E: I’m not sure any of that worked out as I expected. I’m not really sure it all worked out, even. Still, there were nice moments along with this less satisfying ones. Is it overall a good thing or a bad thing? I’m thinking both.
A round, determined face fills our screens, set in front of a door. “This is court ordered mediation,” his voice rings out, like the principal of a high school on a roll. “This isn’t opt out mediation, or ‘I don’t feel like it’ mediation.” Will, the smart alec student, slouches down in his seat while another man looks through papers in the background. “We know that, but what can we do? We can’t negotiate with a stone.” The principal explains patiently, consulting his folder, “Yes, but you can lower your ask. Given the set of facts I’m looking at, well, it’s way too high. And the law is far from clear…” Will and Alicia – who sits near her boss, a study in scarlet – have had enough. “Let’s go to court,” Will proclaims. And so the weary yet still inspirational principal (yes, yes, I know he’s a mediator) explains again. “Look, the judge doesn’t want to clutter up his docket. That’s why the judge empowered me to keep you here as long as I want – and I will. Show me some movement.” Self righteous, Alicia voice is clear and her movements are sharp, angry. “Our client wanted to sue for 38 million punitive. We got her down to 14. That is movement. But where is theirs?” Where are they, for that matter? He trudges to the door, beneath the gold striped wall paper, and wags his finger at them. “Think about a new ask.”
And from there, he heads out into the hotel hallway, to suite 628. “I need you to raise your offer,” the mediator begins. Cuddy from House (otherwise known as Lisa Edelstein) pours herself some coffee at the other end of a broad conference table. She sneers. She’s wearing a strange, complicated black and white pants suit. Is that a vest or a multi-layered shirt? I just can’t say. The mediator doesn’t care. “Way too low. And the legal issues…” She leans a hand on the table in front of him, dramatically back lit by the sheer curtains. “And what about their ask? 12 million dollars for what was clearly an accident?” “14 million,” he corrects gently. “Oh my God! It keeps going up!” Okay, she’s making me laugh – serious passion is definitely not her tactic. It’s humor and trickery. The mediator is not amused. “It was always 14 million.” Cuddy tosses her hands up, as if he’s proved her point. “Exactly.” Ha. “Because they won’t move. That’s Will Gardner’s m.o.. He gets his opposition negotiating with themselves so he can just sit back and …” The mediator doesn’t even bother to speak as he heads back out the door.
Will, hovering over Alicia’s shoulder, looks up when the door snicks open. “Okay, the good news is, they’ve agreed to an increase in their offer. 100,000.” They did? Are we jumping around in time? “Really. 100,000. As a good will gesture.” Will snickers to himself. Is this because the mediator’s playing them, or because the number’s so small? “But that’s linked to an equivalent reduction in your ask.” There it is. Not cool, Mr. Principal, not cool. “We’re not meeting in the middle.” “You are meeting in the middle. Everyone’s meeting in the middle, or I will keep you here. It was an unfortunate accident…” Interesting how he uses a different argument, depending on who he’s talking to. Will pushes that notion down. “Wait a minute. I know Celeste works under the mistaken impression that if she says something enough it’ll make it true, but this wasn’t an accident. This was fraud.” Alicia hands him the relevant paperwork as he moves out around the table. “Deposition 105, pg.58”
He begins to read from the transcript. “‘But wasn’t this an accident, m’am?’ Answer:”
And we cut quickly to the deposition, where a pretty young woman declares. “No, accidents are unintentional. What your client did to me was intentional.”
“You sound angry, m’am,” Celeste/Cuddy suggests, in complete disproportion, because she didn’t. Clearly she’s looking to provoke the witness. “Do I? I guess I am.” The woman draws a shaky breath and primly presses her lips together, closing her eyes. Alicia looks on in concern, but it’s Will who asks solicitously “Would you like to take a break, Maggie? Can we get you anything for your pain?” “Thank you, Mr. Gardner, why don’t we let Maggie raise her hand when she wants to take a break in stead of continually vocalizing her pain into the record?” Which, duh. He is a lawyer. “Wow, Celeste, cynical much?” “Only since your 5th interruption.” Hee. Snarky as she is, I bet that’s fair. “Thank you, I don’t need a break.” Maggie says delicately. “She doesn’t need a break, Will, can I continue now?” Sarcastic and theatrical, but not emotional, Celeste. “It’s up to you.” She does. “This was all caused by an accident 4 years ago, wasn’t it?” Maggie and her rosebud mouth answer. “I was in a car accident, It caused DDD, degenerative disk disorder. It’s misaligned vertebrae disks.” Celeste crosses her arms on the table. “And Dr. Farland, the man you are suing, my client…” gee, thanks for the repetition, it clears up so much, “…suggested an operation.” Maggie nods tightly. “He did. He said I needed an SCS – spinal cord stimulator.” “Something like this?,” Celeste notes, holding up a photograph of a rectangular device on a cord. Eep. Did they put that inside Maggie? It looks kind of large and extremely angular to put inside a person’s back!
Will flashes the same photograph at the mediator, followed by a folded pamphlet. “Our client was given the chance to choose the model she wanted from a catalog of 12 FDA approved devices. ” The FDA approved devices all sport rounded edges, mostly circles or ovals. “But she didn’t choose any,” the mediator notes. “That’s the defense’s point.” Okay, still not seeing how this is an accident.
“Yes, but I expected him to pick one of the FDA approved devices,” Maggie notes with gentle anger, back in the flashback. Wait, you asked him to pick the best one? And you assumed he’d pick one of the ones he showed you? Gee, I wonder why? “I was never told there was another option.” Rut roh! Alicia picks up the questioning. “And what happened after the operation, Maggie?” “The pain was gone. I was ready to worship Dr. Farland. ” Celeste’s amused. “But the pain came back?” Maggie’s delivery speeds up.”Yes, it was like a deal with the devil. It came back 3 times worse.” Alicia focuses her gently. “But that’s not why you brought suit?” Maggie’s words are soft but clear. “No. About a month after my operation, I received a itemized bill for the SCS. On it was listed the manufacturer and the inventor. ” Alicia picks up the thread smoothly. “And who was the inventor?” Maggie confirms it:”My doctor. Dr.Farland.” Oh. Interesting. Alicia looks right into Celeste’s face as she asks Maggie for the coup de gras. “And the SCS he invented. It was not FDA approved?” Maggie’s calm porcelain face cracks a tiny bit. “That’s right. He just implanted it in me like I was a guinea pig.” Ouch.
Also, still waiting for the accidental part. Did he accidentally put an unapproved device in a patient? (I dated a product safety engineer who specialized in medical devices, and seriously, this is exactly the kind of nightmare that terrorizes people in that profession; some hot shot doctor jumping the gun and getting everyone sued.)
“I want to sympathize. I do. But you can’t keep asking for 14 million.” Wow. I sympathize! I’m not having any trouble sympathizing. This gets Alicia annoyed. “Maggie has three children. She’s in constant pain. Her life has been shorted by a decade. Her husband left her and she’s being kicked out of her house. All because she cannot hold down a job or offer spousal companionship. Now, if that happened to me, from a doctor who experimented on me with out my knowledge, I’m sorry, but I would be asking for twice as much.” Sing it, sister! I seriously don’t see how $14 million is adequate to ten years shaved off your life, permanent debilitating pain and a broken marriage.
The mediator leaves again.
Will’s been watching closely, and congratulates Alicia after he’s gone. “Good job. Keep on him.” He looks over his shoulder. “And everyone else, the mediator’s threatening to keep us here through the weekend and I think he means it. So make arrangements.”
Will’s phone rings, and he picks it up.”We might have a slight edge in mediation. The mediator seems sympathetic.” Diane’s riffling through her desk. “Really? Will that matter?” Will plunks down on the suite’s bed. “Not really. We’re heading to trial either way.But it shows our argument’s working.” Well, it worked on me, anyway! “What’s up?” Diane’s assistant is feeding her even more paperwork. “I just got a call from someone who needs crisis management.” Excellent! Let’s see Eli in action – especially if it’s not political. That should be a treat. “One of our clients?” “No, someone impressed with the Florrick rehab.” Diane peers out her glass wall, and Will chuckles. “Wow. Now I’m starting to feel like a slacker. Eli’s starting to clock more billable hours than us.” Oh, relax, Will, you’re going to spend the whole weekend in mediation, remember? How many more billable hours could you have? “Who is it, one of the airlines? I heard a jet went off the runway at O’Hare.” Diane watches an entourage walk in, led by a tiny woman in a candy pink suit. “No, but I might be able to sign them. I can decide for both of us?” Hmmmm. “Yes. Just keep me in the loop.”
“Cheese,” declares Candy Pink shyly. Eli cocks his head. His eyebrows perform heroic feats. “Cheese?” Eli and cheese. We have officially entered the comedy portion of tonight’s program. But it’s not funny at all to Candy. “Yes. We represent the Wisconsin State Dairy Guild, and we need your help.” Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope! Obi Wan can’t quite suppress his smile.”With cheese?” ” Yes.” Eli looks to Diane, who’s giving an admirable poker face. “A certain kind of cheese, or all cheeses?” And now the time for snark is over. “There was an outbreak of listeriosis in a Chicago grammar school 4 hours ago.” Oh, that’s bad. Listeria’s one of those nasty bugs you really only hear about when you’re pregnant, because it’s particularly good at causing miscarriages. The word “outbreak” is enough to wipe the smirk off Eli’s face. “News reports say the outbreak was traced to bacterially infected cheese slices. 5 children were hospitalized, 4 teachers are ill, and we’re getting alarmed calls from government officials.” (What kind of teachers eat cafeterial lunches? Sorry, that’s probably a weird response. It’s just, I don’t think they normally do.)
Eli turns to his computer, his serious face on. Candy, the Force is about to be with you. “Patrick! Lydia!” he bellows, cutting Candy off before snapping a question her way. “Does the guild have a contract with an existing p.r. firm?” “Pizer & Associates. They’re working on an “eat cheese’ campaign.” “Not anymore. You hire me, we are one voice. Tell if that’s okay, or we go no further.” She flutters, hesitates. “I’ll have to get permission.” “That’s fine for now,” he waves, “but I’ll need someone here who doesn’t need to get permission.” Hee! “Monthly retainer of 60,000 a month, hourlies still apply, look around, you’ll find that’s competitive.” Gulp. Eli turns his attention on his minions. “Get me everything on listeriosis, anyone who will speak out against… cheese.” Patrick and Lydia scurry off. Hee. Candy’s been on the phone with someone named Agnes (Agnes? really?) looking for someone named Walter (wow, these Wisconsinites!) and they’re understandably stuck on the heinous monthly fee. Eli looks over his should at Diane, who’s still leaning on the window sill. “I’ll need more investigator time – get Kalinda.” “She’s on the mediation,” Diane shrugs. “Not anymore. ”
And my, news of the outbreak is spreading fast. WEQTS Channel 8 has footage of adorable kindergarteners vomiting into plastic bins with precocious presence of mind. “It was just after recess. The culprit? The most innocent of foods, cheese.” As part of their “Listeria Hysteria” coverage, the news team has helpfully provided us with a still shot; bottles of milk and stacks of orange American cheese, in between the children writhing on the floor, spewing out cheese colored vomit, or slumping down against support columns. There are screams and retching noises. Really, it’s quite gross. “This cell phone video shot by a caffeteria worker shows several students becoming gravely ill.” Too bad that’s a classroom, not a cafeteria. They didn’t even bother to put out lunches! (Also, is listeriosis that fast acting?)
“Dear God!” breathes Eli, horrified. Candy picks her words carefully. “We’re afraid this’s going to keep people from purchasing cheese.” Eli spins round to face her. “Ya think?”
Hee. Now the news features a split screen of cheese and vomit. Lovely.
“You’ll have to hire Lockhart &Gardner as temporary counsel,” Eli picks back up; Diane gives Eli the tiniest, most avaricious smile ever. “Actually, we have outside counsel.” He makes an excellent exasperated face. “Okay, I can explain myself for now but when things get faster you’re going to have to trust me. Currently, everything we say and do can be subpoenaed for civil or criminal trial, and believe me, with news like this, you do not want that. We have to speak under the power of attorney client privilege, which Diane provides, and we need it now.” Huh. That’s a good point. Candy blinks. “Go ahead. Get permission.” Hee. She does. Eli focuses in on a Heather Farms napkin, spilled next to some gold fish on the classroom floor – the logo is a ring of words (the name and “Made With Love”) around the face of a sweet young girl with two thick braids. “And get me the CEO of Heather Farms before he talks to a reporter.” Please let him be a woman, just because Eli said it that way!
Outside what must be the hotel, Alicia stands at the car window, looking in at an extremely worried Maggie. Maggie’s so pretty, in a china doll kind of a way. “Here he comes now. You just tell him what you told me.” Maggie nods. Will rushes over to the car, full of concern.”What’s wrong, is everything all right?” Maggie starts to answer, but I’m incredibly distracted by her super adorable baby daughter (maybe 4 months?) in the back seat. “I don’t know – I got a call from someone at the Vindicator. She asked if I had an opinion about the medical investigation of Dr. Farland.” Will, taken aback, sputters. “I don’t understand, it’s a year off.” “I know – she said the FDA expedited it. She got an early look and they’re siding with Dr. Farland.” How can that be? I mean, really? Will now looks as upset as Maggie. “It may not be true,” Alicia cautions them. “It doesn’t matter. Any rumor of an investigation – that goes against us, hurts us. Did this reporter say when she wanted a comment?” Maggie nods. “This afternoon. She has to go to press Monday with the leak. Here’s her #. She’s the metro editor.” She hands Will the paper, but he doesn’t even look. “Kate Hanson, I know her. She”ll be easy to stall.” Maggie exhales in relief. “Thank you for doing this.” She tilts her head toward perfect little pink miss. “Once more around the park.” Don’t you do that when you baby’s a crying wreck, or it’s late at night and they won’t sleep? It’s broad daylight, and this is one adorably cooing baby. Just saying.
Alicia and Will head back to the hotel. “So, what do you think?,” she asks. “I think we have a gun to our head and can’t wait for trial. We have to get a good deal in mediation. Damn!” Her phone goes off. “Be right there – Owen, can you do me a favor?”
Will quickly ends another phone call with Diane when Celeste joins him on the elevator. “I think the mediator’s lying to us,” she says, facing the front. Wow, that outfit is really odd. The jacket’s very short and the top under the vest is confusingly asymmetrical. “I think you’re right,” Will agrees, facing forward as well. Their shoulders are touching. “2 hours and a bottle of wine, we can settle this,” she suggests. He smiles. “Just this? Why not the Middle East?” She smiles. “It’s game theory with imperfect information, Will, why don’t we make it perfect?” Finally she looks over, but he doesn’t look back at her. “I thought you liked imperfect? Poker over chess.” Will walks out of the elevator, glancing toward her, but not meeting her gaze. She follows him off. “You sure you’re on the right floor?” He’s trying to put her off, but she’s tenacious. “I’m serious. We used to settle a lot of things in the old days.” Still she faces him and he won’t look. “We used to unsettle a lot of things, too. I’m going into my room now.” He turns at the door to face her. “You haven’t heard our case yet. It’s a good one.” Is it? “I can’t wait. Goodbye, Celeste.” Interesting, since he just admitted that he needs to settle. Playing hard to get? Ah, but she’s much too persistent. “My number. For when you’re ready to negotiate.”
He takes the card.
“The whole weekend?” Owen’s thrown himself on Alicia’s bed, and is dwarfed by her pillows. “Maybe not the whole one. It’s hot, right, the nights are hot?” Alicia paces, packing an overnight bag. “Oh. Steaming. Sultry with the scent of jasmine. Forbidden love.” Ha. Ah, that’s so Owen. “Coat or no coat?” Alicia wonders. To go with her steamy nights? “No coat.” Duh. “You’re fine with this, right? I just need someone with the kids through Sunday.” Oh, he’s fine. “Sure. The fun uncle – I’m the fun uncle,” he waves his hands from the pillows. “So, you and Will in a hotel room!” Ah, Owen, if only you knew. “Yes. Will. Me. 4 Lawyers. 6 other lawyers. And a mediator.” Owen’s practically making “boom chicka” noises. “You and Will checking out the hot tub.” Alicia gives him a very flat look. “It’s a business man’s hotel!” An excellent, misty look spread over Owen’s face. “The best sex I ever had was in a business man’s hotel.” Too much information for your sister, sir! Ew! “Okay, can we not go there?” Owen laughs. I didn’t think he was serious, did you? “You are so funny, you are the most prudish wanton woman I know.” What’s that mean? Is he insulting or complimenting her? She tilts her head and stares at him, like she can’t believe it. And then she wheels out her suitcase. “Hey, what was that?” He hops off the bed and chases her in his bare feet. “Nothing. I have to go,” she replies, speeding away. “But you were about to say something!”
She’s not going to say it now, Owen. “You won’t get in a fight with Peter, right? He’s picking up the kids for dinner Saturday night.” She unlocks her door and heads off into the hall. He stops at the appartment’s threshold, looking guilty. “I didn’t mean it. About the wanton. Alicia, talk to me.” She’s pressed the button.”Owen, I would have if I had the time.” He rushes into the hall. “You have to wait for the elevator, so talk to me here.” “Okay.” Arms folded across his chest, Owen gives big sis the stink eye. “You’re sleeping with Will. Which is why you left your husband.” Haven’t I been saying this is what everyone is going to assume? If even Owen thinks so… Good luck brow beating info out of her, though. “Oh, come on!” She grins. The elevator’s here and she’s got no more time. “I’ll call you later.”
So, okay, I kind of imagined that if she told him, or he guessed, there’d be a lot of glee, and maybe some “you go girl” high fiving. I am bemused.
“Gretchen Battista,” a kind of tough looking woman with blond curls and a hook nose answers into her phone. There’s a tall, skinny red bag on her desk, which is in the center of a loud and crowded office. “No, Kate retired three months ago,I’m her replacement, Mr…” Back at the hotel, Will nearly bites his knuckles. Huh. You’d think that Maggie would have noticed how off the name he mentioned was. Ignore the package that’s going to arrive in an hour or so, he asks. Ah, but it’s already here. Right, the red bag. “My parents drink Scotch, they’ll be really grateful.” Ouch! I’m upgrading her ‘tough chick’ status to ‘broad.’ “And? What might you need?” He explains briefly about Maggie. “You wouldn’t happen to be fishing for what I might know, would you, Mr. Gardner?,” she asks, and “factswims’ him as she does. Hee. I love their consistency with the fake websites. “I might be I just find it odd you’d be the only reporter leaked an FDA decision.” What, he’s canvassed them all? Although you’d think this was the kind of thing that’d belong to the health section, wouldn’t you? “Maybe I’m just a better reporter.” Touche. She’s very arch, this one, and she is really enjoying this conversation. Maybe it’s all the cute pictures of him she’s pulling up. “And maybe you have a source that’s lying and trying to undermine this negotiation.” I vote yes to that last one. She tosses around a ball. “So, come in for an interview and you can offer some context.” The sun glints off his purple striped tie as he turns away from the window to watch the principal – er, mediator – walk into the suite. “Okay, how about lunch on Monday?” Alicia beckons him over. “Oh, you mean after my deadline? How about in my office in one hour?” “2 hours,” he counteroffers, and hangs up.
“I thought we had agreed this morning to lower your ask by a hundred thousand?” The principal’s face furrows; it’s like he’s personally let down. “Yes,” Will looks to Alicia, “and we re-evaluated our position and we’re staying with our original ask.” Alicia smiles and tilts her head, her newly curled hair waving perkily.
Celeste laughs, hand to her mouth. The principal is not amused. “I’m glad you think it’s funny. I thought we were making progress.” She holds up her hand. “We are making progress. Mr. Gardner has a tell. When he’s in trouble, he doubles down. So we’re lowering our offer.” The principal/mediator nods, exasperated. “You don’t think that the issues here are too serious to treat like gambling?” When she replies, Celeste’s voice is still light, still laughing, but also very dismissive. “No, gambling is too serious to treat like these issues. We’re lowering our offer.” Ew.
Okay. I don’t think I like her. Who says stuff like that?
The principal leans against the wall in the hallway, considering a prescription bottle. “You alright?,” Kalinda asks him as she sashays by in a royal blue shirt dress with a wide black belt. “No,” he answers ruefully. “Okay,” she answers, and keeps walking.
Her phone rings. “Yep.” It’s Diane, busy at her desk once more. “What’re you doing?” “Will wants me to get an inkling of their bottom line. Why?” Ah. “Eli needs you – Heather Farms, outside Bloomington? The FDA’s investigating this listeria outbreak and they tend to be slow.” Hell yeah, they are. They just put out a warning for cantaloupes which dates back to an outbreak in June. The cantaloupes from that one farm back in June? They are not still on the shelves. My brother-in-law, who runs a produce market, is furious about this. Just in case you were wondering. (Seriously, the weirdest pieces of my life intersect with this show.) “Well, which takes priority? The cheese or mediation?” Excellent question, Kalinda. Diane considers as she watches another team – a lilac suited woman with two men – walk through the office. “Both.” Yeah, tricky since they’re both time sensitive. I think Kalinda needs some minions of her own. “Alright, got it.” She leans up next to the door, clicks her fingernails on the wall, bites her lip, and then sprints off in the other direction.
“There is no Heather Farms. It’s just a division of Carpwell Foods,” the bald (and disappointingly male) CEO explains. Ew. That’s so scummy. Like Mrs. Tweedy’s pies. (By the way, casting Mr. Walsh from the first 90210 as the CEO? Kind of freakishly awesome.) “I don’t care. I’m not your Rabbi, Sir. I’m merely trying to keep your cheese from damaging the image of all cheeses.” Ha! Eli’s voice picks up this preacher-like cadence. It’s lovely. And somehow, the mention of the word cheese is still funny. (My friend J has this amazing story about a math test, and how you could tell from the giggles when each kid reached the word problem about cutting the cheese. I couldn’t stop thinking about it the whole episode.) Mr. Walsh is not happy to be here, and is not used to being thundered at, either. Maybe people are nicer in Wisconsin, or maybe he’s just too used to being at the top of the food chain. “Well, I’m sorry you feel that way, but I do care. It’s not even clear that we’re responsible. I mean, what else did those kids eat, that’s what I want to know!” Eli throws his head back in disgust. “Oh yes, that’s a great line of defense with images like these,” he points to more WEQTS – Listeria Hysteria coverage on his computer, “people love to heard that the kids are really the problem. Do you know who Tony Hayward is?” Mr. Walsh recovers from gaping to reply, “Do I – he’s the CEO of British Petroleum.” “Ex-CEO of BP – the man who many think oversaw the destruction of a brand.” Candy Pink looks horrified by the comparison. Oh, because a brand is the worst thing that got destroyed in that fiasco? Not the thousands of miles of ocean? The economy of the Gulf coast? The oil men who died? Yes, let’s all grieve for the brand. “So first things first, we work on your attitude.”
Okay, it’s definitely the food chain thing. “Excuse me, I think we need to work on what exactly…” But Eli, as we know, doesn’t suffer fools. “Look, we don’t have time to argue with you, the first rule of managing a crisis, the top man answers the questions. That is the only reason you are here. That is the only reason I am talking to you.” There is quite a lot of indignant pointing going on. “So in ten minutes time, you are giving a press conference, where you will order all your cheese products off the shelves.” Oh my gosh, I think Mr. Walsh is going to have a heart attack. “We need a split screen of that image with you looking strong – wrong tie, get him a red tie – then you apologize for any missteps and say the buck stops here.” Heh. His face when he notices the (blue striped) tie! Awesome.
“Actually, he can’t say that,” Diane walks in gravely. Eli’s irritated. (Granted, he started out irritated.) “Actually, he can and he will.” And yet, Diane will not be cowed. “No, legally, he’s in a very vulnerable spot. He can’t be out there apologizing and taking blame.” “He’s going to get sued no matter what.” Mr.Walsh tucks his hands in his arm pits, aghast. “Yes, but the size of the suit is still in question.” “I don’t care about the size of the suit, Diane.” “Yes, but I do.” Surely there’s a way to balance these competing interests? Say we’ll take everything off as a precaution, because public safety is too important, and won’t return it until we have all the fact and have – if necessary – made amends? Fine, says Walsh, I’ll just sit here. Hee. Eli’s being super theatrical. “Diane, you’re only here as window dressing. You’re only here to keep us from getting subpoened.” “No, I’m here as their lawyer, you’re working the images.” Walsh huffs as Eli and Diane continue to butt heads. “And the images take precedent right now. They won’t have a business…”
In a much more placid scene, a youngish man wearing a really bright blue tie with sharp glasses crosses one of the hotel suites. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Protopopas,” he says, extending his hand. Mr. Protopopas turns out to be the mediator, who does not look Greek, but okay. “Dr. Farland was stopping by for lunch.” RIGHT. Protopopas’s eyes flicker back and forth between the two. “But if you have any questions…” This is why he reminds me so much of a principal – he looks at Celeste with weary (if slightly incredulous) disappointment. “Miss Serrano, can I speak to you?” Is she really going to try to pull that crap? Really? Does she honestly think he hasn’t seen this before? Also – Serrano like the ham? They gave her a lunch meat name during an episode dealing with listeria, a bacteria most often found in lunch meats and unpastuerized cheeses? Awesome. Truly awesome.
Out in the hall, he reads her the riot act. “This is really inappropriate.” “We’re having lunch. This has been on the books for weeks.” Oh yes. Had you planned on being sequestered for mediation for weeks? Who does she really think she’s fooling? “I am not listening to any evidence off the record, m’am!” But, she’s a ham. She can’t help the theatrics. “And I’m not offering any. I’m standing on the record.” Not buying it! And neither is Protopopas. “So is the plaintiff. And they offer a convincing case.” Celeste the ham scoffs at their case. “An easily refuted case. Mrs. Reese is responsible for her own condition.” This contention shifts his momentum. “How do you figure?” I second that question. “Deposition 200, [Good grief, how many did they take?] p.14. it’s so key I know it from memory.” And so she recites. “Question: If there’s nothing wrong with your device, Dr. How did it malfunction? ”
Here we are in flashback again, and wow, Farland looks so much better with the blue tie; I can’t believe it makes that much difference. “It didn’t malfunction. Even the best SCSs are prone to lead migration.” “A lead is?” “Oh, I’m sorry. Ah – when the electrical leads don’t stay where intended. It’s usually not serious, but in the case of Maggie it became quite serious because the problem went undetected for so long.” Alicia looks down the table at Maggie; they both look uncomfortable.”That’s what caused the infection which caused the permanent damage to her spine.” The lack of detection cause the infection? Thank you Dr. Seuss. Celeste dives in for the kill. “And why did it go undetected?” “Well, I prescribed hydromorphone for any topical pain from surgery, but Mrs. Reese – I’m sorry to say this, but she continued to use the painkiller long afterward.” Maggie’s eyes bug out like a Simpson’s character. Alicia and Will shake their heads at each other, appalled. You know, they control post-surgical painkillers pretty closely. It’s hard to imagine she had enough topical anesthetic to completely mask her symptoms (“3 times worse”) for long enough to do permanent damage. To my non-expert eye, it doesn’t scan as a narrative. “So if Mrs. Reeves hadn’t over-medicated herself, she would have noticed the infection and come to you for an adjustment?” Shouldn’t that have in his post-operative instructions, anyway? If you experience X symptoms, see me immediately? Just saying. “Yes – and I’m sorry, Mrs.Reeves – but it’s true.”
She looks uncomfortable.
“Come on, we’re not going to blame the victim for having pain in the first place!” Don’t talk with your mouth full, Will. Mr. Protopopas is back in the plaintiff’s suite. “Yes, but is it true?” Alicia refocuses the question. “The device malfunctioned, the pain returned. Only then did Maggie take the painkillers.” “Celeste reverses this is she can make it seem like the painkillers caused the problem,” adds Will. Mr.P gives a long, pained look. “If I can get her up to 8 million,will you say yes?” Will’s skeptical. “Is she offering 8 million?” However, Mr.P’s determined. “Will you accept it?” Sorry, Charlie. “If you’re asking for our bottom line, then no, we can’t give you our bottom line or they’ll use it against us.” Mr. P looks like he wants to stomp on something.
For his part, Will grouses about Kalinda’s absence, and heads off for his rendez vous with the reporter.
WEQTS has certainly turned the Listeria Hysteria into their bread and butter. “Tonight school officials are assuring parents that all cheese has been removed from school lunches.” We get a new, heinous shot of a twitching foot “It’s not clear whether cheeses at neighboring schools and stores may also have tainted.” In the well appointed Florrick living room, Owen drops his pizza onto his plate in horror. “Grace! Stop eating the pizza!” But it’s Zach who’s in the room, and Zach’s still on his 20 questions kick. “Really? You were the bad one?” Hello, have you met your uncle? “Yeah, I was. Don’t I seem like I was the bad one?” Owen’s “duh” face here is fantastic, but really Zach’s just looking for specifics. “So in what way bad?” Oh, son. “Mmm, no, you don’t want to hear this.” Of course he does! Owen gives him a measuring look, then checks to see if Grace is within earshot. “Ecstasy, driving my car into a lake, stealing stuff, juvie…” Okay, you lost me at juvie. ” ‘N Mom?” “Homework done, room clean, never did drugs. Never did anything.” Zach snorts. “She’s still like that.” Or so you think, youngling. “She was a good sister. Always covering for me. You got yourself a good mom.”
This fascinating conversation is broken up by a really loud hip hop beat. Owen squints. “Grace’s tutor,” Zach says by way of an explanation. We cut to a video of Jennifer the tutor doing one of her gorilla dances on a stone outdoor staircase. She’s doing a sort of handstand/upsidedown split, wiggling her legs and butt, which is impressive and also really odd. Also, I know this makes me a total mom, but I was kind of nervous that she was going to fall down the stairs. (The actress, Anne Marsen, is actually a trained dancer; that kind of surprises me.) She’s wearing a shirt festooned with crayons. Is she – is she whaacking? I think she might be. Whatever it is, this move she’s doing down the staircase sends both girls giggling hysterically.
Owen glowers from the doorway. “Hello! Hello, can we turn it down?” The girls shrink down, abashed. “Sorry. Almost done,” Grace explains. Owen still feels the need to be the grown up. He’s not really good at it. “So. You’re the, uh, tutor?” Guilty as charged. What subject? “Physics and ah, science.” “Really,” Owen deadpans. “Where do you go to school?” “U of C” Hmmm. Well, good for her. “And, um, what’s this?” Owen notices that Jennifer is now rubbing up against some passer-by, which raises his interest in the video project quite a bit. “We’re making a video. We’ve done all my homework.” Grace rushes to justify it. He flutters his hands, backing off. “Understood.” But he can’t leave it, not after seeing the next set of moves. “Pretty provocative stuff,” he puzzles. The girls burst with laughter before Grace turns around. “It’s just street dancing.” Jennifer agrees amicably. “Yeah – freestyle.” Hee. His face!
And oh my gosh, Owen’s stunned look is even better as he sleepwalks into the living room. Not so easy to be the fun uncle, perhaps? Not to be outdone, Zach is ready to rock Owen’s world again. “Dad slept with somebody else.” Well,that got his attention – and points to Zach for just spitting it out, with preface. (You know, Zach and Owen kind of look alike.) “Dad. He slept with someone other than the hooker.” Grrrrrrr. Not going to go there, not going to go there… Owen slowly scrapes his jaw off the floor. “He – how do we know that?” “He told me. That’s why Mom kicked him out. You didn’t know that?” Regretting the accusation about Will, Owen? To his credit, it’s perfectly clear how hurt he is on Alicia’s behalf. “I didn’t know that.”
Water gushes over a big curve and down into a long metal vat. A man in a paper suit with USDA insignia tests the water. “What’re they saying?,” Kalinda asks tall redheaded fellow in a white apron. “They’re saying it was an improper cleaning of the culture vats in line 6.” Why do I feel like I’m not going to want to eat cheese again? (Oh, who am I kidding? I ate pork after watching Contagion. Heck, I cooked the pork, which is worse.) “You sound like you don’t agree?” “Well, I clean line 6 with peroxyacetic acid and quintintery ammonia (?) after every culture. They’re not going to find listeria there.” Okay. Kalinda decides against taking a call from Alicia. Hmmm. Is that why she picked Eli’s case? “Where else could the listeria come from?”
Ah, there’s the smiling little fake face, like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm or Anne Shirley or Wendy, the fictional Heather of Heather Farms, plastered on the back of a truck. So cynical, that cheery picture. “We keep these units accurate to one degree either way. I don’t think it was a refrigerator problem. ” The driver shows off the truck’s system. “So what do you think?” He’s got a lot to say. “I think it used to be an easy job to find the source. Now, some of these cheeses, they’re a blend of 3 or 4 lines from 3 or 4 different companies, so all I can say is, good luck. ” Youch! Now that seriously makes me not want to eat processed cheeses.
“Damn, are you sure?” Eli spits into his phone as minions set up the press conference. “Uh, Eli, you know this is a good thing, right? Looks like your client isn’t responsible for the listeria.” Where do you get that, Kalinda? Did you hear something we didn’t, or are we to believe the Heather Farms workers? Weird. Eli, oddly enough, doesn’t care. “This is not the law. I’m not looking for innocent, I’m looking for certainty. The whole point is to bury the story with an apology and then move on.” Well, okay, I generally see where he’s coming from – it’s about perception, not fact – but still? That’s kind of weird, right? I mean, innocent has to be better than not in the long run, doesn’t it? Kalinda’s similarly puzzled. “So, you want our guy to be guilty?” Most emphatically not, he says, except he kind of means yes. “No, I want it to be over. I don’t wanna train some other CEO from some other company tomorrow to take the blame.” Well, right, because the clients are the Guild, right, not Heather Farms/Carpwell Foods individually. And I suppose one day’s work for a month’s pay would be nice, too.
Once Eli’s off the phone, Diane descends on him to parse the words and the story. CEO Walsh can’t use Eli’s words, or he’ll be admitting to culpability. But if he doesn’t, the spin will be heinous. They’re fighting over the distinction between “our missteps” and “the outbreak.” I can’t believe, knowing what he knows, Eli still wants the CEO to admit to something he hasn’t done. Honestly, if Heather Farms goes under, doesn’t Carpwell Foods just release their cheese under a new name? “Really? Really, Diane, with five minutes to the press conference?”
Whose version does Walsh use? Let’s just say that when the clip runs on the news, the banner beneath it is “CEO refuses to apologize.”
“So why should I hold your story?,” Gretchen asks, lolling around her desk. half an eye on the press conference. Interesting that she hasn’t gotten up to shake Will’s hand, isn’t it? “Well, the scotch, for one. But it’s not true.” She’ll buy that for a dollar. “It’s not true that Dr.Farland is is being investigated? ” Will leans on the edge of her desk, arms crossed. “No. It’s not true that the investigation is going Farland’s way.” Um, you can’t possibly know that! Gretchen agrees with me. “And you know this how?” “I know this because I can see who has an agenda in this case – the defense.” Someone off screen yells heads up, and Will catches and then tosses back a small soft football. “Why should I care?” I think it’s impressive that she can swagger sitting down. Maybe it’s because she’s sticking her chest out while leaning back? Can’t be comfortable. Will’s more focused. “Because I can make you care. I can give you complete back-channel on the case.” I’m going to state right here that I’ve looked into this, and I still don’t know precisely what back-channel is in journalistic terms. Is it being off the record? Being a mole? Does it correspond to the twitter term – real time communication as something is happening? “As pulse racing as that is… give me back-channel on this.” What, she’s bored with her own story already? “Your computer?” Ha. “No, the cheese thing.” Will, who has clearly not been kept in the loop by Diane, is at a complete loss. “The listeria thing. All the sick kids, some were hospitalized. Eli Gold is part of your firm, right?” He nods. “I delay my story, you give me the back-channel tick tock on the crisis management.” Will closes his eyes in annoyance as the penny drops. How much of a delay do they need, anyway? I mean, he’s still going to want to reach a settlement over the weekend, right? So why bother? “I’ll have to talk to Eli,” Will shakes his head. “Then it wouldn’t be back channel, would it?” I still don’t know what this means, and that’s not helping. “Get me something behind the scenes.” He looks a little more positive. “Let me see what I can do.”
But as he turns, she has something else. “Oh, and by the way, it’s not the FDA investigation that’s concluding.” What? She does this really annoying thing, pinching her fingers together – it’s kind of Dr. Evil-like, somehow. “The call I got was about the State’s Attorney. Turns out they decided not to bring fraud charges against Dr. Farland.” DAMN! Is Peter behind this one, AGAIN? Not cool. How Maggie ended up with the impression they were talking about the FDA I’d like to know – and also, why there’s a TV lighting rig in the Vindicator office. Web stories? It’s a surprising touch; seems like a lot of unnecessary work for one set, although Will looks really cool backlit like that.
Our point of view snaps to Kalinda, stepping through a door. Cary looks up from his desk. “Hello,” he says slowly, “may I help you?” Oooh, sexy. Also, I’m now obsessed with tie colors. His is an unusual pink. “You may. I need information about a fraud investigation.” Kalinda seems unsure of herself.
But he does invite her in. “Are you sure?,” she asks, seated across from him at his tiny desk. “Am I sure I have nothing to offer you? I am.” He’s not looking up from his paperwork. “I just need to know if this leak to Gretchen Battista was faked, Cary, that’s all. And if it was, we need to get her to hold her story.” Cary looks up, his voice weary. “I understand. I still have nothing.” The shake of his head seems to go with something other than her words. She cocks her head a little and smiles. “How’ve you been?” He rolls his eyes. “Oh, come on, Kalinda. You can fake someone else but you can’t fake me.” Her voice has just the right amount of surprise and hurt in it. “What am I faking?” He shakes his head. “Interest. Concern. Friendship.” Ouch. He knows that they’re friends, right? Or at least they really were, before she was so hurt by losing Alicia that she vowed to go it alone. “And what if I’m not?” He snarks, which brings a smile from her. “Then let’s be friends – but I still don’t have anything for you on the fraud. Check with Matan, it’s his case.” Oh, I miss that ineffectual weasel. She dismisses this out of hand. “It’s no use.” Cary has a quick and unflattering answer for that one: “Because he doesn’t want to sleep with you?” Ouch! Those chickens are sure coming home to roost, huh? She leans forward. “But you do?” He gives the tiniest of shrugs. “I’m merely making an observation.” Which is? “You tend to use other people’s feelings to further your investigations.” Well, duh. But why point it out? You’ve always known that about her. Are you trying to hurt her? “You think that’s what I did with you?” Yeah. He’s mad that she pulled away after the whole Alicia debacle. He sucks on his lips. “I think I have to get back to work.” “Cary, whatever I felt I didn’t invent.” I know we’ve seen her say this sort of thing to pacify other people (Lana, Donna) but I actually think she means it. There’s an oddly vulnerable, childish quality in his inability to trust her here; I really like it. “Kalinda, that’s great to know, but I have to go back to work and you do too.” She’s not pleased to be so misunderstood. “Yeah,” she spits out, abruptly pushing back her chair.
Back on WEQTS, with the headline “CEO Blames Kids,” we see Walsh taking the garbage out of his modest house, surrounded by reporters. Back at Lockhart/Gardner, Eli catches sight of this debacle on someone’s computer. Lydia’s watching, too, among other staffers. Oh, Eli. “I don’t know much about it at this point. I would love to know what else the kids were eating, because I don’t think it’s just the cheese.” Well, of course it’s not just the cheese. Who has an all cheese lunch? But still. “What the hell?” Eli bellows, and charges off like a bull. “What the hell!”
Livid is really too mild a word for Eli’s response as he charges through the building, locating Walsh in Diane’s own office. “What did you say?” He looms over Walsh, berating him loudly. “What are you talking about? I said exactly what you told me to say.” Oh, poor Mr. Cheese. You’re so out of your league. Eli quotes the offending comment. “You know what you do when you don’t know enough? You shut the hell up!” Walsh’s indignant. “I didn’t say that.” Eli can’t stop sneering. “And with a garbage bag in your hand? What are you, Chico and the Man?” Walsh finally twigs. “That was in the morning before I met you, the press were in front of my house!” Duh. The garbage bag, of course. Plus he’s been in the office all day. Of course, the whole crisis started over lunch, didn’t it? Four hours before Candy first showed up at L&G? Eli’s ready to smack himself in the forehead. “They’re playing it like you just said it.”
Oh, poor sweet foolish Walsh. “They can’t do that!,” he cries. Eli has nothing but contempt for this ignorance. “Oh, where do you live, fairy land? Of course they can do that!” That might be my favorite Eli expression ever. Diane attempts to soothe the savage beast. “Eli, what now?” “Well, he’s burned as a spokesperson. You’re going to have to get all the cheese off all the shelves in Illinois.” This is directed toward Candy; Walsh is dead to him now. “I don’t think that’s possible,” the delicate blond quavers. “He just blamed the victims. It just became possible.”
A car door clicks on a darkened street, and a man walks out. It’s all very Noir looking, clandestine. Except it’s totally not. “Owen, thank you so much. I’ve been in mediation all day, I couldn’t get away. How’re the kids?” Owen hands Alicia – is it a clutch? “Great. Grace is bonding with a shy dance teacher, and Peter told Zach he slept with another woman.” Oh, Owen. Can’t keep anything to yourself for a better time, can you? No self-discipline. “What!” Owen, annoying, repeats the bit about Grace. Is he pissed that Alicia didn’t tell him? Probably. “No, what did Peter say?” “Oh yeah. He told Zach your son that he, Peter, was responsible for you kicking him out because he slept with someone else and now I’m wondering who that somebody else was.” I think my question would have been when it happened – not that any of that matters in the end.
Alicia completely ignores Owen’s part of the equation. “Zach told you this?” “He did.” “And what did Zach say to him?” “To Peter – nothing. I think he just took it in. So who, who is it?” Though she’s looking out into the street, that’s not what Alicia’s seeing. ” I have to go back to work.” Owen tries to call her back. “Come on, Alicia, work is like the avoidance tactic for you.” “Is Zach alright?” It’s as if Owen’s curiosity doesn’t even exist.”Zach’s fine. Zach – he’s wondering how you are. How are you?” “I’ve got to get back to work.” Owen sighs out his frustration as he watches her go.
A woman shuffles cards as she sits at a table wearing a little black dress. There’s a glass of milk and bowl of – nuts? “There you are, ” Celeste says, looking up at Will. Hmm. Maybe it’s not a dress, but the tank from under her vest and suit? “Coon?” he asks, sitting. Yes. “I think you were up by 32 last time we played.” “9 years ago?,” he laughs. “You always hated my memory thing,” she replies pleasantly. So her remembering the line in the deposition isn’t so unusual after all. She deals him in. Wow, all that gambling stuff wasn’t metaphorical, was it? “One cheerio ante?,” he asks. Oh, that’s what the bowl is. “Two, inflation!” He snickers. “So I heard you got married.” “Twice. I heard you didn’t.” She says it like an accusation, as if that were somehow worse than two divorces in 9 years. He doesn’t look up from his cards. Then he moves all in. “You’re always bad at bluffing.” He looks uncomfortable, which seems more likely to be the bluff to me. “Who’s the lady friend?” Will pretends not to understand. “The?” Celeste smiles confidently. “The lawyer. I get a strong possessive sense there.” From which one of them? He blinks. “You’re not going to say.” He shrugs. “I say either way, you’ll use it in negotiations.”
Good point. She laughs as if this were ridiculous, and then matches his bid. “Call.” He moves something around the table. “So how do you know Gretchen?” She gives him a quizzical look. “The reporter. From your firm?” “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.” He shrugs, letting it go. “So we’re gonna play cards all night, or we gonna negotiate?” “How about both? You lose this hand, you convince your client to take my deal. If I lose, I convince my client to take yours.” Damn, really? “What deal?” Yes, what deal is that? “$1o million.” Huh. Really. Did she just give him her bottom line? “And if I lose?” “She takes 500,000.” Hello, low ball. Also, that’s a completely insane spread. “That’s your bottom line, huh, 10mil?” She smiles, and her voice becomes very, very warm. “I miss you, Will, Why did you drop out?” Of their relationship, or of the dating scene, back when Alicia joined the firm, or what? “I didn’t. I moved on.” “To?” she wonders. “To adulthood.” She leans forward, pitching her voice low. “As I remember, we did some pretty adult things ourselves.” The allusion draws a slight smile. “Come on, one bet.” She wiggles her eyebrows suggestively. “Solve this like adults.” Oh yes, so adult. “No mediation. Your lady friend will be so impressed when you show up at her door with 10 mil in your hand.” Is she serious? I mean, she sounds serious, but that’s completely insane. Sorry. I seem to be stuck on that phrase. Anyway, there’s something aggressive when she talks about Alicia that makes me a little uncomfortable. Will goes stone cold. “No thank you!” He stands, and she’s disappointed. “Oh, come on. Where’s the old Will? Embrace the risk.” “No thanks,” he replies, eating a cheerio. “Wuss,” she calls after him, making him laugh. Then she waves a card at his back. “Too bad – you would have won.”
Still, he doesn’t bite.
Good for you, Will.
Alicia thumbs through her phone until she finds Zach’s cell number. She inhales, then calls it – but Will returns to the suite, and she hangs up. She smiles to see him. Hmm. Based on the wall paper behind him as he pours himself a drink, this not the suite they’d been working in. I hope they’re being discreet! “They wanna pay 500,000, but they’re willing to go to 10 mil.” Her face breaks into an enormous smile. “You’re kidding!” “Nope!” he confirms. “We were willing to take 5 million,” she gloats. He downs his drink and walks toward her. “The only bad news is that I don’t think she planted the story with Gretchen. But I can’t tell. She’s a good bluffer.” Alicia takes this in. “Anything else?” “Yeah.” Will smirks a little here. “She’s gonna try and play you.” Alicia’s confused. “In what way?” “Jealousy.” “Using your past?” He nods. “To what end?” Yeah, that’s what I’d like to know. “Rattle you, get you to admit the bottom line, just for the kick of it?” Huh.
“So you and her, huh,” Alicia smiles. Will nods, then shakes his head. “Two years.” Really? Wow. That’s very surprising. I didn’t think of him as having relationships that significant – but then again, she’s nuts, so that might explain it. “I just don’t see it,” Alicia speaks for me. “I was a different person,” Will tries to explain. “And she’s the same?” “Oh yeah.” Ha. “Well,” she says, considering – and then she gets an idea. She pushes off her seat slowly. “What if I play jealous?” What, in front of the other staff? You people! I thought this was all supposed to be a secret? Also, why? “For the mediator.” Oh. Okay, thank you. She cozies up to Will, who’s still seated on the bed. “Maybe you should,” he considers. She reaches down to kiss him, and the scene fades to black.
The next scene starts with kissing, but it’s a different Cavanaugh’s lips. Owen has a boyfriend over to his sister’s apartment! Well. It’s like he’s a high school kid, seriously. The boyfriend pushes him off. “Tantric sex!” “No,” says Owen, “Sex sex!” Hee. “No, no, tantric sex!” The date/boyfriend is bearded and wearing an orange sweater vest, and has some sort of really cute accent. Welsh? “You have to eschew frictional orgasm for a higher form of ecstasy.” (Oh, God, the hits we’re going to get because I transcribed that phrase, I don’t even want to think.) Owen, unsurprisingly, is in favor of good old fashion friction. He’s hilariously pouty. “We don’t touch, we don’t undress. We talk about our childhoods, anything – the aim of delaying gratification is to increase gratification.” Owen is so not down with the not getting down. “Yeah, but, I spent the last 3 hours doing laundry, and the kids are going to be home soon, so I don’t really have time for delayed gratification.” I cannot help laughing at Owen the housewife, while I still puzzle over that accent.
Suddenly, there’s the sound of keys in the lock. “They’re home early!” Owen exclaims in horror, leaping off the sofa. And what to his wondering eyes should appear, but – Jackie? Jackie putting away her keys. Who else thought Alicia had either taken away Jackie’s keys or changed the locks? Didn’t we have a very clear conversation, back at the Ladies Auxiliary, about how Jackie is not allowed to come over unannounced?
She certainly couldn’t be more surprised to see Owen. Neither of them can figure out what the other is doing there, and it is deliciously awkward. What is she doing here, again? “Well, Peter asked me to pick up Zach and Grace for him.” Wasn’t that Saturday night? Have we skipped the entire day? “I hope you don’t mind, I have my old key.” Mr. Tantric Sex takes this moment to pop off the sofa and introduce himself. He’s Finn, a “friend” of Owen’s from school. “Jackie, you’re a little early,” Owen grouches. “I thought I’d clean up – it always gets so messy here – but why don’t I come back later.” Good lord. The place is never less than immaculate. What on earth is her standard for cleanliness? Anyhow, Owen’s all about that plan, but Finn has other ideas. “No, no, come talk with us,” he invites, smiling beatifically. “You must have incredible stories to tell about your life.” He escorts her to the sofa, to Owen’s extreme frustration. Will this is certainly delaying his gratification, I though the point of tantric sex was to provide intimacy between the people having sex, not one partner and the other’s sister’s soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law. I think that’s called something else.
“No, no, this is a perfect moment for us to learn about her past.” And why would they want to do that, again? “Tell us about your childhood!” Owen’s eyes roll around in his head. “My childhood? Where should I start? Chicago was very different when I was a girl.”
You know, part of me wants to laugh hysterically at prickly self-involved Jackie, sitting down with a perfect stranger just because he asked about her childhood, and part of me wants to cry for the lonely old woman. But all of me wants Alicia to get that key back.
“No, Mommy will help you,” Mr Protopopas coos into his cell phone as he gets off the elevator onto floor 6. “No, Mommy will.” Alicia, clad in a pretty dress for a new day, smiles as she walks behind him, listening. I don’t know why, but my first thought was, this guy is too old to have small children. “Kids?” Alicia asks warmly. “A boy and a girl,” he replies. “You think this negotiation is hard…” Ha. True that. “I’m sorry about all this,” she smiles. He gives her a measuring look. “Hey, they’re all tough. We just have to remain human.” “How do we do that?” He stops to answer her. “Find a box for this, and keep it in that box.” Hmmm. Sounds remarkably similar to something Louis Canning told you last year, right, Alicia? The man’s answer to everything – compartmentalize. Of course, it can’t be working that well, Mr.P, or you wouldn’t need those pills, would you? “Thank you,” she smiles.
On the other hand, maybe the pills were for headaches, and the way Celeste and Will are yelling at each other, I can sure see why you’d need those. Really no way to sound proof the mental boxes, after all. “We’re not paying a cent above her medical bills! You failed, Will!” Will actually knocks stuff (just papers, I think) off a credenza. My goodness. “Just face the facts!” she sneers.
Stop it, Protopopas says calmly. “The point of bringing you two together is to talk, not to yell.” Celeste points her finger at Will. “I know what it looks like when he fails, and he is failing.” What’s the point of all this show, anyway? “Alicia, talk to him!” Celeste tosses the comment off over her shoulder. Alicia looks over at the mediator in consternation. “Ah – excuse me?” “I’m just saying, Will and I talked last night…” Will tries to cut her off. “What? We were trying to negotiate a deal, and clearly his ego got to him.” Protopopas looks on, alarmed. “I used to be able to talk to him. I can’t talk to him now, so you’ll have to talk to him.” What, Alicia should plead Celeste’s case? Good luck with that one. “Celeste, what’re you doing?” “I’m talkin’ ta her.” Her accent gets a little street when she’s on a roll – it’s rather funny. Will furrows his brows in concern.”I’m just saying that Will and I got together, we had a productive session, that’s all, and I was thinking, we should do that again.” Wow, she’s really not making sense in her quest to unsettle Alicia. First it wasn’t productive, now it was… “Okay, I think we’ve taken a turn toward the personal,” says the captain, trying to right his ship- but before he can finish, Alicia actually excuses herself and runs out of the room.
Protopopas shoots Serrano an admonishing look for taunting her colleague so unprofessionally; she looks a little embarrassed. Outside the door, Alicia smiles to herself. Is that going to be worth what it looked like to your coworkers, though?
Back in the room, Will tries to take advantage of the shift in momentum. “You wanna be productive, let’s be productive. You’ve already tried the “blame the victim” with your whole painkiller/od fiction, that didn’t work…” It didn’t? “Who’s saying it didn’t work?,” Celeste demands. “I am,” says Protopopas firmly. Ooooh, score one us! Will smiles quietly to himself while Celeste blinks in outrage. “Well, we’ll prove the opposite in court.” The mediator sits down. “No you won’t. I know the judge, he won’t allow it.” Ha. Will, too, sits down. “So maybe you should raise,” he suggests. Celeste calls for documents from an associate – the deposition of Jason Doyle from Zuggler Meds. “What’s this, the back up plan?”
“Question,” she reads, sitting as well, “so you believe you were withing your rights to manufacture this SCS device, and Dr. Farland was within his rights to implant it in his patient.”
“Of course,” Jason agrees in another deposition flashback. I don’t know how I feel about the flashbacks generally, but it’s well integrated, anyway. “According to the FDA’s own rules.” Well, you can manufacture them before approval, but you’re not supposed to implant them! “But Mr. Gardner seemed to imply that Dr.Farland was Joseph Mengele.” Sorry, but Doyle has no idea who that is. Really? “The – that’s okay,” Celeste shakes her head, compressing her lips. Hee. “FDA rules say that you were within your rights to manufacture this device, correct?” Correct. He nods helpfully. “Yes – they allow manufacturers like our selves to decide which devices need to be submitted to them for approval, and, if a new device is merely a minor modification, then, according to FDA guidelines, it doesn’t need approval.” Wow, he is exceptionally pleased with himself, isn’t he? And, really, the manufacturer gets to decide that? Does that seem a little like the foxes guarding the hen house to anyone else?
Back in the present day, Will’s prepared to refute this theory as well. “Miss Serrano’s reading is surprisingly selective – why don’t you keep going?”
“What is this?” Alicia asks in the flashback, putting a small metallic looking corded disk on the table. “That? It’s a VR-1 – an SCS, a spinal cord stimulator.” They establish that the VR-1 is FDA approved. “And you claim that Dr. Farland’s SCS is a minor modification of this?” He does. That’s why they didn’t submit it. “So then what is this?” Alicia places a second device on the table, one that looks a bit like a tic tac box. It’s Dr. Farland’s minor modification. Ha. Alicia points for dramatic emphasis. “You’re saying that this is a minor modification of this?”
Mr P scrutinizes both devices. Attempting to forestall the obvious critique, Celeste steps in. “I really can’t judge these with a layman’s eye.” For her troubles, Mr. P gives her the stink eye. Hee. Clearly, he’s had a lot of practice at it. “Medical professionals who manufactured Dr. Farland’s device concluded these two are similar.” So totally disinterested medical professionals, then. I don’t care how similar their guts are – when the outside is that different, and you’re implanting it in a person, I’m sorry, that’s crazy. Farland’s device is almost twice as big, and why would there be a market for that? Bigger and clunkier, that’s what we need! For an answer, Mr. P holds them up again. “These two?” “Yes,” Celeste asserts. (Why is her shirt so long that it covers half her hands? I get distracted by this every time she gestures. She’s certainly got a quirky sense of style.) “In fact I anticipated Mr. Gardner‘s bringing this subject up again, so I had a study done – the respected Benzor Labs in Quantico, Virginia.”
Will tosses the report in front of Alicia. ‘What does it say?” “That it’s a minor modification,” he grumbles. Well, that certainly goes against reason. “The mediator’s on our side,” she tries to balance out this frustration. “Yes,” Will agrees, “nice job, by the way.” Well, more that Celeste went way too far overboard and Alicia just showed her up for it. She’s quite pleased with herself over it, though. “But, he was still impressed by this.” “So,” Alicia observes, “we have to get someone to say it was vastly modified.” Who ya gonna call? Kalinda!
Candy Pink – now wearing blue – stands in front of the microphones, and she’s definitely better at the spokesperson gig than Walsh. “I want to repeat, this is only a precaution. We are removing all Carpwell cheese from circulation.” Eli skulks in the wings. “Gretchen, I really don’t have the time, ” he snaps into his phone. Gretchen is leaning back as usual. Why is that striking me as weird? “So, you’re the man behind the cheese, is that right?” “I’m the – who told you that?” An unnamed source. Awesome. Did Will accidentally confirm that for her, or did she know it already? “And what else did that unnamed source tell you?” Eli’s lips are pursed, which is never a good sign. “He says you’re crisis managing for the listeria outbreak, and that you investigated Heather Farms, and the outbreak’s not from there.” His head starts to tilt, slowly, and I start to feel like I’m watching a horror movies and it’s going to spin completely around (because you know if it were humanly possible, Alan Cummings would find a way to contort himself like that).
And now the split screen is of the vomiting children and of Eli and Peter. Damn. Is that really newsworthy? I mean, I guess it’s fair to turn the lens on the spin doctors, but you do wish that the news cared more about the facts – about finding out the truth of the situation – than about the packaging of it. But that’s all we hear these days. This movie made that much at the box office, that politician raised this much or put that nasty campaign ad on youtube… Sigh. Oooh – unpleasant. The piece then accuses him of masterminding the racial attacks against Wendy. “So why is this wholesome brand hiring a spin doctor known for rehabilitating scandalized politicians?” He takes a moment to answer Gretchen’s repeated pleas for his attention and comments. “I’m not part of the story,” he replies, his voice low and dangerous. Too late for that, she says, “so pull up a chair.” He hangs up the phone instead.
“It’s not all bad, Eli,” Diane tries to console her poor colleague. “It is that bad. You become the story, it deflects from your client’s guilt. I become the story, it makes my client look guiltier.” Sigh. What a pain. I’m not sold that this is true – people with lawyers can look plenty guilty – but still. “Who leaked it, Diane?” “Eli, it’s a fool’s game to look for a leaker.” I’m not sold on that, either. “Gretchen knew we checked Heather Farms, she knew it was clean.” You know, I still don’t buy that for sure, either, but whatever. “I told two people about that – you and Kalinda.” Well, don’t you mean Kalinda told you? “But Gretchen said the leaker was a he.” Gee, let’s guess who. “Did you tell Will?” the seething Eli continues.
Diane finds a distraction in her tv set. “Oh, he went to the kid’s vigil. I thought you said he was burned?” They both turn their attention to the news. “He was. You’re changing the subject.” “I am. So you tried to unburn him?” Eli turns to Diane. “You haven’t seen this yet?” What, Walsh walking out of the church? (Is it bad form to wear black to a vigil? I mean, the kids are still hospitalized, right?) Oh. That was it. He gets hit by a cream pie, with a little splatter landing on his wife. “Oh my God!” Diane exclaims. “It’s wonderful, isn’t it?” Eli’s face softens into a dreamy smile. “People love humility. Tony Hayward needed a pie in the face.” Well, shoulder, but sure. Diane’s aghast, hands on her hips. “You didn’t!” “What, set it up? No. That was just luck.” Snort. “I thought he’d just get booed.”
“I’m proud to be here today,” Walsh tells the cameras, ineffectually wiping himself off, “I don’t care in what condition.” Eli can hold his head up, finally. He turns. “I’m good at my job, Diane, but I can’t have leakers. It’s unprofessional.” When did it become leakers instead of leaks? “Will’s not the leaker,” Diane protests. Are you sure about that? Because I’m not.
Will walks the stone corridors of the business man’s hotel. He puts away his phone and joins Celeste as she eats on the mezzanine, alone. “So you’re here to give up,” she crows through her sandwich. “Ten million,” he says, not giving up, “and we won’t accept a penny less.” “Really,” Celeste brays, wiping her mouth with a napkin. “You and your lawyer friend cook something up?” “Didn’t work for you to blame the painkiller,” he shrugs, refusing to rise to the bait. He looks like a man who’s had a visit from Kalinda. “Didn’t work for you to blame the victim, so minor modification, that’s what your case rests on now.” He leans in, elbows on the table. “Dr. Farland’s SCS is merely a minor modification of existing…” She interrupts him to pass over her plate of pastrami. “Let’s leave all this boring medical talk behind.” He pushes the sandwich aside.
“The problem is that medicine is a lot like politics, and all we had to do is follow the money.” She looks a touch twitchy. “She never was jealous, was she? Your lawyer friend, that was all a piece of play acting?” Good of you to catch up, dear. “Dr. Farland, your man of healing, invented an SCS to make money. 30% on every device implanted.” Ding! There’s Kalinda. (Also, what a profit margin! And how reprehensible!) She puts down a packet, starts to leave, switches packets, and then takes off for good. While Celeste is squinting after her, Will goes for the jugular. It’s Farland’s patent application for his device. The smoking gun! Celeste sags in defeat.
“Yeah, it’s a good read. The problem for you is Dr. Farland had to insist on it’s originality…” “I get it,” Celeste concedes, “don’t lord it over me.” Will points at her, rather unsportsman like. “No, I won, so you have to listen. Dr. Farland had to insist on the originality of his device in order to file for a patent. ‘This SCS is a truly original development in severe back pain management.” Wouldn’t the manufacturer, Doyle, have known about the patent application? Why ever would he have perjured himself? “‘It is not a mere modification of existing SCSs on the market’ – how nice of him to use those words! – ‘therefore a patent…”
“I can read,” she says glumly, finally stopping him. He laughs. “You’re not going to be a sore loser, are you?” She crosses her hands on the table in front of her, and presses down, screwing up her mouth. Definitely a sore loser. She’s hoping for 8 million. “Ten. By today.” She guffaws. “8. That’s more than you thought you’d get.” Will will take the offer to Maggie.
I know it’s more than he thought he’d get, but I did think he’d press harder on the 10. I guess he wouldn’t have started with it if it was really his bottom line, though. Does anyone know why she would even bother to bring up the modification thing, and spend all that money on the study when that patent was out there? Did she not know about it? I mean, come on!
As Will leaves, Celeste has one last proposal for him. “I need a new home.” Huh? “My firm is going under.” Yep – no more Monty & Tullenbeck. “Breaking up. Litigation’s going one way, acquisition another.” “How many in litigation?” Turning poacher, Will? “Me.” He stares until she confesses there are 8 other “top flight lawyers.” Bad idea! Bad idea! “We need a home.” “I’ll check with Diane,” he offers casually. She reaches up to caress his face. “I miss you.” Danger! Danger, Will Robinson! He furrows his brows, and leaves.
“Ira! Hey!” Alicia calls out, chasing after Mr. Protopopas with her suitcase trundling behind her. They’re in front of the busy, classy, businessman’s hotel. She looks so cute! She’s got a kind of peppy 1940s heroine look to her – it’s the clothes, I think, but also her bright smile and her new hair. Actually, her old hair was pretty Hollywood Glam, too, but much more serious. This look might be closer to classic romcom. “So it looks like we’ll make a deal.” So he’s heard. Mr. P’s made his weary way to a shiny black car; the scene is beautiful, too, all twinkling city lights and golden sunset. “I just wanted to thank you for all of your hard work.” “You don’t have to thank me,” he says, opening the car door to stow his bag, “I wasn’t the one who played them.”
Her face falls. “Wait – that’s not why we won.” He faces her. “You won because of the facts. You got your client rich because you played them.” I don’t know that that’s fair! They didn’t do any more playing that Celeste, certainly, whose entire case was a series of empty boxes. “And me,” he adds. Ouch. She’s horrified. “That’s not fair!,” she cries. “It is fair. It may not be polite, but it is fair.” Well, yeah, okay, she definitely, personally played on his sympathies. But still, ouch. That was such a teacher-style guilt trip. He looks at her with his sweet, rueful face, and lets her slide a little off the hook. “It’s okay. If I needed a lawyer, I’d probably hire you too.” Wow. He nods decisively, dismissing her. “Very nice to meet you, too.”
This time, the hand on the door belongs to the right person; Alicia’s, finally home, has snuck in to check on Zach. He’s in bed with the lights out, but he’s not asleep, and he’s happy to see his Mom. “How was your thing?” Aw. Slowly she walks in. “It was good,” she answers, her pride and pleasure spoilt by guilt. “I don’t know. I go back and forth on work.” “Yeah, same with Dad,” Zach agrees. Ugh. What do you say to that sort of comparison? Peter’s walked some tough lines. Alicia stares at Zach for a moment. “I want to do something very old fashioned, I wanna kiss you on the forehead – is that alright?” He smiles and chuckles. “Sure.” She does, and then softly strokes his hair. Then she pulls the comforter (blue, with stylized baseballs) up to his chin. “Tucking in is too much,” he cautions. Hee. She stops. “Right. Sorry,” she says as she straighten up. “Love you.” Slowly, she moves to the door, and smiles back at him, her face half in shadow.
In the living room, Owen waits. He sighs dramatically. “I’m getting boring,” he moans. “Getting?” Alicia grins, right up in his gloomy face. Well, indeed, he had some issues being the fun uncle, didn’t he? “I’m serious.” He won’t look at her. “I used to be – interesting? I spend the entire day doing laundry…” sing it, sister “…and watching daytime TV.” (Okay, not that.) “I saw the clothes,” she says soothingly, “thank you.” “I mean, when did this happen? You’re the one out, having sex with your boyfriend…” “Owen,” she warns. “…and I’m the one home with the kids!” Oh, Owen. Just because you’re not really the fun uncle, doesn’t mean you’ll never have fun again. “And it’s much appreciated,” Alicia smiles, patting him on the back.
Now he looks at her.
“Are you going to get hurt? By this guy?” She settles back a little, exhaling her perky smile. “I don’t know. I have no perspective.” She wraps her arm around her little brother, cuddling into his side. “You should have rebelled when you were in high school, then you wouldn’t have to do it now.” She snorts out laughter. “Is that what this is, rebellion?” she wonders gently. “Or love.” He raises an eyebrow at her. “It’s not love, is it?” She’s thoughtful. “No,” she answers, searching her feelings. “Good,” Owen nods, “because that would make it very complicated.” Brother and sister hold each other tightly, sighing. Over Owen’s shoulder, Alicia opens her eyes, still unsure.
Wow, that was quite an ending. I don’t know how I feel about that revelation. Does Alicia really not love Will, and so she’s feeling weird about what she’s doing, or is she just so confused she doesn’t know how she feels? Or does she just not want to think about what, or how much, Will means to her, because that would make it all so complicated? When she’s just trying to not think? Would it even be possible for her to love him at this point? Heaven knows how he actually feels about her. It’s so funny how smoothly their sexual relationship has progressed, with their emotional one completely stalled. But I suppose that leaves plenty of plot line for another day. And I’ll say it again – for the people who feared that the affair would be too raunchy or too all consuming, well, I think you can rest easy.
Speaking of another day, which I was, somewhat recently, I’m totally confused by the timeline back at the apartment. Which day was the laundry, and the boyfriend, and Jackie? I don’t know. It didn’t hang together perfectly for me. The Owen/kids stuff was fine, though. I loved his interactions with Zach, particularly. I guess it makes sense that he actually doesn’t feel comfortable with Alicia being bold or rebellious – after all, that’s his job. One he appears to be suddenly failing at. (I remember having a conversation here at the end of last season wonder whether the show would give Owen some romantic scenes, and we got quite a funny one here. Not Kalinda steamy, but he’s not Kalinda, so this was probably more in character.)
I don’t know about you, but seeing Eli in crisis management mode – well, I thought it could have been a lot more satisfying. Of course he was sabotaged by Diane, but still, he couldn’t carry his points. And we really didn’t get enough information on the outbreak or a satisfying ending. Will that case actually carry over? Probably not. I do like the friction between the legal and pr ends of the spectrum; the contrast between Eli’s effortless partnership with Kalinda and his abrasive wreck with Diane was weirdly nice, too. Eli does not play well with others, and it’s nice to be reminded of that, and it’s nice to see not everything come easily to him. Plus, he’s just so entertaining when he’s mad. But. It just didn’t come together for me. There’s the timeline -how can Walsh be mobbed by reporters Friday morning if the outbreak didn’t even happen until Friday at lunch? Then, we’re supposed to believe Kalinda that Heather Farms wasn’t guilty, when we’ve just heard a lot of assertion? But if that’s true, where did the outbreak come from? Don’t get me all interested in something and then leave me hanging!
I liked the civil case much more, and the mediation aspect, since that’s not something they’ve ever done in this way. But. I have issues here, too, and they’re mostly with smug, insufferable Gretchen. I’m actually intrigued by the ghostly, vague indications that the SA’s Office is out to get Lockhart/Gardner, especially since the actual evidence here is so tenuous. Why would Matan go to the press with news of a non-investigation? Would Peter have encouraged him to do so? And to what end? Simply to harry L& G? To bring them down? Very strange. And the whole thing with the reporter telling Maggie it was an expedited FDA investigated when it really was the SA? Not even giving her name? I can’t believe Maggie misunderstood so many things Battista told her, I really can’t. Well, and actually, Cuddy’s case was a total shell, and that’s kind of annoying too. The cases are more fun when the other side actually has a rational point of view. Even if the device had been a minor modification of an FDA approved model, Farland still didn’t ask permission to experiment on Maggie. He gave her a list of choices, she said “you pick the best one for my case,” she had a reasonable expectation he would pick from that list.
Finally, I’m intrigued that the promos tried to sell us on Celeste as a possible rival for Alicia. I didn’t feel anything between Edelstein and Charles, did you? Whether that’s a failure of chemistry between the actors or just – perhaps more likely – the effect of Will’s focus being elsewhere, I can’t say for sure. But it wasn’t what I expected. Also – who the hell even considers hiring their ex-girlfriend? Who would wager her client’s money on a card game? (I mean, holy crap, how unethical is that?) When said woman hits on you? And you’re involved with a clandestine affair with a politician’s wife? Oh, my God, the stupidity is shocking.
And that’s me. What did you think?