E: Welcome back to Ambiguity Land, friends. After last week’s refreshing and much needed step into the light, this week we descend back into the show’s usual territory, varying shades of gray. And I love that, don’t get me wrong. I love the exploration of the deals we make, the way we weigh one good against another, and the kind of people we think that makes us. I’m just hoping certain characters actually have a moral center somewhere amidst all those shadows!
When the package – a brown box in a blue plastic bag – slaps onto a desk, we don’t know what it is. A man uses a knife (taken from a drawer of gleaming, black handled knives) to slice neatly though the box’s edge. All we see are his neat, confident hands. “This is about a plane crash,” Diane’s voice explains over the scene, so when the man pulls a black case out of the box, I immediately assumes this is the downed plane’s black box. “A Hammet GR6 carrying 35 passengers and 5 crew.” Ah, our civil action from last week. Nice continuity. He opens the box. Underneath a white sheet bearing the name Stambaugh, there’s a gleaming hand gun. “All 40, dead.”
Diane’s addressing a jury. “Many of their widows and widowers are here today, and they all want to know one thing.” As she speaks, the new gun owner flips through the owner’s manual. “Why did the plane just drop from the sky?” Diane points to the gallery. “Like Kyle Litke. He lost his wife and two daughters in this crash.” Oh,wow. In the gallery, Kyle Litke swallows. “Now, the CEO of Hammett Aerospace would have him believe it’s the pilot’s fault, not their plane, but we ask you to reject this cynical, blame the victim defense.” Gun owner opens a packet of bullets, chooses one, almost fondling it, inspecting it according to the dictates of the instructions. “Because this is a very simple case,” Diane begins, but it’s Celeste Serrano who ends the sentence “of a flawed airplane design.” Ah, Celeste “The Ham” Serrano, wearing another damned asymmetrical shirt. What would I do without you?
“My co-counsel Ms Lockhart represents the families of the passengers; I represent the families of the crew.” Celeste’s playing nicely to the jury here – she looks regretful, appalled. “But we decided to combine our lawsuits, because we agree on one thing.” And knowing you, it might be just the one. Slam goes the loaded magazine clip into the gun. “Hammett Aerospace put a jet into service that they knew was defective.” And if so, they deserve to be roasted over live coals. Over the directions, the man cocks the gun. “How do we know this? How do we know they knew the plane was defective?” Celeste holds in her words for a moment as if she’s holding back tears. Which she’s not, of course, but it’s effective. “Because we have a very brave whistle blower from within Hammett who’s agreed to testify for us.”
And it’s clear who the man holding the shiny new gun must be, just before he raises that gun to his temple and fires.
“Damn,” says Diane, staring into the camera.
Celeste walks between Diane and some bookshelves; they’re back at one of the L&G conference rooms. “Not to sound too cynical, but this could be a good thing for us.” The two stare off into the middle distance together as Diane considers the cynical idea. “Guilt ridden whistle blower, testifying from beyond the grave?” It scans. “They didn’t do a good job cross examining in the depo,” Celeste notes. “And it’s hard to cross examine a corpse.” Can’t argue with that. Celeste sashays away, leaving Diane to meditate on the tactic.
“The problem was in the wings,” the now deceased whistle blower explains earnestly on videotape. “The de-icing in the wings?” video-Diane prompts him. Yes. As the man explains the mechanics of this failed system, Celeste cuts him off with the remote. “Not bad. We admit this into evidence.” “And avoid further cross examination,” Diane smiles, pulling off her glasses a la David Caruso. Yes, agrees Celeste. “Falling forward.” Heh. It’s like falling with attitude.
As Celeste smirks to herself, she notices Alicia walking and talking on her cell. “That’s the problem. She’s a good tutor. Grace’s physics grades are the best this year.” You know, it is belatedly occurring to me – I know they’ve been sending the kids to a high achieving school, but physics in what, 8th grade? Even if she’s moved up to 9th, that’s not normal, is it? I mean, they like you to have pretty advanced math to go with physics, right? Part of my point is that there wouldn’t have been another year where she was taking physics. I should probably not care about this show’s timeline issues, right?
Anyway. Eli hooked them up with Jennifer the tutor, which is really interesting. Peter, who’s been watching Jennifer’s videos in horror, expresses surprise at this. “And Grace is friends with her now?” Yeah, says Alicia, I’ll talk to her. Grace is featured, laughing and flipping her collar over her mouth, in Jennifer’s video. “Who, Grace or the tutor?” Hee. “The tutor,” Alicia answers. “Well, I can find some tutor referrals around here,” Peter offers. “That’s okay,” she almost laughs, “let me handle it with a flyswatter, not a bazooka.”
Peter rears his head back in justified pique. “I didn’t think I was handling it with a bazooka.” Alicia sort of slumps, realizing she’s said the wrong thing and offended him. Saved by a knock on the door! They can talk later.
The knock called her to a meeting in Will’s office. “Yes sir,” she says coyly as he holds the door, all sexy secretary. But oops, David Lee is coming to the meeting. David Lee! I love you, David Lee! How had we gone 4 episodes into the season without seeing your marvelous sneering face? “We need more conference room space; I’m like an itinerant farmer out here.” Ha! That’s funny every time I hear it. What a delightfully insensitive, entitled prat he is. Huh – is he talking to them or to his bluetooth? It must be them, right? He remains at attention as Will and Alicia sit. “So, Alicia,” Will begins, “David and I head up the hiring committee, and we’ve decided the firm needs a new first year associate.” Oh. Nice. “So,” Will smiles, “we want you to interview and hire someone.” Alicia shakes her head until a smile comes out. “Really?” “These are the new graduates from U of C. Find one you like,” David tells her, dropping a thick folder on the coffee table in front of her. Why only the University of Chicago? Not that it isn’t a great school, but it’s hardly the only one out there. “You want me to do the actual hiring?” Alicia can’t quite believe it, but she’s clearly thrilled. “In consultation with the committee,” Will nods, waving his hand expansively. Huh – what’s he doing wearing one of Julius’s purple paisley ties?
“And you’ll be mentoring him too, so choose well,” Will adds. Alicia’s smile threatens to split her face. “Or her,” David “give me an army of women” Lee corrects. Too right, sir! Will waves his acceptance of the correction, and smiles happily at his lady love. “Oh, Alicia,” David adds, “I need to talk to you a minute about the Cole divorce.”
She stands to follow him out. “Thank you for this,” Alicia whispers to Will. “Oh, not me, it’s all David. I’m still supposed to be tense with you, remember?” She nods stiffly.
“And by the way, I know how Celeste works,” he warns, nodding toward Celeste working in the main conference room. I can handle it, Alicia says. “No – she thrives on chaos. She’s going to say a lot of things about me just to see how you react.” “Then I won’t react,” she flirts archly, speaking over her shoulder. As Alicia walks away, Celeste peeks up and gives Will a little wiggly finger wave. He gives a little wiggly finger wave back. Hee.
“So we can’t use Cole divorce as our cover word anymore because I actually have a Cole divorce.” Ha. That’s awesome. Funny, I’d forgotten it was their code word, but it was quite clear what he wanted to discuss anyway. “Oh, yes, we don’t need a cover word,” she waves it off, “I still haven’t decided about it yet.” “Ah, yes, the fiction of separation,” David drawls. I love the way he just cuts right through that foolish lie. (Also – I know you don’t want to rush a decision, but do you actually feel like there’s hope for your marriage at this point? Oh. I see. We’re still not thinking. It’s the same thing as thinking about Will and what they heck you’re doing boffing him. Right.) She looks like she’s bitten into a lemon.
“You’re putting your kids in private school?,” David Lee asks, sitting in front of Alicia’s desk. She narrows her eyes at him. “New item in your financial journal,” he says, which is to say, no, I’m not stalking you. Or psychic. “I’m thinking about it,” she replies, also sitting. “That’s 35-50 thousand dollars a year,” he notes. Gulp. “I know,” she shrugs. Alrighty then. “My advice is, you don’t,” he advises. “Thanks, but I’m okay,” she smiles coldly. “You don’t understand, I’m not your accountant, you can overspend on anything you like,” he says, and again, ha! “…but you need to get your husband to pay half.” She’s puzzled. Why? “To preserve your dependency. If you pay that amount, you lose your best argument against spousal maintenance.”
This gets Alicia’s pride up. “I’m not asking Peter for spousal maintenance,” she replies, wrinkling her little nose in distaste. Ha. Alicia, you weren’t paying attention to what he said. “Not you, him!” Her laughter rings out in delight. Hmm – she’s back to wearing tiny pendants again. Much better than the ostentatious stuff that started last week. “Hey, don’t thank me – you guys wanted equal treatment. Thank Gloria Steinem.” Alicia gives him a grave and puzzled look. “Peter makes less at the State’s Attorney’s Office than you do, he could come after you for support.” Seriously? I know that public servants don’t make a lot of money, but man. How did they afford that monster house in the suburbs again? With the private schools? That they’d lived in for at least ten years, right – long enough for her to have known that teen murder suspect from the first season most of his life – when Peter clearly hadn’t been State’s Attorney that long? Or – ha – is it just that they don’t have his enormous legal fees to worry about that has her feeling okay about her financial state now? At any rate, damn, what a crazy thing that in three years at this firm, she could be earning more than the State’s Attorney.
Her eyes narrow. “Peter’s not coming after me for support,” she practically sneers. I have a great deal of trouble imaging Peter doing that, too. I can’t imagine him wanting to depend on her like that. “Alicia, he will come at you for everything,” David Lee contradicts, and that’s not unreasonable to prepare for, either. And, anyway, they’re his kids; as long as he’s on board with the private school thing (and why wouldn’t he be, when they’d made that choice before, when he suggested doing it again?) he ought to pay for half of it, whatever her pride is telling her. “No,” she says, actually snapping this time, “he wants the governorship. That’s what Eli’s plotting in there right now.” And Eli, indeed, is closeted with Frank Landau from the Democratic National Committee.
“Give him the keynote,” Eli’s voice rings out, his face ecstatic. Frank bursts out laughing. “Are you kidding? At the Democratic National Convention?” Yeah, that seems like a big ole reach to me. But not according to Eli, whose face goes cold and petulant at the refusal. Dude, get over yourself! “Peter has the best story. He went to prison on a trumped up charge, fought it, and made it back into office.” Well, okay, that certainly is a great story, but don’t you feel like Peter’s got way to many skeletons still in his closet to be the national face of his party? “It’s a story of rebirth,” Eli spreads his arms, striking a dramatic angel pose. “Eli, he’s a State’s Attorney,” Frank spells it out. “And Obama was a State senator when he got the keynote.” “And a black man,” Frank adds, nodding significantly. Really? Thanks for pointing that out.
Eli looks livid. “Who is it?” Now Eli could give lessons in sneering. Wouldn’t you love to see a sneer-a-thon between Eli and David Lee? “Who’s what?” Frank pretends not to understand. “Who’re you championing? You must have somebody already,” he snarls. Do they really pick that person, what is it 6-8 months in advance? Thinking about it, sure, but, wow. Not that I have any clue what the timeline of this show is supposed to be, anyway, but the next convention isn’t until July 2012. Frank doesn’t really want to say, but eventually, without meeting Eli’s eyes, he spits out the name Adam Spellman. Why doesn’t he want to say? “Oh, come on,” Eli growls, “no to the State’s Attorney but yes to a dog catcher?” Frank exclaims at the term; “he’s a strong businessman!” And Eli’s pointy finger comes out. “You think that’s what America wants to see up on that dais?” “It’s already in the works, we’re pushing Spellman,” Frank shuts down the debate. “Don’t worry about it; Peter Florrick’s marriage is his weapon, not some keynote.” Oh, yeah, don’t worry about that one at all. Frank looks over at Alicia’s office. “So, how’s she doing?” Eli makes a pleasant face for about five seconds before glaring through the glass at Alicia. It’s not a comfortable look.
“They knew the de-icing fluid tended to freeze in the wing lines. They knew it, but they decided to save money,” the chubby deceased explains via videotaped deposition. We’d like to introduce this into the record, Celeste says. Prepare t be shocked; the opposing counsel objects. “It’s hearsay, your Honor. We can’t cross examine a corpse.” “Really?” the judge cries. And, woohoo – Judge Clark Willard is played by the truly handsome David Conrad of Miss Match, relativity and The Ghost Whisperer. Huzzah! Celeste smirks. “Sorry, that was inelegantly put.” I’ll say. He rephrases. Diane cites a rule 2.12 which allows videotaped testimony to be used in particular circumstances. Only at the discretion of the court, the engineering company’s lawyer qualifies, if the court is sure “it won’t do a substantial injustice, as in the case of perjury.” Say what? “Which is why in the current matter, I would direct the court’s attention to Mr. Ritter’s suicide note.” Uh oh. That’s not good. But I suppose if this had gamble worked, we’d have nothing to work for during this episode. What does the note say? “It consists of two lines. ‘It’s a lie. I’m sorry.” The defense lawyer hands out copies. Yuck.
“Your Honor,” Diane steps immediately into the breach,”Mr. Ritter’s wife was claiming he slept with their 16 year old babysitter, the note was referring to that!” We don’t know that, the fresh-faced defense lawyer rightly points out. “He could be referring to his testimony in this trial. At the very least, the meaning is unclear.” “Unclear,” howls Diane, “are you serious?” “Really,” Celeste adds, and the defense attorney snaps back with a spirited defense of his own position. “Go ahead,” Judge Willard says quietly, “you can all just wear yourselves out. Tell me when you’re ready.”
And from the way Kyle Litke just burst out of the courtroom door, I’m guessing we lost that motion. “What do we do now?” he asks bitterly. We have other options, Diane tries to explain, but he can’t think what. Celeste wants to ask for a continuance, a fabulous short term stop gap if they can get one, but it doesn’t assuage his distress. Well, there are still the expert witnesses. “You thought they weren’t enough,” Litke reminds his lawyers, who deflate a little. Diane’s already on her phone. “Just hold them accountable, please?” Litke begs, putting his anguish into the plea. “For my wife and daughters.” Litke stalks off, and the other claimants begin to disperse as Diane reaches her intended savior.
“What’re you on right now?,” she asks. “Eli business,” Kalinda answers. Then she listens. “Yeah, I’m already on it,” she confirms before hanging up. Then Eli sits down next to her, the better to hear her news. “Adam Spellman, do you know who that is?” Businessman, she answers. Rather a new tact for the Democratic party, no? “Head of the Chicago Black Leadership Council.” Well, that bit’s not so new. “Yeah,” confirms Eli, “I need you to look into him.” Look? “As in find dirt,” Eli explains, not quite meeting Kalinda’s eyes. She jumps on this immediately, smiling. “He’s the next keynote speaker at the Democratic Convention, and if there’s a skeleton in his closet, I do not want him blowing up on the Democratic Committee!” Ha! Why are you even pretending to altruism, Eli? She’s going to see through that in about a nanosecond. “Really? How selfless of you,” she snarks. “Well,” he says, popping a nut in his mouth snagged from a bowl in front of her, “I’m a caring individual.” Oh yes. “I need it quick,” he adds. “Yeah,” she snorts, sorting through the papers in front of her, “everybody needs it quick.” Then she drags up one of the papers. “Ah!” she exclaims. “That was quick,” Eli breathes in admiration.
“It was a blind cc,” she explains to Celeste and Diane. So she really was already on the civil case. “Ritter emailed the CEO about the de-icing problems.” So, that should be admissible, right? Also, Diane’s jacket is so cool – it’s this geometric pattern in greys and purpley blues, which somehow gives the more organic effect of lizard skin or pebbles. Very neat. “And on Ritter’s copy, there were only two email addresses, but on the CEO’s copy, he bcc’d someone else.” “The CF at Harold Equity Group? Who’s that?” Celeste wonders. Diane slowly raises her head in comprehension, her eyes widening. Kalinda raises her eyebrows. “No!” Diane gasps. Celeste’s lost. “He was a client of ours from two years ago. He was a venture capitalist on their IPO: the CEO kept him in the loop.” Diane nearly faints onto her couch. ‘Great,” she sighs. Celeste is baffled. “Well, he’s not the most dependable of witnesses. He might not even talk to us,” Kalinda not quite explains the dilemma. “He won’t,” Diane grumbles, but then thinks about it. “Call Alicia.” Now Celeste is actively annoyed. “He’ll talk to her,” Diane believes.
A clang reverberates through the darkness, right before a guard lets Alicia through a prison door. Celeste waits for her in a shadowed corner. Man, this is so Silence of the Lambs. “And here I didn’t think we’d get a chance to work together,” Celeste comments. “See, isn’t it fun?” Alicia smiles broadly. “You and I should get some drinks,” Celeste suggests. Yeah, like that would ever happen in a million years! “Trade whore stories.” Alicia’s face is priceless. “Horror stories?” she asks, and Celeste turns to her, smiling. “Yeah. What’d I say?” Alicia’s still recovering from this sally when they reach their destination.
“He’s not allowed to touch you or hand you anything,” the serious faced, seriously muscled cop explains. “There’s a panic button at the end of the table if you need it.” “That’s not his style,” Alicia shakes her head before making further inquiries. “How much does he know?” Nothing, Celeste tells her. “I thought I’d let you broach it.” She gives the guard her best bobble head pose. “It’s like Clarice Starling, huh?” YES! Exactly. Celeste, I’m enjoying you so much more now that your cards are (largely) on the table. Alicia looks appalled and alarmed by the comparison, as well she might, but she walks through the door anyway.
The room is more pleasant than I’d been expecting – sage green walls, faux stone tiles, bright slit windows, giving the effect of a castle. “Mrs Florrick!” Colin Sweeney exclaims in slow delight, his hands drawn up to his chest like a bunny because of the chains. “What a pleasure!” She stands in the doorway, hands clasped, the sacrificial lamb.
“You’re looking well,” a now seated Alicia observes. “Oh, well,” he demurs, “Under the circumstances I do the best I can.” Hilariously, he starts humming and pulling at his beige jumpsuit with his ineffectual chained hands so she can see the black tracery near his neck. “You have a tattoo, I see,” she observes mildly. “What?” he pretends surprise. “Oh, this old thing?” He’s so pleased it’s almost cute. Almost. “I wanted William Blake’s “The Ancient of Days,” but beggars really can’t be choosers here.” Ha. “And you, Mrs. Florrick, I imagine you’re well? Your husband’s back in office,” he notes politely. Her hands are folded in front of her, prim as a school girl, but her face clouds a bit. “You’re thriving in your profession – the world must be your oyster.” “I would say the grass is always greener,” she snarks, “but…” She gestures at the prison garb and shackles, and he agrees. “Although, there’s a refreshing honesty to prison. People don’t dissemble here, they just take,” he shrugs. Alicia consider her tactics in light of this.
“My firm needs your help, Mr. Sweeney,” she gambles. “So, that’s it for small talk,” he gripes, offended or at least wanting to seem so. So much for the advantages of straightforwardness. On the other hand, now she doesn’t have to make that small talk. He tries and fails to cross his legs. “My firm is suing a company, Hammett Aerospace – there was a plane crash?” He’s familiar with it. “The Dorset crash, yes, I know.” And he was the financier on their IPO. “We had a witness who knew there was a problem with the de-icing system on the plane, but he committed suicide.” “Oh dear,” Sweeney notes through his nose. “Yes,” agrees Alicia. “Anyway, he was testifying to a meeting you attended.”
“And you were wondering if I would testify in his stead?” Never slow to see a personal advantage, Colin Sweeney. Yes, of course she was. “Why me, why not O.J.? Won’t the jury be inclined to mistrust the word of a renowned wife killer?” Alicia gulps, but her head is erect, held perfectly straight, and she continues to look him in the eye. “You were never convicted,” she offers. “Oh, yes,” he laughs bitterly, “those fine distinctions of the law – imprisoned on something I didn’t even do. I hate irony.” He perks up. “I heard America’s irony free these days.” “Yes,” she says, her head snapping up, finally letting her annoyance show, “it’s been outlawed.”
Really, this is an impossible task. Whyever would he do this for you? From the goodness at the bottom of the dark well of his soul? He laughs, and she stares stonily back at him, her lips compressed. “I like you, Alicia,” he says, leaning forward, “why don’t you like me?” Gee, let me count the ways. “You killed your wife,” she explains, but that’s really insufficient to cover the depth of her discomfort. As if she would have liked him anyway? Because, no. “And there’s nothing I can do about that?” Not unless you’ve figured out how to raise the dead, no. She turns, gives him a sharp, measuring look. “Testify.” “Would that help you?” he blinks rapidly. “It would help 40 families who’re suing Hammett Aerospace,” she subsitutes, but he’s not having it. “Yes, and I’m sure they’re all adorable,” he drawls, rolling his eyes, “but will it help you?” She wrestles with this request for a moment. “Yes.” “Then of course, I’ll help,” he smiles.
Creepy! Music slides up along your nerves, jarring. She swallows.
The music itself seems to come from tutor Jennifer’s ipod. She’s sitting at an outdoor cafe wearing a long sleeved shirt covered with hearts and colorful scarf, her hands weaving to the music. She pulls out her earbuds when Alicia arrives. ‘Thank you for waiting,” Alicia smiles, far more friendly than we’d seen her a moment ago, throwing up her hands to explain her tardiness, “work!” You might as well sigh, Alicia. You’ve earned it. Lots of people can complain about their day but few have to actually bargain with a murderous psychopath.
“Um,” she begins, her posture much more relaxed, her face open and smiling, “I think you’re doing a great job as a tutor.” Jenn nodes silently, as is her wont. Alicia breaks her train of thought to offer the girl a drink, which she declines. I’m sure the restaurant is going to love that, keeping a table and not ordering anything. “So, these videos that you make, these dance videos…” Alicia’s at a loss, and Jennifer smiles, but doesn’t help her out at all. Is she expecting praise? “They’re just…” she switches tactics. “How old are you, Jennifer?” “22,” Jenn replies, tucking her hair behind her ear. “And you and Grace, you’ve become friends?” She nods. Oi, it’s like pulling teeth. Except Alicia doesn’t know how to talk here either. You’d think this would be easier to do than bargaining with the psychopath. “And these, um, dance videos, um – what’re they for?”
How can she be so puzzled by this? I mean, she’s supposed to be a smart woman in her early 40s. That’s not that old, and the internet is not that new. Shouldn’t she have spent the last ten plus years reading mommy blogs? Jennifer doesn’t even know how to answer such a daft, unknowing question. “The internet,” she says. Wow, the girl really isn’t one for talking, is she? I mean, at least Alicia is attempting to get sentences out of her mouth. “Uh huh. You make money off of them?” Oh, Alicia. You’ve never sounded more like a soulless lawyer. No, of course not. “You just do them?” Jennifer nods, pleased.
“I don’t understand,” Alicia shudders. Really? Has pop culture really passed you by so completely? “I like doing them,” Jennifer shrugs – but cutely, crinkling her eyebrows and smiling. Like it should be obvious. And honestly, I feel like it should. There are millions of these videos; just because you’ve never met someone who makes them before, I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t occur to you that someone makes them. But no. I’m not saying they’re normal, but – they’re out there. Anyway, Alicia gives up the diplomatic route rather quickly. “Okay, Jennifer, I just want you to be a tutor, okay? I just want you to work with Grace on her homework.” Jennifer’s puzzlement is clear. “I don’t want Grace making these videos with you anymore.” What, no actual articulation of Grace’s age being a factor, the political attention on their family, nothing to explain this decision? I mean, I guess she’s Jennifer’s boss and can say whatever she wants, but that’s what I’d have done in her place. “Okay. Is that it?” It is. Without another word, Jennifer leaves. Alicia’s surprised, but she shouldn’t be. Maybe you should have let Peter and his bazooka handle this after all, Alicia.
“Oh my God, you’re good,” Eli cries, reading a folder Kalinda’s brought him. Hell yeah she is! “Thanks,” she says. “So Adam Spellman, a Democrat, really gave money to support the Defense of Marriage Act?” Well. I don’t know if it’s a smoking gun, but it’s really not good. “His wife did. She’s a devout Baptist. They knew it would be a problem, that’s why it came through her company.” “And then they tried to hide it.” Eli’s so delighted he laughs. Then he composes his face. “I mean, I think this is good that the DNC knows this now rather than before the convention.” Right. “Yeah,” Kalinda understates, “that’s very selfless of you.” Eli smiles and thwacks her on the arm with the folder. Wow! Physical affection from Eli? Astounding.
He pulls a slip of paper from his desk, names he wants Kalinda to investigate. People who could get in the way of the keynote. In whose way, Kalinda wonders. Peter Florrick, of course. Ah, but she didn’t know that. Fascinating that it wouldn’t have occurred to her, huh? “I didn’t know it was for Peter Florrick,” she tells Eli, her body stiffening. “Oh, don’t worry, I’ll pay you out of pocket,” he misunderstands her concern. She gapes at the paper. “The list,” he prompts. “No,” she answers, smiling falsely. “But thanks, though.” He’s genuinely surprised, and to his credit, he doesn’t snap at her. “What’s wrong?” Nothing, she lies, I’ve just got too much other work. Eli doesn’t buy it for a second. Through the glass walls, Kalinda watches Alicia conferring in her office; Eli flaps his list and narrows his eyes, making his own internal calculations.
“Thank you for coming in, Caitlin,” Alicia smiles at the young blond in her office. Alicia’s in tweed; the girl (played by True Blood‘s Anna Camp) is in dark green. “No, this is cool,” Caitlin enthuses. She looks like a cheerleader, with long curly locks (total Barbie hair) and a huge smile. She’s perky, though not insincerely so. She’s also got a very impressive resume, according to Alicia, including a summer internship with a prestigious New York firm. So why us, Alicia wonders. “In a word, litigation,” Caitlin enthuses again. “Transactional is fine, but litigation is what turns me on.” Alicia nods back, a bit frozen. You can see the wheels turning. Did this girl really just say something turned her on in a job interview? “And the University of Chicago. What turned you on there?”
“Moot court,” answers another applicant for the first year associate position. “It was an opportunity to dig deep into an area of law, but still keep my feet grounded in something real.” Alicia beams at this second girl, a pale, sophisticated but studious looking brunette wearing purples and blues. A mini-Alicia, in other words. “And did you win?” “My partner and I did,” the girl qualifies. “I can work on my own, but I love being a part of a team.” She’s slightly awkward, but endearingly so. She reminds me of a young Melanie Lynskey, which is a huge compliment.
“And after your summer at Wyler, did you get a job offer?” Alicia prompts. “No,” Caitlin admits, “They had a hiring freeze. The economy. But I would rather be here anyways!” “Just an odd question,” Alicia finishes, “it’s a question that they first asked me when I interviewed here. What’s your favorite hobby?” (Wow, wouldn’t you love to know what Alicia answered? What on earth might her hobbies be? Drinking red wine?) “Well, I’m embarrassed to say,” the brunette grins shyly. “Come on, Martha, let’s hear it,” Alicia laughs; Martha tries to deflect attention away from herself. “What was your hobby?” Yes, tell us! “No, no, no, I’m the one asking questions here.” Damn. Alicia’s warm, friendly, maternal. “Okay. I like foreign movies, old movies like Truffaut and Goddard.” She looks genuinely embarrassed and fearful Alicia will judge her. Ha! What’s so embarrassing about that?
“Trampboarding,” Caitlin declares with a bit of false modesty. This baffles Alicia even more than posting dance videos on the internet. It takes her quite some time to form words. “Skateboarding on a trampoline,” Caitlin explains, somewhat condescendingly. “Without wheels.” So she’s a jock. I’m sort of surprised and impressed. But the false modesty hasn’t really begun. “I know,” she confesses, seeing Alicia’s puzzled look, “but I can do a double somersault from a full blown Ollie.” Caitlin raises her eyebrows in a “top that” kind of stare. Alrighty then. I can’t help thinking if the interviewer was a man, he’d be drooling.
“To be honest,” Martha smiles, “I’ve had an offer from Canning & Myers.” Wait, as in Louis Canning? Nice continuity! “But I’d really rather work here. I like the family spirit.” I don’t know if we have family spirit, but I’d definitely rather work for Will & Diane than Louis Canning. (Um, we would, right? More noble, generally, right? Or am I making that up in my head because they’re the protagonists?) Leaning forward confidingly, Alicia asks Martha to wait a few days for her decision if she can. “That’s great, Alicia,” Martha smiles. It’s all happy families here. Or it is until Celeste knocks on Alicia’s door.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Judge Willard instructs the jury, banging a gavel, “you will now hear testimony from a convict, housed at the Pine Creek Penitentiary. Under agreement from the attorneys,the questioning will be conducted via closed circuit video.” Diane leans against the jury box.
Colin Sweeney fiddles with the neck of his prison garb, trying to expose just the right amount of tattoo. Because, you know, it makes him such a bad ass. “How’s my haaaaair?” he drawls. I don’t know anyone not Southern who draws out their words like that. (Actually, I guess it’s kind of a California surfer thing, too. But Sweeney’s neither.) Fine, says Alicia, “but you might want to cover your, uh…” She gestures at the tattoo. He makes the strangest, most feline growl in response. “So are we clear on what you’re going to say?” Celeste chimes in. You know, it’s too bad there’s not more interaction here between these two – they could have been very entertaining. “I’m to answer truthfully and completely,” Colin recites, unchained hands on the table. “Not too completely,” Celeste warns, “just keep it simple and concise.” The guard lets them know it’ll be about five minutes before they go live to the courtroom.
“Something about you two,” Sweeney puzzles, looking at both lawyers. Ha. “Some kind of tension there…. What is it?” Alicia looks vexed. “Are you gonna tell ‘im?” Celeste asks. Oh God. “I would like to just concentrate on his testimony,” Alicia forces out. “Oh come on,” gossip monger Sweeney pouts. “You can’t leave it like that. There won’t be any testimony if you don’t tell us what it is.” “We’re lovers,” Celeste spits out. Alicia’s eyebrows dance. Sweeney smiles, really smiles. Awesome. Thank you, this was just what I was looking for. “We’ve been keeping it secret for months. Alicia?” “I really don’t want to talk about it right now,” Alicia huffs, which is sort of awesomely in character and playing along at the same time. “She’s breaking up with me for a man who is not worthy of her.” Arms crossed, totally defensive, Alicia glares at Celeste. Oh, good times. “If only it were true,” Colin sighs, but before he can pester them for the real story, the guard counts down for him as if he were a camera man on a real TV show, silently. “Short and to the point,” Celeste reiterates.
“Hello, Mr. Sweeney, can you hear me?” Diane begins. “Yes M’am!” They exchange good mornings. “I understand you’ve been sworn in,” she says, and he has. “May I ask you a few questions?” “Yes,” he says, looking a bit nuts, “I’ve been wonderfully prepped here by two of your beautiful attorneys…” Oh, creepy. Creepsville. It is abundantly clear that this is not going to go well. I don’t like his use of the word prepped at all. Alicia’s nervous, too. “Mr. Sweeney, can you tell us how you became acquainted with Hammett Aerospace?” He can. “I – er, rather, my company… my company,” he pouts, “was retained to provide financing for their initial public stock offering.” He’s acting like he’s reciting this information and doesn’t know it, like he doesn’t know what an IPO is at all. He smiles brightly and freakishly at Alicia and Celeste and actually asks”how was that?” Oh, God. “And in that capacity, did you attend a meeting where Hammett Aerospace executives discussed potential problems with the GR6?” He’s not at all convincing when he says he was there.
Oh, ladies, you need to be reacting! Alicia sees he’s deliberately blowing it, but does nothing. Then he starts fanning himself to expose the tattoo. Did they discuss the de-icing issue at that meeting, Diane wonders. “Did you – ah, um, I’m sorry, could you repeat the, ah…” Diane does repeat it. Oh, honey. Finally, Alicia acts. “We need to cut him off, he’s gonna hurt us,” Alicia tells Celeste, who sprints into action. “Mr Sweeney, do you need a moment,” asks handsome Judge Willard. “Uh, I don’t know,” splutters Sweeney, but before he can fake more ignorance, Celeste pulls the plug. Good girl! I mean, woman.
“Ah, your Honor, I need to ask for a brief continuance,” Diane steps up to the judge’s bench. “Clearly my witness is having health issues.” “Clearly your witness is having second thoughts,” the sharp defense attorney butts in. Hee.
“Mr. Sweeney,” Alicia starts, “what are you doing?” “What am I doing?” he replies, “I’m undercutting your case.” Well. Excellent. Good to have that out in the open. “Why?” Because he wants something. Don’t we all? And what’s his desire? “Freedom.”
“He’ll testify if we free him?” Diane asks incredulously. “With good behavior, he has two years left on his sentence,”Alicia explains. What, for killing someone? Really? Ugh. “He says he has something to offer the State’s Attorney,” Celeste adds. “Evidence about drugs in prison.” At this point, David Lee knocks on the door.
“I think I can get around the private school money situation,” he tells us with a lazy flick of his wrist. Then he barks into his bluetooth: “Hold on, Margie! Hold on!” She thanks him. “How are the interviews going?” “Great!” Alicia smiles. “I re-interviewed my top two choices, and I think I’ve made a decision.” “Gre-ate,” he drawls. “Isn’t Caitlin fantastic?” Alicia’s taken aback. “Caitlin?” How does he know about her? “Yeeeees,” drawls David Lee, “did she tell you how much she loves competition?” Ha. As opposed to Martha, who likes working in a team? (Well, not that teams don’t compete. Anyway.) “She did. You know her?” “Yes,” he explains, “she’s my niece. I told her not to mention it because I didn’t want her to win out based on nepotism. I’m glad you liked her,” he finishes, giving Alicia a significant look. So I guess he didn’t say “she” – or pick only U of C grads – just for fairness’s sake. “Well, I did,” Alicia begins, “but…” “What?” Lee hells into his bluetooth, “no. Come on!” He stalks off, leaving Alicia mightily unsettled.
Can that possibly be Cary’s tiny cramped office? Who knew you could fit so many people in it? “Next time I’ll get some long benches in here,” he offers as he walks on Diane accompanied by Celeste, Alicia (who quickly scurries out of his way) and three minions. “Colin Sweeney wants to make a deal,” Diane explains as Cary sits down. Yeah, he figured that out from the email, he says. “Ah, Amani – come on in, come on in,” he beckons as she wades through the other lawyers to stand by his side. He introduces Amani and her anti-racial bias mission; Alicia gives a sour look to Diane, who isn’t happy about Amani’s reappearance either. “And she keeps me honest with all our plea bargains,” he finishes the introduction, before getting into the issue at hand. “Okay, so. Our good friends from Lockhart/Gardner…” “And Monty & Collumbeck!” Celeste pipes up, to which Cary accedes. “They have an offer to make us in trade for releasing the wife killer Colin Sweeney.”
Diane can’t let that pass, particularly since L&G was accidentally instrumental in getting someone else wrongly convicted of Mrs. Sweeney’s murder. “The defensive killer of his stalker Colin Sweeney.” Yes, and it was so satisfying that they got him on something; this is a tough pill to swallow all around. I’m almost surprised that Alicia’s willing to go down this road and not looking for another avenue to attack Hammett Aerospace. Amani and Cary are displeased. “And I’m sure Amani will have something to say about that,” Cary’s willing to let his colleague play the heavy. Alicia steps in. “Cary, you’ve seen the increase in heroin distribution in the Cook County Prison Complex.” He has. “Mr. Sweeney can tell you who, and how. Including guards.” In exchange for his freedom, Cary notes. Yes, Diane agrees.
Cary looks to Amani, who shakes her head no. “I don’t think that’s going to fly, but thank you for your time,” he dismisses them. “Why don’t you check with your boss?” pleads Diane, leaning down onto Cary’s desk. “Peter Florrick promised to fight corruption in the prison system, this could go a long way toward that.” Well, that’s a good point, Diane. Prison would have to be particularly important to Peter. Cary sniffs, and says he will.
Amani follows him out of the office, frowning. As they head through a door into a larger office, they start – to make small talk? “Where did you got to school?,” he asks her. “Brown. Where did you?” So he drops the H bomb, as his friend liked to call it – Harvard. “Siblings?” Wow, they’re not exactly looking for Peter, are they? “Siblings?” She’s got three brothers. “Lawyers?” Cary wonders. Well, these things often run in families. But she smiles. “No. The family was happy to have just one lawyer. One’s a painter, one’s a writer, one teaches at the Sorbonne.” Damn, that’s cool. “Really,” Cary deadpans, “that’s in France, isn’t it?” Sigh. Amani’s not amused. But ah, it’s time. Is this reminding anyone else of William H. Macy’s character in Fargo, the sad sack car salesman who’s always pretending to talk to his manager to get you a better deal, but is really just hanging out in the hallway, playing you?
Somewhere on the way back to the room, Cary has acquired a file. “Okay, I talked to Peter, and he has a counter offer,” Cary – well, I can’t say lies, exactly, because I suppose they could have concocted this charade with Peter after getting the email. “Donny Pike,” he says, opening the folder to reveal the face of a skinhead with a tattooed forehead. “Senior acting member of the Aryan Warlords. He just finished up a five year stretch at Pine Creek Penitentiary.” Alicia huffs. “Oh, come on. The most dangerous man in the Illinois system?” Amani watches, focused; Diane and Celeste look ill. “Yes, he is,” Cary agrees, “and a confidant of Colin Sweeney’s.” Really! That’s weird. “Sweeney gives him stock tips, and Pike gives him protection.” Okay, maybe not that weird.
“You want Sweeney to testify against him?” Alicia narrows her eyes. “Yes, if he wants a reduction in his sentence!” “The last witness you tried to turn against him was murdered,” Alicia reminds her former colleague. And could it happen to a better guy? Sorry, sorry, I know that’s awful of me. But you have to feel the SA’s office could see that as a win either way. “Yes. Well. We’ve learned from our mistakes.” Oh, that’s reassuring. Cary gives Diane Donny’s file.
“I was the ASA who won that plea bargain,” Geneva Pine complains in a clearly heated debate in Peter’s office. Yay, Geneva! You’re looking lovely in that gold suit. “And you’re considering reversing it?” She’s appalled. “Not reversing it,” Cary contends, since he’s now selling the plan. Which means he and Amani must have concocted it together. Peter slouches in his seat, watching, weighing the optinos. “He’s served two years.” He has? How is that possible? “For killing a woman,” Geneva spits out in horror. “No,” Cary intones piously, “for involuntary manslaughter with good behavior.” Seriously, our penal code makes no sense to me. “This is Colin Sweeney we’re talking about. The public knows his name. If we release him, we’ll be crucified.” Geneva addresses her appeal right to Peter. “Not if we’re using him to stop a Neo-Nazi from committing more murders from prison,” Cary asserts. Geneva’s got her arms crossed, defensive and annoyed. “What do you think, Amani?,” Peter asks quietly, and Geneva turns to face this new voice. “I think it’s worth it if we can stop this white supremacist.,” Amani contends. Geneva’s livid. Maybe she was expecting Stonehouse to be on her side, in not giving the rich white woman-killer a break?
“If you stop him,” Geneva agrees provisionally, “but if you put Colin Sweeney on the stand, I don’t know a jury in the world who would believe him.” Yes, and there’s a lot of that going around now, isn’t there? Eli waves to Peter outside his office. “Okay, we’re gonna make the deal,” Peter decides. Geneva thinks its a huge mistake. “You’re going to be the man who released O.J.” Wow, everyone wants to compare him to that other famous wife killer, and I guess it’s sort of apt, but O.J. – people used to love O.J. I don’t think the public has ever done anything but love to loathe Colin Sweeney. Anyway. “Would you make the deal if it was just anybody?” Peter asks her. “But it’s not just anybody!” Should that matter? I’m not sure. It shouldn’t matter for the sake of appearances, but Sweeney is clearly dangerous, and that should matter. Of course, Pike is more dangerous. “I know,” the SA agrees, holding up his hand to forestall Geneva’s objections, “but if it were? Two years left on an involuntary manslaughter?” You can see from the stricken, furious look on her face that she would.
“There’s your answer,” Peter says, and wow, this whole “new day” ethic really has taken hold. “But Geneva makes a good point about the testimony. We’re gonna make the deal, but he’s got to give us more.” “What more?,” Cary wonders. “A wire,” Peter declares, buttoning up his jacket and heading out.
“Eli,” Peter greets his ally in the corridor, “what’ve you got?” Ah, I love this West Wing style walking and talking. “Keynote address at the Democratic Convention,” the smaller man boasts, pleased as punch and fit to burst with it. Peter stops in complete shock. “They were going with Adam Spellman, but he has an issue with gay marriage, so I got you the hearing with Donna Brazile.” Eli kind of pokes Peter – who’s still standing like a statue – in his second unsolicited almost touch of the episode. Wow, what’s going on? Wacky.
“I’m stunned,” Peter admits. He’s also thrilled, you can see it. “That’s why you hired me, Peter – to stun you.” Eli lives for moments like this one. Peter turns back to walking, suddenly looking less joyous. “Look, you don’t have to decide about running for governor, just take the meeting, sweep her off her feet, keep hitting the prison thing, that’s your selling point.” Peter snorts. “What?” “I may be in the news this week,” Peter admits. “A plea bargain that could gain a lot of attention.” Eli sucks in his cheeks, furious at having all his maneuvering potentially spoiled. ‘Can you delay it?,” he bites out. “I could,” Peter considers, taking a moment, “but I won’t.” Nice! (Delay it longer than the continuance, and L&G won’t need to agreed to his terms, so there is something of a time limit.) Pursing his lips even tighter, Eli says what I’m thinking. “So this ethical thing is for real, then?” Ha. Ha ha ha ha ha! “I would really love to get that keynote speech,” Peter admits, because sure, he’s still ambitious. “Then don’t get in the news!” hisses Eli.
“And what does Kalinda Sharma have against you?” Peter’s head whips up, looking intently at Eli. “The investigator at Lockhart/Gardner, she won’t do any work for you – what’s that about?’ Peter blows out his lips, looks around. “I don’t know!” he tosses off, and walks away, glowering. His Spidey senses tingling, Eli scowls at his prize candidate’s back.
A new day it is! Loving Peter trying to stay above the fray. I also think they’re using him really effective so far this season; a pivotal scene here and there which makes sense with his position and his family ties. It’s good. He’s there when he ought to be, and not glaringly absent when he’s desperately needed. Let’s hope this trend continues!
“Really?” Will replies over his phone as if he’s just heard some delicious gossip. He’s in his office, reading, walking past his window, the lights of the city glittering behind him. “I didn’t know that, is she good?” “Caitlin,” says Alicia, wearing white – a sexy white top which shows off her toned arms. That must have been under her mumsy tweed. And ah, so that’s the gossip. “Yes. It’s just,” she sighs, “she’s David Lee’s niece, and I’m feeling a little pressure.” “Who’s the better lawyer?” Will asks. “I don’t know, they’re both good,” Alicia explains (and how can she truly know? they’re both untested). “There’s just – something about Martha.” Will, you did ask her to pick someone she was going to have to mentor, and she just feels like she gets Martha. “I like her. And Caitlin is a classic C student.” Wait, what does that mean? Does she means C Chicago, or C the grade? Because I can’t imagine she’d even interview someone who had less than optimal grades out of all possible applicants. “Well, you know what they say,” Will shrugs. “A students make great professors. B students make great judges. And C students make partner.” Oh. That was what she was saying. Weird. Also, what a totally weird saying. Is that why her grades don’t matter? Will smiles, and Alicia smiles into the phone before quickly hanging up.
And a good thing, too, because a mopey, miserable looking Grace (in an adorable ruffle jacket) appears in the bedroom doorway.
“Did you tell Jennifer not to be friends with me?” Grace whimpers, dropping her backpack at the threshold. What, Alicia wonders, swiveling her position on her bed. “Did you tell her not to be my friend?” Alicia responds in surprise. “No, I told her I wanted her to concentrate more on your studies,” she answers, which I guess is literally true, but I’m not shocked that she gave that impression. And wow, you didn’t talk to Grace about this first? Some flyswatter, Alicia. How you can be so sensitive sometimes, and so thick others… “Why, what did she say?” “Nothing,” Grace flaps her hands. “She left after we studied.” I don’t know about you, but I can totally see that; the girl can definitely do silence. “Why would you tell her that?” Alicia tries to pick the right words. This is not going to be easy. “Because Grace, she’s 22, and you’re 14.” So, Grace shrugs, looking desperately forlorn. “So, why isn’t she with friends her own age?” Er, because she barely speaks? “Because she’s my friend,” Grace cries. Shouldn’t she have a had a life before she met you, Grace? Also, the real point is that she has interests which your mom doesn’t think are age appropriate for you to share. Heaven knows why she can’t say that, rather than try to treat Jennifer like a servant. “NO, she’s your tutor. I’m paying her.” “Why can’t she be both?,” Grace rightly points out. ‘Because it’s unprofessional,” Alicia spits out. What, there’s a tutorial code of ethics? God, Alicia, I’m so annoyed with you. You were so clear with Peter about what the problem was. Why can’t you just express it when it counts? (Human. I know. But it’s like watching a friend muck up her life unnecessarily…)
“I don’t have friends, Mom,” Grace explains passionately, on the verge of tears. What happened to Shannon? “She’s my only real friend.” Alicia looks ready to cry. I kind of want to cry, hearing that. It’s also something Alicia can relate to. “She’s my friend, and with you at work all the time…” And that’s where Grace loses the momentum she’d gained. “No no no no no no, you do not get to play that card,” Alicia protests, still looking shaken. Picking up on the real emotion in her mother’s voice, Grace stops, and Alicia reconsiders. “Look, maybe I over reacted. I just don’t want you doing these videos.” Thank you! Finally! “I just think it dangerous, doing them in the street!” “It’s not,” Grace pleads. “Grace, will you please just let me be the parent here?” Alicia begs, hand to her heart. Grace bottles her response,again on the verge of tears. “If you want to take dance…” Alicia begins.
“Mom, I don’t want to take dance,” Grace cries, exasperated at Alicia for missing the whole point. The videos are unstructured, spontaneous, and that appeals to her because it’s something that Jennifer does for herself, to express herself and to be daring. “I just want to this,” she finishes. “Why?” Alicia pleads. “Because it’s cool,” Grace asserts (so not a winner in parental arguments), “because no one else is doing it.” Grace lets her sweet, sorrowful face doing the begging now, which is much more effective. And Alicia’s phone rings. “Okay, let me think on,” she says, and Grace trudges off ungraciously. “Alicia Florrick,” she says bitterly into her phone.
And the blaring horn music is back again, which means prison this time, and Colin Sweeney. He’s been escorted through an outdoor path, flanked by two guards and surrounded by barbed wire. You know, I get this is your job, but the dude is not going to try to bust out physically. It’s raining. The guards join two more of their fellows and shove Sweeney into a Department of Corrections van. “Ah,” he says, “my goodness. The quality of convicts has really gone down hill!” This last bit he whispers, sotto vocce, to Alicia, who’s wearing the sexy white blouse under a brown suit jacket. So, new day? Was Will in the office before dawn? I’m confused. So I’ll think about something else. Have I mentioned yet how much I love Dylan Baker? And how glad I am he gets to play such a fun role, one so far outside his average bureaucrat? Excellent. He’s excellent. The “convicts” he’s talking about are Cary and Amani, who sit in the van across from Alicia and Celeste. “We’ve got a deal for you, Mr. Sweeney, that’s why we’re here” Cary begins. “They will give you your freedom,” Alicia explains, looking up at her client, “in exchange for testimony against Donny Pike.”
“Donald?,” Colin replies dramatically. How else? “Yes,” confirms Cary, “he’s ordered the death of 4 witnesses from prison.” “You want me to testify against him?” Amani clarifies the situation. “The deal isn’t for what you know, it’s for what you can find out.” Yep, there it is. But wait, the best part’s coming! “We don’t think you’re the most trustworthy witness,” Cary says, and Alicia jumps a little in surprise. Ah, didn’t spring this on Sweeney’s legal team in advance? “That’s why we’ll need you to wear a wire.” She gives Cary a shocked look. “That wasn’t the deal,” Celeste complains. “Well, that’s the new deal,” Cary replies flatly.
“We’re arranging to have Pike transferred to a new prison, they’re moving him through County, Mr. Sweeney and Pike will have three hours in the yard.” Sweeney absorbs this information, inhaling it through wide nostrils. “Get him to admit to his latest murder,” Amani says, ” and you’re free.” Just that? Easy peasy lemon squeasy! “No, it’s too dangerous,” Alicia shoots down immediately. “Is it, Mr. Sweeney? Is it too dangerous?” Cary appeals, brilliantly, to Sweeney’s arrogant conviction of his own genius and his ability to manipulate. Sweeney’s concentrating hard. “Mr. Sweeney, you don’t want to do this,” Alicia tells her client. “Alicia, it’s his decision,” Celeste cautions, thinking of the aerospace case. Everyone watches Sweeney as he squints, making his choice.
But for dramatic purposes, there’s really only one choice. “You’re going to have to supervise the wire,” Celeste tells Alicia, back in Alicia’s office. She plays with her fingers, knitting the air. “He thinks you care about him. What’s even weirder, you do care about him.” “No,” Alicia denies, “I don’t want him killed; that’s a pretty low bar for caring.” Hee. So true. “That’s a pretty high bar for a wife killer,” Celeste observes. Is it? “You’re very interesting, Alicia.” Alicia’s more interested in her paperwork than discussing herself with Celeste. Heck, she doesn’t discuss herself with people she actually likes. “How’d you end up with Will?” Alicia gives her an exasperated look and abandons the paperwork. “What makes you think we ended up together?” Way to not respond, Alicia. “Will’s attitude. He’s smitten!” Alicia denies this vehemently. “Smitten feels like the right word.” You know, Celeste is growing on me. “It’s sweet, and high school, and very vanilla.” Okay, maybe I’m back to being annoyed with her. That was a pretty transparent challenge; calling the one rebellious action of Alicia’s entire life vanilla?
“That’s no slam on you,” she adds. “No, of course not,”Alicia laughs, her guard up all the way. “What about you?,” she suggests, trying to steer the conversation away. “You broke up with Will what, nine years ago, and yet here you are, trying to hurt him.” Good point. What’s up with that? Chaos for chaos’s sake? Bitterness over not getting him to join your new firm? “Talk about high school,” she adds dryly. Laughing, Celeste is about to reply when the door bursts open.
“What do you think you’re doing?” a grumpy little man explodes. “David,” Alicia begins in shock. “She’s my niece, I told you she’s my niece.” “What a minute,” poor Alicia worries, “you told me to hire who I wanted.” “And I told you she. was. my. niece. – what else do you need to know?” Oh, dear. “Look, David, Caitlin’s good, she’s very good, she’ll find another job…” How do you know she’s good when she’s a C student? So confusing. “This isn’t about another,” Lee snaps, waving his finger at Alicia. “Don’t you dare cross me again.” Aw. Don’t make me regret being so glad to see you, David Lee. I guess I always knew he was a snake – he was just my snake, before this. “You said you didn’t want nepotism,” Alicia cries, aghast. “NO, I said there was no nepotism,” he claims, turning around in a cold fury, “You are a third year associate.” Then why give her the job, because you assumed you could control her? “You were given this task because you are unimportant and you can take a hint.” Oh, ouch. (Also, obviously she can’t take a hint.) “So take the hint, or I’ll take it out of your hands.”
Damn. And is there anyone Alicia would prefer that happen in front of less than Celeste? Celeste pulls herself, straightens out her suit, and invites Alicia out for a drink.
And Alicia, she goes.
Sure, she’s sitting there shell-shocked, her disappointment plain on her woeful face. Still, I never thought I’d see it. “You know the best revenge? Hide his bluetooth. No, hire his niece and then make her life hell.” As if Alicia were capable of such a thing! “You’re so right, you’ll never do it,” Celeste replies to the comment Alicia hasn’t made. “No, I will,” Alicia lies, “I’m not a good person.” Are we boasting about this? “Yes you are, shut up.” Alicia does. Hee. “I just don’t like women.” Well, you know, except when you like them. “I find them uninteresting.” Alicia finds that really peculiar. “I don’t like women. They’re all competing with me.” Which is why you assume Will and Alicia are together, right. “Don’t men compete with you?” Alicia puzzles. “Oh no they don’t,” Celeste replies, forgetting about her poker games. (Okay, I know she’s talking about something else, but still, my point is that it’s all in her head.) “You have female friends?” Celeste asks her current rival. “No, I don’t,” Alicia confesses blearily, “but I don’t have any male friends either.” Man. That’s just so sad. Celeste snorts into her drink. It’s clear from the glasses on the bar in front of them that they’ve had more than a few.
“That’s so sad!” Celeste proclaims. “I’d be your friend. But I can’t,” she declares regretfully. Why not? “Will,” Celeste reminds her temporary ally, and through the haze of alcohol, Alicia remembers. “Oh, right!” Yeah, Will, and the fact that Celeste is a game playing snake. Still. This is a pretty terrific and unexpected moment. “Yeah. I don’t like you being with him,” Celeste admits, and you can see she means it. “I’m gonna break you two up.” Talk about high school! You don’t like Will being a responsible grown up, you mean, and you attribute this change to Alicia. Alicia’s guard flashes back up. “Okay,” she smiles, “how?” “How will I do it?” Celeste asks, happily to be back in the game. “I will… tell you about him.” “Okay,” smiles Alicia pleasantly, “give me your worst!” Her hands flash forward, to indicate that she’s open and receptive.
Celeste stares for a moment, measuring. “No, I like you,” she demurs. “See, that’s your problem. You’ve built it up too much. If he hasn’t buried a hobo in the desert I will be unimpressed.” Heh. She said hobo. Weird. Alicia reaches for another shot; she salutes Celeste with the glass and drinks. “Well, it’s ancient history anyway,” Celeste mutters. “And it was only $45,000.” “That’s all?” snorts Alicia, clearly thinking Celeste lies. “Yeah. And he put it back.” Alicia breaks out into hysterical laughter. “You’re so bad at this,” she howls. Celeste laughs along, knowing that Alicia just doesn’t believe her. “Yeah, I know, I’m sorry. I’m transparent as cellophane!” Oh, Alicia. But Celeste catches the eye of a man in the crowd, and she likes what she sees. “I gotta go,” she says, getting up off her bar stool. “You’re kidding!,” Alicia stares, a bit shocked. She sure is not. “Just remember,” Celeste gives Alicia her final shot, “Will is like me. He’ll always disappoint you.” She walks off, drink in hand.
And Alicia finishes her drink alone.
(And, as my cousin S pointed out, she stares glumly at the drink Celeste just walked off with.)
Back in the prison yard, the convicts play basketball. We have a clear view from a tower. “The microphone is sewn into your collar, Mr. Sweeney. Try to keep your hands away from it.” Because that worked so well for Lina Lamont? Good thing Sweeney’s obsession with exposing his tattoo was about people outside of the prison system. “Testing, testing,” Sweeney yells, making the technician double over. “Just a normal voice, Mr. Sweeney,” Cary suggests mildly. “Okay, just to remind you,” Cary begins, establishing the details for us, bringing photos from another green folder. “Pike you know.” He tosses down that picture. “This fine citizen here is Darryl Boyd, Pike’s lieutenant on the outside. He orders a hit in here, Boyd carries it out on the street.” Boyd’s picture is also a mugshot, and he too has a shaved head. Amani drops a third photo of a corpse in a suit, with a white face, awash with blood. “And this is Garfield Park, just last week.”
Sweeney looks grim, his spotted face puffy. “You get Pike to admit to Garfield Park, I sign your release,” Cary sums up. Alicia watches Sweeney’s face with alarm. “How simple is that, huh?” Alicia can’t stand the thought of sending even this man to his death. “Mr. Sweeney, I’ll be right here, watching. Anything goes wrong, they have security guards – just walk away.” Amani and Cary look annoyed that Alicia’s undercutting them. “They won’t get there fast enough,” Sweeney acknowledges, his face knowing and rueful. “When things happen, they happen fast.” “Well don’t get yourself killed,” she nods, maternal. How he must be loving this! He gets to be a clever hero, gets to pit his own wits against a serious baddie, and it makes her pay attention, even show (positive) emotion! “Words to live by,” he snarks, but he smiles at Alicia.
We’re ready, Cary declares. “Break a leg!” Amani shouts as Sweeney’s ushered out. Meanwhile, we see that they’ve got video cameras trained on Pike and his gang of hulking goons. Sweeney’s right – no one will be close enough to them, or big enough to stop anything happening if it begins. “Hey, Sweeney!” Pikes calls out, as the wife-killer shuffles across the yard. “Donald,” Sweeney greets the man he’s about to betray, standing with three other huge skinheads. The techs adjust volumes, and Alicia fidgets. “What’re you doing here?” “Testifying in some civil case,” Colin shrugs; the two are standing by themselves now. “Just an excuse for a vaca, really.” Right. “I talked it up so that they’d go for it.” Cary gives Alicia a look, daring her to care about this low life’s life. “So how’re the markets?” Pike asks; it’s clear what his concern is. Sell the CHP at 20 and you’ll be fine, don’t worry, Sweeney advises. How nice to have a useful skill on the inside. It’s so very Shawshank. “Like, er, Donald,” Sweeney begins, looking around his as if making sure they’re not overheard. “I wanted to ask you about something.” He looks around again, making himself really obvious.
“I read about Garfield Park in the paper, was that you?” Oh my God, I think they meant for him to be a little more subtle than that! “What is he doing,” Amani wants to know. You and me both, lady. “Why you talking about stuff that don’t concern you, Sweeney?,” Pike asks, on the defensive. “No, no, I was just wondering,” Sweeney pushes it. Dangerously. “You know you’re funny. Like a pet. Don’t make me put you down.” Pike leans in, then walks away. Shudder. Sweeney backs off.
Holy crap, that is actually Donna Brazile sitting across from Eli in a crowded but genteel restaurant. Wow, this show cannot be beat for bringing in the Clintonites. “I like him,” she smiles. She’s got a warm, Grandma kind of smile. “I like him too,” Eli agrees. I thought Peter was the one who was supposed to have this meeting? “He has a good story,” she notes. Ya think? Even with the hookers? “Prison, wrongful conviction, back from the dead,” Eli enthuses. But you’re forgetting the hookers! Don’t forget the hookers! I doubt voters would. “He’d make a good keynote,” Eli dangles. “He’s a good speaker,” Donna concedes, promising nothing.
“So?” Eli prompts. “I just don’t want him to blow up in our face,” Donna confesses. Good thinking. And how would he do that? “His marriage,” she response, like Eli’s an idiot. “Are you hearing something?” Eli wonders. “Of course I am! I’m hearing they’re living apart!” Wow – Donna Brazile has heard that? Is it widely known, or is it just that the DNC has its own Kalinda? “And if I’m hearing it, that means the Republicans are hearing it too!” She sounds a little like she’s going to slap him upside the head for being a dolt. I like her. “If they were hearing it, they’d use it,” he blushes, and she has to instruct him again: “No, if they were hearing it, they’d do what we would do – release it the day before he speaks.” Eli drinks his tea to buy himself more time. “Of course you don’t have an issue with it, Eli. Peter Florrick is in office. When he runs for governor, they will use it. They will use all of it, not just on him but on his wife, too.” She raps on the table for emphasis. Eli puts down his teacup. He steadies himself.
“What if I promised they’d be together.” He did not just say that! There’s a long silence. “Is that a promise you can keep?” I don’t see how! Well, maybe I do – blackmail, extortion, chicanery, evil – but I don’t see why Peter would stand for it. Does Peter even want Alicia back at this point? Especially an Alicia who didn’t want to be there? And, hmm. Now I’m starting to wonder if Eli, not Peter, is somehow behind the SA’s office’s pursuit of Lockhart/Gardner. Because bringing Alicia to heel might require destroying – or being in a position to threaten – her firm. (Ah, maybe I just want Peter’s new ethics to be for real, and apply to all areas of his life. But this isn’t a very persuasive theory, even I admit.) “Yes it is,” Eli promises. Oh God. Donna Brazile sighs, dubious. “Then we’ll consider him for keynote.”
Damn. That was the scariest thing that’s happened all season.
“Again, Eli, I like him. He’s a thoroughbred,” she smiles. “But I just can’t risk…” She’s regretful. She shakes her head. He drinks more tea.
And Colin Sweeney is going to try again; you can see it in the tension in his body, the way he moves across the yard, working up the nerve. “Okay, here he goes,” Cary observes. “He’s got about ten minutes before they’re returned to their cells,” Amani notes more helpfully. “I thought we were done talking!” Pike begins. Not auspicious. Also not auspicious; Pike’s leaning against a wall and his three huge flunkies flank him. “I, I wanna talk about Garfield Park,” Sweeney tries again, and the goons surround him. Oh dear God. Cary looks ready to bite his own fingers off. “Is he out of his mind?” Well, kinda. Alicia’s ready to jump out of her skin. The goons begin to insult Sweeney, circling. “What’re you, stupid?” “Get the guard ready,” Cary calls out. “Go, Cary,” Alicia cries. “He’s gotta be a snitch,” we hear the goons say. “Looks like a snitch to me.” Well, surely, though not a golden one. “You’ve gotta get him out of there!,” Alicia pleads.
Cary’s not ready to call the game. “If we get him out now, no deal,” he warns. From her post at the monitors, Amani interrupts them. “Wait, listen.” To? “Hey, Donald, I didn’t mean anything by it.” It’s so cute that he calls him Donald. The goons still circle, like tigers: the dude with the long spiky beard is particularly alarming. Then why keep asking, Donny wonders. “Because I need your help. You know what they did! They took my company from me.” Oh ho! Well, that’s an interesting tactic. Lies always work best when they carry a little truth along with them. “Everybody here’s got a story, paperboy, what makes you so special?” Ha! Let him count the ways he thinks he’s special. You’ll kill him for sure then. “I have money.” Spoken like a true member of the 1%. (Sorry, sorry.) “I want the man who did this dead.” Oh – who’s that? Glenn Childs? Cary and Alicia sigh in unison. “Gerald Drescher – used to be my vice president. Until he stabbed me in the back.”
“Are you serious?” Pike asks. The goons seem a little less predatory. “How much would it cost?,” Sweeney asks intently. He’s making Pike buy it. Heck, he’s doing a good job of selling his murderous intent to the rest of us, too. ” “A guy like that’s got security,” Pike thinks. The tension has Cary pinching his upper lip. “Nothing worse than the security at Garfield Park,” Colin shrugs off. Is Garfield Park an office park rather than a park park? Pike considers. “A job like that – costs a lot of money.” Sweeney checks over his shoulders, steps in, and this time the flunkies don’t keep him off. “That’s why I have to know what I’m getting,” he whispers.
Cary’s excited – this is it. “Nice move.” “You’re pushing it, Sweeney,” Donny shakes his head. “You’re in prison,” Colin pushes forward. “I’m asking. How can you get it done?” Alicia inhales, almost shuddering. Leaning up against the wall, Donny finally decides. “Okay, sure. Garfield Park – that was me.” He swallows hard. “My boy on the outside, I get word to through my sister. I give the green light, he does the hit.” Alicia exhales, definitely shuddering. It’s done. Sweeney’s done it. He’s going to – live? Make it out of prison? Hurray?
“A hit on his vice president, huh?” Cary’s not thrilled to be letting this one go. “Oh, come on,” Alicia snaps, “he had to say something. You have the release form?” Amani does. “Already blessed by Judge Romano,” she notes. ” With a flourish of his pen, Cary signs it. He hands it over. “Pleasure doing business with you,” Alicia smiles unhappily, snatching the paper away.
“Is your health issue from the other day better, Mr. Sweeney?” Diane asks the former jailbird, now sitting in the witness stand with a fancy pinstriped suit and pocket square. Yes, really, a pocket square. It’s a shade of lavender darker than his shirt, but lighter than the flowers on his tie. Oh, he’s heaps better now. You can imagine. “I must have made such a fuss,” he laughs. “Food poisoning.” Right. What does the jury make of all this? You have to wonder. “You testified that you were present during the IPO meeting?” That’s right. Kyle Litke’s face burns with hope and vengeance. “And did you hear any discussion about the de-icing in the wings?” We finally catch a glimpse of Diane, who’s wearing a striped purple cardigan. It’s not nearly as formal as her usual affairs. “Oh yes,” he tells the jury, savoring every destructive word, “I heard everything. And it’s not good.” He looks over at Alicia, and almost smiles. She almost smiles back. Litke smiles.
Back at Lockhart/Gardner, the mood sings. “Good job,” Eli tells Alicia. “I hear you saved some kind of case today.” “Oh,” she deflects the compliment. “We got a settlement.” Great, great, he smiles. He doesn’t do small talk well, Eli, or pretending interest in other people’s lives. “We should talk sometime,” he suggests, as if that would be a good thing and not just about him ruling her life with a fist of iron. “About?” she asks suspiciously. “The future. What else?,” he jokes jovially. She watches him, unnerved (though not nearly as unnerved as she should be).
“I’m sorry to keep you waiting,” she tells Martha, seated at across from her desk. Oh, she looks so cute with her hair down! And even more like Alicia, actually, because it’s styled in 40s waves next to her alabaster skin. “I just have a few more questions before we make decide.” “Before you -what’re you talking about, they already decided.” Martha’s confused. Alicia’s more confused. “I – I’m sorry, what?” “I didn’t get the job here. I turned down my other job because I thought I’d get this,” oh, now that’s a rookie mistake. Poor sweet petulant fool. “.. and now,” she sighs, trying to compose herself. “I can’t believe this.” Why did you come in, then, and not say this over the phone? And why didn’t Alicia know beforehand?
“Who told you you didn’t get this?” Alicia asks. “The hiring committee, they called.” “Well, there must be some kind of mistake, because I haven’t decided yet.” Oh, poor Alicia. Poor Martha. “No, they did. He said I was close, but they had a vote. So what happened?” Martha looks on the verge of tears, and Alicia is gutted.
Ping! goes the elevator. “Now your office is on the 27th floor, but I wanna show you around here first,” David Lee tells his niece, who hops off the elevator full of restless, coiled energy. She’s wearing another dark green dress, a fitted long sleeved top with a wide black belt and flared waist. “Alicia!” The cheerleader spots our despairing heroine and dashing before her, quivering with joy. “I am just so thrilled – David said it was all you!” Oh, honey. So the one he wanted not to know it was nepotism was his niece. “You picked me! And you’re going to be my mentor!” “Yes, Alicia, thank you,” David says icily from behind his tall niece’s shoulder. Fluffy Caitlin seems utterly unaware of the tension around her. “You’re welcome,” Alicia replies, cold and queenly, her eyes locked with David’s. “Anyway, I am really excited about working with you,” Caitlin fairly bounces, her fair hair feathered away from her face. “Thank you again!” She’s actually rather endearing in her pure exuberance and ignorance.
Alicia walks into Will’s office in a quiet fury. “I don’t get it. Why put me through the charade if you were just going to…” He tries to cut her off, but her rage is too just – and she trusts him too much. “No. I wanna know. I never had any power, did I, it was all rigged!” It is odd that they built up her expectations that way. Will looks at her. “David Lee appealed to the hiring committee, and the hiring committee voted another way, that’s all.” Oh, that’s all, is it? Why did she not know the hiring committee was even meeting, then? Because that’s kind of nuts. Diane brings Celeste and some other folks into her office, and Celeste’s words from the other night echo through Alicia’s head. Not that Celeste was the first person to tell her that Will would eventually stab her in the back. That’s been a running theme.
She turns a crushed face back to her lover. “Which way did you vote?” Alicia asks, her voice low and cool. “On what,” he says, and you know the answer from that useless prevarication. “The committee voted for Caitlin and against Martha, which way did you vote?” Her formality implies danger – though didn’t you kind of want her to say ‘you know what vote, you ass!’ ? Anyway. Will gives her a serious look. “I voted with David Lee,” he admits, gulping a little after he says it. She raises her eyebrows in disbelief and anger. “Why?” Her voice is small, pained. He looks away. “I owed him,” he confesses. “For what,” she spits out angrily. “You don’t want to know,” he replies. “I do want to know. I feel used, Will. I feel like I was given a job and it was taken away from me.” Or promised you but never really delivered, I think. He favors her with another of his searching looks. She waits, and he gives in.
“There was a Martha when we hired you, Alicia,” Will explains, putting a pen in his pocket, not wanting to see how she receives the news. And yet, after a moment he does look, and I’m glad he meets her eyes. She’s shocked. Completely shocked. She did not expect to be his excuse. “On paper, she was the better candidate, and you were the … Caitlin.” Oh. Now she’s really uncomfortable. His face is full of regret. “You were going to lose in a vote. I asked David Lee to vote with me. So I owed him.” How ironic. Alicia turns here eyes away and up, nodding, and for a second, she looks ready to cry. Will pushes off his couch and approaches her. “You okay?” he asks, hands in his pockets since he can’t hold her. Alicia nods, shakes her head, and is indeed very much ready to cry. “Thank you,” she says, for his honesty, for sticking his neck out to get her the job, for I don’t know what. “Hey,” he calls as she’s leaving, “Caitlins often surprise you.” He smiles a little. She doesn’t smile back, but her face is a bit more mellow. As she walks out, she sees Celeste’s smiling face, and you can see, she wonders. The doubt has taken root.
Well. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a lot to say about that. A lot to think about, certainly.
So I didn’t so much love the return to villainy, but I do really appreciate the overall idea, seen everywhere in this episode. How do we perceive those around us? What does it mean to be a Martha or a Caitlin, and what do we miss when we dump people into categories? Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Alicia was set up with the whole hiring committee thing, and it’s not cool. Maybe she should have read David Lee better, but then again, he probably should have read her better, too, and realized that she’s not an old boy, pat you on the back, wink wink nudge nudge kind of girl. She’s great at her job, which occasionally entails skullduggery, but she’s a rule follower, and I don’t mean the rules of the jungle.
Now, I’m sure Caitlin will be surprising, and will have lots to offer. It’ll be very interesting to add her, and this new work tension, into the mix, and I can’t wait to see what sort of surprises – good and bad – she has in store. I love the idea of Alicia mentoring someone, and of course from a dramatic standpoint, it’s more interesting to see her have to struggle to do well by someone she’s not drawn to. I really really really hope that Alicia’s not petulant, and doesn’t hold the circumstances of her hiring against Caitlin. I’m 90% sure that she won’t. But damn it, Will told Alicia to pick someone she wanted to work with, and while she could have been happy mentoring Caitlin if simply asked to do so, now she’s going to be thinking of Martha and how much better it all might have been. I hate that no one (which is to say, Will) warned her. I accept that he didn’t know, not at first. At the very least, however, he should have warned her when the vote was called, and so prevented the embarrassing spectacle with Martha in her office.
By the way, anyone else think that the name Martha comes from Martha and Mary, the sisters in the Bible story of Lazarus? Mary sits and listens, and Martha is the responsible one, the Martha Stewart type who does all the work. Not a perfect parallel, of course, but it’s all about image and expectation and perception. (Uber-responsible Martha Stewart certainly adds flavor to any fictional use of the name as well.) What do we think we want? What’s actually good for us in the end? What qualities really are the most important, and how will they be proved in experience? Is there anyway we can tell before hand? Just because Alicia thought she wanted Martha, does that mean she would have really been the best? How much can we tell from an interview?
So, on to the not literal Marthas and Caitlins. Colin Sweeney, of course, is the worst kind of Caitlin (in the sense that they’re stuck with him), but Alicia can’t help caring and neither can the audience – even though, as she said to Celeste, not wanting someone to die is the bare minimum. There’s vengeful victim Litke, sympathetic because he’s a victim, but longing to hurt others. There’s Geneva Pine, having to decide whether Sweeney’s reputation and appearance of evil overrides the behavior she would normally apply to a given situation. And Peter. Is he the candidate that Eli and the DNC want him to be? Does Peter even want to be that candidate? Does he want it enough to force Alicia back to his side? He’s the Caitlin here, too, the unwanted. Which of course brings us to Celeste, the competitor, the scorned.
There’s another element to this metaphor, of course, which is that Caitlin is the privileged candidate, the one who doesn’t earn her way. That’s Sweeney – trading on information rather than innocence – and scandal ridden Peter riding into office on the somewhat mythic idea that he’s a victim of injustice. There’s both men, spinning their prison sentences into swagger. And there’s Alicia, who must have known that Will assisted in her hiring, but never knew – probably never dreamed – that she was a Caitlin, too. Alicia, who tries not to trade on her connections, but occasionally must. Alicia, who wants nothing more than to believe she’s made it on her own.
And of course, Will and Peter are Alicia’s two romantic choices, and they fall into this question of perception as well. Peter- who broke Alicia’s heart, who betrayed her in ways she never dreamed possible – is turning into a new man. But is he coming after his wife to punish her? Can Eli force her hand? With Will, there’s a old history of a certain level of trust, but she fears betrayal. Was this a small betrayal, this vote against her interest actually forced by his loyalty to her? Is life with Will too complicated? Is life with Peter any less? Is she really not serious about the divorce, or does she simply want to float without making choices?
So I would say, I liked the episode without flat out loving it, but I do love the different questions it raises. And I’m definitely looking forward to the answers!