoughtful and loving. And how refreshing is that, what with all the mean and gossipy girls filling the airways these days? News flash! Teen cares about his parents! Takes responsibility for his actions! Full story at 11.
Naw, they’d never run a story that positive. They’ll save the space for when Becca inevitably turns up pregnant and scorned.
Alicia sits with Eli in what is presumably his office; a stunning modern skyscraper with glass walls that open up to a stunning city view. They sit in traditional, beautifully carved wooden chairs in front of a matching desk. How can Peter possibly afford this man? Even on the State Attorney’s salary, and with campaign contributions (which he’s not exactly out fundraising at the moment), Eli Gold must make some serious money. Alicia has clearly steeled herself to do something about her situation, and it’s not sitting well. “I like to work. I like to work at Lockhart Gardner,” Alicia begins. “I hear you’re good at it,” Eli offers back. “I think I am.” “What’s wrong, Alicia?” Right, because something has to be wrong if Alicia Florrick has turned up at your office being nice to you. Eli’s not one to miss out on the obvious. “Would any of your other clients like to switch law firms?” Ah, now she’s thrown Eli for a loop. He’s spluttering. That’s fun to watch. “Do they want to change to your law firm?” “Yes,” she says, hating herself but trying to put a good face on it.” “I can ask,” he replies, baffled. “Is there some reason I’m asking?” “Because we’re a good firm.” He half-laughs, incredulous, but whips a serious look right back on his face. “Okay. I can arrange a few calls maybe next week?” He can see from her face that next week isn’t going to help, and asks what kind of deadline she’s under. “Friday? For a call, or…” She can’t take it, and starts to leave. God, every nerve in her body must be screaming to run right now. There’s very little that’s more against her – well, I won’t say her character, exactly, but her principles – than what she’s doing right now. He asks her not to leave, she says it’s her own thing, he says no. “I know I’m not the warm and understanding type, but this is my warm and understanding face.” I can’t imagine anyone delivering that line (or the rest of this conversation) the way Alan Cummings has. It’s nice to see him given something else to do; it’s tempting to have him only be snarky and snide and superior, since he’s so good at those things, but he’s good here, too. Alicia spills the beans. “Okay, I can hire the guy away and then dump him.” No, says Alicia, she likes Cary. “Naw, I do it all the time,” Eli protests. Oh, dear. Not the man you want to owe a favor to, Alicia Florrick. “It was wrong of me to come here. I’m not this person.” “Mrs. Florrick?” Eli replies, “If I know one thing in life it’s that everybody is that person.”
Well, yes, of course that’s his world view. He offers to make calls. He can only make the calls, he’s quick to qualify – she would keep the clients through her diligence and brilliance. Yes, well, that might be true, and it might help you live with it, but it doesn’t take back what you did, honey. Of course Eli has a stake in wanting the Florrick family solvent (they are paying him, after all) but he’s hardly doing this out of the goodness of his heart. If asked, I’m sure he’d deny that he has one. “Thank you,” she says, not quite meeting his eyes. “Hey – we’re like family.” Ugh. Remember that whole conversation you had with Peter about things getting fuzzy? Well, Alicia, this is what he meant. Welcome to fuzzy.
Back in court, Caroline tells the judge that she can’t let go. She speaks wistfully of her time in rehab with her late husband. She quotes a 12 step saying – “don’t quit before the miracle happens. ” She’s got tears in her eyes. Kreutzer rolls his. “They may say it’s a million to one shot. But Max’s life – becoming who he was – that was a million to one shot.” Shaina (seeming nearly as sincere but still less likable) believes he was too filled with life to want to stay like this. I know he loved us both, she says to Caroline, but this is torturing him.
90s boy band Detective Skeeve – er, Burton – waits in the same spot at the same bar, with two shot glasses in front of him. Kalinda arrives. They both look uncomfortable. Is that the tox report, she wonders, pointing to the folder in front of him? Yes. And he’s thinking about letting her see it, too. She sips her drink, and he smiles when she’s not looking. After she asked, he had the coroner look for odder toxins in Wilder’s system, and found anti-freeze. Nasty! They’re opening up a murder investigation, with Caroline as the prime suspect. Damn. Kalinda can’t date a man who’s that stupid. Why is this guy always, always wrong? Now, okay, we usually see him helping the prosecution, which is his job, fine, but he never ever jumps to the right conclusion! He’s Kalinda’s opposite number; where she’s observant, he’s an idiot. Now, sure, Caroline has motive, but do they have the smallest evidence that she even spoke to Max anymore, let alone hung out with him enough to just hand him a glass of anti-freeze and get him to drink it? That doesn’t seem so very likely to me. How do you get someone to drink anti-freeze, anyway? The Heathers method?
And now we’re on to Burton’s real agenda. “Why aren’t you returning my calls?” Oh, so she didn’t spend the night with him? Then where was she the following morning, I wonder? “Because I’m in a relationship.” “Not with that kiss, you’re not.” Well, that is the thing we all say, isn’t it, to let down unwanted suitors gently – I’m dating someone else. Could it possibly be true? What with the whole morning after thing – I’d like to say we’d have known, but really, the writers have cultivated such an air of mystery around Kalinda that I truly can’t say. “Look,” he says with a swagger, “I know you have vulnerability issues.” She snorts. “I don’t want to cuddle with you. I just…” He leans forward and whispers something in her ear. Something which is not brief. “That’s all. Purely recreational.” She has some sort of response to part of this, which might be in his favor, but I can’t quite tell. “You go to somebody else for emotional validation.” He tosses back his shot, stands up and leans in again. “Drink your drink. Pay the bill . Then follow me out.” He practically barks it as a command, and stalks off. She does not look into it, she looks unsettled. He comes back to filch the tox screen report. She pounds the rest of her shot, and makes eye contact with the pretty blond bartender. Was that simply an embarrassing conversation to overhear, or is there more going on? We don’t see what Kalinda does.
Why is it sexy when a woman says “shut up and kiss me” (or the like) and thoroughly unpleasant when a man does it? That was nasty and humiliating. Weird, because I kind of felt sorry for him when he was mooning on about his personal statistics and how he just had this intuition that she was going to need him. And part of me thinks he’s pulling the macho crap because she shot him down when he was trying to be all sensitive. But. It’s still unattractive.
Actually, no. It’s more than unattractive. It’s leaving a really vile taste in my mouth, and I don’t like it at all. If we have to see Kalinda out of control, this isn’t the way I’d imagined it. Clearly Burton has decided he’s been on a string long enough.
The next morning, Lee, Alicia and Kalinda break the bad news to Caroline, who is utterly befuddled. How could anyone think she did it? Max was at the house, and she wasn’t. She stumbles to think of where she actually was. Through the glass conference room walls, we see Will and Diane taking “the savior” on a tour of the office. Turns out Vernon Jordan isn’t a similar name to the Clinton’s lawyer. This is the Clinton’s lawyer, the actual man, playing himself. Wow. That’s kind of crazy! How on earth did they swing that? Is it dreadful of me to observe that he looks a bit like a bulked up RuPaul? When not in drag, obviously. He’s got some serious cheekbones. On which he apparently intends to break Will and Diane. He tells a cute story about driving a city bus back in the day (“best buses in the world,” Will smiles – damn it, Will, you are a horribly transparent suck up. He has the grace to look embarrassed about it) which is probably true, just to soften them up, and notes that they might do better if they had a focus instead of taking so many different kinds of cases. Then they wouldn’t be so much fun to watch! But it turns out he doesn’t want to be their partner. He wants to buy them out. They’re devastated.
There’s a lot of that going around. “Time to make some tough decisions,” Will says.
Burton and an ASA interview Caroline at L&G. Jay and Kalinda are there, too. Burton plays the ‘drunken’ recording for her (but really for us, with enhanced audio). You weren’t at the house? Not that morning, she says. Well, who else has keys? Jay, who was lurking in the background, has to answer – Max, Shaina, and the housekeeper. Um, and you, dude. (I’d also expect a nanny, too, but with the whole preposterous secrecy thing, maybe not.) Jay says that he last saw Max the night before his death, but Kalinda plays a hunch. She calls the number Jay gave Alicia; his phone is the one producing the distinctive ring we hear on the recording, which means that Jay was there just before Max died.
Lee and Kreutzer clean up the pieces. A million a year to Shania and little Max, the rest of the estate – and custody of big Max – to Caroline. “That’s what she wants,” says Lee, clearly implying that there’s no accounting for tastes. Turns out Shaina wanted Jay out of the will, so Jay killed Max before he could get married and write a new one. “Ah, money,” says Lee, “dependable money.” Courtney steps in to tell Alicia and Cary it’s time. “It’s weird, huh?,” Cary observes. Alicia thinks for a half second. “It’s like a date with the executioner.” Cary buttons up his jacket. “It was nice working with you.” “You too,” says Alicia, “you’re a good lawyer.” They smile and head up to meet their fate. Neither one has a back up plan, they discover. “I hear it’s always the first one in,” Cary says. “They’re the one who gets fired.” Well, I don’t know about firing during work competitions – are these competitions so common that there are rules? – but that’s very true in reality dating shows. The one who gets called in first always gets the boot; it’d be too much of a buzz kill to end by breaking someone’s heart. Ont he other hand, reality competition shows start with the winner and finish with the weeping loser. For whatever that’s worth, there it is.
When they arrive at what I think is Diane’s office, they find that Will and Diane aren’t quite ready for them. Eli is in the house, shaking their hands and smiling. Alicia ducks into the hall to speak to him out of Cary’s earshot. “My clients kept asking if I was so high on your firm, why wasn’t I bringing my business here. I didn’t want to appear hypocritical.” Alicia favors him with a real smile, a rare gift. He deflects her thanks, but reminds her immediately of the price she needs to pay – Peter’s campaign, and presumably her unqualified support for it. Oh, honey.
She gets called in first. Cary smiles. She takes a deep breath, straightens her back, and slips into the office. They sit, Alicia and Will in chairs before Diane’s desk. (So yes, definitely her office.) We’re not going to draw this out, Diane says, and then smiles widely. “Good job, Alicia.” “Very good job,” Will adds. We’re all going to have to work harder, do more with less – but the truth behind the cliches is that she listened, and she did what they asked. She used her connections to get them more business, and that’s just what they need. And it’s something Cary can’t give them. “That’s all we needed to know.” With heartfelt thanks, she’s off. Will and Diane exchange grim looks. They clearly like Cary. I’ve come to like him, too, rather to my surprise, and I hate the idea of losing the fantastic Matt Czuchry. That can’t be the plan, can it?
As usual, Alicia controls her face as she leaves. “Are you okay?,” Cary asks kindly, sure she’s been fired. She nods. “Don’t worry, it’s going to be fine.” She doesn’t know what to say. Will calls him in. He’s smiling and confident when he enters, but their faces tell the story. “We’re sorry,” says Will. “You were great,” says Diane “and if we weren’t in this situation – this financial situation – we would want you both.” Will offers to make calls, send unqualified reference. Diane wants to know if he has any questions. “No. I get it,” Cary responds, a touch of bitterness creeping in. Does he know who Eli is and what his appearance meant? He didn’t seem to, but perhaps the clue is dropping now. Alicia has waited, but Cary walks right by her, sparing her a single furious look. And the episode ends with a close up of her face as she wonders plainly how to live with everything that’s just happened.
Cary was quite the gentleman until he lost, wasn’t he, and then his affability evaporated. It seems clear that no matter what he said, he just didn’t think it was possible for him to lose. On a fundamental level, he must have really believed he had it in the bag. He’s got the billable hours. He was able to call in clients and get them to pay back dues. He’s young. He doesn’t have a family. He’s willing not to have anything else. And, of course, he refused Stern’s offer. He did everything he could have, and I’m sure he believed he had earned the win. This is hard to see.
Of course, it isn’t as hard as it was to see Alicia beg and compromise herself throughout the episode. She wants to succeed on her own terms, but she has to rely on Peter’s contacts. And what’s worse, now she owes Eli. She’s not free to say what she thinks, to act on her desires alone anymore. Now, I said last week and I’ll say it again – I do feel like someone would hire her. And now that Peter isn’t going to be tried anymore, one presumes he’ll be let off the electronic monitoring, and would be able to get a conventional job. You’d think, with his contacts, he could get a pretty well paying one which would minimize her need for money. But no, the responsibility to support the family and finance his campaign will continue to rest chiefly with Alicia. This is a terrific engine for the plot. It’s fascinating to me that Peter was completely absent from this episode; she struggled with their finances alone, cried alone, made her choice alone. Or rather, in the end she was alone with his minions, with the specter of him. It’s definitely a shame and an impediment for their struggling marriage. He’s no support to her here, but bars on her prison instead.
There’re only two episodes left in the season. I can’t wait to see where they take us, can you?