E: It’s back to the 80s Tuesday night on The Good Wife, as two teen stars from the age of neon and oversized jackets show their grown up bonafides. Blake has Kalinda on the defensive, Alan Cummings is back to his first season form, and Michael J. Fox plays the judge, the jury and our lawyers like the proverbial violin. But is the sound of it more bitter than sweet?
“Arthur Gibson, 52,” Alicia narrates to a slide show photograph of a pink faced, smiling, middle aged man. Arthur is divorced and has a dull sounding job. No, says Will, we need someone at our table. What does that mean? Is this a metaphorical table? Next up is a pudgy faced woman, Deborah Barber, aged 38 (who ironically looks older than Mr. Gibson). Will dismisses her with a wave as he fixes himself some coffee; not sympathetic enough. “Is there a weight limit on sympathy,” Diane wonders, a touch offended. The third slide gives us a smiling couple; “Maureen Fenton, divorced and remarried, one daughter, aged 18.” Will stares at the screen.
“How’d she do it?” “Hand gun,” Alicia nods, “killed herself and her husband.” Oh, dear. Will wants a look at the daughter. We see what’s probably the senior picture of a girl with curly red-brown hair, hugging a tree (not in the political sense, in the staged high school senior picture sense) wearing a cardigan and a tiny cross. Derrick confirms for Will that she’s signed on to their class action – “one of the first.” She was good on the stand, too. (When? Does this mean in prep?) “Then that’s our test case,” Will decides. He waves his coffee mug at the screen. “Make sure she wears that cross.”
“But I thought Mr. Yates was doing it,” the daughter says, sounding very young, wearing the cross and another cardigan, in rich brown this time with a fall colored blouse. We thought so too, Diane tells her, but he got cold feet. “I know this is last minute, Caitlin, but we think MRG Pharmaceuticals is ready to settle. We just need a strong test case to … motivate them.” “If I lose then the others can’t sue, right?” Caitlin’s eyes flicker between Alicia and Diane. It would make things harder, Diane tells her, but no, it wouldn’t stop the suits. Looking more and more terrified, Caitlin asks if she’ll have to take the stand. Yes, of course you will. “It’s a really good case, Caitlin,” Alicia steps in, hand holding instincts working just as they should. “We need to make sure they never make an antidepressant like that again.”
“Sometimes I wonder if God forgives her,” Caitlin meanders, explaining she has nightmares of her mother “not in heaven.” The poor girl can’t even say the word hell, and it’s just awful to think about her pain. Diane doesn’t know what to say, but Alicia does. “You mom didn’t do this, the pills did, Caitlin. Try to remember that.” Teary eyed Caitlin will remember. What would you do without Alicia, L/G&B? (Also, nicely played, Rachel Brosnahan.)
Oh. So does that mean that all the people in the slides are dead? Killed themselves after taking the eponymous poisoned pills? That’s creepy. When this all started, I was sure we were looking at a jury selection, but no. And that’s the table Will meant. I thought when he said he needed someone at their table, he was speaking in some sort of code. He meant they need the test case subject to have a close surviving relative. They need to put somebody’s pain on display.
Wendy Scott-Carr sings the national anthem, presumably at some sort of sporting event (Wrigley Field, perhaps? Looks like a baseball stadium). Thank you, TGW team, for getting Anika Noni Rose’s glorious voice on screen in a totally rational way. Not that I’ve ever seen a politician sing the national anthem, but with a voice like that, why wouldn’t they? It’s a wonderful, patriotic visual, and Eli Gold is appalled.
“Of course she has perfect pitch,” Eli rolls his eyes. That’s right – she’s practically perfect in every way. (Except, you know, leaking that deposition to the press, which could have gotten Alicia disbarred, but everyone seems to be forgetting about that now.) Two young aids fill Eli in on her depressingly clean statistics as they all watch the video: she tithes ten percent to her church, she volunteers at a soup kitchen and also at her kids school. Her kids’ public school. Eli’s eyes have probably done a 720 by now. “She lives frugally, quietly.” No one has a problem with her. “Is she a saint?” Eli grumbles. “For Chicago, or the world,” questions the more talkative aid. Heh. I suppose the threshold for sainthood in Chicago politics would be pretty low. “There’s no such thing as saints,” Eli says dismissively, turning his back on Wendy and the national anthem. And I suppose the answer to that question goes back to the last episode’s dilemma; can you be a hero, and still do wrong? How much wrong do you have to do before it negates your good works? Not that it’s relevant to Wendy. Eli needs to find Wendy Scott-Carr’s clay feet, stat. “The smaller the sin, the larger you have to make the magnifying glass.”
Aid #2 has a possible strategy; Mr Scott-Carr (Mr Carr? Mr. Scott?) is white. “This is not the South,” Eli snarks, dismissing this as a negative. “With some issues,” #2 insists, “everywhere is the South.” Can they make something of that in some neighborhoods? Wow, that’s ugly. That’s incredibly ugly. A third operative – an older, back room looking type – lurks significantly in the doorway. “I’ll think about it,” Eli finishes, and heads off to join Mr. Significant in the copy room.
“She’s good,” says the operative, unbuttoning his suit jacket and shaking his head, ” no paper trail, distance from the machine, no money that I can find – nothing to get a foothold.” Well, we know she’s allied with Adler, who is known to be corrupt, but okay. Eli’s face sours: he practically inhales his bottom lip in frustration. He brings up the “miscegenation issue”, and the operative (Jim Moody, according to the imdb) offers to make up a few flyers for the neighborhoods where the issue would play. There are clinic visits he can check into (maybe an abortion, if they’re lucky) but he’s got something to show Eli on his little white smart phone, and Eli’s not gonna like it. “What, did she film it?” Eli wonders, thinking they’re still on the clinic visits, but no. Moody had trackers on a recent Q&A Wendy did with voters in a park, and while they were looking to create an “idiot supporter” montage (that’s so of the moment, I love that) who did they find, gazing up at Wendy as if she were lit by heavenly choirs? A cheering Grace Florrick. Oh, that’s so not good.
What do you like about her, the tracker’s voice asks. “She just makes a lot of sense. You know, it’s different – with Obama now, politics is cool again,” Grace beams and kind of giggles. “No no no no!” Eli tells the screen, appalled. Appalled – it’s the word of the day.
I’m appalled, but for a different reason. That’s the best thing they could give her to say? Politics is cool again? Since when did Grace care about cool? Grace who saw through “cool” Becca in an instant? Grace who called Zach out as being a poser? Grace cares about ideals, about right and wrong. Leaving the obvious issues of family loyalty aside (we’ll get to them later), I can see why Grace might be drawn to Wendy. She’s an appealing candidate, especially to idealist and reformers. And she’s a woman. And Grace would like a candidate who’d speak truth to power – don’t forget the dinner party from hell. But there’s no way it’s because Wendy is “cool”, or because Grace now thinks it’s okay to express her political convictions because it’s popular.
Back at L/G &B, Kalinda (resplendent in purple) scribbles on paper, and then takes notes. Blake the Evil Boyscout strolls in to – is it an office? a tiny conference room? it seems very spare, whatever it is – and asks what she’s working on. “No case,” she says flippantly, “it’s just the folder I stole from your car.” Alrighty then – let’s get right to the hostilities, shall we? “Ah, yeah, ” he nods, sitting down with her, “after you trashed it.” “You take a lot of notes,” she tells him. Blake counters with a volley of his own. Some group named I-LeGal (a local association of Gay and Lesbian lawyers – the real one seems to be called LAGBAC, as best as I can tell, though there’s a New York group called LeGal) has rated Chicago law firms for their gay friendly atmosphere and hiring diversity, and L/G & B didn’t do so well. “Even though I know for fact,” he adds, his eyes bearing down on a frantically scribbling Kalinda, “that there are associates here who just aren’t admitting that they’re gay.” She studiously ignores him – a little too studiously, for my taste, because I don’t want him to know he’s getting to her. But he is, and he knows it. “Now, in this day and age, why would someone not be upfront about their sexual orientation?”
“Are you coming out,” she leans in, recovering a bit from her discomfort. He smiles and licks his lips. “You know the theory that I work under?” No, she doesn’t. “It’s better not to keep secrets, so then people don’t go looking.” She acts as if he hasn’t hit a nerve. Looks like this is his way of escalating their rivalry. Does it compare with his trashed car? I wouldn’t think so, but Kalinda’s a girl who really likes her privacy. And I suppose pursuing her sexuality – exposing her sexual secrets – might seem like a fair revenge for her “ham-fisted” humiliation of him, post-car trashing. Still, it’s ugly, and I don’t like it anymore than – well, than anything else about Blake. He hops up, and as soon as he’s out of view, Kalinda picks up her phone. “Hello,” says a quiet voice. “It’s me,” Kalinda replies, all business, “we need to talk.”
Diane’s on the phone, sporting a classic gray suit with a modern looking cream blouse, with a pleated neckline, all of which means it’s not the same day we started on. She’s pretty excited. It turns out that MRG has fired their entire legal team. L/G &B’s jury consultant expresses disbelief, but Diane scoops up her things, hollers for Alicia, and heads off to court. What’s this New York firm MRG’s going with? We don’t know yet. Diane hopes it’s Bernstein and Meyers, who won an asbestos suit last year. “They’ll look like an army against us!” Diane gloats as they travel through the city. “We’ll have three women at the plaintiff’s table, they’ll have half a dozen out of towners, it’ll be David and Goliath writ large.” You know, if this is Diane’s project, why did Will decide what the test case would be? I can see the partners working together on something this important, but still.
“I want you to handle voir dire,” Diane tells Alicia. “Are you ready?” Yes, stays a stunned but excited Alicia. The jury consultant’s not so sure, but Diane is. “If they’re bringing in New York, we need to play up our recognizability in Chicago.” Alicia smiles as she strides toward the camera. The teams walks toward a tall building labeled Civil Court; people who know he’s coming can see Michael J. Fox standing in line at a coffee cart, listening as they walk by. “I just need a minute,” Alicia declares, “and a cup of coffee. ” She pats her stomach comically to indicate nerves. Diane chuckles her happy Diane chuckle and tells Alicia not to be late. “Hey, you’ll be good,” Diane says, coming back to give Alicia a reassuring boost, “Thirty to forty million dollars – this could turn everything around for the firm. Not to put too much pressure on you.” That seems like a horrifying pep talk to me, but Alicia takes it in stride.
And she can’t help be caught by Fox’s stride as he leaves the cart and limps awkwardly toward the courthouse. He tips from side to side, like a child singing “I’m a Little Tea Pot” or pretending to be a penguin. After getting her coffee, she rushes past to hold the door for him. He looks much more like a professor than a legal shark in a brown blazer, sweater vest and navy trousers. “Oh no,” he says, patting his pockets, “my bus pass.” He’s left it all the way back at the coffee cart. Or was it the bench? No, probably the coffee cart. He can’t go through into the court proper without his id, which is (of course) with the bus pass. Though pressed for time, our empathetic heroine runs back to look for him.
“What are we waiting on, Miss Lockhart,” wonders a frustrated Judge Robert Parks. You might remember Judge Parks from Heart, of one last season’s best episodes. Do judges have specialties, or is it a coincidence that we’ve seen Parks on a case involving medical insurance and now pharmacology? Interesting. Diane is of course waiting for Alicia. Judge Parks isn’t willing to wait. He sets tiny Mr Canning – who is, of course, Michael J. Fox, and the New York opposition – at the potential jurors first.
“First of all, I want to thank you for your service,” says Mr. Canning, “and I probably need to explain a few things.” Alicia runs into the courtroom, ducking down into her seat. She’s about to pant out her excuses to Diane when she sees Canning. “Good morning Mrs. Florrick,” he says, “nice that you could join us.” Oh, ouch. That little devil. “Before I ask you just a few questions, I think I owe you an explanation,” Canning tells the jury. He suffers from a neurological disorder which makes him “do this,” he demonstrates (he trembles and twitches) “and this” (he walks like a penguin) “and this” (he waves his arms and leaps up a little, making noise like he’s a crazy person or a little kid). The last bit is intentionally exaggerated to make the jury laugh, and it does. Oh, he’s good. He’s very, very good. “Uh oh,” says Diane. Uh oh, indeed. Because that’s not all! He promises that if they look at him long enough (“feel free to look!”) they’ll get use to it. “And the good news is,” he enthuses, reaching into his jacket for a small white bottle, there are these pills which – while they don’t take away the symptoms – reduce them enough for him to live almost normally. Diane and Alicia stiffen their backs at his blatant propaganda for the pharmaceutical industry. Alicia objects – as well she should – but Judge Parks thinks it’s all very reasonable. This is stuff they need to know. “Part of my voir dire is to determine who will have a problem with my condition and who will not,” Canning insists with wide, innocent eyes. Alicia’s lucky that she had to approach the bench; Canning is the manipulator, but she’s the one looking like the unsympathetic bully.
“I have to tell you,” Canning confides in the jury, “that my symptoms intensify when I get perplexed, I’m just, I’m really transparent that way, for example I don’t want you to be distracted when my opponents are questioning…” “Objection!” Alicia, exasperated, practically hollers, and I’m with her. “So, are we going to have a trial at some point?” Parks grinds out, irritated. “You Honor, Mr. Canning is trying, yet again, to taint this jury.” Canning is shocked that he could be so misunderstood. “I just don’t want my movements to be a distraction!” “No sir, you are guaranteeing that the jury will be watching you during our testimony to see how you react.” Canning mugs for the judge (this is outrageous! how can she suggest it! does she have a problem with disabled people?), and Parks, who fell for Patti Nyholm’s baby drama in Heart, falls again. “Mrs Florrick, you have a point, but I think Mr. Canning needs to inoculate the jury to his – what is the proper word?” “Condition,” Canning supplies to easily. “Condition,” finishes Judge Parks. “So again, overruled.” As they walk back to their respective tables, Canning leans toward Alicia’s shoulder. “Any luck finding my bus pass? Because my driver might need it if the limo doesn’t start.”
“Okay, we just turned into Goliath,” Diane complains.
We see the outside of another courthouse, this time a more traditional building with columns and a frieze. Lili Taylor walks purposefully through a fusty looking office, asking for a quick one (okay, that sounds odd) so she can be out of the office by three. “Oh, of course you’d give me the dog,” she laughs, and speed walks right up to Kalinda. “What’s up?” asks Kalinda. Lili walks right by, riffling through the folder. Kalinda stalks her.
“You’re talking to somebody.”
“I’m talking to somebody? I’m talking to a lot of people.” Oh. Dear. Someone’s not happy. ‘Someone from my office, an investigator named Blake?” “Public exposure, masturbation…” Lili reads out of the file. Kalinda won’t let it go, and Lili stops to finally vent her frustration. “Kalinda, four months, and this is what you come to talk to me about?” Kalinda composes herself, and asks how Lili is, but it’s far too late. “Oh yeah,” Lili sighs, making a patented Lili Taylor guilt trip face, “humanitarian of the year.” Her brisk walk has come to an end in an enormous, busy court room, where she finds her new client, Mr. Bay, a balding fellow with a comb over, glasses, and a vacant look. “My name is Donna, I’m from the public defender’s office, and I’m here to defend you on charges of indecency, masturbating in a public park – do you understand what I’m saying to you?” Mr. Bay nods up at her, looking like a sad sack Christopher Lloyd. She nods back in unhappy understanding. “Are you masturbating right now?” His eyebrows knit down happily and he nods again. Lovely. “Don’t do that,” she says, as if swatting at a puppy, firm but not outraged. “Get your hands out of your pockets. Don’t say a word.”
And like that, he’s up in front of the judge. Anyone else think this looks like that old 80s sitcom Night Court? “Who do you have for us today, Miss Seabrook?” a weary judge wonders. “An innocent man,” Donna replies, keeping her face straight through long practice. “I’m sure,” smiles the judge. It was cold last night, and Mr. Bay was simply warming his shivering hands in his pockets. Hilariously, as she says this, Bay pulls his hands from behind his back and reaches into his pockets, putting the lie to her words. “Stop that,” she spits out, stopping his right arm. Heh. Luckily for Mr. Bay, the judge doesn’t think it’s worth any more of the state’s money, and lets Bay out on time served. (That’s all rather gross. I don’t know exactly what I think ought to be done with a guy like that; he’s not firing on all cylinders, and it’s alarming. I’m almost sorry she – sorry, I can’t help myself – gets him off.) Bay scuttles off without ever having spoken a word. “Thank you!” she yells at his retreating back.
“You could make a lot of money at a big firm,” Kalinda notes as Donna leaves the courtroom. “What, when I meet such interesting people here?” Seriously, it would take a great deal of altruism to work in that sort of atmosphere. Is altruism even the right word? I suppose all her cases can’t feel that meaningless, can they? “Everything’s fine,” Donna says, and she sounds pretty rational. “I didn’t talk to anyone and I didn’t tell anyone your secrets.” I mostly believe her. “If this guy approaches me…” “Blake,” Kalinda supplies helpfully. Aw, honey, why are you getting all in a panic? What if you lead Blake to Donna by finding her like this, especially in a public place? “… I won’t tell him how heartless you can be.”
Oh. Okay. Not so fine after all. In fact, she’s incredibly bitter. I still think it’s more of a risk running over to see her (if you can trace him, he can trace you) but Donna is clearly a loose cannon, so maybe she was right to be worried. “How insensitive. How self preservation is your number one concern.” Kalinda looks worried and taken aback. “And after four months, you can barely say hello? I won’t tell him any of that, okay?” This is the kind of speech you rehearse in your head when you’ve been dumped, I can see that. But, ouch. Donna walks away.
So, hmmm. Would Kalinda have been with Donna back when Detective 98 Degrees declared himself, or when she was tangling with Lana? Interesting. I have trouble believing this, though. Isn’t Lili Taylor old for Kalinda? I suppose Donna doesn’t have to be the same age Lili is (Archie Panjabi is 38, rather than Kalinda’s 25) but – oh, I don’t know. I have trouble seeing Kalinda with a whiny older woman, especially in comparison to the people we’ve seen her with before. I’ve been a bit nervous about this plotline since I heard about Taylor’s casting, and I’m more dubious with every moment she’s on screen. Not that’s Taylor’s not a terrific actress; she just hits the guilt and shame notes a bit hard for my taste here. It’s hard to see a person left there who Kalinda could have fallen for, and she doesn’t have the charm or style of previous love interests. You know it’s bad when I start wondering where 98 Degrees has gone…
“Well, we got the jury we wanted, but ” the jury consult explains, as Alicia reviews her notes,”but the… handicap… of the opposing council has undercut my earlier assumptions.” “Meaning?” asks Will, catching up with the team in a conference room. “He’s co-opted our jury” – right, who must have been picked for their sympathy. Will doesn’t get it, but boy does Diane. He’s using his handicap to make the pharmaceutical company look like a good guy. “The medical testimony will prove otherwise,” Derrick insists. “We still have a slam dunk.” Will doesn’t think they should be acting like they’re the ones on the ropes. Alicia heads out to prepare the doctors for “some tough cross.” Ah, Will. You have no idea.
As Alicia leaves the conference room, Eli magically appears beside her. He opens his mouth three or four times before something actually comes out. “I’m trying to figure out … how to broach this one.” Easy enough, Eli – just show her the video. Although looking like you care about her family doesn’t hurt you in Alicia’s book, so fine. “Why don’t you give me a subject line,” Alicia offers when they’re back in her office. Eli inhales. “Grace!” he spits out. “Your daughter.” Alicia looks frozen – which, thank you for stating the obvious, Eli. “She attended a Wendy Scott-Carr speech and spoke up for her.” If she’d made any guesses as to what Eli wanted to discuss, surely this wouldn’t be it. ‘We have it on tape.” Alicia starts. “But not for public consumption,” Eli adds, placating, “one of our trackers caught it.”
Oh, cause that’s going to sit well. “One of our trackers,” Alicia questions dangerously, her displeasure dripping from the words. “Yes,” Eli says, brazening it out, “I have to keep tabs.” That’s our Eli: it must be said that he’s a plain-dealing villain. He paraphrases, and if there isn’t more than we’ve seen, he embellishes as well. Grace didn’t say anything about corruption, though it would have been more in character if she had. “Okay,” says Alicia, clearly upset, ” I will talk to her.” Eli thanks her – and then apologizes for bringing the problem her way. Nicely played, Mr. Gold. “I promise next time I’ll bring something good.” Alicia smiles. I wonder what that could possibly be.
“Alvital,” smirks a bespectacled scientist, “is a serotonin uptake inhibitor.” He’s quite pleased with himself, this fellow. “This is the antidepressant drug made by the defendant,” Diane clarifies. Yes, indeed, and it reduces depression by stopping the brain from absorbing serotonin. Diane wants to ask a question about the scientist’s clinical trial, but Canning starts shaking his chair back and forth as she’s speaking. The thumping becomes so loud she turns back to look at him. We get to see a Marty McFly face from Fox before he apologizes for the distraction. “Those taking Alvital were three times as likely to commit suicide as those taking sugar pills, is that correct?” Youch. They really do have the science on their side, don’t they? No wonder Derrick felt like it was a slam dunk. Yes, the science guy responds as Will slips into the back of the courtroom, and basically says that the drug actually promotes serotonin absorption instead of inhibiting it. Well, that’s a big slip up on MRG’s part, isn’t it? Oopsy. As Science Guy tries to explain this in more detail, Canning pulls what just might be the most stupendous stunt I’ve ever seen in a fictional court.
He pours himself a glass of water.
On his table, to his right, is a frankly enormous glass pitcher of water. It’s tall and thin and looks eminently breakable. In his left hand, there’s a glass, and we don’t need the camera’s direction to forget all about Dr. Spectacles with his serotonin inhibitors and chemical receptors. Will Canning spill the water? Drop the cup? Will he have a tremor and pour water right out on the table? How long can he hold the heavy pitcher?
There’s no competing with this side show. Poor Diane, with her back turned to Canning, one eye on the witness and one on the jury, would have been better off if she hadn’t tried. Dr. Spectacles natters on about a train, but his complicated metaphor is for naught as the jury and Alicia watch, spellbound, as the pitcher and glass wiggle in tandem. Even the act of setting the pitcher down, after the glass has been filled, is fraught with peril. For someone with those sort of physical ticks, it’s a genius piece of acting; my hat’s off to Canning and to Michael J. Fox both. It was neat, and perfect and reproof proof, and it did everything he wanted it to. There’s an amazing passage in The Screwtape Letters where the titular demon explains that the devil doesn’t always have to make an argument – he’s just got to make your stomach rumble when you’re on the point of an emotional breakthrough. By stealing your focus, he steals the moment. I’m not calling him the devil, but Canning is just that subtle.
Does anyone else think it’s odd, by the way, that Canning sits at the defense table alone? I get that he’s without other lawyers – it works with his David v. Goliath schtick – but shouldn’t someone from the pharmaceutical company be there? Doesn’t that make them look like they don’t care? Or does Canning believe he’s so much more appealing than any suit could ever be that he’s better off alone?
“Doctor,” says Canning, wiping water off his mouth, “talk to me about sex.” Alicia straighten up – where’s he going with this? How does this SSRI stuff affect a person’s sex life, he clarifies. I’ll say it again – Fox is genius at this role. Somehow he manages not to come off as someone downplaying his own intelligence when he messes up the scientific terms; it’s like he’s too busy to bother with something so irrelevant. It’s just not important enough to matter.
Dr. Spectacles doesn’t get what Canning is asking. “Well, for example, if there were feelings of jealousy, this drug would intensify them, correct?” Yes, correct. “But it couldn’t create the jealousy out of nowhere – there would have to be reason for this jealousy to exist.” Okay, I think he’s conflating two totally different ideas here, both of which seem off topic to me. Assuming this particular drug can’t create a feeling of jealousy (and I’m not sure I want to grant that, since it’s possible for drugs to create paranoia, and I don’t know enough about SSRIs to rule that out), it doesn’t then follow that all jealousy must be rationally based. You could say, I suppose, that the person who felt the jealousy would have to believe they had a reason for it, but those reasons don’t have to be supported by facts. And given all this, is his strategy truly going to be that creating the emotion is the only important aspect? That there’s no difference between a little jealousy (which may or may not have been created by actual events) and an murderous obsession exacerbated unnaturally by drugs? Beyond the scope, objects Diane, and she’s upheld.
“I guess we can dodge that question for the moment,” Canning mumbles to the jury, and stalks off. Diane cannot believe the judge let that go. Neither can I. Canning’s allowed to return to mistaking the names of scientific compounds, uncensored.
Eli leads Jim Moody back into the copy room, which is apparently his conference room, or at least his space for plotting dirty tricks. He summarily tosses out the staffer making copies. He’s really quite rude about it, and she scurries off like a scalded cat. On the other hand, he is wearing a really nice purple-ish shirt, so at least he looks good doing it. “So,” he asks, “what is it. The abortion?” “No,” Moody replies, hands in his pockets, look dodgy as usual, “but I know why she was going to the doctor. Breast augmentation.” There’s no containing Eli’s laughter. Four visits over two months. “Mother Theresa got breast implants.” Eli pauses slightly to consider. “Does that humanize her or not?” “I would say not,” Jim opines. “I would say you’re right,” grins Eli. You can just feel the pleasure he’s taking, anticipating the take down. (I’m sure I’m not the only one who heard this, however, and thought, that seems deeply inconsistent. I know I’m not the only one who bet there was a medical reason for it; it doesn’t fit her modest persona at all.) Eli and Jim are too busy congratulating themselves on the score to doubt the information. “She cares about the poor, and yet – how much did she spend?” Nineteen thousand dollars. Youch. Would she really have 19K to spend on that kind of vanity? Also, youch! I had no idea boob jobs were that expensive! “It’s Clinton’s hair cut. No, it’s better than Clinton’s hair cut.” Gosh, Eli, I love it when you’re enthused. He pauses, and his face sinks. “And yet…” What, Jim Moody wonders. “My candidate. He won’t go there.” Moody snorts derisively. “Since when did you care where the candidate wanted to go?”
Good point. And just like that, Eli whips out his cell phone.
A middle aged man with glasses and a thin beard answers the phone, standing outside Glenn Childs’ campaign headquarters. “What do you want, Eli?” he asks, acting bored but tolerant. “Go to hell!” shouts Eli, and wow, he really shouts it, it’s a little shocking. I love how Eli lies with his whole body; it’s one of his best characteristics. “What have I done now?” the man wants to know. “That was ours. Go find your own.” Eli practically bites the phone in his fury, and Moody looks like he found something unpleasant inside the copy machine and is trying to decide if it’s dangerous or just gross. Has Eli lost his marbles? “Eli, you’re blathering,” warns Childs’ staffer. “I’m just warning you – stay the hell away!” The thin man hangs up, and then considers his phone. Moody, who’s clearly committing Eli to a mental institution in his imagination, wonders what the point of that display was. Eli beckons with a shake of his head, and cracks open the copy room door. Out in the main office, a young guy in a gray v neck sweater takes a call on his cell; he’s trying to be discrete in that way that makes it all look totally sketchy. “He’s a Childs’ plant!” Jim realizes, smiling appreciatively. “I’ve known for a week, just waiting for a chance to use him.” Jim and Eli look out at the office, smiling together in devious pleasure. Eli sticks up the paper with Wendy Scott-Carr’s confidential medical information on it. Let’s have the spy make a copy, shall we? “That’s what I like about you, Eli” Jim chuckles, and heads off to plant the seed.
Back in Judge Parks’ courtroom, Caitlin takes the stand. Today it’s a pink cardigan over a brown top. She’s wearing the cross. Diane’s wearing the same shiny pearl suit as she did for Dr. Spectacles’ testimony. “My Mom was great,” Caitlin says in her little girl voice. Honestly, when we’re watching the jury, if I didn’t know, I’d say it was a ten year old talking. She could make good money doing voice work for cartoons, Rachel Brosnahan could. “And there was this change that came over her when she started taking it.” The Alvital, Diane prompts? Yes. “I was going away to college, and – you know, empty nest syndrome.” The change was apparent the very first day, which seems even more alarming. Antidepressants are supposed to take time to work, aren’t they? “She became more depressed – she couldn’t sleep. She had nightmares that made her scream. It was horrible.” You know, my first response is to wonder why she didn’t stop taking the drug, but I can almost hear her doctor in my head, saying that she needed to give it time to work properly.
Canning approaches the witness stand, and sweet, nervous Caitlin says hello before he can ask her anything. He doesn’t bother with the pleasantries, or even with answering her. “Your step Dad had just started a new job, is that right?” It is. He designed furniture – and, hmm, he worked in a department with all women. “Yeah – why?” “Oh, no reason,” Canning lies, “I just want to be clear on the facts, that’s all.” We can see where this is going, especially after all his leaping around the topic of jealousy, and to me that “no reason” might be his one slight slip up. Or it would have been if I were on the jury. Then again, you can’t rewind reality, so who knows whether I would have noticed? 11 women in the department, he presses, and your step Dad, who was working a lot of late nights “around the time.” He doesn’t specify what time. All in all the writers are very timid about mentioning the murder-suicide: it’s peculiar that both sets of lawyers would shy away from this.
He switches subjects quite suddenly. Canning asks Caitlin to read item number seven off a sheet, an itemization of things found at Caitlin’s mom’s house, presumably the night of the event that no one is naming. Ah. In a bloody gym bag, there was a pair of black women’s panties, size small. Caitlin looks heartbroken, and she snuffles back tears, not very successfully. What was your mother’s dress size? Around a twelve. Wouldn’t that be a large, Canning wonders? “Not the size of these panties?” There’s something uncomfortable about the sight of Michael J. Fox using the word panties, somehow. Caitlin looks almost wrecked – her bottom lip puckers up in this very Kristen Stewart way, the resemblance heightened because her hair looks more brown than red in this light. She’s pale and trembling and valiantly trying to hold herself together. “Sorry,” he shrugs insincerely. “You don’t have to answer.” He ambles back to his table, and we see Will at the back of the room. “I do have to ask you this question, however – is it true that your Mom and Dad argued about a woman at work?” “No,” Caitlin says clearly, almost fiercely, her eyebrows descending. “A woman he was in love with?” Canning suggests, his “blame the victim” strategy in full swing. Diane leaps to object. “No foundation!” “Sustained.” Canning isn’t done yet, however. “A woman who was younger and prettier than your mother?” “No!” Caitlin protests, as Diane objects again, and a young woman sitting in the courtroom dramatically runs from her seat at his words, leaving the impression that she’s that younger, prettier woman.
Except, of course, she isn’t.
But before we can get to that, we’re detouring in Cary’s office at the State’s Attorney’s. “Your office is small,” Kalinda observes. “Small but pure,” Cary tells her. Ah, how I miss them. Thanks for this, writers! Alas, no, he won’t get a bigger one after three years. And no, he can’t shut the door even if his coworkers are giving you funny looks, Kalinda. “No, it’s bad enough. They think I’m going to flip back the defense.” He grabs his coffee mug. “So, what’s up? What do you need?” She looks a little offended. “Why do you think I need anything?” “Because you’re Kalinda,” he responds, and, yeah. It’s her job to get stuff that people need. This time, though, she’s looking for info she wants for herself, and it fascinates me that she trusts Cary enough to ask him for it. Either that or she’s desperate enough: I’m not sure which. “My usual sources have dried up here, and I thought you could help.” Of course, she’s talking about Evil Boyscout Blake from Baltimore – Blake Kalamar, in fact. Calimar? Huh. What kind of name is Kalamar?
Alright, says Cary, “and what do I get in return?” Kalinda smiles a tiny, sexy smile. “What do you want?” Cary tosses the pad he’s written Blake’s name on (I would have made her spell it, but I guess that’s not very sexy), and shoots back his own sexy little grin. His eyes crinkle, and he snickers.
“Who was she,” Derrick asks, as upset as we’ve ever seen him. He means the woman who ran out of the courtroom, who – of course – was an intern working for Canning. I know tv law is very theatrical, but can’t they bring this information to the judge and ask that the jury be instructed to ignore it? I’m asking. Seriously. “Damn. If we could undercut Canning by subpoenaing her,” Derrick wonders, right a long with me. So I guess it’s possible. “Naw, that’s playing on his battlefield,” Will says, considering his coffee. Really? Why? That seems a bit more out in the open than Canning’s style. I guess Will doesn’t want to spend time on the defensive, responding to Canning’s ideas. He stares off into the middle distance, seeing strategies instead of the conference room. “We need to pull them onto our side.” “Our side is the medicine,” Diane says in this tone of voice that sounds like she’s tossing her hands in the air and giving up, even though she’s not. “The problem is, the medicine is boring.” “But it’s still the truth!” Diane huffs. “Then the truth is boring,” Will gestures big with the paper cup of coffee. “He’s got soap opera, and we’ve got genetic science.” Derrick’s still furious. “That’s always been our case.” More quietly this time, Will disagrees. “No, that’s always been our facts.” I love it when they talk process, and construction of arguments, and I am not being the tiniest bit facetious. And that is a marvelous point. “Our case is what we do with those facts, and right now, our case is failing Caitlin.”
Well said, Will, well said.
“We need to make medicine sexy,” Alicia realizes, and yuck, that whole “make it sexy” phrase is so trite. Yep, says Will, and, whatever. “A lie always beats the truth. It can adapt, it doesn’t need to be consistent.” I don’t believe that at all! Not the consistency part, anyway. “We need to give the truth the drama of a lie.” Oooh, well said again, Will. Alicia’s right eyebrow quirks up. That is impressive musculature control, girl! “Increased libido,” she says, as if she were really saying “eureka!” Derrick looks puzzled, and Will just laughs. Alvital, it seems, can increase libido in women. Great, says Will, and that news is just in time for us to meet our last expert witness.
“I’m sorry,” asks a disbelieving bespectacled Brit. He looks a bit like Giles from Buffy, don’t you think? Ah, maybe it’s just the British accent and the round glasses and the stiff posture. “You want me to say what?” Will reads from Dr. British’s study notes, highlighting the fact that one participant found an increased desire for sex in public places. Dr. Brit stutters over the ludicrous notion that this information is in his study. Why, though? Call it an aberration, but how else would they know if it weren’t there? “She was merely mentioning that as an aside – our trial interviewer quickly brought her back to point.” “Yes, that was unfortunate,” agrees Will. Hee! “We also want you to mention the increased desire for oral and anal intercourse mentioned by subject thirty five.” Oh, the poor man is going to have a heart attack, Will. All this talk of sex is so unseemly! (Actually, I can’t help fearing the searches this post will get, what with this and Mr. Bay and all.) He’s not just British, he’s a scientist! It’s all rather cute. “Miss Lockhart, this is all… very…” “It’s what we need, Doctor,” Diane tells him calmly. “It’s what Caitlin needs to win.”
“I am not a clown. I am not a performing circus animal. I am a man of science,” Dr. British tells them, and stands to go, dignified, buttoning his tweed jacket closely around his middle. “Suit yourself, Dr. Laughton, but you’ve only fulfilled half your contract, and we’ll be stopping payment as soon as you board that elevator.” Laughton stops short, and chews on the question, turning to stare back at Will and Diane. Slowly, Will walks toward him. “Thank you, Doctor. Did you happen to videotape any of your animal trials? Your most violent ones?”
Grace sits cross legged on a couch, looking down at the floor rather than across at her mother, just like you do when you’re with someone you know has the right to be mad at you. “I just wanted to hear her speak,” she says, “that’s all.” “And I want you to hear her,” Alicia responds, rational as usual. Gosh, I’m so in awe of her parents skills when she’s actually applying them. “But you did more than that. You spoke to someone.” Grace looks alarmed. “How do you know?” How did she know about any of this, Grace? “Someone videotaped you.” Oh, Grace, you’d think you’d be more aware of this kind of thing after what’s happened to you in the last few months. The guy at the garden club, your uncle… “Who?” Grace wants to know, but Alicia doesn’t want to admit to something she can’t stomach (that Eli is using trackers) so she changes the topic instead. “Are you mad at Dad?” “No!” Grace says, immediately defensive. (Really, though? She’s not angry with him, not even a little bit? Are kids really that much more resilient than adults? No, not really.) “Somebody asked me a question and I answered them,” Grace responds as if it’s no big deal, as if it’s the right or obvious thing. Alicia just gives her a knowing look. Because Grace, you do know better.
“It’s a free country!” Oh, honey, that one’s so not going to fly. That was a bit desperate, don’t you think? “Yes, Grace, thank you,” Alicia says, with more than a touch of asperity. “You know this will hurt Dad.” Grace looks pained. “Mom, she’s really good. She really is.” Alicia, this would be the moment to explain that Wendy leaked privileged information and almost got you disbarred, to make Childs and Peter look bad. I’m waiting, Alicia! “Yes, and if you were her daughter, you could talk about that.” Grace keeps working up her outrage. “So I just can’t say what I think?” “You can say what you think,” Alicia tells her, “here at home.” Good luck telling a teenager when they can talk and to whom, Alicia. “But not to other people.” “When you’re 18,” Alicia insists, and Grace snorts. “I know you think I’m being unfair. But when you’re older and you do something I disagree with, I won’t tell it to other people. I’ll tell it to you first.” Okay, now that was a fantastic point. If she’s got issues with her Dad as a candidate, she’s got to work them out with him, in private. “Mom, it’s politics. It’s different.” Does she really think she knows more about politics than her mother? (Well, then again, she is a teenager.) “No, this is family, it’s not different.”
“So if I disagree with something Dad did, I should just tell him?” Her voice is starting to sound quavery. “What do you disagree with?” Alicia asks, really questioning. Dead God, where to start? Seriously, it could be anything from the last year or her entire life. But no, in this case it’s definitely something that’s happened after she went to the rally (so it still doesn’t answer the question of why she’s abandoning her Dad as a candidate – perhaps his lack of support for Palestine?): it’s a nasty youtube (sorry, VidTrope) video about Wendy Scott-Carr’s boob job. There’s a cartoon man with a banjo, and it’s loosely set to the tune of “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. Ick. Alicia averts her eyes. “Wendy cares for all the poor, and Wendy now is plastic.” Ug. “Where did you find this?” Alicia asks quietly. “Online,” Grace answers, and I guess. If she’d gone to the rally and then googled Scott-Carr the next day, or even set her on google-alert because she was interested, then maybe. Then you don’t know, claims Alicia, it could be the other campaign. “Is it?” Grace wonders, disbelieving.
And yeah, Grace, you should totally ask your Dad that. You can see that Alicia wants to know, too. Of course, Alicia should follow her own advice and ask Peter about the trackers, and I’m willing to bet that won’t happen. Anyway, really great work, ladies. It was a beautifully acted scene, even if it really didn’t get to the root of Grace’s feelings about the campaign the way I wanted it to.
We begin again with Dr. Laughton the haughty Brit on the stand, spitting out scientific gobblety gook. And what did you learn from this trial, Diane asks pointedly? “Well in some subjects, it made them desire anal sex,” Laughton says with as straight a face as he can. Canning nearly does spit take. Laughton has his full attention now. Oh, goodness, anal sex, really, swoons Diane, fanning herself. (Okay, not really, but she plays it up in a funny way.) “Was that surprising?” Will – watching yet again – buries in laughter in his hand. Laughton then brings up subject 18 and her public places fetish. Canning objects to the exhibitionist sex, on grounds of relevance. Have we seen him object before now? The point, Diane explains to the judge and jury, is that while Mr. Canning contends that an affair was responsible for Mrs. Fenton’s tragic actions, we belief that Alvital would have insured the Fentons had a good sex life, thus making the affair theory less plausible. Canning will admit to the increased libido side effect, but Diane prefers to argue her own case. Overruled. Excellent.
Next up we see that animal video Will mentioned. White rats (injected with small doses of Alvital) squeal and swarm over black rats in a frenzy. I can’t actually tell that the white rats are doing more attacking than the black ones, but with the ramped up sound effects, it all looks very violent and disturbing. We see the jury respond with alarm. Will grins as widely as ever we’ve seen. Louis Canning laboriously scribbles a note, and passes it to Alicia. “Game on,” it reads. She smiles, and he waves his pen in something of a salute. We flash quickly back to the rats, and an enormous amount of what’s meant to be blood splashes across the glass rat enclosure. The splash is actually rat sized, so it’s a little silly if you think too much about it, but it’s very affective as a momentary shock. The jury jumps. We hear a tiny, final squeal as the picture fades.
A loud, aggressive beat greets us in the next scene; techno music blares in a club. Men and women sway rhythmically beneath disco balls – I won’t say it’s exactly dancing – and in the foreground, Kalinda and Donna share drinks. Kalinda looks like Kalinda, but Donna’s got a totally different vibe from her buttoned down State’s Attorney’s Office look. “You sure you couldn’t find any place darker?” Donna snarks. What’s up with the passive aggression, Donna? Enough already! Wow, Kalinda must really want to shut you up; placating people doesn’t seem like her style at all. Miss Sharma suggests that they leave. “No. I just want to make sure you feel anonymous enough.” There it is again! Okay, I get that she’s mad and she wants Kalinda to know it, but it’s not making me like her one bit. I bet she even had reason to be mad, but I still can’t get behind the behavior. Why go out at all – just to torture Kalinda. I mean, I get it – the point is to torture Kalinda – but is it really going to make you feel better, Donna? They drink. “You broke my heart,” Donna says just as soon as her drink hits the table top. Oh God. She says it with this patient, self-satisfied little smile, which I’d like wipe off her face. “Not intentionally,” Kalinda says, trying to improve the situation. Why on earth are you here, girl? “Well that’s a relief!” Donna laughs. (Okay, I’ll give you that one.)
“Donna, I’m not domestic,” Kalinda sighs. “You think that’s what I wanted?” Donna says, somewhat amazed. “Yeah I do,” Kalinda says, right in her face, and again, I just don’t see the person that might have attracted Kalinda to begin with. Donna’s so needy. She throw an arm around Kalinda’s neck, and accuses her of being there only to keep Donna in line – to make sure she doesn’t talk to Blake. Well, duh. It is a little obvious, Kalinda, and also, ill-considered. Donna doesn’t seem like the type to handle people flitting in and out of her life. “Can’t I be multitasking,” Kalinda flirts, leaning in. Sigh. Oh, honey, that’s a bad idea. (Oh, no. Now all I can think of is those “Bad Idea Jeans” commercials.) For a blinding moment all I can see is the painful, desperate face of Lloyd’s friend Corey from Say Anything – you know, Taylor’s breakthrough role as the girl who tried to kill herself over her first love, Joe, and has written hundreds of songs about how much she hates him, but declares her love the moment she’s alone with him again?
Donna can’t take it; she ducks out of Kalinda’s gaze. “So don’t think about it,” says Kalinda, proving why she shouldn’t be giving romantic advice to anyone (least of all herself). “It’s just now, and we’re just here…” Kalinda tries to entice Donna with visions of temporary pleasure, but Donna knows Kalinda won’t love her tomorrow like today. “And that’s tomorrow,” Kalinda makes one last shot. “I don’t work that way,” Donna insists, and leaves. Well, I think it might have helped you to think about that earlier, then. But no. Like Diane and the Marlboro Man, she can’t help herself. She comes back, plants a quick kiss on Kalinda, stops, and starts again, far more intensely. Kalinda almost falls over when Donna pulls away and leaves. Her face is illuminated in yellow, glowing like the edge of a knife. She can’t decide whether or not to smile. She downs the rest of her drink, and – nope, no smiling. Donna hasn’t come back, the kiss was yet another way of punishing Kalinda, and who know what Miss Seabrook’s next method will be?
The lawyers squabble in Judge Parks office. He polished his glasses, amused. Mr. Canning wants to make a late addition to his witness list, and Diane and Alicia of course do not want to let him. “I myself was a late addition to this case,” Canning defends his strategy, “and given my condition…” “Oh come on,” Alicia sneers. “Oh, that’s right. Mrs Florrick gets offended when I bring that up.” Alicia rolls her eyes at his histrionics. I get it, but she’s probably not helping her case, don’t you think? They object on principle, but there’s a special intensity when they find out who he wants to call; Mrs.Fenton’s therapist. “As such, as conversations they had are subject to patient/therapist confidentiality!” Diane’s pretty furious, actually. Canning points out that the therapist moved to Wisconsin in 2009, yet continued to speak with Mrs. Fenton, and under Wisconsin law, privilege doesn’t extend after death. I think you could make an argument that Mrs. Fenton could never have known that and so would have assumed her conversations would remain utterly private (I mean, why ever would you think they wouldn’t?) but the judge votes in favor of the therapist and Mr. Canning. Any conversation since 2009 is admissible, he decides. Canning smiles in false modesty.
“So you were seeing Mrs Fenton right up to the week before she … shot herself and her husband,” Canning asks of the young bearded fellow on the stand, mumbling out the last words. You know, I don’t know anyone who’s kept seeing their therapist after they moved, and that’s happened to several of my friends who really liked their therapists. Just saying. “Yes, I’m very sorry to say – she was a very lovely woman,” nods the therapist. “I’m so very sorry, Caitlin.” Caitlin stares up at him, mesmerized in horror. She’s wearing a dress for once, without a cardigan. What did you discuss that last time, Dr. Booth, wonders Canning? “Many many things,” Dr. Booth replies, but chief among them was her jealousy. “She was very very jealous in the last month of her too short life.” Ah, there’s that word. Canning’s been priming you for that word for quite some times, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. She thought her husband was sleeping with somebody, Booth tells us. Who might that be, Canning wonders. And, youch. Hold your horses, boys and girls. She thought he was sleeping with her daughter, that’s who. Caitlin looks down at her lap, breathing hard. Diane and Alicia freeze. Will shakes his head. “Of course, this was just her suspicion. It doesn’t mean there was any reason to suspect,” Booth cautions, but the damage is done. Things get worse when Canning gets Booth to explain that Mrs Fenton found her daughter’s panties in her husband’s possession.
Caitlin cries out a tearful apology to her lawyers in a conference room. “So it’s true – what the therapist said?” Alicia asks, because she’s the best person to play the heavy without being a heavy. “No! My step-Dad was – I am so sorry.” She can’t even meet their eyes, and I’m reminded, again, that she’s only 18. Diane looks upset for her. Once, her step-father stole her underwear. It wasn’t a big deal (not a big deal!) but she told him to stop. Oh, gross. I can see someone wanting to go the rest of their lives pretending that didn’t happen. “So there were no sexual relations,” Derrick asks point blank, and Caitlin responds strongly that there were none. Her mom, however, had confronted her, and that their conversation resulted in Caitlin arranging to leave home. Wow. Can you imagine the burden all of this would put on that girl, especially in light of what came next? Of course she signed up for the class action suit. If it’s the pills, then it isn’t Caitlin, isn’t something Caitlin somehow did to make her step-Dad abuse his position within the family. It’s not her fault. I can’t imagine how badly she needs to know it wasn’t her fault. “I didn’t want to be the test case, I really didn’t want to be.” Alicia insists that it’ll all be well.
Will sees Blake walk by, and a single note rings, unnerving. He follows Blake into the elevator and sets him onto Dr. Randall Booth. “Anything specific?” “Everything specific,” Will returns. “We need to knee cap him. Whatever you can find.” You know, sometimes there isn’t something to find, Will. Not that it isn’t worth looking, but can you bet the bank on something being there? “Whatever we can use in court.” The Evil Boyscout’s on it. “Kalinda’s been snooping around about me,” Blake adds, ominously. “Don’t worry about it,” Will tells him. Blake is worried anyway. “If you say so,” he smirks.
‘Wendy is fantastic,” sings the banjo cartoon; Eli and staffers 1 and 2 smirk at his tv. “Well, it is pretty catchy.” The screen cuts to Wendy being interviewed on CBS’s The Early Show. “It’s difficult,” Wendy says, chin up, “but I think that’s just modern politics.” Eli smirks more. The interviewer asks everyone’s question – why? That’s not the image we have of you. “About a year ago, I was diagnosed with Stage Two breast cancer.” Eli’s eyes go wide and his spine stiffens straight up. He leans forward to catch her words. “Not even my best friends knew about it. And I had to undergo a double mastectomy.” Eli drops his head in his hands. I’d like to think some of that was for the cruelty of what he did, and human compassion for what she must have suffered, but I’m sure he’s just realizing he’s made her twice as strong by exposing this vulnerability. As she continues to speak about her battle, Child’s campaign operative (manager? manager) stomps in frustration, and calls off anyone leaking to the video. Too late, dude, too late. Waaaay too late. “I just wish we would return to the issues,” Wendy tells us all, her head held high, bruised but not battered. And, wow. How is anyone going to beat her? Grace grins hugely at her laptop.
I don’t watch The Early Show (when I do watch morning tv, it’s the Today Show) so perhaps someone else can tell me; do they tend to have political candidates from state races on to respond to internet cartoon ads? They certainly have regular people on the Today Show, especially after some sort of extraordinary event or buzzed over moment (like the mom who wrote this blog post), so perhaps it’s possible? I mean, maybe if the video had gone viral, but it wasn’t remotely that funny. Just mean. Unless there’s a local Chicago version of The Early Show? Now that would make more sense. Is there even such a thing anymore as local morning shows anymore? I think FOX has one in my city, but that’s it. Otherwise it’s just silly brand synergy that has them using CBS shows in such an unlikely way.
Okay, enough speculation. Now to the show. Back at the State’s Attorney’s Office, Cary flips through a file. “So, what have you got,” Kalinda asks casually, moving to shut the door. Cary has to wave her down. He banters a bit about keeping the streets clean despite Lockhart Gardner; he’s not without his bitterness. “Yep – I can feel the moral clarity pulling me in,” Kalinda snarks. Aw, that’s so nice. She’s been begging so much this episode, and I don’t enjoy seeing her on the defensive. Cary has found Blake an interesting read (and he’s enjoying toying with Kalinda about it, too). In Baltimore, Cary says, Blake was working too jobs. Does Kalinda feel sympathy, what with her whole Childs/Florrick history? As tangled as that seemed, Blake’s side job was even more murky; he worked for MS13, Baltimore’s biggest meth gang. Ugh. That’s charming. Is that where he picked up so many bad habits? I’m still appalled by his information gathering techniques from the last episode.
How does Cary know about the gang? Blake was actually arrested back in Baltimore, but Bond got him off. Wow. I’m still puzzled as to how Will fits in to all this. Is there any possible way that this could be misconstrued, I wonder? Long running characters on this show tend not to be so clearly villainous; there’s always more gray than black or white. We already know that he’s a thug, but this is a whole other level of nasty. Kalinda wants a peek at the file, but Cary won’t share. ‘Got a lovely little viper’s nest going on over there,” he cautions her as she leaves. “Hey, if I were you I’d be careful.” She nods, and thanks him, and heads back out into the fray.
“All I can say is my involvement with this Wendy cartoon has become a distraction from the real issues of this campaign,” Childs’ campaign manager intones piously into a slew of microphones. Eli and Jim watch from Eli’s actual office. “A toast to a fallen comrade,” Jim says, raising a beer bottle at the screen. Gee, I hope it’s not still morning! They both raise bottles and drink. “Could have been us,” Eli shakes his head. Well, guess you’re lucky that Peter’s conscience forces you to be extra underhanded, huh Eli? “Not a bad days’ work,” Jim says. Eli pretends to surprise, but admits that yes, he pointed the press toward the “real” culprit.
I’m curious. How did Moody find out how much Scott-Carr paid? Did he ask what that sort of surgery costs, or was it her costs in particular? It sort of sounded like he got her financial statement. I don’t know about you, but the way he explained it made it sound like she was paying out of pocket, and $19,000 is an awful lot of money to just hand over in cash. On the other hand, reconstructive surgery would be covered by health insurance, while a boob job for aesthetic reasons wouldn’t, and wouldn’t her health insurance information be on the bill? So that all seems weirder. Part of me feels like Eli should have known Wendy wasn’t the type, but the payment issue could have confused matters, so I’m willing to give him a pass. He gets his best grade of the fall for devious cunning this week, despite getting caught out like that, for making his opponent do the dirty work for him. Dude covered his tracks, and I appreciate it.
Grace watches the campaign manager, finally identified as Patrick Sturgess, resign his job. She’s really pleased. She folds up her laptop and goes looking for Peter. She doesn’t find him, but she does find three different blue shirts of varying hues on his bed. She hangs up the shirts, and straightens the bed, pleased to do this small service for her Dad.
I don’t know about you, but I absolutely thought there was going to be a larger point to this scene – that Grace was going to find something in Peter’s room, perhaps. Lipstick on his collar? Evil campaign materials? Is it supposed to show us that she’s not mad at him anymore, because the cartoon was pinned on Childs’ campaign? I guess. I generally find the explanation behind Grace’s behavior a bit lacking; this could have been a more compelling storyline if given more time, or if Chris Noth had been involved in the episode, but I feel like more than anything – more than Grace being mad at Peter – we got to see Grace looking up at Wendy as an example of purity in politics, and being invigorated by that. So the little touches about it coming from a place of anger (particularly anger that had nothing to do with the cheating and corruption charges, which you know have to still bother her) seemed ever so slightly off. If for no other reason than the anger at the cartoon couldn’t have happened before she went to the rally.
You know what that plotline could have used? A little bit of Jackie. Can you imagine Jackie’s reaction to a glowing Grace in the enemy camp? Not that I wish that on Grace, but it would have been hysterical.
Back at court, there’s a new witness, a young woman with her hair cut like a Vulcan and a thin black scarf around her neck. She’s a former patient of Dr. Booth’s. For some reason, Mr. Canning objects to that, but Judge Parks isn’t interested. But we’re all interested to hear that this woman is the reason why Booth moved to Wisconsin. “I was his patient and he slept with me.” (I’m not saying it was right in any way, but doesn’t the construction seem odd? Not that they slept together, but he was the one having the sex, as if it were done to her and not by her. But that’s one of many reasons why therapists aren’t supposed to go there – because their patients may have a diminished capacity to resist sexual overtures. Uck. Dr. Booth, you seemed like a nice guy; sorry to hear that you’re not.) Canning grimaces. Booth, it seems, moved rather than stay and face charges. And that was enough to make her not press the charges? Odd. Kalinda arrives, and asks Will (watching again) how he got a hold of this witness. You can imagine how much she likes the answer. “And do you have an opinion about Dr. Booth’s veracity,” Alicia asks. Canning wins an objection, but he doesn’t want to question the witness. He’d prefer to recall Dr. Booth to the stand, to rebut this testimony, but Booth has been hospitalized after a break in at his office. We get a quick shot of Kalinda’s face, and after what he did to Lara’s apartment, well, it’s surely not surprise that Blake might break in and end up in a fight. It makes me furious, though, no matter how nice Caitlin is or how unprofessional Booth might be. We can’t be party to this kind of thing, people! It is so not cool! Judge Parks won’t delay the trial until Booth can rejoin them. Canning, done with it all despite how nicely he’s picked apart their case, wants to talk to L/G & B about a settlement; Parks gives them five minutes. Diane starts a smile.
“So he said, what do we need to end this right now?” Diane proclaims, champagne flute in her hand. The Lockhart/Gardner and Bond crew has spread out over some sort of loud, swank, club with elegant chairs and red lamps, traditional without being fussy. “I love when they say we,” a recumbent Will adds. ‘This was during the five minutes recess,” Derrick wonders. Oh yes, says Diane. “The clock was ticking.” She’s enjoying her moment in the spotlight immensely. “So I said very simply – as if it were the most natural thing in the world – you want to settle the whole class action? Forty million. I thought he was going to come back at ten. He comes back at 30!” She folds almost in half, she’s so filled with the hilarity of it all. The lamplight glitters off the wine glasses and the curved, gilded furniture edges. ‘Little did he know we’d take twenty!” someone – Will? Derrick – laughs. “So we settled at thirty five!” Everyone laughs, and Diane and Will clink glasses. ‘Thirty five million dollars,” Will repeats. “Of which we get to keep seven,” Derrick gloats. “We buy another floor of offices,” Diane plans. “Two floors,” says Will, “with a gym,” which is really rather too much, but it’s fine to talk big now. They’re happy. They’ve done what they hoped for, their best case scenario as Diane expressed it at the beginning of the hour, and it certainly wasn’t easy even with the truth and the science on their side. Will can be frugal tomorrow.
A tipsy Alicia tries to pep Kalinda up. “You act like this is end-of-the-year boring. This is big. So smile!” Kalinda’s not casting off her worries as she normally might, not today. “No, Kalinda, a genuine smile,” Alicia insists. “Look, there’s Blake,” Kalinda notices. Aha, says Alicia, you’re jealous that he’s the one who cracked the case this time. (Ouch – straight shooting, right to the heart! Kalinda’s getting it from all sides this week.) Yep, that’s it, Kalinda says flatly. Come on, Kalinda, that’s certainly part of it, even if it’s not the larger part. (I do wonder that no one at the firm has made the slightest noise about the doctor being hospitalized. Are they so used to Kalinda’s normal methods – flirtation, technological wizardry, close observation, intelligence, schmoozing – that they just don’t imagine Blake could go there?) “Oh, look,” Alicia squealss delightedly, her face lighting up like a mean girl spying an friend wearing a knock off designer jacket. “Blake’s got a date! I’ve got to see what kind of woman dates Blake, come on!”
Giddily, Alicia grabs Kalinda by the hand to pull her out of the wing chair, and drags over to meet Blake’s “date”. And of course, the date is Donna Seabrook. Do you think this would have happened if Kalinda hadn’t gone back to warn Donna off Blake? I’m a little afraid she brought this on herself. Donna explains that Blake just dropped by to invite her on her way home from work, and that she and Kalinda know each other from the State’s Attorney’s office. Poor Alicia. You don’t know what you did, not dropping Kalinda’s hand fast enough. And it’s funny – not only because Donna clearly has the wrong impression, but because Alicia is never physically demonstrative. Her colleagues may joke that hand holding is her job, but it’s hardly ever literal. Donna begins to compliment Alicia in a really alarming way. “You’re really pretty. If I wore heels like that, I would tip over.” Does she not read the news or watch tv? Because she doesn’t seem to recognize Alicia, when everyone in this city recognizes Alicia. I kind of wish Alica got a chuckle out of it, but she seems oblivious to Donna’s jealousy. Poor Donna – she’s not Corey Flood anymore – she’s veering into her sad sack/crazy role as John Cusack’s ex in High Fidelity. “Your jacket. I like it!”
Kalinda pulls her aside, but it’s far too late. “Fine. Let’s have a moment.” Kalinda’s lack of interest pulls Donna apart like the pervert Bay never could. The contrast from the beginning of the episode is frankly shocking. Blake laughs at the mess he’s made, then congratulates Alicia on a job well done.”Yeah, I was pretty bitchin'”Alicia nods, waving her glass. Clearly that was not her first bit of the bubbly. They both snicker.
“Wow, she’s totally not your type,” Little Miss Complimentary tells Kalinda in fake surprise. Uck. I suppose they had to know what they were getting when they hired Lili Taylor, but I don’t like this use of her at all. Kalinda explains in vain that Donna is totally off base. Wouldn’t it be easy to tell Donna who Alicia is? Not that you can’t be married and be a semi-closeted lesbian, of course. That would kind of explain the philandering husband (not to mention the whole staying with the philandering husband thing), and it’s not like Donna’s in a rational place where she can listen to Kalinda. Oh well. “You’re trying to get back at me,” Kalinda says gently. “What Blake? Oh, you did say something about a Blake, didn’t you – I forgot about that.” Oh, so you expect her to believe you just went out with a total stranger not knowing the connection? A stranger who’s a man? The passive aggressive thing makes me want to yak. I’d like to think you’re too old for that sort of behavior, Donna, but not everyone grows out of it, I guess.
Kalinda wants to take Donna home, but Donna – who seriously has to be deep in her cups at this point, despite having just arrived – is having none of it. “You’re not connected to me any more,” Donna snipes, “and I’m not connected to you.” She leaves, to drink beer and make small talk – or worse – with Blake. Blake and Kalinda share a glare, and then Kalinda’s left to stand alone. She looks worried, and small. Not to sound like Blake, but I’m not sure why Kalinda cares so much whether Blake knows who she’s dated. If there’s a juicy secret (like, oh, Kalinda’s real name, family background, or the reason she’s created a fake identity for herself) that Donna knows, we have yet to get a hint of it. And I just don’t like how petty Donna is.
Speaking of small, Louis Canning cuts through the crowd. It’s funny, because I don’t think of Michael J. Fox as being as short (or Julianna Margulies as tall) as they’ve looked in this episode. Maybe it’s those heels. “Mr. Canning,” Alicia bows graciously, offering to point him in Diane’s direction. “You fought well, sir,” she smiles, a bit patronizing. “Yes, yes I did,” he replies, his dander up. “Better luck next time? ” she offers. He laughs. She laughs. “Why are we laughing,” she wonders. “Well, because we’re funny,” he says. “Mrs. Florrick, you think you were my equal in that courtroom. You were new math, and I was advanced trigonometry.” ‘Ah, well,” she says, taking a swig of her champagne, “too bad trigonometry lost.” “I didn’t lose,” he asserts. “Lockhart/Gardner stumbled their way into a 90 million dollar law suit. MRG Pharmaceuticals asked me to lower you down to 50 million. I landed you at 35. I’m going home with a bonus of 1.3 million, and stock options. That’s not losing.” His word leech the joy and satisfaction right out of her face, one by one. “But hey, maybe I’ll see you again sometime, we can mix it up in court.” He boxes his hands at her. “Have a nice party.”
Right, cause that’s gonna happen. She looks at Diane, smiling and shaking Canning’s hand, with horror. The cartoon jingle plays over the credits.
And there it stands. Poisoned Pill, while perfectly serviceable, doesn’t quite stand up to the brilliance of recent episodes. It’s just not as tightly written; there are more loose ends than usual, more nagging questions. The personal aspects are either underplayed (Grace) or oddly dragged out (Kalinda), and like the jury, we’re so focused on Fox’s twitches that we miss the forest for the trees. I can’t even decide if I believe Canning, to be honest. I guess perhaps I do? I just don’t understand how L/G &B could have a $90 million lawsuit on their hands and not know it. Didn’t they know what they were suing for? How could those figures be so different? Of course, Canning clearly knew – from eavesdropping at the coffee cart – what range Diane would consider a win. What I’m unsure of is why MRG had such different expectations. Of course, Canning could have just said that out of spite and wounded vanity, but I was a little surprised he folded where he did. Without Caitlin on the stand to refute the suggestion of an affair, her case (and credibility) felt compromised.
And of course, after last week’s enthralling moral dilemma, there’s less philosophical meat to sink your teeth into. We’re flatly presented with bad big pharma, and antidepressants that kill. Ripped from the headlines, we get it. Canning made an interesting case about jealousy, with unpleasant details from the particular family’s life, but there isn’t a real exploration of the idea, which is an interesting one. Can a drug plant feelings in a person who otherwise might not have them? If Canning’s contention is true, does it follow that the drug can’t intensify normal feelings to an irrational and obsessive pitch? But the episode didn’t leave me obsessing about the issue, the way VIP Treatment did.
What I really want to know is this: does Alicia share Canning’s depressing, maybe/probably true morsel with her colleagues, or suck it down and carry the burden herself?
Ah well. Very good – great in parts – but I would say not wholly engrossing. Perhaps it’s because the script is more focused on Canning’s brilliance, and Fox’s performance, than it is on Caitlin and the suffering of the plaintiffs. Or maybe it’s because, while we see the partners filled with passion to win the case, we don’t see quite enough compassion for the victims. And for the second week in a row, there’s less Alicia than usual, and there’s not a moment of Peter or Tammy. Any romantic tension rests completely on Kalinda’s shoulders, and Archie and Lili Taylor don’t share the same heat (at least in my opinion) that Archie does with essentially everyone else. Either way, the episode definitely improved on my second viewing, especially as I started to tear to the complexities of the case. It’s a sign of The Good Wife‘s standard of quality that an episode like this one can actually be a slight let down.