E: Dialogue worthy of The West Wing – with hallway walking? Check. Something awfully reminiscent of that scene in Buffy where the house gets knocked down (and don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about)? Check. Ferreting out the real killer like Perry Mason? Check. That’s right, friends. That is our show – the best of all possible worlds (political, personal and legal). It’s thoughtful, it’s funny, and it’s sexy as hell. It’s everything you’ve ever liked about your old favorites, wrapped up neatly in one unbelievably packed hour, and it’s finally here. Happy days are back again!
The baseline of Chris Isaak’s “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing” thumps wickedly as Alicia walks off the elevator into Lockhart/Gardner. Just as wicked; the smirk on her face. Cat, what did you do with that canary? Even her hair looks – I don’t know, lighter and less severe, no? It bounces off her shoulders as she walks into her new office, the engraving on the glass declaring her alliance with Eli Gold. Just perfect.
It really is a new day.
Suddenly, there’s film of a horrific explosion, followed by bodies, wreckage, and men with guns. Children with guns. A slogan – “Rid our campus of Hamas” – appears, emblazoned in red. “Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing” continues to throb in the background. The video, a well manicured Arab in a well cut suit tells Diane, was mass emailed “around campus” – he believes by the Jewish fraternity, Thau Kappa Theta. “I’m not saying anything bad,” he justifies himself. “No, of course not,” she pacifies him smoothly. “I just think it was this video that provoked the fight at the interfaith rally.” Oh. So that didn’t go well, did it?
Mr. Smooth wants Diane to defend Jamal Mifsud, a scholarship student whose family couldn’t afford legal representation. “I am purely an interested bystander here who wants to see justice done.” Diane sneaks a loaded look in Smooth’s direction; he smiles in graceful embarrassment. There were a dozen Israeli and Palestinian students involved in the fist fight; why has the State’s Attorney’s office only charged this one Palestinian? A reasonable question. Diane thinks it’ll be a cake walk, since the boy has no record. “Nope. The new State’s Attorney wants to appear tough on his first day.” Alicia arrives just in time to hear this. “It was deemed a hate crime. Seven years.” Well, that’s ridiculous.
Diane introduces Alicia to Smoothie (whose real name is Wasim Al-Said) as an old friend moving his business over from a rival firm. “To my eternal regret,” he smiles. He and Alicia shake hands; she encourages him to use her first name instead of her married one. “Your husband was very good to the Muslim community in his first term. My fear is, that’s changed.” Hmm, that’s interesting, because remember how much the ultra-Orthodox Jews like him, too? That’s an impressive line to have walked, and it makes me think well of Peter. “Of course, Alicia can’t influence her husband in any way,” Diane smiles (and it’s oh so much more true than she thinks) “but she’s still one of our best lawyers.” That should be enough, Mr. Al Sayeed agrees. “This is a good kid, and they’re painting him as a suicide bomber.” There’s a bond hearing today, and Alicia will be there.
“Good,” Diane purrs, crossing her arms. “That’s one piece of business. What else can we help you with that Young, Bachman & Meyers can’t?” Funny that you mention that, Diane. Yes, yes there is a little something. “I know that Eli Gold is working with you these days. I’m in need of some … crisis management.” Where’s the crisis, Diane wonders. “Where’s the management?” Mr. Smoothie replies. Smooth, sir. Very smooth.
Diane instructs Alicia to gather up Eli and Will for her. But hmm, she looked so odd when Diane mentioned Will, and she takes way too long to answer. What’s that about? Will, it turns out, has slept in. No doubt he overdid it celebrating last night’s victory, his secretary laughs. No doubt.
“Mom, pick up the phone!” calls Grace’s voice. I love that ringtone – it’s so cute. Mom picks up the phone. “Hello, dearest daughter!” Alicia trills. (Now that’s a phrase I didn’t ever think I’d write.) “You sound happy,” Grace replies with some surprise. Which, aw, that’s a bit pathetic. What more could I desire while talking to you, darling child? The darling child doesn’t think she needs a tutor for just one bad report card. What’s mom’s response? “Grace, we discussed this.” Oh, the old standby. Grace has an excellent child of divorce answer: “Dad just thinks I need to apply myself.” Mom’s not having any of it. “I agree, and a tutor will help you do that.” One month, and that’s it. As Alicia calls in to Eli, Zach grabs the phone to say that Neesa’s parents want to have dinner with the Florricks. Both of them. Hmmm. I don’t know about you, but I’d be pretty curious if my darling daughter was dating a boy whose father consorted with prostitutes. I’d want to know what that environment was like.
Anyway. Not that it’s not a normal invitation. “They’re just trying to be nice. It’s just like you said – I haven’t told anyone you and Dad are separated.”
Eli wants to know who’s coming to dinner, too. Wasid is a commodities trader Diane’s been chasing for two years. Eli stumbles a bit over the name, which is a little offensive (if typically Eli). “He has ten million in charitable assets to spend.” On what, Eli wonders.
And well might he ask. “A campaign. Against anti-Muslim bigotry.” Oh, now that’s kind of fun. Eli shoots his eyebrows at Diane. Is this for real? Alicia can barely contain her smirk at Eli’s discomfort. When Eli suggests that such a campaign is PR rather than crisis management, Wasid wonders if Eli watches the news. “Religiously,” Eli answers. God, he’s so immature. “Then you know there was a murder of Jewish poli sci major at Chicago Politech last night. Unsolved, but the police are questioning Muslim students. Ten minutes later a riot broke out at the other end of campus, at a rally intended to encourage interfaith dialogue, and only one Muslim was arrested.” Eli nods his head, his features pinched shrewdly. “Now I’m used to reading the tea leaves in this country, and the best way to manage a crisis is before it becomes one. Isn’t that true?” Good point. Eli concedes. Then he cuts to the chase, as is his wont. “So, are you hiring me because I’m good, or because I’m Jewish?”
“Can’t it be both?” Wasid parries smoothly.
“I don’t like being used,” Eli snaps to Alicia as they leave Diane’s office. “Really, since when?” she snarks. Hee, although what Eli actually likes is using other people. Ruthlessly. “He knows Jewish money’s going to Peter for his next campaign, and he wants to buy influence.” “And?” wonders Alicia. True enough; why don’t Muslims have the same “right” to buy influence? He stops to look at the question. “Don’t you get so knowing on me!” He squints at her for a breath. “What’s up with you anyway? You seem different.” Oh, Eli, you have no idea. She snorts, checks her watch, and heads off.
“Where’re you going?”
“I’m a lawyer.”
“Okay. Glad we cleared that up.”
Hee! Sam and Josh, good morning!
And, good morning, Cary Agos! The next scene begins with a close up of his face. His hair is shaved close on the sides, and I hate it. Yay, Cary – boo, Cary’s haircut. “This is a hate crime, your Honor, and we ask that bail be set at a hundred thousand dollars.” The burly bearded judge towers over Cary, standing at the bench. “Mr. Agos, have you ever been in a fist fight?” Cary’s at a momentary loss before admitting (surprise!) that he hasn’t. “Well, let me educate you. It’s chaos in there, chaos!” Hilariously, the bailiff rolls her eyes. She must get this a lot. Alicia rushes in just in time to hear the judge proclaim that there’s no way to know with whom your fist is connecting. He demonstrates, clenching his fists, punching the air. “…and the next thing you know, someone’s on top of you.”
Awesome. I love this show’s capacity for creating unique judges, and also of making characters funny without making them punchlines.
As Alicia’s apologizing and introducing herself to a very downtrodden looking Jamal, Cary cuts in that the entire fight stemmed from religious hatred. Alicia quickly states her own case. Only one Muslim was charged when twenty students of both faiths were fighting. Why is that? Excellent question. “Alright, alright,” the judge says, sitting, “your passion is preserved for the record.” He sets bond at $5,000. “And I do suggest that the state reconsider it’s charge.”
Alicia finishes introducing herself to Jamal, a waif with large velvety eyes and shiny black hair, explaining he has a benefactor who’s paying her. He is, unsurprisingly, down with the free legal help. “But I didn’t do anything!” “I know,” she replies soothingly. It’s just the SAO trying to be tough. “But the good news is,” she whispers, leaning toward the tiny haggard student,”the judge is on your side.” After we establish that we can never ever bother Jamal’s parents (he’s too embarrassed), he expands on his self-defense, insisting he wasn’t even at the rally.
“He wasn’t at the rally, Cary,” Alicia cries, chasing Cary down the hall. “He was at the library.” “Oh my God, really?” Cary replies with a straight face. “That’s terrible.” Alicia has no patience for sarcasm. “This isn’t about Jamal, and this isn’t about some stupid fist fight.” She steps in to whisper once more. “This is about that Jewish kid stabbed to death and you can’t find the killer, so Jamal is the scapegoat.” Hmm. Maybe you shouldn’t go from 0 to 60 with Cary, hon. “Eyewitnesses saw Jamal throw the first punch, that’s what this is about.” Is it? Alicia wonders if the witness is Caucasian (and there for less likely to be able to distinguish between Arabs). “Wow, how quickly we slip the bonds of political correctness!” Cary, you crack me up. He makes an offer. “Six months in County, one year probation.” Obviously not, Cary, but that’s still pretty funny. “Tell Peter there has to be a better way to firm up his campaign contributions!” Alicia calls after him. Cary finds that pretty funny.
And with that, Cary slips into a meeting. “It’s a new day,” Peter tells the assembled ASAs. Yay, Peter! It is so good to see you – I never know when we will. “We’re running a clean office. Let me say that again because we’re all prone to the same cynicism.” He points at the assembled lawyers. “We are running a clean office. Clean, ethical, honest, but not weak. I know our budgets have been slashed, I know we’re the underdog here, but our strategy will be this: no plea bargains.” Say what? Seriously? Good grief! Between the standings ASAs, we catch a glimpse (we see Cary catch a glimpse) of our old friend Sophia and her bare calves, lounging sexily on a sofa. “That’s right. Defense attorneys will be expecting the opposite. So for the next two months, I want you to hold the line on every single plea.” Ah, it’s the old teacher strategy – hand out a bunch of detentions the first few weeks of school, and let your rep do the work after that. “After that you won’t have to work so hard. You make your enemy flinch and you’ll never have to hit him hard again.” Gee, Chris Noth is way taller than everyone in this room. Is he really that tall, or is this for effect? Whether it’s his presence or his strategy, the ASAs seem impressed.
“Your first complaint will be about investigator hours.” Sophia wags her eyebrows at Cary. “That’s why I’ve hired an outside contractor until we can budget full time. I want you to meet Sophia Russo. She’s good and she’s cheap.” She’s also too confident to feel the need to stand up; she’s still got her feet propped on the arm of the sofa, her skirt at mid thigh. “Thanks,” she says in a tone of mild offense. “Relatively,” Peter notes, and his minions laugh.
Once the meeting is over, Cary pulls Peter aside, wanting to know if he should dial down the desired sentence on Jamal’s case. Isn’t that plea bargaining? I guess not if he doesn’t lessen the charge. “What’s the law say?” Peter asks. “Three to seven years.” For a fist fight? Really? “There’s your answer.” Even if the defense is Alicia, who’s coming after Peter’s campaign contributions? Peter’s quite surprised by this. What should Cary do? “Follow the law. You can’t go wrong if you follow the law.”
When Cary arrives at his office, he finds a golden haired investigator waiting for him. “Geez, what a pit!” He retreats to extreme sardonic mode and thanks her, dryly. “You have the Jewish Muslim thing, right?” “Yeah, the hate crime,” Cary treads the party line warily, “what do you need?” She tosses him the envelope she’s been fiddling with; it’s about what he needs. “You used to work with Kalinda Sharma, didn’t you?” “Yeah,” he says shortly, deliberately not looking up. “If I were you I’d slip it to her.” Ahhhhhhhhhh! Sophia swaggers out. I cannot even believe she said that.
Kalinda sits alone at her favorite bar; it’s crowded as always. Cary slips in beside her. “It’s kinda odd, not seeing you around much.” I wonder how much time has elapsed since the season finale? Enough time to get Alicia a new office, have Eli move in, and have Cary miss Kalinda, but still early enough for Peter to be setting his opening tone? At any rate, Kalinda’s been busy. Cary doesn’t sit down. “Yeah. I thought you didn’t need me any more.” She laughs, downs her shot, and delicately wipes her lip. “What’s that?” Cary lays the envelope in front of her. “It’s a peace offering. Peter Florrick wants to run a clean office, so this is me being clean.” She doesn’t answer. “You’re welcome,” he says, and he leaves.
“You can’t make Chicagoans feel good about Muslims with pathos,” Eli insists, waving a poster that proclaims “Muslims go home.” He encourages his troups – and there are quite a few – to cast the Arab Spring in terms of the American Revolution. “Who is the Islamic George Washington? Who is the Islamic Paul Revere?” I bet a lot of people want to know the answers to those questions. Anyway, Alicia hears this, but she’s more interested in why Kalinda’s walking into her new office. (And for the record, wow, that is a big office. She’s got her own conference table and everything.) “Do you need something?” she asks coldly. “It’s on your desk,” Kalinda replies curtly. “It’s self explanatory.” Youch. That was icy.
The envelope contains an automatic ticket. “Is this your car?” Alicia asks Jamal. The thick stubble we saw at the courtroom is gone. (For the record, the paper uses the name Mifsud, or I’d have gone on thinking his last name was Masoud, since that’s what it sounds like they’re saying.) He looks profoundly uncomfortable. Why? It is his car. “Good. Now, I know you said you were in the library, but that ticket shows your car running a read light just outside the campus gates at the exact moment of the interfaith rally.” Huh. A smoking gun. Why didn’t Cary just drop the case, then? It’s not like the last case, where Peter hadn’t initiated the prosecution. It seems like a very weird way to come clean. “That means that the driver of the car, if that is you, couldn’t be involved in the fist fight, do you understand?” She’s pleased as punch, really. “I do.” He’s clean shaven now, wearing a vest over a button down, looking much more clean cut. She wants him to think before he answers, but she’s clearly leading him. “Is that you driving your car?”
“It is,” he says clearly, standing in front of the judge. “Are you certain, young man? It’s a very round about way to come from the library.” The judge’s head interrupts the phrase “In God We Trust” emblazoned on that wall. Kalinda stands to leave the gallery. Cary requires Jamal to state this under oath, and marks the traffic ticket as exhibit number one. Say what? Kalinda turns around, and Alicia wonders aloud why this was necessary. Cary says he wants the assurance if he’s to drop the charge. Jamal looks to Alicia for reassurance before he swears. She isn’t looking, though (she’s watching Cary in some confusion), and he does anyway. “That just about wraps it up, then,” the judge smiles, standing. Yes, says Cary, we made a terrible mistake. But it turns out that this car was seem racing away from that fraternity murder. It’s a trap! Oh, we are so stupid. It’s a trap, it’s a trap! You should have listened to Wasid and his tea leaf reading instincts. The crisis, it has come!
“Objection, your Honor!” Alicia can’t believe they’ve been played like that. “This is why he ran the red light – because he had just killed Simon Greenberg.” “This is outrageous!” Alicia sputters. “This is prosecutorial misconduct.” “He swore to it – his alibi means he committed this crime.” Uh, no – even if he was in that car it would hardly be that cut and dried. “Because you overcharged him with a hate crime so he would grab at any alibi!” Alicia’s livid. Oh, are you saying he perjured himself? Yes, now she’s going to have to say that. “No, I’m saying he took my advice, that’s all.” “Well congratulations, Alicia, you just advised your client to admit to murder!” Um, totally overstating things yet again, Cary, but you’ve got Alicia so mad she’s practically spitting. Cary and the state charge Jamal Mifsud with first degree murder.
[Quick aside: can I just say that The Ides of March is a perfect advertising fit for this show? I loved seeing this commercial. Smart political thriller? Yes please! Next time, though, could you have more women in the cast?]
That brilliant baseline blares again as the elevators open on Will. And, oh dear. Oh dear. Will too has done a bad bad thing – or so sings Chris Izaak – but his expression doesn’t look like a happy one. His assistant meets him at the elevator door with a mug of coffee. “Alicia stopped by for you.” Why?” The look he turns on her is not pleasant. “I don’t know, do you want me to call her?” No, he says. Later. That seems – cold and suspicious.
“So this isn’t you?” Kalinda waves the ticket at Jamal across a table. “It’s your car, but you weren’t driving your car?” I’m sorry, he sputters. “I thought it was the easiest way out.” Well, you weren’t alone in that mistake. So who’s driving the car, Alicia asks from the back of the interview room. He doesn’t know. She doesn’t believe him. “They have a witness who swears that that car – your car – was driven away by Simon Greenberg’s killer. So don’t cover for anyone!” He’s not, he promises. “Look, my two roommates don’t have a car. I let Amir and Tariq use mine, I just leave my keys in the room.” “So which is driving it, Amir or Tariq?” Kalinda wonders. (And yeah, she does say which, as in ‘which of them is driving,’ and yeah, it sounds weird to me too.) He can’t say. There’s no way to tell from that picture. Unless you’re a forensic guru able to gauge height from the relative positions of the carseat and the person’s body, assuming the two men differ in height. (Sorry. Clearly I watch too many crime dramas.)
“He swore that was him driving?” Diane can’t believe it. Alicia and Kalinda stand looking utterly wretched, about four feet apart, in Diane’s office as their boss paces furiously. “He didn’t know it would implicate him,” Kalinda explains. “It’s my fault,” a miserable Alicia admits, “I encouraged him to place himself in the car to give himself an alibi from the hate crime.” “Yes,” Diane huffs, “and now I have a multimillion dollar client thinking we’re amateurs.”
Kalinda won’t let Alicia’s confession stand. “I got the pictures from the ASA’s office. I should have checked.” Yes, and I suppose you would have if it wasn’t Alicia, huh? If you weren’t in a raging hurry to let it speak for itself? “Great, it’s everybody’s fault.” Diane’s straight backed in rage. “Now let’s make it right.” Kalinda’s interviewing the two roommates – one of whom must be the real driver, and so quite possibly the murderer – and Alicia’s filing a motion to dismiss the alibi statement. Okay. As they attempt to leave, Diane calls out. “I don’t know what’s going on with you two, but make it better.” They turn, almost as one. “Whatever you have to do. Make it better.” They nod, but they can’t even walk out the door without tension. Diane has it in one; this wouldn’t have happened if Kalinda and Alicia were working together as usual.
Alicia catches sight of Will in his office, and catches her breath at the same time. Her face lights with a terrible, hopeful smile, but her confidence fades just as quickly, and she walks away instead.
“So, are we supposed to do something?” Grace sits down at a desk across from a peculiar looking girl who’s playing with her hoodie ties. They’re in the Florrick apartment, so presumably this is after school. “Sure, what subject?” What’s with the tutor? There’s something about her voice that makes you feel like she’s not all there. Grace looks super cute in a striped sweater. She’s very sophisticated looking for a high school student, with her hair coiffed and curled and poofed just so. Do you feel like she’s the kind of girl who’d do that on her own?
Anyway. They don’t really know where to begin. Better grades are the point, so I’d recommend looking at the subjects where she has problems. Apparently Alicia wants Grace to get into Briarcrest. Was that their old school? “You don’t like public school?” The tutor plays with her eyebrows as Grace explains that Alicia’s nervous because of a mugging, and then stares blankly at the desk. “Is this your first job tutoring?” “Yeah,” the girl admits, chuckling a little. “How’m I doing?” “Not good,” Grace tells her, trying to make eye contact. “Darn,” says the tutor, refusing to be caught. Hee. The tutor proposes going outside. “I think that’s up to you,” Grace replies, agreeing.
“Cary the man!” some unseen colleague calls out; what we see instead is another sexy investigator sitting at Cary’s desk. This time, of course, it’s Kalinda. Cary fist bumps another colleague before turning in the doorway and noticing the chickens come home to roost.
“Nicely played,” she opens, giving him a thin smile. He smiles back briefly, looking embarrassed, and leans against the doorframe. “So this is the new Cary?” “No, just a new day.” Yeah, there’s a lot of that going around. “So, can I see the crime scene photos, Cary?” He laughs silently. “Oh, come on, you’re in the big leagues now, what can it hurt?” He’ll think about it. And then Kalinda’s face changes abruptly.
“Aw, well, lookie who’s here.” “Sophia,” Kalinda nods as the blond drapes herself across the doorway. “In the flesh!” Sigh. Kalinda catches Cary’s gaze. “Strange bedfellows, huh?” “The strangest,” Sophia agrees cheerily. “Well – you two have a nice time,” Kalinda pronounces slowly, full of intent, then sashays out between them, swishing her school girl skirt. She manages not to touch either one.
“What did she want?” Sophia’s tone is markedly less cordial. The crime scene photos, he explains, which are – whooops. Which were right here on his desk. Not being able to trust your friends feels a bit crappy, no?
“Okay,” Kalinda reads over her phone, rifling through the crime scene photos in her car, “Simon Greenberg, 22, found in his dorm room, gagged, bound, stabbed 45 times.” Damn. That’s horrific looking. “That’s a little overkill,” Alicia replies from her posh new office. Overkill. Ha ha. “Yep. Police think it was an execution, no sign of a struggle.” There were no direct witnesses, just the neighbor who heard a scream and saw a “dark, possibly Middle Eastern man” running to Jamal’s car. They got the whole license plate, too. Listening to this conversation, you wouldn’t know these women were no longer friends. They have gotten it together; Diane would be pleased. Another detail, one not released to the press: the killer painted a swastika in blood on Greenberg’s forehead. Ew. “I know, this is not looking good, is it?” Kalinda sums up. Alicia, however, has caught sight of Will, and has lost focus completely. “Okay – let me know what you find out from the roommates,” she says, distracted.
“Oh, one more thing – the police don’t know why, but the swastika, it was drawn backwards.” Wha-huh? What does that mean? That seems like an odd thing to me – people who use swastikas are usually either pranking or consciously allying themselves with the Nazi movement. That makes me think Skinhead before Arab. Is this a thing I don’t know about? I’m probably not that up on hate crimes. But on the other hand, it does point to bigotry as the motive.
As Alicia sets her phone down, Will walks in. “Am I interrupting?” “Nope,” she smiles, and God, her whole sweet face lights up. Her whole being is lighter. Will, by contrast, is brooding and focused. “Do you have a moment to talk?” She sits down and gives him a challenging look. “About last night?” Oh, so it was last night. Alright. Just quick work on the new offices, then. He laughs quietly, not so very humorously. Yes, about last night. She raises a shoulder at him, powerful, flirty. Wow.
And slam goes Eli’s door across the hall, making a weird shivery sound. For a second there, I wondered if it would shatter.
“Don’t act like this is nothing, ” a short, compact and very angry little man insists, standing in front of Eli’s desk with his hands clasped. Wait, I’m sure this is all going to be very fascinating, but I’d like to go back to that other conversation, thank you very much! What are we doing over here? “You’re running a pro-Palestinian campaign.” “It’s an anti-Muslim bigotry campaign, and I am a crisis management….” The short man cuts him off. “You are a Jew – we are both…”
“Oh, come on, Michael, what is this?” Eli’s got his fake indignant face on. “Ultimate frisbee? We only win by making them lose?” Ha. That’s hilarious. He’s sounding extraordinarily self-righteous for someone who turned the very name Wasid into a sneer. “Yes,” Michael says, pointing with his finger. “You act like you’re not paying attention, but I know you’re paying attention. This is a PR war.” Yes, says Eli, and I’m a traitor? Michael begins to give examples of pro-Palestinian stories dominating the press. (You can, in fact, Google the story about the Israeli woman who gave birth in a Palestinian hospital and find a ton of stories about it, though if you read them, you’ll see it’s quite a bit more nuanced than that; stories about Palestinian babies being helped into the world by Israeli soldiers seem to focus on the fact that the soldiers weren’t allowing the mothers through the checkpoints. There are lots of stories about those instances, too, but they are not pro-Israeli. Oh, come on, you know I had to look it up.) “This is a PR and they are winning.” Eli holds up his hands for a cease fire. “Michael, I do not go to your house and tell you what novels to write.” Okay, he’s a novelist. Good to know. (Not a real one, though. I looked it up.) “I do not go to your committee and tell you what lobbyists to hire.” Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. Michael mimes putting his hand to his mouth in horror. “Oh. There it is. Now I get it. I didn’t hire you. I hired Tarkoffski & Associates.” “With a 20 million dollar Jewish League fund to fight intolerance, yes. You did.” Now Eli looks actually mad. “So, this isn’t Israel vs. Palestine to you, it’s Gold vs. Tarkoffski.” In a word, yes. “You’re paying a competitor, Michael. And as moved as I am by your plea for Jewish brotherhood, Michael, I’m not that moved.” Michael nods. “Four thousand years, and we’re always our own worst enemy.” He leaves.
Alright, this wasn’t the conversation I wanted to listen to, but it’s a pretty fun one.
But, oh my goodness, just as Michael leaves, Will leaves Alicia’s office. No! We’re not going to get to see anything they talked about? Not fair! Okay, show, I know you think we’re all so smart you don’t need to show us everything, writers, but I wanted to see that, damn it!
But oooooh, maybe I didn’t. Alicia sighs deeply, sadly. She looks cut, and Eli sees it.
“So you were driving Jamal’s car last night?” Kalinda asks one of Jamal’s roommates, a very tall skinny boy with mocha skin and large ears. He thinks this is bigoted BS, just like he got from the cops. Maybe, but you did have access his keys, which has nothing to do with your race or religion, so they’d have to question you even if you were Swedish. Anyway. Amir buttons up a tunic and grabs his backpack; Kalinda tries to get him to admit to being the mystery man on the ticket, but he won’t. “No. And you know why it wasn’t me, lady?” He puts on a knit prayer cap. “Look at your time code. I was in my living room. For salah. Evening prayers.” Can anyone verify this? Yes. “The Prophet Mohammed. Peace be upon it.” He nods at her and leaves. His alibi is salah time – the five times a day all Muslims face Mecca and pray. Awesome. And that’s clearly provable, too – you can go online and calculate those times for any city in the world, snip snap, just like that. (They vary.)
“Yeah, Amir’s in the living room five times a day,” the third roommate confirms. He’s Middle Eastern, broader, more aquiline, but also very Western looking with short hair and a hoodie. Can he vouch for that on the night of the murder? Naw. “So you were home?” Tariq’s eyes go a bit crazy trying to figure out where Kalinda’s going with this. “You were home to not see him?” No, he was out. No, he didn’t take Jamal’s car because the keys were already gone. He was on the quad at the interfaith rally. Oh, interesting. I’m expecting Kalinda to ask whether or not Jamal was with him, but instead, she gets distracted by the golden head of Sophia Russo. Tariq takes off as Kalinda slowly walks over to her old lover.
“Sophia,” she says in a warning tone. “Kalinda, hi! I didn’t see you over there,” Sophia lies blatantly. Cute. “So this is how you investigate these days? By just following me?” “Yep,” Sophia admits. “Makes things a lot easier.” I just bet it does.
Sophia pops off the bench.
“So you and Cary, huh? That’s why you’ve been ignoring me.” Kalinda tilts her head. “It’s not because I’m married.” Sure, go ahead and think that. Kalinda bites her lower lip. “Yup. You got me.” Nope, but she’s still going to test you and try. “Listen, I’m going to go question eye witnesses at the Jewish frat, do you want the address?” Sophia shrugs. “Where’s the fun in that?”
Well, I will say one thing. I really like Sophia’s gray jacket. Also? It’s not a hideous strategy, just following Kalinda around.
The next scene begins with a deafening cacophony of sound. “Alright, each to your corners,” the burly bearded judge growls. “Mrs. Florrick, your client already swore that that was him in the car, is he now saying he lied?” Yes. Of course Alicia doesn’t say that, though. “He’s saying that he was misled by the prosecution.” Cary’s all innocence. “How did I mislead him?” Um, by feeding them the ticket and calling it a good will gesture? “He was given an opportunity to avoid a hate crime prosecution and he took it, that’s all.” Which is to say, yes, he perjured himself. “This murder charge is based on nothing else. There’s no evidence that Jamal and the victim even knew each other. Where’s the motive?” “Mr. Greenberg was Jewish and Jamal is Muslim, and as you can see here, your Honor, a swastika was drawn in the victim’s blood.” Cary passes a photo of Greenberg’s forehead to the judge. Alicia’s livid. “Anti-Semitism isn’t some cookie cutter motive you can apply to any dark skinned…”
The judge cuts her off.
“Now, listen. Nobody likes a street fight better than me, but that’s for in the street, not here.” The same bailiff rolls her eyes again. Without more probable cause, the judge is going to agree with Alicia. Cary has something else up his sleeve.
That something is a beaming blond Poli Sci professor – Poli Sci, as you may recall, being Jamal’s major – for the witness stand. Dr. Noah Fineman teaches one of Jamal’s classes. Jamal, says Pr. Fineman, showed particular interest in his standard 9/11 lecture, about how the chickens came home to roost for the U.S. and Israel’s Zionist regime. Ouch. Alicia leaps to her feet immediately, but her objection is weak and jokey and the judge ignores it. ‘I think we can stand a bit of rough and tumble here, counselor.” Well, you’re all about the rough and tumble, judge, so you would know. And, hmm, we finally get to see the judge’s name plate – Alan Karpman.
“So, Professor, you would argue that Israel’s a criminal regime.” Oh, he wouldn’t argue it – Peter arrives in time to hear the jovial Fineman say he thinks that’s self evident and incontrovertible. Oh, lovely. You can just see how ugly this is going to get. “Given this, what do you think about suicide bombings and the death of Jewish citizens?” Yes, do tell us, professor. Well, he would never condone it, but he does understand. “These are understandable movements against a Zionist oppression.” Honestly, when people use the word Zionist, I start rolling my eyes like that bailiff. You know there’s no dialogue possible when someone starts speaking from that kind of place.
“Didn’t Jamal take an added interest in this lecture?” Cary points to poor Jamal. “He was very engaged in class, yes. And afterward he approached me to ask me questions about my latest book.” Fineman’s head bobs in genial enthusiasm. He’s a picture, this one. He plugs his book happily. Cary looks less thrilled, but has no more questions either.
Fineman moves out of the witness box; Alicia has to call him back. “My client was very engaged in your lecture, you said? How did you witness this?” Fineman waxes poetic about his long years of teaching. “And how long did you teach Jamal?” “Well,” he considers, “it’s been four weeks since the beginning of the semester, four weeks, that’s twenty sessions.” Um, this is a college and not a high school, right? The most frequently any college class I ever took met was 3 times a week. “And for how many of those sessions were you actually present?” He doesn’t understand. “For how many of those twenty sessions were you actually there teaching, and not having one of your TAs do it ?” Cary’s eyes flick up nervously. “Ahhhhhh….” “Didn’t you only lecture the class twice, professor?”
Not that you can’t have a meaningful encounter with someone you’ve only met once, but still. Ha.
‘Well, I would question your use of the word only, but, ah, yes.” “And yet you really focused with your laser like perception on Jamal, and his engagement.” Hee. Fineman sees he’s being made fun of. “You’re being a bit rude,” he laughs, still trying to hold on to his good mood. “Yes, and I’m just getting started.” Ha! She’s awesome. Nice. Peter looks down at his feet. I can’t help remembering the season premier last year when Peter watched Alicia in the courtroom. Is he filled with admiration today, too, or is it all appreciation lost in anger? Or is she just an adversary to him now?
Alicia wonders how it is that, with such little contact, Fineman knew that it was Jamal who asked about his book. Turns out he has a neat little system; the students sign themselves in, and then he puts a star next to the names of the kids who talk to him. “See? That asterisk tells me I must send them an email about my book.” More eye rolling from me. “Of course you recognize Jamal over there.” Alicia does her best Vana White. “Oh yes.” “The students sign themselves in, yes?” “Oh, yes, it’s a very efficient way to work.” Fineman’s smile is broad. Or at least it is until Alicia points out that Jamal’s name isn’t in his own handwriting – he was signed in by his roommate, Tariq, so that he could cut class. Oh, Cary, I don’t think objecting is going to get you out of this one. (So, hmm, does that mean it was Tariq who asked about the book? Isn’t Tariq supposed to be the secular one? Or can Fineman just not tell one Arabic face from another? The casting directors have gone to great lengths to provide three actors who look extremely different from each other.)
Peter meets Alicia in the hall. “Well, I’d say things have been pretty easy for you up until now.” Um, what does that mean? Easy in this case, where you lied and misled the defense? Or easy because your evidence, up to now, has been complete crap, but you have better in store? Don’t even start to imply that anything about her renewed career has been easy, because it hasn’t, and most of it’s been about people trying to hurt you through her. Also, nice to see you, too, spouse. “In court,” Peter clarifies with a smile. “These people really don’t know how you think.” “And you do?” Alicia smirks. “I hate to tell you this, but we’re going to beat you.” Alicia smiles. “Good luck with that.” Peter laughs until she’s too far away to see he doesn’t find it funny.
Oh, the coldness. Sigh.
We see a combat scenario – a plaster walled city, gunfire, explosions, the sound of Arabic, and a running man. The CG man leaps to pick up a glowing vest. “Battle Gaza Strip ME. One of my best MMOGs,” a smug bearded youth proclaims from the stand. I’m no gamer, so I have no idea what this means, and though Cary has claimed to be in the past, he asks for clarification. An MMOG is a massive multiplayer online game. “Meaning, people log on to their computers and battle each other.” Yes indeedy. What’s playing on the screen behind the superior programmer is the recorded actions of one Samson5 – the avatar of the accused. Alicia wonders where the relevance is. Cary says it’s motive. Judge Karpman wonders whether the weapon of choice is an Uzi. Sigh. This time we don’t get to see the bailiff roll her eyes, but I can imagine she’s still doing it. It’s not an Uzi, but Karpman still thinks it’s cool.
“Well, that’s Jamal’s avatar there, the guy running.” What’s he wearing, Cary asks. “Oh, that? That’s a suicide vest,” the programmer says casually. In the gallery, Wasid Al-Said’s eyes widen in horror. Of course he would be there now. Sorry, but I have to say it – why doesn’t my family have noses like that? Seriously, the man has the tiniest perfect straight little nose. This is not your average Mediterranean nose. I’m so jealous. He’s upset. So’s Jamal. (Upset, not jealous.) “He’s wearing a suicide vest?” Cary repeats. He then elicits the fact that the avatar is entering an Israeli school. Oh, lovely. Just lovely. It still seems utterly circumstantial – gross, sure, but what first person shooter game isn’t morally questionable? And yet, how many people who play first person shooter games use them as a rehearsal for real life? I’m not saying it hasn’t happened, but as a percentage, it can’t count as proof of one man’s guilt. Especially when we’re talking about a knife murder.
“Your Honor, this is a game!” Alicia pounds her desk. Then the school explodes. Everyone looks appalled, and Wasid walks out. Ouch.
“Mr Al-Said was just here,” Diane notes, back at the office. “He wants us to pull out of Jamal’s case. He’s afraid defending a youth who makes light of a suicide bombing will undercut Eli’s pro-Muslim campaign.” Oh, dude. “He wasn’t making light of it, he was playing a video game.” Well, that kind of is making light of it, but he’s a college student. They’re either being totally offended by things or totally blaze about them. Also, that’s gaming, something lots of model citizens engage in. “He killed a school house full of kids,” Will yells from his seat at Diane’s desk. “Yes, but in a videogame. Have you seen video games these days?” Alicia reiterates. She’s standing. She’s the only one. “We can’t abandon Jamal, he was looking at misdemeanor battery, we helped him into a murder charge.” “We?” Will shoots back at her. Ouch! She’s getting the cold shoulder from everyone these today. Diane looks slightly shocked, and Alicia gives her a look of surprise and consternation. “I helped him into a murder charge – which I did as a representative of this firm. We made a commitment to him.” Will practically rolls his eyes at Diane. “What do you think?” Diane asks Will. “I think your friend will pull out of Eli’s campaign and go right back to his old firm with his ten million dollars.” “Yeah, ” Diane agrees regretfully. She looks at Alicia.
“Still, retail rules,” she decides. “We broke it, we own it?” Will confirms. Yep, that’s what Diane means. Let me say, on Jamal’s behalf, phew. I’m sure legal aid couldn’t have been any worse. Diane dismisses Alicia. “Win this one!” Alicia nods at Diane’s parting words.
“No!” Eli barks, his back turned on the latest visitor to his office. “What?” growls the man with the perfect nose. “No, Mr. Al-Said?” That really wasn’t any friendlier. Al-Said laughs. “I’m coming here as a courtesy. I don’t need your campaign anymore. I’m taking my business back to my old firm.” Eli sits at attention. “Oh, that’s too bad, because I already cashed your check.” “You did not,” Al-Said doesn’t believe it. “I did,” Eli bites out (sounding oddly like Anna Torv of Fringe; is it the over articulation?). “You know us Jews.” Oh, Eli. Al-Said’s smooth facade cracks. “You’d do anything to piss me off,” he splutters, frustrated laughter punctuating his words. “You’re right, but I still have a great pro-Muslim campaign for you.” Mr. Not-So-Smoothie snorts and leaves. “Good doing business with you” says Eli of the sharp elbows.
“Did you hear the one about the Arab and the Jew?” Wasim wonders from the doorway. “No, but I’m sure it’s very funny,” Eli says wearily. “An Arab and a Jew walk into a bar,” Wasid begins, his voice turning serious and sad, “and then they kill each other.” They look at each other regretfully for a moment. As his own version of “why can’t we all just get along” it’s pretty good.
The L rumbles through Chicago. Grace and her interesting new tutor are on it. This is what she means by outside? To me that means, you know, trees and stuff. Perchance a local park. But this girl, she thinks outside the box, clearly. She tries to explain something about black radiation to Grace, who’s more interested in how the tutor (give her a name, for the love of God!) can eat a chocolate bar. Oh, the horror! Grace, you let Jackie into your head! Please don’t tell me you think you need to be on a diet! (By the way, I was completely fooled by wardrobe changes here; Alicia went into work wearing a red dress under a black blazer, but now she’s in all black. And of course Jamal got all cleaned up. So I assumed it was a new day – but no, here’s Grace in the same cream and gray sweater, and Tutor-girl in the same really puzzling bib shirt. Odd. And I don’t just mean the bib shirt.) “It’s like the equivalent of three buckets of popcorn.” Tutor-girl thinks this is ridiculous. “But I don’t want three buckets of pop-corn.” What is this eating things just because you want them? Gracie doesn’t understand.
No, I’m not saying anything against being healthy. It’s just – you can’t be all “a chocolate bar is going to kill you, omg.” Grace really can’t say anything about this girl’s eating habits; she’s only known her for what, an hour? Maybe it’s the first chocolate bar she’s had in a year. It’s not as if Tutor-girl’s heavy, although she’s probably not as thin as Grace has gotten to be. Anyway, Grace looks at her like she’s from another planet.
And this is prescient, because Tutor-girl immediately proves she’s from another planet. A very confident planet. A bunch of guys in bright red and white soccer uniforms enter the train. The pop of color? It’s just so Bollywood, she can’t help dancing. (Yes. I know.) On goes the music player in her bag, and out goes her phone into Grace’s hand. “It’s Bollywood – you can’t pass up Bollywood!” Grace is too stunned to hold the phone up properly, and Tutor-girl has to keep tipping her hands up. “Do you know them?” Grace is stunned, almost speechless. “No. It’s chance. I do this all the time.” And Tutor-girl proceeds to dance like a complete and utter maniac, doing a hilariously dreadful stripper imitation with a pole, even cozying up to one of the boys, who dances back good naturedly. And Grace, who couldn’t deal with the tutor eating a chocolate bar, is utterly charmed.
“Good to have you back, Mr. Sartori,” Alicia smiles at the smug programmer, on the stand once more. And this really is a new day because both he and Alicia are wearing new clothes; she’s in a gray suit, and he’s in a maroon hoodie. “So tell me. What is a power up?” Sartori laughs. “I”m sorry. This is the only place in the world where I have to explain a power up.” I’m sorry, but no, I guarantee itisn’t, dude. In fact, it’d be a lot of fun coming up with a list of places where people would not know what that is. It would be a long one.
Anyway. “In a video game, it’s something you collect to give you extra power,” he explains. “Like a gun. Or, you know, ammunition.” “So would anyone pass up a power up?” Alicia asks. Perish the thought! Sartori laughs. “No. Not unless you’re crazy. You never know when you’d run out of ammunition.” And, guess what? The suicide vest? A power up. “And everybody who plays your game grabs one?” “At one point or another,” Sartori affirms. Jamal looks up, encouraged. “In fact, according to your own logs, many ASAs in Mr. Agos’s office…” Here Cary vainly objects. “Many ASAs in Mr. Agos’s office have collected such suicide packs.” Hee! “Yeah – it’s part of the game, it’s not a thing.”
“But doesn’t that mean these ASAs are more likely to have murdered Simon Greenberg?” Cary’s horrified – of course he is. It’s not like any of the ASAs are Muslims who went to school with Simon Greenberg. Seriously, when was the last time the SA’s office made such an offensively stupid case?
Kalinda provides a distraction to everyone when she comes forward with a note for Alicia. “Mr. Sartori, Jamal’s roommate, Amir Al-Falan, he played your online game too?” She can prove with his logs that this is so. And also that Amir had his privileges restricted for fighting with another player. Gee, who could that be? One of the ASAs, perhaps? Strangely, no. It was Simon Greenberg.
“Jamal’s roommate Amir is the most likely suspect,” Alicia tells Diane. “He has an alibi,” Will reminds them. “Praying.” “Yes, but he was alone.” And can’t prove his alibi. Does that count as an alibi? “What about the other roommate, Tariq?” “We can’t find any contact with the victim, and he doesn’t have the political motive,” Alicia explains. “Amir is the Palestinian hardliner, Tariq could care less.” Of course, you’re buying into the prosecution theory here when you assume that’s the most likely motive, but hey, who am I to question you? Diane looks to Will, and he looks away from Alicia in annoyance. Eeek. More cold shoulder. Noticing this, Alicia looks self-conscious; Diane dismisses her, which doesn’t help.
Diane squints at Will, but he’s too busy looking at his hands to notice. “What do you think?” he asks. She stands in front of him, squinting again. “I think? You’re holding something against her.” Will looks up. “I’m what?” “Alicia. Maybe it’s unconscious, maybe it’s not, but you’re being hard on her.” He’s dismissive of the very notion. “No. She’s a third year associate on a partner track, and she’s treating us like peers.” Ouch!. It hurts! I don’t like that at all, Will! Why are you talking about Alicia this way? “That’s all you’re seeing.” “My God, am I the only adult left here? Could everyone else just put their emotions away?” Well, if Congress can’t do it, don’t get too hopeful about your colleagues, Diane. “I have to get to a meeting, unless you have some other stray observations for me?” Diane just shakes her head. “Phew,” Diane sighs.
Alicia leans back against a dark paneled wall, tipping her shoulders back and forth. Her eyes are closed. Oh my God. “Are we over doing it?” The light glints off her bare skin. Will – dressed in his suit – rises up to meet and kiss her. “Diane thinks I’m going to hard on you.” Her intake of breath is sharp, and timed precisely to that word, hard. Hard. She shifts up and back slightly. Oh my God. Oh my holy heavens. They stare at each other. “Am I?” he purrs. “Going too hard?” He matches action to his words. They start to move; she starts to laugh, halting, throaty, rich. “All those late nights.” “No time off,” she agrees. He mutters about being buried in work. She sighs, shifts up, inhales sharply. “Up to my knees,” she smiles, her head still thrown back, mouth open, the words drawn out. He kisses her neck. He practically eats her neck.
“You’re doing it again, Mom, you’re doing it again!” Alicia freezes, taken back out of herself. “It’s just my neighbors,” Will assures her. Wow. Really poor soundproofing. Not cool. But somehow, she manages to redirect her focus. “Let’s go to the bedroom,” he says. “No, no don’t move, don’t move,” she pleads. But he does move. Repeated. Rhythmically. And she’s catching her breath, and panting, and making these little noises, and then bites down on his finger, biting, biting, biting down so hard.
Holy crap. I mean, oh my God, did they really just show that? Wow. I mean, oh my – wow. All that was missing was the house falling down around them.
So, okay. Looks like they didn’t attempt to leave things at that one hour of good timing, did they?
Oh. My. God.
Well. I was not expecting that.
“The leg is done,” a chef says through the television. Grace and Alicia are cuddled up on the sofa, next to a plate full of pizza crumbs, glasses in hand. “We need to eat better,” Alicia muses, looking at the crumbs and at the lamb chops resting on her tv set. “I like what we eat!” Grace protests. “No, I need to cook,” Alicia protests, clutching her red wine. Grace looks up at her mother and giggles. When Alicia laughs back, I can’t help thinking it’s the closest (not just literally) and happiest we’ve ever seen them. They’re so relaxed. “You’re happier without Dad,” Grace observes without judgement. “No, I’m happier with you,” Alicia tells her daughter, nuzzling her head. “Okay, that was such a mom thing to say.” They laugh again. “No,” Grace continues, “it’s about Dad.” Well, it’s about the lack of Dad but also the addition of something else that we’re not talking about yet. But yes. “Does that upset you?” Alicia wonders.
“No,” Grace shakes her head, providing the good girl answer first and then the more honest one. “I don’t know.” She twists to look her mother in the face, now serious. “I mean, I love Dad.” Alicia understands. She starts a few times before picking the words “I’m sorry” and then kissing Grace on the side of the head. They settle back to the lamb chops when Alicia remembers; she’s gotten Grace a new tutor to replace crazy girl. “Dana. I think you’ll like her – she’s social.” Grace, however, has changed her mind about crazy tutor girl, and does not want her replaced. (I’m a little unsure about when she would have complained to Alicia, since she changed her mind during their one session; maybe she called her on the way to the L train?) “I thought you said she was too different?” Grace turns a thoughtful face to her mother again. “I did. But sometimes different isn’t always bad.” Thanks, Miss After School Special, I’ll keep that in mind. Drink your milk, kiddo.
“She’s coming over tomorrow to help me set up my computer.” Alicia’s quite taken aback by this. Doesn’t Grace already have a computer set up? “Please tell me you’re learning something,” Alicia begs, dubious. “I’m learning something,” Grace replies, eyes wide to demonstrate her sincerity.
Amir stands up to collect his prayer rug from his living room floor; Kalinda watches from the doorway. “So, how do you explain that, Amir?” “I don’t explain it,” he says, moving past her to put the rug away. “You said you didn’t know the victim, Simon Greenberg, and yet here you are on a video game, fighting with him.” Kalinda shows him the Sartori’s log. “I don’t need to talk to you,” Amir replies with a bit of contempt. “You got no authority here.” Kalinda heads for the door, but it’s not to leave, oh no. It’s to call to Sophia, who’s lounging sexily on a classic car, still tailing her former colleague. “Hey, you wanna make yourself useful in here?” Why yes, she does. “I just got the authority,” Kalinda explains, and tall Amir stiffens.
“He claims it wasn’t him,” Kalinda tells Alicia as they stand in the courtroom. Alicia’s writing furiously on a pad of paper (no more big brother tablets for you!). “Wasn’t him what, fighting against Greenberg?” “In the video game. Amir says it was Tariq, he let him use his screen name.” Alicia looks completely exasperated, and with cause. Who can tell who did anything between these three? They borrow each others cars and screen names and sign each other into class until you can’t tell who did what. I’m started to be afraid they killed Greenberg together. “So we’re back to square one,” Kalinda grouses, because Tariq doesn’t have a motive. Alicia finally looks up from her notes. “Maybe we’re making a mistake, thinking it’s about Middle Eastern politics. These kids, they’re just – college kids.” The light bulb goes on.
And Judge Karpman walks in. “Okay. I’ll keep checking, but I’ll need some time,” Kalinda explains, and heads out. “So, this is where we stand,” Judge Karpman tells the crowd as he begins the session. Did anyone else think the bailiff called him Cartman? If I hadn’t seen the name plate, that’s what I would have thought his name was. Ah, South Park. “There is sufficient evidence for a finding of probable cause.” What? Is he kidding? Only if you assume that the fact of being Muslim makes Jamal guilty, because there’s still no motive and only circumstantial evidence. Appalling. Alicia looks a bit panicky. Karpman wants to put the case on his trial. Alicia stands to object. And – wow – she asks Karpman to recuse himself. “We believe that you have shown bias against our client.”
Um, okay. That hasn’t felt true, at least not until this finding of improbable probable cause, and I don’t really know what the threshold is for that. This must just be a ploy to get extra time for Kalinda – right? “Really? In what way?” Alicia steels herself. “Your religion.” Karpman drops his bearded jaw, and stands, aghast. “This is outrageous. I’m…” He’s struggling for words to contain that outrage. “My Jewish background is irrelevant to this case!” Alicia’s implacable. “Your Honor, you have given money to Outlook for Israel, an organization that supports the settlements in Israel. We believe that you have shown bias against our client and we ask that a new judge hear further proceedings.” Wow. That’s a ballsy strategy. Are there so many judges in Chicago that you can afford to mortally offend one? Especially one who, frankly, is more in your court than the average person might be? (Also, note that Alicia did not say “the settlements in the occupied territory” or “the Gaza strip.” Just saying.) The stunned Karpman will give them his decision in an hour.
Cary’s bemused. “He’s never going to recuse himself,” he tells Peter. Peter doesn’t agree. “Karpman always backs down. He’s too afraid of being overturned on appeal.” That’s fascinating, given his tough guy person. Maybe that’s part of why the bailiff was rolling her eyes. So we just start over with a new judge, Cary wonders. “No,” Peter smiles, “I know what Alicia’s doing.”
Eli sets a posterboard of notes on the aborted pro-Muslim campaign on an easel in his office, then capers back to his desk, tosses his suit jacket back on, and sits, pretending to peer intently at the board. The angry novelist charges back in. “Oh, Michael, how are you?” Eli doesn’t take his feet down. “I was just sitting here going over this campaign. Arab Spring – sort of like Irish Spring. But with Arabs. Want some coffee?” Ha! Michael does not want coffee. “How much,” he asks instead. “For the coffee?” Eli makes a negligible wave of his hand. “For six months, if I brought the Jewish League Fund here.” Oh, that’s marvelous. Eli uses one despised fund – which he’s already lost – to get the one he really wants. “How much are you paying Tarkoffski & Associates?” You know how much, Eli, Michael grumbles. “Well, I would have to tell Mr. Al-Said that we can’t handle his account anymore, so if you could help us defer those costs…” Michael shakes his head in respect and horror. “You’re really a son of a bitch.” Eli nods happily. “I am. But now I’m your son of a bitch.”
“All rise. Judge Karpman presiding.” Karpman asks them to sit, his mouth pressed together in displeasure, glaring at Alicia. Has her gamble paid off? He doesn’t sit. “I’ve taken a great deal of time with this motion, because I believe that part of being a tough judge is also being a fair judge.” At this point, Cary moves back to his feet. “Your Honor, may I quickly interrupt?” Honestly, he’d rather you didn’t. He’s prepared remarks. Cary doesn’t really give him the option. “I believe Mrs. Florrick is attempting to manipulate this court.” Perish the thought! Alicia leaps to her feet in protest. Ah, lawyerly posturing. It’s so cute. “If you recuse yourself, the court will be forced to choose a new judge tomorrow, is that right?” It is. “You’re about to make your ruling, your Honor?” Alicia’s attempt to sidestep Cary fails. “That’s what she’s counting on, your Honor. Do you know what tomorrow is?” He does not. “The holiday.” “That has nothing to do with my motion,” Alicia whines. “It’s Rosh Hashanah.” Ooops. “There will be no Jewish judges in court. The case will be assigned to a non-Jewish judge. That is why she’s asking you to recuse yourself.” Karpman starts breathing heavy and pursing his lips – an amusingly prim and ladylike gesture from such a big man. Alicia’s offended, but not anywhere near as offended as Karpman is. “Mrs. Florrick, I am … disappointed in you. The motion is denied, the trial remains on my docket.” Down goes the gavel. Damn. He stands, as always, beneath the words “In God We Trust.” Alicia looks over at Cary, who looks over to Peter; Alicia sees in him the author of her defeat.
Now, okay, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this. This judge hasn’t been biased against them; why would a change be an improvement? This felt like a slightly desperate gamble to buy more investigative time, which would render any future judge’s political and religious leanings irrelevant. So would she really have cared about Rosh Hashanah? I suppose if she were to end up with a trial with a new judge, she might have wanted to eliminate the potential for bias? Unpleasant. At any rate, now she really has made life harder for herself, not only in this trial but any other time she ends up in Karpman’s court. Not a good gamble, Alicia.
Tariq sits in a crowded bar, chatting animatedly – and closely – with another guy. Kalinda slinks up behind him. “What’re you following me?” “No,” Kalinda says innocently, “I’m following her.” That’s a change of pace. Sophia sits down on Tariq’s other side, drink in hand. “You know, Tariq, if you’re looking for a discreet gay bar, I’d try Scarlett’s on Halstead.” “No no no,” counters Kalinda, “I’d try Sidetracks.” Ha, they really are the only women there. Sophia makes a face: “too leathery!” Hee. “What do you need?” Tariq just wants them gone. Funny to think that two beautiful women must be attracting more attention in a gay bar than a straight one. “You used Amir’s avatar in Battle ME online game.” So? “So that’s where you met Simon Greenberg.” Oh, ouch. Good call, Alicia! Tariq looks panicked and denies it. “Yeah,” say Sophia, using the hand holding her drink to point to his suddenly terrified face, “actually, yeah.” He grows more alarmed each second. “Checked your alibi, ” Sophia continues, “It doesn’t hold up, Tariq. You weren’t at that interfaith rally.” His mouth hangs open for a moment.
“Why would I kill Greenberg? It makes no sense.” “We spoke to the bartender,” Kalinda leans in softly. “He said you met Greenberg here quite a few times.” “My guess is, you and Greenberg fell in love.” Sophia drops the narrative and Kalinda picks it up. “You argued, and he met someone else.” “You got jealous,” Sophia continues. Quick work for the first month of school, isn’t it? “You stabbed him,” Sophia states flatly. “Made it look like a hate crime,” Kalinda finishes. And that’s when Tariq tries to bolt. Oh, silly, silly boy. The women spin him around, pin his arms behind his back, and slam his head down on his barstool.
“I didn’t mean to kill him!” You didn’t mean to kill him? What did you mean by tying him up and stabbing him, then? To torture him into coming back to you? Cause that works. Seriously, I got nothing for that kind of excuse. “Why the reverse swastika,” Kalinda wonders, as all around them the bar goes on with business as usual. “When you set it up as a hate crime, why’d you draw the swastika backwards?” “What’d you mean?” Tariq pants, “isn’t that how you draw it?” The two women stare down at him in surprise.
“Is it good for the Jewish League fund, I don’t know,” Eli muses into his phone. “A Muslim was the killer, but he was also gay and sleeping with our guy, so I would call that a …classic mixed message.” Peter looks over sharply. Eli puts the phone on his shoulder and mouths the words “crisis management.” Peter – who ought to have the same information at this point as well – nods. “If it helps our cause, I could find out if he’s a top.” Now Peter can’t help guffawing.
“That was a joke,” Eli’s forced to explain to his phone. Well, Peter and I appreciated it, anyway, Eli. Peter mocks Eli a bit for the hand holding. “What do you think?” “It’s veeeeery flattering, Eli,” Peter growls, looking over some paper work. “But I can’t be thinking about the governorship when I’m doing this job.” He hands the papers back. “So do this job.” Eli sets the papers down on the table between them. “Let me think about the governorship.” On his way out the door of Peter’s plush new office, Eli stops. “Just an observation from work. If you’re worried about Alicia and Will Gardner…” Peter lowers his drink. “I’m not. Worried.” Which could mean anything from “I don’t think there’s anything going on” to “I don’t care if there is.” “I know, I know,” Eli corrects himself. “But if you were, I think that whatever was there is no more.” Peter regards his former campaign manager shrewdly. “They barely look at each other.”
Eli tries to leave again, but Peter calls him back this time. “You don’t want a divorced candidate, do you?” Eli attempts to deny it, and Peter gives him another look, calling his bluff. Chris Noth is very very good at giving that kind of look.
“Here’s goodbye” sings a twangy voice in Kalinda’s favorite bar. Will sits by her, and they drink.
“You need a friend, K,” he observes. ‘Why do I need a friend,” she wonders.
“Or a dog. You need a dog.” Hee. I love this conversation already. “Maybe a dog. Kalinda and pooch, out investigating.” Dude sounds very, very drunk – or at least very very silly.
“I’m fine, Will,” she assures him. How much has Alicia told him, I wonder? Do they actually talk when they’re together? A good question.
They’re distracted by a break up down the end of the bar. “What’s wrong with me,” a blond woman cries, head in her hands. Which, seriously, dude? At a crowded bar? That is so not cool.
“We’re not like normal people, are we?” Will asks, still watching. “What’re normal people like?” Good question. Will thinks. “Emotional.” Kalinda smiles. “You’re emotional.” Will denies it. “Naw. Sometimes I’m in the middle of an emotion, and I just look at myself and I realize, I’m not feeling anything, I just like acting like someone who feels something.” Odd.
“You wanna stop acting and actually feel?” she asks him. “Yeah.” She hits him, out of sight. Hard. It takes a stunned moment for him to look at her and respond. “Ow.” “That’s what it feels like,” she shrugs. “Thanks,”he laughs, and she laughs gently with him. But all good things must come to an end; he has an appointment at 8:45. “That’s specific,” she points out. Yep. “Be good,” he tells her as she leaves, patting her on the shoulder.
“I’ll get them to school on Monday,” Peter tells Alicia, who stands, stiffly, arms crossed. Yes, he’s sure he can do that. Yay for Peter taking the kids! It’s about time. Zach wonders off screen if they should bring their homework. “Yes!” his parents call out in unison. Peter stands out in the hall with his hands clasped looking at his shoes in profound discomfort. “So you’ve hired a tutor for Grace,” he observes. Yes. “She’s good. And Grace likes her. At least, Grace likes her now.” She sighs. “I’ll keep an eye on that.” Oh. Then there’s the matter of Neesa’s parents and the dinner invitation. Awkward! Peter almost chuckles. “I’ll tell her you’re busy,” Alicia steps in. “Yeah, yeah, tell her I’m busy,” Peter echoes, but is it just me, or does he seem disappointed? Did he want to go pretend to be the happy family? Finally Zach and Grace are ready. Alicia kisses them on the way out; she’ll be there if they need anything. How strange that must be, that first handing over. Grace turns and smiles as they head to the elevator. Alicia smiles, and then closes the door.
Hmm. Alicia’s wearing a white fitted button down and heels with her jeans. She fishes a lone white sock off the otherwise immaculate living room floor. The clock says 8:35. Now she’s at her vanity, applying red lipstick, fluffing her hair. It’s 8:45. She looks at her reflection, and suddenly this is the face we saw in the elevator at the end of last season; Alicia’s in total panic. What’s this new world she’s living in, where she bring a lover into the home she shares with her children? How does a good girl, a good wife, do this? There’s a knock at the door. She doesn’t move – she just breathes hard, fearful. What will she do? Does she let him in?
Oh, come on. You know the answer to that.
I wasn’t totally in love with this case. Oh, I enjoyed where it ended up (having nothing to do with racial/religious tensions), even if it was a touch predictable, and that nice little parallel with Will and Alicia’s charade (things not being what they seem). But I’m just not certain about the beginning. Was the whole initial case really a feint to get Jamal to confess to being in the car? That makes a certain amount of sense, especially given that he was the only person charged in the interfaith melee. But there’s the small matter of Sophia producing the ticket. Oh, I don’t doubt that Cary knew it was a trap when he gave it to Kalinda – he knew that the car had been identified at the murder scene – but before he got the ticket, could he have anticipated that? Perhaps Cary knew the ticket existed and Sophia was just giving him the physical copy? What about the witness who swore Jamal was at the rally? Or was that a lie? Was it Cary who decided to try Jamal in the first place, and if so, was it because he already suspected Jamal of the murder? And how did the police pick Jamal up, anyway, if he wasn’t actually at the rally?
I like that Peter got to take the kids, finally. I’m so relieved that he’s in touch with them. Do you guys think that the arrival of Tutor-girl means the end of Shannon, and Grace’s flirtation with Christianity? That was such a big arc for her last season, though I’m not sure it went anywhere useful. Especially if they’re just going to drop it now in favor of gorilla theater. Was it just a passing phase? It’ll be interesting to see. It’ll be doubly interesting if she starts doing “Bollywood” numbers and posting her goofy exploits on youtube. Oh, excuse me – on vidtrope.com, of course.
I’ve always said that my worst case scenario was for Alicia to begin an affair with Will while she was still married to Peter. Now, she’s no longer living with Peter, and has begun talks with a divorce attorney. But she’s not officially separated, not publicly so. And we’ve all been hoping that she would have some time by herself, to be herself. Of course I suppose one could argue that she had a lot of time to stand on her own while Peter was in prison. So I can’t exactly call this my worst case scenario, even if it’s not my dream romance, either. But damn, they know how to make a sexy scene on this show. I mean, come ON.
Speaking of which, On Point on NPR did an interesting show on women in the new tv season, and of course everyone (including the excellent Maureen Ryan) lavished love and attention on The Good Wife. Near the end of the show, a woman called in, saying what a fan she’d been of The Good Wife, but how shocked she was by this episode, how it focused too much on Will and Alicia and sex, and if this was the new direction of the show – if the creators were just trying to tart it up to get better ratings – then she would stop watching. And the critics echoed her concern. Two years into a show, they agree, she either starts getting sexier, or they have to give her an adorable baby. I’m intrigued by this critique; I feel like this plotline is organic, and makes sense through the history of the show. Whether you think it’s a good idea for the characters or not, I’d assert that it didn’t feel forced. I didn’t think the episode was out of balance at all; the show has spent a lot of its focus on Will and Alicia, so that doesn’t feel new or weird.
Their new relationship is certainly going to provide more sex, but that doesn’t offend me by itself. Heck, Alicia was party to a mere three sex acts in entire first two seasons, one in the first, one in the season opener of the second and the other in the season finale. It would be hard to have less sex than that. For a show with a premise based on sex – on sexual infidelity – this show has remarkable little sex in it. But does that make it wrong to have more sex now? Is it a problem for viewers drawn in by two years of longing glances and suppressed Victorian-like passion to have what we just witnessed on their screens? Do we have an issue with Alicia being a sexual being? I can’t help feeling that another worst case scenario is going to result; the affair will come out, the public will consider it cheating and vilify her, her children will be hurt, and Peter will use it to fight her for custody. It would certainly work as part of a plan – a plan to give us more drama, more conflict, more pain. All the elements that make a TV show intriguing and satisfying. Get great characters; then put them in situations which test them.
So that brings us to the question; can you sex up a show for a good reason? Is that always selling out? Or could it be a useful plot device? Do we think the Kings sat down and said “what can we do to increase our demo?” or was this always the intention?
Now, okay, people other than Alicia have gotten to have sex. Diane, Cary, Will and of course Kalinda have all had their dalliances. If I were going to complain about the sex on the show, if anything felt tacked on, it would certainly be Sophia. I like her, don’t get me wrong, but how many blatantly sexy bisexual investigators do we need? I have to tell you, I kind of liked Andrew. Even if he was God-awfully myopic and destroyed Alicia’s life for no reason. He was different. He was a unique character, and I appreciated that. Do we need Sophia trying to out-Kalinda Kalinda? I do like the mischief she could cause between Cary and Kalinda, I guess. But if those two start doing the nasty, I might have to rethink my stance on the whole “sexing up” charge.
What do you think, friends? Was this a satisfying season opener after the long lonely months of summer? Is the show getting too sexed up? Can you even believe that scene – what Frank McCourt calls a knee trembler- made it on network TV? Is it about time Will and Alicia got together? Is it about time Alicia found something that made her happy? Or have they done a bad bad thing?