E: There is no word for this but electrifying. The word is not grease, it is electrifying. Guest stars! Freaking fantastic old characters! Stand offs! Revelations! Characters standing up for what’s right, standing up for themselves, standing up to power – and in how many forms? Good grief. Giddy. I am giddy. I would like to gad about and do giddy things. Can I count the number of times my hair stood on end during this episode? I think I might need to keep track.
Seriously, I do not have words.
But I will try.
“I am an American,” a man tells Diane from the witness stand. “My parents are American, my children are American.” Around the courtroom, warm lights cast golden reflections against a cocoon of dark wood. “And in 2007 you were a translator in Afghanistan?,” Diane prompts. She’s standing by a seal bearing an eagle. Federal court? At each bench, an monitor sits, the transcript of the trial appearing on its blue screen. “Yes, during the Marja offensive, I worked for a military contractor.” As Diane begins to ask about the witnesses’ subsequent arrest, the opposing lawyer (a Topher Grace type) interrupts. “Objection,” he interjects, taking off his glasses (but not rising, interesting), ” this testimony might infringe on the Classified Information Procedures Act.”
“Your Honor,” Diane turns smoothly. “The government is insisting this arrest never took place. How can it be divulging a state secret if it never happened?” Good point! ‘Yes, counselor,” Judge Hal Ferris agrees dryly, “in a day bursting with catch 22s, this one seems particularly egregious.” Judge Ferris, you’ve won my heart already. Topher Grace inclines his head; Alicia, looking priestess-like in black, watches with satisfaction. “You may answer,” the judge continues. “The day after the offensive,” the witness (a slender Middle Eastern looking-fellow with gaunt cheekbones and a perpetually terrified expression) explains, “four men showed up at my camp. I was hooded, placed in a van, and taken to Camp Whitcomb.”
And, oh my God, the first hair-raising moment of the evening; Glenn Childs walks into the court! There seem to be no spectators and no jury, so the click of the door shutting disrupts the entire proceeding. “I beg your pardon, your Honor, I’m AUSA Glenn Childs, and I beg leave to join my co-counsel on the defense.” Alicia’s eyes bulge. Wow, I was totally expecting him to end up in the private sector; I like this better. “I thought you Feds were going through some sort of budget crunch, and I get two of you,” the judge grumbles through narrowed eyes. Hee. “I’m merely here to supervise,” Childs asserts, gesturing like a television news reporter, “Mr. Marwat is suing us for 6 million dollars for a torture that never happened. We take that very seriously.” Yes, well, Diane takes human rights violations pretty seriously, too.
“Well, pull up a chair,” Judge Ferris growls, “the fun’s just beginning, supervisor. Miss Lockhart…” Jay O. Sanders, I love you. “And what happened at Camp Whitcomb, Danny?” “Well, over the next six months, I was forced into stress positions, punched, kicked and water boarded.” So ugly. “Why? What did they want to know?” “If I had ever met Satar Usef Kel, a tribal leader with connections to Al Qaeda.” And had he? “No,” Marwat answers that, looking at his lap, “and I told them that, but they didn’t believe me. They didn’t even believe I was an American.” Surely that would have been easy enough to verify? “And why are you suing now?” Diane asks. “My government tortured me. They won’t even acknowledge that they did this to me.” Childs looks on, unconcerned. “I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. This isn’t about the money.”
“Good,” Childs volunteers, slouching back in his chair. “Then let’s all go home!” There’s a some fair eye-rolling at that statement. “Mr. Childs, save the editorializing, please,” the judge admonishes. Diane has nothing further, and Childs stops Topher-lite from cross examining Marwat. “No questions, your Honor, but we ask that the case be dismissed with prejudice.” On what grounds, Diane wonders. “Danny’s attorneys haven’t even introduced corroborating evidence that he was even ever at Camp Whitcomb.” Uh, because the government won’t release the transcripts of their secret trials, Diane replies. “I don’t understand why the evidentiary bar must now be lowered?,” Childs wonders with his smug face and his studied looking hand motions.
Good point, damn you.
“It’s just belt tightening, it’s not punitive,” Peter Florrick (yay, Peter Florrick!) explains to two underlings. They look at each other unhappily. “We’re reviewing all my predecessor’s long term investigations.” Doing the reviewing with Peter, and flanking him at a conference table, are Cary and (presumably) two other deputy SAs. “If it’s not about drugs or Homeland security, we’re cutting them,” Cary adds. “Sorry.” The underlings slink out.
“Well, should we just skip the preliminaries and get right to the pass?” Dana Lodge wonders. Cary gives her his widest, whitest, most honest smile. I love her little double entrendre there – give her project a pass, making a pass, it’s clever. “Oh, Dana Dana Dana,” Peter sighs, “Is it really your last day?” Technically that’s tomorrow, but she’ll take the day off it he wants to give it. “And miss the pleasure of your company? My question is, why are you hearing arguing an investigation you’re going to have nothing to do with?” Her answer is perfect: pride of authorship. “I spent two years on it with Matan, and we’re finally getting somewhere.”
“It’s an investigation into your wife’s law firm,” Cary tells Peter. “Actually, Mr. Agos,” Dana responds imperiously, chin up, “it’s a rico investigation into corrupt defense lawyer practices.” Cary puts his hands up, a joking self defense gesture, and Peter chuckles. “Sounds like my wife’s firm!” The room chuckles gamely. Peter, that’s so ugly. Do you really think they’re any more or less corrupt than any other law firm? “We had a tip earlier this year from a walk in. A private investigator named Blake Kalamar.” Oh, God, not him. “He said one of the partners at Lockhart /Gardner had a gambling problem. He took 45 thousand dollars from a client’s account to pay off a bad bet.” Which partner? “Will Gardner,” Dana delivers, and it’s plain as day she knows she’s offering Peter a treat. “Will Gardner took 45 thousand dollars from a client’s account?”
‘Well, he intended to put it back after a long weekend,” Dana acknowledges, “but it was discovered missing. This Blake Kalamar was tasked with covering it up.” Cary’s not buying. “How long ago was this?” Dana knows this isn’t in her favor. “15 years ago.” Huh. So, preceding Will’s relationship with Celeste, even. (And, for the record, Scott Porter was 17 in 1996.) “And it’s not in our jurisdiction,” Cary further points out. “No, it was at his first law firm in Baltimore, but we believe it points to a pattern of abuse at Lockhart/Gardner.” What, wait, you really believe that the firm steals from its clients? And what were you actually investigating them for before Blake walked in? “Wow,” Peter says, raising his eyebrows, and his body. “Well, I’ll, uh, need to think on this one.” He turns his back to the assembled; Cary shoots Dana an unhappy look.
I have something of a problem with this. Cary knew that Blake was untrustworthy, that he had an agenda. That ought to make any information that came out of his hands at least suspect, right? And if Peter only knew that it was Blake who exploded his marriage! I mean, we know it’s true (and kudos to everyone who guessed Will took the money to cover a gambling debt) but they don’t, and Cary definitely knows that Blake fabricates stories about his enemies, and that Will makes that list.
Diane’s flipping through photos of a desert encampment. When will you be back, she asks over speaker phone. “In about 30 minutes, why?” It’s good news, Will. “Kalinda thinks we might have a possibility on this torture case,” Diane explains, the investigator standing over her shoulder. Will’s pleasantly surprised. “I thought everything was top, top secrete?” Kalinda thinks there might be a not-top secret way to go about it. “It will mean taking the case to the next level, confrontationally.” “You want to know if I’m all right with poking the bear even harder?” Will’s got his tie off. “Yes,” Diane agrees, “so to speak.” “This is not some corrupt oil company, Diane,” Will cautions, “this is the government. They can make life hard for us.” Diane and Kalinda squint at the photos until suddenly they hear an unexpected noise.
“Hey mom, pick up the phone! Mom, pick up the phone!”
Oh my God. It’s Alicia’s specialized ringtone for Grace. Alicia flips over; she’d been lying on her stomach on a bed, Will’s hand on her back, dressed in a black bustier. She sprints for the phone and answers it, in – is it a closet? the hotel suite bathroom? – while recognition inches over Kalinda and Diane’s faces.
Damn. That’s hair raising moment number two for sure. Of all the ways to get caught!
Diane – who appears to be literally chewing on something we haven’t seen her eat – takes a second to respond. “I – where are you, Will?” Will takes another moment (a hilariously guilty looking moment) to reply. “Lunch?”
“Grace, honey what’s up?” Alicia whispers frantically. Diane confirms that Will’s going to be back in a half hour. Oh. Hmm. There’s a plate of something that looks like tomatoes on her desk. When Kalinda leaves, Diane thinks for a moment, and then gets her secretary to call Alicia. Who, it turns out, is expected back from lunch in a half hour. Oh,Will. Why didn’t you just say you were at lunch with Alicia? The coverup is always what gets you.
“Sorry, what?” Alicia shakes her head. Having a little trouble focusing, Alicia? Grace, looking on the verge of tears as usual, repeats herself. “Um, I wanna go to a Bible study?” So Shannon and the religious quest isn’t totally out of the picture after all? “You wanna go to a Bible study?” Alicia repeats. Wow, honey, your brain is just not functioning yet. “Yeah, can I go?” Grace asks without particular patience. Alicia needs to think about it, since she can’t concentrate during “lunch”; she’ll call Grace afterward. “It’s kinda late for lunch,” Grace observes. Hee. “Yes, it is,”Alicia agrees. “I’ll call you back, okay?” Alicia hangs up, and blows out a big, uncomfortable breath.
“How many times does Jesus condemn gays in the Bible?” I know! I know! Jimmy Patrick gives a big goose egg over Grace’s computer. Wasn’t she at school? No? Guess it IS late for lunch. Ah, Jimmy. It’s like you never left, even if you’re on Vid Look now instead of Vid Trope. What dance video-tutor? “How many times does Jesus condemn divorce? Six times.” And, ugh, how many times does he tell us to mind our own business and not condemn other people? Anyway. Can Grace get closer to tears without flowing over? Yes. Yes she can. “But ask any preacher and who do they say is going to hell? Gays. Not your divorced parents.”
I’ll say it, it’s an interesting point. I’ve never been able to figure out religion’s disproportional preoccupation with homosexuality, not when compared to other things more explicitly forbidden in the Bible like, you know, war and the death penalty and charging interest.
“2 thousand meals a day! We contract with the military for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Or during Ramadan one big meal at night.” Diane, seated while Alicia questions the witness, looks exceedingly cross. And she’s wearing a pale, boxy three button suit, so it must be a new day, even if you can’t really prove it from a quick glance at Alicia’s black suit. “And these are for the inmates at Camp Whitcomb?” “Yes,” the speaker confirms. This witness box is so odd; it’s a normal witness box in reverse, so the speaker is surrounded from the back and sides, but we can see his entire body. “You don’t think about making meals in a way zone, but people have to eat!” He’s quite pleased about this, smiling and rosy cheeked, and so would you be; I bet he’s paid way more than if the military had just hired a few locals to take care of the food. Well, maybe there are supply chain issues. I won’t be too harsh. “Is there anything unusual about these meals?,” Alicia asks. “Well, they had to conform to Muslim dietary restrictions,” the man explains. “You should have seen the books our chefs had to read.” He chuckles, and totally loses my good will. Yes, heaven forbid that you have to, you know, work at your job.
“Did you prepare any special meals for food allergies?” Alicia wonders, and after some whispering from Glenn, Topher-lite tries to cut her off. “Objection, your Honor. This testimony infringes on the Classified Information Procedures Act.” I really can’t get over them not standing. It seems so disrespectful somehow. “Really?” Judge Ferris asks dryly. How else? “The composition of a meal does?” Yes, the AUSA proclaims without a trace of irony, “it could reveal the identity of fighters there.” Well, I suppose that’s the point here, right?
“Mr. Schow, unfortunately the US will just have to stand tall in the face of their meals being exposed.” Hee! That does not grow old. The objection is overruled. “Yes, we get requests for special meals, but not many,” which has to be an excellent answer from Alicia’s point of view, since her client is lactose intolerant. Alicia puts a food order for into evidence, and gets the witness to read it, noting that the very day Marwat claims to have been brought to Camp Whitcomb, a food order was submitted for a lactose intolerant Muslim.
Point to Kalinda! What a weird world it is, though, that an American citizen could be imprisoned and tortured against all his constitutional rights, with no one looking in to his citizenship status, and yet the government takes scrupulous notes about his dietary preferences? I mean, my goodness, we wouldn’t want him to have stomach cramps while we were waterboarding him, would we?
“So here’s the thing, ” Judge Ferris explains. Today, there are people watching in the gallery, pale ghostly face against the dark backdrop. “I look at these things simply. There is now convincing corroborating evidence that Mr. Marwat was at Camp Whitcomb, so I am going to allow this lawsuit to move forward.” Well, in the scheme of things I’m not sure I’d call it convincing, but it light of the challenges in procuring evidence, it’s pretty impressive. “Mr. Childs, please instruct the Defense Department to release all the secret court proceedings requested by the plaintiff’s attorneys.”
Okay, concedes Glenn Childs, so we’d now like to invoke Executive Order 13224. “Excuse me, your Honor,” Diane begins, and unlike the AUSAs, she does rise to her feet. “13224 is intended to ferret out fake charities funding terrorist organizations. This is a lawsuit brought by my client Daniel against the United States government.” Her cheer of a moment before is certainly tempered. “Yes,” Childs admits, “but 13224 also has broad interpretations when a terrorist hires a lawyer.” Diane exclaims over this characterization, but Glenn notes that even for a suspected terrorist, the lawyers must pass on any information pertaining to the trial requested by the Secretary of the Treasury. Wait, what? Why would Treasury ask for any of this stuff? Does Childs speak for the Treasury? (I mean, I see how it’s related when it has to do with funding terrorists, but when you broaden the applications? Weird.)
“This is an egregious violation of attorney client privilege!,” Diane cries, her body vibrating with distress. “I would agree,” Judge Ferris nods, “and yet, it’s the law.” Damn. “So make an attorney available to meet with a duly appointed official of the treasury department.” Three guesses who that’s going to be?
“You meet with him,” Diane says, tossing her most frustrating employee to the wolves. “I’ve never done this before,” Alicia replies, aghast. “No one has,” Diane shrugs. “We’re in a strange, new, post 9/11 world. None of the rules apply.”
“I’ve become obsessed with cupcakes,” a man says, holding out a box featuring two enormous cupcakes with swirled pink frosting and tiny edible pearls. Alicia declines politely. “Mmmm, smart,” Bob Balaban says in his best judgmental tone, “they’re 497 calories each.” Can I just say, I love Bob Balaban. I just love him to bits. And not because he looks like my own ex-Uncle Bob (who’s my ex-Uncle for a reason) but because Mr. Balaban is a genius with those tiny little microexpressions of displeasure and disapproval and stuffiness. He is a magic, magic little man. Everything he does is itty bitty and precise and somehow it all adds up to something huge, like the TARDIS in reverse. He’s a marvel.
Er. Let me just gush aside.
“So… this is the official part, Mrs. Florrick. It’ll be painless. Don’t worry.” You know another thing that’s fun about him? He’s got these perfectly round eyeglasses which fit into his perfectly round eye sockets. Alicia, she still looks thrown by the bait and switch with the cupcakes. “I’m Gordon Higgs, the designated Treasury monitor for trial number 670-3. Your firm, Lockhart/Gardner, has been granted a license to represent Mr. Marwat in his lawsuit against the United States of America which requires intermittent reporting to my office..” Random fact: Marwat seems to be not only an Afghani name but also a branch of a Pashtun tribe. ” Higgs puts down his paperwork and speaks with what must be intended to be affability. “Are you Alicia Florrick, the lawyer designated by your firm to report?” Anyone else hope we were going to learn her middle name here when he hesitated before writing it down? At any rate, she is most certainly Alicia Florrick.
“Good,” he smiles, “so how’s it going?” How’s what going? The trial? Her life? “How’s it going?” she repeats, stunned. You know, there’s a triangle behind her, blue material with white regularly spaced on it, which I’m thinking might be a framed folded flag from a military funeral. “Fine,” she says cautiously. “Good!” he cheers. ‘First questions first, is Mr. Daniel Marwat involved in your trial strategy sessions?” His movements with his pen are dainty, and he folds his hands with precision. Everything about him, from his gestures to his beard, are neat and strictly calibrated.
Alicia’s concerned about answering. “Don’t worry,” he says affably. “I’m only Treasury. There’s no contact between my office and the Department of Justice.” Riiiiiight. I’d buy that for a dollar. What would possibly be the point of that? “They won’t hear an inkling of what we say here today. So. Is Mr. Marwat involved in strategy?” Yes, she admits, not looking at all sure whether she should say even that. “Good. Has anyone else been involved? I mean, other than your firm lawyers, has anyone else been involved in these sessions?” He plays with his earlobe. No, she says. “No one of Middle Eastern descent?” No, she says again, and I can’t believe she doesn’t see where he’s going with this, vile as it is. ‘Uh, who is Kalinda Sharma?” he asks. Alicia stares at him, shocked. “She’s an investigator for our firm! She’s not – she’s an employee.”
“Yes, but she’s not a lawyer, is she, right? That was my question.” He favors this odd gesture; he places his finger tips on the desk as if playing piano, and shifts them from side to side. “Look, you’re not getting anybody in trouble here. This is not naming names, and, uh, I’m just trying to figure out the cast of characters here.” Like hell it’s not naming names! Alicia remains on guard. Of course, that’s where she lives. “Has Mr. Marwat mentioned receiving remunerations of any kind from overseas?” This is more in line with what she might have been expecting. “No, not to my knowledge,” she answers quickly and clearly. Has she ever seen him make overseas calls? No. But she has seen him make calls? Yes. Maybe twice in the last six months. What language was he speaking in? She couldn’t say, she wasn’t close enough. Was there anyone who was close enough? No. You know, I hate the whole “I do not recall” thing, but that’s a crazy question.
“Have you ever heard Mr. Marwat mention the Afghan region of Badula Qulp? I think I pronounced that correctly.” No, she says. “He never mentioned Badul- Ba – it’s so hard to say this word – Badula Qulp?” I had to look it up to see that it is a real rejoin near Marja, and it would be hard to say (even if it appears to be two words instead of one). She’s puzzled by his insistence. ‘No, not to my knowledge,” she replies. “Could you please make a note of it if he ever does in the future?”
Alicia’s brows contract. “Mr. Higgs, I’m not an investigator for the Treasury Department. I’m a lawyer representing Mr. Marwat!” You tell him, Alicia! He chuckles delicately. “I know,” he shakes his head, “my apologies. I put that inelegantly.” Inelegantly? Dude, you just asked her to make a mockery of the entire American system of justice, and you think your phrasing is what’s inelegant? How efficient for the prosecution, having the defendant’s own lawyer waiting to trap him! “So, let’s get another meeting on the books, and we’ll talk then!” Alicia’s not having it. “I’m not going to investigate for you,” she reiterates. “I know,” he agrees, the pleasant, smiling face of every red tape bureaucrat claiming to be just doing his job, “we’ll just meet and talk.”
How can someone who looks like one of Santa’s elves be so evil?
In a fog, Alicia wanders the glass hallways of L&G. There’s Danny Marwat on his cellphone in the conference room; now that simple action seems sinister, overloaded with significance and peril. Who’s sitting next to him? If she mentions this to Higgs, will he haul them in, too?
“The good news is, they complied with our subpoenas,” Diane tells the assembled minions (including Caitlin Darcy in Christmas red). “The bad news is, they depo dumped us.” She waves to the wall of file boxes behind her, as tall as she is. The assembled minions roll their eyes. “These are transcripts of hundreds of court proceedings, all redacted.” More groans. I’m with you, people. Diane shows us an example, and there can’t be more than 15 actual words visible on that double page spread. Youch. “And yet we have to scour every page; sometimes the censors miss something. And Danny is here to help.” He nods, indicating his willingness. “Any name you can’t understand, you run it by Danny. Any region, anything. If he recognizes it, it means we’re on the right track.” Well, not really! It’s a big country and clearly they have files on a whole lot of people.
” The right track to what?” Will wonders from the door way. “To finding a government official who ordered Danny’s arrest and torture. That’s what we need to win.” Hmm. Will sounds skeptical. Diane’s swallowing her own bottom lip in a rather rageful way that makes Alicia nervous. “Kalinda, what do you have?” The ever dependable Kalinda is stuck at the moment; nobody wants to talk. “How about retired officers?” She’s looking into it.
“Diane, can we talk? My meeting with the monitor,” Alicia breathes. In a minute, Diane replies briskly, and Alicia clearly feels brushed off.
“Why’re we doing this?” Will asks Diane as she crosses the threshold to her office. “The government’s not going to cough up 6 million dollars, so why are we doing this?” He sounds angry. “Because it’s the right thing to do,” she says. “No, because you think it’s the right thing to do. I was in D.C. on 9/11.” Wait, wasn’t he in Baltimore where his girlfriend boffed the old dude after he cried at the meeting? “Oh please,” she scoffs. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“Our government took steps,” he insists, advancing on her, his voice low, “to prevent another 9/11. I saw the smoke from the Pentagon.” “Danny is innocent,” Diane replies. “Which is why he’s free,” Will snarls. “After he was tortured!” “Wait,” Will demands, fingers pointed at her, “do you think anybody’s being tortured now? Under your friend Obama, do you think anybody’s being tortured?” She’s silent. “No,” she answers, though I’m not sure she’s sure about it. “No. You’re trying to fight an old war, Diane. Rumsfeld and Cheney are gone – they’re gone. They’re writing books.” I get what he’s saying, but it makes me want to laugh a little – what says the neutering of a leader like writing a book!
A stranger appears at the door.”Come on in Bob!” Diane calls out. “Well I don’t want to interrupt, but you called me.” Yeah, I wouldn’t want to interrupt that either. Ah, but Diane’s fine with it. She introduces their guest as Bob Lochness (Lochness? really? outstanding!), their insurance agent. He’s got some money saving tips. “You said you might be interested in raising your workplace insurance amount,” Lochness nods. Will tries to beg off, but Diane ruthlessly refuses to allow it. “Workplace insurance is…” her voice trails off, giving him the opening. She’s standing behind her desk now, and clearly in control. Internal law suits, Lochness clarifies, like, oh, to pick an example not at random, sexual harassment. Oh boy. “Bosses sleeping with employees, that kind of thing, you know.” Oh, does he know. Bob can give them a big break as long as everyone at L&G takes a sexual harassment class. Nice.
Diane, that’s the most passive aggressive aggression I’ve maybe ever seen. Will rolls his eyes. Diane flounces a tiny a bit. “What do you think, Will?” He meets her gaze clearly. “I think I trust your judgment, Diane, as you trust mine. You have my proxy.”
Caitlin Darcy flips through the pages of a mostly redacted book. “Wow. This is just – wow.” “Yup,” agrees Alicia, and it truly is. “They’re like reading a puzzle,” Caitlin notes, and proceeds to “read” a scene (thoughtfully recreated for the audience, with the conversation being beeped out instead of blacked out) about the need for a wire tap in which absolutely no information is conveyed. It’s actually rather hilarious, because one section starts with “we intend no disrespect” and ends with “to his mother.” Hee! “it’s impossible!” Caitlin grouses. Alicia counters with a passage about the medical authority at Camp ____. “Look how long the blackout is!”
“We might have found something in the transcripts,” Alicia tells Diane. I was wrong, by the way – it’s a blue dress with a suit jacket, but it reads black half the time. “What?” Diane asks curtly. ‘The secret court transcripts refer to an army medical doctor, who was there to observe the interrogations.” Alicia begins, and I swear, I listen to them talking about the secret trial transcripts and it sounds like a Monty Python skit. “His name is referenced in several places.” So, Diane shrugs. So, his name is unusually long. Twelve letters. “My guess, is if we cross reference it with Army medical doctors, we’ll find only a few of that length.” Diane gives her a grudging (metaphorical) pat on the head.
“Diane, about my meeting with the monitor,” Alicia begins, hesitantly. “He asked if Danny had spoken with anyone overseas.” And what did you reply, Diane wonders. That I didn’t know, Alicia replies. “This is so bizarre,” Diane shakes her head, “where is attorney client privilege?” It only gets worse from here, Diane. “He also asked if Danny had mentioned Badula Qulp, a region in Afghanistan.” Diane’s concern is manifest. “Why did he ask that?” “I have no idea, but I have to report back tomorrow,” Alicia answers. “He’s trying to make you his eyes and ears,” Diane rightly observes. “There’s a Chinese Wall between Justice and Treasury, but obviously this makes me…” Alicia shrugs, looking for the right word, “uncomfortable.” “Obviously,” Diane raises an eyebrow, and then dismisses her. Puzzled by her boss’s cold manner, Alicia debates speaking, but decides against it.
Peter and Cary sit in front of Peter’s desk. “So, this Will Gardner investigation. Are you against it?” Cary hesitates before giving his answer. “Yes. I think it’s too fraught. He’s my old boss, your wife is his new…employee…” Wow. That was a really long pause. Okay. Not only does Cary know that Peter and Alicia are separated, but he feels okay speculating on the cause of that to him? Damn. If you ask me, that’s rather a leap, both in speculation and in intimacy. You think we should dump it, Peter leans in. Cary reciprocates. “I think if Will Gardner were anybody else, we wouldn’t go forward. And that’s the rule we’ve used until now.” Right.
“Which is why we have to go forward, unfortunately,” Peter counters, his voice low and rumbly, “if it were anybody else, we’d pursue it.” Cary shakes his head; “I disagree. There’s no drugs here, no homeland security.” Ah, replies Peter, but there are drugs – Lemond Bishop! They can use the leverage on Will to get at Bishop. Really? You can do that? Okay, that’s totally grabbing at straws. Peter does have a vendetta, which is so not cool. Understandable, maybe, but not cool. “You wanna pursue it?” Cary asks. “I want you to pursue it,” Peter says instead, and Cary leans back in his seat, unhappy. “Dana’s out the door, you’ve worked at Lockhart/Gardner before…” Oh, ugh. “I need you to pick up the reigns on this.” Right. Matan’s going to love that… Looking like he’d rather take the seasick crocodile, Cary bows to authority. “Then I will.”
Oh, poor Cary. Who would have thought that Cary would be the sensible one? The one not trying to take down Lockhart/Gardner?
As Cary leaves, Peter’s phone rings. It’s Mom with a quick little question. Jackie! In Alicia’s apartment again! Change the locks, woman! “You can pick the kids up, right, because I can’t get out of here until 7.” Another reason that Zach might want a car, if the alternative is to have Jackie chauffeur him around. “Oh yes, I’m there now,” she whispers, “it’s just, Grace wants to go to a Bible study.” I can’t help laughing. This family and religion! Her tone! It’s hard to imagine most old ladies being so horrified their grandchildren want to go to church. Perhaps especially little old ladies who suspect their granddaughters of being lesbians.
Anyway. She’s whispering like a character out of Brighton Beach Memoirs talking about emphysema. “Mom said I could go,” Grace pops out of her bedroom, coat already on. “What – wuh – where is it?” Peter wonders, equally flabbergasted. “That’s the thing,” Jackie stage whispers, “it’s at a nightclub!” Grace sticks her neck out again (figuratively; literally the rest of her comes with it): “It’s not at a nightclub, they’re just borrowing the space.” And now, we get down to the really annoying Jackie stuff. “Alicia said it was fine, but I don’t know, to me it sounds a bit cockeyed; what kind of Bible Study is at a nightclub?” The kind that’s trying to appeal to teenagers, Jackie, by couching it in something that seems cool.
Happily for family stability (such as it is), Peter refuses to be drawn in to doubting Alicia’s choices. “If Grace wants to go it’s fine with me,” he tells Jackie.
The twelves letter doctor introduces himself. “Can you spell that?” Judge Ferris asks. “Please?” He obliges – Phouayvongsa – Dr. Val Phouayvongsa. Definitely an unusual length. Alicia, now dressed it black but with a bright blue jacket, questions him. What was he doing in 2007? “I advised officers on advanced interrogation methods.” Right. Okay. I’m having a hard time with this. We are not supposed to be the people who torture, and we’re not supposed to weasel word about it. Such as, Alicia asks. “Abdomen strikes,” he offers. ‘I explained how an open-handed slap was preferable to a punch, which could cause internal damage, and thus be considered torture.” Marwat is having a hard time listening. First, do no harm, physician. “Did you supervise the interrogation of Danny Marwat on November 12th?” No, says Dr. Phouayvongsa. Alicia corrects her phrasing. “Strike that. Were you asked to examine an inmate after an interrogation on November 12th?” He was. “But I didn’t see him. He was hooded.” “I understand that,” Alicia concedes calmly, “but did you hear the officers refer to him by name?” He did. “And what was that name?” Danny.
Now that Alicia’s done, Judge Ferris prompts the government for cross. No, but they have a rebuttal witness. And no, they don’t need a subpoena; he’s here already.
It’s Danny Marwat.
Okay, how’s that?
“Good morning, Mr. Marwat,” Topher-esque begins, and he’s not going to talk about November 12th. “Who’s that?” he asks,pointing to a large screen filled with a photo of Danny in Afghan dress. “It looks like me,” Danny admits. It was taken in Afghanistan a week before his arrest. And hmmm, Schow (or whatever his name is) just admitted that Marwat was arrested. That’s surprising. Did they give up on that tactic? Also, I’m not sure what about the physician’s testimony this is rebutting. “I was thinner then,” Marwat notes, though were that true, he’d have to have been emaciated. “Weren’t we all,” Judge Ferris snorts ruefully. Now the scope of the photo broadens, till it includes another man, squatting and talking together. Who are you talking to here, Danny? Danny swallows. “I don’t know.” “Really?” Schow replies, and his tone is icy, his gaze intense. “You seem to be chatting with him.” Danny looks in. Diane and Alicia look in on the monitor. “He looks familiar, but, I don’t know.” We can see more the posture than the man, hunched, perhaps in late middle age, somewhat rounded. “Would it surprise you to know,” Schow says, gathering steam, “that this is Satar Usef Kel – the tribal leader you swore to this court you never to have met. A man connected to Al Qaeda.” Diane leaps to her feet asking for a continuance. Oh, crap.
So you did know him, Will hisses, in a conference room back at the office. You did meet him and you lied. “It’s not what they’re saying,” Marwat insists. Will slams his hands into a chair, making it shake violently. He paces the room. “But you lied! You knew him!” Diane is as outraged as we’ve ever heard her, and why not? Six month of work, six months of believing in a crusade that likely wasn’t going to get you a big pay off… She’s personally hurt. “No, no! His daughter was dying of dysentery! I brought him in medicine. I took it to his home in Badula Qulp!” Okay, stop right there, Diane insists, freezing for a moment. Oh dear. Somebody knew about this already. People clearly have to have been talking to each other through that vaunted Chinese Wall. It makes sense that the Justice Department would know about Badula Qulp, because they’d know where Kel lives, but Treasury? Why would they think that was about to come up if they didn’t know the photo was going to be introduced as evidence?
Yeah, not cool.
“Alicia, could you please step out?” Diane points a red hand at her subordinate. “Why,” Will wonders, sticking his own red hand into the frame. It’s weird; nobody’s hands look red unless they’re next to Alicia’s alabaster face. “Alicia’s meeting with the monitor, he asked about Badula Qulp.” Diane points and slows her words down hilariously. “Wait,” Will says slowly, “What?” She’s doing the nuttiest thing with her hand, dipping it up and down as she points to Danny and Alicia; I’m mesmerized. “She has to tell the monitor what Danny just said, according to the terms of our 13224 license.” Will’s still cautious. “Yes, but if that’s true, she’ll also have to tell him we asked her to step outside.” Hee! “This is crazy,” Diane whispers in that same “emphysema! cancer!” tone Jackie was using before. Will’s suddenly joined the William Shatner school of line delivery. “So you didn’t ask Alicia to step outside,” Will affirms. “No. I did, but then I thought better of it.” The partners’ hands are flying around Alicia head. Now that’s crazy. She’s literally caught inside a game of ping pong. “O-Kay. We’re going to stop this meeting. For a minute,” Will finishes.
“You poked the bear. I asked you not to poke the bear!” he snarls, shaking his head, striding into Diane’s office. “Stop with the bear talk,” Diane grouses wearily, shutting her door. “They’ve been right since day one. Our client did it.” Well, but what’s “it”? Is he a terrorist?
Ugh. I love this episode, but I have a lot of problems with this twist. First off, why was a translator delivering dysentery drugs to a tribal leader? It’s certainly, no? Also, they torture this man for how long and all they had to do was show him a photo? Or did they show him the photo and he caved and then concocted the story of never meeting Kel – even though the meeting was innocuous – afterwards, and decided to sue? On the other hand, assuming he’s largely telling truth, did he really give out medicines and not know who Kel was? Where did he get the drugs? How did he know the girl was sick? Now I’m suddenly with the government in saying it’s all fishy.
Anyway. “He did it to save a girl’s life,” Diane insists. “Oh, yes, he’s quite the humanitarian, Diane,” Will sneers. Stop it, Diane hisses; Alicia can see that we’re fighting. Will gives Diane a calm look. “We drop the suit. I don’t care if he was tortured. He lied to us.” She nods. “I agree.” Will’s assistant picks this moment to knock on the door, saying Cary’s on the phone. “Maybe it’s good news,” Will hopes.
Yeah, you can go right on hoping.
“What’s up, Cary?” Will asks cordially. Cary’s in his big new office, and Dana’s seated against his wall, for the sole purpose of being in the shot. She’s also shooting him with rubber bands. Cary’s having a hard enough time getting the words out as it is. A lot of things, he says finally. Do you have some time today? For what, Will wonders. Cary’s evasive (not to mention halting because of all those rubber bands). We have an ongoing investigation, he sort of explains. Will chuckles. “Am I under indictment?” No, Cary laughs back, “no, not yet.”
Creepy chills, right there.
“I just- I think it’s just the name. Red velvet. It just makes it so desirable.” Gordon Higgs rhapsodizes about a cupcake, split in two, in his hands. His eyes are practically glazed over. (I’m sure it’s just my tv/computer monitor, but it didn’t look very red, did it? And the inside of a red velvet cupcake ought to blaze.) “There’ll be no more need for monitoring, Mr. Higgs,” Alicia explains, standing, “we’re dropping the civil case.” The white room looks bigger than I realized – there’s actually another desk behind Higgs. He’s wearing a tiny flag pin. “Actually, there is need for monitoring, so sit down.” Um, what’s that? She doesn’t sit. “You don’t understand,” he says, doing that piano playing things with his fingers again, “Justice has brought criminal charges against Mr. Marwat.” Alicia’s shocked. “They’re – what charges?” “My guess is aiding and abetting a terrorist, but again, we have a Chinese Wall, so I’m just guessing, but please, sit down.” Some Chinese Wall! “Even if you’re not going to be the attorneys, I need you to sit down.”
Can he do that? Even if they drop Danny as a client? She’s not sure; slowly, slowly, she sits.
“Good,” he says, back on track and in control, “now. Since we last talked, did Mr. Marwat mention anything about the Badula Qulp region?” Well, I suppose technically he didn’t say anything about the region itself… Alicia struggles with this quandry. Can she break her own principles to answer this question? Higgs tries to reclaim her attention; does he need to repeat the question. No, he sure does. He waits another moment. “Do you mind answering it?” he snaps with some asperity. “I do,” she says.
“I’m sorry, Alicia, but you have to answer the question,” Higgs insists. Her voice is unsure, as she is unsure. “I can’t,” she says. “Actually, you can,” he persists. “The penalty for not answering is 8 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.” She inhales sharply, as well she might. “So again, did Mr. Marwat mention Badula Qulp?” Her eyes are searching for a way out. I love how desperately she’s trying not to break this trust, even at the possible expense of prison and massive fines. “Is it my right consult with a lawyer?” “It is always you right – but I wouldn’t advise it,” he admonishes sternly. Oh no he didn’t! “I wanna consult with a lawyer,” she insists, brave, defiant. Higgs, the squirrelly little pissant, leaves the room in a fit of pique.
“And what did he say then?” Will asks Alicia, back in Diane’s office. “He said he advised against me getting a lawyer.” Will shoots a piercing glare in Diane’s direction. “Of course he did.” “You did the right thing,” Diane comforts Alicia. “Danny talked about meeting the tribal leader expecting attorney client privilege. But if you tell the monitor, they’ll arrest him.” Rock, meet hard place. “The fine for not answering is $250,000 and 8 years in prison.” Which this single mother cannot do. But she can’t give up her client, either, not without a fight. She spears Diane with her gaze, then Will.
“Did he say anything about the firm?” Diane wonders, crossing the room to stand closer to Will. Alicia doesn’t understand, so Will has to interpret for her. “Did the monitor ask about what we said to you?” He gestures at Diane, who leans next to him on the window wall. “No,” Alicia answers, on edge. “They could still come after us. The whole firm,” Diane whispers low. “Okay,” Will decides, “We’ve talked to Nick Cotella about representing you, and Nick is good, and he knows this area inside and out.” Will’s sitting across from Alicia, looking into her eyes. “We’ll cover the cost.” Uh, of course they will! Why wouldn’t they, when she needs a lawyer because she’s doing her job? But Alicia’s apprehensive now. Or apprehensive about more than just Higgs.
“Okay,” she says, rising, “I’ll think about it.” About what? “Representation.” Will and Diane are puzzled. “But you need a lawyer, Alicia,” Diane puzzles. “I know,” Alicia agrees calmly, “I just want to explore my options.”
“Nick is good, Alicia,” Will justifies. “He’s handled these things before.” Ah, but Alicia’s inclination is not to trust, and not to take the good thing offered her. “Okay,” she says, frowning, “thanks.” On the way to her office, an idea strikes her, and she hits the elevator instead of her desk.
And as she steps into an elevator, Cary and his partner du jour step out of the other. After he’s announced them at the reception desk, he gets a little attitude from Miss Dana Lodge. “Cary in his natural habitat. I can see you here.” You know, I expect Cary comes from pretty decent money, but I actually think he’s found his real metier at the State’s Attorney’s office. It seems to have awakened a crusading spirit. “Aren’t you supposed to be at your high paying defense attorney’s job?” he deflects her barb. “They delayed me a week,” she shrugs, pretending indifference. “I don’t even think you have a new job,” he jokes, “you’re just one of those moms pretending they’re pregnant.” Huh? “That happen a lot in your experience?” she questions dryly, which wins a brilliant grin. Are they a couple at this point, do you think, or was it just a fling?
“Hello? Hello?” Elsbeth Tascioni calls into her intercom. Elsbeth! No way!
And that was number four.
“It’s okay, I don’t need any water,” Alicia demurs, but technology phobic Elsbeth is determined. “Hello? Fantasia? Bottled water, please.” Oh, how much do I love that her assistant is named Fantasia? Almost as much as I love seeing her again. Elsbeth smiles beatifically at Alicia until an angry male voice comes out of the intercom. “Who is this?” Her face crinkles. God, but she’s wonderful. “Elsbeth Tascioni. Who’s this?’ Alicia tries to control a smile. “Get off my intercom!” the man yells. “This is my intercom!” she replies in outrage. (My dear friend once had a similar conversation involving introducing oneself on the phone – this makes me chuckle from nostalgia as well.) Alicia tries to forgo the water. “Sorry,” Elsbeth frowns, “but we had this installed, to make life easier,” and man, does she actually stamp her foot there? Awesome. “…and now it’s…” The man on the other side of the intercom actually barks at her. In imitation of a dog.
“Anyway,” Elsbeth tries to retake control of the conversation, “I understand the impossible position 13224 puts you in. If you reveal what you know about your client, he’ll go to prison; if you don’t, you’ll go.” Yep, there it is. “So now you see why I need a lawyer,” Alicia agrees. “Yes,” Elsbeth nods, “I just don’t see why it needs to be me.” She grimaces a little. Um, okay. Most people like new business. (Oh my gosh, I can’t help myself, I just like her so much and I really never thought we’d see her again, what with Carrie Preston working on True Blood. I’m so frickin’ happy to be wrong.) “Especially if your firm is offering a hitter like Nick Cotella.”
Alicia measures her words carefully. “I think I need a little distance from my firm?” Elsbeth narrows her eyes, trying to read between the lines. “Their issues aren’t yours? They want to protect their firm?” Ah, she’s so quick on the uptake, even though she doesn’t seem so. “And I saw how hard you fought for Peter. If you hadn’t gotten him acquitted, he wouldn’t be sitting in the State’s Attorney’s Office.” Elsbeth sort of hangs her head in this adorable “aw, shucks” pose. “Aw, now you’ve got me blushing,” she responds. But when the angry intercom man breaks into her happy reverie, she awkwardly jerks the intercom off her desk by the cord, sending it flying.
“Is your firm being aggressive with this criminal case?” Yes, Alicia asserts (though frankly I’m just shocked they didn’t drop him as a client altogether). “We’re trying to get it quashed in pre-trial motions. “Good,” Elsbeth points, “that’s our strategy. We need to stall your Treasury guy until the criminal case goes away.” She sits at her corner office desk, splaying her hands and moving them to show the case flying away. It’s not as enormous as Diane’s office, perhaps, but the view is just spectacular. Real or CGI, I wonder? “They can’t hold you to 13224 if there’s no case.” Alicia nods her agreement. How? “I don’t know,” Elsbeth answers without shame from the other side of her magnetic flower bedecked laptop, “but it’s a strategy. And a strategy is better than no strategy. You just don’t worry, okay? I like that color on you!”
Her mercurial transitions from daffy to brilliant are just the bomb. And if it comes down to it, I like that bright blue on Alicia, too (though it’s the black dress underneath the jacket that makes it her style; she’d never go all over in such a bright color).
“Wow, Deputy State’s Attorney! Peter Florrick better watch his salt intake.” “Nice,” Cary smiles appreciatively, sitting down with Dana across from Will. “I think you know my colleague Dana Lodge,” Cary begins, delaying the inevitable. “Hawkins murder case last year,” Will nods, respectful. “I like your office, it’s – it’s big,” she nods. That’s all you got, Dana? Unimpressive. So, what can Will do for them? “Well,” Cary begins, but sputters out. “Uh – this is a bit awkward. I don’t know where to begin.” Dana does. “45,000,” she says. “What was that, the attendance at the Bears game last night?” She snorts. “Not unless the Bears were playing in Baltimore.” Not unless the Bears were playing in the middle of the week, you mean. Will smiles a little, trying too hard, but it doesn’t last. “You took 45 thousand from a client’s account to cover a bad bet.” When Will looks at Cary, his face is tolerant, mostly amused. Cary looks embarrassed. “Where you getting your information from?” Somewhere reliable, Dana asserts. How does she know he’s reliable? God, I hate admitting that Blake is right about anything.
“We’re not after you, Mr. Gardner. Even if we wanted to be after you, it’s not our jurisdiction.” Wow, Cary’s really letting her carry this whole conversation. He’s looking increasingly nauseous. “We’re after your client, Lemond Bishop.” Will ignores Dana. “What’s going on, Cary?” Refusing to meet his eyes, Cary gives a rehearsed seeming speech about crystal meth. “Lemond Bishop is ground zero for crystal meth.” “And we represent his legitimate interests,” Will smiles. His money laundering interests, you mean, Dana responds. Will pushes back his chair and stands. “Let’s get this on the record, shall we?” Rapping on the glass wall, he beckons Caitlin in, and she stands in the doorway. (Let’s hope he doesn’t come to regret his choice of witness.) The ASAs exchange apprehensive glances.
“Do you need something, Mr. Gardner?” He does. ‘These two ASA are from the State’s Attorneys office – excuse me,” he backtracks, his voice venomous, “this ASA and this deputy State’s Attorney, and unless I am mistaken, they are committing a criminal act; using intimidation and coercion to try and blackmail me into breaking attorney/client privilege.” Now Cary’s really squirming, and even Dana looks like she knows she’s in the wrong. “You are mistaken,” Cary replies fervently, though I can’t see how he could be. Fine, says Will, so explain how. “There is no privilege if the attorney becomes aware of any offenses his client intends to commit in the future,” Dana parses words. Cary fidgets in his seat some more, acting like a kid at the grown ups table.
“Ah,” says Will, arms crossed, leaning against an abstract painting on his wall, glaring, “so this is just an effort to remind me of my legal responsibilities?” Yes, what did they think was going to happen here? “Yes,” bites Dana, looking up, “a reminder with teeth. Even if something doesn’t land in our jurisdiction, it’s still disbar-able.” “Thank you,” Will answers, “I think the meeting’s over now.” Cary slinks out, but Dana gets right in Will’s face and stares, just a moment. It’s all very alpha dog and strange.
After the departing lawyers move past her, Caitlin gives Will a questioning look. He grins, and asks how she likes work. It’s so exciting, she enthuses. Oh yes. I’m so suspicious of her, it’s terrible, and I’ll really be bored if they turn her into another Nancy Crozier type. “And it’ll only get more so,” he tells her, illustrating his point with a finger gun. Will, those finger guns have got to go!
“No,” Hal Ferris grins angelically, the seal making a halo around his head, “let’s just let the moment resonant.” Heee. Childs, Schow and Diane stand before him. “Miss Lockhart, you asked to sue the government. I said yes. Now you’re dropping the suit. And you, Mr. Childs, are now bringing a criminal case. And here we are together, the same people, one week closer to the grave.” Oh, he’s enjoying this way too much, and I am enjoying his enjoyment. New information from the civil case, Childs trumpets. “That is why we’ve indicted Mr. Marwat for perjury and for conspiracy to aid and abet a terrorist.” Are aiding and abetting actually different crimes? I should look that up some time. Ferris is grinning like a loon.
“I imagine you would like me to entertain a motion to dismiss, Miss Lockhart?” Of course. “On what grounds?,” Childs inquires. “On the grounds of how will I spend my Thursday afternoons if you three aren’t here?” Look at that big, meaty, smiling face. Gorgeous. “I will consider motions at ten tomorrow,” he proclaims, and then away.
To the sound of sirens – which seem to perpetually surround the Chicago Treasury building – Higgs eats his lunch on a bench, a persnickety little man alone in the big city. Elsbeth Tascioni tiptoes over and plunks herself down on the end of the bench. Gordon raises his head from his neatly unfolded paper packet, withering glance at the ready. She smiles at him, hands clasped, her red hair and patterned bag vivid against the gray and beige towers. “Can I help you?” he asks. “Oh,” she replies, a bit abashed. “My name is Elsbeth Tascioni, and I represent – oh my gosh!” she gushes, momentarily distracted. “That is the prettiest cupcake I’ve ever seen! I represent Alicia Florrick.” His cherubic face goes cold. “She’s someone you met with and advised not to get an attorney?” He straightens up. ‘Really? Well, I would dispute that.” Oh, you little weasel. “Yes,” Elsbeth agrees, pointing, her finger waving, “I know you would. It’s not great for a Treasury department official to advise that, is it?”
And I think that’s chills number five.
“Is she bringing charges?” he asks, pretending to be casual. Oh no, goodness no, Tascioni responds, “She’s much too nice for that. That’s why she has me.” Tascioni sounds particularly nice, which gives it all a wonderful effect. Higgs looks ready to spit furballs. “Well, you see, I have office hours. Up in my office. Up there…” Higgs turns his gaze up, and so does Elsbeth. “And, um, this is my lunch break.” Oh, she says, again appearing abashed, “I’ll just sit here, then.” She’ll just sit – and stare at him.
Good lord, this scene.
“Your client has a duty as an American to help us weed out terrorists. And even if that weren’t the case, she’s under penalty of law. To answer all of my questions.” (Not going there, not going there, not going to bite…) Which she’s willing to do, Elsbeth notes, with an attorney and with transactional immunity. “Your client wants immunity?” Higgs is aghast, his rosy little mouth open.”No, she doesn’t, I do!” Miss Tascioni explains. “You’re trying to delay,” he realizes. “Of course I am,” she beams. “Call me when you get the grant!” She hops up, but quick as a flash, she’s back. “You know where I could get my parking validated?” He doesn’t.
“You want me to what?” Alicia asks Elsbeth. They must be in Alicia’s office.”Yeah,” Elsbeth says, “I’ve been thinking about it all night. I like that jacket, by the way.” Always finding something good to say, that Elsbeth, even if her subject shifts could give you whiplash. The jacket is beige, and has a double lapel, pretty in a very subtle, conservative way. “I need help with one of my clients. Do you have any experience with insurance companies?” (Yes, most notably – though not exclusively – in Heart.) “Do I? No,” Alicia claims. “That’s okay,” Elsbeth stands, putting her really cute (and very unlawyerly) bag on Alicia’s desk. “It’s way more interesting than you’d think.” It would have to be. “If you could just read these… no, these,” Elsbeth hands over a file. “And I’m doing this because …” Well, begins Miss Tascioni, “your monitor is going to ask you what I said here, when I handed over these files.” Oh, no, not more of this miming again! “And I just want you to be clear about what I’m saying.” Alicia looks disappointed. “I need your help on this insurance case because I’m swamped. Phew! Look at all this paper!” She acts out asking Alicia for help; it’s awesome. Just awesome. “I need help!”
“That’s what you want me to tell him?” No, says Elsbeth. “That’s what you will tell him, because that’s what I said.” Alicia looks flummoxed. “Okay,” she finally assents. Elsbeth gathers her things and trundles out. She stops short at the door. “No! Alright. Goodbye.” She leaves Alicia completely baffled.
I bet she gets that a lot.
As he and an associate walk up the steps of the courthouse, Peter notices Will waiting for him. “Go ahead,” he motions to the associate, handing over his briefcase, and they’re alone. “You’re coming after me,” Will barrels right in, hands in his pockets, pugnacious, looking down from a higher step. “Mr. Clean now, you’re coming after me.” Oh, do you mean our task force, Peter wonders. “This is not about coming after you. And if my ASAs gave you that impression, then I apologize.” He tries to move past. “You sent them to my office, trying to turn me with this old b.s., are you insane?” I think you should calm down, Peter tells Will, and rightly. Wow. Will’s dangerous when he gets his back up, to himself and others. “I think you should go to hell, Peter,” Will responds, and Peter can’t believe it. “You’re not above it. I don’t care what conversion you had in prison. You’re in the mud like the rest of us.” You know, he kind of sounds like Celeste right now, doesn’t he? “I’m not the one who’s…” Peter starts, and them bites it down. “You’re not the what?” Will demands. “The one who what?” Peter paces, struggling with himself. “I have never gone there,” he snaps, right in Will’s face. “Whatever I’ve said to you, or done to you, I haven’t gone there!” Gone where, Will wonders again. “Go ahead, say it.”
“No,” Peter refuses. Wow. More chills. That’s six. “That’s what this is about, huh? Alicia. That’s why you tried to audit us, that’s why you’re going for rico.” You know, belatedly I’m realizing why it makes sense for Matan to have been the one who tipped off that reporter about the investigation into L&G. “Oh, man, you’re pitiful. Get a pair of balls and throw a punch.” I have to say, Peter’s refusal to respond makes him far from pitiful here. Why does Will always come off looking like a brat when he’s with Peter? It’s not like Peter actually is above it all. “I don’t give a rat’s ass what you think it’s about,” Peter maintains, “if you steal $45,ooo, you go to jail.” Well, no bull about that. “There’s two of us here, only one of us has seen the inside of a cell.”
Okay, that’s fair.
“Have a good day, counselor,” Peter dismissed Will. “You come after me, Peter, that’s not how this ends, you know it,” Will shoots at Peter’s back.
So, wow, I cannot believe that Will just did that. Does that sort of threat actually work? Can Will have any leverage there at all?
“I see you’ve brought your lawyer with you,” Gordon Higgs acknowledges as Alicia and Elsbeth sit in the two chairs now placed across from him. Yes, says Elsbeth, we met yesterday. I’ll say they met. They exchange pleasantries. “So, Mrs. Florrick, did your client ever mention Badula Qulp?” Miss Tascioni insists on that transactional immunity. This immunity, Higgs responds, holding up the sheet in front of him. “This is a grant of limited immunity tied to your client’s answers. As long as Mrs. Florrick is forthcoming and truthful she cannot be charged for any of her actions.” Great. Just let me take a peek, Elsbeth asks. He lifts it away. I sent a copy to your office, he insists. Oh, she knows. She just wants to make sure he hasn’t changed anything. Reluctantly, he surrenders the paper.
“It’ll take about thirty minutes or so,” she professes. “This is a delaying tactic,” he replies icily. “If you keep interrupting,” she notes, “I have to keep going back to the top.” She makes me laugh. Alicia almost smiles.
No. There. She did smile.
Back in the L&G conference, Caitlin Darcy combs through more redacted files. There’s a lot more beeping about a warrant to be served in Afghanistan. “His answers were ____, your Honor,” the prosecutor says. “How do you mean, ___?” the judge questions. “Unresponsive?” “No, brief,” the prosecutor explains. And a penny drops.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, Miss Lockhart,” Caitlin says from Diane’s doorway, “I’m Caitlin, down in…” “I know,” Diane cuts her off, “what is it?” Caitlin and her blond locks start fluttering. “Well, normally I would go to Alicia first, but I can’t find her…” Not cool, Caitlin. And just spit it out! “In the court transcripts, the reason for the arrest is an army officer, but the name is redacted.” Yes, get to the point, love – Diane’s frantically packing up her things. “But how they redact these transcripts is through a program that searches for words.” Yeeeeesss? “They double check by eye afterward, but…” Diane’s going to court, chickie, get to the point. “Oh. Yes. Right. ‘His answers were ____, your Honor,’ – and here, ‘the suspect was ___, his tone was ____- with one word answers.” Diane stops, intrigued. “They redacted the adjective!” Diane looks even more thoughtful. Grammar for the win! “My guess is that their redaction program took it for a name.” Oh, the irony. “Curt,” Diane realizes. Is that a little joke? “Yes,” breathes Caitlin, “his answers were curt, your Honor, his tone was curt. One word answers.” They walk toward each oher. “Or at least, that’s my guess.” Did she check? Yes. Caitlin hands Diane a sheet with the photo and information about one Matthew Curt.
“Nicely done, Caitlin,” Diane smiles with real appreciation. “Thank you, Miss Lockhart,” Caitlin smiles back, her chin up,drawing herself up with pride – but the moment Diane walks past her, the innocent smile disappears. Damn it, it is a performance.
“O-kay!” Elsbeth Tascioni smiles, setting the grant down and patting it, “that looks hunky doory.” Great, Higgs replies. Finally, the answer he’s been looking for. “So, Mrs. Florrick, did Mr. Marwat mention Badula Qulp since we last talked?” “Now I’m going to ask Mrs. Florrick not to answer that,” Elsbeth advises. Higgs’s eyes flick to the red head, his face remaining still. “I know, and I’m sorry for frustrating you, but it turns out that since we last spoke, ah, there’s a conflict of interest with regard to Mrs. Florrick’s representation.” Uh? Higgs rolls that around his mouth for a minute. “What conflict of interest?” he snaps. “Your voice gets very intense when you get quiet. It rattles me,” Elsbeth claims, and I think I’m getting chills again. I could watch them interact forever. Higgs stares implacably.
“What was that?” she draws a shakey breath. “My conflict of interest,” Alicia reminds her lawyer. Yes, right. “Mrs. Florrick now represents North Guard Insurance, the company which provides liability coverage to the employees of L. Martin, working in Afghanistan, including Danny Marwat. You’ll find it in their annual report. It’s that company that has the alligator in their commercials,” Elsbeth grins, making an alligator puppet out of her hand. Inspired by the Aflac duck? “Have you seen those,” she guffaws, “they’re so funny.”
Higgs still stares implacably.
“Mrs. Florrick can’t answer questions about her client Mr. Marwat, without breaking attorney/client privilege with North Guard.” Oh, nice. That is just very impressive. “You see our problem here?”
Higgs makes little circles with his rosy little mouth again. “When did you take North Guard as a client, Mrs. Florrick?” “Yesterday,” Alicia admits, smiling nastily. “And, uh, did Miss Tascioni bring you this client?” Elsbeth nods at Alicia. “Yes, she told me she needed help on the case.”
Higgs’ glare becomes more penetrating. “Do you know the penalty for lying, Mrs. Florrick?” She does, as it happens. “What did Miss Tascioni tell you exactly when she brought you this account?” Hee. Alicia mimics Elsbeth’s hammy gestures from the day before. “She said. ‘I need help on this insurance case. I’m swamped. Look at all this paper.'” Hee.
“I’m bringing this to court,” Higgs snarls. “Good,” Elsbeth agrees. “I think the courts have shown a certain, ah, affinity for corporations like North Guard and their rights. The Supreme Court has even insisted on their personhood!” What an odd thing to be grateful here. “My guess is they won’t look kindly on your attempt to infringe with their attorney/client privilege!” She cranes her next, shooting her words at Higgs as he stalks out of the room. The two women smile. “I wanna… learn from you,” an awed Alicia confesses. Too right! The woman’s a master. Elsbeth does blush now. “There’s nothing you can learn from me,” she claims, “I’m just, ah…. Let’s go!”
Don’t go! Please stay. You are just too wonderful. A bumbling Columbo in high heels. And, hurrah for the bureaucrat’s defeat! Take that, little rodent man!
Lieutenant Matthew Curt of Army Intelligence is now on the stand. “Are you the officer who authorized the use of advanced interrogation techniques on my client,” Diane asks. Schow, of course, objects on the grounds of relevance. “Mr. Marwat’s civil suit has been dropped. The circumstances of his detention have nothing to do with these charges.” “Your Honor,” Diane replies, “the government clearly has evidence against my client. We’re simply trying to determine how they came up with this evidence.” “I’m thinking, thinking – overruled.” Hee! “You may answer.” Curt looks none to pleased by this permission. “I’m prohibited from answering that under the Classified Information Act,” Curt snaps. “Your Honor, the prosecution is basing it’s new conspiracy charge against my client from the interrogation from the first arrest. But without Lt. Curt offering a reason for this interrogation, the arrest and it’s ensuing interrogation should be considered inadmissable.” Nice. Very nice. What was that Glenn Childs said in the beginning about evidentiary standards? Overruled again. Mr. Curt may answer – but he won’t.
Danny twitches, looking avidly from the judge to the officer. “Then I’m sorry, Mr. Schow,”Judge Ferric shrugs, “but the defense’s motion for dismissal is granted.”
Nice! Yes! Except, do we want to be excited? Great for Alicia, and Danny seems like a nice guy, but is he? Pretending not to have ever met Kel is a puzzling lie. Marwat and Diane hug. It’s nice to Glenn Childs frustrated, at any rate.
And there’s Grace, doing her homework, no dancing tutor in sight. Maybe that’s because she’s doing it in Peter’s office. I love her ruffled gray cardigan; it looks so warm and snuggly and age appropriate. She watches her dad fidget uncomfortably. “Are you getting divorced, Dad?” Well, that’s blunt. “I don’t know,” he answers, a little surprised at the question. “Why?” What do you mean, why? Does she not get to ask that? Or are you just wondering if she knows something you don’t? “I just don’t know if you should,” she answers. He raises his eyebrows. “I don’t think it’s just up to me.” “You think Mom wants to get a divorce?,” she wonders. Again, he’s at a loss. “I don’t know what your Mom wants.” Grace shrugs and looks at her notepad. “I think she just wants to be happy.” Peter turns to look at his youngest child. “Yeah. I know. So do I.” “You’re not?,” she asks. “Well, I wanna do the right thing, but sometimes it’s hard to know what the right thing is,” he smiles at her. “You should just ask me,” Grace informs him. Ah, 14. I remember that blinding certainty. Peter breaks into a full laugh and a joker’s smile.
And then he thinks about it, and excuses himself. “I love you,” she says. “And I love you,” he replies.
“They just toyed with me,” Dana grouses as Cary shuts his office door. “You don’t know that,” Cary cautions. “No, I do know that – they just used me like a stalking horse to get the lawyer they wanted, okay?” Oh. A permanent delay on the new job, then, huh? Um, yay? “I told my Mom I was going to a new firm,” she sighs, plunking down in a chair. “Oh God.”
Cary leans in as she holds her head in her hand. “You want me to call her and tell her you screwed up?” She snorts. “Don’t try to cheer me up,” she sniffs. “Look, I was working at a law firm, and they fired me,” he says, sitting down on the front of his desk, facing her. “And you know what I did? I decided to make them regret that day. You work twice as hard, and you beat them. You beat every defense attorney…”
Peter walks in on the pep talk, and both young lawyers spring to their feet. “Am I interrupting something?” he squints. No, no, just talking. “Okay,” Peter begins, leaning on the chair Dana had been sitting in. “I’m absenting myself from the Lockhart/Gardner case.” Cary bites his lip hopefully. “You want us to drop it?” “No,” says Peter, “it’s a good case.” Is it? How? “You should report to a special prosecutor, I’ll appoint one.” Dana’s jaw drops. “I have too many conflicts… of interest.” He gives Cary a significant look. “Okay,” Dana replies, “we’ll get on it.” Yes, and I imagine Matan will want back on, too. Peter realizes Dana’s not supposed to be there. “We? I thought you were going.” “No,” she replies bitterly, “I was mislead by a law firm, so, I’m staying. And I’m pissed.” “Goooood,” purrs Peter, “pissed is good.” Cary smiles to himself. “It’ll make you a better lawyer,” Peter grins. “Then I’m gonna make a pretty great lawyer,” Dana returns fiercely. Ah, so many jealousies. So many axes to grind in the State’s Attorney’s office.
Oh, how I love the story of Doug and Jane, and the many ways he expresses his sexuality inappropriate in their cubicle farm. He rubs her shoulders to the tune of a tinkling 80s synthesizer. “Sexuality: it’s a significant part of our culture, depicted in movies, books and TV.” Oh, right, because it’s pop culture that makes sex significant. Ha. “But in the workplace, sexuality can easily become sexual harassment.” Will arrives, and pushes through the crowded conference room to claim a seat next to Alicia, open despite the staff members standing in the back. “It’s not fair,” Doug complains to Jane, “She only got that promotion because she’s sleeping with the boss.” Hee. “When an authority figures becomes involved with a subordinate, is that sexual harassment?” Hee. Man, Alicia looks incredibly uncomfortable. Under cover of the film, Will asks how Alicia’s doing. “Well, I’m not going to jail,” she offers. Now you know it’s a good day.
Doug starts getting a little more handsy, grabbing Jane as he walks by. This could be upsetting, the voice over suggests.
“What about you?” Alicia asks. “You haven’t been around much.” “I’ve had a weird few days,” Will admits. “About what?” Alicia asks. “Nothing. Something stupid I thought was over.” Well, it’s not as if he’d tell her here, but uck, all around. “What?” His face remains frozen. “Nothin’.”
“…. but unwelcome sexual attention can also be verbal.” “Good morning, gorgeous!” Doug hails Jane as they each get a cup of coffee. He leans in, and she curls protectively around the coffee pot. “Even an intended compliment can create an uncomfortable work environment.” Will and Alicia blink as the screen goes dark.
You know, you two are stupid. She won’t talk to him, he won’t talk to her. God, do you really think Alicia can’t deal with Peter? That even on the cusp of a potentially ugly divorce, that she wouldn’t have a better chance of getting Peter to back off than you do? But oh no, we have to be so much more macho than that. Can’t let the woman fix the problem. (Okay, I get it, he’s a grown up, he wants to solve his own problems. And also? He probably doesn’t want Alicia to know about said problem, doesn’t want to damage her regard. Still. As the genie bellows in Aladdin – and you should always listen to the genie – tell the truth!)
Well, okay, maybe that wasn’t the moment I’d have picked to end this episode. Hilarious, and I wouldn’t have missed it, but maybe not the last thing I want to be thinking about.
Now, I’m really into Dana Lodge, don’t get me wrong. And not to take Matan as some sort of authority on anything, but what’s with the show pairing Cary with a new “ethnic” woman every other week? Kalinda, Geneva, Amani, Dana – did we keep looking until we found one that might stick? That’s kind of weird, isn’t it?
In other news, Diane! Diane! Diane has not, in fact, left the building, and thank heavens. It’s been so long, baby. We were so lonely without you. And great googelty moogelty, as Flanders from the Simpsons would say, but the twist delight of her forcing Will and Alicia to sit through sexual harassment training? I mean, come on. That is just outrageously good.
Elspeth Tascioni is back! She’s back! I have to say, I’m usually not adverse to casting spoilers, but I’m so thrilled I didn’t know she was appearing because of the total thrill that coursed through me when she first appeared on screen. (Oddly, I even noticed Carrie Preston’s name in the credits, and thought, “oh, Carrie Preston, I really like her” rather than the more obvious “Frakking Elspeth is back, yes!” She’s truly one of the most original characters on tv. Few people can make that kind of impact with so few appearances, but wow, that character! And she was worth the thirty episode wait. She was worth it. I seriously want to run around and high five my television set or something. Happy dancing all around!
That was frickin’ awesome.
It wasn’t exactly perfect. Was Marwat really a terrorist? Did he know who the tribal leader was when he brought him medicine? Is that a euphemism for something? I’m not entirely sure we needed that twist, or that it benefited the general believability of that story line. I thought it was much more interesting in the beginning, when they used the redacted documents and the food requests to tease out obscure bits of information. But man, it lead to some completely fantastic moments with Balaban’s elfin baddie, who was a delight in every way.
I must admit, the confrontations between Will and Peter make me a little queasy. Peter’s very clearly violating his own rules to come after Will, and I don’t blame Cary for feeling uncomfortable about it. But then again, as Peter says, you shouldn’t be able to just steal $45,000. I’m not sure what Will thinks he’s going to accomplish by pissing on Peter’s shoes, so to speak, but I don’t see any of this ending well. I feel like the writers are preparing us for this with the downbeat (if comic) ending.
So, what do you think? Are you as convinced as I am that Caitlin is playing a part? And if she is, to what end? How long can Alicia and Will stay together, in the face of all this opposition, without true intimacy? Alicia’s just given an excellent demonstration (as if we needed one) of her ability to stand strong in the face of outside pressure. Will she cling to Will as she clings to her principles? Or will she hide her head in the sand until it’s too late?