E: So, some weeks we might not be completely in love with a particular episode. But the joy of this show is that it always brings you back in. We got a lot of what we’ve been lacking in this episode. Diane. Emotional content. Romance. A resonant case of the week, told from an unusual angle. In-house politics at the SA’s Office and at Lockhart/Gardner. Lots of character. This stuff is crazy good, baby.
Six green dots flash on a low resolution screen. “Insufficient Funds” blinks up next; it’s an old ATM, and a sad puppy dog of a man grimaces in frustration, then blows out his lips. He checks his wallet; four singles. His whole body radiates defeat. Thank heaven for the shop with the “Lowest Prices in Town” signs all over it!
So the defeated pasty white boy makes the long walk across the street and into the store. The clerk is multi-tasking; listening to the radio, talking on his phone, leaning over the counter. Underfunded Guy leans on a card rack for a few seconds, fiddling with a card or two, and then asks for directions to the toy section. The tall, scruffy clerk points down the aisle. In another rack – this time of wire bins – he finds a sad, sad little water pistol.
Which drops out of his hand when all hell breaks lose.
The card rack crashes into the cashier’s desk, cards and envelopes flying. From Underfunded Guy’s perspective, we don’t see who’s done it, but we see the clerk jerk back, and we hear a loud, threatening voice. “Don’t fool with me, do you hear me, don’t fool with me!” The man crouches behind the inadequate shelter of the toys, then dives for the end of the counter. As he does, we see hands in black gloves holding a gun. We never see the whole robber, just up to his wrists, clad in gray sweatshirt material. “Open it!,” he demands, “Don’t you fool with me!” The clerk wrestles with the cash drawer, then holds up his hands defensively. “That’s okay, I got it, I got the safe right here, man,” the clerk cries. Underfunded Guy cowers, twitches like a rabbit. He peaks out in time to see the clerk draw a gun from beneath the counter; when he raises it up, the robber shoots, sending a shower of blinding sparks out from the wall behind the clerk. There are five shots. We can see a least one hit the clerk directly in the head; it’s as if he hangs in the air for a second, and then floats straight down.
Panting, the twitchy rabbit leans back against the counter, shaking with fear and with the adrenaline rush. There’s raucous, cackling laughter, and the sound of a phone. Twitchy Rabbit inhales, jittery; that’s his phone, and it’s giving away his position. Will the killer come for him too? ‘So he says who’s gonna miss ’em,” the laughing voice says, “so he stops his car, and under cover of darkness, he piles up half a dozen of these sheets of plywood on top of his car…” Shiny black shoes step carefully down the aisle. Does the voice belong with the feet? (Did that trick anyone else? It was the radio, one of the Tappet brothers from NPR’s Car Talk; who knew they could be so creepy?) No – those are a cop’s legs. He steps over Twitchy Rabbit’s still ringing phone, motions for him not to speak, then steps over the Rabbit to check out the corpse behind the counter.
“Oh my God, you were in a robbery? Where are you?,” a woman’s voice cries over the Rabbit’s phone. He’s leaning against a cement block wall in a crowded room. “At a police station. I was the only one who saw the robbery, I didn’t want you to worry.” He tries to look cool, even though she’s not there to see him. Cary Agos, wearing a skinny black suit, walks up to the Rabbit, who promptly hangs up the phone. “It’s okay if you want to finish your call,” Cary waves at him, perfectly happy to drink his coffee instead. “It’s okay – I did. It’s the wife, you know.” “Oh, yeah, I know,” Cary lies smoothly before introducing himself. “I wanna thank you for helping us out here.” “No problem,” shrugs the Rabbit. Why don’t we step out of this noisy hallway, Cary suggests, ushering the ever helpful witness into an interrogation room.
“So, we may need you around for trial, Mr. Dolan,” Cary explains as he sits. Rabbit Dolan seems kind of excited by the prospect. “So, you, ah, found a suspect?” “No, no,” Cary demurs, “but if we do, we’ll need you around for trial.” He sips his coffee. “Plan on going anywhere?” “Me?” scoffs Dolan genially, “naw. Why?” “Just – ah, you and your wife apply for passports last week?” “Ah, right,” Dolan remembers, “Cabo.” “Pretty pricy?” Cary suggests wryly. Dolan looks at his lap, embarrassed: “No, no, it’s my in-laws, they’ve been wanting to, ah…” Cary pretends familiarity with in laws as well as wives. And then he moves in.
“So, you told the officers you didn’t touch anything in the store, you were just looking for a squirt gun for your son?” Righto, says Dolan. “It’s his birthday today,” he smiles, trusting. “Why?” Oh, lord, Tim Peper, you and your big brown eyes are breaking my heart. “Ah, well, it’s just – the police, they dusted for prints, and they found yours on this display here?” Cary passes a picture of the rack of cards scattered over the floor. “Ah, yes, when I entered the store, I was looking at some of the greeting cards.” “So you did touch something,” Cary confirms. “Yes, the display, why?” This poor, foolish man. “Oh, just trying to figure out what happened!” Cary smiles. “So, you wanted to buy a greeting card, not a toy?” Oh, jeez, man, do you not remember that you were waiting for the clerk to tell you where the toys were? No, apparently not. Maybe the adrenaline still making you too jittery? “No, I wanted to buy a toy,” the Rabbit Dolan says, a little defensive and a little touchy. But sadly, not defensive enough.
“So why’d you touch the cards?” Dolan flaps his mouth like a fish, looking for words. Why does his every move remind me of an animal? “I – is there something wrong?” “I don’t know,” Cary replies, maddeningly therapist-like, “should there be?” A dark form appears by Cary’s shoulder. You can practically see the hair on Dolan’s neck stand up. “I think I’d like to leave now,” he shudders, standing. Oh, you are worlds too late, you poor love. “I’m afraid I can’t allow that, Mr. Dolan,” Cary says, rising as well. “Why?” the Rabbit asks, utterly baffled. Maybe I shouldn’t call him a rabbit – he’s scared, but also much too trusting. “We’re holding you for investigation,” Cary explains, while a uniformed officer cuffs Dolan’s hands behind his back.
The police station is loud, and Dolan hunches over in his seat, his brows knitted in puzzlement and worry. And like a beacon of hope, he sees a beautiful, sophisticated woman walk through the corridor. “Mr. Dolan, I’m Alicia Florrick,” she says, resplendent in royal purple, wearing a multi-strand gold necklace to complete the regal look. It’s much more ostentatious than anything we’ve seen her wear before, and helps make her look quite out of place. “Are you the public defender?” he squints up at her. “No, I’m registered with the City Bar’s pro bono program, but if you’d prefer a public defender…” No, he wouldn’t. Good choice. “This’s crazy,” he says, holding up his handcuffed wrists to illustrate his point.” “I saw a robbery,and they think because my fingerprints were on a display that was thrown down, that I did it!” Ah, if only that were all, poor man. “Actually, Mr.Dolan, the police have a eye witness who saw you struggle with the clerk and shoot him.” Say what?
He shakes in horror. No words come at first. “That’s not true,” he spits out. This is a terror of mine, the notion of being framed for a crime or falsely accused of one you didn’t commit. I find this kind of story totally gripping. Also, struggle with the clerk? There wasn’t any physical struggle. How do they mean that? “Listen, don’t say a word to anyone, okay?” she cautions as another officer comes to take him away. “Will you call my wife? They took my cell,” he pleads, but changes his mind. “Actually, don’t call her. I’ll call her.” Okay, Alicia replies soothingly.
‘So you following me now?” Cary wonders. Well, we know it’s your job to follow her, so you could hardly complain if she was. “Just going where the pro bonos take me, Cary,” she responds calmly. “I don’t suppose you’d let me question him any more – I mean, he’s innocent, right?” Oh, there it is. The attitude that’s going to doom the Rabbit. Of course, any criminal is going to lie to the police. So the police are going to assume that anyone talking to them and protesting their innocence is lying. So how do you tell the guilty from the truly innocent, when the system that’s suppose to presume innocence is stacked to assume lies and guilt? So creepy. Anyway, Cary knows Alicia won’t let Dolan talk. He’s not seriously asking.
“Thank you, Mr. Boyland,” Cary says to an young-ish, good looking African American man with glasses and a shaved head. “You ready?” “I guess I am,” Boyland nods. He’s wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, which makes me nervous immediately, thinking of the shooter . Well, that and the fact that he’s either mistaken about the killer being Dolan, or lying to protect himself. A grizzled looking detective tells Boyland to take his time. (The detective, by the way, is played by Wayne Duvall, cousin of Academy Award winner Robert Duvall.) They’re seated in front of a monitor, which is focused on a sad, cement block hallway.
There’s a very pretty young woman, even beautiful, standing behind Boyland (between Cary and Alicia), and my first assumption is that she’s his wife or girlfriend. “Hello?” Cary asks rather rudely, and it surprises me; he doesn’t seem to know who she is. “Hello,” she replies, suggestively. It’s kind of funny. “May I help you?” “No, I’m good,” she answers pleasantly, and he gives up, because the line up is about to begin.”There’s going to be five total,” one of the officers explains. The older officer talks an average looking white man (brown hair, brown eyes, blue sweater) down the hall and makes him turn and lean so Boyland gets a clear view. But it’s not him. Send in number 2, comes the order. Cary looks down at Boyland. “Were you wearing those glasses when you saw the murder?” He was. “No, definitely not,” Boyland says of number 2. “He was much thinner than that.” Send in number 3, orders the veteran.
For a frightened rabbit, the dark, shadowy line up tunnel (er, hallway) is a frightening place to be. A spectral voice comes from the walls, telling him to walk forward, to stop on the mark. The pale face and dark eyes survey a nightmare.
“That’s him,” Boyland pipes up immediately. “You sure,” asks Cary, and Boyland nods. “That’s the man you saw struggle with the cashier and firing two bullets into his head?” “Yes,” Boyland says decisively. I’m confused by this. Why do they keep using the word struggle? I do not think it means what they think it means. Struggle to me implies physical contact, of which there was none. And surely that would be supported by the physical evidence, both in observing the crime scene and later from the lab? Dolan’s fingerprints would be on the counter, the cash register, more of the stock would be messed up, there would be gun powder on people’s clothes – the proverbial “signs of a struggle.” (This is what happens when you’ve watched too many procedurals.) Boyland is so confident, so rational, that I’m immediately certain he’s the real shooter. I’m just looking for Bones or Patrick Jayne to pop out and explain why the beat cops have got it all wrong.
Cary, on the other hand, is satisfied.
“Travis Dolan, unemployed former Parks employee, broke, about to be evicted – he’s Mr. Everyman, except this everyman walks into a convenience store to rob it, doesn’t count on the cashier having a gun, shoots him, kills him, sees a passing patrol car pulling up, puts his gun down, hides in the back of the store pretending to be a witness.” He really does have an everyman quality, doesn’t he? I’m so reminded of Nicholas Brennan – Xander – from the first couple seasons of Buffy; you immediately think loyal and sweet. Or maybe that’s just me? Not-Mrs.-Boyland listens, trying to be unobtrusive, and Alicia cocks her head suspiciously at Cary’s tale. “Prints on the gun?” No. Just the eye witness. “No cash taken?” Cary blows the breath out of his mouth. “Didn’t have time, the patrol car arrived!” “There was a struggle, right?” Why do they keep saying that? Because of the rack of cards? Cary sees her real point, that the shooting could have been unplanned or accidental. “During the commission of a robbery!,” he cautions her, then snorts. “You want second degree?” She shrugs. “You offer second degree, I’ll take it to him.” Not-Mrs-Boyland glares at Cary, rather to his puzzlement, and Alicia walks off to take a call.
“Once again, I look for my liaison, and where is she?” Eli walks through the glass halls in a snit. “And once again, I have a job which – oddly – sometimes takes me out of the office.” Alicia’s really good at not being bullied by Eli. “So, what, I handle this meeting on my own, is that it?” “You do,” she replies, her voice dripping with disdain, “you’re a big boy, Eli, and Will and Diane don’t bite.” It’s not them he’s worried about, love. “Okay, so here’s my advice, Eli – don’t bite them, okay?” Hee. “Always the level headed one,” he snarks, hanging up as he reaches the conference room.
Without transition, he sits, turns to his left, and demands “Okay, I need you to work with me full time.” Admirably, Kalinda doesn’t even blink at this request, though she doesn’t look pleased by it either. “Really?” “I need investigator time. The law moves slow, I move fast.” He checks for her reaction. There’s none. “I’m managing three campaign crises right now, and the cheese lobby has just taken me on full time.” Three? Let’s see ’em! And, really? The pie in the face helped that much? He clearly expects a crack about the cheese, because he brings it up again, defensive. “Yes, the cheese lobby. You’re fast, you’re a pro, I need you full time.” Well, we can all see why he’d want her. A guy like Eli would have plenty of use for a brilliant investigator. “They won’t let me go full time,” Kalinda shakes her head, and Eli – looking enormously pleased with himself, declares “that’s why I’m telling them!” Really, he looks like a very self-satisfied 12 year old. “I don’t like sharing!” Okay, let me knock that number down a few years. “And between you and me, and whoever else you tell once I ask you, I need someone as investigator when I leave here. Opposition research.” Hmmm. I don’t expect Kalinda to leave Will – but on the other hand, if she thought she could escape Alicia… But no, there’d still be Peter attached. So it’s not going to happen. Good to know that Eli’s got his exit strategy set up so he can poach L&G employees, though.
“That’s not going to happen,” she smiles. “It is gonna happen,” he insists quietly, “because I’m gonna make it worth your while – more money, more power, more self-reliance.” Hmmm.
Just in time to hear nothing, Diane sails into the room accompanied by Will and – hurrah, Julius Cain, looking bright eyed and bright tied as usual. He is definitely the flashiest dresser at L&G; orange shirt, purple patterned tie. “Eli, how are you?” Diane asks warmly. “Great, good, how’re you?” Eli replies pleasantly, before dropping his voice. “Will. How’re you?” he asks darkly. “Eli. Always a pleasure,” Will nods. Julius Cain introduces himself a bit stiffly, with the dignity befitting the head of litigation. Eli folds his hands and begins.
“I’ve hit the ground running, as I’m sure you’re well aware, and now I think it’s time to take a breath and reassess. NO!” he barks in a total change of demeanor, at the cowering minion in the doorway. “Ten minutes!” He resumes his placid, reasonable delivery. I bet he set that up to remind them how busy and important he is – but I’m not sure it helps his position with Kalinda. Julius’s eyes bug out at this lack of professionalism, and Will narrows his eyes. “And I need both Alicia Florrick and Kalinda – what’s your last name again?” She supplies it. ” Sharma – dedicated to my department full time.” Right, like Will would ever let you steal Alicia and Kalinda to treat like that? “Lobbying and crisis management are a 24/7 business, and I need 24/7 dedication.” He nods his head, smiling, as if this has decided the matter. You don’t think they should get to decide themselves if they want to be your 24/7 beck and call girls?
“No,” Will answers simply, and Eli’s head snaps up, engaged and outraged. “Anything else?” Diane looks nervous. “Am I making you money?,” Eli asks, voice pitched low. Diane confirms it. “Am I encouraging clients to keep political business in house?” Yes again. His grievance picks up steam. “Then I can’t be splitting Alicia and Kalinda’s time with legal. Alicia’s supposed to be at this meeting! Where is she?” You know, I suspect if she’d realized you were going to try to steal her away as your indenture servant, she’d have been a lot less blaze about missing the meeting. “She’s on a case, a case that makes us money,” Will bites out. Noting the cold displeasure on Eli’s face, Diane asks for a break to discuss his requests. “We take your concerns very seriously,” she adds, making his face soften a bit into a not quite real smile.
“He’ll stay because it’s in his interest to stay!” Will barks. “It’s only in his interest to stay if we encourage cooperation,” Diane cautions, shutting her office door. But is he really worth as much to you as Kalinda, Diane? I doubt it. And Will isn’t willing to lose either woman. “But he doesn’t want cooperation,” he notes rightly. “Look at the numbers, Will,” Diane shakes her head, “the dairy lobby brought in almost as much as we lost last year.” “But at what cost?,” Will questions (utterly beside the point, to my thinking). “If we dedicate Alicia to Eli, what are we pulling her from? How much money are we losing?” Julius steps up, his voice amused. “Actually, at the moment, Alicia’s working on a pro bono.” Oh, what a dirty word. Diane – who’s been so calm throughout this debate – suddenly looks ready to spit. She throws up the arm that’s not on her hip. “What are we doing, still doing pro bonos?” Er, I thought you were all about the pro bonos? “Because,” Julius begins with the air of one repeating obvious (and perhaps contentious) information, “We’re still a member…”
“Why am I the only one who’s worried about the economy? We’re heading into a double dip recession without a bankruptcy department, without tax lawyers, and our best lawyers, some of our best lawyers, are still busy doing pro bono?” Oooh, you make it sound so dirty! Will flicks his hand at Diane and then raises it to the bridge of his nose, as if the whole debate was giving him a headache.
“I need to talk to you,” Eli tells Kalinda back in the conference room, as they watch the partners pace. “About?” Eli’s leaning on the top of a chair, his eyes glued to the drama in Diane’s office. “Things. Players. Political crosscurrents.” “Really?” she questions drolly,” you see smart enough to figure that out.” He spares her a glance. “I’m smart enough to know I need your help.”
“We’ve expanded, Will. Beyond our means.” You have? But I thought you were in such good shape after giving Derrick the old heave ho? “Yes, we’re one of the few full service firms left standing, but we did it at a cost,” Diane notes, sitting, “and we can’t continue this way.” “What way,” Will wonders quietly. “We need bankruptcy. If there’s one department that’ll survive a double dip recession, it’s bankruptcy.” Very good point, Diane. Indisputable, even. “To build one from the ground up would take time, but luckily enough we can acquire one off the shelf.” Will looks over at this. How? “There’s a firm breaking up. Acquisitions is going one way, malpractice another…” Oh no. We know where this is going. Don’t do it, Will! “Bankruptcy, I just found out, is going with litigation.” What, and malpractice? How many lawyers are you willing to take on to get the bankruptcy people, Diane? At what cost? “Oh no,” says Will. “You need to talk to her,” Diane insists. “We already said no!” Will protests. “We already said no when we thought it was just litigation,” Diane bulldozes on, and Will starts making hand signals like a desperate umpire. “If it’s litigation and bankruptcy…” Then you talk to her, Will begs, but Diane’s certain Will’s former bond will give them the edge. Surely the wolves are already circling. I don’t even know where to find her, Will tosses out in the stupidest excuse ever. Lucky for you, Will, she’s giving a seminar in dispute resolution at the Midwest Bar Association.
Damn you, Diane, for always having answers to his questions.
“Get us bankruptcy,” she purrs, “and we won’t have to dance to the tune of Eli Gold.” Will looks glum. “Have you noticed no matter how high we go, we still have to dance to someone’s tune?’ “Welcome to leadership,” Diane shrugs wryly (and sure, just ask Barack Obama), but I suspect that followers do their share of dancing, too.
“I don’t want to see any lawyers shrugging off the CLE hours,” Peter tells his assembled staff. Yay, it’s a Peter episode! “That’s right – guess who’s in town? The Midwest Bar Association.” Ah. These must be some sort of continuing ed requirements? The idea does not make the ASAs happy. He knows, he knows. “Just get it over with,” he advises them, his arms spread wide. He’s got his shirt sleeves rolled up, which makes him look much less formal than his staff; it’s both casual, and also that very posed “politician getting down to work” kind of look. He chuckles to himself, and rises as Cary walks in to the meeting. “I have one more item I want to talk about. The Department of Justice has identified – and I’ll use their word – ‘biases’ in how we plea bargain. So I’ve agreed to the government’s request to detail an AUSA to this office – not to monitor us, but to work with us and be as one of us.” He motions to Not-Mrs.-Boyland, standing smugly by the window. (How awesome would it be if her real reason for being there was to conduct that long hinted at federal investigation of Peter? Anyway.) Cary rolls his eyes at her. “So please welcome Amani Stonehouse. Amani!” “Hello,” she smiles, her arms crossed defensively, “you’re all under arrest.” Her voice is low and sexy, and she makes them all laugh. Cary’s fake, unsmiling laughter floats above the rest. Okay, Peter says, let’s get to work. He beckons Amani over to introduce her to Cary personally. “He’ll show you the ropes.” She looks up at him, eyes wide. “He already has. Maximum sentence to a black drug dealer, discount to a white killer.” Peter turns to Cary in surprise, his mouth turned down in a funny smile. “Okay. Off to a great start!”
“The white defendant, he had no priors,” Cary defends himself. “And no crack,” she notes. Well, the bias against crack versus other drugs is certainly a well documented one. Cary chuckles. “Oh,well, you got me there. Big bad white prosecutor out to put down the black man.” Amani looks up at him, coy, archly wiggling her eyebrows, her voice mellow and smooth. “And black woman.” He shakes his head, smiling.
It’s loud at the Midwest Bar Association conference, where Will wends his way to a registration table. “Will Gardner, what the hell are you doing here?” a pudgy, balding fellow with the air of an aging frat wannabe materializes out of the crowd. He’s got 30 hours to do like everybody else, dude. “Come on up to the 34th floor if you want to continue that legal education,” the chubby fellow leans in conspiratorially, “Strippers in acquisitions.” Oh, ew. Will nods, pretending not to be appalled. “Maybe later,” he puts the fellow off.
And what’s better than strippers? Gene Ostermann, who can’t read his own notes on The Globalization of Crime. Wow. Completely senile, or is it just bad lighting? I’m glad that the Bar Association puts so much time and effort into making sure its members continue their education. I can’t imagine why the SAs don’t want to go! Will takes a seat next to Celeste Serrano, the infamous ex-girlfriend with the bankruptcy department up for grabs. She’s got a stud at the top of her ear, and she’s pretty decent at pretending she didn’t notice Will’s arrival.
“Shoulda known you’d be here,” Will whispers over Ostermann’s stammering. Um, you did know she’d be there. And she knows you knew. No one here thinks you bumped into her by accident. She glares, but then turns a hilariously adoring gaze on Ostermann. “He’s amazing, isn’t he?” she enthuses. Ha. “Yeaaaah,” Will hisses. “You always hated him,” she shakes her head primly. “No, ” Will denies, “I just thought he was a bad boss.” “You were jealous,” Celeste snorts. Will scoffs at the notion of professional jealousy – but no, she glares to indicate a total different sort. “You did not,” he breathes, and I am right there with him. “After the staff meeting on 9/11,” she grins, “you remember, he was in tears.” Ugh, he’s still about twice your age! And so not… anything. Ew.
“You slept with him?” Will whispers, incredulous. “We didn’t do much sleeping,” she snarks, eyes locked forward. Could she be making this up for effect? Because she’s certainly causing one. “Ow, ow, okay you can stop now,” he cries, wrinkling his nose and pushing his hands to sweep away the unpleasant mental image. She leans back and stares at him – wearing, once again, an asymmetrical top under a jacket. I hate that. “You found out that bankruptcy was coming with me. Not just litigation.” No flies on her. Will stares, unhappy. He nods. “So you here to charm me?,” she smiles in delighted anticipation. “To offer you a home,” he corrects without enthusiasm.
“And what about your lawyer friend, Alicia Florrick? Why’s she not here to charm me?” Ugh, because she’s not your ex-boyfriend? Of course in most cases that’d make her better qualified to charm a prospect. Will rolls his eyes, and the two clap for Ostermann, who has mercifully stumbled to the end of his presentation. Not that I’m sure how they could even tell. “What do you want?,” the dour ex-lover asks as they move to the front of the room. Her demands are simple: a three year contract, 5% salary bump, and a 50/50 split on Henning Aerospace. “The jet liner case?” He’s generally disinclined toward her terms.
“Mr. Ostermann,” Celeste says warmly, enclosing her former boss’s hand in both of hers. “Remember me?” He doesn’t. “Celeste?” “Oh, yes, how are you?” he answers civilly, still at a complete loss. “Baltimore?” she adds suggestively. Well, that is where his firm is located, isn’t it? “Oh, yeeeeeeeees,”and you can’t really tell if he does remember something or if he just thinks she’s crazy. He excuses himself, fast as he can. Ha. She turns back to Will. What she really wants is the commitment and the money – they can forget the class action. Will frowns. “We have other suitors,” she cautions. “I’ll talk to Diane,” Will nods, but he continues to glare unhappily after Celeste turns and walks away.
And speaking of Diane, back at L&G she’s instructing a room full of litigators. “Until the economy improves, we’re calling a halt to pro bonos.” She takes off her glasses, wearily. Julius, seated next to her, takes up the topic. “Plead out the ones you’ve got; we need everyone back in the office.” But Alicia, special snowflake that she is, has a problem. Cary won’t plead out her case. But what she really means is that her client won’t take Cary’s plea. Julius sighs. He’ll bail her out. “You want me to talk to Legal Aid?” he asks Diane. No, she sighs. “I at least owe them an explanation.” She picks up the phone, but instead of Legal Aid, it’s her partner on the line. “Yeah, Will, where are we?” She listens, and then relays to Julius the demands about salary, the 3 year commitment, and – hmmm – the airline class action. The demand that Celeste dropped. That’s so passive aggressive, Will! Julius’s is perturbed to say the least. “She’s got the crew, we’ve got the passengers – 35% at the most.” Diane gives Will the number, and tells him to use his trademark charm on his old girl. She chuckles, but Alicia’s eyes bulge at the mention of Celeste’s name. “I believe in you! Bye. She’s playing hard to get,” Diane explains to Julius as she hangs up. Alicia’s face…
The music changes as Travis Dolan’s worried face appears before us. The everyman has dark circles under his velvety eyes; he’s up nights, or the orange jumpsuit just isn’t that flattering. I suspect both. His brows are drawn down, and he flickers between light and shadow, walking a warren with an officer at his side. Suddenly, he’s through various paneled halls and in a courtroom. “Mr. Dolan, how are you?” Alicia asks. He’s okay, thank you, but his eyes aren’t for you or for Julius (now at the defense table) but for the blonde and the small boy in the front of the gallery. He’s thrilled and broken in the same moment, and the blond sees it. “I’m so sorry,” he whispers, and she shakes her head. “No,” she says, “we love you.” Oh! She cuddles the little boy, and poor Dolan nearly melts in his prison boots. “Can I?,” he asks, gesturing toward them. “No, not yet,” Alicia cautions him, “no contact.” Eep! I think I’m going to start crying. “Jake, this is all a big mistake, alright?” Little Jake, with his plaid shirt and glasses, nods up at his Daddy, and Daddy’s voice gets deeper and more calm. “I’ll be home soon and we’ll celebrate your birthday, alright, little man? Daddy loves you very much.” You’re killing me here! Dolan turns away from his family and sits down, stuffing his hand in front of his mouth to hold back the sobs that briefly shake his body. But he swallows them down, so his family can’t see.
“Come on,” Julius pitches to Cary. “No record. Not even a parking ticket.” Are people who get parking tickets more likely to be murderers? That’s why I offered second degree, Cary says, refusing to budge. “Shave off another five years,” Julius pleads, but it wouldn’t help. Desperate as he is, Dolan’s far from ready to believe this is going to be his new reality. He’s clinging to his innocence with both hands. “You haven’t met my workmate, have you? Amani!” She turns around, moving away from her briefcase. “Amani Stonehouse is an AUSA monitoring racial imbalances in plea bargaining.” A neat way of saying your hands are tied, Cary. He raises his eyebrows and the edges of his mouth flicker up; microexpression alert! “So that’s what’s going on here?,” Julius nods, “You’re hard bargaining for what, appearances?” “I don’t think it’s just appearance, do you?” Amani contradicts him. “I think it’s just another State’s Attorney preoccupation, forgotten in a month.” I hope so! I want Geneva Pine back working with Cary, please. Of course, I’m enjoying Nicole Beharle, and I don’t see any reason we can’t have both, but if I had to pick, it’s Geneva all the way. Cary turns a fantastically exaggerated look at Amani. “I think he likes you,” he jokes.
Ah, Cary. Your sense of humor is so weirdly annoying and wonderful.
Julius wants to know Alicia’s plan. It’s simple; turn the preliminary hearing into a poor man’s deposition – which is to say, find out enough about their case now to be able to refute it as soon as possible, even though this part of the trial technically isn’t supposed to be thorough. “Judge isn’t going to let that happen,” Julius nods regretfully – and wow, that purple paisley tie is a thing of beauty. But he sees the genius of Alicia’s plan as soon as the judge is announced – Francis Flamm (not Flewddur Flam, Francis Flamm). The head of litigation turns an adorably cheerful face to Alicia as Harvey Fierstein glides into the courtroom. “Justice Tie Dye?” Julius beams. Mmmm hmm. Flamm offers homemade zucchini bread. “Go on,” he points to the bailiff, “pass it around!”
But instead of counselors munching on homemade bread, the next thing we see are the offices of the Chicago Legal Aid Society. It’s a mad house, and Diane – whose black suit has a leopard collar (to say nothing of her pearl necklace or enormous gold ring) – looks like a socialite rather than a lawyer in contrast. She’s pleading with Will. “Offer her flex time! Offer her a corner office!” “We don’t have another corner,” he grumbles, making me laugh, and then notes how loud it is. “What’re you, at a football game?” “My mid-day treat to myself,” she snarks. No, just Legal Aid. “Come on, Diane,” he chastises her, “you don’t have to break up in person, just make a call.” It’s a bit late for that, don’t you think? After she asks the receptionist for Mr. Coin, she tells Will her guilt got the better of her. Will’s tracked down Celeste at a different MBA function, this one with food. “Guilt is for the weak!” he recites as a mantra – probably as much for himself as her. Diane laughs. “Go, sweeten our offer.” Have fun storming the castle!
“The cashier pulled this gun from a hostler he had under the counter,” Boyland explains on the stand. He’s dressed in a sharp blue suit, nicely fitted. He looks trustworthy. He’s easy to believe, if you don’t already know he’s lying. “Then they just started firing.” Alicia tries to get him to establish exactly where he was standing (20 feet away from the store, and the defendant was how far into the aisle?) and Cary, predictably, objects. “Again, objection! This is a preliminary hearing! The defense is using this as a poor man’s deposition, to get a preview of our case!” Judge Tie Dye couldn’t be less concerned. “Yup. Heard it the first time, counselor. Got it! Overruled,” Flamm rasps. Hee. Cary sits down, annoyed. “And how far was the shooter inside the store?” Alicia repeats. “He’s killing us!” Amani snaps at Cary. “Get used to it,” he growls. “Ten feet, probably?,” Boyland guesses, which seems weird, because the cash register is at the front of the store, but whatever.
Outside the courtroom, Julius feeds Kalinda this new information over the phone. “Was he on the sidewalk or the parking lot?” Julius relays the question, and Alicia asks. The sidewalk. Cary and Amani are appalled. It’s cute. Not Geneva Pine cute, but cute. Once outside the store, Kalinda has a new question, which Julius forwards to Alicia by note; where did the shooter go? “Back in to the store to hide,” Boyland says, but this is the first time he’s seemed less sure of himself, and Alicia pounces. “So you did see him hide,” she asks. “No – I just…” he thinks, quickly. “He went toward the back of the store.”
So maybe the real robber went out the back, Alicia theorizes over Cary’s objections, but when Kalinda walks the space, she sees it can’t be so. The audience already knows it didn’t happen that way, but Kalinda confirms it couldn’t have; the door has a lock with a punch code. “Damn,” Julius cries. It’s nice to see him get invested, no?
“Detective, have you heard of cross-racial identification?” Robert Duvall’s cousin has, and he snorts at the mention of it. “But you don’t give it much credence,” Alicia smiles. “Well, do I think that some whites tend to misidentify black suspects because they have trouble … distinguishing features? Yes. But the eyewitness here is black and the accused white.” Oh, and white people all look perfectly distinct to other races, don’t they? “And have you seen studies that blacks often misidentify whites?” Oddly enough, he hasn’t. Bah. “I’ll take your word for it.” Amani is unimpressed. “Didn’t Mr. Boyland give a more general description of a white suspect before he saw my client at your desk being questioned?” Detective Duvall blinks. “Are you talking about the artist’s sketch?” Well, she sure is now. Could she have a copy of that, please? Flamm laughs his phlegmy laugh. “Isn’t it possible that Mr. Boyland only fixated on my client as the killer when he saw him being questioned by the police? And couldn’t this sketch lead us to the real killer?” Cary’s about to eat his fist, but Robert Duvall’s cousin resents the implication. “No, we have the real killer!” Alrighty then. Except you don’t, you nitwit. “Your Honor, the defense requests access to this sketch.” Seems reasonable, Flamm gravels. “Any trouble getting it to them?” Cary waves his hand in lazy, limp-wristed resignation, like an aristocrat from a Restoration comedy. Awesome.
As the face downloads onto Kalinda’s ipad, her current interview subject complains about taking time out of work. She couldn’t care less. Have I mentioned how cool I think her faded leather jacket is? Just awesome. Anyway. “So, you were here the night of the shooting?” He was. “It was crazy. The cops got here really fast. People running around, screaming.” The guy has slicked back blondish hair, and is wearing a white and red rugby style shirt which identifies him as an employee at a seafood market. She proffers the ipad. “Did you see anyone who looked like this running around screaming?” Awesome. “I thought they caught the guy who did it,” Seafood Boy exclaims, puzzled. “No,” Kalinda replies. “I don’t know,” he considers, looking at the sketch, “this looks like a hundred people.” Like, for example, you.
She lets him go, and picks up the phone. “Try and get the crime scene photos,” she asks. “The cops aren’t giving me access.”
And so we come to Alicia and Cary at sidebar. “We also would suggest, your Honor, that it would be helpful to have access to the crime scene photos.” “They do, your Honor,” Cary snarks, “in discovery.” “Which we always get at the last minute,” Alicia adds primly. “Because we have to prepare them, so, it takes time,” Cary shrugs, defensive. Really? What were those things you had in the interrogation room mere hours after the crime, Cary? Paintings? “Who prepares it, counselor?” Cary and Amani are at a complete loss. “Give me their number,” says the judge, whipping out his phone, “maybe we can expedite it.”
Hee! That was totally awesome.
And, like that, the photos have loaded onto Kalinda’s ipad. I bet you Apple paid plenty to actually buy themselves a plot point like this. Kalinda walks the store, looking for inspiration, and finds in on a receipt under the dead clerk’s hand. “Hey Tim,” she says, dialing a source, “can you find out who bought a lottery ticket from its barcode?”
Back at the Midwest Bar Association, there’s another reception. This one features food. Will finds Celeste by the cheese trays. “You do know you’re in the criminal law mixer,” he observes. “I like criminal,” she smiles, “The men are so… straight.” Heh. She’s just so over the top lusty, it’s hilarious. When it isn’t driving me crazy.
Will completely ignores the funny. 3% bump, 2 years, he offers. “Do you know what it means to feed the rat, Will?” She brandishes a celery stick at him. No, he has no idea. “You can live your sweet little domesticated life, you can date your cute little apple cheeked lawyer…” she mimics dimples and smiles, and he laughs unhappily. “But eventually you have to feed the rat. Return to the wild.” “Aw, it’s fascinating. We’re not going above 3%.” “You need to feed the rat, Will.” Can I just say, ew. Also, her asymmetrical white blouse is really bugging me; it looks accidental, like it’s tucked in oddly, or she has a lopsided chest. She looks all unbalanced. “You are killing yourself trying to be normal.” “I am normal,” he frowns, shaking his head. Then she gets an idea, and leaps back and to the side.
To accost a passing Peter Florrick.
Ah. Criminal. There it is.
“Mr. Florrick,” she begins frenetically, “Hi. Big fan. I came here especially hoping to bump into you. I think you know Will Gardner?” She drags him over to talk to Will – she literally grabs him and pulls him with her. Oh, man. That is a brutal negotiating tactic, especially since you’d be making an enemy out of your own would be boss if you take it far enough. Anyway, Peter admits to knowing Will. They shake hands, exchange pleasantries. Will drops his eyes immediately. “You two have so much in common, don’t you?” she enthuses. The men look at each other, and Will apologized for the weirdness, rolling his eyes to distance himself from her crazy.
“We do have something in common,” Peter steps in the breach. “And how do you two know each other?” “Us two? We go way back,” Celeste laughs. “We used to work together, a long time ago,” Will adds, hoping to steer the conversation to safer waters. Good luck with that, Will. “We did a lot more than that,” Celeste shares unnecessarily. Oh, God. “At the Baltimore firm, Ostermann, Leigh and Canfield, it was my first job out of college,” Will babbles. Out of college and not law school? Does that seem right? It can’t be. “My first threesome was with Will,” Celeste remembers brightly; Peter’s eyebrows just about fly off his face. You know, those unbalanced shirts of hers must be a metaphor. I seriously cannot believe she said that to a stranger at a work function, even if he is a man best known for sleeping with hookers. Will laughs and coughs awkwardly. ‘That’s true,” she grins. ‘What was her name again?”
Will attempts to shush her.”Well, you have to start somewhere,” Peter shrugs, finally finding a response to such a twisted bit of small talk. She laughs. “Alicia Florrick, huh? That must be quite an arrangement. She works with Will, she’s married to you… Discuss!” Okay, Linda Richmond, that’s enough. Peter raises an eyebrow at Will, who tries to meet his gaze and can’t! Oh my gosh. This is hilarious and hideous. Peter’s the grown up here, and Will’s acting like a teenager caught with his pants down on the living room couch. “It is quite an arrangement,” Peter growls. “Any awkward moments?” I swear, Will is about to toss his cookies. “You mean besides this one?” Hee. I’m really loving Peter here. He delivers the put down with a charming grin.
“How many kids do you have, Peter?,” Celeste asks, changing tactics. Huh. Okay, and I thought the threesome was an ugly turn. “Two. Boy and a girl.” “I love boys and girls,” Celeste volunteers unnecessarily, her head bobbling around till I’m dizzy watching her. “That’s very domestic! What ages?” “16 and 14,” Peter answers, getting a bit tired of the charade. What a great age, she coos. Which one? Like she cares. “Me, I don’t get kids. I mean, I get why they’re important, but…” Peter cuts her off. “You get ’em if you got ’em,” he explains pithily. That’s a good quote. I might use that. “Really?” she wonders, “I don’t know. I’m too selfish.” Peter grins and rolls his eyes over at Will, who looks sick. And I see that her salvo here is definitely hitting the intended target. Who I’m sure is now vowing to do whatever it takes not to work with her. Weird tactic, this. “Have you ever met his kids?” “No, I haven’t,” Will answers, and it’s the most serious we’ve heard him all night. “Really? Alicia never brought them to work?” Will excuses himself. “It was nice to see you, Peter.” And Celeste is left to wonder how she’s served her ends with that thoroughly insane conversation. I mean, holy crap, what was that? Hire me, or I’ll make your life a living hell? Wait, let me make life a living hell for you first!
“Are you sure? Who did you say you were with, anyway?” An old lady – one Mrs. Sylvestri – holds Kalinda’s copy of the dead clerk’s receipt; Kalinda’s arrived at her home with a fiction about an inadequate pay out for the ticket. Is she really going to give the woman extra money from L& G, or is it all a scam? The woman bought the ticket as a gift for her son, who has recently had to move back home. Using her patented bathroom break=snoop time strategy, Kalinda discovers an envelope full of cash in the man’s room – as well as one of the red and white rugby shirts. The ticket holder is Seafood Boy! He arrives home early, but Kalinda skips out another way, and avoids both Seafood Boy and the nice cup of tea his mom had waiting for her.
Kalinda’s staging a presentation in the conference room; Seafood Sylvestri’s face next to the artist’s sketch. “I feel like you’re cheating on me,” Eli observes. Oh, you poor fool, it’s much too early to be so possessive. And either way, you’ll never own her. “Only for money,” Kalinda smiles. “You think that makes it better?” He looks around them, and speaks lower. “Between Diane and Will, who has the most power?” Well. Not one for foreplay, are you? “It’s equal,” Kalinda insists immediately. “It’s never equal,” he snaps, narrowing his eyes at her. “Ehm. Diane has more power in criminal, and Will in civil.” Is that true? Eli considers this. “But, Diane controls the purse strings.” Yes, but only by default, only because Will hates “it.” “If Will says no, is it final?” It could be, Kalinda replies unhelpfully. “You’re not helping much,” Eli grumbles. “Darn,” Kalinda teases him. Hee.
“Oh, and this Julius guy, what about him?” A good enough question. “Oh, he’s head of litigation,” Kalinda states innocently. “He doesn’t like me. Why doesn’t he like me?” Oh, don’t pout, Eli. You can’t win ’em all. (Although Julius didn’t strike me as hostile at all. Not sure what Eli’s seeing. That Julius wasn’t there to pacify him like Diane was?) “You’re the new and shiny thing,” she notes, and no, it doesn’t really matter if he likes you or not. “Anybody else with power?” David Lee, family law. Eli practically spits, annoyed with himself for missing the name. “And Alicia, where does she stand in all of this?” Kalinda’s quiet, and has to be prompted for an answer. “She’s only a third year associate, but she matters.” Because of Peter? The answer is delicate. “Various reasons.” Ah. “She can persuade people,” Kalinda whispers. ‘People… as in Will?,” Eli surmises. See, you are a big boy. You can do this on your own! Kalinda smiles. “What’re you looking for, Eli?”
“The heirarchy,” he claims. “Usually I can figure it out, but this place is like a Mom and Pop store.” What does that even mean in this context? There’s the Mom, there’s the Pop, how hard can it be? “Its all Will and Diane,” Kalinda spells it out. “If you wanna persuade Diane, you persuade David Lee. If you wanna persuade Will, you persuade Alicia.” Huh. I wonder if that’s true. Like I said before, she doesn’t necessarily have a reason to help him here. He chews on that for a moment. “And here comes your next customer,” Eli notes, and glides away.
“Okay, where are we?” Julius asks Kalinda,with Alicia peering over his shoulder. According to the time stamp, the lottery ticket was redeemed seconds before the murder. They can time the murder down to the second? “Who’s ticket?” Alicia asks, and Kalinda identifies Seafood Boy as Mitch Sylvestri, manager of the seafood market. “As you can see, there’s a slight resemblance between him and the artist’s sketch.” Lots more resemblance than between the sketch and Rabbit Dolan, that’s for sure. “Did you get more on Sylvestri?” She’s on it. Good, Julius says. ‘We need a delay in court.” Alicia nods as she leaves the room to take a phone call. I love that he’s getting all into it.
Outside, on a sunny street, Will breathes fresh air. Ah, much better than that stuffy hotel! “What’re you doing?” he asks Alicia over the phone. “I’m working on the pro bono, what’re you doing?” He looks around, unsettled. “I don’t know, whoring myself out. I sorta miss you.” She leans on her desk and smiles. “I sorta miss you too.” Aw. Aw! It’s so nice to see them being cute together! Thank you, writers. I really appreciate that. “Well, what can we do about that?” “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” she purrs, but unfortunately, he sees Celeste walking out of the hotel. No rest for the whores. “Let me call you back,” he says. “Okay, I’ll be here.” “Love you,” he adds automatically, and then his head whips around. Oh my God! What has he done? It’s out there! Once it’s out there you can’t take it back!
Her face wipes clean of emotion. They both blink, silent. “I said that…” he begins. “I know,” she breathes, relieved. “No, automatically, mechanically, I didn’t mean anything by it.” She knows. She’s fine. Celeste sees him, and swings in his direction. “It’s not that I don’t care…” Will, you idiot, she knows! Stop making it worse! She smiles at his discomfort. “Will, don’t worry about it. Call me later.” Okay, he says, and hangs up, utterly horrified with himself. Alicia can’t control a pleased little smile, but soon enough, it sinks into worry. Must. Not. Think. About. What. I’m. Doing!
Just, altogether, hee!
“Okay, I’m sorry, don’t pout,” Celeste tells Will. “I’m fine,” he pouts. Hey, he should pout! You were a complete ass in there! Also, that blouse, it is truly driving me crazy. I think it’s migrating into her armpit. “But you’re not accepting my apology,” she observes, “so whaddo I gotta do?” Duh! “Bring us bankruptcy!” Except, the plot, it thickens. “Okay. I’ll come clean. You’re not chasing me, Will, I’m chasing you.” That’s a new one. And what a very odd way to go about it. “You’re chasing me?” He’s puzzled. “Yes.” “How are you doing that?” Well may you ask, Will.It turns out that it’s not just bankruptcy coming with litigation – it’s family law and tax. “And we’re all regrouping.” “As what, a jazz combo?,” Will snickers. “As a new firm,” she smiles, and for once it feels like an honest smile and not a put on. “And we want you.” “Celeste, I know you’re a dreamer, I know you like to live in your head, but what in your wildest dreams would make you think I would leave my firm – one of the most successful in Chicago – for what is basically a start up?” She’s anticipated this. “Cause I have the one thing I know you want.”
What could that possibly be? He’s certainly curious. Is this more blackmail? “Can’t even guess?” “I can’t even begin to guess,” he agrees, “I’m happy where I am.”
“Baseball commissioner,” she smiles. And that stops him cold.
“It’s the one thing George W. Bush wanted more than the presidency.” Oh, don’t even get me started. “Don’t play games with me,” Will says, his hair blowing in the wind. “I’m not. The League is our biggest client. The commissioner’s getting on in years. He needs a successor. The successor’s gonna come from our firm.” Dang, is that how it works? I’d have assumed he’d come from within baseball itself, somehow. “You know baseball,” she declares, confident of her play, “you know the law.” He doesn’t believe her. Call around, she suggests. It’s true. “You know who to call. Will, look at me. You know me. When I go all in, it’s not with a stone cold bluff.” Well, he would know. Will’s still standing in his car door, uncertain. “I’ve got my dispute resolution seminar in ten minutes.” If he wants to talk about it, he should come. While she’s giving a seminar? Um, okay. Celeste heads back into the hotel. Will sits in his car, glowering.
You know, that totally explains her behavior at the mixer. Celeste wasn’t trying to blackmail Will after all. She was trying to burn his bridges, to give him incentive to leave Chicago. Still risky, but it’s not worth it to her if it isn’t risky.
“Contact Powers, and tell Judge Romano the brief is on the way,” a vibrant, busy man hollers down a busy hallway. Diane towers over him as they walk into his office. “Sorry about that, I’ve been in court all day,” he explains. Ah, Mr. Coin of Legal Aid. Nice to meet you. He tells his assistant to hold all calls. “Mr. Coin. You were a litigator at Portman & Michaels.” Ah, but why follow the partner track when you can have all this? Too many meetings at Portman & Michaels, he says. Oh. I like him already. A stiff long haired hippy looking dude wanders in. “Next door down, man,” Coin says calmly, and the John Lennon wanna be heads back out. “Thank you for picking up the slack on the convenience store shooting, I hear you have two lawyers on the case?” It’s actually a pretty big office, this one; it’s just not lush. It’s normal. Normal chairs, normal bulletin boards, chair covered with files and boxes, dart boards on the wall – a little college dorm like, in a way, but not rarefied like L&G. “I – really?” sputters Diane. Ha. Come on, you were there when Julius said he’d help. “It’s good to see, with all the firms that are pulling back these days.” Coin flits about his office, adjusting things, filing, chatting with more people who just can’t keep from wandering in. Diane doesn’t know where to look. “Ah, yes, well, actually, I need to talk to you about this.”
He’d love to answer her, but he’s got more wanderers – this time, three fellows who don’t realize they need ties in order to go to court. Off goes the tie around Coin’s own neck. Then there’s the one on a filing cabinet. He’s got two more on the cabinet, but somehow the third guy misses out. “I’m sorry about that!” he grins, finally sitting. “I’m sorry,” Diane blushes, looking more and more like an exotic bird perched in a chicken coop. “I, um, know this might not be a great time for this, but, we, um…” Coin frantically arranges items on his desk. I’m sure it’s not helping her get the words out. “…our firm is bowing out of our pro bono obligations.” If it’s actually an obligation, how can you bow out? Anyway. Coin freezes. Well, not for long. “Just till the economy picks up.” He’s frenetically rolling up his shirt sleeves now. “Don’t worry. I get it. And thanks for fighting for us anyway.” Aw! He’s being so gracious.
“We hope to return when things improve,” she offers, traumatized to have broken up. “We’re not sure we’ll be here. We lost our funding.” Legal Aid can lose it’s funding? Wow. I mean, I guess they’re not the public defender’s, but still. Yikes. Diane’s shocked. “You – what, your state funding?” “Yep,” he says, not looking at her, “budget crunch.” Woah, not good. “So, what’re you gonna do?” “Oh, you know, we still have a few options,” he claims, not looking up, fooling no one. Aw. “Such as?” “Such as knocking on a few doors. Yelling at a few rich people.” He laughs, his smile brilliant. Diane looks like she wants to cry. Coin kind of does too, for that matter. “One thing I’ve learned in the not for profit world is that eventually, someone steps up.” Until the day they don’t! Anyway. She’s quite ready to leave. “It’s good to finally meet you,” Coin tells Diane, shaking her hand. “And you,” she smiles, looking more confident. “I wish that, uh – I don’t know what I wish. The world were different.” Coin laughs. “Sounds good! I’ll be here waiting.”
Will wades down a hall in the hotel, not conference rooms here, but suites. There’s loud, pulsing house music. “Will Gardner, what the hell took you so long?” It’s Pudgy Wannabe from registration, his arms full of beverages, which means there are strippers. Outstanding. “Come on it. You don’t want to miss the Q&A,” he grins as he backs into a suite. Just ew. The stripper, who dances with her back to us, is wearing a short skirt, and a hat. She’s surrounded by men. Ew. Surprisingly enough, Will does want to miss the Q&A; he’s looking for Dispute Resolution. “Next door on the right,” Pudgy tells him. Will pushes through the door to find Celeste (blessedly divested of her suit jacket) sitting at a poker table with a bunch of guys. “Hey, look who’s here!” She gestures toward the table with her head. “I saved you a seat.” The door dramatically closes as Will makes his way into the suite.
At Lockhart/Gardner, someone else is facing a long dark night of the soul. Diane sits in the dark in her sleek, glittering, perfectly appointed corner office and wonders what it’s all for. Has she lost her way? Is she doing the right thing? She sees Julius and Alicia in the conference room, attempting to save poor Travis Dolan. She walks to the door way, a peculiar expression on her face. Is it pride? “Do you need help?,” she asks them.
On a bright street the next morning, Mitch Sylvestri steps out of a blue Volvo station wagon. Interesting car for a single guy, right? He flips up the hood of his sweatshirt, and looks around surreptitiously. “Yeah?” Kalinda answers her phone, watching Mitch from her car, “I’m on him now.” Hands in his pockets, Sylvestri dashes behind a wrought iron gate toward a brick building. Kalinda follows. He ducks into a basement door. There’s a placard on the wall next to the door: “Easy Does It, Meetings at 6am.”
“Alcoholics Anonymous?” Julius repeats in disbelief. Yep, Kalinda tells the team of three back in one of the L&G conference rooms. Two meetings a week. The cash in the envelope, Alicia wonders. That was legitimate too – he’s the chapter treasurer. “He likes to bet at the track, but it was all of his own money.” Girl is good. And fast. And thorough. “It still doesn’t mean he wasn’t the killer,” Diane pleads. “Yes, but this does,” Kalinda fishes through her portfolio, stomping on their hopes. “I checked the cash register and it was an hour fast. It could be an accident, or it could have been monkeyed with to run a lottery scam.” Oooh, crazy. Weird that the clerk was holding that receipt; maybe it was just on the counter and blown off in the melee? Anyway.
“It still puts him at the store an hour before the murder,” Alicia offers, which makes me very unhappy with her. “We can still tell a story,” Diane agrees. Kalinda stares at her. “The guy worked a few doors down, he knew the code to the locks…” “Thirty year old who likes to gamble,” Kalinda picks up the thread. “His financial state is bad enough, it forces him to move home,” Alicia contributes. Julius can’t stand it. “Uh, I appreciate that you’re trying to find a fall guy, but we’re talking about an innocent man here!” Julius, I’ve never seen such depths in you! Excellent, sir! Alicia looks guilty. “Isn’t that how our client got into this mess?” It makes me so happy that Julius believes Travis. Awesome. Diane smiles in understanding. “We’re defending our client,” she defends herself.
“All rise! The Honorable Francis Flamm presiding.” They all stand, including poor haunted looking Travis Dolan. Good morning, croaks Flamm before waving cheerily with both hands. “It’s good to see you all here again. And I see we’ve grown by one at the defense table.” Diane stands. “Yes, your Honor. I’ve been so moved by the plight of Mr. Dolan that I’ve decided to lend my assistance.” Cary smiles to himself, one of his slow, private smiles. That’s one of my favorite things about Cary: he appreciates the nuance of things even when they don’t go his way. “Good to have you in my courtroom, Miss Lockhart. And I understand your team would like to enter a motion to dismiss?” They would. Kalinda slips in at the back of the gallery.
“Yes, your Honor,” Alicia stands for the defense, “the prosecution has built this case on one weak read; a single eye witness. A witness who was 30 feet from the crime, and only identified our client after he saw the police questioning him.” Taking his statement at that point, probably, not even questioning. Kalinda, leaning on a wall, has a light bulb moment. You can see something dawning in her face at Alicia’s words. “Mr. Dolan has no record. He has a wife and son who are in this court right now.” Oh, God. I know it looks good to see them, but would you really want your child there, hearing this? “He is an innocent man, and it would be unjust not to dismiss these charges.” Flamm nods in what might be agreement. Dolan’s face is terrible with hope.
“Let me,” Amani tells Cary. “I’ll argue.”
“Your Honor,” she begins calmly, “injustice comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s not just in the man held, it’s in the man released.” She looks at the defense bench; everyone looks at her. “My grandfather once said ‘A judging brain requires a listening ear.'” Flamm gives her a look of surprise and then greater concentration. “I think that was true then, but doubly true now.” Julius’s jaw drops. “I think you need to hear our full case before you can decide. To decide before you hear would be an injustice.” Amani glares at Alicia over the word ‘injustice.’
“Your grandfather is the Reverend Roy Stonehouse?” Amani looks a bit bashful. “He is, your Honor,” she nods. Flamm looks a bit giddy. “Well,” he blushes, “I’m honored.” Huh oh. “How is he?” Cary gives another slow, private smile to the top of the bench. “He’s good. Recovering,” Amani explains. I love the reverence for (imaginary) Civil Rights leaders we occasionally get on the show – it’s a nice flavor. “Well please tell him how greatly he’s admired. My first thesis I wrote was on Selma.” She smiles uncomfortably. She will.
“And convey my respects as well,” Julius stands to add. “We all owe men like your grandfather a huge debt. But let’s not forget that this case is about an innocent man.” Ah, but you’ve just lost the momentum and the favor of Judge Tie Dye, Julius. “I think that has yet to be determined, don’t you, counselor?” Damn. Yes, your Honor. “What I meant, your Honor…” Julius and his plaid tie attempt to regroup. “Yes, yes yes I knew what you meant – I just think it would be unjust to dismiss this case before offering a listening ear.” He points to his own ear, and looks to Amani, who closes her eyes in exaggerated thanks. I don’t know whose face has a more fatuous look on it. “And your motion is denied, Miss Lockhart, and the other two with you, and we will move directly to trial.” Bang goes the gavel. Nice. “Oh, and Miss Stonehouse? Thank you.” He smiles daffily, and tilts his head. “I have chills.”
“I don’t like to use that much,” she whispers to Cary. “Does it get you into restaurants?” he wonders, and she gives him a coy, flirty smile over her shoulder.
Ha. You could see she didn’t enjoy pulling the famous ancestor card, and I like that she waited for extreme circumstanes to do it. She’s still not Geneva Pine, but I like her.
The players at Celeste Serrano’s dispute resolution poker game blink and grimace, yawning and rubbing their eyes. They pretty much all look like hell – like they’ve been playing all night in a darkened room and are feeling the effects of it. Looking more awake than most, Will stares intently at his cards. He glares at Celeste, at the others around the table. He looks like a wolf- a rumpled one, but a wolf none the less, and his face is alive with a restless intelligence. Then he closes his eyes, exhales deeply. “I’m out,” he says, tossing in his hand.
“Oh, come on,” Celeste cries, angry. “Not when you’re up like that!” He looks down at her. “Yep. When I’m up like that.” She slumps back in her chair in disgust. “We’ll be here tonight. After the civil mixer?” As she tries to tempt him, he tosses cash onto the table. “I’m fine, thanks.”
Celeste follow Will out into the darkened hallway. “Take you to breakfast?” she offers. He doesn’t so much as look back. “No!” “Jeez,” she laughs, “you sound so definitive.” “Yep,” he confirms, still not turning. She raises her hands in exasperation. “So I’ll hear from you on the baseball commissioner job?” Oh, like she can really call it that? “No,” he replies angrily; he doesn’t exactly raise his voice, but it becomes more intense, and he does turn now, his finger waving beneath her face. “I didn’t like this life even when I was living it. I didn’t like not knowing when I was being conned, or conning.” That just about sums her up, doesn’t it? She’s all about the game, in every aspect. “You don’t think there’s a job,” she huffs. “No. I checked. In ten or fifteen years there’s a chance I could vie for baseball commissioner. What a sad thought that is. Losing what I love now to chase something in the future.” To chase merely the chance of it in the future, even. He strides away.
“What do you love,” she sneers, “you said losing what I love now.” He spins back. “My job.” Celeste thinks she knows better. “I don’t believe you. I don’t believe it. What you love is winning. And you can’t win big enough at Lockhart/Gardner!” She stares at him, challenging his words. “This is your dream! What happened to pursuing your dream?” “What happened to work,” he replies without flinching. “Not everyone can pursue their dreams. Someone has to work.” He’s contemptuous, but I think he’s deflecting a bit. He could choose that path to pursue that old dream. That would still be work. But it seems he likes his new path and his new dreams better, his success and relative independence. Celeste’s shocked, and wants him to know it; she does her bobble head move again. “That is so sad.” “No,” he shakes his head, “not really. Take care.”
And now he really does leave.
“That’s the cashier’s bay,” Kalinda points to a crime scene photo of the front of the store, “and that’s where the shooter was.” This time it’s the photo featuring the downed card rack. “And the line of sight checks out.” Diane, who alone is seated, shakes her head. “I’m not seeing what’s good.” She’s getting there, Diane, don’t worry. Wait for it! Julius and Alicia watch as Kalinda bends to point out the good news. “The line of sight checks out until the cashier reaches under the counter for the gun.” Kalinda gives Diane a significant look, and focuses us on the photo of the storefront. “The wall would have hidden the cashier from view,” Julius realizes. (I think it’s more the big “Lowest prices in town” sign) but essentially, yes. Kalinda browses through the photos (on her ipad, of course) to show the back of the cashier’s bay. “And Boyland told the police that the cashier reached for a holster taped under the counter.” “But he couldn’t have seen him reach under the counter for his gun,” Alicia puzzles. Finally, Diane gets it, her face alight. “Unless he was in the store!” Kalinda grins her tiny, Mona Lisa grin. “Boyland tried to escape, saw the patrol cop pull up, and pretended to be an eyewitness, not a killer.” The joy dawning on Diane’s face is glorious to behold. You get the feeling in this moment that this is what she lives for; finding the truth, protecting the innocent. This is what feeds her soul. We focus on the picture of Andrew Boyland, eyewitness. “So. Let’s go talk to Cary,” she suggests, her smile hardly containing her glee.
A gray door in a gray wall proclaims “Authorized personnel only beyond this point.” Across from it, Mrs. Dolan waits on a bench, holding little Jake and rubbing his arm to sooth him. And her self. “Only a few more minutes,” Alicia smiles, looking down on them. The door opens at her words, but it’s only an officer. “I’ve always waited for bad things to happen,” Mrs. Dolan observes, “every day. Travis sees the good things. And I’m always waiting for the bad.” She leans against the wall. “Well, this is good,” Alicia reminds her, and Mrs. Dolan turns an enormous, sunshiney smile up her husband’s lawyer. “I know,” she says. “I don’t want to be that anymore. The worst thing happened and we’re still here.” Alicia has to be thinking about her own life and family here, at least a little. She’s been through her own worst case scenario, and is still learning to live with the aftermath. It makes me wonder if even a traumatic event can turn that kind of mental habit around. I hope so. “Will you thank the other two lawyers?”
“Oh, I will,” Alicia assures her, “but it was really the prosecutor who reversed himself.” That’s lovely of you to give Cary the credit, Alicia, and he certainly deserves some (especially since this is going to muck with those racial biases, trading a white defendant for a black one) but really, the lion’s share of the credit goes to Kalinda. If she hadn’t figured out the inconsistencies in Boyland’s story, Dolan would certainly still be in jail. For that matter, Diane and Julius deserve credit for not shutting down the case. Heck, if Amani hadn’t stopped Cary from pleading lower, maybe Alicia would have pressed Dolan into accepting a prison sentence.
So good work all around, folks!
The gray door opens again, but this time, the bailiff who exits first holds the door open for Travis Dolan, re-attired in the sad beige jacket and button down shirt he wore at the time of the robbery. His wife’s breath catches in her throat. She stands, practically hyperventilating. “I, uh, can I?” she asks Alicia. “Yes!” Alicia waves her forward, and the pair run into each other’s arms. Travis cries a little into his wife’s hair. Jake circles them, and Travis drops to his knees to embrace his son. Poor little man. What a dreadful birthday that must have been! Mrs. Dolan can’t stop stroking her husband’s hair, his shoulders. They embrace again, Jake wrapping his arms around his father’s waist. Travis shoots Alicia a profoundly grateful glance.
Diane wanders around the once more darkened offices of Lockhart/Gardner, paying particular attention to the large open space near Eli’s office. Were you looking for me, he wonders? No, she says, just looking. As Diane walks by some empty desks, Alicia heads over (perhaps to see her petulant would be boss?) and Diane stops her. “Hey, how did the release go?” Alicia’s answering smile is wide. “Great, you should have been there!” “No,” Diane shakes her head, sounding upset at herself, “I didn’t do enough.”
“Hi,” Alicia says to Will, who’s sitting on a long, low couch thumbing through his phone. So that’s where she was going; her own office, within sight of Eli’s. I haven’t gotten used to the new layout – or, to be frank, to her new office furniture. “How was whoring?” Hee. Will shakes his phone at her. “Unproductive,” he admits. That admission makes Alicia, already pleased with her day, even happier.
“Listen,” he stands to say, “about what I said yesterday…” He advances toward her. I’m pretty sure that even at this late hour, he’s still wearing yesterday’s clothes. “Will, please. I’m on the phone with my kids, I say ‘I love you.’ And then I’m on the phone with my mother-in-law and I say ‘I love you,’ too.” Hee. She braces her hands defensively. “It was an accident.” Except, who would Will talk to like that? He doesn’t have any family we know about, and it’s not the standard guy friend goodbye, either. Anyway. Will smiles down at his feet. “Yes,” he agrees, “but do you think we should talk?”
But, er, that’s just me. I so know what she’s going to say.
“No, I don’t, actually.” She leans back in her chair, totally sure of herself. “You don’t?” Will questions in surprise. “No,” she shakes her head, smiling and emphatic. “You’re sure?” “I’m sure. I’ve never been so sure,” she insists. Hee. True that. If they talked about it, she’d have to think about it, and let’s face it, if she thought about what an insane thing it is, she’d stop. She’d lose her nerve. And she just does not want to do that. So, she’s not going to think about it or talk about it or anything. She looks him full in the face and smiles. He smiles back, but he can’t quite keep the corners of his mouth up. Man, he looks great with his shirt collar open like that. “I’m not interested in anyone else,” he admits, his voice low. Aw! Aw!
And I’m sure that makes some tiny part of her happy, but she really, really doesn’t want to think about it. “Will,” she forces a perky perky smile, “you’re talking about it.” She makes a hilarious grimace, to indicate his misstep. He smiles again. He really wants to talk, you can see it, but he’ll do as she asks. He gives her a besotted glance and heads for the door. He turns, and makes finger guns with both hands. “No fuss, no muss.” “That’s me,” she smiles, back on track. We see her face for a moment, lips blood red in the dim light, still smiling, refusing to slip entirely into reverie.
So.Not. Thinking. About.It.
Will trudges past an enormous flower arrangement on the way to Diane’s office. “Celeste Serrano is forming her own firm.” He throw himself onto a chair across from Diane. “Bankruptcy, litigation, family law.” And thank God for that. Celeste Serrano terrifies me. Diane’s been sitting on her window sill, biting her lips, her arms wrapped around her body. “I don’t want to be careful anymore,” she tells him. This must be mental whiplash; I wonder if this was what he was hoping to hear from Alicia? Or say to Alicia? He tents his fingers and stares at his partner, silent. “I don’t want to count every penny and worry more about failing than doing what’s right.” She’s struck the perfect tune for Will tonight; you can see him catching fire at her words. “Alright,” he replies.
“Legal Aid is losing it’s office space,” she continues. Well, that’s not quite what Coin told us; his news sounded rather more catastrophic than that. “Everybody is pulling back because of the economy.” She nods, a little uncertain, as if she’s pulling this from a deep well she doesn’t really know how to access. “I want to bring them in house.”
Damn! Diane is stepping up.
“There’s room next to Eli. He won’t like it,” and this draws a grin from Will, who seemed close to rolling his eyes a second before. Definitely an upside to this crazy plan. “… but he’ll have to live with it until we… find more room.” Will looks happily resigned, and Diane looks heartened. It’s not going to solve the problem of who will pay them, but it’s a start. “When our lawyers have free time, they can offer it to Legal Aid.” She sits and watches Will’s face for his reaction. He shakes his head wryly. “You should have broken up on the phone,” he observes, and she laughs through her nose – just a soft rush of air – in rueful agreement. “I wanna do this,” she repeats, “and I want your okay.” He looks off in the distance, considering, and she watches him, her breath caught. He turns back. “Okay,” he agrees, and Diane’s face glows as the lights go down on another long day in the city.
That was a pretty fantastic episode, no? And only The Good Wife could mix so many elements into one 40 minute show. Few plotlines terrify me so much as the innocent person being framed for events by larger forces, and so to see poor little Dolan trapped not only by Boyland’s ingenuity, but also by the prosecution’s presumption of guilt, the laudable racial equity initiative, and by his own poverty and L&G’s budget crunch, well, that just freaks me the heck out. It makes me wonder how many others are trapped in prison by circumstance. All of which is an excellent motivation for Diane to eventually open her arms to Legal Aid, which was not only a super satisfying decision emotionally, but one sure to provide lots of fascinating future complications. Will we get to see a lot of Coin buzzing around the office? And just thinking of the faces Eli will make – that’s almost worth it right there, and that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. And how lovely to see Diane not only used to her potential, but coming back into her own crusading spirit? To see her look like she’s found herself, found meaning in her life? Awesome.
The quest for meaning in one’s life resonated beyond Diane, of course. Will had a strange dark night of his own soul; should he follow Celeste back to his old life and his old dream? What does growing up really mean to him, being his own man, being an adult? I think he was being a little disingenuous with Celeste; I think Alicia does figure in with his dreams, which is why he approached her and attempted to clarify their relationship. Like Diane, he sees a new avenue to a meaningful future. There’s no such thing as perfect freedom, but with the confines of his current life, he can do satisfying, meaningful work. It’s like the form of a sonnet, as Madeleine L’Engle puts it; it might be a rigid form, but within it, there’s perfect freedom. And Will can work in Chicago – be something other than maybe the baseball commissioner – and still be himself. On the other hand, I’m sure Will didn’t enjoy being humiliated in front of Peter like that, or the implication that he doesn’t know Alicia’s kids, and is mucking with things he doesn’t understand. So it’s not all sunshine and lollypops.
And, oh, our Alicia.
Actually, before I go there, let me hit on a few other points. All of this week’s guest stars were excellent; Tim Peper was absolutely splendid as the timid everyman, and Sterling Brown of Army Wives and Third Watch was completely credible as the perfect witness (so confident, so respectable) who turns out to be the killer. If we hadn’t know the truth to start with, would you ever have doubted him? We even heard his voice, and it didn’t remotely sound the same. I wonder how much time we’ll be spending with Amani? Also, Eli’s questions to Kalinda about the nature of Will and Diane’s partnership really highlighted this episode’s negotiations. What do we see? They debate. Diane wants to stop the pro bonos: Will says sure. She wants to bring in Legal Aid; sure again, even though this is more than a complete reversal of position. She wants Celeste’s bankruptcy division; Will goes, and he does try, even though he’s argued against it and loathes the idea. She makes him see that it’s for the good of the firm, and that matters more to him than his own wishes or comfort. But though he goes, he’s not above a little passive/aggressive sabotage. But he’ll never give Kalinda and Alicia to Eli. So. Just interesting. Diane runs things, but she needs to convince Will. She needs him on board. And his veto – when he truly gives it – is real. It’s like a functioning marriage, in a way; Mom and Pop indeed.
Eli has barely set down his briefcase at L&G, and he’s already planning his exit strategy? Well, I guess that makes sense. You know, if Chris Noth really is leaving the program after this season (which I hope is a heinous, false rumor), will Eli go with him? We know Eli’s planning to run off with Peter on the campaign trail soon enough, but I don’t want to lose Alan Cummings. So I guess there’s nothing to do but wait it out. I wish he hadn’t spoiled things with Kalinda by putting expectations of monogamy on her, though.
Okay. Will and Celeste, Alicia and Will. Celeste is such a loose cannon; I have to say, I’m really pleased to know that her arc isn’t going to be too long. She gives me fits. I love Lisa Edelstein, and I can like Celeste knowing she’s expended her ammunition at this point. (Or mostly, anyway. Who knows what she knows about the darkest secret of Will’s past; she is from the Baltimore firm, after all.) As a fixture at Lockhart/Gardner, constantly tormenting Will – not so much. So this is much better.
And she made Will realize how deeply he’s ready to change his life. There’s nothing to regret from his past. He’s where he wants to be. And I loved seeing him say it, to Celeste and especially to Alicia. I absolutely understand why she can’t think beyond the moment, why she can’t discuss things, why she can’t let herself think at all. But even though Alicia simply cannot hear it now, I’m glad he said it. I needed to hear it, even if she can’t.