E: In this week’s episode, the best show on tv is on its home ground, brilliantly exploring the territory of sexual crimes committed by the powerful, and played out in the media. Who lies? Who tells the truth? Why? And at what cost justice?
Gentle Wendy Scott-Carr, smooth as honey, explains why she’s running for office. She smiles widely, but with a tiny hesitation, as if she’s a little embarrassed. It’s not about grand ideals – “it’s about a fountain.” Eli turns from his frantic phone calling in surprise. About a fountain? What? “Who’s Wendy Scott-Carr,” he hisses, returning his attention to the phone. “I know that!” he grouches, having clearly been told that she was a new candidate in the race for State’s Attorney. Hee. In her folksy, gracious way Wendy describes a beloved fountain by the courthouse, and how her daughters can’t see it in it’s glory because the corrupt, old boy system has it shut down. Of course, since the State’s Attorney doesn’t direct public works, this actually is a grand ideal; it’s a metaphor for every good thing that choked by political maneuvering.
“We need to check on our endorsements,” snarls Eli, kneeling between Peter and Alicia. Peter looks like he’s just bit into a lemon. Well, that’s fair enough; he says he’s a new beginning for the city, but she’s got to seem like a much fresher start. (Poor Peter, all that time spent courting Pastor Isaiah to get the black female vote is probably for naught. Hey, this would be a great time to see Isaiah back. Do the producers have any plans to use him? I don’t approve of casting off good characters just because the season’s ended!) Eli answers the “who is Wendy Scott-Carr” question by explaining she’s in the civil action bureau of the SA’s office, low level, and her grandfather marched at the storied civil rights marches in Selma. Peter closes his eyes in horror; there’s a resume item he just can’t replicate. Alicia looks worried. She didn’t want Peter to run (and I know, she didn’t say it, but we all felt it, right?) but she doesn’t want him to lose, either. And considering the leaked tape, she’s justly mistrustful of a woman who claims to be a reformer but was perfectly willing to grind up someone else’s life to take out her opponents. “How do we get the fountain working again?” Wendy wonders, finishing exploding her verbal grenade.
Immediately Eli and Peter begin working the room. Diane introduced Steppenwolf’s hit play, “The Cow With No Country” which will play over dinner. That’s fascinating. Steppenwolf is a well known, impressive theater with lots of brilliant alumni, but the scenes are played for derisive laughter. Tammy’s attention wanders from the Bulls updates on her smart phone to the mooing and the peculiar declarations of love. Alicia can’t help but smile at the face Tammy makes. It’s Derrick who asks the obvious question, however. Where did Tammy and Will meet? And the answer is a surprising one. He used to date my sister, she says. Isn’t that usually a no no? “He broke her heart – it was devastating.” “We don’t have to go there,” Will says, and indeed, it’s not the politest of dinner conversation. “Now we have to go there,” laughs Derrick. It’s all good-natured, especially when Tammy throws in a fabricated overdose attempt.
“Will came home from college and told her it was over and that he was in love with somebody else,” Tammy says, her hand curved around the nape of Will’s neck. Will laughs, but he shoots Alicia this look. No doubt who that was! (And now all I can think is, if Will was serious enough about Alicia to break up with his girlfriend, then why didn’t he make a move? What happened? Was it Peter? Did Will wimp out because he cared too much? Also, has Tammy been occasionally boffing her sister’s ex since college, or did they meet up again more recently? Withheld backstory is such a delicious, unattainable treat. ) Tammy and Derrick gleefully create a scenario in which Tammy avenges the wrong done her sister, by toying with Will and smashing his little heart, and all the while, Will and Alicia are looking at each other – or deliberately not looking, which turns out to be even more intense. “I’ll make him think his jokes are funny,” Tammy finishes. “My jokes are funny,” Will replies, serious (or pretending to be). Tammy just raises her eyebrows, and the fake cow moos again.
Amid the plaintive cries of Moo Cow’s owner, Courtney trips through the ballroom. Huh. Alicia’s phone is off, and she’s really needed back in the office. A woman is there, saying she’s just been sexually assaulted, and the police won’t help her. When Alicia stutters out the word “rape kit” Derrick and Will give measuring looks over to her side of the table. “It’s inappropriate contact,” explains Courtney, who doesn’t really want to explain much else. She whispers the name of the alleged attacker in Alicia’s ear. Alicia’s stunned. Courtney thinks it’s credible enough for Alicia to look into. Will’s Spidey sense are atingling, but Alicia waves him off and says she’s going to just run across the street for a moment. Ah. Handy that the office is so close! I suppose that explains Courtney’s physical presence, as well. Moo Cow, meanwhile, has a gun to his head.
A tiny woman texts fiercely, hunched over her phone in the L/G &B conference room. She looks like a cross between Kalinda and Amelia Shepherd from Grey’s Anatomy (and now Private Practice?); a little bit beaky, with serious dark eyes and a pale olive face. With her hair pulled back, and her tank top and leggings, she looks a bit like a ballerina clutching her cardigan for warmth between dance classes. Alicia says hello, and Miss White favors her with a huge, slightly starstruck smile. “Wow, it is you, isn’t it? They said that you worked here.” Alicia’s voice gets perceptibly less patient. “So I’ve been filled in on your… issue,” Alicia tells a nodding Miss White, her stumble over the word giving away her ambivalence about the case. “I just want to make sure… actually, could you just tell me where this assault took place?” Of course she can. Miss White is eager, clear. “In his hotel room,” she says. Alicia gets progressively chillier (we know how bad that looks, going to a guy’s hotel room willingly), but Miss White explains that she’s a licensed massage therapist (lmt) sent by the hotel. Courtney gives Alicia a significant look, and Alicia sits, pulled in. Perhaps this story is worth her time after all.
“Okay, I know that this sounds nuts,” she says smiling, talking with her hands. “I like him, I do. I mean, what he does in Africa on account of women… and then, he does this.” She becomes lost in thought, really confused by the turn of events. “And you want to bring charges,” Alicia prompts. “Yeah,” she says, convicted. “I went to the police and they um…” she laughs without bitterness. “I guess I sounded nuts. So I came here. Because of you.” She looks truly serious for the first time. Alicia’s guarded and suspicious. How does Alicia’s reputation play into this? It’s kind of oblique, and she’s not quite sure what it all means and she’s certainly not going to be guilt tripped into taking the case if it’s a bad one. She gets the hotel and room number (906) and Courtney’s on it like a shot. Alicia emphasizes that she can only sue, she can’t bring charges. “But at least – at least I don’t feel crazy here,” is the answer. Miss White, whose top has allegedly been torn in the attack, produces the massage bill to help Alicia with the timeline (1-2 this same afternoon); not only is the cost of the special VIP massage exorbitant, the tip is unusually sizable.
Alicia consults with Courtney out in the office. It seems the mystery man isn’t in the hotel; there’s someone called Mr. Harbor staying in the room. Alicia’s relieved to catch the lie; otherwise it was going to be a long night. Courtney agrees, and offers to “deal” with the potential client. Alicia’s happy to do her own dirty work, and walks back in to let the ever texting Miss White down easy. Not that there’s any way to boot someone out of your office because you don’t believe they’ve been molested. “We don’t handle cases like this…. We have to be cautious about what kind of cases we take.” Miss White thinks that mystery man has gotten to Alicia, which sounds pretty damn paranoid to me. As Alicia tries to send her packing, she impressively guesses the sticking point, and explains that Mystery Man is registered under an assumed name, like a movie star. It’s Mr. Harbor, she says.
Get ready for that long night, Alicia.
Cymbals sizzle back at the gala. Alicia, swaying to the music, strides past a laughing Cary and hands a note to Derrick (chatting up a pretty stranger), who passes it to Will. Alicia watches Peter work the room as they read, and the drumsticks strike. Diane wanders over casually and Will lifts up the note. They look at each other.
“Joe Kent,” wonders Diane as the three partners face Alicia at the edge of the ballroom. “The Nobel Prize winning Joe Kent?” Yes, says Alicia. “He’s speaking at NOW in the morning.” Well, that’s ironic. Why isn’t the State Attorney’s office prosecuting, Will wants to know, but Alicia doesn’t have an answer yet. “I don’t believe it,” says Diane flatly. “He’s being awarded the Nobel Prize for his work with women. He’s one of the most respected Americans in the world.” She reminds Alicia of this like it’s Alicia’s fault. Derrick wonders what to do. Will, with that sharp, smiling look in his eyes, wonders whether Alicia believes the girl or not. His faith in her judgment is really one of his best assets. “She seems… calmer? than I would expect,” explain Alicia hesitantly, “but that tip that she got…” She shrugs. Will decides it’s worth investigating; Derrick and Alicia accompany him across the street, and Diane stands brooding over her possibly clay footed hero. Poor Diane. After frenemy Judge Adler has pulled out surprise candidate Scott-Carr, it’s already been a night of unpleasant revelations. She sighs, then spins around to follow her colleagues.
Lara White chats on her phone. I can see why Alicia is hesitant; she’s pretty placid. You’d never think anything was wrong, or that she’d just undergone an attack. She’s agreeing to meet someone someplace at 11. “Do you have somewhere to go,” Alicia says calmly, hands folded over her stunning red gown. “Someone at the police station phoned these creeps, Carpton and Green, do you know them?” Diane’s voice floats over Alicia’s nodding face; the partners are huddled up together in one of the offices. “If we take this, and we’re wrong, we’ll lose half our client list,” Diane informs the boys with an edge in her voice. If we’re right, counters Will, it could be big. ‘Financially big,” he adds, as if it were necessary.
Alicia joins them. “Carpton and Green phoned her. They want her if we don’t.” “Tread lightly, gentlemen,” Diane warns wearily. “She’s meeting them at eleven,” Alicia interjects. And no, Will, not eleven tomorrow morning. Tonight. That’s how fast and dirty this one is going to be. Will and Derrick whip out their phones to call their respective investigators. Diane leaves. “Great,” says Will, waiting for Kalinda to pick up, “4 hours to decide whether to sue the most beloved Democrat in America.” Sounds like an ugly choice to me.
“To be honest,” says the demure Ms. Scott-Carr, back in the ballroom, “I don’t think of myself as the African-American candidate, OR the woman candidate.” “The question,” says Vernon Jordan (Vernon Jordan again!), “is what the Democratic Committee will think of you.” She looks down at her clasped hands modestly, and laughs. Oh, she’s good. She’s very very good. Have I mentioned how much I adore Aniki Noni Rose in this role? She’s so unlike anyone – she’s a perfectly original character. Outstanding. “My guess is, they’ll think of me as a loose cannon – I just stood up there and said they were part of the problem.” Cary waits a few paces off. Is he listening for Childs? Is he angling to speak with Jordan? “Mr. Jordan” introduces Wendy to Peter’s campaign manager. She says she knows him by reputation. Eli arranges for her to meet Peter after dessert. “And Peter will see you for lunch tomorrow, Mr. Jordan,” Eli adds, staking a claim. “Oh, is that this week?” asks Vernon, refusing to be caught. Ouch. That was cold, and it’s sure to set Eli into a tizzy. Also, the fact that Jordan isn’t an actor makes his surprise seem even more fake (which makes the put down feel more real). Sure enough, Eli blanches like Paula Deen in a butter shortage. “Yes. My office called yours last week.” “I’ll give him a call,” Vernon Jordan responds, not burning his bridges. Still, ouch. He shakes Eli’s hand, clearly dismissing him. Eli turns tail and phones Peter that Verdon Jordan might be in play. Cary leaves, too – perhaps this was what he’d come to hear.
The papers on the conference table would make Lara White a client of L/G &B, and would make whatever she tells them privileged. No one’s signing anything just yet, however. Will looks eager. Diane glares. Can I take this moment to tell you how in love with Diane’s dress I am? The costume department did a stellar job finding gowns that are supremely flattering on Alicia and Diane (and Tammy, for that matter), but also totally different. Diane’s gown is made of this gorgeously thick stuff that hangs gloriously, and moves with her like liquid metal. It’s got a plunging neckline, elbow length ruched sleeves, and a belt, which sounds less formal, but isn’t. When she picks up the skirt, it hangs in effortlessly, and Christine Baranski’s perfect posture make it all work. The bright red sets off Alicia’s perfectly white skin and dark hair, and the single shoulder neckline plays up her toned arms and shoulders. This dress is folded into layers, structured, more binding without looking constricted. Tammy, on the other hand, has a halter-like neckline in royal blue with a bejeweled gold collar and no sleeves. Complete opposites.
Anyway. Back to the matter at hand. Derrick tells Lara he’s not going to take notes, in order to protect her from being subpoenaed. Wow. This all feels so alarming. Will steps out to take a phone call from Kalinda, who’s waiting at the hotel for instructions. She’s stunned to learn the nature and target of their inquiry. As Diane paces the conference room like a furious cages lioness, Will emphasizes the timely, sensitive aspects of the case. “Yeah. Accusing the Nobel Prize winner of sexual assault, I’d say so,” Kalinda understates. Will wants anything she can find on Kent that might expedite a settlement. Kalinda moves to a phone in the hotel lobby, and asks housekeeping to empty her trash can. “I’m in room 906.”
Blake – late again – knocks on the conference room door. “Kalinda’s on it now,” Derrick says, dismissing him. Then he closes the door in Blake’s face. Ah, if only looks could kill. Blake’s stubbly round cheeks burn with the humiliation. Diane swoops in, calling Blake back to her office. She wants him to investigate Lara, if he’s free. Oh, he’s free alright. Investigate her for what? “Find out if she’s lying. If she’s trying to make a quick buck. If she’s trying to embarrass Mr. Kent. Any ties to the Republican Party.” She hands him her cell number. “Phone me, and only me, with anything you get. Are you okay with that?” Oh, he’s okay with that alright. Any time you have a little job like this, please feel free to think of me again, Ms. Lockhart. She doesn’t respond.
Back in the conference room, Alicia’s eliciting the nasty details of the attack from Lara. Kent began by asking her to focus on his adductor muscle ( the inner thigh); this is usually a signal “that the customer wants inappropriate contact.” Will clarifies that inappropriate means sexual, and she agrees. I don’t do that, she told Kent, but she can do the hamstring and the quadriceps. This news “vexed” him. She offered to have the hotel send up someone else. She went to wash her hands; he followed her into the bathroom. Surprise! Open robe, the little general standing at attention. (I’m vaguely surprised the show got away with being as frank and clear about this as they were. ) Yuck. “He was like, “I paid for more,” and I was like, “No sir, Mr. Kent, you paid for exactly that amount.” He then asks her to work on his hamstring, and because she only makes money if she keeps the VIP customers happy, she goes. Diane’s suspicious. “From what you’re saying, it doesn’t seem like there was any way to make Mr. Kent happy.” Well, no legal way, anyway. She also needed to get her table out of the bedroom. Hmmm.
There’s an odd detour into a problem with the remote control, and the desire to play “Hedgehog.” Weird. Does it work like that? Can people be ADHD attackers? I suppose, right, but it doesn’t look good. She’s got more reasons to enter that bedroom than Lady Gaga has edible costumes. “That’s when he threw me on the bed. He grabbing me, he was touching me.” It gets more graphic and detailed and upsetting from there. She has to draw a deep breath, but she’s still calm, almost as if she were reciting something that happened to someone else. You stopped him, Derrick prompts her. No, she was saved by a phone call instead – a phone call that seemed to be from his wife. He finished his business in a towel, and she grabbed her table and ran for it. “Miss White,” Diane says, sitting down, “don’t take this the wrong way, but given that this happened five hours ago, you seem remarkably calm.” Yes, yes she does. “I’m not sure how I can take that the right way,” Lara wonders. Most sentences that begin with “don’t take this the wrong way” guarantee offense, and this one is no exception. “Take it as the first in a long list of tough questions,” Diane replies. Lara stares at her, a bit incredulous, angry. Would it make a difference if she were crying? “You were sexually assaulted. Wouldn’t that make sense?” Tough Miss White hasn’t cried since she was kicked out of college. “But if it helps,” she snarks, “I wish this happened to somebody who cries. A lot.” She raises her water glass to Diane in a scornful toast. Alicia – who internalizes her distress, who is blasted in the press as frigid, who doesn’t cry – narrows her eyes.
God, what a difficult topic this is. Should it matter if she’s the under-reacting type? Things can be true without looking true, and lies can seem so plausible. The burden of proof may always rest on the victim in sexual abuse cases, and never more than when the perpetrator is a beloved figure. A parent, a priest, a teacher, a Nobel Peace Prize winner: so often that’s where the sympathy rests, with authority. We like to think we’d all be good witnesses; we would recall precise details of any horrific thing that happened to us, but perhaps memory could be obscured by adrenaline or some sort of emotional fog. And we’d like to think we could support the victims of a crime, but we also feel like we ought to be able to know what an abuser looks like. And global champion of women’s rights is not the guise we expect.
While Kalinda steals Kent’s trash (including a champagne glass), Diane has an angry meeting with Will and Derrick. “Serious, Hedgehog? The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize wants to play Hedgehog?” That’s Sonic the Hedgehog to you, Diane. He’s away from home, Will says, you do funny things to relax in a hotel room. Indeed. Diane points to his work in rural Africa as an indication that he’s unlikely to be overwhelmed by the temptations of a hotel room, or that easily bored. “And he likes video games. Great men like video games,” Will proclaims. It’s funny. You don’t believe her, Derrick says, cutting to the chase. “I think there’s a wealth of detail when she enters the room and during the massage, but when it comes to the attack, it’s variable. The massage table is by the door, then it’s in the bedroom. She follows him into the bedroom; it’s about the hamstring. No, it’s about the remote.” She turns to face Will. “If we take this case, she’ll get better at it, because we’ll make her better at it. We’ll point out her inconsistencies so she’ll make things more consistent. But what we’re hearing right now is the unvarnished story, and I believe there was a massage. But I don’t believe there was an assault.” And there’s the question. Does she not believe it based on the facts, or because she doesn’t want to believe it?
Then why, wonders Derrick. Money? “Yes, money, and dirty tricks. I think some people would like to see Joe Kent brought low,” she nods fervently. Will’s incredulous. “Come on, Diane, do you know how hypocritical this is?” Derrick pulls out his phone. “Last year, I didn’t believe the rape victim, what’s her name, because her story was inconsistent, and you said shock does that to a woman, so which is it?” “That was Kalinda,” interject Derrick, dryly. “She found lipstick on a champagne glass.” Diane shoots Will a triumphant look.
Immediately, Derrick grills Lara about the glass. He shoved it at me when I was in the bedroom, she says, and she pretended to drink to pacify him. He didn’t force her, but he stood in the doorway, blocking her path. Will brings up the massage table. Was it in the living room of the suite, or the bedroom? At which point? It all gets more confusing. There are two bathrooms. Which did she use when? What was the order? Why did she one or the other in a given circumstance? All the wile, the partners and Alicia shoot each other significant looks. I wonder if Lara still feels like they don’t think she’s crazy. She heaves a great sigh.
We hear noises, and see a black door jostle and then burst open. The outline of a man blocks most of the doorway; it’s Blake the Evil Boyscout, in his leather jacket. He’s busted the door open with what appears to be a tire iron. Not going for subtlety this time, it seems. He uses the tire iron to flip through her mail. He notices a picture of Lara with her roommate drinking, and a list of what might be job locations. Lara’s name has a star next to it. (Does anyone else think it’s weird that they pronounce her name “Laura” but spell it Lara? I’m not going crazy, am I – that’s a different name, with a distinct pronunciation difference.) The Boyscout – in Super Evil Mode – uses the tire iron to pull open the fridge, and then to pull out the middle shelf, spilling vegetables all over the floor. Since he’s not being subtle about his presence, he’s going to trash the place, and make it look like, what, a warning, or a robbery? This makes me furious. This girl could be your client, dude, and I’m sure she would have preferred her door intact. Not to mention her nice tomatoes. Not cool, Spawny, not cool. He pulls the receipt from the attack (the original – well, now she’s going to know it isn’t a regular robbery, isn’t she?) and just maybe pockets an enormous envelope of cash. Bastard. Somebody tell me I’m wrong about that, please? He tosses everything off her desk, then pops into Safari to scroll through her browser history. Right up there with the ubiquitous FaceBranch and VidTrope (“Broadcast yourself” – gee, what site’s that supposed to be?) is The Daily Kos, The Spectator and The Huffington Post. Oh yes, and Kent for America. Which kind of makes me think of Bartlett for America, the theme of Martin Sheen’s character’s fictional campaign, or – hey, a non-fiction reference – Colin Powell’s group America’s Promise. Sounds like this guy is an advocate and activist, not someone seeking office, so it’s an oddly, how shall I say, hubristic title for a webpage. As opposed to Powell’s America’s Promise. Especially when Kent seems to do most of his work in the third world. Why is that “for” America? Anyway, the point of it all is that she went looking for him.
“Good, good job,” says Diane over the phone. ‘Okay. See what you can get at the hotel.” We pan over to Alicia, on a landline, and Peter’s voice saying he’s found her phone in her purse. That’s a relief, that she didn’t lose it. He offers to run it over, but no, she says she’s fine. Peter is sitting at the table with only Tammy for company. There’s dessert, at least. He’ll just go back to working the room with Eli, he says, and wishes her luck with her work crisis. “Can I have yours too,” Tammy wonders, indicating Peter’s smallish cube of cake. “Good metabolism, huh?,” Peter asks, which is a sort of weird comment to a stranger. It’s a compliment, an oblique way of calling her hot, but also it’s a bit of a criticism, isn’t it, implying that she shouldn’t be taking the extra dessert? No, snorts Tammy, “ten mile run every morning.” He gives her an impressed look, and I get a weird, panicky notion, just for this second, that Peter and Tammy have some pretty decent chemistry. Now that would be a wrench in the works for sure! And some serious drama. But no, that doesn’t at all seem to be where they’re going with her character. Right? That was a crazy thought, right? Peter’s attention is claimed by some yipping musicians on the stage, accompanied by Thai dancers with elaborate golden headdresses. Tammy is appalled, which is cute, and makes Peter laugh, and that makes me nervous again. Have we ever seen Peter interact with a woman in entirely social way? Mostly we see him with Alicia and Jackie and Grace. A few times with Kaia and Tascioni and Kalinda, but this is something new. I wonder if Alicia feels that way, down deep in her stomach, chilled and panicky every time he talks to an attractive woman?
“So, you and Will,” he says, taking the conversation a touch deeper. “Yep,” she replies, stabbing a bit of cake with her fork. “Me and Will.” She nods, swallowing. “I don’t know, actually. He’s got issues.” She chases the thought with wine. “Everybody’s got issues,” smiles Peter sagely, on safer, more commonplace ground. (Chris Noth really has a smile for every occasion. He’s brilliant that way, and a perfect foil for Julianna and Josh, who are so much more somber.) Tammy refuses to be generic and blurts out a little more truth than perhaps Peter wants to hear. It’s certainly more insightful than the conversation you usually have with strangers at fancy dress parties. “No, not him,” she claims. “That’s what I used to like about him. He was fun. A real man.” That wins a large, lopsided grin from Peter. He likes the idea of real manhood; oh, dear. “Now he’s gone all gushy,” she grouses, taking her irritation out on the cake. The back of her hand is pressed against her chin, and her fork is sticking out. Elizabeth Reaser has such great physicality; Tammy seems so at home with her body, so uninhibited, without seeming like she’s trying (not most of the time, anyway) to be stereotypically sexy. She’s all about the good time without being a bimbo. “Why?” “He’s in love,” she confides, a bit like it was a disease. “With you,” Peter suggests smoothly, waggling his eyebrows, which makes me giggle. “No, not me,” Tammy tosses off like it’s nothing. Peter glares at Alicia’s phone, tapping on it.
“Do you think people can change who they’re in love with,” Tammy ponders over her next forkful of cake. “Sure,” Peter says, but it takes him a moment to think about. It’s a great question; what does his answer mean in terms of his marriage? He looks back at the phone, with it’s background screen picturing Grace and Zach. “People fall out of love all the time. And then – and then they fall in love with somebody else.” Wow. I kind of thought he was going to say that they can fall back in love. Could he be thinking of himself here – did he really care for Amber, as she believed – or is it jealousy, wondering whether he’s lost Alicia’s heart to Will? Wow, I’m loving this conversation, with it’s undercurrents (riptides, even!) and ambiguities and dangers. “Like a change of address? ” Tammy scoffs. Peter broods over the phone.
“She was surfing his website,” Diane exclaims. “Yes,” returns Will, annoyed, “and she explained that. After the attack she went home and checked it out.” OH. So now the girl will know exactly who trashed her apartment when she comes home and finds she’s been “robbed.” You know, this just makes me hate Campbell’s Soup Spawn even more. It’s such a stupid thing to have done. The wanton destruction of property has always annoyed me. The sheer waste of it pisses me off! Add that to the fact that it’s just plain wrong. You better demand recompense, Lara! Okay, fine, maybe I’m a complete hypocrite, because I found Kalinda’s savagery against Blake’s rental car pretty thrilling. Maybe that’s because Blake deserved it? I mean, Blake is technically supposed to be on Lara’s side, right? “I think we should cut her lose,” Derrick decides. It’s not so much that he doesn’t believe her as that she’s got too much to explain. “At a certain point, credulity has been stretched too far.” Diane leans over her desk chair. Derrick stands at the window with the city lights behind him. Will furrows his brow, pinching it in frustrating, looking back into the conference room. Seriously, team, best office layout and construction ever.
Lara’s black cardigan, which started out open, is now pulled around her body as if it could protect her. Maybe it’s cold, or maybe it’s something else. Alicia hasn’t stopped to put on a wrap, anyway. The wait is killing Lara. “My friends’ll be like ‘What’re you doing? He’s helping women. Suck it up!'” Her friends? Nice friends. “‘I thought you were on our side.'” She’s serious for a moment. “Would it help if I had evidence?” Um, duh. “It’s difficult with out it,” Alicia says, measured. Lara looks stricken, considering. “I still have to decide if I want to do this,” she says, and hmm. She seemed pretty set on it at first, but I guess it’s all getting more and more real as the long night moves on. Ah well. At least it involves less small talk and networking than the boring banquet, right, Alicia? Then Lara drops another bomb. That evidence? That wasn’t a rhetorical question. “No, I mean I’m going to show you something, but I’m still going to have to decide whether I want to pursue this.” You remember the towel that Kent used? Kalinda won’t find it in the trash. Lara has it in her purse.
I wonder what it’d feel like to look at the destruction of a hero, just like that?
The towel, with the prominent crest of the Foreland Hotel, has been folded into a large ziplock bag. The bag sits on Diane’s desk. She’s leaning into her chair. “This is unseemly,” she sighs. And yes. It’s pretty vile. It’d take weeks for testing, and even if there’s a match, it’s not a homerun; there are other ways to explain the presence of his essence. “We are the dregs of society,” Diane complains again, and Will’s really getting irritated. “We get it, Diane,” he says, hand up, palms out, “you don’t think he did it.” She’s offended. “No, that is not getting it,” she shoots back testily. “Believing in something bigger than yourself…” but he cuts her off. If Joe Kent did it, then Joe Kent deserves to pay. “That’s not how it works, and you know it. He pays for it either way.” Well, that’s true – but it’s just as true for the victim, if there truly is one. The victim gets victimized again in the trial. “If he’s innocent, he pays for it. If she’s lying he pays for it. The twenty four hour news cycle guarantees that.” I’m not saying that part isn’t awful, but the legal system guarantees that the victim will be blamed, as well.
“I think it’s time we approached Mr. Kent,” Derrick breaks in, getting them back on topic. “His best case scenario, this goes away again almost immediately.” They look at each other. “We try to shake him down,” Debbie Downer wonders. “No”, says Will as if to a particularly vexing child, “we try to settle before trial. It’s what we do every day. It’s what you do every day.” She glares at him. “Look, I’ll go. I know Mr. Kent’s lawyer through a friend.” He leaves. Derrick leaves. And then Diane calls Blake, who’s lounging on a couch, her mail open all around him. Turns out all her bills are past due. She needs the money. Huh. Circumstantial (if damning). Poor people get raped, too, and not just by other poor people. He’s gotten himself a room at the Foreland Hotel (on the company dime or Lara’s, I wonder) and he’s been asking around. The staff implied that both Lara and her masseuse roommate Sabrina will add a little extra handiwork to make sure their VIP clients feel released at the end of the massage. Yuck. Blake says he’s about to find out. Double yuck.
Anyway, the idea that Kent might be paying for sexual favors does not please Diane. Blake’s a bit stumped. That isn’t what we want to find out? We want the truth, she says, but that isn’t – preferable. What would be the preferable truth? That nothing happened. Whatever it is, whatever he finds out, that’s what Diane wants Blake to tell her. But as fiercely as she’s been defending her hero, she’s genuinely afraid of what she might find.
“It’s appealing, running together” breathes Wendy Scott-Carr, back in the gilded ballroom, “I respected you. From afar.” Past tense – ouch! His eyes are trained on her face. That’s right; we have good reason to know they’ve been served dessert, don’t we? He smoothly introduces the idea that as his deputy, she could do the day to day running of the office. “That would be quite a step up from being ” “a lowly staff lawyer,” she interrupts, laughing. He chokes a bit on his mistake. “That’s alright, it’s what I am,” she admits, “I tell my daughters I’m too big for my britches.” Ah, the daughters. Why do I get the feeling we’ll be hearing a lot more about them? “And there’s all that, um, patronage Mr. Gold offered. I think I don’t have that many friends in Illinois.” Her gaze flicks to Eli, lurking in the distance; Peter gulps some coffee, then sets down his golden cup. “Well, in my experience, friendship follows patronage.” Does it now? Man, it’s all so twisted. “The thing is, Peter, I can’t.” Her smile shrinks. “My whole reason for running is to stop this legacy control of the State Attorney’s office. And that’s no reflection on you, Peter. I just want to be able to look my daughters in the face.” Ah, that’s right. The daughters. “The fountain,” he asks with a cynical smile. She looks a bit stern. “It was so nice meeting you,” she finishes their conversation, hand extended. “And it’ll be so nice doing battle,” Peter says as he buttons his jacket and leaves the table. You didn’t come to her table, did you, Peter? Oh dear. “Can’t wait,” she says, soft and low, her hands clasped over her knees like a school girl.
He moves back behind a draped column. “You know one thing I hate more than a back room deal, Eli?” Peter tells his campaign manager, who’s been waiting at that discrete distance. Let’s say it with him. “It’s a failed backroom deal.” What, you didn’t genuinely think you were going to sway her once she’d already announced, did you? Talk about ham-fisted.
Peter’s pocket buzzes. It’s a text from Will, on Alicia’s phone. “Thanx for the hand-holding,” it reads. “Trying to make deal.” Oh, Peter. Hasn’t she told you that this is what her job consists of at least half the time – hand holding clients? You can’t seriously think that sophisticated Will is going to thank her for literally holding his hand? Peter makes a disgruntled face at the phone. Eli makes his def con five face at Peter’s back. He even breaks out his serious eyebrows. The invasion of privacy makes me crazy. At least the faces were cute.
The next thing we see is a working fountain – a large square of glassy water with a gorgeous waterfall level and small jets in the middle. It’s pretty, and clearly downtown. A tall, thin man upends a large paper cup of coffee to his lips, draining it. “Of course we’d like nothing more than for this to go away,” Will says as he follows the thin man. Sometimes, Will can be so very obvious. “The last thing we want to do is accuse your client on the eve of his Nobel Prize speech.” Yes, that was very believable. We haven’t tested the towel, blah blah blah. This is a very good moment to settle. That’s just gross, somehow. Of course, it’s not as gross as what comes next. “I think we can settle this right now – just pull down your pants, bent over and touch your toes.” Oh, lovely. This guy’s a real elevated mind. Phone us by eleven, Will says, handing over his card. Don’t make us take it public. You’ve got nothing, the laureate’s lawyer says, but a “little bitch” – he’ll go to the press right now with some poor anonymous woman versus Mr. Humanitarian. She’s just a “little cheerleading bitch tired of turning tricks under the bleachers and wants to accuse Joe Kent – Joe Kent, say those words to yourself. Who comes out of that fight?” He tosses Will’s card in the trash. Well. Have we seen a more loathsome character since Colin Sweeney? Can’t think of one off hand.
As a parting shot, Will tells the other lawyer that it’s malpractice (presumably, the pesky bit about not informing his client of the suit). “You stupid son of a bitch,” the man taunts, following Will back toward whatever building (his office? ours? The gala?) they’re supposed to be in front of. This guy is pretty much every nasty stereotype you can have of lawyers. “You two bit, shake down leg breaker. You come to me with this scam, this two encyclopedias for one scam, and you expect me to what, roll over? This isn’t BP. Joe Kent is a great man. And I’m a bastard. That’s why he hired me. You don’t deal with him,” he finishes, shoving Will in the back of the shoulder, “you deal with me. You…” another poke in the shoulder, this is so not going to end well, “..come to the back door, you stupid” push “number running…”
And that’s as much taunting as Will can take, because he tackles the nasty piece of filth. Will gets off a good punch, but can’t land another. There’s a bit of wrestling. Will take a tough shot with a knee, and looks like he could get his clock cleaned, but manages to get Stereotype in a head lock for about three seconds. It’s not pretty. They break apart, panting. Stereotype daubs his bloody cheek, then throws the stained handkerchief at Will. “Take that as a no,” he says, and he’s gone. And I know I’m a bad person, because I kind of wanted Will to wreck the guy. Talk about disrespectful and unprofessional! Not that throwing a punch is professional, either. Oh well.
“Really,” asks Derrick, smirking as he hands Will a shot of something. “Remind me to never get you angry.” Will smiles, somewhat painfully. I don’t think we’ve ever seen Derrick this close to a belly laugh. “So we get Lara to sign the retainer and we go to the press.” Diane paces. “Think he was bluffing?” Derrick finds that irrelevant. Onward Christian soldiers! Er, lawyers. “Why?” Will wants to know. “His methods aside, he’s not wrong. We go to the press, we’re suddenly the ambulance chasers of the Loop.” “You’re thinking of backing off,” Derrick wonders in disbelief. And truly, that’s not Will’s typical response when you put his back to the wall, is it? He’ll go all out to nail you, just because you called him on it. We’ve seen that before. “I’m thinking something doesn’t feel right,” he says. Could it be his busted up face? No, I don’t really mean that. “He’s not showing fear.” “It’s a tactic,” Derrick insists. Clearly, Derrick wants the case, but because he’s Derrick, he hasn’t articulated why. Is it the money? The exposure? Does he believe Lara? “Or it’s real,” Will notes, gesturing with his shot glass, “We jump and we’re wrong, we make ourselves the story – how’s that for a pretty picture?” Alicia stops short at the sight of Will’s cuts and bruises. Her face is a study of distress and sympathy; there are tiny wrinkle lines between her eyebrows. They’re quickly smoothed out by her reserve, of course. What do you know, says Will. “Diane and I finally agree on something.” Diane instructs Alicia to have Kalinda check into Kent’s previous hotels. “If he did it once, he did it other times.” I’m with Diane. The people who do those things don’t stop after the first time.
Jaw hits floor. “Okay,” a gobsmacked Will admits, “I’ll say black so you can say white, okay?” “I want to know the truth,” says Diane. “Good,” adds Derrick, rising off the sofa. “We have two more hours. Let’s use them.” Meanwhile, Lara texts in the conference room, her knees drawn up to her chest.
Back in the golden ballroom, Eli’s looking gobsmacked himself. “He wants to endorse Peter?” “Yes,” shrugs the Stereotype as if he can’t believe it either, “Mr Kent hasn’t endorsed anyone in years, but he likes Peter’s personal story and wants to endorse him.” Oh. Right. So much for showing no fear! Wondering whether to believe Lara? Wonder no more. (Oh, fine. I mean, I suppose it’s possible that Kent could be exerting influence just to preserve his reputation from the merest taint, or even that the lawyer is playing this underhanded hardball without his knowledge. Doubtful. Very doubtful. Sorry Diane, but this makes him look guilty.) When can we announce, sputters Eli, giddy as a child at Christmas. Er, Hanukkah. “Well, he has to go to Stockholm at the end of the week. How about next week?” Ah, Eli, that vicious snipe is playing you. There is no such thing as a free lunch! Eli Gold, get back on your game, damn it.
“Oh, there’s one more thing,” Stereotype squints. Maybe the bruise on his head is bothering him. “Mr Kent has a thorn in his side.” “O-kay,” says Eli, who hears the price coming. “I know your law firm’s Lockhart/Gardner & Bond, and Mr Florrick’s wife’s a key player there.” “Uh, she’s a second year associate,” says Eli, backpedaling as fast as he can. “Ah, but the word is Lockhart/Gardner’s Peter’s firm. We need them to back off a case.” He shrugs like it’s nothing. Eli nods, considering.
“Is this too hard,” a woman’s voice ask. No, says the Evil Boyscout, it’s perfect. He’s naked from the waist up, and even that does not make me like him any more. He’s slightly furry. He asks Lara’s roommate Sabrina (his masseuse) if he can tip her a bit extra, winkwink; after all, it worked with Lara when he was here before. She stops the massage. “This is a VIP treatment, sir. The hotel frowns on ‘something extra.'” Good for you, Sabrina. Not to mention, gross! “And Lara?” Blake presses. “Lara goes her own way,” Sabrina shrugs, and says that Sabrina sometimes does full body massages outside of work. Does Blake want Lara’s number?
“She’s jealous, that’s why she said it,” Lara exclaims. The tone in her voice is the same one you use when you say the word “duh;” it shows contempt for their stupidity. Sure, Sabrina is her roommate, but there are only so many jobs, and she’s going to fight to take them away from Lara. “But she was saying it to a customer who wanted a sexual massage,” Alicia questions, puzzled. This doesn’t make sense to Lara as a criticism. Well, explains Alicia further, wasn’t it a sort of compliment, maybe getting you a job? “No no no no, you don’t understand. LMTs call them one handed masseuses. It hurts their reputation in the big hotels, and that’s where the money is. If I’m known for sexual massages, I won’t get the big jobs.” This is the most passionate and engaged that Lara has appeared during this whole grueling ordeal, and it draws Diane’s attention.
Somebody thumbs through messages on a smart phone; it’s Peter, and it’s Alicia’s phone. Damn it, Alicia, WHY are your voice mail messages not password protected? What the hell? I was lucky enough to watch this episode with my cousin (something we never get to do since she lives on the other side of the country) and her blackberry doesn’t automatically come with password protection. Is this normal? Is it a feature of certain phones? Either way, Alicia, honey, you’ve got to take better care of your privacy! Clearly Tammy’s words have planted a bug in your husband’s head. So, this is kind of funny to me. On the one hand, Peter has had in the past a reason to be jealous of Will. And yes, her feelings for Will are still there. But somehow, I feel like Peter’s own guilty conscience is affecting his judgment, because I don’t think her behavior has given him a reason to feel insecure about her fidelity. I don’t know. Either way, it seems like a hideous breach of trust.
Anyhow. The messages are all from the last week or two, except that one voice mail from Will. That she’s kept on her phone for 86 days. Seriously? Anyway, 86 days you’ve kept that on your phone, where Jackie or Peter or Courtney or anyone could play it? Mother of God, woman, what are you thinking? Peter glares at the phone. And then he plays the message, looking around as he brings the phone to his ear as if all passers by would know it wasn’t his phone. He doesn’t get any further than “I don’t have a plan.” when Eli bursts over to him.
“I don’t even know where this came from, but – are you ready? Joe Kent wants to endorse you.” Peter can’t believe it, either, but he’s not quite so happy-clappy over it as Eli. “What’s the catch?” “The catch? There is no catch. The catch is that you say thank you.” “Eli,” says Peter, shaking his head. Peter knows there’s always a catch. Fine, Eli says, and explains about the “nuisance suit” from “his” law firm. He says he’s working on it. “Okay,” says Peter, let’s talk to him. No, not Kent – the lawyer. “This time I want to be sure about the backroom deal.” Good for you, Peter. Even if it’s gross, good for you for being smarter about being gross.
“They’re investigating me, aren’t they, ” Lara asks her babysitter Alicia. “Yes, I think so,”Alicia agrees. How can she not get cold in that gown? Will and Derrick haven’t taken their tuxedo jackets off, so it can’t be that warm in the office. I guess she just looks to stunning to cover. “So this is the way it’ll be, if I go through with this? Reports will be looking at me, not at him?” She leans on a chair, rocks back and forth. Yes, of course. Why? “Because they think they know him, and they don’t know you.” They think they do? Does this mean Alicia believes her? We’ve barely seen Alicia this episode, and I’m realizing I have no idea where she is on this case. It’s been more than five minutes since she had a line, and maybe closer to ten. So it’s harder than usual to know what she thinks.
Poor Lara, looking more freaked out every minute, nods. “That’s what he said at the police station.” You know, the guy who sent Lara to L/G & B. Cary something? “Cary Agos,” Alicia asks, stunned. “Yeah,” says Lara, wondering what on earth is going on, “he’s the one who interviewed me and suggested I see you. He said you would be sympathetic.” Alicia can’t believe what she’s hearing, but she immediately smells a rat.
Glasses clink and soft music plays in the golden ballroom. Peter Florrick stares at his wife’s phone, and wonders if he should listen to the entire voice mail. Eli hustles the Stereotype over to Peter. Our vicious gnat introduces himself as Will Cobson. “I’m glad you’re open to this – I don’t need to tell you that an endorsement from Joe Kent, especially on the heels of his visit to Stockholm, could be massive.” Cobson wraps his hand around his own throat, stroking it. It’s a weird, nervous movement. Will, he’s definitely showing fear now – too bad you’re not there to see it! He cares what Peter will do; Will’s threat did matter. Peter sizes the low life up. “So all I have to do is get my wife to drop her case?” he asks, a bit disingenuously. Cobson and the elated Eli smirk at each other. Ah, Eli, you should be better at reading Peter by now. Well, yes, says Cobson. The suit is totally bogus. “And when the plaintiff goes to another firm?” Hmmm. Looks like Cobson has reached out his tentacles to Carpton and Green; he’s got an arrangement with them to bury it. Does that imply that they’d take the case, but not actually do anything with it? Peter says a quick goodbye, and leaves. “What can I tell Mr. Kent?” Cobson stumbles. Eli’s brain must be exploding. Peter turns around slowly. “You can tell him that I hope my wife rips him apart, and I’m sure she will because she’s a good lawyer. Either way, I know she’ll do the right thing. But it was very nice meeting you.”
Now that, my friends, in one of those moments where we know why she married him.
Eli scampers off to try and repair the damage. And then Peter, God bless him, takes Alicia’s phone out of his pocket and puts it in her purse. Yes! Sometimes it takes contact with a real scumbag to help him straighten up and fly right, but I was proud of him in that moment.
A bit further into the room Cary holds court, his wingmen convulsed in laughter over a story that actually doesn’t seem funny at all. He breaks off mid-tale when he sees a phalanx headed his way – Will, Derrick and Alicia, walking with intent. You sent a client our way, Will mentions (ooh! not a client! them’s fightin’ words!). Cary admits it freely. He also manages one of his dry little passive aggressive genius insults when Derrick introduces himself. “Oh, that’s right, you guys have been going through some mergers over there.” Even though his voice is pleasant, he still manages to make “merger” sound like “social disease.” So what’s up with Lara White, Will wonders. “What’s up? She said she was assaulted,” Cary answers. “And yet the State’s Attorney booted her case – and you sent her right to us.” Yes, Cary says. “I think Lara was assaulted by Joe Kent, and I think Mr. Childs made a mistake, and I want to see justice done.” Well. Okay. Really? Cary is so slippery sometimes; you get used to expecting him to be devious and nasty, and then what does he go and do. Can he be believed? Is he just playing?
“And you’re just going to help us out,” shrugs Alicia. Of course he is. Why wouldn’t he? (Um, let me think.) Alicia tilts her head, encouraging him to stop the prevarications. That’s around the point she notices Tammy, dancing and laughing with some generic tuxedoed schlub. “What makes you think Mr. Kent did it,” Derrick asks. Previous assaults, says Cary. Get Kalinda on it, and tell her to look for Meredith Bordonay. (Not to be fresh, but is that like a hybrid of Bordeaux and Chardonay?) “Take the case. It’s a good one.”
“I think he still wants to hurt us, ” Alicia says. I dunno. I think he’s more convincing than that, even though Alicia has the best reasons to be suspicious. Derrick heads back to the office, and Alicia half follows, but stops to watch Will cut in to dance with Tammy. Oh, Alicia. “Oh, thinking about our younger years,” tinkles a really odd remake of the classic tune. Derrick actually has to come back and get her. That’s not good. It’s also incredibly romantic and sad, but it’s not good.
“What happened to you,” pouts Tammy. “I got in a fist fight,” Will says off hand. “That’s a turn on,” purrs Tammy, in more obvious mode. “I know,” says Will, “that’s why I did it.” She smiles. She pulls off his tie, right there on the dance floor, and starts fake-whining about how she hates it when he’s serious. I don’t know if it’s her, or the adrenaline from the fight or what, but it’s working. “Now, nothing can take you away from me,” the song tells us. “We’ve been down that road before, and it’s over now – you keep me coming back for more.” He’s suddenly a flood of emotion. She gently kisses his scab. She smiles. He kisses her back, not quite so gently. I’m so glad Alicia didn’t stay for this, because it is a really good kiss. And, hello! Who kisses like that in public? At a work function, no less! Let me rephrase. What person over the age of 18 who is not saying goodbye for the purgatory of algebra class kisses that way in public? Holy hotness, Batman. Get a room – but, wow.
She pulls back enough to say “I’ll stay with you as long as it’s fun.” So has he been courting her in some way? She’s really not just the next number up in his little black book? He snorts in disbelief (how could he not be fun?) but she goes on. “As soon as you fall in love with me it’s over, okay?” “Okay,” he says. “You can do that again,” she invites him, and his hands go back up to the sides of her face, and they’re kissing again. “Through the good times and the bad, I’ll be standing here by you,” tinkles the music.
The camera swings away from the lustful teen groping on the dance floor to Eli, eyes glued to his smart phone. He starts hissing for Peter. Gosh, I’m going to start thinking of him as Sir Hiss from the old Disney Robin Hood cartoon if this keeps up. He blathers, nearly hysterical, about how Kent has somehow endorsed Peter via email, and how this joyous event will get them their targeted demographic – women. “African American women, Caucasian women – in one fell swoop it takes care of the Amber Madison problem.” Okay, first off, when did it just become an Amber Madison problem? Are the writers really forgetting about the rest of Peter’s hookers? And second, why is Eli still one step behind? “No,” says Peter, rightly, both mad and impressed, “he’s tied himself to us. Kent. He’s tied our fates together. Right now, I’m being endorsed by a secular saint, but if the suit goes through, I’m being endorsed by a sexual deviant.” And you of all people don’t need that press, Peter. Really, this should not be news to Eli, but I guess Peter didn’t fill him in sufficiently after the last conversation with the lawyer. “He’s forcing you to call Alicia off.”
Well, it’s not as if it’s just her choice. Would the partners drop this suit for Peter? I don’t know why they would.
Kalinda’s found Meredith Bordonay. Kent was lecturing at UC Santa Cruz (alma mater of my visiting cousin, hurrah) when he asked Bordonay for sexual contact during the massage. She complained to management, but dropped it when they did nothing. And yes, Derrick, Kalinda finds her credible. She even thinks the girl might testify with some gentle persuasion. Sounds like she’s a little fragile – unlike our stalwart Miss White. Will, minus his tie, picks this moment to arrive. Fresh from a tryst in the cloak room, I wonder? You know what, though? Tammy is nothing like that whiney irritating would be reporter from a few weeks ago. She’s an equal, and what she wants, he can happily give and still be with someone who he enjoys and respects. So, fine. “Another masseuse,” Diane fills him in. “Bummer,” says Will succinctly. Should I go tell Lara, Alicia wonders. No, says Diane, I will. She’s found the truth, and to her credit, Diane is just going to go with it.
And that’s when Courtney stops Diane in her tracks with word that Mrs. Kent is on the phone for her.
Diane stands in the corner of her corner office, the city lit up behind her. Her hand clutches, and then releases, the side of her skirt. “I wanted to talk to you about this suit you’re thinking of bringing… I wanted to ask you to not.” This in unorthodox, Diane sums up. “I just wanted to mention Joe’s work in the Congo, how important it is. Do you know about that, Diane?” Mrs. Kent’s voice is cultured. She’s used to stumping for her husband, though I hope to God not regularly in this capacity. “I do,” Diane replies, practically between gritted teeth. You can see how much it hurts her. “I hope you do, Diane. Good work requires money – and this isn’t just good work, it’s essential work.” The sad thing is that it’s true. There are thousands of women dying there in totally preventable ways. Joe will survive the embarrassment of the suit, but their work won’t, Mrs. Kent claims. Well, that might be true, and it’s a terrible shame, but perhaps Joe should have thought of that first.
“I’m sorry, Mrs Kent,” Diane shakes her head, ‘I respect you mightily, I respect your husband. But I can’t let this sway me.” “Why not,” Kent’s wife wails.”This woman, what is she, who is she?” Why should that matter? How can he be a good advocate for the poor and disenfranchised if you think that abuse only matters when it’s done to “important” people? “Did your husband do it, m’am?” Diane asks, trying to explain herself. There’s no answer, which is pretty damning. Finally, when prompted, she spits out a strange non-defense. “My husband moves people. My husband has made this cause his life. Does it matter? Does it matter if he did it?” Are you kidding? Is she kidding? Diane can’t believe it. “Doesn’t it matter to you?” she asks. “No. I can say that with a clear conscience.” Holy crap, is she kidding? The things we tell ourselves so we can sleep at night… “The world needs my husband. It doesn’t matter to me.”
Oh, my God.
So, as it went with Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mrs Kent’s ill-applied persuasion has the opposite affect from her intention. It sure as hell matters to Diane whether he did it or not, and Mrs. Kent has just basically said he did. Diane hangs up over Mrs K’s protests, her mind even more made up that it already had been. This is a man who has lost all sense of himself. The people around him have lost sense of what the good they might do entitles them to request. The whole feeling of entitlement, and the way that great work is being tainted and maybe compromised, well, it’s painful. Diane pour herself a generous drink.
“That good, huh?” Will asks. Derrick sips silently. “The goal is not to have heroes,” replies Diane, which makes me want to hug her. Not that she’d let me. It does feel like such a defeat, seeing that your idol has those clay feet after all. It can’t be fun, after everything she’s learned about her former mentor, Judge Adler, either. “Really,” snarks Will, “I thought the goal was to die with the most money.” That’s a sad life for both of them, if that’s what they feel. (Actually, I get Diane. Hero worshiping hardly ever works. Nelson Mandela cheats on his wife, etc… Trying to die with the most money, though, that just seems sad. It’s not so useful once you’re dead, is it? Not that he was completely serious.)
Alicia pops in to see how it’s going. “It’s almost eleven,” she reminds them, “where are we?” “Diane doesn’t have heroes anymore,” Will answers sardonically, “and the firm is going to be trounced tomorrow for dragging a saint through the gutter.” Derrick cuts to the chase: “You can tell Lara we’re taking her case.” Diane inhales and looks away. She thinks – knows – it’s right, but it does not make her happy.
“Good,” smiles Alicia. Clearly she’s been convinced as well, without even having to hear Mrs Kent give her husband permission to assault and possibly rape women, which I’m sure would have sat so smoothly. “Thanks,” she adds. But when she returns to the conference room, all that remains is the towel, sitting in it’s plastic bag. Alicia looks through the room, then runs, her gown flaring around her feet, to the elevator. She pulls the doors open with her amazing sculpted arms, and slides in beside an alarmed looking Lara. They descend.
“So, Carpton and Green?” Alicia asks. “No. Heading home,” she smiles. Ah, but you won’t be smiling when you see the state of your apartment. I hope he didn’t wreck anything else, that rat fink. “We tried to do too much in one night,” Alicia tries, hoping to bring Lara back to the fold. “Get some sleep. Give me a call in the morning.” “Ah, no,” says Lara, with characteristic vehemence, “I’m done.”
Alicia considers this, and changes tack. “We found another masseuse he molested,” Alicia tells her, and Lara whips around at the news. “She didn’t bring charges,” Lara looks for confirmation, and Alicia gives it. It was just the same. (So, what is this, his m.o. – he asks for a massage, and if it’s not full body, then he finds a more violent way to gratify himself? So loathsome. As if the first bit weren’t bad enough!) “Why didn’t she bring charges?” Lara is upset, even a little angry. “She was afraid.” Alicia appeals to Lara’s altruism, her sense of civic duty. “And four years later this happens to you? We’ve only been looking into this a few hours. So, there could be more women.” I think it’s pretty safe to say there are. Lara licks her lips, choosing. “Then they need to do this,” Lara finishes, sure of herself, “because I can’t.” The ride ends, and Lara walks out into the lobby, her arms wrapped her torso.
“Lara, please just call me tomorrow,” Alicia pleads, blocking the elevator. Lara turns, sighing. She smiles to herself a bit, and throws up her hands. “Everything you went through. All the press, all the people talking about you – was it hard?” She lets out a deep breath, the sort of breath where someone is trying to be calm and collected so they don’t completely lose it. Alicia blinks, suddenly no longer sure she ought to be selling this course of action. “Yes.” “And it goes on?” “Yes.” There’s no lesson she can give about good coming out of what happened to her, is there? Something was done to Alicia, and because of the public role of the person who did it, the world got to comment on her and judge her. Can she ask Lara to choose that same thing, when she would have protected her own privacy if she could? She looks stricken. Lara is so certain. “They’ll look into me. The reporters and everyone. And… they’ll find stuff. Because there is stuff. My parents, my…” she takes a deep breath “sister. People really don’t want to believe this about him. I don’t want to believe this about him. So” another deep breath “I just won’t.”
“Thanks,” she says, sincerely, and turns to leave, Poor little Lara walks away in her ripped clothes, going home to her trashed apartment. And Joe Kent will accept his Nobel Peace Prize, his pristine reputation still unblemished.
And the elevator doors close, and we end in a flash of silver.
The Good Wife has addressed this issue before – the intersection of sexual violence, the law, and the media – but not quite from this angle, and it’s a complex, moving discussion. Why aren’t we better at believing victims? What other crime is there where we doubt so much the word of the accuser? Why do so many rapes and sexual assaults go unreported? Of course this situation is extreme – the fictional Joe Kent is extremely powerful and beloved – but these four hours of questioning and insinuation and violated privacy offer a taste of something perhaps as brutal as the attack. Instead of lasting for minutes, however, the press can skewer you for years. It’s also brave of them, I think, to end on such a dark note. Diane isn’t the only one who ends up disillusioned.
Natalie Knepp’s performance as Lara seems almost more impressive to me because the script bars her from hysterics and tears, the things that might be the normal avenue into the audiences sympathies. She can’t chew up the scenery, but she still has to prove it to us. How long does it take before we believe her? It’s certainly an interesting exercise. We don’t want to believe our heroes can fall. We don’t want to see the good and the bad mixed so thoroughly. I think I could watch this one pretty often, to pick out the strands of belief from the partners and Alicia as those hours pass. And that’s not even getting into Will’s fist fight, Tammy, Peter’s jealousy and Eli’s frustrating blinders.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time.