E: The screen is bluish white. We see a wiggling line, and then a figure appears in the mist, tethered to the wiggling line, which must be a rope. “28,000 feet. 78 mile an hour winds,” a voice tells us, as more figures come into view. “The South Col of Everest.” Now we see jagged gray outcroppings of rock, with snow-suited climbers arranged amongst them. As we get closer, what seemed to be rocks turn out to be dry rock walls. “For the five hundred climbers all crowding the same route in one 3 week period, it’s a nightmare of Everest.” The camera looks down unsteadily over an icy precipice, inches from the climber’s lurching feet. Yeek. It’s pretty dizzying. Get ready for an episode about perception, and how we define what we’re willing to live with – or make our last stand for.
“That’s Hilary’s Step. I shot this just below the summit; there’s always a bottleneck waiting to use the ropes.” We back away from the inevitable courtroom video screen to see a map of Everest’s summit with trails marked in red. “And that’s where Robert Lambros died?,” another voice asks while the original speaker – a spare man with a brown beard – swallows. “Yes.” “And that’s his body, there?” A photograph flashes up of a man on his back, his legs splayed over a rocky outcropping. Yes, that’s his body. Yuck. “Yes. He was a guide. One of the members of his party collapsed and died above Hilary’s Step, Bobby stayed to help and then succumbed too.” Ugh. Man. “I’m sorry,” the bearded man on the stand says to the defendant, another thin dark haired man. “I liked your brother.” This one’s in a suit; the witness is wearing fleece. “You okay?” Alicia asks her client, and he nods, never taking his eyes off the witness stand.
“Now, regarding his book,” the opposing lawyer continues. “The defendant’s book, have you read it?” The witness has. The tall bald lawyer displays the book for us to see – a blue and white hardcover entitled My Brother’s Peak. Huh. That’s kind of lame. Super sappy. Anyway. “In it, he claims that my client, Oliver Cardiff, came upon the dying Robert Lambros and not only stepped over his body, but took his bottled oxygen. You’re aware of that accusation?” He is. Is there truth to it? “I was climbing Everest for a documentary, and I saw Mr. Cardiff here…” he points to indicate on the map,”climbing with the British team.” “This is below the Hilary Steps?” “Uh, Step,” the documentarian corrects. But yes. “So Mr. Cardiff couldn’t have been near Lambros. He was lower on the mountain, heading up?” Cardiff glowers at the witness. “Yes, that would follow.” “So this book is untrue,” the lawyer suggests, holding the book nice and high so we get a good shot of it. “Well, I hate to question another climber, especially a friend, but Danny was at base camp, and didn’t see what I saw.”
Alicia gathers herself for cross. “Nothing personal,” she says, leaning toward her client, “but I have to rip your friend apart.” “Be gentle,” Danny asks, but there’s not a lot of conviction in his voice.
“Mr. Branch,” she begins, adjusting her suit jacket, “what is the death zone?” Other than the title of the episode, you mean? Branch is surprised. “Death zone? In mountaineering parlance, it’s altitude above 2600 feet where oxygen is insufficient to sustain life.” “It’s also a place where perceptions are not to be trusted?” Alicia moves slowly toward the witness stand. “Sometimes,” Branch admits. “You believe that bottled oxygen hurts the sport of mountain climbing, so you climb without oxygen?” He does. “And an absence of oxygen would increase the likelihood of untrustworthy perceptions?” Branch nods slowly. A slight, acidly unhappy smile tightens his features; he looks over at Danny, knowing that his credibility is indeed being ripped apart. “So when you say you saw the plaintiff below the Hilary Step, we have to take your word for it, and yet your word could be colored by your oxygen deprived perception.” I take it he wasn’t filming at that point then? Also, he didn’t merely confuse one swaddled body for another, but hallucinated the entire British team? “I believe that follows, yes.” Alicia wants all charges dismissed.
“This is a libel suit, not a criminal case.” She gestures at the plaintiff’s table, and the judge nods slightly. “The plaintiff needs to prove not only that my client’s book was wrong, but that he knew it was wrong.” “Which we’re doing,” the tall bald man rises to his feet to assert. “No, there is too much inherent uncertainty here. This is a case built on perceptions and the Death Zone makes those perceptions essentially suspect.”
Then the court empties.
“Wow, he dismissed it. I’m stunned.” Danny Lambros does, in fact, look utterly stunned, staring blankly at the judge’s bench. “Me too,” Alicia smiles. He rises to hug out his thanks. “The thought of him leaving my brother behind him and then suing me for everything…” “I know. It’s over,” Alicia smiles, and suddenly I’m reminded of the second episode of the second season, Double Jeopardy, where Will told his client the same thing only to have the case pop back up in military court. Famous last words, Alicia! Cardiff and the bald lawyer are conferring with a stocky, pugnacious looking fellow. Hello, Eddie Izzard! Alicia watches them as she picks up a call from Eli, who snarls about a meeting he wants her at in ten minutes. What did you expect, Eli? She’s not just your beck and call girl. She’s a lawyer. In court.
She’ll also be back in the office in a half hour.
“Mickey, there you are,” Eli ushers a thin man in, looking shifty. “Took the elevator to the 30th floor, walked on down, nobody saw me,” Micky explains, swaggering a bit. Huh. What’s with the clandestine meeting? Eli looks pleased as punch about it all. “You look like crap,” Mickey (Michael Kelly of Criminal Minds and The Sopranos) offers. “Thanks,” replies Eli, unhurt, “this way.”
Diane and Will look up from a raft of paperwork on Diane’s desk. “Who was that?” “No idea,” Diane replies, sporting big, serious glasses. Will looks into the glass hallway, slackjawed. “Do you ever get the feeling we’re losing control here?” “Every day,” Diane concurs dryly, returning to the paperwork. “The State’s Attorney can hire any firm he wants to handle civil cases against his department.” Huh. Who knew they contracted that out. That’s probably not odd, but it seems odd. Also, thanks for the exposition. “Glenn Childs had Brimley, Tully & Snyder.” Will’s peering out to the street now. “God I hated them,” he reminisces. Diane nods her agreement. “Peter Florrick fired them and is looking for new outside counsel.” Will squints at Diane, uncertain of where she’s going. “It’s twenty million dollars in new business.” Damn. The State’s Attorney must get sued a lot. “Peter Florrick’ll never hire us,” Will shakes his head. Diane’s not so sure. “His wife’s firm? His campaign manager’s firm?” “Which works against us,” Will replies, and I have to agree. “He doesn’t want it to look like a sweetheart deal.”
Diane begs to differ. “We’ve been invited in to pitch.” She waves the letter at Will, who needs to sit down for it. Only 8 firms total have been asked in. “Then you should pitch.” Diane’s momentarily surprised. “We should pitch,” she corrects. “No,” he says simply. “Is there something I should know?” “About?” Oh, nice innocent face, Will, but she’s far from stupid. Man, having something to hide turns smart people into complete idiots. “I don’t want to be blindsided.” Duh! Of course she doesn’t. Not that I don’t understand why you’d want to stay away from Peter, but still. Will changes the subject neatly. “Have you noticed you’re turning into me? All the sports metaphors?” Here I thought he was going to say the paranoia. He starts to grin. “Better version of you,” she smiles.
“How is it I can love a new car smell and hate a new office?” Mickey observes as he plunks himself down in one of Eli’s chairs. He promptly takes off his shoes. Really? Um, okay, we get that you’re eccentric. We do. “Because a car means fun and an office, work.” Very nice, Eli. The tips of Mickey’s socks are acid green.
“You gettin’ laid, anyway?” Nice opening, Mickey. Eli’s surprisingly straight faced. “No. You?” “Not since the summer of 08. So – you’re the flavor of the month in crisis management these days. What happened with Weiner? I thought you’d be on that one.” Hee. He’s so James Carville, isn’t he? Eli turns away in disgust. “God, the day that politicians discovered Twitter…” Mickey (who is wearing, upon closer inspection, a plaid jack and a striped tie) titters. “I hear you’re the flavor of the month in strategists. What campaign are you on?”
Mickey sneaks over, closes the door, and comes back, his face alight.
“I need your help,” he says confidingly. “But I can’t tell you who this helps is for.” Eli’s inexplicably okay with this. “I’ve been hired by a candidate who’s setting up an exploratory committee.” For what, Eli wonders. “I can’t tell you.” Thus far Eli’s nonplussed. “But he’s got a problem.” “Financial or sexual?” Eli dives in. “I can’t tell ya.”
Now Eli’s annoyed. “Come on, Mickey, you want me to crisis manage a crisis, you can’t tell me?” “This guy wants options, okay? He wants to know that the scandal can be handled if he chooses to run, but he doesn’t want the scandal to get out if he chooses not to run.” That seems plausible enough. “This is BS,” Eli growls. “It’s like a bake-off without any ingredients.” Mickey is unmoved. “Buyers market, Eli. If you choose not to play there are others who will.” Don’t be dumb, Eli; who knows who it is you’d be getting in bed with or what sort of disease you might wake up with in the morning? Don’t fall for it! As Alicia strides down the hall, Mickey gathers his things to leave, informing Eli he’s got competition and will make his decision by the end of the week.
“Alicia, meet Mickey Gunn, a good friend.” Yeah, yeah, says Mickey, putting on his shoes, “you’ve got St. Alicia on your team.” Ouch! Alicia’s brought a bit short by the epithet. “How do you feel about Thursday, buddy?” Gunn points a lot. This is odd. “Hi,” he says, as he passes Alicia, and then leaves. Eli exhales in annoyance.
“That was the big meeting?” Eli wants to know about the in house investigator. “Kalinda Sharma,” Alicia explains. Cue choirs of angels! (Okay, maybe not.) “I need her to investigate a scandal before it happens,” Eli explains, raising his eyebrows at the absurdity of it all.
“Mrs Florrick!” A smiling Oliver Cardiff intercepts Alicia as she steps out of Eli’s new smelling office. She looks back and forth between him and Eddie Izzard in surprise. ‘Are you here to see someone?” Yep, Alicia – you. “James Thrush,” Eddie extends his hand civilly, “very pleased to meet you.” “And you,” a thoroughly weirded out Alicia responds. She waits for the “How may I help you?” Thursh thinks it’s time for a quick lesson in comparative law; what’s the difference between libel law in America and in his country? She’s silent. “Burden of proof is reversed. In America, it is up to the person libeled to prove that the accusations against them are knowingly or recklessly false; in England, it is up to the person writing – your client, Mr. Lambros – to prove what he says is true. ” Huh. I don’t know how I feel about that, which system I think is better – but I can sure as heck see how it applies to this case. I am not alone. “This is already adjudicated, Mr. Cardiff.” “Yes,” he nods, “in the United States.” “He didn’t sell any books in England,” Alicia notes. “Actually, I’m afraid he did,” Thrush interposes smoothly, handing Alicia paperwork. “This in fact is one, purchased not two weeks ago from your wonderful internet site Amazon.” He waves the book as proof – proof! – of this perfidy. “You can’t…” Alicia begins. “Actually I’m afraid I can. I am a Queen’s Counselor of the Royal Courts of Justice…” I just bet you are, honey, “…and this is a writ of new proceedings for libel.” He enjoyed that way too much. Of course, he’s a lawyer. By definition he enjoys being theatrical.
“You had this ready for the day you lost.” Alicia’s waking up. “Mr. Cardiff wanted to exhaust the American courts first.” Alicia ignores the little troll of a lawyer and goes right for the source. “You’re going after the wrong man. Danny did nothing wrong.” Is there a right man for Cardiff to go after, then? And who would that be? “He accused me of killing his brother. He ruined my reputation. Read the charge.” Well, sure, that would suck. “I’m suing him for 20 million pounds.” Ouch! Alicia can’t stop arguing, though. “He’s not rich. He doesn’t have your money.”
“Oh, let’s not make this a classist issue, shall we?” Thrush tuts. He’s kind of annoying, this one. But not as loathsome as his boss. “Oh, I know he’s not rich,” Cardiff says jovially. (What, having 20 mil isn’t rich?) “This will make him poor.” Well. Nothing like announcing yourself as a son of a bitch right from the get go. What a complete bastard.
Sorry, I know that’s a little off my normal language, but that’s just ugly. To think I’d been sympathizing with him there for a second!
The next scene starts with a Sudoku book. “Mr. Ashe-Brannon? I’m so sorry to keep you waiting,” Alicia extends her hand graciously, smiling and out of breath. The Sudoku player stands to meet her, holding out his own chubby fingers. “I’m Alicia Florrick.” Brannon stumbles to his feet, clutching his paperwork. “Florrick, right, two Rs.” Uh huh. “Fillial Air Crock.” The what? He’s delighted with himself, but loses the grin as he sees he’s losing her. “Anagram. Nervous habit, sorry.” Anagrams. awesome. “Okay,” she replies politely, a grin plastered on her face, and it’s hard to tell if she’s a little charmed or horrified. “You’re the barrister Danny hired, is that correct?” “The solicitor, actually – not as posh as a barrister, but we try harder.” Um, okay. (This is an utterly baffling distinction; it’s explained here, but I can’t for the life of me see the point.) Brannon laughs loudly at hii own joke, a high pitched HA HA – but then apologized immediately. “Sorry, bit punchy, first trip to the States, just off the plane.” He looks over at Alicia for sympathy. “Where are the Olsen twins, HA HA!”
Well, he’s an original. The writers on this show are truly impressive in their ability to provide unique voices, and Brannon is certainly one of them. He’s played by Simon Delaney, who has no other credits on his Imdb page. Well done on your first outing, sir; just based on this one scene, I think I’m going to enjoy having you out there. I know Izzard is the big name in guest stars here, but you are more than holding your own.
Alicia offers him coffee and introduces him to Will, who happens to be passing, as Mr. Timothy Ashe-Brannon. “Oh, yes, the barrister,” Will begins warmly, “Will Gardner.” Brannon declines the coffee, but tries his party trick on this new victim: “Warden Grill!” Will cocks his head in puzzlement until Alicia – and clearly she thinks Brannon’s crazy, based on that perky tone of voice – explains. “Anagrams!”
“It’s not a deposition, it’s a letter rogatory.” If it’s not a letter for rogues, I’m not sure I’m interested. Ha ha! Brannon’s addressing Danny and the full team in the conference room. “And that’s?” Brannon’s face falls, and his gaze goes to his note pad. “Basically, it’s a, well, deposition. Evidence given before trial.” Oh, poor, shy dude. Nobody gets you. It’s more like formal international petition to take depositions. I wonder if that’s granted automatically, even when a case has been adjudicated in that country already? “The witnesses are primarily in America so his Lordship has allowed it to be filmed here.” How thoughtful, not insisting that people make the Trans-Atlantic flight. Will and Alicia debate whether they should try to prevent a trial, or stall to prepare for one; Will motions for Kalinda to join them. Alicia says stall. “Cardiff doesn’t need the money, he just wants the publicity, that’s why he’s expediting this.” Will doesn’t see the point in sitting around, even so; there’s less of the desired publicity if they can get it “kicked” immediately. “But the burden of proof works against us now – we would have to prove that Danny’s book is true.” Which you can’t do. Which you kind of proved in court you can’t do, actually. Lovely.
We can’t stall, Danny insists. “My wife’s house, it’s in Toronto – my business, too.” His wife has her own house? Don’t they live together? (Presumably in Chicago, or else why are we here?) Or does she just have an extra? Or maybe she bought the house before she married him? Maybe Danny isn’t rich, but that implies he – or she’s – not making too bad a living. Of course, he’s hiring our guys, which probably means he’s got decent money anyway. Not that Cardiff isn’t still beastly. Brannon nods in sympathy. “Canada is a British commonwealth. They froze your assets?” Yes. Yes they did. Huh. I so think of Canada as a distinct country; these little overlaps always surprise me.
Diane re-establishes that Alicia’s first trial strategy (the truth is unknowable) won’t work this time. What kind of proof do we have to back Danny up? Nothing, Kalinda explains, “since the goal wasn’t to prove it.” Is there any way to? Alicia recalls a satellite phone conversation that Robert had with his wife as he was dying. (Um, good, I guess?) ‘We never needed the tape,” Alicia explains. Are satellite calls automatically recorded by something? Why would she think she could get the tape? But Kalinda is on it, so of course she will.
In the hall, Kalinda passes Eli. He screws up his eyes and turns to look as she passes. “Are you the investigator?” Guilty. “Do you have a minute?” “Do you want me to have a minute?” Hee.
So you want me investigate a scandal that hasn’t happened, she asks back in Eli’s office, and you don’t know who it hasn’t happened to? Exactly. “Yes. Can you find out?” Because it’s Kalinda, she doesn’t say no. “How does this work, when I investigate for you?” I love that this is what’s bothering her. He shakes his head. “I’ve no idea.” “But you are one of my bosses now?” “Yes,” he says with confidence, but then re-considers the question. “I think so. You probably invoice in some way.” Hee. I love this. “I have to pitch to a campaign manager on Thursday on how to manage a scandal, but he’s afraid the scandal will be exposed, so he won’t give me any information, but I need that information to pitch.” She nods, concentrating, refusing the offer to sit down.
“You want the information so he’ll have to hire you or you’ll expose it.” Ah, Kalinda. So incisive. Eli crosses his arms. He appreciates intelligence and political instincts, Eli does. “How’ve I never met you before?” That’s right. It’s true love. (Seriously, how funny would that be?) “We move in different circles,” she shrugs. Oh, not so very different, Kalinda, and that’s the trouble.
(I wish I could remember exactly where this was, but I feel like they might have met in the first season when Peter asks Kalinda to help him with his case against Glenn Childs? Am I crazy? Clearly I need to rewatch the first season.)
And to demonstrate their overlap, we move immediately to Peter’s office, where a phone call has interrupted his conference with Diane. “Sorry about that. It’s amazing how my life has gone from no calls, to a call sheet of 85 a day.” Diane (dressed in an fusty black and red blazer) laughs. “This is quite a change. From prison to the State’s Attorney’s office… How you doing?” “I love it,” Peter answers fervently, “I really love it.” He beckons Cary over, as his expert in all things Lockhart/Gardner (which, hmmm). “So you guys are the survivors… of the economy? When I looked at the roll of Chicago law firms since I was last in this seat, they’re practically all gone.” Now that has to be a serious exaggeration. “Well, there’s been some tough times, but we’re fighters!” “You’ve beaten us a few times,” Peter agrees affably. “No hard feelings,” Diane asks, and they all laugh as Cary pretends (?) to hold a grudge. I love the difference between Diane in charge and Diane pursuing a customer – it’s fascinating to see her defer to someone else. “Hey, that’s the reason that you’re in that seat,” Peter compliments her.
Okay, that’s good. Cary explains that the position would also cover law suits against county hospital and the police. The competition is down to three firms. “Really, I thought there were 8.” There were, Peter rumbles; “we whittled it down.” Diane’s honored. And now comes the inevitable “but.” Diane, of course, assumes the trouble will be appearances and their interconnectivity; she wants them to know she’ll create a Chinese Firewall between Alicia and Eli and Peter. That’s not it. Surprise! “No, I’m not going to reject a law firm because it might look bad to the public.” So that’s interesting. Nope, it’s about – drum roll please – Lemond Bishop. Ah, that man. “The drug dealer,” Peter clarifies, in case there’s another Lemond Bishop on their client list.
“We only handle his legitimate business,” Diane insists, chin up, “and I’m sure you’ll find that every major law firm has a few unsavory clients.” Cary – and clearly, they’ve planned out the tag team here, it’s very impressive – hands out Peter’s ultimatum. “We have to have some assurances that your money isn’t…tainted. ” He looks to Peter. “Is that a fair word?” “It is,” Peter agrees. “Diane, look. I’m running a new office, and I know that every State’s Attorney says that. I said it my first term. But this time it’s different.” He gives her a serious look. “Now, you’re one of three law firms I’m considering to hire as my attorney. I need to know you’re clean.” And that, Cary adds, means voluntary auditing by the Illinois State Department of Taxation. Diane looks like she’s swallowed a lemon. “And that won’t violate attorney client privilege, it gives me an independent confirmation that your hands are free of drug money.” Diane can’t believe it. You want us to what? On purpose? Yes, yes they do. “If you want the job.”
“Well,” she understates, “that’s significant.” She’ll have to talk it over with her partner. “Of course. Will?” “Yes. You two know each other, don’t you?” Diane’s a bit sassy with that, chin up again. They do. “Why don’t you bring him in next time, and we’ll all talk about the possibility of making this work?” Hmmmm. Peter’s phone rings again. “86,” he observes. “You’ll excuse me.”
And 86 turns out to be – Zach, to say he’s coming over early the following night – around 8. How early is that? Also, how much of this can Cary and Diane hear, I wonder? They don’t really seem to, which is odd since we can hear it. Anyway, Peter wonders if there’s any kind of problem. Nope, Zach says, I just wanted to come over early. Great, Peter replies, and offers to cook. “Ummmm,” says Zach. “Well, thanks for the vote of confidence, Zach” Peter snarks, and the Florrick boys snicker together.
“I think it might be more appropriate to start with good morning,” the elderly British judge explains seriously via satellite. He’s got on a black robe with red ties hanging from the neck, slicked bakc gray hair, and a plummy, upperclass British voice. “The court of record is in London.” Where it is morning. Thrush is perfectly happy to wish his Lordship good morning. “And good evening to you, Mr. Thrush.” Oh, we are in trouble. And not just because “Mr. Thrush” sounds like a character in a Quentin Tarantino movie. He proves just as devious as one of Mr. Tarantino’s devising: when the judge asks who the opposing barrister is, he emphasizes that Lambros has hired “one Timothy O’Brannon.” Oh, love the subtle dig, Thrush.
Oh, poor sweet little man.
Will stands to present motions (applications in British legalese), and immediately puts his foot in it, calling the judge “your Honor” and not “your Lordship.” “Your Lordship,” Will says, still looking at his notes and buttoning his jacket, “this is a sham lawsuit, it’s libel tourism, pure and simple.” Well, you’d know – you did that yourself last season. “Rich plaintiffs like Roman Polanski, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Oliver Cardiff can’t win their lawsuits in American courts, so they take them to England.” The judges stares at Will for a moment before leaning forward. “Sir, I understand your passion in this matter, but I would ask to you address this court with greater degree of restraint.” There’s an awkward silence before Will fumbles for an apology. “I merely wanted to stress that there were only 18 copies of our client’s book sold in the United Kingdom. They were all bought online, and they were all bought by Mr. Cardiff’s staff.” Well, hmm. On the one hand, that feels like entrapment. On the other hand, they were still able to do it.
“As my learned colleague is aware, your Lordship, where and who purchased these books is irrelevant.” Is it? Will turns toward Thrush at the back of the conference room, tapping on the conference table. “Mr. Cardiff bought the books which he is now bringing suit to here!” The judge calls him to attention. “Mr. Gardiner, what’re you doing?” Will turns in surprise. “Your body.” Utterly baffled, Will looks down his length to find the offending feature. “The disposition of your body.” Brannon hisses “You turned your back on the judge.” Is he kidding, that this is a problem? No.
Brannon wants to step in, but Will turns immediately and cuts him off to make a less than sincere seeming apology, his hands clasped in supplication. “We would argue that your Parliament is in the middle of rewriting these libel laws to prevent exactly this kind of libel tourism.” Sure they were, Thrush agrees, until the whole News of the World insanity exploded. And they wanted to be able to charge Rupert or James Murdoch, perhaps? Hmmm. “I would argue that only 23 copies of Funding Evil were purchased through the internet, yet this court ordered that book’s destruction…” Well, surely a terrorist manual is a different beast! Brannon leans in to whisper to Alicia. “The judge likes demure.”
“Mr. Thrush makes a fine point,” the old justice breaks in.”We will continue.” Timothy attempts to interrupt. “Yes, Mr. O’Brannon?” Ouch. Brannon asks for indulgence in their search for evidence to refute the charge.
“I love you,” pants a man’s voice.”It’s just – it’s just so cold.” Back in the conference room, a woman who looks strikingly like Buffy‘s Amber Benson (but isn’t) weeps silently. “Bobby,” comes a woman’s voice, “I want you to do me a favor. Get up. You can do it. Please.” “I’m just so tired,” the man continues, sounding confused. “I know. Your son needs you, Bobby. He’s here. Get up and walk.” The judge and the lawyers sit in horror, listening to Bobby, who fails to respond to the Biblical-like summons. Alicia shuts off the tape recorder, and the woman wipes off her tears. “And this was your husband?” She nods. “Yes. He had our satellite phone. He called from the South Col. He always called at noon.” She recorded the call because she wanted their son to know his father. Yikes. Alicia turns the tape recorder back on. We hear Mrs. Lambros pleading with her husband to use his oxygen, and then Lambros calling out, hope animating his voice. “Hey! Come here! It’s the British Dude! Hey!”
But they didn’t stop. They didn’t stop and when Mrs. Lambros asked him again to use his oxygen tank, it was gone.
“No apology,” Will says, smiling in his darkened office as Thrush peruses his bookshelves, “no money, but we’ll promise not to print the book in Great Britain.” Yes, Will, I’m sure that will go over. Thrush chuckles and straightens his tie. “Very emotional in there. Nice touch using the female lawyer.” Thrush bends to pick up one of several baseball bats. “You Americans certainly do enjoy your drama,” he says, testing the weight of the baseball bat.” “So did the judge, did you see him?” Yes, but Thrush remains curiously unmoved. “1.2 million pounds and an apology. ” Well, that’s a step up from 20 mil.
Now it’s Will’s turn to chuckle. “So is this some of that famous stiff upper lip stuff I’ve heard about?” “God, I do love you, Yanks – you’re so easy to distract.with our accents and our periwigs and our tea and our crumpets.” Oh, yes. I definitely think of crumpets when I see you. Will flashes his carnivorous grin. “Benny Hill. Don’t forget Benny Hill!” Thrush advances on Will in the darkness, his words barely above a whisper. “But I am not the England of Big Ben and bobbies. I’m not the England of doilies. I’m the England of football hooligans and Jack the Ripper.” Nice catchphrase! You’re wasted in the law, Eddie Izzard – you should be in marketing. Will gives a fake shudder. “And this England don’t play nice, and it don’t play fair, and it don’t. ever. stop.”
Will leans in. ” Well, here’s some advice, Mr, ah, Thrush. If you want to intimidate someone, don’t use so many words. Intimidation isn’t a sonnet.” Excellent! Oh, I love it. Both men grin little one sided grins. “It seems we understand each other perfectly,” the Brit believes, holding the bat upright next to his shoulder. “Shall we?”Thrush hands Will the baseball bat as if it were a sword. The outline of Will’s hook nose glows amber against the skyline.
Kalinda watches Mickey Gunn leave a brownstone and enter a dark SUV. She gets the plates, of course, as he converses with the car’s many occupants.
Back in the conference room, we find out that Mrs. Lambros – now under cross – quit being a mountaineer herself when she became pregnant. “I couldn’t risk it with a son.” Thrush makes perfectly clear his opinion of her husband’s decision to risk climbing the most dangerous peaks rather than take jobs in the Alps. It’s ugly. Then he asks about hypoxia – “an extreme form of oxygen deprivation, especially at high altitudes.” And yes, one of the potential side effects is, guess what? Hallucinations. This tactic worked so well for Alicia – why should he come up with his own strategy when hers will work just as well? Mrs. Lambros (Mia, according to the Imdb) looks pained; she knows where this is going. “Mrs. Lambros, I put it to you that your husband was hallucinating on that telephone call.” Oh, ouch. Thrush has perfected the theatrical cheat – he’s facing his body so he doesn’t have to look at the widow. “I put it to you that your husband saw what he wanted to see – the British team coming to save him.”
Alicia can’t take it anymore. “Oh, come on – you’re kidding me!” She’s got one hand on the table, and the other on her hip. “I beg your pardon?” Izzard stumbles, and she cuts him off. Her words rain down like machine gun bullets. “You really think that Robert Lambrose hallucinated Cardiff taking his oxygen tank? Really? How does that work?” Brannon looks alarmed at her ferocity. She’s got her back to the judge, too. Izzard tries to apologize to the judge, but doesn’t get further than calling him “your Lordship.” “No, seriously,” Alicia runs over him, “how does he hallucinate the loss of his oxygen tank?” Will is enjoying this, big time.
“It was my contention,” Izzard tells us, finger out to punctuate his words, “that he hallucinated its existence in the first place.” No, she’s not buying, and Thrush seems easily flustered. Is it her gender, or is he just all sonnet and no bite? “If you’re going to blame the victim at least use some better logic.” Wow, she’s gotten under his skin. He’s practically apoplectic. “Your Lordship, I object to that tone that this…” “This what?” she insinuates smoothly. “This American lawyer, is that what you were going to say?” Oh, Will is really, really enjoying himself. The judge coughs politely. “Let us take a short break,” his says in cultured tones.
“Demure, huh?” Will notes to Alicia as he closes the door of his office. “Change of plans,” she shrugs. They smirk at each other. “I think I’m having American Revolution fantasies,” he says, looking through his folder, and then he favors her with a serious, passionate look. “That turned me on.” She growls. “Well, I can dress up.” Hee!
She quirks a little grin. “I want to take you now,” he says, handing her a file. Well. Alrighty then. She sits. “Well, that might prove difficult.”
He snaps his folder shut. “In my bathroom.” “Uh huh.” Slowly she consults her watch, careful not to look up. “We have ten minutes.” “I’ll go in first.” And he starts to go, but -“oh, will, we’re being watched.” The sexy tone is gone, and it’s all prose now as Diane walks by, looking back at them.
Changing direction, Will pretends to look for a book, as Alicia primly concentrates on the files. “To be continued…” he notes. “Mmm hmm,”she hums, and smiles to herself.
When next we see Will’s face, it’s a lot less happy. “We can’t do that!” We see him in profile, seated in Diane’s office, flinging his hands out in exasperation. “I know. He said it was about Lemond Bishop.” Now, okay, I know nothing about accounting, but would that really be so terrible? Also, don’t you wonder if we’ll get to see Mr. Bishop at all this year, what with his new commitment to Ringer? That doesn’t seem like nearly as juicy a role, by the way, but at least he’s got a steady job. Anyhow, ostensibly the audit request is about drug money. “It’s like putting a bullseye on our backs for the IRS,” Will barks. I know, she says, the picture of consternation. “Do you think he’s after us?” Well, you’ve got to at least ask the question, Diane. Will doesn’t know. “Glenn Childs was this close to a rico charge – maybe Florrick’s taking up the hunt.” “You really think he’d do that to his wife’s firm?” Will looks across the hall to his lover. “I think he’s trying to run a clean office.” Okay. Maybe it would be palatable if it weren’t the state doing the auditing? Will agrees a gesture like that might do the trick if Peter’s not simply out to get them.
“But let’s not expose ourselves on a subway platform unless we have to.” Diane’s rather stunned by that picture. “Oh, what a colorful and pointless metaphor.” Hee. “It’s the Brits. I think I’m picking up their accents.” Diane smiles. “I noticed. It really classes up the joint.” God, but I love them. There is nothing quite like Will and Diane when they’re on.
Kalinda makes her report to Eli, with photographs to tell the story. First, it’s Gunn stepping into an SUV, then the license plate. “And here is the occupant.” It’s ex-Senator Harold Burke. Like Peter was ex-State’s Attorney? Except this guy hasn’t had his scandal. Yet. Next Kalinda brings out a campaign flyer of Burke with his perfect blond wife and four perfect children, entitled “Building Our Strength; The Importance of Family.” “Any whiff of a scandal?” the crisis manager wonders. Next – with expressive eyebrows – Kalinda brings out a picture of the children’s nanny. She looks a lot like the wife. “You’re kidding,” Eli crows. It’s that easy? Kalinda photographed both on the way to a tryst, and then during.
“Nicely done,” Eli smiles, pleased. He’s not ready for Kalinda to go, though, and he bends forward. “How do I know you?” Her face is impassive. “You don’t.” Eli’s face could never be impassive. That’s yet another thing that’s so great about them together. “And yet, you’re so familiar.” Again with the Eli expressions! “I just have one of those faces,” Kalinda lies, and what a beautiful line! Hee. “I’ll need you again.” Oh yes you will, Eli. Kalinda’s a drug – once you’ve worked with her, you crave her all the time. She remains stone-faced and professional. “Then invoice.”
“Grace, set the table please,” Peter calls over his shoulder, tasting red sauce from a pot on the stove. Zach – wow, how sexist is this? – is sitting at the kitchen island behind his father. Oh, alright, I take that back – Zach’s making a salad. And it seems he has an ulterior motive to come over early after all.
“Dad, why’s Mom doing this?” Damn. The potential for this conversation scares the crap out of me. Zach’s voice is flat and unemotional. “Doing what?” Peter asks without turning around. “Kicking you out.” See, I knew there was no way they wouldn’t have questions. Now you can see the confusion on Zach’s face as he leans over the island. “We were just getting back to normal. I don’t get it.” Alicia, this is why you needed to tell them! And now everything is in Peter’s hands. Will he admit what he did? He can completely screw you over now – and if he’s trying to screw over the firm, that means it’s got something to do with you. Peter opens up a bottle. “What did your Mom say?”
“She said she wanted to make the marriage work,” Zach starts, “but it didn’t.” Peter takes a swig from the bottle and nods. Zach continues.”You don’t kick someone out for no reason.” Peter turns to face his son, leans against the counter and sighs. “I wasn’t always good to your Mom, Zach.” Zach has an immediate answer for this. “But that was a long time ago. She stayed.” Peter shakes his head, stalls, stumbles over the words. “It wasn’t just… there were other things.” He turns back to the stove. “What do you mean?” Zach takes a moment, but won’t let it go, and finally, Peter elaborates. “I mean, I hurt your Mom with other things.” Oh, wow. The soundtrack kicks in to emphasize Zach’s dawning realization and distress. “With someone else?” Peter turns to see the Zach’s face, pleading for it not to be true, and he can’t sustain eye contact. “I think we should just leave it at that.”
Grace’s computer saves Peter by taking this moment to crash. Father and son share one long meaningful look, both devastated.
Wow. Okay, I have to say, I really really respect that. And I’m totally surprised by it. I ache for Zach, and I’m annoyed with the perpetuation of the “one hooker” rewrite, but I’m so glad this information is out there so the kids can actually process their parents’ divorce, and I’m so, so impressed that Peter was willing to man up and admit to his mistake. It justifies Alicia’s decision not to tell the kids, in a way, that Peter’s capable of telling them himself. He’s willing to admit that he’s the bad guy. (Though I do wonder if he could have done that if Grace – his sweet innocent baby girl – had been the one to ask him. I’m glad the writers picked Zach to approach Peter, and Grace to direct her questions to Alicia; it seems very true.)
“So where are you from, Mr. Brannon,” barrister Thrush asks as the two walk into the conference room. “I’m sorry, where am I from?” Thrush is all about Brannon’s Irishness, with the unspoken implication that this is somehow a bad thing. He’s beastly. Brannon bristles and Thrush elaborates on the question. “County Cork, County Clare, Tipperary… I have a bit of an ear for accents. I’m just trying to place your Irish brogue.” Oh, please, the last thing he has is a brogue. I wouldn’t have known he wasn’t English, and I’m not hopeless with accents. “It’s Kerry.” Oooh, Kerry’s lovely. Thrush makes a disparaging comment about the potato famine, complete with faux brogue, as Timothy sits next to Alicia. “What’s his anagram?” she whispers in support. Hee. Also, thank you, Alicia. “Jams have tush.” Snort. I have to be hearing that wrong – there’s no R – but the tush is enough for me. “There’s an inbred deference I have to greater rank,” Brannon confesses to explain his stoicism against the bully. “Yeah. I know. Me too,” Alicia confides. “Really? You don’t seem so,” Brannon’s quite surprised, especially after her earlier performance with the judge. “I’m trying very hard to change.” (And is sleeping with your boss going to help? Sorry, couldn’t help myself.) Brannon’s blissfully oblivious to this complication.”I’m not well disposed to change.” Alicia glazes over for a second. “No, me neither.” I love how Brannon talks like a Jane Austen novel. I think this conversation will do little to damp the fears of those who think Alicia’s just going along with Will, though.
Next up in the depositions is crisp A & R executive Mandy Cox, who was “attempting” to summit Everest at the same time as Cardiff and the Lambros brothers. “Yes. It’s been a dream of mine.” Here her beautiful face gets misty. “Everest. My mountain.” Cue eye roll here. Or perhaps just a gagging motion. It’s just so calculated, you immediately dislike her. She’s tried for the last two years to summit. She met Cardiff on the South Col. “Our Sherpa was injured in an ice fall the day before. Mr. Cardiff was kind enough to share one of his with us for the final assault.” She says Sherpa like she’d say horse or snowmobile; there’s no emotional connection to the injury, no real sense that she’s talking about a person, an equal. She does exchange a warm look with Cardiff, however. “You made the last assault on Everest with Mr. Cardiff – my goodness, that was not mentioned in Mr. Lambros’s book.” Thrush hoists the book aloftp for effect. “There were a lot of things not in Danny’s book. Many of us in the climbing community…” and cue Danny’s express as she includes herself in that community “were outraged at the many distortions.” Thrush continues, asking if she ever saw Mr. Cardiff step over a body, take other climbers oxygen, or kick puppies. “No, of course not. As far as I can tell Mr. Cardiff was the perfect gentleman.”
And with that, Alicia’s allowed to being her cross, and boy, does she. “Miss Cox, were you sleeping with Mr. Cardiff at base camp?” What? Gross! He’s twice her age! Ew! Thrush thinks the line of questioning is unseemly. I think the very idea is unseemly but the line of questioning is pretty damn important if true. “I would suggest to my learned colleague that these News of the World type smear tactics are beneath the dignity of the court.” The judge quite agrees.
You know, that’s interesting about News of the World. They publish completely heinous things in the British press. How do the do that with these libel laws?
“We need to find another way to shake her,” Will grouses, walking determinedly though the office. Brannon struggles to catch up. “Yes, well, unfortunately the judge agrees with her.” “I know,” Will grumbles. “Where’s Kalinda?”
“This is my associate, Kalinda Sharma, she’s been helping me prepare for this meeting,” Eli flourishes, introducing her to Mickey. Must be Thursday! Kalinda looks lady-like, perched on the front of her seat. Mickey, who’s lounging in his chair, gestures at the two men sitting on Eli’s sofa. “These are my associates. I don’t know their names but they’re very expensive. So, let’s get at it.”
So Eli (who leans forward in his; the body language here, I just love it) does. Day One, he meets the candidate. “I tell him that scandals are owned by the first man in. Breitbart owned the Weiner scandal: if Weiner had released those tweets with his spin, he would still be in office today.” Mickey looks underwhelmed by this wisdom, and starts playing with tchotchkes; Eli is not pleased. Day 2. “I don’t ask your candidate to tell me everything because candidates lie.” “I’m falling asleep here,” Mickey complains. Man, he’s such a 5 year old. So Eli obliges. “But I do tell him we have to get the nanny’s story straight, so she doesn’t hop off to the National Enquirer.” Kalinda watches Gunn’s face with a slight smile, pleased with herself. Day Three. “We acknowledge that there is some entertainment value in a father of three sleeping with his nanny.” Ew! Also, there were four kids in that picture. “And the goal is not to smother than value but to harness it.” Um, how does that work? “Hmm,” says Mickey.
“That’s very interesting,” he replies. Eli thanks him, quite self-satisfied. “The only problem is, it ain’t Burke.” Ooops. Kalinda’s eyes bulge. “Burke asked me to run his campaign, but I said no. ” Eli and Kalinda exchange glances as Mickey smirks. “And that’s what you saw when you accidentally followed me.” “You’re lying,” Eli growls. “No, I’m not. And here’s the thing, come on, you follow any candidate, you’re going to find the nanny, a hooker, a mistress, or an intern.” Gross. Mickey’s off to take his business elsewhere, expensive flunkies in tow. “Give me one more chance,” Eli pleads. Mickey spins around at the door. “Okay, I’m deciding Monday.” Um, that was a sudden reversal. What’s that about?
Eli and Kalinda pace, trying to figure out what went wrong. “There are no other candidates. I checked. They all have strategists already.” Eli sits, pouting. And thinking intently. “Unless we go local?” Kalinda offers. “No, no, he’s a national kind of guy. He may have found a new guy, but why pick a rotten apple from the tree?” Good question. Love to see these two put their cynical heads together. Kalinda has both hands on his desk, leaning forward. A celebrity, maybe? “No, I can’t see him tolerating that.” Suddenly, her head snaps back. “I get it,” Kalinda breathes. “What?” “He’s flipping sides. It’s a Republican.” Eli nods, excited; it’s perfect. “He wanted to play in the presidential primaries.” Kalinda takes off at a run. (Wow, I just love this outfit – black sweater top, short shiny metallic A line skirt, tall black boots. So cool.) “I’m on it!” Mazel tov, Eli calls after her; she nods.
Alicia, meanwhile, is so pleased to have Cox back under oath. I’m going to sum up their new tactic to shake her, because it’s not that interesting (even if it was clever of them to go there): Lasik surgery. She had it done recently, and – you guessed it – it can lead to blurry vision at high altitudes. Funny that she’s wearing glasses now, though, huh? It’s pretty funny the way Alicia coolly takes her down.
“Isn’t that why you had Mr. Cardiff’s Sherpa carry you up the last thousand feet?” Cox is outraged. “That’s a lie. People keep saying that, but I wasn’t carried.” Wow, so not only a pretentious windbag, but a faker. Why not just go a third time? Why pretend to do something like that when you would always know better? I don’t get that kind of dishonesty, not when it’s lying to yourself. I suppose it’s human, though; who wants to look at their dreams and find themselves lacking? So rather than keep trying to finish out the crazy dream which demonstrably could get her killed, she starts lying.
Anyway. Not that she’s nearly as loathsome as Cardiff. Brannon passes around an affidavit from Tenji Galut, the Sherpa in question. “He swears that Miss Cox had blurry vision and could not have seen any of the events in question.” Why don’t we have more Sherpas testifying here? Surely one of them saw – or didn’t see – something else vital. But no one ever seems to remember the Sherpas. I have this vivid childhood memory of reading in a textbook about Edmund Hilary being the first man to climb Everest, and being outraged because the photograph of that momentous occasion? Is of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay on Everest’s summit.
Sorry for the rant, but that’s always annoyed me. So. “He’s lying. He was always lying. He hate me because I accused him of stealing my satellite phone.” Brannon asks that Cox be removed as a witness, given everything. “I would regretfully agree,” the judges rules. Which doesn’t get us any closer to proving that Cardiff took the oxygen, but I guess it’s something.
Back in her kitchen, Alicia reads while loading the dishwasher. Been there, done that. Zach, in an adorable plaid shirt zhuzhed just so, watches her affectionately for a moment. “I got that, ” he says, stepping up. “Oh, no, that’s okay,” she says, surprised. “Mom, I got it,” he assures her, moving right up to the dishwasher. She steps back to survey this development, bemused.
“Are you okay?” He smiles adorably, fetching more items from the island. “Yes – what, because I’m cleaning?” “Yes.” He chuckles. “You have work. I thought I’d let you do it.” She doesn’t. She stares instead. “Oh, you are so adorable!” Yes, he really is. Alicia puts down her book and sticks out her arms; Zach the teen backs away from this awkward outpouring of sappy maternal affection. “Oh, come on, you, it’s gonna happen so just let it happen.” Hee. She captures him, and he does hug back. Good, she sighs. Now you can work.
Really, wow, she’s just so different now, so much easier and less tense. Those endorphins, they’re good for you!
They smile at each other, and she leans over on the island to read. “How’s Dad?,” she asks without looking up. “Dad? He’s good,” Zach answers, pausing with his hands full of bowls. “Are you good with him?” Alicia still has eyes only for her work – not wanting to spook Zach, I suspect. “Yeah. I mean, you know.”
She does look now. “What?” It takes him a long moment to straighten up from bending over the dishwasher. When he does, his face is so young, so uncertain, so pained. “Do you think I’m like him?” Oh, honey. Her mouth drops open. “Do I think you are?” He nods silently. She knows what he’s asking. “No.” “Really?” You can hear how important her answer is to him, poor little bunny. “You’re different. Very different.” Oh, my heart is breaking. “Why?” He shrugs. “I just wanted to know.”
Aw. I just love Zach in this episode. Part of me actually wanted her to defend Peter, to say that he could be like Peter in good ways, but that’s not what he needed. And anyway, it’s true. He doesn’t have Peter’s confidence, his brashness, his swagger; he’s insightful and smart, like both his parents, but I don’t think he’s faithless, and that was the real question. (Yes, there’s Becca, but we don’t know what went when on there – was he unfaithful to Neesa or not – so we can’t really judge.)
The doorbell rings, breaking up this affecting family tableaux. It’s Diane. And, ha. The ads implied she was here for Alicia. “I’m sorry, Alicia – I’m trying to get in touch with Peter, and the office said he was home.”
“Oh, ah, well, no, he’s not here.” Alicia turns her big brown eyes on Diane – not a trick she uses often – to project her complete innocence. “I’m sorry, Alicia, I would never do this to you, but do you have a minute?” I would never do this, except I’m going to right now. And have before.
The next scene opens staring at Alicia’s front door. Behind it, Alicia and Diane sit at the dining room table. “We’re competing with two other law firms for the State’s Attorney’s Office’s civil business. It could be quite lucrative, as you know.” Of course. “But Peter has asked that we be audited, by the Department of Taxation.” Alicia stiffens. “And that .. that would be quite invasive.” Yeah, I’ll bet. Grace almost walks in, but Alicia asks her to steer clear. She turns and goes on cue. How well behaved are these kids, seriously? Loved her orange peasant shirt, too. “How old?” Diane asks. “14,” poor fidgety Alicia answers. “It’s a sweet age.” Is it? When was the last time you were around teens, Diane? Ah well. Back to dancing in the minefield. “Anyway, I suggested to the State’s Attorney we use an independent firm, but he insisted on a departmental audit. And that would open up our books in an alarming way.” Diane makes it clear that they do in fact have something to hide, and that it should be obvious.
“Um, I’m not sure I…” Alicia begins. Diane explains that the two other law firms were not asked to make the same concession. “Is there something I should know, about why Peter’s only asking us?” Alicia looks terrified, stricken.
“Diane, I’ve worked hard to keep my work life separated from my home life.” Diane nods. “I know. And I respect that.” When it’s convenient you do! “But I need to know if Peter is doing the same.” Sigh. “I don’t know how to answer that.” Diane changes tactics. “Well, let me ask you this. If you were assisting me in this decision, how would you advise? Agree to the audit or not?” Part of me wants Alicia to tell Diane she’ll look into it, call Peter, get the low down. I mean, if I were her, I’d be furious! I’m kind of furious on her behalf anyway. What does he mean to accomplish by this? Does he really want to punish her, to make her lose her job, take down her firm? Is it his jealousy of Will boiling over? What gives? I would definitely have to talk to him.
But Alicia doesn’t take that route. She wrestles with her desire to keep her personal life private, her separation a secret, and her desire to do right by her job. “I would advise you not to.” Brave, brave girl.
Diane nods. Alicia inhales deeply. “Well, you really have a very lovely apartment, Alicia,” Diane smiles unhappily. She has what she came for, as little as she may be enjoying it. “Thank you,” Alicia answers in a small voice.
“Take two,” Mickey enthuses from one of Eli’s nice chairs, snapping two pieces of wood together to mimic the clapboard sound. Places on the set! Propmaster Eli takes the entire bowl of wood pieces off the table. A weird accessory, anyway. “So, let’s hear what ya got.” “Miss Sharma and I discussed this, and we’ve decided to pass on your polite offer to pitch, but thank you.” Eli sits formally at his desk, hands clasped; Kalinda poses on the desktop. Mickey emits a high pitched guffaw, and looks over to his flunkies. “You’re kiddin’ me, right?” “Nope,” Eli rolls, “but thanks.” Mickey laughs and spreads his arms. “What the hell is that? Don’t you think you could have told me that over the phone?” A smiling Eli twiddles his thumbs. “I could have, but that would have taken up less of your time.” Ha!
Mickey gets serious. “Go to hell,” he says, pointing to Eli. He walks as if to leave, and Kalinda and Eli exchange glances. The flunkies precede him out the door. Then Mickey Gunn locks the door and turns. He clomps back to Eli’s desk, mouth open. ” What’s going on?” “I don’t like to be used.” What, this again? Mickey finds that preposterous. “What’re you talking about, how did I use you?” So Eli tells him. “You’re considering joining a Republican presidential campaign.” Mickey sticks his hands in his pockets, smiling. “No comment.” “But the guy’s too clean, you can’t find a single thing wrong with him. He’s too good to be true.” Mickey laughs his good ole boy, James Carville laugh. “I don’t know who’re talking about.” Kalinda silently goes into Vana White mode and flashes a large glossy photo. They’ve got him.
“Okay,” Mickey says, sitting. “And?” Oh, this is rich. “And, you didn’t have the cash to vet him so you hinted you wanted to hire me so I would vet him for you.” Impressive skullduggery! And excellent work, Holmes and Watson. (Which, hmm, would that make Eli Watson?) “Poor man’s crawfishing,” Mickey chuckles, laying on the southern accent. “You let the tourists set the bacon traps, and you go in and raid ’em.” “Yeah, Mickey, ah, tell me the last time you were in the bayou?” Hee. Score, Eli. Kalinda’s amused. “So cut the Trapper John crap, okay?” Now Eli’s bringing out his ugly voice. “What, you’re going to offend me now?” “Oh, yeah, I’m just getting started.” Again, I’ve heard that before.
Mickey admits defeat. “Okay, what’d you find out?” “No,” Eli declares ruthlessly. “What, I’ll hire you!” “Here’s how it works,” Eli explains, bending over his desk. “First you offer your services to your Republican, then you hire me.” Mickey’s on the defensive. “I already did, he hired me!” Kalinda steps in to refute this. “Nope. He’s had 2 meetings, but he hasn’t jumped yet.” Ha. Well that’s embarrassing. Mickey and Kalinda shoot each other glances of mutual respect. “Go get hired,” Eli instructs severely. Mickey makes yet another finger gun – I’ve been trying to ignore them, but they’ve been everywhere. Maybe he just points a lot, and weirdly. “And you’ll work for a Republican?” Eli shrugs it off as inconsequential. “Ah, I don’t mind this guy, he’s not bad.”
Well. That’s new.
“Okay. I’ll call you tomorrow. No hard feelings, right?” Eli shoos him out. “Go!” “Hey, it’s business.” Get out while the getting’s good, Mickey! “Go!” Eli and Kalinda smirk at each other, each looking enormously pleased. Their silent staged teamwork was rather impressive. “I’ll be calling on you again.” “It’s your dime,” she shrugs, but she’s not indifferent now. She enjoyed it. I can tell.
Back at work, Alicia’s trying to contain her worry. And poor Mr. Brannon just can’t get it right. “Mr. Cardiff, good evening,” he begins. “Actually, good morning,” Cardiff corrects, and the judge nods. Ugh. Where is it morning again? Bah. Poor guy splutters, trying to regain his momentum. “A year before you climbed Everest, you successfully summited the Trango Towers, in Pakistan, is that correct?” “Trango 2, to be exact,” Cardiff confirms. “Trango 2,” Brannon repeats, still looking a bit bumbling. Thrush tries to peek at Brannon’s notes; where is this going? “You came upon a team of Japanese mountaineers during that climb, did you not?” Well, it was so long ago, it’s hard to say, Cardiff lies, immediately and clearly discomfited. Thrush shoots him a hard look. “In fact, you not only came upon them, you took the ropes and pitons from a dying Japanese climber, did you not?”
Ooops, he did it again! Ah, which is to say, before. Thrush is immediately on his feet objecting. “Can I quickly ask my learned colleague to which materials he is referring here?” A book called Only in May, the account of that trip in the view of a French team. “Yes, that was my worry. Your Lordship, Mr. Cardiff previously brought suit – brought successful suit – against the publisher of that very book. It has been deemed libelous and thus cannot be mentioned in these proceedings.” You mean you that was your hope! Also, isn’t that nice for you? Thrush sits, and Brannon looks at Will for encouragement. He gives it. “Well, then, let me ask you this. In that expedition, the one I was just talking about…” Thrush once more oozes to his feet. “Apologies once again, your Lordship” he begins, a bit wearily, “but as part of the successful settlement against that book, we have instigated a super injunction, which means not only are we prohibited from discussing the book here, we are precluded from discussing the supposed events in that book.”
Will’s surprised and also clearly annoyed. “Aw, come on.” “Even the request from my learned colleague here must be stricken from the record.” I suppose that follows, but really? That doesn’t seem right – it’s rather like putting a patent on water. Not that people don’t try and do that type of thing everyday; it’s still insane. Anyway. “It is as if the book, and the events, and even questioning the events, never happened.”
“Unless of course it’s discussed in the English press, your Lordship,” Brannon offers, and Thrush is back on his feet again. “Yes, and we would ask for a super injunction to prevent the mention of the super injuction.” Hee. That’s crappy, but it’s also pretty funny.
Will follows Alicia and Brannon into the hall, closing the door sharply, peeved. “Only in England!” he growls. “Look, I’m sorry, but that’s not necessary,” Brannon defends his – sort of – homeland. Alicia steps up to make peace. “We need to get that book in, The Climb to Trango Towers. It shows a pattern of abuse.” Yes. Alicia backs away. “I have an idea,” she calls out, then takes off almost at a run.
Chomping on Chinese food, surrounded by take out boxes, squinting at his computer and haranguing someone on the phone – ah, Eli, you really can do it all. Alicia rushes in. “Eli, you still have your geek squad together, right?” He tucks the phone to his collar bone. “Well, hello, Alicia, how are you?” Her focus is clear. “You still have your internet trolls who tweet anonymously?” Yes, why yes he does. Of course he does. “I need some tweeting,” she says.
Sigh. Alicia, if you didn’t want to ask Peter about the audit, why didn’t you ask Eli? Why don’t you? Heck, he knows about the investigation. Why didn’t Diane? You people are wasting this resource!
Brannon pops out of the elevator with a huge stack of papers in the crook of his arm, and a dimpled grin. “The tweeting fairies did their work in the night,” he smirks to Alicia. “I don’t know what you mean,” she flutters.
Slam go the papers on the desk. “One hundred thousand tweet followers, your Lordship,” he declares, pointing a chubby finger at the stack. “The super-injunction and Mr. Cardiff’s action’s are now a matter of discussion in the English press.” Is Twitter considered the British press? Who picked this up? Thrush’s on his feet. “This is an obscenity, your Lordship,” Thrush points dramatically at the papers. Brannon begins reading: “This morning’s Chronicle – ‘what did Oliver Cardiff do on the slopes of Trango 2?” So that’s who picked it up. “Your Lordship, where’s the respect for our laws when any young thug with a computer and a Twitter account can a lawful injunction where…”
Brannon practically thunders his first few words. “I’m sorry, Mr. Thrush, but I haven’t finished.” “Yes,” says the judge, “please continue, Mr. Brannon.” Well. Impressive work with the changing, Timothy. Alicia’s suppresses a happy smile. “The subject of Mr. Cardiff’s Pakistani expedition are now the subject of discussion in the press; therefore, I don’t need the manuscript of Only in May to ask these questions.” “We still believe the stricture of the super injunction applies, your Lordship.” The judge chews on it.
“I did nothing wrong,” Cardiff maintains. We won! Yay, underhanded tweeting! On the assumptions that multiple wrongs can make a right. “You didn’t take the rope and gear from the Japanese team on Trango Tower – Trango 2?” (Wait, I thought it was one Japanese climber who died? Why is it just the French who are commenting on this – couldn’t they contact the rest of the Japanese team? Or the Sherpas guides?) “I did nothing wrong,” Cardiff repeats him angrily. “Then why did the French say they found you with the Japanese pitons?””We do not use pitons, we’re clean climbers, we use chalk stones and quick draws.” Exactly. “Which you took from the Japanese climber.” Cardiff’s spitting mad.”He was dying!”
Thrush rolls his eyes. “The hypocrisy here is amazing,” Cardiff wraps the noose further around his own neck. “You, Danny. You were on K2 when a Korean climber died. I know for a personal fact you passed him on the way to the summit.” Danny gulps a little. “That was different.” “How was that different? Because he wasn’t your brother? He froze to death and you left him and I left him. Every climber left him. And why? Because we would have died carrying him down. It is the law of the death zone. We all know we can’t be carried out.”
Fine. Barbaric, hideous, but say you’re right. Does that give you the right to determine he’s already dead and take his gear? Maybe he would have found the strength. Also, then it’s a lie to deny it. If that’s the law of the death zone, then reputation be damned; own it.
Alicia leans forward, the wheels in her head turning. “And so you did it on Everest.”
Cardiff returns to the party line, though it’s much too late. “The events as described in Danny’s book are a lie.” “Even though you passed a dying Robert Lambros on Everest.” Oliver hunches over to snarl at his adversary. “The book as told is a lie.” Retreat to that party line all you like, but it’s not going to save you now. “Mr. Cardiff, are you planning another climbing expedition?” Brannon inquires brightly. “Yes.” ” When?” Don’t answer that, Thrush instructs, but it’s too late, he does. “In Patagonia. In one month.” ‘There is qualified privilege as an exception to our libel laws,” Brannon asserts. Which is, the judge wonders, and I wonder too. “When they are a warning. Mr. Cardiff has demonstrated a predisposition for passing stranded climbers at high altitudes. Now if this book is a warning to climbers in the future, then it is no longer held to the same burden of proof of our libel laws.” The judge nods judiciously. “”I therefore ask that this suit be dismissed, because this book, your Lordship, is a warning.”
“Your Lordship, that is a strange interpretation of the law,” Thrush quarrels. The judges hangs for a moment. “No, Mr. Thrush, I’m sorry. I don’t think if’s a strange interpretation of the law at all. In fact, it seems right. ” Thrush conceals his anger pretty well, but Brannon’s eyebrows pop up in happy surprise. Aw. You need to believe in yourself more, honey. “We would agree with Mr. Brannon and therefore dismiss the suit in letter rogatory.” Brannon claps his hands together in delight, turns to speak to Mr. Lambros, realizes he’s turned his back on the judge, spins back around and bobs backward, bowing and apologizing all the way. I like this guy so much. Lambros and Brannon wrap their arms around each other in an enormous, boisterous bear hug. For Will and Alicia, there’s some very subtle – but still rather indiscreet – pinky stroking.
From that joyous scene, we move to Diane’s office. She’s slumped in her chair, looking simultaneously glum and furious. Truly we’ve never seen her look this vexed. Will arrives, and slumps down across for her, automatically mirroring her posture.
“So you decided against the audit?” She nods, too exasperated even to speak. “Smart,” Will says, but he doesn’t meet her eyes. Diane asks the question quietly. “Have Alicia and her husband separated?” His face freezes. “Is it any of our business?” She raises her eyebrows, still unmoving. “If there’s blow back on our firm, then yes. It is our business.” I have to agree, actually, even though I hate to admit it. “Is there? Blow back on the firm?” Do you even have to ask? She puts her arms on the desk, and lowers her tone even more. “Will, this is my life. It’s yours, too. Have Alicia and her husband separated?” “Ask her,” Will replies, leaning back in the chair, his eyes fixed on Diane.
Diane slumps back in her seat, defeated. I think he just told her without telling her. She just knows Will too well. “We can’t be the enemy of the State’s Attorney.” Will’s quick to answer. “We’re not.” “He wanted to audit us.” Yeah, that’s a problem. “Because he wants to run a clean office.” Is that what you really think, Will?
“This is crazy. She’s supposed to work for us. If she’s working against us, we should let her go.” He tries to sooth. “She’s not.” “But if she is?” He tosses his hand in the air. “Then – we’ll let her go.” Diane’s eyes bore into him like arrows. “If she works against us, then we’re letting her go. I can hold you to that?” Will stares back silently before answering, the two breathing in synchronization. “Yes,” he says.
Not to get all Grey’s Anatomy on you, but the Death Zone in our lawyers’ lives? That space where perception cannot be trusted, where the law is take care of yourself or die? Is that Will & Alicia’s hormone soaked infatuation? I’m not saying that’s all that’s between them. I’m just saying, right now they’re not being super sensible. Can they trust their impressions of other people’s intentions? Does their relation to each other adversely affect how they see other people? Will it affect how other people see them, and are they so worried about how it’ll affect how other people see them that they can’t even tell how other people are actually seeing them? What did Will promise, just to prove to Diane that he wasn’t favoring Alicia inappropriately? What did Alicia give away to Diane when she warned her that Peter might be auditing the firm as a way to hurt her? Have we just seen their fundamental difference – that Alicia is Bobby Lambros, who stopped to help a client and died, and Will is Oliver Cardiff, who takes what he needs to preserve his own life? Altruism versus pragmatism?
Or is Will just gaming Diane? Does he lie so he can fight another day? Trying to hard to seem uninterested? You know she’s going to see through that, you fool. Or is he thinking, the relationship would be a lot easier if he wasn’t Alicia’s boss? Is he thinking beyond the moment, beyond pacifying Diane? Does he think it will come to that? Did Will just betray Alicia? Wow. This is hard.
I mean, she’d never get a job anywhere else if it was known that Peter was targeting, not while he’s in office. Is that what Peter wants, forcing her to be dependent on him? Or is it Will he’s out to get? It’s hard to reconcile this behavior with Peter’s gracious, painfully honest admission to Zach. Why doesn’t Alicia ask him what it’s all about, damn it? Why doesn’t she ask Eli? Why didn’t Diane ask Eli? You have to imagine it’d come as a shock to Eli, and he’d do everything in his power to prevent Peter from creating any breach with Alicia – and clearly, attacking her firm is going to do that. Eli would have even another motive to interfere now that he’s tied to Lockhart & Gardner. Word to the writers: I’m going to be annoyed if we never find out what was going on with this.
So, what else? I’m sure most of you noted the similarity to Double Jeopardy as well – retrial in an entirely different legal system where our guys are baffled by the customs, right down to the lawyer/guide to strange new legal system who first appears to be a light weight but in the end packs a serious punch. Subtle, but nice. Eddie Izzard was good – I liked his English bulldog act and some of his tough speeches – but I really enjoyed Simon Delaney as solicitor Timothy Ash Brannon. Very cute. And speaking of cute, if last week was Grace’s turn, this week Zach really lit up the screen. He does care about his parent’s marriage. And he cares what sort of person he is, too. His doubts and his passion and his heartbreak – it was all lovely. His self-doubt and vulnerability – I was going to call it Mom Kryptonite, but really, that’s generally charming. Graham Phillips, well done.
Eli and Kalinda, working together! Fans of the show, rejoice! They’re Batman and Robin, Holmes and Watson, Xena and Gabrielle, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid… Wow, how much fun are they? Also, I might have to start calling Eli Sundance in my head. Now I want to see Eli run into David Lee. I can’t imagine they’d actually like each other, but it is not going to be boring. Crisis management during a divorce? Makes sense to me!
I hope the fans who were freaked out by last week’s sexy time are breathing a bit easier now. We only had about 25 seconds of banter and no actual action. Oh, and the pinky thing. That seemed incredibly incautious to me, but heh. I’m the old Alicia. At least some of the time.
And that’s about it for me, at least for now. Have at it, friends! Tell me what you think about The Death Zone.