E: Have you ever noticed that the Louis Canning episodes are all about moral ambiguity? Yes, yes, I know that The Good Wife lives in the gray areas between right and wrong, but still, there’s something about Canning. Just when we’re sure he’s completely conniving and amoral, he makes us wonder. It’s got to be something about Michael J. Fox and his twinkly, twinkly charm, his ability to get us on his side. Which is pretty interesting in this context, because he has yet to defend a client who isn’t ridiculously villainous.
And otherwise we have last minute election missteps, throttling, hanging, death, threats, members of the so called legitimate press, job offers out of romance novels (ie, preposterously good), more death, and what just might be a tiny mid-life crisis. Will, dude, you’re not that old!
Like ancient Gaul, the screen is divided into four parts. There are pictures in black and white. A man sits in a cubical in an empty office, his back to the surveillance camera that’s giving us the feed on the lower left hand corner. He picks up his waste basket and carries it off – presumably to empty. He leaves the screen, reappearing in the upper right hand box, walking past a man at some filing cabinets. There’s movement in the background, too. He moves down into the lower right hand corner, which is some sort of supply closet/copy room. He empties his trash can, and snags something off a shelf. He seems to be a nice looking guy, probably in his twenties or early thirties. His movements are economical and smooth. I remember the episode title – Wrongful Termination – and I think, oh, was he fired for stealing office supplies?
He shuts the light off. He’s back in the upper right, then down to the lower left. He puts the round wastebasket on his desk and then – what? He stands on it. It looks like he’s trying to fix a light bulb, but how crazy is that? That thing can’t hold his weight. He’s going to fall off of it.
And then I see that this is the point; he quickly slings the cord in his hand over the light fixture and twists it into a quick noose. He slips it over his head, kicks the wastebasket off the desk, and then there’s a beat before he starts to struggle to save himself, but it’s too late, and the man back over at the files doesn’t see or hear anything, no one sees anything or rushes to his rescue even as the camera pans back to we see there are more camera and more than 4 areas monitored, and soon he’s hanging slumped and lifeless.
“This doesn’t prove anything,” Jonas Stern says, frowning at the laptop playing the video, which, hello there, Jonas Stern! Also, what? What the hell! What was that suppose to prove? “Of course it doesn’t prove anything,” Alicia Florrick smiles silkily, “and yet, show that to a jury, and a million dollar suit turns into a 20 million dollar suit.” It’s prejudicial, Stern contends, snapping the laptop shut. “It’s Judge Abernathy,” Alicia smiles again. Judge Abernathy? I love Judge Abernathy! Excellent. “You’re representing a deep pocketed, big bad internet company, who treated its employees so badly that three of them committed suicide in a month, this one in his own cubicle.” Well, holy crap. That’s horrifying. “What side do you think Judge Abernathy would be on?”
Stern leans back into his chair. He has a beard. I don’t remember him having a beard before. He jerks his head. “You’ve changed.” “I have,” Alicia smiles, and my, she’s really completely confident here. “What happened to that cute little housewife I used to know?” “When did she grow to be so tall?” He laughs in appreciation, pointing at her. His office is fascinating; there’s a ton of stuff all over it. I wish I got more of a look at it; there’s a Buddha head statue, and tapestries, and all sorts of stuff. The Buddha’s head is right behind Alicia’s. “You know,” Sterns instructs her, “they say you kill a female terrorist first.” Um, okay. “The male ones, they hesitate. They fear death.” Alicia keeps smiling. “Not the women.” “Then maybe you should consider settling,” Alicia suggests, tilting her head to the side. Nice. He’ll talk to his client. The housewife/terrorist is pleased.
“Have you been well?” So forthright and sure of herself a second ago, she’s not smiling or even making eye contact now. He is. “Oh, I heard there was another turn over at Lockhart/Gardner.” “Yes,” Alicia admits, “It’s a new day.” “A new new day,” Stern corrects. “I heard there was one of those things every few months. Do they miss me?” She’s neatly packing her belongings into a leather bag. “Oh, terribly. But then every time we end up on the opposite side of a case from you, it eases the pain.” Oh. Ouch. She’s not troubling herself to be polite today, is she? She smiles into her bag. “Oh, and your husband. I hear he’s up by three points.” You can hear his theatrical litigator’s style as he adds that little cutting point. Her smile vanishes. This she’s not comfortable with, but as she’ll thank him politely for the comment. “Playing the race card. Oh, the suburbs. How they love their white politicians.”
Yeah, he wiped that smirk right off her face.
“You are going to become a very valuable commodity very soon,” he tells her seriously. She stands to leave. “How’s your daughter, Mr. Stern?” He doesn’t take the bait. “Every firm in this city will come out of the woodwork trying to get their hooks into you.” And, well, ouch! He doesn’t make being pursued sound very desirable. Or safe. “Wife of the State’s Attorney. A practicing lawyer. And not bad to look at, either.” She looks down at him regally, bag over her shoulder. “Have a number to me by six.”
“Do nothing!” Thunders Eli Gold. “Say nothing! We are up by three points,” he reminds the crowd of staffers, “with 6 days to go. The only way Wendy Scott-Carr wins is if we mess up.” We see the room full of staff members receiving his words like pearls of wisdom. “If a reporter calls you to comment on a story, what do you say?” They’re silent. One guy holds up a finger. Someone else answers her phone. “That’s right, nothing!” The next bit of his speech sticks in his mouth as the woman waves her phone at him. Aw, that’s too bad. He’s quite entertaining when he gets worked up.
“Hello, Petra,” he says from his desk, “what a glorious day it is. How are you?” “Eli,” a young woman with a long wavy hair and a gravelly voice purrs, “you are so counting your chickens.” “Whatever do you mean?” he asks pleasantly. “I’m just sitting here chatting with my favorite reporter.” “So, whadda you think of the DCC suit?” The DCC suit, he wonders. He’s not spooked yet. Give him time.” I don’t know, what should I think?”
“Did you have anything to do with it?” Now he’s starting to pay attention. His eyebrows fall. She’s delighted by his silence, and spins around happily in her swivel desk chair. “I am the first one to call you, aren’t I?” Oh, she’s loving that. He immediately denies it. “No.” Or maybe he’s just answering her other question, because clearly he had nothing to do with whatever it was. “What are we talking about here?” “The Democratic Committtee has brought suit against Wendy Scott-Carr, charging her with a lack of residency status.” Oh, hello, Rahm Emmanuel! Also: idiots. At least the Rahm Emmanuel people had a point. Petra’s reading her line off her computer screen, squinting happily. Eli’s jaw clenches – he looks rather like the Terminator for a moment, actually, it’s quite startling even for someone as expressive as he is. He covers the phone and explodes, bellowing to the loudly working staff about the DCC. Does he want them on the phone, or just shut off? Whatever it is, he wants it now.
“Are you party to this suit?” “Are we party to the suit, no, in fact we believe that any question of our opposition’s residency is misguided.” He’s smiling, as if Petra could hear that, and he’s using a perky, pleasant old lady tone of voice. “Nice quote,” Petra grins, typing, “can you get me another one from the candidate?” What’s her deadline? The online edition – she checks her watch – goes up in 20 minutes. (At first, I thought she was implying that the paper has an online edition which would have a specific deadline, which of course doesn’t really make sense since online news goes live article by article; I’m sure what she actually means is that the online version of the article is almost done.) Eli’ll see what he can do. He hangs up the phone is a rather comically exaggerated motion, and then turns his head so he can burn the camera lens with his eyes.
We hear his yell (“what were you thinking, you stupid bastard?”) while we’re still looking at that laser beam gaze. He sounds like he’s foaming at the mouth, and when we do actually see him, he’s got his hands – no lie – wrapped around Frank Landau’s throat. He’s not quite so much squeezing as shaking Frank’s head, but holy crap! “Let go!,” the red faces party official bellows, throwing Eli off. “We’re up by three points!” Eli howls in outrage. “And we’re helping!” Landau yells back, his arms spread wide to show his innocence. No, Eli barks, throwing his head back, tossing the words around in his mouth like a dog. Or a wolf. It’s really quite impressive, and deeply, deeply dramatic. “Where did you go to school, you stupid son of a bitch? You novice!” Eli’s pulling his cheeks back, baring his teeth.
“Wendy’s husband is not a resident,” Frank says in self defense. A resident of what? They live together, don’t they? So how does that work? I mean, okay, I know, Rahm Emmanuel and the piano and the wedding dress and working for Obama, but still, this is a local race. No one went to DC here, right? ‘They spend more time out of Illinois than in it!” Eli’s got his hands on his hips and his lips pressed together, working up to another blow out. “You gave her an issue! You gave her a reprieve!” Frank sighs. “The court’ll invalidate her votes,” he says wearily. “No they won’t!” Eli snaps, and then clarifies that a lower court will. “It’ll look like machine politics. We finally position ourselves as the enemy of the machine, and in one fell swoop, you make it clear that Wendy is the enemy of the machine!” Eli’s voice booms. Can that be right? I mean, what happened to the race card, and bringing back Old Chicago? What’s that if not the machine? Promoting pot and prison, now that was anti-establishment.
“Well, what’s done is done, ” Frank shrugs, but Eli does not agree. “…you’re going to drop this suit and apologize,” he points at Frank’s face, “say it came from some underling with an itchy trigger finger.” Too late, opines Frank. “I already gave a quote.” Eli spins around, his hands reaching up to heaven as if to ask why he has to deal with such self-defeating idiocy. He takes a second to compose himself. The hands go into his pockets. “You know, I don’t have many enemies in life,” he begins, hissing out his fury through a clenched jaw. He sucks in air. “I get along with Republicans, Democrats, Protestants, Catholics…” he looks up to the left, discussing something in his own head, “even a few reporters.” He’s advancing on Frank, and if was Frank, I would not be cool with that. He leans in toward Frank’s face. If Eli had the right kinds of glands, he’d be spitting poison right now. “But the one thing I hate is amateurs.”
The suicide swings from his makeshift gallows again. “Stern signed off on admitting this video into evidence?” Will puzzles, looking away from Alicia’s laptop. “Yes,” she says, “but I don’t think he thought we’d end up in court!” Diane, glasses on, looks at a document. “Well, it’s six, and he’s not calling, so I guess we’re ending up in court.” “Not a bad thing,” Will assesses, hands in his pockets. “If I were on that jury, I’d want to hold someone accountable for that.” Through the glass wall, we see – well, really quite a bunch of folks, all speaking animatedly, but particularly a blond with her coat over her folded arms. “Has she seen it?” Diane wonders. No, Alicia answers, “but she knows I have it.” “Best way to get it into evidence is through her testimony. Can you prep her?” Which is to say, show her the video? Yes. “You all right with that?” Will wonders. Yes.
Diane wonders who else they’ll use from the rest of the class. Oh. Interesting. If it’s a class action suit, why was Alicia talking about a million dollar settlement? Wasn’t Diane saying it wasn’t worth taking one client on for 800k last week? “Fired one with the kids,” Will picks. “Emily Haas,” Alicia remembers – of course she remembers the name – and Will nods in agreement. “Thanks for holding them together.”
And that’s when he notices Tammy perched on his desk. I’ll be right back, he mutters, and stalks off. Alicia looks self conscious and then a bit annoyed. Well.
“Do you need some help, little girl?” Will says in a deep, sexy voice, which I frankly find quite creepy. “No, I’m good!” Tammy replies in a little girl voice, and again, the playfulness would be cute if it weren’t so damned creepy. Oh well. She giggles. Will exclaims over her cute new glasses. ‘Where’d you get these?” “My sister. Do you remember Helena?” Oooooops. Will we actually get to see Helena? That’d be awesome. I would love that. “She’s staying the weekend. She said to say hi.” Will laughs. “She did not!” Oh, come on. I know you broke her heart, but get over yourself, dude. “Well, she said some other things too.” Well, that I’d believe. “She doesn’t still hold a grudge, does she?” “No, ” Tammy laughs, “no, for the first decade she did. She wasn’t used to people breaking up with her.” She smiles up at Will, flirtatious as always. He smiles at the thought. “She was usually the heart breaker.” He nods in understanding. “Does she think it’s weird that we’re…” His voice trails off. Geez, you can’t come up with some sort of unoffensive definition? How about “together,” Will, or “dating”? Grow up, man-boy. (Oh, you know I love him, but come on. I have no patience for that.) “She thinks I’m competing with her.” “Well then you’ve won,” Will suggests (ooh, she’s won the Will lottery, has she?). “We’ve been with each other longer than her.”
Really? Have they? Yeah, but you’re talking college (okay, law school) years. School years are like dog years. They feel so much longer. Tammy just looks up at Will, hooking her lip with her teeth, weighing something in her mind.
“I got an offer to go to London,” she says without preamble. “That’s why I’m here. They want me to go London for the Olympics.” Will backs away. “Next year,” he notes, eyebrows furrowing in distress. “No, this year. To be their man on the ground in the rev up.” She looks at him expectantly. “Are you going?” he frowns. His tone is aggressive. “I don’t know,” she answers, still perched on his desk, still waiting for him to declare himself. I’m getting a little “I’m just a girl, talking to a guy, asking him to love her” feeling out of this. “Okay,” he nods, gulping. “I get it.” “Good,” she says, with a little bit of a tone, then wonders if she’d cut him off. He correctly assesses her questioning (“what are we?”) which she denies. “No – should I got to London?” Lady, it amounts to the same thing. And that is an awful question to spring on someone in their office! His gaze flickers around; “it’s a good opportunity,” he tells her. A promotion, she notes. “You want to go,” he nods, but she’s not going to be drawn in. “That’s the subject under discussion,” she corrects. Which, ugh, what is that exactly? She doesn’t want to ask him flat out, or tell him what she thinks, or if she’s torn? He’s got to commit himself before she even says anything? Or is she saying – by asking for his reaction in the first place – that she’s giving him veto power over her choices?
They watch each others’ faces for a moment. The silence is a little hard. He almost shakes his head. Finally she quirks her eyebrows, prompting him to speak. “I need some help,” he asks. He can’t tell, clearly, whether he’s supposed to be supportive or supposed to ask her to stay, but since the right response (Stay! I can’t live without you! Marry me!) doesn’t immediately present itself, Tammy helpfully gives him the other path. “I think I should go,” she says decisively, standing up. Really, this is just another opportunity for him to protest, to say how much he’d miss her, but being a guy he misses this cue, too, and takes her at face value, even if he’s clearly not in love with the idea. “Okay, then I think that’s a smart plan. When would you leave?” “Two weeks” is the startling answer. “Wow, fast,” he mutters. Yep. She grabs her things, and he searches vainly for the right words. He doesn’t find them, so he doesn’t speak. “Alright. See ya!” she smiles in false brightness.
See, this is why you’re supposed to talk about issues, not banter about them. She walks out, leaving Will shaking like a bobble head, running through possible responses and feelings in his head instead of to her face.
First we hear the rush of a lovely fountain, dark sculpted classical forms with water shooting out. There are parks, and tinkling classical music. The music is from Jonas Stern’s earbuds, as he sleeps on his office couch with his ipod on his chest. That is, he appears to be sleeping. Is he? Hmmm. His assistant takes an earbud out of one ear. His arms fall straight next to his side, rigid and composed. Oh dear. She’s running through his schedule for the day. She pulls out a new shirt and sets it on his desk; apparently sleeping at the office is not a new thing. She needs him on the phone in ten minutes. He hasn’t moved. OMG! Oh, fine, sorry for writing like a 14 year old, but seriously, OMG! (Also, how the hell freaked out would you be if you were that assistant? Yikes!)
Diane’s phone slides off her desk as she raps on the glass wall to get Will’s attention. He steps back, surprised, and opens her office door. She covers the phone with her hand. “Stern is dead,” she declares portentously. (Why does that make me think of Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol?) Will’s eyebrows are getting a serious workout. Diane asks the caller to keep her in the loop, and hangs up, careful to pick up the base of her phone. “When?” She doesn’t know, exactly. “Sometime during the night. His secretary just found him this morning.” They both sit; Will puts both palms on his face, trying to rub away the confusion. He shakes his head. “Well that’s the end of an era!” “I kind don’t know what to think,” she agrees, stunned. “He brought us together!” She favors Will with a sentimental look. Well, and he was her mentor. “Yeah, and he took half our clients and he’s been bludgeoning us with them ever since.” The funeral – per Jewish custom – is set for the following day. It’s family only. “But the family is sitting Shiva for a week,” Diane notes, looking down at her desk.
They try, but can’t avoid eye contact. “Is it horrible of me?” he wonders. “I don’t know, but I’m thinking the same thing.” Oh, man. “We can grab our clients back!” he leans forward, quiet but excited. “Yes. I already made a list.” She hands it to Will, who clearly loves the fact that she’s excited about this too. “We can’t call them now, can we?” Diane, slightly pouty, thinks not. “Well, it might seem… opportunistic.” You can tell she wants to, though. “What’s the etiquette?” he wonders. “Tomorrow? If we don’t, other firms will jump in!” Well we sure can’t have that, can we? “Firms without the same sense of restraints?” Will asks, perhaps coming up with their pitch.
Diane thinks they should call Stern’s wife and daughter. Of course they should. This is not the time to fret over one year out of many, even if it is the most recent year. “Sitting Shiva,” Will repeats. “Sure.” Now he’s starting to wonder if Stern’s entire firm is in play. “Could be,” Diane guesses. Now that they don’t want – then the clients might be more likely to stay put. He stands, readjusting his suit, but stops and turns to Diane, who’s staring down at her lap. “I’m sorry,” he says. “I know,” she shakes her head, “I mean, how awful. He was dead the whole night.” Will walks back into the office. “Everyone thought it was just another one of his all nighters.” “The life of a lawyer,” Will agrees morosely. Diane’s got a bottle (scotch?) out of the bar behind her desk. “I don’t want to die like that.” He sits on the desk. “Then don’t.” You usually don’t get to pick where you die, Will. Although I suppose they both mean caring more about work than anything else? How do you suppose Mr. Laconic Ultimatum McVeigh would respond if she tried to get together with him on her schedule instead of his? Note, however, that Stern actually had a wife to go home to , and a child (albeit a grown one).
“Pamela Harriman. Now that was a death,” Diane reminisces as she pours the liquor. “Doing laps in the Paris Ritz pool.” She raises her glass. So she’d rather have a glamorous death, such as it is, than expiring in the arms of an adoring husband or lover. “Doesn’t matter, does it? We all end up in the same place; all that’s left is a Wikipedia entry.” Heh. “You’re a bundle of joy,” Diane snorts. You said it, girl. That was rather bleak. They clink glasses and drink. “Stay healthy,” he nods, a benediction of sorts.
I have to say, I wish we’d seen more of Stern. Don’t you? Wouldn’t the fight for clients have been entertaining? Oh well. The classical music is back. There are men in his house, readying it for formal mourning. They put black fabric over mirrors. They rend garments – a white shirt, a black jacket. A black yarmulkes is jammed down on a head. Alicia rips the label off a pint sized deli container – one of the cylindrical ones – and hands it to Will. Diane’s carrying a similar one, which seems to contain something chunky and yellow. Egg salad? Potato salad? Diane’s holding hers as if it were a gift of the Magi. It’s kind of funny; she’s just very formal and stately in her bearing. “Okay,” Will reminds them, “not too opportunistic.” Stern, by the way, lived in a really cool, Frank Lloyd Wright style home.
Inside, it’s airy, with white walls and rich, saturated art pieces. Alicia observes the scene (could they not hire back the daughter from Unorthodox?) while Diane extends her condolences to the family. She does act a bit like she thinks the widow is deaf, though. (And, actually, if that’s the widow, my, she’s far too young and pretty for Stern!) Will brings the two containers of salad in to the kitchen to find – no lie – at least 24 of the exact same thing already sitting on the kitchen table. He looks, stunned for a moment, then adds his food to the pile and licks a bit of leftover food from his finger. (I actually called a Jewish friend to see if there’s some sort of relevance to the dish, some layer to the joke I might be missing. His best guess is that this – potato salad or egg salad or whatever it is – is something non-Jews might pick up at a deli, not wanting to violate kosher but not knowing what else would be okay.) Then he notices an affable, stocky gent glad-handing a bunch of folk around him. Alicia helpfully steps up with the name. She mutters it too quietly for me to hear (Solomon Harwell, MSG?), but it doesn’t matter so much. “We had 11 million of their business last year.” Yes, Alicia agrees. “And his son just made it into Harvard.” Um, okay. Will does up and shakes Solomon’s hand. Alicia, meanwhile, gazes at a photograph of Stern and Diane, the years airbrushed away. Aw. That’s lovely that it was still up in his house, even after she stabbed him in the back.
‘We’re a much stronger firm now,” Will pitches to Soloman. ‘The economy knocked out some of our competitors, but we survived,” he brags. Sigh. Soloman thinks L&G’s great, but he wants to see who buys Sterns’ firm before committing himself. Woah, Will wonders, but oh yes. The firm was definitely up for sale. Stern was retiring. “I didn’t know that,” Will turns away in surprise. Behind his head are two enormous, high curved windows, which is odd, because the windows when we saw the from of the house were all long, narrow and straight. Unless this is the back, it’s a totally different house. “Who’s he selling it to?”
And on cue, who arrives? “Mrs. Florrick, funny to see you here!” Ah. It’s our old friend, Louis Canning, back for drubbing number three. “Yes! Funny!” Alicia replies snidely. Canning establishes that he’s gotten to know Stern well in the last four months. “He was helping me become accustomed to Chicago. It’s a sad day.” Alicia looks at him suspiciously. “Yes, very sad. But I didn’t realize, Mr.Canning, that you were still here. I thought you went back to New York.” Apparently not, dear. “Oh no,” Canning nods, shaking his head and fussing with the yarmulkes. “I like it here. In fact I think we’ll be seeing each other in case again soon.” “Oh yeah?” she wonders, immediately off balance. There’s the matter of Stern’s recent case. “You’re taking over?” Alicia recoils in surprise. Canning steps forward, sotto vocce. “I bought his firm,” Louis tells her softly. “Every case, every client.” She’s as pale as Snow White against her black suit, arms crossed over her chest. “I guess we’ll be duking it out a lot more.” He jabs at the air with his fists for a moment. She almost breaks into a smile.
Petra sashays over to Eli, smiling like a cat to see him at her desk. She’s got pretty awesome hair, Petra. It’s long and loosely curly and swings when she walks. “Wendy Scott-Car is an Illinois state resident,” Eli begins by way of a greeting, “and this,” he holds up some sort of postcard, “is her summer home in Forrest Lake, not Michigan as the Democratic Committee suggests.” Ugh, I’m not even sure why that would matter. I know people who have lake houses and they still live where they live. Petra wants to know why it’s not Wendy’s campaign manager explaining this. “Because they’re 3 points down and they want the DCC to continue to shoot themselves in the foot.” Heh. It is curious that Frank’d be that thick, though, isn’t it? But of course we know that (at least in the world of the show) this is a job you get more often as a pay off than a result of political acumen. Anyway. “They actually seem to be shooting you in the foot,” Petra observes, her curls bouncing. “All the more reason to print it,” Eli finishes, and heads away.
But Petra’s not done with him, not by a long shot. “I gotta a background quote that Florrick has bimbo issues.” Wow, that’s so the wrong word. Kalinda could kick your ass six ways from Sunday – and, what’s more, she could totally out-research and outsmart you. Just saying, I know it’s campaign slang, but you better watch who you’re calling a bimbo, chickie.
Um, anyway. That stops Eli cold. As a nice touch, the name Archie Panjabi runs in the credits over his back at this precise moment, followed quickly by Alan Cummings. He turns, finger in the air. “Had bimbo issues.” She pretends to consider this. “No, I think I got the tense right.” Eli – and man, this day cannot be good for his blood pressure – sits, giving furtive looks around the newsroom to make sure no one is listening. “You’re not going to print it,” he declares quietly. “Am I not?” “If it’s not true, you’re not.” “And we know this how?” Petra wonders. “Because Peter is a reformed man,” Eli answers precisely. She shakes her head. “Uh, it’s pretty convincing stuff.” Her quote is convincing? What did she get? Who on earth did she get it from? It must be from Blake, don’t you think, when he didn’t hear about a prosecution at the SA’s. “He slept with a coworker and is actively trying to hide it from his wife. And I hear that the State’s Attorney has an investigator named Andrew Wylie snooping around…” Andrew Wylie? Nice! I’ve been missing him. Eli leans back in the chair, looking down at the floor, slump shouldered, sad. Then he slides forward and speaks intensely, very close to Petra.
“There are some very real human beings in this little drama,” he reminds her. “Yes. And I know that is always your first concern,” she smirks. “Get me a quote from the wife.” No, he says, shaking his head. “Then I’ll run what I have now.” “You’ll run a rumor,” he dismisses. “Half our newspaper is a rumor,” she laughs, “how do you think news becomes news?” “Get Mrs. Florrick on the phone with me, and I’ll run something else.” So she can hold it in reserve for a more complete story, I’m sure – but if it’s after the election, will Eli care? He stares out into the distance, his eyes seeing something else. Give me 48 hours, he says. Her counter off is 24. He accepts with a shamed, silent nod.
Next stop is a courtroom full of standing people with bent heads. Louis Canning and Will Gardner glare at each other covertly across the aisle. The Honorable Judge Abernathy raises his head, invigorated by his habitual moment of silent reflection to start the session. He smiles and motions everyone to sit. “I didn’t know Jonas Stern outside of our few moments here, but it’s always worth a moment to reflect upon how fleeting life is, how we really only hold so much sand in our hands.” He then recites something in Italian – much to Alicia’s horror – about death. Poor Judge Abernathy; he’s the Mary Bennett of The Good Wife, always making moral extractions from the situation when everyone else is too cool and too smart to state what they think should be obvious.
I hear negotiations have broken down and we’re ready to start, he smiles cheerily. He calls in the jury, and we get to see them listening to a witness. Will asks the man (Yields? Shields?) when things changed at work. “Well, about six months ago,” the witness replies, “after Kim Palmieri took over as CEO.” And that would be the defendant, an elegant woman with a sleek blond bob sitting next to Canning. She’s wearing a button down blouse which has an abstracted design that looks like flames on it. Very weird thing to wear when you’re being sued; is she not so subtly telling us that something (be it the company, or the opposition) is going down in flames? “It started with little things. They closed the employee break room, they cut our sick days, they laid people off so that the rest of us were forced to come in on the weekends to pick up the slack. The air conditioning was off, so the place was an oven.” He looks glazed over. Alicia, resplendent in red (and gosh, I think she looks particularly stunning in this episode) watches the jury shake their heads in sympathy. “Finally, I came in one day and my desk was gone.” Will, sounding puzzled, asks where it went. “They moved it to the copy room. My supervisor, Kevin, made me gather my things into a box…” how’d they take his desk without taking his things? “…and walk over to the copy room with everybody staring at me, and that was the most humiliating…” Wow. I should be overcome with sympathy, but all I can do is wonder how a man who could wear a tie that pink and exuberant could be so thin skinned. I am sympathetic, but it’s hard to imagine his coworkers not being a freaked out at this treatment as he is; you’d think having their empathy at the boss’s clear insanity would help? “After that, I couldn’t go back there, so I quit.” Judge Abernathy watches with his chin in his hand. Will’s finished his questioning.
Canning walks slowly toward the witness, leaning on Will’s table as he goes. “They, uh, closed the break room.” Yes. “I see,” Canning replies in hushed tones. “Darn it. And the airconditioning being turned off, that was tough.” Pink-tie is quick to respond : “Well, it was the idea of working on the weekends.” Don’t back down, dude! The air conditioning isn’t a trivial thing. Plus, like you said, it’s all things together, contributing to a hostile work environment. “Oh, I understand,” agrees Canning. “And this moved desk, how far was that?” Alicia’s eyebrows contract. Pink-tie doesn’t know – maybe the end of the building. Well, to judge from the surveillance video, that’d be long enough to embarrassing. But distance really isn’t an issue in a walk of shame, is it? “And they were looking at you,” Canning asks, pointing to his own eyes with two fingers and gesturing to the jury. “The whole firm’s.” “That must have been humiliating,” Canning snarks (but so subtly it doesn’t really sound like snark), “everyone looking at you.” Will and Alicia look concerned. Why aren’t they objecting? “How far was it, do you think? Fifty feet?” Seriously, why are they not objecting? Pink-tie doesn’t know, so Canning paces out the length of the jury box, shuffling as he goes. If the jury takes the inference from this that the disabled Canning is noble and strong and Pink-tie is weak spined, well, that’s just how it is.
“Was it this far, your humiliating walk, the one with everyone staring at you?” Oh, man. Why are the not objecting? Asked and answered, damn it! “Uh, no, it was further.” Now he wants to know if the walk was in a straight line, or if Pink-tie had to move around stuff. God, seriously? The writers must really love Canning to let this go on so long. “I don’t think you’re getting the point,” Pink-tie non-answers, but that just gives Canning another chance to dryly mock his pain. OBJECT, you morons! Do I need to get Eli in here to throttle the two of you? “I’m just trying to ascertain the extent of your humiliation. Was it this far, your walk with everyone looking at you?” The jury is starting to lose command of their serious faces.
“We need to hit the videotaped hanging harder,” Alicia tells Will as they walk out of court during a recess. Oh, for the love of God, you just needed to stop that bloodbath! I suppose it’s necessary for there to be a bloodbath, but let’s not make it because they’re dumb next time, please. Will greets Kalinda like the breath of fresh, invigorating air that she is. Kalinda’s found something buried in their financial accounts; despite claiming they fired employees because of the downturn in the economy, they hid a $2.7 mil payment to a consulting firm. “They tell you how to fire people,” Will explains to Alicia. Hello, Up in the Air. “This should have been turned over in discovery,” a shocked Alicia notes. You’d think after all that she’s seen, these things would stop surprising her. “Yep,” agrees Kalinda, “looks like they were trying to hide it.” Will’s a lot happier with her than last week.
“And so your husband killed himself?” Alicia asks the blond wife we saw in the office earlier. ‘Yes,” the woman says, tears in her eyes, her words slow. “He told me to hug our daughters. To read them Goodnight, Moon – he loved reading them that.” She smiles at the memory. “And then he took an extension cord, and stood on his desk, and hung himself.” Man. Also – yuck. (That actually makes me a little mad at him.) “And you’ve seen the surveillance video of your husband’s…” Here Canning object, leaping to his feet rather more quickly than his walk of shame shuffle would have suggested. Well, I’m glad someone remembers how to object.
Back in chambers, Abernathy hangs up his robes as the three lawyers talk over each other. The issue is decided! No it’s not! “Over here,” Abernathy calls them, pulling on a brown cardigan. “I find lawyers less aggressive when seated.” Ha ha ha ha ha! Judge Abernathy is comic genius, he really is. Love the Mr. Rogers cardigan. He guides them to a set of black leather arm chairs. “Everybody take a seat. And no leaning forward.” Hee. “Everybody take a deep breath,” he instructs. Alicia pretends to, but Abernathy breathes loudly and deeply enough for all of them. He smiles pleasantly and invites Canning to begin. Canning, of course, wants to include the prejudicial video. “It serves no probative value other than to inflame the jury.” Well, that’s probably true, but on the other hand, I kind of feel like it’s only fair to watch considering how serious the claims are here – that this company harassed its employees to death. That’s pretty extreme. “It goes to pain and suffering,” Will contends. “Mrs. Joyce not only had to suffer her husband’s suicide, she had to see this surveillance video.”
Canning thinks this is as laughable as I do: “Because you showed it to her!” he howls. He tries to get up, leveraging himself on the arms of the chair, but Abernathy is not having it. Mr. Stern had no objection to this video and already signed off on it, Will notes, and Abernathy agrees it does seem late in the game for the defense to change strategies. Why reopen this can of worms? “NO, no, don’t lean forward!” Abernathy backs off his hilarious rules, however, when Canning explains he’s just looking for something in his bag. Nice. What does he have in his bag? Eep. Somehow Canning used the insurance company to check on Stern’s medications, and finds donepazon, the drug which clued Alicia in to his Stern’s dimentia in the first place. “It’s the scourge of the elderly, as you know.” “Yes,” says Abernathy looking at the paperwork, “My Nana suffered from it. She hardly knew me at the end.” Of course Judge A would hold on to his fondness for his grandma. Will shakes his head – completely unconcerned with personal connections – and rolls his eyes as Canning starts recalling his own mother at the care center. “Is there a reason for…”
Abernathy points at Will for leaning.
“I believe Lockhart/Gardner was aware of Mr. Stern’s condition and took advantage of a disabled man who didn’t know what he was signing.” Will thinks that’s ridiculous. “I had no idea whatsoever, your Honor.” Canning notes Alicia looking stuffed. “Mrs. Florrick?” Abernathy’s interest is piqued when she doesn’t answer with Will’s outrage. “Were you aware of Mr. Stern’s diminished condition?” She chews on her words carefully first. She looks over at Will first, jerks his head back in surprise at her expression. “Your Honor, I regret that I cannot answer that question due to the bonds of attorney client privilege.”
“Ah. Well then. You leave me no choice but to read between the lines.” Will is well on his way to being pissed, and the judge sides with a delighted Canning, whose strategy paid off far more than I’m sure he even dreamed.
Will swaggers into the hall, his body coiled with self-righteous annoyance. “So we’re keeping secrets here?” he asks, calm but dangerous. “No, we’re keeping privilege.” “Okay,” he says, deeply annoyed, “hypothetically, you’re an associate, and a partner at your firm asks you to represent him.” Yes, she answers. “And in the course of that representation you learn certain things about that partner, and he instructs you not to inform anyone.” Yes. Her words tumble out, their speed increasing. “Including the other partners. Yes, hypothetically in that situation, I would be bound by that, even after his death.” I won’t say he relaxes, but he’s looking less upset at her and more at the situation. “Great. Stern’s dead and he’s still screwing us.”
“Here comes the monster! ” a voice growls, as Cary Agos looks around a bright, airy yellow kitchen. There’s a bulletin board covered with some sort of schematic type drawings, and papers and toys everywhere. It’s not dirty, but it’s definitely lived in. The monster – Cary’s old friend Andrew Wiley – greets him happily, now that his tiny tot has been chased off, and thanks him for stopping by. “What’re you investigating now?” Cary wonders. “Childs has me on that… huh. Where’d I put that?” Andrew, clad in mismatched sweats, putters around for the right paper. “What’s your wife working on?” Cary wonders, noting the bulletin board. The drawing spread out from it over a section of wall. “A spaceship,” comes the very surprising answer. “For Richard Branson. Virgin Galactic. She’s designing one of his rockets.” Oh. I guess that explains it. Cary smiles. “Okay, why’d she marry you?” he jokes. “Because of my sense of humor,” Andrew says dully, and then runs to the door, insisting his tiny tot brush her teeth and change her clothes in five minutes. Dudes, that kid is way too tiny to do those things effectively on her own.
“So Childs has me on this last interview Blake gave,” Andrew tells Cary, who snaps out of his fond reverie immediately. What does he mean? “I mean the investigation into Kalinda Sharma. He gave one last interview about her.” To who, Cary asks, which is sort of dumb,playing dumb to suss out what Andrew knows. “Matan. I’m supposed to collate all these interview notes of his, and this si what matan sent me. It’s supposed to be five pages, and two are missing.” Andrew brandishes the offending papers at Cary. God, Matan, you really are as dumb as Alicia’s always made you look in court. How could you possibly no change the numbering on the pages? What a prat you are. That happens all the time, Cary says. “Did Matan talk to you about the missing pages?” No, Cary replies. “Because he said he did.” Matan, seriously? Do you want to get caught with this information? I thought you were going all super spy with it. It’s not good as blackmail if it gets out. (Of course, I’m wondering how true all this is. I mean, Matan and Cary talked about the existence of the notes. Just nothing specific about the contents or pages which might not have been included in his report. But of course Cary doesn’t want to admit even to that, because then the question might become, why didn’t you pursue it further?)
“Are you trying to catch me in a lie, good buddy?” Cary wonders of his friend. “Are you still protecting your friend Kalinda, goody buddy?” Andrew sneers. Wow. Ouch. “From my understanding, the investigation was over.” Andrew smiles. “The investigation is never over.” Gee, thanks, Kenneth Starr! I don’t know whether to admire his determination and ethics, or call up a time machine for the McCarthy trials. Andrew dials his phone as Cary digests that unappetizing piece of information. He’s got a direct line to Childs, and immediately puts him on speaker phone. “I’m here with Cary,” he adds.
And – what? “Hey, Cary,” Childs responds, but his voice – it’s not coming from the expected box on the table, but from what I thought was a Wylie family toy. The stuffed animal on the counter springs into hysterical, giggle inducing life. A talking lion phone! I am mesmerized. Glenn Childs is talking through a stuffed lion. It’s not just moving randomly. It’s kind of lip synching. How is that even possible? I wants it. I neeeeeeds it, precious. Seriously, that is stinking cute. (Of course, if I had one of those, I think I’d be on the phone all day just so I could watch it talk.) “The department is divided. So I need you too to find out what happened to the notes. I think Matan is playing politics here, trying to pad his resume for who ever takes over.” Well, Childs is hypersensitive about this, but why does anyone other than Cary and Matan even know Blake stopped by the office?
“You want us to interview Matan?” Andrew asks the lion. “No. He’ll say it’s just a mistake.” How many takes did the actors have to go through before they weren’t laughing at this? I couldn’t have handled it. It’s deeply funny. “I want you to find out what it is he knows. Alright?” The pause between the two sentences, where we keep watching the lion? Genius. “Uh, yeah,” Cary assents. “Why did Matan say he’d talked to you about these missing pages?” I don’t know how I’d have answered this if I was Cary. I mean, you could just say you’d asked him if there was anything actionable in the last interview, and that he said there wasn’t, so you left it at that. Of course the time to have said that would have been a little earlier. “I have no idea,” he answers instead. “Okay,” says the Childly Lion. “Find me those two pages so we can wrap this up.” Crap. What is Cary going to have to do now – forge the pages? The lion starts emitting a dial tone.
The numbers outside the elevator go down, but not fast enough to keep Alicia from running into Tammy while someone’s stopped at the 28th floor. “Hi!” “Oh, hi! Did you see Will?” Strangely enough, no. “Do you want to?” Strangely enough, no. “My sister’s staying with me, I just needed to get out of the house.” Okay, so it must be late enough that Tammy’s out of work, but how long can she possibly have been home? Or does she just not want to admit that she wants to have an actual conversation with Will about the job and doesn’t know how to do it? I’m going to go with the latter. Alicia smiles a little too brightly. There’s a lot of lipstick involved and very few teeth. “My sister used to date Will.” “Yes, I know,” Alicia replies, which is intriguing. “She’s talking about Will breaking up with her, and the reason he broke up with her, and the person he broke up with her for – it’s you, isn’t it?” Alicia does a rotten job of looking stoic here; here Tammy says the word ‘person’ a Mona Lisa smile appears. Damn. “Yes,” she says. She can’t help smiling. So I wondered about that – I wondered if she knew Will’d broken things off with his girlfriend to be with her. Damn it. I would really like to know what happened back at Georgetown! This is hardly news, but still.
“OH!” says Tammy, in this goofy, fake way. Alicia smiles even more. She’s not hiding the fact that it’s a pleasant memory for her, which seems a little bit rude, no? “I’m married. I’ve moved on.” Shouldn’t we take that for granted? After 15-20 years, wouldn’t you assume that? “Will has moved on. We were kids! We’re not kids anymore.” Also, they didn’t even actually date, right? “I don’t know,” Tammy shakes her head. “Will still is.” Alicia breaks into an enormous, face wide grin. What on earth? Alicia’s normally a model of controlled emotions, so why’s she letting go here? Is it out of jealousy? It seems catty to me, somehow. “No, he isn’t. He thinks he is.” Alicia’s lost in her own world, actually giggling, and Tammy? She’s kind of pissed. No, not kind of. How dare Alicia insist she knows Will better? Yeah, she’s pissed. “Sorry,” Alicia apologizes, “I’m late.” She walks away with that enormous grin on her face. Damn! That was kind of mean girl of you, Alicia.
Kalinda’s handing out papers she got from Haverstock, the “human resources” consulting firm. “In addition to restructuring 20% of the workforce,” (which is to say, firing 2 out of every ten employees, Diane explains helpfully), they recommended CEO Palmieri could save money in another way – “if a meaningful percentage of labor could be induced to resign rather than being terminated.” Damn. Diane explains it all again. “Meaning, make people so miserable they quit, and you’ll save bundle in severance.” Kalinda looks excited she’s found some game changing documentation. Alicia looks appalled. Will’s just concentrating on the paper. “They did it intentionally,” Alicia gasps. “That’s the smoking gun,” Will shakes his head. “They deliberately created a hostile work environment to get people to quit.” And boy did it work! Just may not at the cost savings they were hoping for.
Well, that’s incredibly vile.
“With this we can get the hanging video back in. We can show that their conduct was designed to make him depressed.” Alicia’s excited now. “We can do more than that,” Will gloats. “It’s an intentional tort[ure?]. They’ve opened themselves up to punitive damages. They made three people kill themselves.” “So, we’ll make them pay for,” Diane replies, whipping off her glasses like Horatio Cane.
“Is there anybody here who thinks Marty is good at his job? Anybody? Oh, come on, anybody?” A strident female voice sneers over a recorder. Will clicks of the unpleasant ranting, and turns his attention to Kim Palmieri, who sits stiffly in the witness box in kelly green. “That’s quite a performance, Miss Palmieri,” he says from his seat. “I admit, I can be passionate,” she answers. Um, yeah, that’s really not how I would characterize it. Mean comes to mind. Thoughtless and unfeeling. And, oh yes, calculating. “But as CEO I’m responsible.” So just fire him, honey. Don’t humiliate him. Will brings up the Haverstock report, thoughtfully highlighted in yellow. He asks her to read of the highlighted passages. “In addition to restructuring 20% of human resources, additional savings can be realized if a meaningful percentage of labor can be induced to resign rather than terminated.” She reads quickly, without emotion. He explains what it means, again. Just in case we and the jury are twits. The jury looks appalled; several of the women bring their hands up over their mouths.
It was just a suggestion by the consultants, we didn’t follow it, she says. And yet, how can it be that a clear, systematic assault against the staff occurred anyway? Really, who is it she thinks is dumb here? “Yet six hours after your… motivational meeting … Martin Joyce committed suicide.” Miss Palmieri looks unrepentant and unconcerned. “I did know that.” Will favors her with his sad, sad eyes. “No further questions.” Will shoots a dirty look over at the defense. You can bet that Canning has more questions.
“You said your management style can be a bit – confrontational, is what you said.” Yep, that’s me, she says. But that’s just the way CEOs behave in a recession. I wondered for a minute if this was going to turn into a whole “woman in a man’s world/nobody would think twice if a man said that” spiel, but thankfully it doesn’t. Either way, civility is out the window! I mean, seriously, who do you know who hasn’t berated an employee to death? “If we don’t squeeze every drop of productivity from our employees, we’ll be forced to ship their jobs over seas, where labor costs are so much cheaper.” Oh. I see. She was being a patriotic American, then. She speaks fervently, and seems oh so concerned. Will and Alicia are nervous, but this seems like an obvious ploy to me. Would you fall for that if you were on the jury? I genuinely don’t think he’s overcome their smoking gun, but I don’t think our team agrees with me.
Cary closes the door to Matan Brody’s office, and leans on it silently. He’s wearing this great suit – skinny fit, skinny tie – that makes him kind of look like a Beatle. Brody looks up in puzzlement. “Can I help you?” Cary struggles momentarily with the words – but probably also the act itself. “You’re being investigated,” he says. “By?” Andrew Wylie. Brody slowly cocks his head, as if to imply that this is nothing. He knows, at any rate, that he’s not the real target. He ought to be worried about being in the way, though. I thought he was playing it too smart last week. Cary sits down wearily. “He noticed two pages were missing from your interview with Blake. Childs thinks you’re hiding something criminal, something Blake told you about Kalinda.” Matan’s facial muscles twitch before he grudgingly admits it’s not criminal. “It’s personal.” Okay, Cary nods. “Personal to who, to Kalinda? Since when do you care about protecting Kalinda?” He doesn’t. “I care about protecting this office.” Really? I thought you cared about protecting YOUR office – as in, your job. “What does Kalinda have to do with this office?” No. “Not Kalinda. Not the current inhabitant of this office.”
The bricks hits Cary in the head.
“Kalinda and Peter Florrick?” he asks. “It’s got nothing to do with Childs. But if he get a hold of it, it’s scorched earth.” Well, you got that part right, Brody. Cary’s still taking a minute to process it. “They had an affair?” “A one nighter,” Brody tells his colleague, elbows balancing on his desk. “Back when Kalinda worked here.” Cary inhales deeply. He’s not happy. “Blake had details. Verifiable ones.” How is that even possible? “Florrick will do anything to cover it up. He promised to keep me in this job.” Cary looks grim, but as always, he has a plan. “I need you to tell Wylie that it’s not criminal, but the problem is, he might go to Childs with it anyway.” Yeah, that is a problem. Matan considers it. “So what do you suggest we do?”
Louis Canning rushes after Alicia down a crowded hallway at the courtroom. “Mrs. Florrick. This is kind of awkward,” he chuckles, “but my driver went home sick and I wondered if I could trouble you…” And here we are in Alicia’s car. Nice. There’s a beat of awkward silence, broken only by the rather loud roar of the engine. “See, this is what I love about Chicago,” Canning says to fill the void. “It’s a real community. People helping each other out.” Alicia’s not having it. “Your driver isn’t really sick, is he, Mr. Canning?” He pretends to be offended. “Mrs Florrick, there’s gotta be a word for people who always find the hidden motives in things.” “Right?” she chuckles delightedly – and she must either like him a little bit, or just not care at all what he thinks of her, because she really is quite rudely laughing at him, right in his face. She’s usually much more buttoned up than that.
He smiles. “I want you to come work for me.” Wow, he really did want to get her alone. “At my new law firm. Fast track to full partnership. Percentage of plaintiffs contingency fees.” She sounds pained. “Why would you do that?” “Because you beat me in court last time.” The last two times, officially. “No, Will and Diane beat you.” He guffaws. “You’re cheaper.” She laughs unhappily. ” Probably doesn’t hurt that my husband’s going to be State’s Attorney.” Wow, they’re really all counting their chickens. I would be so freaking fascinated if Wendy Scott-Carr won. “No, you’re right, that doesn’t hurt.” Ha. At least he’s honest. Hmm. I actually worked somewhere once where a prominent politician’s wife was hired. I liked her. She was really pleasant, almost charming, and certainly smart, which was a good thing, since when her salary was made public (via her tax returns) everyone knew that she was making what she should have two pay grades up after fifteen years in the organization. And my industry wasn’t nearly as political as Chicago legal firms seem to be. So, anyway, my point is, Stern is right. People will overpay to get her. I’m sure Viola would too. And probably every other firm we’ve come into contact with. Wouldn’t you love to see dearly departed Patti Nylholm offer her a job?
So. Anyway. “Mmm hmmm. I don’t think we’re a good fit, Mr. Canning, but thank you.” She’s licked her lips, looking for the right phrase, but he’s not really interested in being let down easy. “Do you know the sign of an immature person? They can’t distinguish between morality at home and morality at work.” Um, no, that would be the sign of a moral person, actually, not one who let themselves be defined by their job, but whatever. “Oh, is that – is that me now?” Alicia looks away from the road to Canning, and all I can think is Meg Ryan squealing “I am the dog? I am the dog in this scenario?” in When Harry Met Sally. “I do what I have to do at work to win. I go home. I cuddle with my wife. I cuddle with my kids.” Oh, he’s just such a little cuddly bear, isn’t he? Bah. “And I tell them pretty stories about heroism and heaven.” Oh, right, so his relationship with his family is based completely on what are – from his point of view – fairytales? Lovely.
That actually really annoys me.
“And what do I do?” Alicia wonders. “You go home and feel bad about it.” She laughs silently. I like that she’s secure enough to do that now. He asks her to pull over – they’ve reached his house – and she does. “It’s a good job offer,” he tells her, hand on the car door. “Twice what you’re making now. You should think about it.” She nods, though of course she’s not going to. The moment his back is turned her bravado melts, and she looks sad and thoughtful.
She’s still looking sad and thoughtful as she sits at her desk, looking at something in her mind rather than what’s in front of her. That’s why she’s so shocked when Eli speaks. “You look deep in thought,” he says, almost wistful, as if he doesn’t want to interrupt her. She shakes her head as if she’d been asleep, but that’s not what the issue is. “I was.” She smiles graciously, however. I’d never noticed that picture of Zach as a toddler behind her head – very cute. “You must be very happy.” “Yes. Except for the DCC trying to kill us because they’re a bunch of idiots.” She can’t help smiling. She’s read about the residency law suit. “Yes, well, in the waning days of a campaign, the mudslinging can get… pretty ugly.” Oh, yes. And let’s move on to that, shall we?
He twitches, and she raises her eyebrows. “Sounds like you’re preparing me for something.” Nicely observed, Alicia. He smiles and licks his lips. “Petra Moritz, the reporter, has a rumor.” Well, whoopdedo, she must be thinking. “Okay.” “It’s completely bogus, but… she wants a quote from you.” He’s kind of swallowing his cheeks here, looking for her reaction. “And the rumor?” He so doesn’t want to say this. “There was another woman in Peter’s past. I wouldn’t drag you into this, but unless I get you on the phone with her, she’s going to run with it. And I know I promised never to ask you, but Peter is so close. And this kind of rumor, it could ruin us.”
She starts gathering her things, and he sits down. “I need to think about it,” she says finally. “I need to know soon.” “I’ll think about it,” she says again, and leaves him sighing, stressing, alone in her office.
Alicia plays the surveillance video, to the audible shock and horror of the peanut gallery. The jury tries to play it a little more cool, but not much. Poor Mrs. Joyce is frozen on the stand. We see him fall and twitch again, but she doesn’t watch. Alicia clicks the video off. “Nothing further, your Honor.” Canning stands to take his shot. “Mrs Joyce. First of all, may I say how sorry I am for your loss. My wife means everything to me, and I can’t imagine how you feel.” Alicia glares at him. “Unfortunately, this is a trial, so I have to ask you some tough questions.” Which part of that does he think is unfortunate, again? But thanks for letting us know it was a trial. Really appreciate the tip; otherwise I never would have guessed. “Ask away.”
Were you having marital issues? Mrs. Joyce looks to Alicia, who nods slightly. Yes, on and off, but they were working through them. You had an affair, isn’t that right? “No,” she says immediately. “I was unfaithful to my husband, once, on a business trip. It was hardly an affair.” Hmmm. Where have I heard that distinction made before? “But your husband, he knew.” Alicia objects – finally! – and the judge agrees that this is enough. Canning, however, wants it known that he believes Martin Joyce had other reasons to kill himself. Mrs. Joyce refuses to be blamed. “My husband was depressed because of how they treated him at his job!” “Your husband was depressed – did he seek treatment?” Yes, from their doctor and a therapist – who, yes, prescribed medications to treat his depression. Esatalapam, beupropian[with apologies for the spelling] – none of them work. “None of them seemed to help.”
“What about albutol?” Will’s head flicks up at the mention. “Did he prescribe a drug called alvital?” Yes. Alicia turns to Will, panicked. “Mrs. Joyce, were you aware of the side effects of alvital…” Will leaps to his feet to object.
And that brown Mr. Rogers cardigan comes back out. “Okay,” Abernathy says, palms out to calm these fractious children. “Deep breaths!” “This is a complete conflict of interest, your Honor. Mr. Canning defended the makers of alvital in a suit against us just last year. And now he intends to pin Mr. Joyce’s suicide on the side effects of his former client’s product?” Will sounds quite worked up, and he’s stabbing the air with his finger. “Actually, that company no longer exists, your Honor.” Will tosses his hands up, as if that proves it. “Alvital was sold to a new company, and I owe them no duty.” “And what evidence do you intend to present?” Once more Abernathy’s fooled by Canning bending over to his bag;this time it’s his laptop. “It’s a video that shows how alvital results in violent and suicidal behavior.” Alicia and Will lean forward, despite the prohibition. And – it’s the fighting rats. The ones Will and Alicia used to help win that drug trial. Oh, crap, that’s hilarious. That’s genius. The rat video! I love it. That is so damned clever.
Will and Alicia nearly fall off the leather couch in their outrage. I swear Will says something about emasculation. Abernathy makes them speak one at a time, and of course Will goes first. “This is our exhibit,” he says, pointing to the screen but looking away because he’s just so furious. “We used it last year in our case against Mr. Canning.” So? He looks like a three year old when someone else took his tickle-me-Elmo. Well, then you shouldn’t object to me using it for the same purpose, should you, replies Canning reasonably. I got no answer for that one. You’ve officially been played, guys. “This is outrageous, your Honor!” But Judge Abernathy is too busy leaning forward. “My goodness. They’re really going at it, aren’t they?” The three lawyers look at each other. Then the splatter hits the screen.
I love Louis Canning. That’s bloody fantastic.
“We have another hour here,” Will tells Tammy’s voice mail, “and I just want to talk. Call me when you get this message.” Ah, Will. Always leaving those voice mails. Alicia, sitting on the sofa in Will’s office, looks self-conscious. She’s got papers spread all over the coffee table and her lap. “We still have the other two employees who weren’t taking albutol,” she reminds him. He rests his face on his hands, which are pressed together as if in prayer. “It’s odd about Stern, isn’t it? It’s so sudden.” She agrees. “Yeah. I saw him the day before. He seemed normal.” Will picks up his phone and checks it. Man, that’s bad. And also, rude. “Tammy?” she asks. “Yes,” he replies curtly. She hesitates, then decides to go forward anyway. “She talked to me the other day.” Will looks up, surprised. “Here. Her sister told her I was the reason you broke up with her.” Will looks at Alicia thoughtfully. “I told Tammy there was nothing anymore. Whatever was between us back then.” See, “whatever”certainly doesn’t sound like something that was ever defined or consummated. The edge of his lip quirks up. “Thank you,” he says, “It’s complicated.” “I know,” she laughs, deep in her throat, “everything is.” She’s looking at her notes. He’s not.
“Okay, who’s Karen?” It’s Kalinda’s voice; she’s standing in the doorway. “What do you mean?” Alicia asks. Kalinda plays the nasty audio tape of Kim Palmieri trashing Marty Joyce; in a bit we hadn’t heard, Kim addresses the other people in the meeting by name, daring them to stick up for Joyce. Why was a cubicle jockey having a meeting with the CEO of a large company, anyway? Oh, whatever. Kalinda knows who almost everyone in her little roll call is, except someone named Karen. “The other names joined our class action. Who’s Karen?” Alicia’s found an employee list. “Karen Jennings,” she says. “She worked in the benefits office and was a friend of Martin Joyce. She didn’t want to join the class.” And why might that be? We don’t know. But first, Alicia has some business with Eli.
He dials the number on Alicia’s second phone, shoving at the keys with his fingers. “Thank you,” he says, as she picks up the one on her desk. “Five minutes,” she reminds him. “The key with Petra is to keep your cool. She’ll try to get a rise out of you.” Finally, she picks up. “Petra!” she says by way of a greeting. “Yes, Miss Moritz, it’s Alicia Florrick.” “Ah, right on time, I appreciate that,” Petra smiles, leaning over her keyboard. “I’m hear too, Petra,” Eli adds, “you’ve got five minutes.” “Oh, Eli, like a guardian angel,” she sighs. “I’m going to get started, then. So, Mrs. Florrick, your husband cheated on you with a prostitute named Amber Madison. Are you aware of any other infidelities?” “No,” Alicia says crisply, straightening her already exemplary posture in her chair. “Specifically someone from his past, someone he worked with or someone you both knew socially?” Doesn’t this make you wonder who talked to her? Wylie? But why? It clearly can’t be Brody, and how could Wylie guess what Brody has? Childs would do it in a heart beat, but he doesn’t have the information. So it must be Blake, I guess. But why wouldn’t he just tell her what he told Matan? Why almost kill Peter’s candidacy, but not quite?
Whatever her source, Alicia has no new information for her. “No.” “Because you’re aware a source has approached me with what are claimed to be substantiated allegations of sexual contact.” Behind Alicia’s head, one staff member bends in half trying to fix something on another’s desk. “Mr. Gold informed me of this. I think the closer we get to an election, the more the rumor-mongering turns less into a sport and more into a strategy.” “Tell me what you mean by that,” Petra asks. “Voters are often moved by last minute rumors because there’s no adequate time to refute them.” I hate to say it, but she’s sounding a little like Joe Kent’s wife in VIP Treatment. “So that’s why they become part of a strategy, to hurt your opponent.” Eli smiles in pride.
“So, you believe that Wendy Scott-Carr’s behind these rumor? Of course not! Eli’s apoplectic, shaking his head no, but his concern isn’t necessary. “No. I think there are people who want to hurt both candidates.” Eli is pleased. “So, your husband has sworn to you that there’s only the prostitute.” Eli’s face goes white – because this is a trap, because of course there’s not only the prostitute. (Don’t even get me started o that rant.) Alicia blinks. Twice. “I won’t discuss personal conversations,” she says clearly. “Oh – that sounds like you’re saying no.” “No,” Alicia’s quick to explain, “that means what my husband and I discuss is none of your business.” “Because there’s a public sphere and a private one?” Well, yes. Duh! “And if your husband abused his office by sleeping with a coworker, and if he lied to the closest people next to him – his wife, his children – do you think the electorate should trust him?” Ah, the old Clinton argument. If someone can lie once, doesn’t that mean they’re always lying? As if humanity – or government – were so simple. Bo-ring. Alicia shoots Eli a deeply unhappy look. Eli’s not happy. Petra prompts her again to answer.
She still doesn’t. Petra’s got a little smirk on her face that makes me think of Jenna Busch-Hager. “So, let me ask you one last question,” she says, positively radiating an evil glee. “Did you have an AIDS test?” Eli loses it. “How dare you, Petra, go to hell!” he hollers as he slams down the phone. He points to the phone on Alicia’s desk, too, which is just flat out hysterical. He’s commanding and comical at the same time. His lips are white around the edges.
“So keep my cool, huh?” she asks with a tiny smile. I’m sure having someone around trying to protect her is a new and unusual experience. “Yeah, I know, I don’t, uh, always follow my own advice.” He runs his hand through his hair, and they smile sheepishly at each other, survivors after the skirmish. Kind of makes me want to hug them both. Not that either one is the hugging type. Actually, I’d pay money to see someone try.
You know, I hate to say it, but she probably should be tested. No saying that she didn’t anyway, back in the beginning when she thought he slept with everyone he came in contact with. It’s just – yeah.
Kalinda and her sexy boots walk across a residential street, and Cary pulls up in his big black car. “Hey,” he says out his window, “what’re you doing here?” “My job,” she says, walking over to the car. “What about you?” “Following you,” he says honestly. Well, I’m sure she didn’t imagine you just happened to be trysting with someone in the middle of the day on that same street of all streets in Chicago. And yet, she’s taken a little aback. And here it comes. Will their be recriminations? Hurt? Blame for fraternizing with the enemy? Bitterness?
“Look, Wylie knows.” How could he know? “He knows something’s missing from Matan’s interview with Blake, and I know Andrew Wylie, he’s not going to stop until he finds out what it is.” Cary’s apologetic. She takes a deep breath. “So I talked to Matan again. He’s sitting on it. As long as Peter wins he’ll keep quiet – it’s Wylie you have to worry about.” She leans in, but not to charm him. “Why did you just say that?” She sounds young and lost. “As long as Peter wins?” He looks up with compassion – and understanding – in his eyes. She steps back. He knows.
“You know,” she breaths. “Why didn’t you just tell Alicia – if you’d only been upfront with her, none of this would have mattered.” I’m blown away by him in this moment; I thought he might rage, I really did, but instead he’s so concerned about Alicia and Kalinda both. It seems he has finally buried the hatchet. “Cary,” she says sadly. “Or is that why you became friends with her in the first place?” There’s no answer. He drives away, and she heads into one of the brick houses.
“So,” Kalinda says, sitting at wooden table, “Martin was a friend of yours?” “Work friends, you know,” says Karen Jennings, jerking her head. She’s wrapped up in a red hooded sweater, thin with lank brown hair, and her hands clutch a steaming mug. (Okay, I’m super suspicious of that euphemism right now, but she probably does mean it in the conventional sense.) Was she aware he was on antidepressants? She was. Could he have had a reaction to the alvital, maybe, that increased his depression? No. “I don’t see how, he never took it.” Well, that’s helpful. Why doesn’t his wife know that? Weird. “When he told me he was going on it, I gave him articles on the side effects. He was scared.” Kalinda needs Karen to testify to that, of course. “I don’t want to get involved.” Karen’s shaking her head, distressed by the idea. And Kalinda’s immediate suspicious. “Where do you work now?” She’s been fired for a year. “That’s none of your business,” Karen replies. Ding ding ding! You’re so on to something here. “I was just wondering how you could afford the new Mercedes in the drive way.” Oh, snap!
Kalinda bursts in on Will and Diane, who’re bent over a desk working feverishly. “They looted the pension fund,” Kalinda explains., Alicia peeping around her shoulder. “The executives. 35 million. That’s why they were so desperate to shed workers.” Will leaves back in his seat. “It wasn’t to save jobs from over seas,” Alicia continues, “it was so use their funds so they could cover the shortfall.” Diabolical. Canning really does only represent complete bastards. How do you, Diane wonders. Karen Jennings, of course. Turns out she worked in benefits and figured it out. “And Palmieri bought her off,” Will realizes. “It’s criminal fraud,” Diane says excitedly. “Maybe even a RICO case.”
“Yeah, but it doesn’t help us,” Will realizes – less happily this time. “Sure, once it goes public, the executives will go to jail, but…” “The Feds seize the company’s assets,” Diane agrees. Leaving their clients without monetary compensation. Well, maybe you want to ask them. Maybe they’d rather have justice than money. It wouldn’t be the first time. “Oh, that’s perfect,” Diane grouses in her elegant way, “We’re sitting on knowledge of massive fraud, and we can’t do anything about it because we need the company to stay viable.”
After staring into space for a moment, Will suddenly looks up at Alicia, his face alive with excitement. “Maybe there is something we can do,” he smiles.
All rise for the Honorable Judge Abernathy, who’s misplaced his gavel. (How do you do that? Does he take it home with him? Did someone steal it?) “I hope that doesn’t undercut my authority here,” he says, and slaps the bench with his palm to open the day’s proceedings. Ha. Like it was possible to undercut his authority? Does the plaintiff have any more witnesses? Why yes. Karen Jennings. Both Palmieri and Canning turn in consternation. Karen stands up in the gallery. Canning complains that she’s not on their witness list, but Will explains that they’d explicitly stated their intention to call any current or former employees. “And your Honor does like to err on the side of admitting evidence,” Will concludes. Charles Abernathy has to think about it. “Ah, yes I do. I also like to be unpredictable, ” he replies, turning Will’s face white, “and yet here I find myself being the height of predictability. I will allow.” Will relaxes.
Canning asks for a recess: Abernathy tells him it can wait until cross. “Your Honor,” Canning says with a look from Palmieri, “We’d like a recess to confer with opposing counsel.” In other words, you’re giving up. Palmieri would do anything to keep Jennings off the stand.
“Looks like the rocketship’s coming along, huh?” Cary says, looking at Dr./Mrs. Wylie’s beautiful schematics on the kitchen wall. “So what’s up,” Andrew cuts to the chase. “Talked to Matan,” Cary tells him. “He’s stonewalling me too, but I think I know what he’s after, I’m just asking you to use a little discretion.” Huh. Andrew, clad in flannel, sits down. “With?” ‘It’s not what you think,” Cary says, leaning against the wall. “It’s personal, not criminal, but Childs would use it.” “Why’re you protecting her, Cary?” Andrew sighs. “I’m not protecting her,” Cary insists. Not just her. You seem to be protecting Alicia as well, which is surprisingly kind. “You went to see her after you talked to Matan,” Andrew tells him. Damn. “Are you following me?” Andrew shrugs. He’s doing his job. Well. You really don’t want to make an enemy of him, Cary. I love this plotline, and the way Cary’s trying to finesse both sides. “Just wondering why you’re not doing yours.” But is Cary’s job as an ASA to hunt down Childs political enemies? Is it all so black and white, Andrew? Andrew literally tosses a towel in the sink and leaves.
Alicia and Will sit across from Canning – Will thundering about executives looting the pension fund. “Well, if that were true, that would be a problem.” Canning makes Will’s point: if they want a settlement, they can’t tell. “Oh, we’re talking settlement now?” Will and Alicia move almost telepathically. “Depends on the number,” Canning admits. Ah, Canning. “Without admitting anything,” he says, “the company can’t afford much if they’re going to be paying back the alleged fraud.” Yes, agrees Alicia, which is why CEO Palmieri’s going to make up the difference personally. Nice. Very clever, guys. Why would she do that, Canning wonders. “Because Karen Jennings kept a record of every executive that took part in that fraud, and Kim Palmieri’s name is on that list.” “Either she ponies up, or we’ll see how the US attorney reactions. My guess,” Will presses, “is he’ll start by freezing the company assets, and he’ll move on to hers.” Canning doesn’t like that one bit. Then he’s not going to get paid, either. Will and Alicia both favor him with smug, rueful smiles. Sorry, buddy, but they gotcha again.
I don’t quite know why, but Alicia’s waiting at the elevators with Canning. Making sure he doesn’t leave with the silverware? He looks tiny and forlorn. “Double the salary,” he says, looking up. “You deserve it!” She smiles. “I’m happy. But thank you.” He walks into the elevator, but keeps looking back at her. “Hey, get on, we’ll talk about it on the way down.” “No,” and you can hear the smile in her voice, “but again, thank you.” “I don’t bite.” She laughs. “Actually, I think you do.” Yeah, I think he does too. He stops the closing doors with his briefcase. “This isn’t about your husband.” She narrows her eyes; I think your pitch would have been more effective if you’d said that the first time, Canning. “I think you’re a good lawyer.” He lets that thought sink in. “I also think you’re this close to being a great lawyer” he says, demonstrating the distance with pinched fingers, “and Lockhart/Gardner isn’t going to get you there.” She considers that one. “They encourage weakness.” “And yet we’ve beaten you again!” He grins. “Do I look beaten?”
Ah, Louis Canning, master of headgames.
A very morose Will slumps on the couch in his office, picking at the seams of a baseball. Tammy, wrapped in a leather jacket, walks in his door like a dame in a film noir movie. “You called?” Her voice is challenging. “You forgot your glasses,” he says sadly. She walks over and grudgingly picks them up. “I just won a case and I realized I had no one to call.” Well, she’s supremely uninterested in your work, but she is someone. “Who do you usually call when you win a case?” She’s got her arms folded, still a bit hostile but willing to laugh at him. “No one,” he says pathetically, and now she does smile. “Okay. Just – is this going somewhere?” “Lawyer I know died a few days ago,” he says, staring out into space, almost numb. “And it was like he was never here. Everyone just went back to normal.” Well, everyone in your office. I’m sure in his office there was a little more emotion. Not to mention with his family. But sure, death does make us question our priorities. “Death,” Tammy observes, “I should sit down for death, right?” Well, yes.
Will hits Tammy with the full force of his grieving, puppy dog eyes. “Don’t go to London,” he pleads. “I know it’s selfish of me to say,” he says, but the look on her face makes it clear that this is what she’s wanted all along. “but I don’t want you to go to London.” He can’t face her smile, either. “Maybe you should go to London, I don’t know, maybe..” “Shut up,” she grins over his confused mutterings, “shut up!” She slides from the coffee table to the couch. “It’s your career,” he mutters, eyes on his lap. Her whole face is lit up. She takes his arm and brings it over her shoulder, snuggling down into his side. She keeps hold of his hand, which now lies limply on her shoulder. He keeps a hold of the baseball.
“So what do we do now?” she asks. “I don’t know,” he says numbly, still staring out into the distance.
Tammy, you really are turning into your mother if you’re going to let an undefined relationship – one you insisted not be serious – stop you from taking a dream promotion without even discussing how you feel. Holy crap. Girl, even the Grey’s Anatomy folks are getting too mature to pull a stunt like that. If this is what he wants, shouldn’t he look happier about it? Shouldn’t he be hugging you back, or kissing you, or something? No. Tammy knows what she wants, but Will doesn’t know. He doesn’t want to be alone, that’s all. Very subtle, his physical non-responsiveness, and nicely done. I’m not saying he doesn’t have feelings for her (clearly, he does) but it’s not the level of reciprocity I thought it was.
What do you think about the whole “love/promotion” dilemma? And was it odd of Tammy to force Will to declare himself without actually, you know, using the words and just talking it over like an adult? Or was that just me? I mean, I get how it’s awkward. But still, you have to be able to use the words, don’t you think? Is she going to stay now? And if she does, and things don’t work out (if, say, Alicia leaves Peter) how’s Tammy going to feel? Would guilt over this half-commitment stop Will from being with Alicia in the future, or would it just make him feel bad about it?
And, hmm, interesting to see Alicia be catty and gracious at once over Will, no?
And there we are. Lots of death. And Eli fake choking Frank, which was too funny to be as alarming as it should have been. The real death, though, made Will and Diane dig a little deeper this week, and that was interesting. I really do wonder if she’d call Kurt. She’s got to be thinking about it, right? Does death just make you think about what you don’t have, what you have yet to accomplish? And for Will and Diane, that’s connection, and family.
I genuinely expected Cary to have some sort of response to Kalinda’s secret, some sort of revulsion that Peter and Alicia seem to be invading every aspect of his life, but no. All he had was compassion for Kalinda and Alicia both instead. If you’d told me this time last year that I’d like him so much, wow, I wouldn’t have believed you. I love the crazy dance he’s leading, but I can’t think how it’s going to end well for him. Is he going to get wrecked by everyone? Can he keep this information secret? Can he help Kalinda? Is this going to box him out of a job at the State’s Attorney’s office? (And, if so, will he end up back at Lockhart/Gardner? And if so, will that make him happy after the “moral clarity” of being a prosecutor? I’m not sure if he’s feeling so much clarity now.) Would he want to work for Peter, anyway? And why does it all matter so much to him? Because they’re friends, or is he in love with her? Is it about real – not perceived – justice? Who knew that Andrew would be so rigid? Or is that a good quality and we’re just not used to seeing it in this shadowy world?
Canning’s got an interesting method for making sense of the moral ambiguity; assign wrong and right to different areas of your life. Not too impressed by that one. He always manages to get under Alicia’s skin and make her think, though. I think he was bluffing about not being defeated, but I do like that he made a real pitch for her, with real compliments. She doesn’t get enough of those. You can see that Alicia finds the idea of being a great lawyer appealing. She’s just got to figure out what that means. Lockhart/Gardner seems a spot in the middle; pragmatic lawyers, yes, with their dirty tricks and their drug lord clients, but also closet idealists who occasionally get to do some crusading that means the world to them.
Next week, the election. Will the big secret come out then, or will we have to wait? Will Peter or Wendy win? Would the show be more interesting with Wendy in the top job? And what’s going to happen to Eli when the campaign ends? Are you bummed we didn’t get to meet Helena? Ah, so many questions. I love it.