E: Have you ever seen so much bad lying on a good TV show? Everybody’s lying to themselves, and pretty much nobody’s getting away with it. A more delightful mix of recurring guest stars, prevarication, flirtation and Philosophy 101 I have never seen.
Not to be too melodramatic about it, but you can really feel the darkness swirling around Alicia and Will, the storm getting ready to break. Meanwhile, the writers use the case of the week to make us question the clandestine lovers’ choices. Boring it ain’t.
Our perspective shatters; there’s a ceiling, there are bars, there is darkness. “Hey, you shoot when I say you can shoo…” a tough guy proclaims before blinking into darkness. We refocus, blearily, on his green prison shirt. An unseen interviewer asks the swaggering man for his name. “Ricky Packer. Twenty nine days.” The voice, which sounds French, instructs Ricky to include the question in his reply. (It’s inopportune, maybe, but a hundred exit interviews with reality tv show contestants declaring “Is this the last you’ve heard of me? Never!” flash before my eyes.)
Ricky restates his answer for the camera: “My name is Ricky Packer, and I have 29 days left to live.” The video freezes on Packer’s goatee-ed face, his name and date of execution (November 14th, 2011) appearing on the screen. Despite his cocky attitude, Packer seems serious, thoughtful.
“I’ve been reading a lot of the Bible,” he tells us, his brown eyes serious. “Job.” He’s a victim of tremendous suffering, then? “When I lie down, I wonder how long it is until I get up.” That might fail as an attempt at profundity. What’s that supposed to mean? The Frenchman mutters low about Camus, quoting the prison meditation The Stranger: “fate is not in man but around him.” And there it is, the question of this episode. Do we bear responsibility for our actions? What was Packer’s crime, the action that controls his fate? “Well, the state says double homicide, but I don’t think even they believe that.” Um, ouch. He seems sincere. Is this another case of innocence betrayed? “They had some bodies, they had to pin it on someone.” We’ve certainly seen of late how that can be true; there’s clearly a rush to judgement. Then again, as they’re fond of saying in The Shawshank Redemption, no one is prison is actually guilty.
The unseen Frenchman asks Packer to repeat something he’d said off camera. Suddenly he’s more street. “Oh, yeah yeah yeah, I told the guards about this murder that I heard about? Almighty Vice Lords payback on 19th? There’s a dead body buried up there in Douglas Park, you think they care?” Why wouldn’t they care, the Frenchman wonders. Because it means more work, the convict suggests. “They go dig up some gang banger’s body, what they gonna do, huh? They gonna go find the killer?”
Looks like they’re going to find something. Music blares in time with the rain and the flashing police lights and the swinging shovel; the cops are digging up a body in Douglas Park.
Dana Lodge looks on dispassionately, texting as she watches the scene from beneath her umbrella. “You got here fast,” Cary comments as he walks toward her through the muck. “Yeah,” she snarks smugly, “it’s called driving. What did you do, stop for hamburgers?” Heh. I like her, even if I long for the days when it was Kalinda standing in the rain at a crime scene. The pavement shines between them.
“So, what is it, gang related?” Yes, Cary. Turns out Ricky’s information was accurate. “A tip from death row, go figure. John Doe, buried six months.” We see the grisly find in a hole next to a tarp. “One other thing, Mr. Deputy State’s Attorney,” Dana adds as they stare down at the skeleton. What’s that? “You missed a button.”
Oh, snap. I guess we know what they were doing before they got here.
Embarrassed, Cary tries to button himself up unobtrusively. “Thank you, ASA Lodge.” Ah, Cary. So formal.
“Do we know his colors?,” Cary asks, attempting to steer the conversation back into professional waters. “22nd Disciple.” Twenty second? Okay. This makes sense to Cary, however. He assumes it’s an Almighty Vice Lords’ reprisal. Yes, agrees Dana, “but oddly enough, that’s not why you’re here. They dug up someone else.” Oooh. The plot thickens! And so does the mud.
“Citizen?,” Cary wonders. Meaning not a drug dealer or gang member? Which means a body they consider important? Yes, observes Dana, as we look down on another skeleton, “and one with expensive taste. Ed says those are Christian Louboutin shoes.” Cary snorts. “Ed knows that?” Hee. “The purse still had 300 dollars in it. Her license says her name is Adrianne Iver. A missing person for 6 months now,” Dana notes. The music blares like a siren. Cary tilts his head, peering down into the grave. “And guess what else we found in her purse?,” Dana asks, glee in her rich, suggestive voice. “Her boyfriend’s number.”
“How long?” a mild looking man with blondish hair and a rudy face inquires. “They’ll be here in twenty minutes,” Diane volunteers from off screen. “So what do I do?” he wonders. “Whatever they ask,” Alicia explains gently. “You will be processed, photographed and finger printed.” The man rears back. “They will take away your clothes and supply you with a Department of Corrections jumpsuit.” The man – presumably Adrianne Iver’s boyfriend – pulls further away from Alicia. “We’re hoping that you’ll make bail,” she tells him, glowing in a soft woolly red blazer. “You have ties to the community and the evidence is circumstantial.” The boyfriend gulps, and Diane nods her agreement.
“I loved her,” he says. “We argued, but I loved her.” Diane nods, an enormous bird pinned to her dark jacket. A mockingjay? A phoenix? “I didn’t report her missing because Adrianne said she was going back to Canada,” he flounders.
“Alicia!” Eli hisses from the doorway. “It’s important!” Oh, Eli. I love you, but I actually can’t decide if I’m happy to see you back or not. Your fussiness is a bit of a wrench from the drama of the moment. As Diane tries to sooth and hand hold the client without her subordinate, Alicia heads into the hallway. “What’s that about?” Eli jerks his chin toward her client. “He’s being charged with murdering his girlfriend,” Alicia replies, folding her arms. “What’s important?” Eli stutters a moment. “My computer’s acting up again.” Alicia does even need to speak; she just slowly tilts her head and gives Eli her best mom stare. I know, he confesses, that doesn’t sound as important. “Really?” she answers, troweling the sarcasm on nice and thick. “I need you in this meeting too!” he finishes, and at this, she nods agreement, heading briefly back to the soon-to-be-accused.
“Okay, I have a meeting, you have to go,” Eli announces as he walks into his office. Eee! It’s Marissa on his couch. Excellent! “You should have told Mom no,” Eli’s darling daughter complains, hunched over a newspaper and not moving an inch. Um, he certainly did. “That’s not what Mom said,” Marissa rejoins, wrinkling her round, sassy little face. “She says you vetted her and everything was alright for her to run.” Seriously? Is she crazy? (Well, she did marry Eli…) Eli stabs at his laptop with a single finger. “Why is it that every other kid in the universe knows about computers and not you?” Oh, right, so your lack of knowledge – and inability to call IT – is her fault? Marissa pays this civil remark as much attention as it deserves. “Your Mom’s a politician now. She’s adapting the truth to her needs,” Eli continues. “You know who gets hurt in all this? The children,” Marissa pouts; Eli barks with laughter. “They’ll talk about your divorce, and how I’m the product of a broken home, and how I’m dating a communist.” Eli looks up from his smart phone. “Bob’s a communist?” Are there that many teenagers named Bob this days?
“Ben!” she sneers. “And I broke up with him. This is a new one. Hal!” Thanks for clearing that up, Carrie Bradshaw. “Do you date anyone with more than one syllable? It makes our conversations very confusing.” Hee. “Didn’t I say I had a meeting?” Ah, they’re so lovely dovey, the Golds. “Tell Mom not to run,” Marissa asks, gathering her things. “You tell her,” Eli replies, “she’ll listen to you. I’m not the one…”
And as Marissa goes out, Mickey Gunn walks in, tossing his jacket over his arm, bursting through Eli’s words. “Hello, old man!” He sits. “So, I gotta head off to meet the candidate,” he grins, taking off his shoes. Um, okay. Who’re you, Mr. Rogers? He tosses the shoes loudly onto Eli’s floor. “Where are we?” Not leaving very soon, apparently. “We have a hiccup. Actually, more than a hiccup.” Gunn furrows his huge eyebrows. “You said he was clean, Eli! I wanna run him for local office and gear up for the 2016 presidential!” That’s not a lot of time for a low profile office, is it? “He was,” Eli protests, “His financials are healthy, no affairs, good to his kids…” Eli smirks as his liaison walks in. “Wow. You’re bringing in St. Alicia, this must be serious.” Alicia turns to glare at Mickey.
“More than serious,” Eli notes. “We’re dealing with the ridicule factor.” Oh, there’s nothing more serious than that. He holds out a folder, and Mickey slowly leans forward to reach for it. “Is that a picture?” It is. After he takes the paper, Mickey closes his eyes, steeling himself against what he’s about to see. Then he opens his eyes.
And bursts into big peals of laughter.
“Well, that is something else,” he grins, unable to help himself. Alicia frowns, then looks at Eli, exasperated. “Giuliani dressed up in women’s clothes, and he survived that!” Somehow, Gunn can’t take whatever it is seriously. Also, he did? I had no idea. “This is different,” Alicia glowers, and Mickey’s protest dies. “Alright,” he concedes, “what do you need?” The candidate. “Bring him in. We’ll figure out how to handle it.” Sigh. “Will she be here?” Mickey asks, flicking his eyes toward our heroine. Ass. “Alicia,” Mrs. Florrick supplies, leaning over, her voice chillingly sweet. “And yes, I will be in the meeting.” Mickey ignores her. “He’s got kids. He’s going to want to know how this impacts his kids.” Well, she’d be the expert in that, wouldn’t she? So stop being an moron about it, Mickey, and look her in the face. Can we survive it, he wonders. “I think,” Eli hopes, “if we’re lucky.”
“So what’s going on here,” Mickey changes the subject, smacking his hands together. “I hear you guys are under investigation.” Damn, news in this town travels fast. Eli spits-takes, but looks to Alicia, who’s equally out of the loop. “You heard we’re under investigation?” Eli uses his best disparaging voice. “I heard the firm’s under investigation.” The colorful southerner starts putting his shoes back on. “I don’t want to drag the candidate in here and have this firm be under indictment.” Eli’s eyes nearly bug out of his head, and then he motions to Alicia. “No, we’re good! Growing all the time! We’re blooming! Aren’t we good?” Hilariously, the police have taken this moment to collect the dead girl’s boyfriend, and Eli’s not eager for Mickey (blessedly busy with his shoes) to see the sea of blue now entering the office. Scooting behind Mickey, Alicia attempts to block his view of her office. “Yes! Better than ever!,” she insists. “A rumor is often a sign of jealous competitors.” Diane follows the police and the client to the elevator. Alicia looks back to Eli; has she done enough?
Kalinda slinks into Cary’s shiny new office; the door are open wide, but Papa Bear’s not home. She looks around for a moment, then decides to help herself to the folder of crime scene photos on the desk. Oh, Kalinda. Don’t you know better than to turn your back to an open door?
“Hello,” a voice purrs at Kalinda’s backside. “We haven’t met. I’m ASA Dana Lodge.” Dana has her hair down today, which is really pretty; Kalinda’s is up, as always, and she’s wearing that blue leather jacket. “Kalinda Sharma. I was just trying to…” she gestures back at the file. Oh, Dana knows what you were up to, honey. Kalinda cracks a cute little smile. Dana steps toward the file, rather more close to Kalinda than necessary. “Wanna see?” She does. She bites her lips a little.
Dana sits on Cary’s desk and extends a photo. “Adianne Iver, a 28 year old flight attendant, quit her job after her boyfriend proposed.” Uh, which would make him her fiance, not just boyfriend. Um, also, flight attendants make way better money than I thought if she’s wearing J.Lo’s favorite shoes. “Oh – wait,” Dana pretends to just remember, pulling the photo back, “you represent her boyfriend, don’t you? Tom Lavere?” Why yes she does. “Huh,” says Dana, handing over the photo, “what a coincidence.” That first photo is of pretty, living Adrianne, wearing a fluffy green scarf. “They fought, Adrianne tried to leave, that didn’t end well, and he shot her with his Walther p99 handgun.” Which was never recovered, Kalinda notes. “No – so few criminals make it easy for us these days,” Dana muses. That is seriously circumstantial. I mean, I know that more often than not the husband or boyfriend is responsible when a woman is murdered, but surely that statistic doesn’t automatically get you arrested? Even with the money in her purse ruling out robbery as a motive, it seems like very little to hang a case on.
It’s like I’m always saying that, huh?
“Mr Lavere buried the body in a dirt grave near Douglas Park six month ago, far from prying eyes, and, as luck would have it,” Dana continues, handing over photos of Ivers skeleton in the grave, “this very same lot was chosen by an Almighty Vice Lord to bury a 22nd Disciple. So, when we dug up one, we dug up the other.” Right. Cadaver sniffing dogs must have been handy here. “So, you and Cary?” Dana inquires in a head-spinning change of topic.
Kalinda looks up, smiling sweetly. “Me and Cary?” You and Cary, Dana confirms. “I don’t think there is a me and Cary,” Kalinda considers. And fair enough; Cary’s still pretty much mad and giving her the silent treatment. After she ostensibly froze him out. Still, it’s only true after a fashion. “My mistake,” Dana smiles softly, revealing dimples.
Handing a photo back, Kalinda’s ready to deliver the L&G spin on the topic. “Now, uh, Mr. Lavere our client,” she leans forward onto the desk,”he was worried about Miss Iver’s safety. They were burglarized a week prior, and it was the same handgun that she kept in that glove compartment.” Really, Dana laughs, biting her lower lip to contain her mirth. Really. So this is just another plausible scenario, presented to you by Lockhart/Gardener: “Miss Iver was driving, she came across a gangland slaying…” “Oh, happens all the time,” Dana deadpans. “She reaches into the glove compartment for the P99 when she’s stopped by your Almighty Vice Lord” (heaven help me, I keep thinking Mighty Mighty Bosstones when they say that) “and he took the gun.” “And shot her with her own gun?,” Dana laughs, disbelieving. I’m not sure it’s any more crazy than your theory, Dana, and there’s no more proof to either. Well, except, if there was a single killer, why would he bury them in separate graves?
“So in your scenario, what happened to her car?” Dana wonders as the two smile at each other. Chop shop. Well, what does the state – er, county – think happened to the car assuming Tom took it? We’ve never heard. “These are two connected murders. You solve this,” Kalinda holds out the picture of the drug dealer’s body, “you’ll find out who killed Adrianne Iver.” And even if they were buried in separate graves, how likely is it that two killers buried two bodies in the same park in the same week? Just saying. “Only problem? We solved this murder,” Dana claims, pointing to the photo of the dead dealer, “gang sweep. Maurice Johnson, a.k.a. AKA. Yeah, makes things hard when their a.k.a.s are AKA,” sighs Dana. So true. “Hmm,” notes Kalinda. “What did he do, confess?”
Yes, apparently so.
In court, Cary asks that this fellow Johnson be tried as an adult. Johnson’s a tall black boy with a baby face, twitching his head to the side. “Your Honor,” the blond defense attorney protests, “Maurice has come forward on his own. He has confessed to this homicide exactly because he wants to remake his life.” Kalinda and Dana watch from the door; Dana notices the other woman’s smirk. “You don’t believe him?,” she wonders. Kalinda shakes her head from side to side. “I tend not to believe 14 year old lieutenants when they confess, but maybe that’s just me.” Dana shrugs. ‘Well, you bring me proof of the opposite, I’m all ears. But we closed two murders. AKA killed the 22nd Disciple banger, Tom Lavere killed his girlfriend.” How do you sleep at night, considering something closed without being convinced it really is, just taking the most convenient way out?
“Where do I bring the proof?” Kalinda sighs, following Dana back into the hallway. Ha. You don’t know what you’re messing with, Dana. Dana, smiling, gives Kalinda her card. And thoughtfully writes her cell phone number on the back. “So, any time!” Kalinda smirks, pleased with herself, but she loses the smile when Dana walks away, and dials her cell. “We’ve got a problem,” she explains, “they think they’ve resolved it.”
I got it, Diane answers. “We’re with the filmmaker now.” And indeed, Alicia’s interviewing a young, tousled filmmaker in Diane’s office. He’s got a sweater and oxford shirt on under his slim fitting jacket, all in artistic shades of charcoal. He reminds me of the brothers who made that 9/11 documentary (probably just because they’re French and have curly hair), but is played by British actor Christian Coulson, best known as Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. “You see, I sent it the footage to the police,” he recalls of the tip, “but I did not think they would act on it.” “They dug up two bodies,” Alicia raises her hands. “Yes, I know,” the filmmaker replies smugly, “It is now part of my documentary.” He shrugs, hands clasped. “Quite exciting.” Will he interview Packer again, Diane wonders? Well, no, because they’re really not allowing access to Packer anymore.
“Did he say anything more about this murder, Andre? Anything more in your footage?” Alicia asks. “He did,” the Frenchman assents. And of course they can see it! Mais oui! “It is always good to go with my assistant,” Andre snickers as he cues up the correct clip, “he likes the, uh, pretty women.” Lovely. “You say you know who killed him?” the assistant asks. “Who killed this man?” “Yeah,” Packer postures against the green cement block wall, “but why am I gonna help the cops?” “Why would you not?,” Andre wonders. Oh, right. He’s ever so likely to be chock full of civic duty, isn’t he?
“Look, man, the cops don’t care if they got the wrong one.” You know, I can see his cynicism here. “The Vice Lords are gonna do what they always do – send up some wanna be gangsta to do a juvie rap.” Alicia reacts in surprise. Can she know already that this is just what’s happened? “Cops’ll be happy!” Andre freezes Ricky’s face. And that’s all she wrote! “He didn’t say who did it?” Alicia can’t believe it, but it’s true. “Great,” grouses Diane, “the only one who can help our client is being executed in 36 hours.” The grainy screen capture of Ricky’s face dissolves into the opening credit sequence’s close up of Alicia’s pixilated face.
Cool transition, guys!
Bang goes the gavel. “I can’t go back to prison!” Tom Lavere panics. So, he didn’t make bail, huh? Alicia tries to calm him. “Tom, it was just a bail hearing. We have a lot of options!” His poor patsy face is bright red against his beige jumpsuit. “I can’t last till trial,I can’t wait six months,” he pleads. Really he looks ready to cry. The bailiffs are ready to haul him off, but Alicia stalls them and grabs his arm. “We are not waiting until trial, okay,” she insists, eye contact strong and supportive, “we are doing everything we can.” He nods in understanding. They nod together.
“Is that all you have, Mr. Coyne?” a judge asks our favorite Legal Aid lawyer. Wow! Coyne, Marissa, Mickey Gunn, they’re really bringing everyone back, aren’t they? I like when the recurring characters, you know, actually recur. Anyway, Coyne is on the ropes. “That is only part of what we have, your Honors,” Coyne stumbles. He’s alone on the bench, and there is no one arguing the other side. Interesting. He does have minions in the gallery fluttering through paperwork, though. “Mr. Packer will be executed in 30 hours, and we ask that you look carefully at the legal mistakes made by the trial judge.” Diane slides into a seat in the back. “You begin at the legal mistakes?,” the central judge glowers, disapproving. “Yes, if it please the court,” Coyne stammers, his shoulders stiffened, his spine straight, his facial muscles frozen, his eyes roving in fear. Oh dear. So not going well. “We’ll take that under advisement,” the judge declares as he bangs the gavel, shooting Coyne a furiously disappointed look. Breathe, Mr. Coyne, breathe.
He gathers his things and heads out, seeing Diane as he moves down the aisle. “You here to help?” he asks Diane, grasping at her like a life line. I take it Legal Aid has not yet moved into to the extra space at L&G? “It’s more complicated than that,” she begins, taking off her glasses. “Try me,” Coyne replies, and so she does.
“You’re kidding,” Coyne stares back at her. Far from it. “Can you get us in to him?” Hardly. “We can’t even get in to him. Unless the judges hear our appeal, he is in 24 hour lockdown.” Alrighty then. Fantastic. But he does have another appeal coming up. “Lack of mitigation at trial, yeah,” Coyne confirms. “Why?”
“So. We have the humanitarian appeal and not much time.” The main Lockhart/Gardner conference room buzzes with lawyers and paperwork. “Alicia, you’ve dealt with Judge Glendon before,” Diane tosses out the lead. “Yes,” Alicia picks up, “he’s the swing vote on the court. He sided with us on another appeal. He had a religious conversion, so there might be an opening there,” she shrugs, as if to say there’s no accounting for some people. Coyne’s people will look into Packer’s background for “mitigating circumstances.” Diane wants Alicia with Legal Aid. “And Lockhart/Gardner, remember. We win this appeal, we question Ricky Packer.” Eyes on the prize, people, eyes on the prize.
“And that helps our client?” Will wonders from the doorway. He’s looking mighty hostile. Diane looks up. “Packer helps us find Adrianne Ivers’s murderer.” “It’s like a Rube Goldberg defense,” Will shakes his head. “Well,” says Diane, “it’ll do till we have better.” Maybe it’s true that Will and Alicia are just begging to get caught, because she gives him this yummy little private smile across a room full of people.
Their strategy is two pronged, Diane explains. Kalinda’s on independent identification of the killer. “I have access to the State’s Attorney’s office again, so I’ll see what I can get.” What a gorgeous neckline on that top, Kalinda! Alicia,who faces away from Kalinda, notices Will glancing at a text. He’s clearly unhappy. “And again,” Diane emphasizes, “the immediate push has to be on this appeal.” Her hand slices the air, chopping down on the obstacles in their path. “If we lose Packer, we lose the key to the real murderer.” That’s bind all right.
As Alicia leaves the meeting, she sees Zach at reception. Before she can reach him, however, Will asks if she has a minute, so she waves Zach on to her office and follows her boss instead. When she notices the two walking into Will’s office, Diane snaps her door shut with a glare that could cut glass.
“Sorry to sound so boss-like,” Will apologizes, his voice still unhappy. “No, it’s been hard to get away,” she agrees. “It has,” he says as they sit. “Diane’s been eyeing us like we’re a lawsuit waiting to happen,” he adds. Well, you said it. Alicia fidgets in her seat, bites her lip. “It’s getting a bit complicated, isn’t it?” Getting? You’re just waking up to the complications that have always been there, I think. “It is,” Will says shortly. “Do we need to… pause?” she wonders. His voice is low and full of emotion when he replies. “Do you want to pause?” She smiles to herself, a wonderful, sensual smile. “I’m afraid even if we say we will,” she answers him, breaking into an enormously self-satisfied grin, “we won’t.” He grins back fondly, playing with his pen.
“This is not why I called you in here,” he tries to begin again. “I know,” she smiles, looking at her lap. So, why did you call her in? Too tell her about the gambling and embezzlement? About Peter and the investigation? Please? But before he gets the words out of his mouth, Eli raps on the glass, calling her to the meeting with Mickey Gunn and the candidate. “It’s like Grand Central Station in here,” he complains ruefully. She rolls her eyes. “Go ahead,” he says, “we’ll talk later.” Oh, dear. Missed opportunity, Will. Of course, you can’t just tell her that sort of thing in two sentences and shove her off to meet with Eli’s Republican, so perhaps it’s for the best.
“What does Peter know?” Will can’t help but ask before she reaches the door. Alicia turns in surprise. “About us?” He nods. “I don’t think anything, but that’s never mattered to him, why?” Girl, that is the dumbest thing you have ever said. Literally the most clueless, and you are living on cluelessness right now. Do you not remember the screaming fight you had about Zach’s condoms? Peter has always been jealous of Will. You are so far in denial about the present that you can’t even remember the past correctly. “No reason,” Will lies. “Did he talk to you?” she worries. Will takes too long to answer, gulps. “No,” he shakes his head, lying again. Oh, you people. How can you be such acute observers of minutia in your jobs and so oblivious in your personal lives? The terror that creeps over Will’s face as she leaves – at the thought of losing her, of losing his firm, of this terrible dilemma – makes me want to cry.
“Look, I understand that you have to do your due diligence here,” the politician tells Eli, “but I’m not a ticking time bomb.” The politician sits, but Eli’s standing, his eyes narrowed, his arms crossed. “I don’t have an intern,” the man laughs; he makes me think of a taller, elongated Steve Carrell, with a similar Everyman appeal. “I love my wife, I love my kids.” Alicia steps in, and the gentle Everyman bounds to his feet. “Mrs. Florrick, hello! I’m Robert Mulvey. How’s your husband?” “He’s well,” she says, shaking his hand. Mulvey plops back down like a puppy. ‘So, you’re here to, uh, hand hold me through this scandal?” Damn, her reputation really precedes her. “Anything you need,” she replies smoothly. “A stiff drink?” he jokes. Nobody laughs.
Eli hands over the photo like it’s poisonous. Mulvey takes it. And this is where he seems extra Carrell-like; he smirks, and then his cheeks puff out as if he’s trying to swallow his laughter. It’s that chipmunky, gagging-like thing Carrell does so well. And now, finally, we get to see the infamous photo; Mulvey, with his back to the camera, kneels in the snow in front of an enormous plastic Santa. Leaning over Santa’s, er, crotch. “You guys had me scared,” he chuckles. You should be scared, Eli snarls. “Ten years ago, winter break – you guys are joking, right?” They only wish they were. “It’s the ridicule factor, sir,” Mickey Gunn explains, his tone deferential. How un-Eli of him. “Like Anthony Weiner.” Mulvey laughs, a little less sure of himself. “Yeah, but Anthony Weiner took his clothes off and photographed himself for his constituents. This is…”
“You, fellating Santa.” Eli snaps. Mulvey looks up at him in abject horror. I’m kind of with Mulvey here. It was a stupid college prank! Stupid, yes, but we really can’t laugh that off? No wonder we can’t get decent people to run for office. Also, nice language, Eli. “I have to be blunt, sir, because that’s how TMZ is going to report it, FOX is going to repeat it, and Jon Stewart is going to finish it.” Eek. “Here. Cums. Santa.”
It’s true. He’s just a wide open target. I still can’t see how it compares with Weiner (was who being disgusting now, while he was in office and had a smart, successful, gorgeous pregnant wife), but I certainly get how it makes him a laughing stock. On the other hand, politicians get laughed at every day.
“Is it possible that you were changing a lightbulb?” Mickey wonders inanely. “What, between his legs?” Mulvey asks in return. Heh. “Look, it was a joke, I was a college kid…” Eli’s got no patience for this. “It was a joke about you fellating Santa. And Santa’s expression does not help.” No, no it doesn’t. The prop department must have searched long and hard (sorry) for a Santa with that surprised face. “What do you think?” Mulvey asks Alicia, the resident expert in surviving sex scandals. “I think…,” she begins, then changes tactics, leaning forward. “You have the advantage of releasing this yourself and taking some of the sting away, which is why you should take this seriously.” Eli looks down approvingly.
“You think we should release it?” She nods her assent. “It’s coming out either way,” Eli adds. “The only thing you can control is when and what it means.” “What it means,” Mulvey barks, “what it means?” “You’re the Facebook generation, sir.” How old is this guy supposed to be, anyway, and who is the Facebook generation? “Every candidate under forty has some dumb photo from some dumb college buddy.” Alright, fine. “Krystal Ball – and the reindeer nose?,” he adds. Damn, how did I not hear about that? I didn’t realize that “crystal ball” was a name at first. And now I wish I could unsee that image. “Well, she lost,” Mulvey mentions, as if that somehow helps. “But she didn’t release it. You will.” Um, also, her pictures are a lot more graphic (even if they’re fake graphic). I don’t even know what to call that. “My kids,” he realizes in horror, “my wife, seeing this.” Alicia leans forward again. “You’ll talk to them, and you’ll make them understand,” she tells him, sure of his ability to do that. How old are his kids? Cause that’s going to make this really tough. Embarrassing with your wife, but I bet her first reaction is going to be to laugh, too. Which is another thing that separates you from Anthony Weiner. “I need to think about this,” he says, handing back the photo.
“Ah, one more thing, sir,” Eli inquires of Mulvey’s retreating back, “are there any more photos out there?” And no, not of the Santa. “Of you … in front of other statues? Funny college stunts sometimes get repeated.” For a moment, Carrell-Mulvey’s mouth hangs open like a fish. He shakes his head no. “Thank you sir, I’m sorry,” Eli apologizes, though I don’t know why, because it’s clear as day that Mulvey is (completely stupidly) lying.
Damn it, you people! You can’t lie to your team! They’re your team! Who’s going to protect you if you lie to your team?
“Ain’t ever easy, is it?” Gunn remarks as he heads out, throwing his hands in the air. No, it’s not. Because people lie. Because when we get tired of the old ones, we find new ways of being stupid.
Speaking of old and new, Eli blanches to see Marissa chatting up Zach in Alicia’s office. Hee! That is so freaking delightful.
“So what do you work here now?” she asks, sitting across Alicia’s desk. “No, they just keep messing up their computers,” he explains. You know, my neighbor growing up used to have her son do IT at the publishing house where she worked. He ended up at MIT. “They spend like, 85,000 dollars a year on IT when I could just do it in a few hours.” “Humble much?,” she teases. “To be accurate, that was me, making fun of the law firm, not me, you know,” he makes a gesture that was – see, my mind must be back in Santa land, because it looked dirty to me. Is he miming tooting his own horn? Because that phrase now sounds dirty to me too. “Are you still talking?” Marissa, she could care less. I love this high school style of flirting; brutally making fun of a boy to his face means you like his face. (Or at least, that’s what I meant when I did it.) “You’re boring me,” she finishes, pretending indifference. Zach laughs. Then he notices Eli at the door.
“Marissa, do you have a moment?” She turns in her seat. “Dad, I do. In a moment.” Snap! You did not just sass your Dad like that! “Why don’t you let Zach do his work?” I thought it was Eli’s computer that was broken, anyway. Zach’s full lips curve up slightly; he enjoys being argued over. Well, he enjoys Marissa’s chutzpah, anyway. “I am letting him do his work. He can multitask. See?” Heh. ‘Multitasking!” Zach adds pleasantly. Eli fumes ineffectually as his offspring closes the door in his face.
“He’s watching us,” Zach comments. Marissa has her back to the door, resting her arms on the back of the chair. “Act like I said something shocking.” The resultant face is somewhere between fellated Santa and the Home Alone poster; in other words, dreadful over-acting. “Terrible,” Marissa assesses.
“I’ve done bad things,” Ricky confesses via videotape. “Not as bad as the things done to me.” Which means what? Coyne explains the case to Alicia. ‘Double homicide. Ricky Packer picked up two fourteen year old girls from a shopping mall, raped them over three days, then slit their throats.” I can’t imagine what was done to him that could even be in that ballpark. Alicia leafs through crime scene photos which show the bodies of two girls, their hand almost touching, one white, one black. They’re in shorts and tank tops, covered with bruises. We think of blood as being warm, like Alicia’s crimson jacket, but the pooled blood behind these girls heads is darker, colder, stagnant. Their faces are fresh and young and beautiful. Alicia sighs, catching her breath. She shakes her head, unable to look away from those child-like, ashen faces. “Look, we know he’s not a saint.” Now there’s an understatement. I guess despite his protestations, even his defense team is sure of his guilt? “All we need is mitigation.”
She still can’t look away. “It’s just…” She shakes her head, closes her eyes. “It’s just – my daughter’s their age.” She blows out a breath.
“I know,” Coyne tells Alicia. ‘It’s just our job.” They shuffle papers silently for a moment. “Grew up on 24th,” he reads, “tough neighborhood. What’ve you got?” “Born with neuroblastoma, a syndrome requiring a dozen painful surgeries before the age of five.” Coyne looks excited. I’m just annoyed, because neuroblastoma is not a syndrome, it’s cancer. Which could absolutely result in a dozen painful surgeries. It’s just not something that a lot of people know about, and so you wish they’d gotten the details right.
Anyway. Yes, Coyne’s very excited. “That’s good, we can build on that.” Okay. “And his mother has not visited him in prison.” Right. Coyne is pleased. “Bad and painful childhood. Absentee mom. We can work with that.” Great. “We need some photos of sadness, squalor.”
That’s kind of awesome, in the midst of all this awful. Photos of sadness and squalor?
“My Mom’s always talking about redemption, right?” Packer tells the filmmakers. “But redemption from what?” Wow, that background is so, so green. “From being a man?” Ugh. Do I want to know what he thinks being a man means? “Let’s go visit the mom,” Coyne decides.
“You called?” Dana wonders as she wanders up behind Kalinda at a bar. “I did call.” Which means she wants something. In this case, it’s footage. From an anti-gang camera. Dana picks up a shot and laughs. Now what would Kalinda want with that? Dana drinks. Footage from the crime scene area, of course, on 19th and Troy. “We have the killer,” Dana says, setting down the glass. “No you don’t,” Kalinda taunts like a two year old. “Okay,” decides Dana, giving Kalinda a measuring look as the investigator drinks. “I give you access, you give me access.” To what? Let’s guess. Dana motions to the back of the bar. Kalinda smiles, and bites her lips, thinking it over before joining Dana in a booth.
Dana’s sucking down liquor while she waits. “Your boss, Will Gardner,” she begins when Kalinda finally arrives. “What do you need?” Kalinda wonders. ‘We’re investigating him,” Dana explains. “For what?” Kalinda asks, but Dana won’t go that far. “I don’t think I can do that,” Kalinda replies, and indeed, we know her loyalty to Will goes beyond pretty much anything. Dana laughs. “Okay, Kalinda, I know how you work. You get what you want without giving back, and that’s just not going to happen here.” Yep, that pretty much sums it up. “You want your back scratched?,” Dana continues, leaning on the table and dipping her shoulder forward, “I have an itch.” Kalinda smiles. “Okay – what do you need?” Um, okay, where is this going?
“He had a friend. A judge. Baxter. We need to know the nature of their relationship.” Get me the blue light camera, Kalinda nods. “Get me the backstory on Will,” Dana counters. “I asked first,” Kalinda counter offers. Dana flashes white teeth. “Where’d you get that jacket?” You know, it is a rather splendid jacket. Kalinda cannot recall what shop of badassery it came from. “Can I look at the label?” Sure can. Kalinda unzips, turns and loosens the jacket just enough for Dana to peek. “Nice,” says Dana. They clink glasses, both looking very pleased with themselves.
“This is the address?” Alicia reacts in surprise as she and Coyne step out onto a manicured lawn. “Yeah,” he agrees sadly, “not much squalor.” The houses aren’t lavish, but they’re nice, and impeccably kept. Look at the straight lines on those hedges! That takes some serious work. Inside, people hug and console each other as if at a wake. “Thank you for seeing us, Mrs. Packer,” Coyne begins, talking to a trim, neatly dressed middle aged woman with sad eyes. Of course she’s going to see her child’s lawyers – but then again, if she remotely knew what you were going to ask, would she be so cordial? “We need to offer evidence of mitigation, show that your son’s crimes were a result of…” and here Coyne loses his nerve. Alicia steps in with some diplomatic phrasing. “Um, difficulty in childhood, outside causes, his upbringing?” Mostly diplomatic phrasing, anyway; is here a good way to ask a woman to take the blame for her son’s heinous crimes?
Mrs. Packer shakes her head, trying to control tears. “I’m sorry. It’s just – it’s hard. Father Jim got all the neighbors together, and that helps.” Coyne stumbles for a way to execute his plan. “Do you have any pictures of Ricky? We want to show the judge the way he grew up.” Of course, of course.
“So you haven’t seen your son in prison,” Alicia brings up gently as Mrs. Packer leads them through her house. No, because he won’t let her come. Okay, so not to good on the abandonment front, then. “I keep writing every week, but he won’t.” There are paintings on the wall. Some squalor. “We read that Ricky had a lot of illnesses as a child?” Coyne tries again. (And again, ugh, doesn’t that make him sound like hysteric bed ridden Colin Craven from The Secret Garden, rather than a cancer patient?) A lot of operations, Alicia adds when Mrs. Packer only responds with confusion. Oh no, she says, that’s my other son, Michael. Wow, they’re batting zero, huh? This really couldn’t be going worse. “He’s in New York now. On Wall Street. He’s broken up about this.” So, the brother with the actual disease is now part of the 1%? Mitigating circumstances my fanny.
“What about school? Did he have problems in school?” Alicia is just not giving up. “Oh yes,” Mrs. Packer reminisces. “Michael was always the weakest.” No, not Michael. Ricky! “Oh!” she seems surprised. “Ricky was fine! We were able to get him into a program at St. Matthew’s.” Leaving aside whatever that might mean, this just gets worse and worse for them. “There’s Ricky,” Mrs. Packer points to a framed photo of a chubby boy under a Christmas tree, hugging a dog. “That’s a lot of presents,” Alicia observes. “Well, we wanted them to have Christmases we never had,” Mrs. Packer says fondly. Damn. Just. Keeps. Getting. Worse. When the mom of the year leaves to answer the door, Coyne and Alicia look at each other ruefully.
“We could always say he was too spoiled?” Coyne tries.
Oh, Coyne. I’ve got to love your attitude.
“She’s a saint,” Father Jim tells our lawyers. He’s tall and thin with snowy hair, and is played by Mark Margolis, who’s familiar from a life time of television roles. Also, he’s wearing plaid, which is not your average with a clerical collar. “And to have that son, I don’t understand it. Whatever he wanted, she was there.” Well, maybe there is some truth to that spoiled theory, then. I mean, you don’t just parent by giving your kids what they want. Not to blame her… “Do you think … he really did it? He killed those two girls?” Alicia can barely bring herself to say it. Father Jim regards her solemnly, then nods. “Why?” Whether she’s wondering why Ricky would have done it, or why Fr. Jim thinks he did, I don’t know. “He liked doing mean things, it was fun for him.”
Alicia jerks her head back in horror, her nostrils flaring.
“Is there anything that you can say that would help the court at all, anything that would save his life?” They can’t give up. Fr. Jim looks rueful, sad and wise and weary. “He shouldn’t be killed.”
“That was a wash,” Coyne sighs as they head back to Alicia’s car. “Do you believe that?” she puzzles, thinking of Fr. Jim’s words. What? “That no matter who he is, what he did, he shouldn’t be killed?” She gives him a piercing look. Duh! “Yeah, don’t you?” She’s silent. She shakes her head. “I saw those photos. Those girls were my daughter’s age.” She shrugs her shoulders, her voice breaking a little. “They don’t exist any more. And to get that call? To spend every night…” Alicia almost can’t go on. “…thinking about your daughter’s last breath?” She draws a ragged breath. “He raped… you saw what he did to their bodies?” Her eyes are red and full of tears. “But we don’t execute him,” Coyne explains gently. “Why not,”she wonders just as gently. “Because it would be wrong,” he says, simply but forcefully. Alicia compresses her lips; she’s not sold.
In case you’re wondering, the blue light camera footage is a little bit blue. In color. (What did you think I meant? Now whose mind is in the gutter?) “What day’re you looking for?” Dana asks Kalinda. “June 15th. The day Adrianne Iver disappeared.” Right. Dana types the date into a query box, and pulls up the footage. “There you go, corner of 19th and Troy.” An African American man in a horizontally striped polo shirt bobs back and forth between the building and passing cars. “That’s him, isn’t it, the victim? That’s what he was wearing?” It was. “That’s his corner,” Dana agrees. “Okay, and that’s the night that Miss Iver died, right? My guess is that there’s someone at that corner the next night. ” Dana smiles. “You wanna see the next night?” “If you’d be so kind,” Kalinda asks. Dana smiles.
As she types, Dana goes back to her agenda. “Do you know anything about Will Gardner’s relationship with Judge Baxter?” Kalinda weighs her words carefully. “They had a falling out. He was a corrupt judge – Will got him thrown off the bench.” Dana objects to that characterization. “No, our office got him thrown off the bench. Gardner didn’t do crap.” Um, Dana, you’re deluded. Granted that it was Kalinda and Alicia more than Will alone, but the SA’s office merely had to pick up the pieces. They’d never have known Baxter was essentially selling kids to a contracted juvie if Alicia hadn’t pushed the issue.
“There!” Kalinda points triumphantly. “That’s the next night?” It is. A man with long, looped up dreads and a white t steps out of a car. “You have the wrong man, Dana. It was a corner fight; that’s why he killed the 22nd Disciple, so he could take the corner. My guess is, that man killed Adrianne Iver too.” They look at each other. “You need to find that man.”
“Your Honors, Ricky Packer is a changed man. His rehabilitation is a testimony to the dignity of the human spirit, even in the face of great adversity. ” As Diane argues the appeal, waxing poetic, lying through her teeth, Alicia stands in the back of the courtroom, conflicted. What a strange thing, praising a man you know to be a villain. If it’s hard to believe the police in their rush to judgement, surely the defense attorneys need to defend all clients equally makes a mockery of them as well. How could a judge or jury know when either side is actually telling the truth?
Coyne ushers in Mrs.Packer; clearly, Alicia’s been waiting for her. “I’m so sorry, m’am,” she whispers, hand on the older woman’s shoulder, trying to impart strength. It’s alright, Mrs.Packer says. Are her clothes (a beige cardigan over a snake skin printed shirt) alright? Yes of course. Diane argues Coyne’s strategy; that the trial lawyer didn’t bring in character witnesses. “And as you can see, there are many people here who can speak to Mr. Packer’s… fine character.” Diane, you’re not fooling anyone. In the crowd, behind Mrs. Packer, sits Fr. Jim. “He has changed in prison, your Honors. He had an unfortunate upbringing, none of the opportunities that you or I had.” Riiiiight. So, since we didn’t find that his life was as we wanted, we’re just going to lie? Judge Glendon, the middle judge – who, let me just say, is much older than I’d imagined given he was recently married – looks on, stony faced. “Just listen to his mother. She will speak to how hard it was for Ricky, growing up in their tough neighborhood, how she neglected Ricky as a child, and even now, how she has not seen her son in prison.”
Wow, that sucks. Alicia looks on, displeased. “Imagine being a child in the inner city, growing up with no hope.”
“I’ve known Ricky Packer all his life, I was there at his baptism,” old Father Jim explains. Impassively, the three judges look on. “I’m here to say that Ricky Packer’s a good person. He’s a redeemable person. He’s been led astray, and I take it as my own personal failing that I didn’t lead him back.”
I’m sure it’s not sympathetic enough – and let’s face it, if he’s guilty, nothing is going to be sympathetic enough – but it seems to me that the only real case you can make here is that when a family has a seriously ill child, the other children end up neglected. That they know they will never be the priority. That Ricky could be acting out, even now, to claim his mother’s attention. Somehow that seems more preferable to me than this mockery.
In the hall, Alicia lies in wait for Fr. Jim. “He’s not a good person,” she states when he joins her. “No,” he replies gently, looking at her through large, sad eyes. “I said what I said so he wouldn’t be killed.” It’s okay to do that, she wonders? “Nothing is very clean; the older I get, the more I realize that.” That could be an alternate title for this show. The Good Wife;Nothing is Very Clean. “What if it meant releasing him?” she asks. “Then we would be having another conversation,” comes his answer. “Looks like it worked,” she observes.
Diane leaves the courtroom surrounded by an army of lawyers. The court is considering the appeal. They have a 24 hour extension. “Alicia – where’s Alicia?” Alicia steps up to the inner circle. “I need you to get to Indiana. Andre says Ricky likes talking to women, so get to Indiana and we’ll keep working on the appeal.” Coyne whispers in Diane’s ear before she dismisses everyone, no doubt mentioning Alicia’s doubts. “Alicia, are you alright doing this, going to him?” She repeats the question in her answer. “I’m alright doing this.” Oh, you terrible liar. “It’s my job.”
“Just doing homework,” Grace answers, the phone pinned under one ear as she raids the refrigerator. “Jennifer’s coming over later for tutoring.” I can’t even follow Grace’s life any more (thanks in no small part to her teenage “I have no friends” hyperbole). Alicia’s calling from her car. “Okay, uh, I already talked to Zach, but I’m working on this… case, and I won’t be home until later, so Dad is going to come over and take you to his place, okay?” She can’t even explain what she’s doing, can’t go there, and I don’t blame her. It’s visceral. I can’t read books or see movies where children are harmed now that I actually have some of my own, so to actually plead with a child murderer…
Anyway. “We can take care of ourselves,” Grace laughs off the concern. “No,” Alicia insists. And sure, she is going to have to let them out of the house alone eventually, but I can see why today, she needs to know they’re safe. “I already talked to Dad. And lock the door, okay, Grace – I know sometimes we forget, but just do it, okay?” Grace laughs again. “Is everything alright?” Alicia sighs. “I think so. You come straight home from school every day, don’t you?” Are you going to ask her to vary her route coming home so no one can track her? “Mom, you’re getting weird.” Alicia sighs again. “I know. I love you, okay?”
It’s just not easy, this. It’s much easier to forget that the people out there aren’t always so, let’s say, civic minded. That the world can be dangerous and unpredictable. Alicia heads out of her car to confront yet another monster.
“Eli Gold and Mickey Gunn,” laughs Chris Matthews, “I think that’s the third sign of the Apocalypse – you guys, working together.” Everyone laughs as they sit down in Eli’s office. “But only on something we truly believe in,” Eli pontificates. Blah blah blah, Eli. Do you really think that sounds honest? “You know Robert Mulvey?” Gunn asks Matthews. He’s looking particularly stubbly today, Gunn. “The, uh, ex-Congressman. The one who flipped from Republican to Democrat. I hear he’s looking for a campaign he can win, isn’t he?” Wait a minute. What happened to the whole “he wants to play in the primaries” bit? How does the entire previous Gunn episode hold up if the would be Republican candidate isn’t a Republican anymore? Could they just not bring themselves to have one on the show?
Anyway, that’s the very same. “Mickey represents him,” Eli says, and Mickey grins like a little boy. “And we want to offer you a story.” Ah, Eli. Make it seem like a treat. “About him?” “About Mickey,” Eli deadpans. “It’s a sort of think piece about the next generation of candidates.” Matthews thinks this is hilarious. That’s right; always mistrust political operatives bearing gifts. “Really? You got a headline for me too?” Mickey and Eli laugh, and Matthews pins them with a shrewd eyeball. “Your sweat’s showing, guys.” Time to fess up.
‘We have a picture,” Eli admits. “It’s not as bad as Anthony Weiner, but…” After hesitating, he switches back from honesty into pitch mode. “In our opinion, it encapsulates the problems of the Facebook era candidate.” “He slept with a campaign worker,” Matthews assumes. Oh no. Eli hands over a folder with the photo in it.
And, like everyone else, Matthews laughs.
“That’s him? That’s Robert Mulvey?” It is, Mickey sighs. Eli looks rueful. It’s out there. There’s no taking it back now.
“You want to hang a lantern on your problem,” Matthews correctly assesses. “Hang a lantern on what?” Eli pretends offense. “This has nothing to do with Mulvey’s policies. This has nothing to do with his morals.”
“Really?” Matthews raises his eyebrows. “Servicing Santa has nothing to do with his morals?” Snort. “It ain’t the real Santa, it’s a statue!” Gunn laughs nervously. Man, his sweat really is showing. “And there is no real Santa, so he wouldn’t have a penis!” Snarf. Eli looks appalled. Is this really helpful, Mickey? (I’ll tell you what it is, though, it’s funny as hell.) “The real story here is Mickey Gunn, and how he deals with a photo that is, admittedly, ridiculous,” Eli attempts to redirect the situation. Is this why political reporting is about jockeying and fundraising rather than about issues? “It’s also irrelevant to Mulvey’s character.” Gunn looks at Eli, proud, thinking that he’s convinced Matthews. “Listen, I’m fine. You wanna give me something, give me something. Why don’t you put the candidate on?” Eli shakes his head no. “I’ll see what we can do,” Mickey grins.
“Let me guess, you wanna cancel dinner,” Eli says into cell phone. “You know me, flighty!” Marissa replies. And she’s – wow, I know that tastefully appointed room. “Want something to drink?” Zach’s voice calls out, and the brick drops for Eli, too. “Where are you?” he asks suspiciously. “Getting computer advice, Dad. I’ll call you later.” She hangs up, and Eli sputters. What on earth has been unleashed here? His daughter the maneater, and his client’s son? Ha!
Marissa sashays through the Florrick apartment. “How long have your parents lived apart?” Uhhhhh, stammers Zach. “Don’t worry, my Dad told me,” Marissa tosses over her shoulder. That can’t possibly be true, can it? Can it? But Zach thinks it’s plausible enough, and decides to consider her one of the innermost circle. ” When did they split up?,” she restates, and this time he answers: 5 months ago. “I’ll give you all the tips on how to use it,” she declare, kind of twirling in front of Alicia’s bed. “Parents going through divorce are so guilty.” Now, I know I called her a maneater, so let me state for the record that I like her, and find her infinitely preferable to, say, that evil trollop Becca. I even like her really unusual textured clothes; they seem really business casual rather than teen, but still, they’re fun.
As the two stare at each other, standing in front of the bed, the we hear a lock clicking. “That’s my Dad, coming to pick me up,” Zach explains. “Zach?” trills a voice very unlike Peter’s. Damn it, Alicia, do you have any idea how often Jackie is in your home? “Hello!” “Grandma!,” Zach exclaims. “Peter had to work today, so he asked me to look in on you,” Jackie smiles. Really? Why did he not tell Alicia he couldn’t come himself? Seriously, I don’t get how this could be cool with Alicia.
Speaking of not cool with the matriarchal set, teeny tiny Marissa sways out of the bedroom. Her walk is so vampy I can’t help snickering every time she does it. Jackie uses her fakest voice to wonder if Marissa is the new tutor. Didn’t we already establish there wasn’t going to be a new tutor? “No, I’m Eli Gold’s daughter, Marissa,” the little minx informs the old crone, leaning against the wall and swinging her arms. Hee! I love seeing her deliberately try to get a rise out of Jackie. “Oh!” Jackie’s taken the bait. “Really? And what are we doing here?”
“What are we doing here, Zach?” Marissa purrs. Zach, on the other hand, knows how to calm and pacify his grandmother. Just showing her how to change the settings on her Dad’s computer! “Grace, Grandma’s here!” Zach leaves, and Marissa strolls behind him. And that’s when there’s a knock on the door. Jackie opens it to find Jennifer, her face painted in irregular blocks of green and orange and yellow and black which all melts into her brightly colored clothes.
Jackie is speechless. I think she might just fall over, though.
“I thought you were out there trying saving the world,” Will smiles as Kalinda strides into his office. “I was,” she says, “now I’m here.” There’s quite a bit of saving necessary here, too. She bites her lip, unsure of how to proceed, and leans on a chair. “You look serious,” Will realizes, stopping his search through some paper work, and she just spits it out. “An ASA in Peter Florrick’s office is asking about your relationship with Judge Baxter.” Will’s eyes twitch. “You in trouble?” They twitch again, and he leans back, exhaling. “I’m in something. I don’t know what it is. Who was the ASA?” Dana – and interesting, isn’t it, that she was on this investigation for 2 years but is suddenly all up in everyone’s faces about it? I mean, I know there’s Blake, but that was 5 months ago (per the time line established by the Florrick split). “Dana Lodge. I think she’s working with Cary.” No news to him. Will stares off into space, frowning. “This coming from Peter Florrick?” Kalinda asks delicately. Will favors her with a measuring look. “I think it is,” he answers softly.
“So it’s about his wife?” Kalinda’s delicate again, but her meaning is clear. “I don’t know,” Will lies badly. “I don’t know anything anymore. I used to be able to read the political tea leaves, but now I don’t even know why people say hello to me in the mornings.” Well, I’m sure your perspective’s pretty skewed right now, but I think we all know the real answer to that question. “Then use me,” Kalinda offers.
He squints at her. “I thought you were an island these days?” She tips her head from side to side. “No man is an island.” Cute. Predictable, but cute. “I don’t know, Kalinda, this one’s tough. They’re coming for me.” “Did you pay off Baxter?” “No,” he swallows, “but I think I know why they think I did.” Right. “Okay, then ask for my help,” Kalinda nods. Will’s got his face folded into his fist, which looks as odd as it sounds; his nose is resting on his knuckles. He gives her an odd smile. “I feel like hugging you,” he jokes softly. “No,” she tells him, her face serious, cutting through his crap, “just ask for my help.” He nods.
Please tell me that was asking. Sweet baby Jesus, you want her on your side, Will! You don’t look a gift bazooka in the face.
Er, so to speak.
Alicia’s face quails as the bars swing aside, letting her into death row. Coyne meets her on the other side. “Are you okay?” he asks. “I will be,” she nods. She sounds more sure than she looks. Coyne steps out, and Alicia slowly, suspiciously walks in. Ricky Packer looks back with his own healthy suspicion. When she sits, placing her folder carefully in front of her, she looks like a sacrifice. I’m probably not explaining that well; she’s terrified but calling on herself to be brave. “You need something?” he ask, hands cupped together. She exhales.
“You discussed, with Andre Bergson, the filmmaker, a murder? A body?” He twitches, scratches his arm. He flips his folder shut, annoyed. Why did he think she was there? “A man becomes very popular in his last hours of life,” he observes. That doesn’t please him. “You said you know who killed him?” Her face is pale against her soft gray suit. He flicks out his fingers, rearranges them. “What’s your name?,” he asks. She introduces herself; she really doesn’t want to part with the information, but she does. Well, at least this guy doesn’t recognize you, Alicia. “Andre said to send a girl, didn’t he?” Yes, she admits, and he laughs. “And here you are.” It’s curious – his street affect is completely gone. Is he trying to impress her?
“It would help us greatly if you could tell us who committed this murder,” she says. Alicia’s sure not wasting any small talk on him! “Didn’t the cops find someone?” “Yes, a juvenile from a competing gang…” just like you said it would be, Ricky, “but we think it’s this man.” She pulls out a photo from the blue light camera of the night after the murder. Packer seems loathe to look away from Alicia, but finally takes the picture from her. Is anyone else grateful Diane sent Alicia on this job instead of an actual young girl like Caitlin? “Yeah,” he agrees, nodding at the picture.
“Can you tell us who this is?” He purses his lips, raises his eyebrows. “Why should I?” She seems taken aback – maybe because, if it’s not self-evident, then there’s really no good answer. “We’re helping you with your appeal.” He huffs. “We argued successfully in front of the Seventh Circuit.” They just like tormenting me, he claims, disregarding this effort. “They say they’ll reconsider, but I’ll be dead come Sunday!” Probably so. “Then why not help us,” she shrugs. He grins. Laughs. Rings his hands.
“I heard my Mom argued for me,” Ricky says, watching Alicia’s answer closely. She gulps, nodding. “She did.” “And my brother?” he wonders, more suspiciously. She nods, and I don’t believe her. Is that just because we didn’t see the brother? “It was hard on both of them, but they did it.” I wonder if that’s the right answer – maybe for him, they should be falling over themselves to defend him? For the first time, he looks surprised, even emotional. Then he bends and wipes at his eyes with his shackled hands. Alicia looks breathless; even a killer can make her feel pity.
“You get them here, and I’ll tell you.” Her brows contract. ” I don’t know if we have time,” she worries. “Then make the time,” he insists, angry. His eyes search her face. “I’ll get them,” she swallows, “just tell me who this is.” Her eyes flicker as the guard steps forward and pulls Packer to his feet. “Who is it, Ricky, just tell me,” she begs. He stops, turns, a foot at least shorter than the guard, distress on his face.
“Irving Womack, a.k.a. Mace,” Kalinda tells Dana, armed with the photo. “He’s your man.” Inside his swank new office with it’s convenient glass walls, Cary stretches his lips around his teeth and bites down. He doesn’t seem to like watching his current fling talk to his former -what can we even call her? He fidgets roughly with his pen.
Back in the Florrick apartment, Jackie glares at Jennifer and Grace’s backs. Grace’s got a poster with the word HOPE tacked onto her wall, and the most ridiculously cute chocolate colored arm chair. What happened to her curtains, though? I loved those curtains. And then she moves over to Zach’s room – which, hmmmm, his computer’s back there – and glares at Zach and Marissa’s backs. Zach’s walls have more primary colors on them, posters featuring abstractions.
Jackie moves into the living room, picking up a picture of Alicia and the kids so she can glare at that, too. Zach looks so much younger! Am I making that up, or is the photo a few years old? I like that. Feels more lived in. Also, God forbid Alicia be happy, Jackie, when you’re so pathetic and miserable and at a complete loss about bending your grandchildren to you will?
And that’s when it gets ugly.
Jackie paws through Alicia’s laundry basket – looking for what? Sexy underwear, that’s what, and she finds some.
“Chris, do I admit to being young, stupid, even immature? Yes,” Robert Mulvey gives his mea cupla over a computer screen, sitting in what might be his house. It’s certainly not an MSNBC set. What’s Matthews doing on WEQT 8? “But the 21 year old Robert Mulvey is not the 34 year old Robert Mulvey.” God, why can that not be self evident? “And you think we should forgive you because it’s just this one time?,” Chris Matthews asks. May day! Danger, Will Robinson, danger! Mickey and Eli watch together, Mickey hovering nervously over Eli’s desk. Why are they not with Mulvey at his house? “Well, I think you should judge me on what I say and what I do now.” Mickey and Eli slap hands. It’s a good line, the better for actually being true. “As previously broadcast”, the legend under Robert Mulvey’s name says. So it’s not just that these goons aren’t there, they’re not even watching it on time? Lame!
“And what if it’s more than one time?” The men lean in, shocked. “These photos were taken on the same winter break, congressman.” “Oh, dear God,” Eli breathes. See, I told you he was a liar. How did you not see this coming? Don’t go up against the Jesuit-educated and expect them not to do their due diligence, that’s all I can say. “Is that you at the National Gallery sculpture garden?” Mulvey clears his throat. “Don’t go there. No, please don’t go there,” Mickey begs. “Is that George Washington?’ Oh, ouch! No! howl both consultants. “I don’t believe, ah… I would have to get a closer look,” Mulvey prevaricates, fooling absolutely no one. “We need to talk to your politician,” Eli spits.
“You look serious,” Dana flirts at Cary, who refuses to look up from the work on his desk. She sits on the desk anyway. “I’m a serious guy,” he shrugs. “Irving Womack, a.k.a Mace,” she offers, proffering the photo. “I think we should question him for the 22nd Disciple hit.” Cary won’t look up. Still. “We closed that,” he mumbles. “Yeah, with a juvenile. This guy’s an adult.” Really? That’s the bait? Not that he’s more likely to be, you know, guilty instead of just a gang sacrifice? Sigh. I really need to talk to a friend of mine who’s a city prosecutor to get rid of this feeling that they care about numbers more than truth. “Is that what Kalinda says?” Cary stares at the photograph of Womack like he’s going to find the answer to peace in the Middle East. Dude, you have no poker face at all. Dana’s malicious grin lights her whole face. “You mean your girlfriend Kalinda?”
Cary chuckles awkwardly. “No, I mean yours,” he says, finally looking up, challenging Dana. So, he’s uncomfortable and even jealous. But of which girl? Baffling. Equally baffling to him, I’m sure. “Oh, no, don’t stop there, you’re on a roll!” Dana cries. “I saw you two, looking more than friendly.” He’s actually blushing. “Really?” she replies. “And what does more than friendly look like?” Jeez, he should have seen them in the bar if just seeing them talk in the hall’s gotten him into such a tizzy. “More than friendly,” he repeats unhelpfully. She laughs.
And then she stands, and leans forward, a hand on his desk. “Cary, listen to my words. I have never said this before, but I am now going to say it for you – are you ready?” He does not want to look up. Still a bit of a little boy, huh, Cary? “I am not a lesbian.” She says the words slowly, clearly. “I know a lot of people who weren’t anything before they met Kalinda.” Nice! What a fantastic line! How true is that?
Dana narrows her eyes. “Is that why you have a thing for ethnic women?” What? “You’re still pining for your lesbian?” Bisexual, but whatever. He fusses at her for twisting his words. “This isn’t about me.” “Okay,” she says, “that’s enough for me. I’m going home now. If you want to question Mace, it’s up to you. You’re the deputy.”
Great. Now I’ve got Bob Marley in my head.
“Kalinda’s trying to get to me through you,” Cary calls after her. No, actually, she’s just trying to get access and to do her job. But Dana agrees. “And it seems to be working,” she observes. I’d be tempted to call her smart (since she is) if it wasn’t blindingly obvious. “Figure out what you want, Cary, and then we can talk.” He looks back. “I don’t want her.” Which is to say, you don’t want to want her. Intellectually you don’t want her. “Good to know,” she purrs, and leaves. He bites his lips, chewing on the problem after she’s gone.
That evil evil Jackie – a wolf in little girl’s clothing – riffles through Alicia’s underwear drawer. Oh, my God, that’s so gross! That’s such a creepy violation! Finding nothing that’s sufficiently naughty, she keeps looking. Through Alicia’s purse! That’s her laptop! Oh, my God, seriously? This woman has no inhibitions or sense of appropriate borders. Let’s hope she’s also a clueless old biddie; no matter how many directions she turns it in, she can’t figure out how to turn the laptop on.
I don’t know about you, but I think I need to throw something.
“What do you know about him,” Cary asks as he walks across a dark, shiny street. Is it always wet at night in Chicago, or does it just feel that way? Do you think they hose down the sets just to get all those reflections? “Not much,” Kalinda says, walking toward him, “Alicia got a tip from Death Row. You find out something on him?” He plays it cool. “His description matched another murder. We just want to talk to him, nobody’s going in hard.” Those sound like famous last words. “So, you talk to ASA Lodge these days?”
“Yeah,” she confirms, “you too, huh?” “What’re you doing?” he asks flat out. What? “Don’t, okay? Don’t.” He gives her a serious look. Is this about Dana, and him being protective of her, or is it all just messing with his mind? Kalinda’s distracted by the police knocking on the door and identifying themselves. “Look, ASA Lodge approached me. She gave me her card. If you have a problem with that, you have to sort that out with her.” Well, not entirely true, but, okay. “She‘s not the one I mistrust.” Kalinda’s offended. “Go to hell, Cary. Do you think I…”
But her words are interrupted by gunfire.
Bam! Bam! Cary and Kalinda duck. Bam Bam Bam! He throws her down on the pavement. Glass shatters, and then -woah! -a man explodes through another window. Cary rolls over on top of Kalinda as they’re showered with bits of glass; the suspect, gun in hand, leaps over them. Bam bam bam! Mace spins down to the ground, apparently dead, a few glittering feet away from Cary and Kalinda, gun hand pointed at them.
Kalinda looks up; beside her Cary does, too, his arm still pressing into her back, unsure whether to actually let her up or not. “You alright?,” she asks. Yeah, he says, his face red, his eyes wild, looking like another man entirely. Neither one seems sure they should move. They’re in the middle of a crime scene now, as well as a desert of glass. “Looks like a Walther P99” Kalinda notes; she might have made a move toward it, even, but Cary’s not letting go. “That’s Tom’s gun,” she guesses.
Hey look! It’s Robert Mulvey on television! Which is to say, Eli’s laptop. Why does he not have any of those TV from the campaign office anymore? Not sleek enough for his pretty office at L&G? “I say this with some trepidation, but a failing is a failing,” Mulvey confesses, looking rehearsed. “I am an alcoholic.” Cameras flash, and his pale wife looks on in the background. The legend at the bottom of the screen proclaims him to be “Santa’s Little Helper.” Hee.
“Nice work,” Mickey grins, foot up on one of Eli’s chairs. “Changing the subject.” “Thanks,” Eli grumbles, “The only place left to go.” Really? That’s so depressing. “I thought, foolishly, that I had taken care of my problem,” Mulvey continues. His wife compresses her lips, pulling her pretty face down. “But as all alcoholics know, it’s never that easy. So I’m going back in the program.” Ah, rehab, the celebrity refuge from gaffes of every kind. Rehab for anger! Rehab for shoplifting! Rehab for homophobic slurs! Rehab for college pranks! Okay, says Mickey, snagging his jacket, I’ll talk to you when he’s out. “Yeah,” says Eli, giving the computer screen a measuring glare. “I like him.” “Not a bad guy,” Mickey agrees, shrugging into his jacket, “still room to corrupt him.”
Ugh. Ha ha, you’re so funny, Mickey.
“I’m thinking of him for state senate first.” Huh? What happened to the primaries? Isn’t that aiming a little low for someone with Presidential aspirations within this decade, let alone the next four years? “Here?” Eli wonders. Oops. Sure, says Mickey, buttoning the jacket, what were you thinking? Thinking he’s in it even deeper with his ex-wife, that’s what. He also thought you were looking for a bigger stage. “Only as a jumping off point,” Mickey shrugs, but frankly, I find that absurd. Too small, way too small. “What’s wrong, is that too small for you?” Yes! But that’s not his problem, even though it ought to be. “My ex-wife is running for state senate,” Eli confesses, embarrassed. Right. Your ex-wife who slept with a bin Laden, who is a nightmare scandal waiting to happen. Also, is there really only one state senate district you can try? Mickey giggles. “Really? Well, that’s, uh, unfortunate.” So, not going to back off, is he? “Yup,” agrees bitter Eli. “Well, thanks for the help, buddy! I’ll be seeing ya!” With a wave and smile, Mickey Gunn is gone.
So, okay. Which is worse, an extra-marital affair with a nice bin Laden, or faux alcoholism with embarrassing pictures? Either way, it’s one big head ache for Eli.
In another dark parking lot, Coyne and Alicia shiver. Coyne’s phone buzzes loudly, and he checks it. “He lost the appeal. The execution’s going forward.” Well, perhaps the judges could tell Packer’s witnesses and lawyers were lying, just like we could. A car pulls up behind them, disgorging Fr.Jim, Mrs. Packer, and – as Mrs. Packer introduces him – Michael. “Suzanne, thank you for coming,” Alicia runs over, “we have to hurry.” They run.
“Just so you know, Mrs. Packer,” Alicia explains as they’re let through a series of green gates, “he helped us with our case. We found the real killer, and our client was freed. I don’t know if that helps.” “It helps. Thank you,” Suzanne sobs. Alicia introduces them to the guards, to prepare for the final moments. “Thank you,” Suzanne Packer gasps as the towering guard lets her through. “He’ll be coming out out there – we have to stay over here,” Alicia points out the relevant spots as they stand behind yet another barred gate. Michael and his mother move up to the door, and Fr. Jim steps up to stand by Alicia. “He really helped you with your case?” the doubting Thomas asks. “Yes – ah, you sound surprised.”
The priest searches for the right words. “I know there’s supposed to be good in everyone, but sometimes it’s just… hard to see, so this gives me hope.” The old man’s voice thickens with emotion. Alicia nods, but her attention is soon riveted by the clank of another door. “Here he comes now,” she whispers.
“Ricky!” the devastated mother cries out. She begins to sob. Two guards on either side escort her son in his chains through more connecting gates. “Mom,” he says simply. Alicia looks away. “It’s me,” Suzanne assures him, “it’s Michael.” What do you say in that moment? Ricky too looks at a loss for words, so he flashes his joker’s smile instead. “Looks like I’m really going away now!” He bites his lip. “We love you,” his mother’s voice throbs, and his face freezes. “I know,” he says. “What can we do for you?” she begs. And that makes him angry. “You can burn in hell!” Oh, not cool. He thrusts his raging face right into the bars that separate them. “Both of you! I want you to suffer every day of your life thinking of me!” Shocked, Alicia can’t believe she’s stage managed this last bitter encounter. Fr. Jim closes his eyes on hope. Looking at their shocked, broken faces, Ricky laughs. “Bye Mom! Love ya! It was fun!” The guards drag him away.
That didn’t quite go as expected, did it?
“Yeah, okay, thank you,” Cary says, setting down his phone. He’s got his jacket off – it’s no doubt covered in ground glass – and his tie maybe a little loosened. “It’s his gun, Tom Lavere’s gun,” he tells Kalinda, who’s leaning against the window. He leans next to her. Does this scene take place before the last one, where Alicia implied that Lavere was already freed? Cary sits, staring. “We’re releasing him,” he adds, looking blindly in her direction. “Are you alright?” I suspect not. I wouldn’t be. “Uh, considering it was my first gun fight?,” he nods. She smiles in understanding. “You?” “Yeah,” she says, because of course she’s fine. It takes more than a near death experience to unsettle Kalinda Sharma! “Thanks for pulling me down. Protecting me,” she says. He turns to look her full in the face.
“What do you want from me, Kalinda?” he wonders. “What do I want from you?” she repeats, shaking her head. “Why does everybody always think that I want something?” “Because you do,” he notes. Well, yes, but it’s always in the moment. It’s when people try to make larger sense out of her that they run into trouble. “She’s not attracted to women,” Cary protests. You don’t want to share, Cary? Should we really buy that as your main concern?
“Cary, you make me too calculated,” Kalinda begins – which, exactly. “Look, I came here, you weren’t here, she was here, I asked her about a case, that was all.” Well, that and some heavy duty flirting, but there wasn’t planning behind it. She’s the ultimate opportunist. Cary raises his eyebrows. “You’ve got blood on your ear,” Kalinda observes, changing the focus. Cary rubs at his earlobe. Man, that’s so creepy. “Under,” she points. Ruefully, he shakes his head as if to clear it. “I don’t like you being in my head,” he mumbles softly. “What?” “I said I don’t like you being in my head,” he repeats, standing, turning to face her. Aw! “Then get me out,” she suggests, looking back at him, unflinching. Gently, he touches the side of her face, then roughly pulls her head toward him. They kiss. He pulls back to stare in her eyes, searching. She reaches up for him, and the kiss – while still slow – becomes more intense. He pushes her away. “What are we doing?” “I have no idea,” she purrs, because she shuts off the larger consequences, because she lives only in the moment, in her body. That’s what the sex is for her, I think; not just pleasure, but obliteration of thought. He looks down at her, swallows, smiles a little, sighs. “What?” she asks. Why won’t you keep kissing me?
And he leaves. Kalinda stares out Cary’s office door, alone in the darkness.
Well. That gives us a lot to talk about it. An execution! A gun fight! Sexy time for Santa! Insanity!
And, sweet mother of God, how many times have I said Alicia needed to change her freaking locks?! Jackie is mean and she does not give a crap about Alicia or her relationship with her children or keeping the peace or anything. She’s bitter and ruthless without being smart, which is a nasty combination. Now, whether there’s anything incriminating she can find on Alicia’s laptop, and what she might do with it to make the situation worse than it already is with Peter, I have no idea, but it’s not cool. Not cool at all. Alicia, you need to get that viper out of your nest immediately! Man, that just drives me nuts.
What else? Please tell me Will’s enlisted Kalinda’s help. Also, I think I’m cool with Zach dumping Neesa – sweet but not too lively – for a short lived fling with Marissa. How much fun would that be? Speaking of fun, Santa, wow. What’s with this theme – remember the porno Santa from the first season?
Well, obviously, there’s the whole conundrum of the death penalty. The most essential issue isn’t actually that we execute people who might very well be innocent (a la 9 Hours) , though of course that’s hugely important. No, as Coyne says, it’s about right and wrong. It’s the idea that if it’s wrong to take a life, it’s wrong to take a life. That the state should step in when the bereaved feel like they have a right to tear the guilty party limb from limb, because the state should stand for consistency, for rule of law, for protection for all lives. Even if it’s a low down, murdering, raping, born bad, mother-tormenting nasty little life. I wish I could believe that Ricky was imitating Jimmy Cagney in that famous gangster movie where he cries and turns yellow as he’s executed to show a young boy that being a gangster isn’t cool or manly, that he was giving his family no reason to regret him, but I’m not that optimistic.
Can we be born bad? It’s an interesting and long debated question (the subject of the upcoming Oscar bait film We Need To Talk About Kevin, so TGW is also moving in advance of a little trend). Who’s responsible for our choices? Or, to put that another way, is it ever accurate to bargain away one’s personal responsibility? Are our choices the product of our environment? Obviously these questions extend past the mechanics of the case-of-the-week; the show makes an explicit parallel between sexual choices and criminal ones.. Can Will and Alicia say, well, we can’t help ourselves, and so lay waste to all they hold dear? Can we forgive them this, after all their years of suppressed passion, even if it takes down other people’s livelihood and happiness with it? Is it excusable to say that even if they wanted to stop, they couldn’t? With Cary and Kalinda’s aborted rendez vous, with Cary’s decision to give up getting the one he wants if he can’t have her for real, we see a starkly displayed alternative.
That reminds me, actually, of Octavia’s dignified leave taking in Dryden’s play All for Love, one of my favorite quotes: “for I despair to have you whole, and scorn to take you half.” (Really, it’s been quite the literary episode, what with starting off at Camus’s most famous existential treatise, one which declares us all prisoners of our circumstances.) It also reminds me a little of Ju Dou, an absolutely hideous (if beautifully made) Chinese film where, in the first half, you live for a forbidden, adulterous love, only to see everything fall hideously apart when the brutalized wife transgresses with her faithful lover. The movie pushes the two together, but punishes them for it after. It’s a concept that’s starting to sound familiar.