E: Well. Okay. That was interesting. A very knotty real life legal issue, a guest star with a somewhat naughty past, a tremendous new judge and a host of returning supporting players, some beloved, some not so much.
There’s a three cushion couch positioned in a cozy nook, sleek and modern and off white under a modern painting. The whole thing gives off the air of a cocoon or a nest. Looking rather pedestrian in a blue business suit, Jason Biggs – yep, that Jason Biggs, of American Pie – sits down in the center of the sofa. This takes a surprisingly long time as he arranges his coat and his bag and his clothes. To a low, rumbling tune (somehow reminiscent of a Western movie soundtrack) two men in dark trench coats get off the elevator at Lockhart/Gardner; this little nook is just to the left as you walk into the waiting area. “May I?,” one of them men asks, pointing to the cushion unoccupied by Jason Biggs and his briefcase.
“Oh, ah, no, sorry” says Jason, shifting his briefcase so he’s taking up the entire couch, ” I’m saving them.” He looks quite the like cat with the proverbial cream.
The man who asked looks exasperated. “This isn’t a game, Mr. Stack.” Stack’s self-satisfied head is right under the odd nugget in the center of the painting. “I didn’t say it is,” he smirks. Well, you’re acting like it, the other man asserts. “I’m treating it with all the respect it deserves,” Stack replies, who clearly doesn’t think much of whatever it is.
“Mr. Stack? Mr. Dylan Stack?” Alicia calls, walking through the waiting area. “Present,” Stack identifies himself, and we find that he and Alicia have talked already on the phone. “This is a mistake,” the talking member of the dark duo interrupts them. Well, that was ominous. “You walk through that door, we can’t help you.” Alicia frowns in consternation. They can’t help him? Are they his body guards, and they can’t help if, what, Alicia turns out to be a vampire? Why does he need their help again? They don’t give off a helpful vibe, somehow. “Well,” Stack asks them with a totally serious face, “what if I walk through that door?” Stack jerks his thumb at the other side of the office. Oh, how clever you are, sir. Exasperated, the other fellow rolls his eyes.
“What was that about?” Alicia wonders as she walks Stack back to her office. “Posturing,” he laughs uncomfortably. Kalinda’s ears prick up, and she follows them. “Before we begin, Mr. Stack,” Alicia begins, “I just want to warn you that we are a full service firm. We don’t really take walk ins.” Oh, that’s snotty. What does that even mean? Oh, I suppose it means that you don’t just come to them if you suddenly find yourself in need of a lawyer – more like, if they’re already handling your business dealings, they can also take care of your divorce or indictment? But that’s not so true either, is it? Anyway, he smiles, and claims not to be a walk in. “I called you!”
“Yes, ten minutes ago,” she smiles, “saying you were walking in.” What, she has an ethical objection to getting new clients? Sometimes she can be so stuffy. “I’m sorry,” he says, “I don’t like making reservations. I can pay!” Uh, for what? “For keeping me out of jail.”
She looks a little surprised. Um, Alicia, you’re a lawyer. You handle criminal cases. Also, he was being tailed and intimidated right into your office. How can this come as a surprise? “You’re in danger of being arrested?” He is. “The two men out there are Federal Agents from the Treasury. They’ve been following me for two days.” Alicia looks to Kalinda, who’s haunting the doorway, silent and still. “Why?” “I won’t reveal the name of my client,” Biggs reveals. Okay, says Alicia, picking up her pen. No, you don’t understand, Stack claims. “That’s why they’re following me.” Alicia looks to her doorway. Kalinda’s on it! I love that words are unnecessary with her.
“Hello, ” she says when she finds Thing One and Thing Two (er, Federal Agent Thing One and Two) haunting the elevators. They spare her an irritated glance. “If you’re agents of the U.S. Treasury and I ask to see your badges, you have to show them to me, correct?” They stare at her. “May I see your badges, gentlemen?,” she’s forced to add, and grudgingly, rolling their eyes at each other, they do. Hey, it’s nobody’s job to make your lives easy, boys. She whips out her orange notebook. “Actually, could you hold them higher?” Hee. With more editorial eyerolling, and with impressive coordination, they do.
“I practice digital information law in New York,” Stack explains back in Alicia’s office. “The U.S. Treasury wants to arrest one of my clients – a client who asked that I maintain his anonymity.” He pulls a folded blue paper out of his breast pocket. “This is a subpoena to submit to questioning or go to prison for up to 18 months.” Stack sighs unhappily. Indeed, that’s not a great position to be in. “Why have you come to us?” Alicia wonders casually. “To you,” Stack clarifies. “Rumor has it you’ve had your own dealings with the Treasury.” Oh. Well, in that case, you really ought to refer him to Elsbeth Tascioni, shouldn’t you? Since she was the one who slew the evil Higgs dragon to begin with? Alicia was just the plaintiff. “I hear you came out victorious,” he ends.
But I guess no matter her scorn for walk ins, she still isn’t going to send a paying customer over to a rival. Oh, she tries – she’s muttering modestly about stable clients – but then he slaps down two thick stacks of $100 bills right in front of her. She looks up at him in shock. “I don’t like credit cards,” he explains. “Or checks.”
Diane, perhaps taking her cues from David Lee’s Gilbert and Sullivan costume, is wearing a white button down shirt under a blue and gold patterned jacket. It’s very shiny. “That’s a lot of money,” she observes, looking at Stack over his stacks of cash. “Is it counterfeit?,” Kalinda asks, cutting to the chase. “No- why?” Stack wonders,genuinely surprised. “The involvement of the Treasury suggests some reason for concern,” Diane suggests gently. Duh. “They’re after my client for … something else,” Stack replies. This is far to vague for Diane and she presses for specifics. The specifics turn out to be peculiar.
“He invented a new currency,” Stack admits.
Diane’s eyebrows shoot up above the rim of her glasses. “Really?” she wonders, “how’d he do that?” “He invented bitcoin,” Stack explains. “It’s a digital currency traded and spent online.” Diane nods. “Yes, I’ve read about it,” she agrees. “According to the FBI, it is a violation of federal law for individuals to invent private coin or currency systems.” He shrugs, looking impish. “I think the Treasury feels threatened.” Diane looks up at Alicia.
“Bitcoin?” Will wonders over the phone. Yes, bitcoin. “But he’s not going to pay us in bitcoin, is he?” Snort. That’s awesome. Little do you know, Will. “No, he’s got cash. Lots of it, in fact,” she says. “I don’t know, Diane,” Will hesitates, “it’s the U.S. government. I thought we swore off these ‘Charge of the Light Brigade‘ cases.” He’s standing in front of a floor-to-ceiling window. “We swore off the ones based on idealism. This one has cash.” Ha! Diane, you’re too funny. “And I know how that sounds,” she adds. “Okay,” he agrees, adding “let’s not stick our necks out too far.” “When we poke he bear?” she smiles. “I’m tired,” he says, “I mix metaphors when I’m tired.”
“How’s it going?” Diane asks, and Will looks out at Elsbeth, clad in a rust colored suit, kicking her legs up, daffy as ever, waiting at the other end of what looks to be a construction site. “Well, she sure is different.” “You can always get Kurt Leaventhal, I have his number right here,” Diane tells him, concerned. “No,” Will shakes his head, “I rolled the dice.” “Hey, what time are they – oh! Here they are! Hello!” Elsbeth calls out, first to Will, and then to Wendy Scott-Carr who arrives, flanked by Cary and Dana. Ah, Dana. Diane reminds Will he has the right to remain silent. “Visit me in prison?” he asks. “Every Friday,” she smiles.
Seriously, Will and Diane really are the best couple the show has ever seen.
Which, now that I think about it, probably isn’t saying much.
“I’m putting on a good face,” Stack tells Alicia, demonstrating, “I’m actually kind of terrified.” Of course you are. “That makes sense,” Alicia nods, perhaps thinking of her own experience with the Treasury department. “Oh,” Stack replies, startled, “I thought you were going to say something comforting, like ‘don’t be!'” Where’s Caitlin in all this? She would have been right there with the inappropriate soothing words. I could use more Caitlin (and I definitely want to know what she’s up to.) Alicia colors and apologizes. “No, I guess the truth is comforting, too,” he muses. Diane returns from her phone call with the good news. “Sorry to keep you waiting, Mr. Stack,” she says, shutting her door behind her. “We have agreed to take your case.” That’s good, he sighs in relief. “But we can’t accept the cash. We need a cashiers check.” He rises with a smile. “Yep. Only in America is greater abstraction more desirable.”
Well, I think it’s called transparency. But sure.
“I’m so sorry,” Elsbeth Tascioni apologizes. The construction site is actually her office, I think, stripped down to its bare walls. The State’s Attorney crew seems to be sitting on an untethered park bench. Elsbeth Elsbeth Elsbeth! Oh, it’s so good to have you here, dear. “They found asbestos in my office,” she confides. Ooops. Well, I hope they’re not in her office now! Gosh. Wendy claims it’s all nothing. “Mr. Gardner, this is a proffer session. It’s completely off…”
“Would you like something to drink?” Elsbeth interrupts in her giddy way. Wendy’s irritated and thrown off her rhythm. “No, thank you,” she replies delicately, and smiles her perfect, and perfectly unfriendly, smile. “It’s completely off the record. If you give me…”
“How about you two?” Elsbeth asks Cary and Dana. “Uh, I’m fine,” Dana say, as Cary replies with the more polite “no thank you.” “Do you mind if I have something?” Elsbeth asks, rising to her feet, making an awkward, embarrassed face. “I didn’t have breakfast. And oh – we have blankets, if anybody’s cold.” Everyone still has their coats on, so it’s probably chilly – even Elsbeth wears gloves – but no one admits this as Elsbeth uses her cell phone to cal for the redoubtable Fantasia. “Hi. Just one morning shake please. Thanks. Go ahead,” she motions to Wendy, sitting down. Wendy smiles her icy smile and winds up for the next toss. “If you supply us with truthful information, as to your knowledge, about judicial criminal conduction We’ll close this investigation against you. No grans jury. Does that make sense?” It does. Huh – it’s like Grandpa Gilmore said last week; give them what they want in trade for your freedom.
Reading from his notes, Cary gets to specifics.”Your bookie was Jonathan Meade, is that correct?” Cary’s distracted by several men entering the room – a large portion of an office floor, really – to retrieve some large furniture. “Jonathan Meade was the name of a friend of mine, who I invited to one of my Wednesday night basketball games,” Will bites back. “But he was a bookie?” Dana insists. “He acted in a lot of capacities,” Will weasel words. “At one point he was even an actor.”
“Really?” Elsbeth looks up from the notes she’s been so studiously taking. “In what?” Will sputters. “I don’t know, I think it was a low budget movie.” Elsbeth leans in, avid. “A horror movie?” Cary can’t quite believe what he’s seeing. “Did you witness several judges placing bets with Jonathan Meade?” Now he’s got Elsbeth’s full attention. “Could you be more specific,” she asks. “Regarding?” Cary wonders. “Which three judges?”
“Excuse me, Miss Tascioni, this is Mr. Gardner’s proffer, not ours,” Wendy gently reminds everyone. “Yes, I know, but Mr. Gardner needs to know what you’re after in order to help you,” she explains, acting as if she doesn’t know why they don’t understand. “There were a lot of judges at this basketball game over the years, and how many of them talked to this actor friend of yours?” she asks, turning to Will. Quite a few, he answers. “How can we help you if you won’t give us any direction on how to help you?” She shrugs her shoulders to express her helplessness. Cary’s phlegmatic look here is priceless. He turns to Wendy, who inclines her head in a way that makes it clear she’s giving him permission. Cary looks like he does not agree, but he goes ahead.
“Judge Winter, Jude Dunaway, and Judge Parks.” Will looks impassive, and Elsbeth nods as she notes their names down on her legal pad. Okay, off hand, Judge Winter is Peter Riegart, who’s been on the show a bunch of times (most recently when tangling with the Dutch embassy, I believe – Affairs of State) , and we of course know Dunaway as the English Professor judge Wendy and Dana threatened back in What Went Wrong. And, ooooh, Judge Parks was the one back in Heart and Poisoned Pill and In Sickness, episodes I adore. It’s a witch hunt as far as Dunaway’s concerned, but I will be really upset if there proves to be something shady going on with Parks. I love that they’ve picked Judges we actually know, though.
But back in the cold office, Wendy’s insistent. “Mr. Gardner, did you see Mr. Meade consulting or places bets with these three judges?” He considers it, screwing his features up in concentration. “Sorry. I wish I could remember.” Elsbeth throws up her hands in exaggerated chagrin.
“That was a sham,” Wendy hisses as she heads out, Dana and Cary following behind in V formation. “She played you,” Cary observes. “Yes, thank you Cary,” Wendy snaps. Hee hee! So great. “This investigator that you’re cultivating at Lockhart/Gardner?” Wendy half turns her head toward Dana. “Kalinda?” Yes. Cary frowns. “Time to stop cultivating and start planting.” Cary frowns even more fiercely. Dude, you know better than this, right? There’s no way that Dana is actually going to plant anything in Kalinda; just not happening. Is he not pointing out the flaw in this plan because he doesn’t want the effort to succeed in the end? “Okay,” Dana agrees.
“We need to have a conversation about vulnerabilities,” Elsbeth tells Will, who’s still watching the others – not to mention the workmen. “Here’s the difficulty,” he shrugs, “I don’t know where I’m vulnerable.” Right. “Well, I’d start looking,” she suggests seriously, “because – oh look! There’s my earring!” She dives past him for the hopefully asbestos free floor.
“Dollar bills can be lost,” an animation explains perkily, showing fat green dancing dollar signs; the first is blown away. “Stolen, or burned.” A little thief takes one, and the last goes up in flames. Hee. “But Bitcoin is here forever,” the voice over explains. “on the internet!” Oh, yes, because everything’s safe and permanent on the internet. Riiiiight. As the perky narrator explains about bitcoin not being traded in banks but peer to peer, Zach smiles. “See, Mom, pretty colors! Fun, huh?” “Thanks, Zach,” Alicia snarks. They’re both leaning over a laptop on the kitchen counter.
“So, you don’t buy bitcoin,” Alicia starts working it out aloud. “Nope, you can,” Nisa calls out from the dining room, where her homework is spread out, “there are currency traders online.” Ah. I can’t believe he was just carrying this information around in his head, but Zach notes off hand that a bitcoin is worth three bucks. What kind of high school kid keeps track of (fake) currency rates? “It used to be $33, people were hoarding.” Nisa gives up any pretension of doing homework, and joins the others in the kitchen. “But that’s not how it gets into circulation,” Zach explains, “You mine it. Like gold. The guy who invented it created this program that releases blocks of bitcoin over time. See?” The animation now shows two little men with jackhammers going after a buried coin, and explains that if you have your computer linked to solve “complicated math problems” you get bitcoins when the problems are solved. The more computer power, the more bitcoin.
Fine, that’s like the SETI program, right, where interested people share computer power to analyze radio waves in search of ETs? Except, anyone else’s inner conspiracy nut wondering what the purpose of those equations is? You’re linking your computer up to get these imaginary bits of money, for what purpose? For whose purpose? I can’t imagine that it’s all just a game. If I were the government, I’d definitely be freaked out about that.
Anyway. As the animation goes on about what you can do with bitcoin, Nisa smiles. “So, you’re representing the inventor, Mrs. Florrick. That’s really cool.” Alicia demurs. “Just his lawyer, Nisa. A bit less cool.” But she smiles anyway. “It’s like this big mystery,” Zach enthuses. “The guy who invented bitcoin. No one knows who he is. He’s supposed to be this genius cryptographer because no one’s been able to break the bitcoin code yet.” “My father thinks he’s a Japanese programmer,” Nisa reports. “I heard Irish,” Zach counters.
“Well, thanks for your help,” Alicia sighs, closing her laptop. “This stuff makes me feel so … dated.” Zach and Nisa smile. She heads off. “Well, I have to go,” Nisa tells Zach, stopping Alicia short with her next line. “I love you!”
Oh, poor Alicia. Talk about feeling old. “I love you too,” Zach replies, and we hear them kissing. The scene ends on Alicia’s frozen face.
“Good morning,” a prissy, cheery voice tells us. “Good morning, Mr. Higgs. You’re representing the Treasury department?” Judge Dwight Sobel grumbles. Higgs is. (Wait, Higgs is a practicing lawyer, not just a Treasury official? Oh well. I suppose half the people in government have law degrees; don’t Josh and Sam joke about that on The West Wing?) “Good. I have some complaints about my Susan B. Anthony silver dollars.” Ha! Higgs’ face is a study. “That was before my time,” Higgs begins, but Sobel interrupts him. “No, seriously, what were they thinking? They feel like quarters.” So true. “”Well, again. I wasn’t here. But I can ask around.” Alicia sneaks a smile at Stack, sitting next to her at the defendant’s bench. “Well, please do,” Sobel says seriously. “Well. Ah. Mrs. Florrick,” he says happily. They greet each other with pleasantries and smiles. “Money. That’s why we’re here today?”
“Oh yes,” Higgs declares, “Mrs. Florrick’s client represents a criminal, Mr. Bitcoin.” Stack huffs. “Excuse me,” Sobel asks with raised hand, “Mr. Bitcoin?” Yes, says Higgs. “That’s what we’ve come to designate the mysterious creator of this internet currency.” Uh huh, Sobel grunts. (And man, if Alicia feels dated…) And then he leans forward. “Do you guys at Treasury get a lot of dates?” HA! Oh no. I mean, that’s rude and awful and also really really hilarious. Somehow that was not the response that prim little Higgs was expecting, but after a moment of gaping, he rises to the occasion.”Yes we do, and thank you for asking.” Heh.
“Why is this so important?” Sobel wonders. “We believe this currency is being used in a digital black market, guaranteeing anonymity to drug dealers, money launderers, and child pornographers.” Well, alright, those are all ugly things. “And Mr Bitcoin is attempting to guarantee his own anonymity through the smoke screen of attorney client privilege.” Alicia, too, is on her feet. “I don’t think I would call attorney client privilege a smoke screen, your Honor.” Well, quite so. Higgs snaps that attorney/client privilege doesn’t cover the client’s identity, just communications between the two. “Unless his identity is the subject of these communications,” Alicia rightly asserts.
“With one exception, the crime-fraud exception, which requires that Mr. Stack reveal Mr. Bitcoin if he’s in the process of committing a crime.” Which has yet to be established, Alicia snaps back. Nice to see her going to toe to toe with Higgs. As satisfying as it was to see Elsbeth take him apart, it’s also pretty great to Alicia standing up on her own.
Sobel snorts. “You know, folks, I always wait in court patiently for these little conundrums. That is why God made me a judge.” Now it’s my turn to snort. “Just so I could decide on motions exactly like these. Now, eeny meeny miny moe…” Stack looks like he’s about to expire. “That was a joke, folks,” Sobel glares at them. Dude, I love you. “The government’smotion is denied.” He bangs his gavel, and they’re done.
“Thank you, Mrs. Florrick,” Stack smiles, tossing his bag over his shoulder, “Now I have to go meet with some Occupy Wall Streeters.” New clients, Alicia wonders? “Yes,” Stack tells her as they move toward the courtroom door, “but these don’t pay as well.” I bet.
You didn’t think we were done, though, did you? Higgs and a small army meets them at the back of the room. “Hello again! You’re under arrest, Mr. Stack.” Three men come up behind them. Arms crossed, Alicia smiles loftily. “You heard the judge’s ruling,” she says. “Yes, that attorney client privilege applies. I don’t agree, but I respect the law.” Then we’re done, Alicia answers. “No we’re not. I’m arresting Mr. Stack for being Mr. Bitcoin.”
Well. That’s a turn of events.
“Come ON,” Alicia cries as Stack knits his brows in consternation. “I am coming on,” Higgs replies without a trace of irony. “Mr. Stack presents himself as a lawyer representing the mysterious Mr. Bitcoin, but we’ve come to realize he is Mr. Bitcoin, and the penalty for creating a currency is 10 to 30 years.” Higgs waves another folded blue document, presumably the warrant. “You’re under arrest, Mr. Stack,” Higgs declares, and Stack is cuffed and dragged off.
Well, that could work to force him to reveal Bitcoin’s identity, anyway, the threat of 30 years in prison.
“Your Honor, Mr. Higgs does not believe my client is Mr. Bitcoin. He is using this arrest to apply pressure in counteraction to your ruling,” Alicia tells Judge Sobel. “Yes, Mr. Higgs,” Sobel purrs, ” the timing of the arrest seems strangely coincidental.” Higgs offers as proof the incorporation papers of Bitcoin, on which the only signature is Stacks. Duh, says Alicia. (No, not literally.) “Bitcoin has subcontractors,” Higgs says, “computer programmers who supply animation, or random coding.” He hands over a stack of affidavits which tell the same story; the subcontractors only deal with Stack. Again, says Alicia, duh. “Because Mr. Bitcoin wanted to remain anonymous.” “Really, Mrs. Florrick,” Sobel leans forward, “must we all use Mr. Bitcoin now?” Hee. “Occam’s razor, your Honor. The person signing the checks and becoming the public face of a company is the company.” Well, much as I love Occam’s razor as a concept, this seems an unlikely application. How likely is it that Stack isn’t just a lawyer but also a genius programmer? Plus, considering what’s happening now, wouldn’t the genius programmer have a vested interest in hiding his or her identity, and wouldn’t a lawyer like Stack be a perfect shield?
“These documents don’t prove anything,” Alicia sums up. “But they are evocative,” Sobel believes. I so don’t agree, but okay. “I must say, I am a sucker for Occam’s razor.” Hee! Higgs smiles. “So, I will grant Mr. Stack bail, and hear arguments tomorrow.” He bangs his gavel, and heads off. Higgs stares at Alicia for a moment. “Good to see you,” he says smugly. “Always a pleasure,” she lies.
Diane leans back in a chair in a conference room, clad in Barbie pink, thinking. “The problem here is proving a negative. How can we prove Dylan isn’t his client without proving someone else is his client?” I suppose general incompetence with computers would be helpful. Probably unlikely, though. “Does he know you’re in trouble, Dylan, your client – can he help us?” This is Alicia’s question. Dylan refuses to say anything at all about his client. Will stands sentinel, frowning down on everyone. “Okay, so hit the incorporation papers, that’s not proof of ownership,” Diane decides, but as Alicia starts to write down this strategy, Will breaks in. “No. Play offense, not defense,” he says. Alicia Florrick wonders how. “Bitcoin isn’t a currency. Now there’s no crime if bitcoin is a commodity, just something to be traded like a bushel of fruit.” You can see the wheels turning. “Mr. Gardner taps his inner rebel,” Diane smiles, pleased. “Good, we have our strategy in court. And out of court?” This last was of course directed at Kalinda.
“Is there anything said by your client that would prevent us from hunting him down independently?” Stack, of course, won’t answer. “But we can do it on our own?” “Again, I cannot help you.” I don’t think I mentioned, but I really like his shirt. We don’t get a lot of patterned shirts on this show. It looks good.
Once the client is gone, chatting with Alicia in the hall, Kalinda has a few words for Will and Diane. “Well, the inventor has left a few fingerprints. He wrote a manifesto when bitcoin came out. I could run a linguistic analysis.” Can you? And how do you do that? Cool. “Good,” Will says, and then suggests looking for “contact points” like when he might have met Stack. “You might try DeCodeACon,” Diane suggests. Will and Kalinda look at her, utterly baffled. “DeCodeACon – what, it’s not on your social calendar? Stack is here for DeCodeACon, the conference of cryptographers.” Ah. Don’t you love that she knows this? “Good. Maybe he’ll meet him there.” Kalinda’s on it. “One thing we might consider,” she adds. “What?” Diane demands. “It could be him.”
Kalinda walks into the elevator; Will joins her. They both look tense. And suddenly, they’re in the parking garage, between two rows of shining SUVs. Will leans against one. “I am vulnerable. It’s innocent, but it looks bad,” he confesses. “Okay. You sure you wanna tell me – subpoenas could go out.” He’s sure. “When I stopped gambling, this friend – my bookie – Jonathan Meade?” Oh, so now he’s a bookie, is he? “He forgave my debt.” How much, Kalinda asks. Eight thousand. “It’s not much, but it could look like a pay off for setting him up with these judges.” Yes, Will, that’s exactly what Wendy’s going to make it look like. She might even believe it. “Then it wasn’t?” Kalinda wonders, sounding a little surprised. “I didn’t take it that way. He was my friend.” Are they still friends now that he doesn’t gamble? I wonder. “My guess is Wendy’s trying to tie it to a case we won. They’re looking at three judges; Winters, Dunaway, Parks. Could you look at our cases before them? I want to anticipate which one they’ll hit.” Sure, Kalinda says. Will looks away, pained.
“How’re you holding up?” Kalinda asks. Face pale and bleak, Will turns back to look at her. “I don’t want to go to jail,” he confesses quietly, shaking his head and swallowing. “Up until this week, I never thought I would.” Kalinda bites down a little on her lower lip. “It’s making you more human,” she offers with a slight smile, and he laughs, after a sort. “That’s not much of a trade off,” he replies, and they laugh together.
“Jim Cramer,” a man introduces himself from a witness chair. “I’m a former hedge fund manager, author, and current host of Mad Money.” Higgs stands. “Your Honor, I take this case very seriously. Obviously, Mrs. Florrick does not.” Sobel peers at the small lawyer. “Is there an objection in there somewhere, Mr. Higgs?” “We object to questioning this TV personality as if he were an expert in currency.” “Huh,” says Sobel,”well let me think about that. Overruled.”
And so Alicia gets to ask her question; is bitcoin currency? “No. It has none of the characteristics associated with coinage and currency.” “In what way?” Alicia wonders (which is a good question, considering that a layperson like me could think of plenty of characteristics that it shares with money). But Kramer has the answer. “There’s no central bank to regulate it, it’s digital, and functions solely peer to peer.” Stack nods appreciatively. Alicia’s done.
“Mr. Cramer, are you the TV personality who regularly shouts and badgers on Mad Money?” Higgs wants to know. “I think badgers in debatable,” Cramer says – and I should say so – who uses that word in that kind of context? – “but yes, I have a flamboyant personality on my TV show.” Right. “You use various beeps and honking sounds on your program, and sometimes clench a knife between your teeth?” Cramer would call it a scimitar rather than a knife (which frankly sounds even crazier) but, sure. “And yes I do employ beeps.” It’s about this time that I start to realize they’re talking about an actual, real world TV show. Maybe it’s the way that Cramer can’t really act. “And why aren’t you objecting?” Stack leans in to ask Alicia. “Because the judge is,” she answers.
“So why on earth should this court take you seriously?” Higgs wonders. Really, beeps make him a non-serious person with no expertise? I’ll grant you that the, ugh, scimitar seems less professional. But still. That’s got nothing to do with anything. “For the same reason they take anyone seriously,” Cramer replies “the solidity of my arguments.” Good answer! “So you would ask this court to ignore the ass you make of yourself on TV?” Wow, that’s some serious editorializing. (Why am I surprised that a hissy little pedant like this would have no use for a television “personality”? Nope, totally within character.) ‘Excuse me, Mr. Higgs,” Judge Sobel steps in, “may I ask you to be more cordial in your questioning?” Higgs is shocked. “Ah…,” he flounders, finally turning to Cramer and thanking him crisply. “I’m sorry about that, Mr. Cramer,” the judge adds, smiling,”I’m a great fan of your show, by the way.”
“No apologies. Was it Montaigne who said “How many valiant men can survive their own reputations?” Good work, Cramer. There are no more questions for you.
The 80’s classic “Walk Like an Egyptian?” blares as Kalinda wanders through DeCodeACon; it comes from a booth where hieroglyphics are being sold as the perfect cryptographs. There are dancing girls in wigs and chintz, belly baring costumes. Okay. There are also a LOT of bearded guys in cardigans. She listens to bits of pitches, here and there. One presentation catches her attention. “Are you familiar with the 2009 abstract that directly addresses this issue?” a petulant, whiny man asks. The woman who answers him is familiar with it. A Kalinda makes her way through the crowd, the conversation flickers in an out, but we do hear that leakage is never inevitable, and various praises of C++. (Huh. I’ve actually heard of C++, which makes me think it’s unlikely that hackers would use it, but whatever.) The speaker is a very pretty woman with long wavy hair, pale and slender. She looks like she could be a shield maiden of Rohan; was this what the producers were going for, I wonder? Saucily, she tells her (male) audience that she’ll be right back, then scampers off her dais with her laptop.
Kalinda finds her, moments later, perched on the counter in the ladies room. She closes the laptop when Kalinda approaches, ostensibly to check her hair in the mirror. “Sorry,” she says, swinging her slender legs, “this is the only place I can get some peace.” Oh, yes, it must be such a burden, all that attention. No problem, Kalinda replies, eyes on her own hair and make up, “it’s quite a scene out there, isn’t it?” Eowyn sighs. “Oh, just wait for the Crypto-Bash. There’s nothing like a bunch of drunk cryptographers.” The only other woman in the room walks out, and Kalinda turns to Eowyn, smirking. “So, you’re Mr. Bitcoin?”
Eowyn draws back. The wall behind her is mirrored, so her every motion doubles back at us. “No,” she says, intrigued, “Elaine Middleton. MIT. You?” She extends her hand, and Kalinda takes it. “Kalinda Sharma. St. Mary’s High.” Hee. Elaine/Eowyn chuckles. “I did a linguistic match on the bitcoin manifesto, and guess what popped up? A patent application by one of the ten hottest geek women.” Again, Elaine laughs. Hmmm. Maybe she’s going for Lady of Shalott hair. Naw. “Oh God. That’ll be on my tombstone. No Nobel, no NHB, just 3rd hottest geek woman.” She rolls her eyes.
Kalinda won’t be put off. “Everyone’s looking for Mr. Bitcoin, when in fact they don’t realize it’s Mrs. Bitcoin.” Kalinda’s impressed with herself, but what is she expecting will happen here? A confession? Why do I think not? Elaine giggles. “You have a linguistic tick, Miss Middleton.” She reads the text off her cell phone: “theoretically established communatorial properties.” Okay, well, that’s a pretty specific phrase. I’m pretty sure communatorial’s not even a word. “It’s an odd little phrase that you’ve used exactly twice. Once in a patent application, and once in the manifesto.” “Actually,” claims Middleton, “you’ll find that odd phrasing used three times. Once by me, once in the manifesto, and once by a Chinese econophysicist from Nankai University who goes by the code name Newmint91.” Elaine leans in as if offering a delicious secret. “Really? And why does Newmint91 use that phrasing?” Kalinda wonders. Elaine leans back. “He has a crush on me,” she shrugs, as if it were inevitable. Well, between her brains and her looks, Elaine Middleton must cut quite a swath in this world. “He steals things.”
“He?” Kalinda notices, “you’ve met him?” Elaine slides off the counter. “Yes, today, actually for the first time, at the conference.” She leans forward. “Bao Shuwei.” Kalinda thanks her, but I hope she’s taking this all with a grain off salt. Ms Middleton doesn’t seem very trustworthy to me; it’s all so calculated.
“Hi there,” Kalinda says through a phone. “Hi there yourself. What’re you doing?” It’s Dana on the other end of the phone. “Attending DeCodeACon, how about you?” Dana and her damned side ponytail walk through the State’s Attorney’s office. “I’m looking at a document you might be interested in. I thought we could get together and talk.” Lovely. “Sure. Whatever you want. How’s tomorrow?” Dana looks at Wendy, slight and sinister in a doorway, and answers softly. “Yeah. Tomorrow’s good.”
“My name is Mitchell Tambor, and I stayed at the Crestview Priority Inn on the night of November 18th, 2011.” Mr. Tambor is a rather surprising witness at Stack’s trial. Alicia seems as baffled as I am. “Mr. Tambor,” Higgs asks, “this room at the Crestview Priority Inn; tell us about it.” Huh? “Well, ah, it was nice?” Sobel has no use for this. “Mr. Higgs, as much as I cherish all this time we spend together, is there some driving point you want to make?” Um, yes. Sorry. “Mr. Tambor, how did you purchase this room?” One doesn’t purchase a hotel room, surely? “With bitcoin,” Tambor answers. There it is. Alicia closes her eyes. How much did you pay, Higgs wonders. “Well,” thinks Tambor, “the exchange rate at the time was approximately 25 dollars for a bitcoin, so I spent approximately 4.2 bitcoin.” Wow, when Nisa said the price had fallen sharply, I didn’t realize how recently that had happened. Did you buy anything else with the bitcoin, Higgs asks? A movie – which frankly seems silly considering the exchange rate. “Good,” says Higgs, “and what movie was that?”
Though it takes a second, Higgs realizes what Tambor doesn’t want to admit, and rather surprisingly lets him off the hook. “That’s okay – any other incidentals?” Yes, Tambor stutters, a Snickers bar and some peanuts from the mini-bar. Again, seems unnecessarily complicated considering the exchange rate. Alicia rolls her eyes. “And you paid for it all this with bitcoin that you mined? You used it as money? As currency?” Yes.
Back at home, in soft, comfortable clothes, Alicia pleads with someone on the phone. “No, sir, we just need a rebuttal witness. You’re not in trouble.” Alicia watches Zach kiss Nisa, leaning over her, one hand on the doorframe. “No, I’ll hold.” He closes the door behind her and walks back in.
Alicia scrunches up her face, phone still at her throat. “So, you and Nisa are getting close.” Zach’s body tenses. “I guess so,” he answers warily. “This was her fourth night over here,” Alicia moans. Well. “I thought you liked Nisa,” Zach frowns, crossing his arms over his chest defensively. “I do,” Alicia says unconvincingly, “but, um, are you getting too serious?”
Zach advances on his mother. “Mom, we go to different schools now,” he says, “we don’t see each other at school, so we see each other here.” Well that’s reasonable enough. “I know,” she says, patronizing. I cannot even believe she’s choosing to have this conversation while she’s on hold, when she could be interrupted at any second. “but maybe you should slow it down a little.” Zach straightens up, offended. “Why?” His mother walks toward him, searching for the right words. “Because … you’re young. She’s young. You’ll meet a lot of people. She will too.”
“Did I do something wrong?” he asks, his level of concern rising. “No, no, it’s just…” Alicia makes a series of faces. “She’s over here a lot.” Oh, come on. Listen to him, and be honest about why you’re saying this, Alicia. Zach looks horrified. “Is this because she’s black?” he asks. “No!” Alicia whispers, truly shocked and on the defensive. “No! Zach, you don’t believe that!”
“I don’t know what to believe, Mom. You don’t want her over here,” Zach says, more calmly. “Okay, wait a minute,” she says, phone still clutched to her neck, “Stop. You know it’s not that, so don’t try to pretend.” She takes a deep breath, steadies her herself. “I heard you two saying ‘I love you’,” she confesses, the real issue out at last. Zach rolls his eyes, embarrassed. “I’m just worried that it’s moving to fast, that’s all.” God, Alicia, why couldn’t you have started with that? “I’ll ask her over less,” Zach shrugs, and stalks off, still looking hurt.
Alicia takes a shuddering breath, and – what perfect timing – the fellow on the other end picks up. “Yes, sir, hello!” she cries. “Great. Can you meet us at court?”
“Alex Krakowski,” the man says on the stand, “I’m the manager of the Crestview Priority Inn.” Alicia’s cross-examining him. “And you rented Mr. Tambor the room in question?” He did. Sobel’s resting his face on his hand, gloomy and bored. “This hotel room is taking on legendary status,” he grumbles. Snort. That’s great. “And you accepted his bitcoin?” “Yeah. It’s a promotion, so, yeah.”
Ah. “And you would also have accepted his frequent travel miles?” Yes. They have another promotion going. “But you don’t consider frequent travel miles cash?” Krakowski squints. “What do you mean?” Alicia clarifies: “I mean, you have a drawer for cash.” He laughs. “No. We don’t have a drawer for bitcoin, or frequent travel miles.” Right. So it’s more like a trade, Alicia points out, and the judge listens curiously – trading the miles for the room. Yes, yes it is. “In other words, it’s a commodity, not a currency.” “Yeah,” he says, “and we’re not going to do it much more with bitcoin. I thought it would be cool, but it’s a bit of a hassle.” Yeah, because there are changing exchange rates, no doubt – but Alicia doesn’t bring that up. She’s done with him. Stack curls his lip in what might be a smile.
Higgs has a different question. “Mr. Krakowski, could you buy a book on Amazon with the travel miles you accept at your hotel?” Krakowski looks puzzled; no, he couldn’t. “Because they’re not transferable?” Right. You can see where Higgs is going with this. “But you could buy a book at Amazon with the cash in your cash drawer?” Krakowski drawls slowly. “Well, no, you’d have to do with a credit card or something.” What, are you claiming cash isn’t a currency now? “But you could also do it with bitcoin, could you not?” Higgs presses. If this is true, surely that’s Amazon’s fault, and not Mr. Bitcoin’s? “Yeah, I think that’s right,” Krakowski guesses. (You could object to him not being an expert witness in that, maybe, Alicia.) “Because bitcoin is transferable, and therefor a currency,” Higgs cries triumphantly.
“Okay, okay,” the judge calls out, putting up his hand. “I get it. You know, I’d love to hear more about this saga of the Priority Inn in Crestview, but I’m ready to rule.” He rubs his face, annoyed. “Bitcoin is a currency. There.”
Alicia rises to her feet. “Your Honor, Mr. Higgs still hasn’t proven my client invented bitcoin.” We’ll be ready to do so tomorrow, Higgs informs her. “Good. I’ll see the two of you tomorrow morning,” Sobel says, and dismisses them all with a bang of his gavel. Alicia sits, upset.
More vaguely country sounding music plays as Dana hands a paper over to Kalinda in a bar. “I need help on Will Gardner,”she admits, which is completely hilarious. Do you honestly think you have some sort of personal bond with Kalinda? That she’d betray her life on the off chance of getting it on with you? “I’m… getting pressure, and I’ve been asked to give you pressure,” she says. Well, admitting that was smart, anyway. Kalinda looks down at the envelope on the bar. ‘That’s what that’s about?” “Yes,” says Dana, “you have a choice to make.”
Smiling to herself, Kalinda looks down at the bar. “People always say choice when I think they mean ultimatum,” she says. Yes, and do you really need to cultivate someone to deliver an ultimatum? “This was slipped to us last week,” Dana presses on, “it’s highly actionable.” Kalinda leans forward. “Unless?” She knows where this is going , in general if not in specifics. “Unless you get me something on Will Gardner. We need to find which case makes him more vulnerable.” Right. That’s hilarious. Like she would ever do that. “I like Will,” Kalinda says, “I’m gonna go back and forth on you.” Hee.
“Then don’t do it for me,” Dana replies, inching the envelope towards Kalinda. She opens it. There’s not much written on the paper inside.
“That,” Dana says around her drink, “is Alicia Florrick’s signature on what we believe to be a forged document.” Huh. Oooh. Alicia for Will. Now that’s slightly more interesting and much more clever than anything I thought they would come up with. Kalinda stares at the document as Dana prattles on. “Recently sent to us by an opposing attorney in a divorce case against your firm.” Kalinda stares at the rider. “That’s a felony – forging a document and perjury. We prove this, Alicia gets disbarred. ” Right. Not cool, even if it wasn’t Alicia who forged the document. I like to see the continuity of that coming back to haunt the firm, though. “But we don’t want her. We want Will Gardner,” Dana adds. Kalinda crumples up the paper, tosses it at Dana, and leaves. “I’m on your side, Kalinda,” Dana calls out, frustrated. Oh, right, like that’s a persuasive argument.
So, they’ve decided to make Kalinda trade Will’s safety for Alicia’s. Smart – and whose idea was it, anyway? Who besides Cary would know that Alicia (guilt!) is Kalinda’s weakness? I still don’t see it. This is Kalinda we’re talking about. I predict Kalinda’s choice is – neither.
The Crypto-Bash (Kalinda’s next stop) seems to consist of geek hipsters listening to dance music on some lounge furniture. They’re also talking to each other. Ooooh, there really is nothing like cryptographers for a wild scene. Kalinda hones in on an Asian man in his twenties with glasses, a mustache and a baby beard. “Newmint91?” she asks, and he looks up from his solitary table and laptop. He looks a little unnerved. “Who are you?” he wonders. “Kalinda Sharma. Your friend Elaine suggested we meet.” Okay. This doesn’t make him any less twitchy, but maybe a teensy bit excited. “Where is she?” he asks, looking. “I don’t know. It’s Bao, right?” It is. She sits on the coffee table in front of him. “Don’t you ever just want to shout the secret out?,” she smiles seductively. “Scream out at the top of your lungs, ‘I did it!'” Bao smiles nervously. “Did what?” Oh, you know. “Invented bitcoin,” she smiles. I’m surprised again at how straightforward she’s being about this, considering that the real Bitcoin is obsessed with secrecy. “Okay… okay…” he kind of laughs, “she’s getting back at me, isn’t she? So she sent you?” “Getting back at you for what?” Kalinda wonders. “I said I would leave her alone,” Bao claims, “I found out she invented bitcoin, and she threatened me, so I said I would drop it. Now she sends you.”
“No, no,” Kalinda denies, “she didn’t send me,” even though really, she did. “I’m not Mr. Bitcoin,” he says again, “she is. Anyway, you should check out the new embedding. That isn’t me.” What isn’t, she wonders, and he shows her. “The newest block of bitcoin. There’s a statement embedded in the code.” Text runs all over his laptop; it’s very Matrix like. You know, there’s really something Matrix-y about the whole episode. Too bad no one busted out slow motion-fu. “A statement? And when did that happen?” Last night. “See,” he says, showing her a dialogue box. She asks what it says. “Stack is innocent,” he shows her. (And why would that not be him, again?)
“You Honor,” Alicia argues, “the time code on this new block of bitcoin embedding – embedding that could only be put there by bitcoin’s inventor – was at exactly the same moment Mr. Stack was in court yesterday.” Well, I’m not entirely sure that’s clear – could it really only have been put there by the inventor? Aren’t there subcontractors? Though as the judge says, it’s certainly evocative. This proves nothing, Higgs pouts. “It’s the easiest thing in the world to arrange for a delayed embedding – in fact, if you were trying to establish an alibi, wouldn’t you delay the embedding till the exact moment that you were in court?” Well, it’s not like he was in court for just one moment. Why do they keep saying that, the exact moment? “”Or,” Alicia offers, “if you were trying to set Mr. Stack up, wouldn’t you do the same?”
“So,” grumbles Judge Sobel, “we’re back to zero. What a familiar place.” Higgs begs to differ. “Not exactly, your Honor.”
“Yes,” says Elaine Middleton, “I was one of the subcontractors hired to do computation work. I didn’t know it was bitcoin at the time.” And all your dealings were with…”Mr. Stack there, yes,” she says, legs crossed, smug in the witness stand. Her hair’s pulled back, and she’s definitely got on this “I’m too sexy” smirk like it’s all too funny for words. “She’s going to set me up,” Stack tells Alicia. Why? “Jealousy. Cryptographer jealousy – the ugliest kind.” What, like cryptographer partying, the wildest kind? Whatevs.
Higgs then asks Middleton if Stack has the programming chops to be Bitcoin. Finally someone asks the real question! Thank you. Alicia objects: “The witness is not qualified to answer.” “Well, she seems qualified enough to me,” Sobel replies. “Overruled.” And clearly she’s qualified to assess cryptography skillz, though whether she ever had the opportunity to assess Stack for said mad skillz is far less clear. “Yes. Mr. Stack definitely is qualified to be Mr. Bitcoin.”
I know it doesn’t matter but you’d think the programmers would have their own nickname for bitcoin’s inventor, no?
Anyway. Stack’s displeased.
“My Dad just keeps this apartment for when he’s working late in court,” Zach lies to Nisa. Zach, wow. I don’t know how to feel about this. How can Nisa possibly not know? He must be as reserved as his mother. Or perhaps he was just burned by Becka. But wow. How could he lie that convincingly to someone he sees so often, someone he loves? How could she not know, especially with all the time she spends at their apartment? I’m appalled and a little impressed by his self-possession at the same time. And also rather disbelieving. I mean, I know Alicia told them not to tell people, but it’s been like a decade in teenage years.
“And you’re sure it’s alright to work here?” she wonders. They’re very studious, these two. “Yeah. He won’t mind. It’s better than home,” Zach shrugs. Certainly it’d make non-studying easier, plus get them out from under Alicia’s nervous eyes. And wow, look at the lawyer in training, telling his mom he wouldn’t have Nisa at the apartment as much without intending to spend any less time with her. “Guess who’s here! Zach!” Ah, the dulcet tones of your sweet grandmother, Zach, how lovely! Jackie’s got an entire grocery store spread out on Peter’s kitchen island.
So maybe not better than home.
“Uh, hi, Grandma, how’s it gong?” Zach asks politely. “And, uh, Nisa, is it?” Jackie asks, with considerably less warmth. “Yes,” tiny Nisa smiles,”how are you, Mrs. Florrick?” Nisa’s really ridiculously cute. “Very well thank you,” Jackie smiles, wiping her hands on her apron. “Aren’t you two go to different schools now?” Oh, lord, Jackie. “We are – we’re just working on homework together.” In other words, Zach is a loyal person who wouldn’t just dump his inconvenient girlfriend when he switched schools. “We’re going to use Dad’s study,” Zach says, clearly done with this hideous conversation.
Jackie, however, is not. “And how is public school, Nisa?” Gee, I don’t know, Jackie, the same as when your grandson went there last week? The kids exchange knowing glances. “It’s fine, m’am. We all miss Zach there.” Jackie smiles. “Well, perhaps he can return there sometimes and say hello.” “We hope so,” Nisa says, giving Zach a look expressive of her horror, “good bye, m’am.” She heads off to the study. To, you know, study.
“We’re going to go listen to some music, so it might get a bit loud,” Zach says. Riiiiight. Studying. Zach leaves – and wow, that’s an interestingly fashion forward plaid coat, isn’t it?- but Jackie runs after him, hissing his name. “Zach, I’m surprised you two are still friends – I thought that you were seeing Eli Gold’s daughter.” Zach’s very much taken a back. “What? No. I mean, she come over the apartment once. She’s nice, but she’s in college.” She’s in college, huh? Okay. “I see,” Jackie says, looking down at the floor. In Jackie’s world, which would be worse, do you think? Marissa or Nisa? What a tough call.
“But, uh, she’s very young, Zach.” Zach’s at a loss. “Marissa?” No, Nisa. “She’s only a year younger than me,” he answers. Boy, he must be really sick of this. “Yes, but…” Jackie sighs, “but you have such different experiences now that you’re in Capstone.” Zach rolls his eyes. He’s been in Capstone – oh, marvelous, wondrous Capstone – before. “And you don’t want to be always driving around town.” “It’s not that far,” he says, and I have to say, he’s a sweet, sweet, well behaved kid not to be yelling or calling her on her crap by this point. She struggles for words, and it shows through her false cheer. “I just don’t want you to get too serious. Maybe you should slow things down a bit.”
Now Zach does look upset.
“You’ll meet a lot of different people. She will too.” Oh no! Oh no! The very same words! Alicia would die. Zach looks up at the heavens; this is just unbelievable. “What?,” Jackie wonders at his expression. “Did I say something?” I’m Frenchy – did I offend you? “No,” Zach smiles, “that’s just what my Mom said earlier.” “Really?” Jackie wonders, and Zach nods, very, very amused. “Well,” says Jackie as she walks back to the kitchen, a bit surprised to have anything in common with Alicia, “your mother is probably right.”
“She just testified against our client in court,” Kalinda informs Bao back in the lounge are. “Well, yeah,” he replies, “she’s trying to deflect attention from herself.” Kalinda thinks about it. “Can’t you help trace the sources of her embedding?” No, he demurs, she would have covered her tracks. “If this recent embedding was done remotely, couldn’t you trace the IP address?” He thinks about it for a second, then gives a slight smile. “Probably can,” he admits. Out comes the laptop and the code. “It won’t matter,” he says as he types, “she’ll have moved on from there.” Yes, but it gets her closer, Kalinda shrugs. “1270901” he proclaims proudly after like, 2 seconds of work. Kalinda does not look pleased. “What,” he asks, “do you know it?”
“It’s our IP address,” Kalinda tells Diane. Ooops. That’s no good.
“Ours?” Diane asks, disbelieving. “Lockhart/Gardner’s? It was embedded from here?” Yeah. Diane looks over to Dylan Stack, sitting with Alicia, working on his defense. “So we think it’s him?” she asks. If it is him, it was an incredibly stupid movie. “Not this woman who testified?” Yeah, Kalinda admits. “Well, he’s still our client,” Diane muses. “We need to represent him.” “Yeah,” agrees Kalinda once more, “but I’m going to stop looking for Mr. Bitcoin.” Mr. Goodbar, too? By all means, Diane concurs.
“So you’re helping Will on his issue?” Diane asks as they move toward her door; she nods at Will’s office, where red headed Elsbeth paces. Yeah, says Kalinda. I’m loving Diane’s white and black dress, with the black cardigan belted over it. “I know Will tries to stay brave about these things, but I don’t want to stay behind the curve,” she says. Kalinda looks up at her boss. “You want to know when to cut your losses,” Kalinda surmises. “No,” Diane exclaims, surprised, “I want to know when to help.” Aw! How much do you love Diane for that? Our intrepid investigator friend will keep Diane in the loop.
“8 thousand dollars? That’s how much this actor paid you?” Elsbeth’s kind of incredulous. Kalinda walks in and sits down. “Well, not exactly. He excused my debt for that amount,” Will clarifies, but Elsbeth’s “Oooooh” makes it clear that the distinction would be meaningless in court. “Okay. What else?” Will and Kalinda think Wendy will try to go after their cases. “I think you’re right,” Elsbeth Tascioni agrees. “So we reviewed all of our cases with those three judges and we’re in good shape on almost all of them.” Almost all of them? “Who does the design in here? It’s very attractive,” Elsbeth wonders. I remember how much she liked Alicia’s apartment, too, though it makes more sense in this context, I guess, because she’s got that whole office to redo once it’s asbestos free. Will doesn’t know, but he’ll find out for her. “That’d be great,” she smiles.
“The worst is the McDermott case. Product tampering,” Kalinda redirects the conversation, and Elsbeth sits down. Do we know that case? Doesn’t sound familiar. “It resulted in an 8 million dollar judgement in our favor.” Ah. Now, at some point, this is all going to relate back to Peter, right? Somehow? Would a lot of this be solved if Will or Kalinda had just apprised Cary of Wendy’s intentions,so it’d get back to Peter and become his problem? Are these judges that Wendy thinks are trouble generally? Just thinking out loud. “The evidence wasn’t with us, but it went our way anyway.” “Why is that,” puzzles Elsbeth. “Sometimes the ball just bounces funny,” Will admits, and Elsbeth giggles. “I like that,” she guffaws. “So, was it a jury trial?” No, more’s the pity – bench. Elsbeth looks up from her notes in alarm. Which judge? “Parks,” Kalinda supplies. “Okay,” Elsbeth begins, “I’m going to ask this is the nicest and most polite way possible. ” Oh, that’s not a promising beginning. “And just understand, this is not a prod to do anything. Um, is there anything in that file there, any notes or receipts or nasty little memos that could make you look bad?” She points to a large file in front of Kalinda.
“Yeah,” Kalinda admits flatly. Great. “It could make Will look bad.” “Great,” says Elsbeth, hopping up. “I am going to go now.” Huh. She grabs her things and literally runs from the room.
“What do you want me to do?,” Kalinda asks Will. “I can’t ask you to do anything,” he replies. “I know,” she says. They stare at each other, breathing hard, thinking hard. Then Kalinda nods, picks up the file, and walks out. She stares outside Alicia’s office, watching the latter walk in and sit down. Will or Alicia, Alicia or Will. How to save them both? She’s gathering the file together (it’s spread out all over a table), looking like she’s made some sort of choice, when her phone buzzes. “It’s Bao,” Bao tells her. “You told me to stay in touch.” Riiight. She begins to say that it’s a bad time, but he interrupts. “I did a deeper analysis of the IP address? Where the recent embedding came from?” And? She rolls her eyes a little as he blathers about data sets and unsafe servers. “Yeah, yeah, it’s really interesting, Bao, but now?” “The thing is, there’s no protection on the source computer.” Odd. “There wasn’t?” asks Kalinda. “No. I could trace it to the computer where the embedding was done.” “Great, where was it?” she asks.
“It’s your computer,” he says.
Dude. If he’s not messing with her, someone else is, big time, and that is not cool. We’ve seen what happens to people who mess with Kalinda. (Although, how likely is it that her lap top is unprotected? Odd.)
“You did not embed the “Stack is innocent” code on the new bitcoins, Miss Sharma?” Higgs snipes. Kalinda looks grave. “I’ll be answering for her,” Alicia steps in. “No.” Excellent. I love it. “And yet we traced the embedding to your computer,” Higgs snaps. “Miss Sharma had nothing to do with it,” Alicia snaps back. “And I would like to bring the Treasury’s attention to a common hacking procedure called ghosting, in which the hacker only needs access to a parasite computer to get it to do his or her will.” Yes. It’s so Lisbeth Salander of them. “In other words,” Higgs gripes, “Mr. Stack had access to Miss Sharma’s computer.” “No, ” Alicia redefines the information, “to deny that Miss Sharma did it is not to say that Mr. Stack did.”
“And yet, as Judge Sobel might say, it is evocative.” Hee. Good one, Higgs. Alicia glares at him. “Miss Sharma has been independently searching for Mr. Bitcoin, and in the process, she has been in close proximity to several key bitcoin suspects.” Higgs smirks. “Any one of those could have ghosted her computer.” Indeed. “And would Miss Sharma like to share those names?” Higgs wonders. Alicia looks to the ceiling to think it over. “No,” she says. “But thank you.”
Rising to his feet, Higgs launches one last strike. ‘This is one thing you may want to consider,” he says. “You’re representing a client who’s willing to set you up for a federal crime.” Yeah, that is problematic. “That to me is not a healthy attorney client relationship.”
You can say that again.
You know, it occurs to me that Stack only came to Alicia because she’d previously held out against Higgs. He can’t imagine that Kalinda is really Mrs. Bitcoin – the coincidence of that is to enormous. Yet like Lord Voldemort, Higgs has essentially created the hero (or team of heroes) that can defeat him, by picking on them in the first place. Is that over stating things, just a little? Ah well.
“Do you know who did it?” Alicia asks Kalinda once Higgs has gone to join the men in black in the hall. “I have a suspicion,” Kalinda answers.
We’re back to Elaine Middleton with her tight turtleneck sweater and shield maiden hair and her little “attack success” graphic. The DeCodeACon boys just can’t stay away. She’s speaker cryptography at them when Kalinda muscles through the crowd. Elaine almost grins. “And we’ll have to leave it at that, because I have someone here who wants to question me.” Elaine immediately heads to her office (the ladies room) and Kalinda’s a bit more circumspect about following her, though I’m sure it doesn’t fool Thing One and Thing Two, also in attendance. “Someone ghosted your laptop a few days ago,” Elaine shows Kalinda, turning the laptop in her direction. “Here’s the aftereffect.” Why does this episode make Kalinda seem less tech savy than we know her to be? This girl can clone a cell phone in her sleep. I mean, I get what she’s trying to do at this moment, but must everything take her by surprise? She’s getting bounced around like a ping pong ball, and how do we know either Middleton or Shuwei is telling her the truth? How can her laptop have been unprotected in the first place? Annoying.
“Good. Can you tell who did it?” No, Elaine cannot – or so she says – but she can say where it was done. “Would you like that?” she teases. “I would,” Kalinda confesses. ‘This isn’t one of those Columbo like things, where you keep me doing things for you in hopes that I’ll slip up?” Elaine favors Kalinda with a coy look, and really, I’ve had quite enough of that already from Dana. “Because I’d rather just confess.” Indeed. Kalinda agrees. “I would rather that, too.”
“Tell me what I should be confessing to,” Elaine asks archly. “Ghosting my computer,” Kalinda offers. “Embedding the bitcoin remotely.” Elaine turns back to Kalinda’s laptop. “Ah – here’s something you should find interesting. Whoever ghosted your computer wanted to be found out.” Kalinda doesn’t think much of this notion. “It’s easy to cover your tracks when you ghost. They didn’t.” She turns to Kalinda, a small smile playing on her lips. “It’s like they’re taunting you.” Yeah, well, hackers are like that, right? “Who?” Kalinda asked. “I don’t know,” Elaine claims (doubtful), “but whoever did it recently did an IP search for the addresses you accessed.” Kalinda smiles her own tiny smile. “You know who it is,” Elaine guesses. “I know who it is,” Kalinda replies.
“So, we’re back to proving Stack is innocent?” Alicia wonders into her phone as she reaches for a wine glass in her kitchen cabinet. “I wonder if there’s another way of proving it,” Diane muses. What, Alicia asks. “Treasury doesn’t really believe that Stack is Mr. Bitcoin, do they,” Diane notes, sitting down in her desk. “They’re just using Stack to get to him.” “Yes,” Alicia agrees. “So prove that.” Oh, good call, Diane. That’s why they pay you the big bucks. “Prove Higgs is still looking.” “That he doesn’t think Stacks is the one,” Alicia nods, getting it. “Good. I’m on it,” she says, hanging up. (Which, really. She’s your boss. What if she wasn’t done? But I guess they pack too much into this show to waste time on formalities.)
As she sets down the phone, Alicia notices Zach, his homework spread out over the dining room table.
“See,” he calls out to her, “no Nisa.” Aw. “I see,” Alicia replies. “Everything okay with you two?” Zach gives this remark the respect it deserves. “Mom, you said we should be seeing less of each other.” “Nooooo,” she denies as she sits down next to him, “I said maybe you were moving too fast.” That’s different how, exactly? But Zach knows just how to play this. “Yeah,” he says, “that’s what Grandma said.”
Oh no you didn’t!
Alicia freezes. “She did?” “Uh huh,” he nods, as if trying to remember the exact words, “she said we should slow down, because we’re too different.” Alicia makes a face, as if there were something wrong with her wine. “That’s what she said?” Oh yes. “She said it wasn’t a matter of race – just that I’m in private school, and Nisa’s in public school.” Alicia shakes her head, appalled and annoyed.
“Hey Nisa?” Zach’s calling her on his cell, closing his bedroom door behind him. “Come on over.” There’s a pause. “No, my Mom says it’s fine.” I just bet she does. Look at that grin! Alicia, you just got played.
Bao’s standing at a booth, peering into his laptop; when Kalinda calls out to him, his face lights up. “So you did it,” she says. “Did what?” he asks, his face a blank. He’s very good at looking blank, this actor. “Bao. You’re the one who traced my IP address. You ghosted my computer. And you wanted me to find you.” “No,” he says, looking a little upset. “If people knew you created bitcoin, you’d get a lot of attention. People would talk to you.” He adjusts his glasses uncomfortably. “In fact, you would be the hero of the Occupy Wall Street crowd.” Is that an international crowd? (I’m asking seriously.) “I’ve seen the Occupy Wall Street women. They’re beautiful.” Hee! Are they? Is this a good motivating tool? (There seem to be a number of really uncomfortable websites devoted to oogling good looking female protesters. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but yuck – way too creepy to link to.)
“Those guys with you?” Bao observes, deflecting Kalinda’s pitch. The guys are of course Agents One and Two. “No,” says Kalinda. “I’ve got to go,” Bao decides, slapping his laptop shut, gathering his things. “Wait, Bao,” Kalinda tries to stop him, setting a hand on his computer. “Talk to me.” “Not here,” he says, “not with them around.” Okay. She’ll get rid of them, and then they’ll talk. So, where? “My room. Upstairs. 2545.” It’s a date. Bao shuttles off, and Kalinda stares at Agents One and Two, who hilariously and ineptly pretend not to have been watching her. Then she walks over, still staring.
“Do you want something?” the agent who talks asks her. Rudely, of course. “Actually, it’s about what Mr. Higgs wants. Tell him to come on down, and I will give him Mr. Bitcoin.” One looks over at Two. “No,” he sneers. “Fine,” Kalinda says, walking away. They exchange glares, and then stand, only to find that Kalinda had swung back. “You know, I’m really good at losing people,” she tells them, “so after I lose you, call Mr. Higgs and tell him to meet me on the 25th floor of this hotel.” She gives them a saucy little one shouldered shrug, and leaves them to frown at each other.
And out of the elevator, next to a helpful label that says 25, comes Higgs, in a tuxedo, flanked by a tall bald fellow. Of course. Perhaps he’s gone to the opera? Ooooh- maybe it was a date! He tells Kalinda hello, quite happily. She greets him back, then smiles. “You didn’t need to dress up,” she says. Ha ha. He walks uncomfortably close to her, and man, that’s a really big bow tie. Never a good idea. You always look like a tool if the bow tie’s too big. “What do you need?” he asks.
She walks him down the hall. “Mr. Bitcoin is through that door. Bao Shuwei. An econo-physicist from NanKai university.” “What’s an econo-physicist?,” Higgs wonders as he knocks on the door. “I have no idea,” Kalinda answer, “but they’re very impressed with themselves.” Indeed. “Is it alright if the Treasury official accompanies us?” Higgs asks. I thought he was the Treasury official? Either way, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum have arrived, and I’m sure they’re coming in, too. She says it’s fine. “I have a key,” she offers. “Very resourceful of you,” he notes. Well, that’s Kalinda. He takes the key, unlocks the door (is this legal, do you think?) and finds the room empty. He exhales unhappily. “Looks like your friend checked out,” he says unnecessarily.
But it also looks like he left a note. “It’s for you,” Higgs says, waving the folded piece of paper in front of Kalinda, “do you mind?” Heavens, no. He’s taking this rather well – I’d have expected him to turn on her for wasting his time. “Dear Kalinda,” he reads aloud, “I wish I could stay and talk, but I don’t like attention, and creating bitcoin would probably bring me the wrong kind. But now I have a new obsession – I love you.”
Oh. My. Kalinda’s eyes go helplessly wide.
Alicia pops into our field of vision. “I have one more witness, your Honor,” she says. “Goody goody. I can’t wait, Mrs. Florrick,” Judge Sobel snarks. You have to love a snarky old man. “Kalinda Sharma,” she calls out, much to Higgs’ consternation. Alicia gives him a snotty little smile. “And Mr. Higgs followed you into the hotel room,” she asks Kalinda, now sworn in. “Yes.” “And he stated he was looking for the real inventor of bitcoin?” Yes again. Higgs objects, but Judge Sobel, utterly drawn in, shuts him down. “No, Mr. Higgs. You may answer,” he nods to Kalinda. “Mr. Higgs stated I was on the right track to finding Mr. Bitcoin.” Ha. “And what was that track?” Bao Shuwei, of course, the famous (infamous?) econophysicist. “Objection,” Higgs calls out again, “this is all hearsay, your Honor.”
“No,” asserts Kalinda, “no, ah, I recorded it.” Now Higgs looks really aghast. Also, ha, by accident. She really is playing dumb this episode. “I just got a new phone and I didn’t know how to turn it off.” Riiiight. Alicia and Kalinda exchange pleased glances.
“Thank you,” Stack says fervently in Alicia’s office, the case clearly having gone their way. “Feeling less terrified?” she smiles. “Oh, much less,” he agrees. “Here’s your cashier’s check,” he adds. “It only took twenty minutes at standing in line at a bank to change dollar bills into another piece of paper.” Well. “Thank you,” she smiles, and then gives him a little present. “I went online and I bought one bitcoin last night.” She’s pleased with herself, a bit. “You did? It’s the future,” he says. “I don’t know,” she grimaces, “It didn’t feel real.” Does trading stocks feel real? Does your 401k? “Real’s gonna change. Just watch.” They shake hands, and she smiles as he leaves, fondly, maternal in her thick oatmeal colored suit.
But at the elevators, Kalinda waits, leaning against the wall in a ridiculously sexy pose. What a contrast with Alicia! But then might be just those boots. Those are serious boots (and Alicia’s suit was seriously fussy). “Thank you,” he says. “For what?” she asks. “Testifying,” he answers. “I just went up the path you set,” she shrugs. “The path I set?” he repeats blankly. “Yeah. There is no Mr. Bitcoin.” She waits. “There’s three.” He almost smiles, and certainly looks at her with interest. “Really?” “Really,” she replies. “It’s not one person, it’s three. I looked up the DeCodeACon logs for the last three years. You met each other in 2009, and that’s where you came up with the idea. Elaine wrote the manifesto, and Bao wrote the code.” She’s right in his face; he doesn’t look threatened, or confused, or anything other than mildly amused. “And you got all that from, what, a log?”
“Well, from the log, and a lot of pointed fingers. You were hoping to lose the Treasury in a round robin,” she says, leaning in. Well, they certainly had you hopping, Kalinda. Now he smiles for real, a quirky little grin. “I think you are overestimating my intelligence,” he shrugs as the elevator bell dings. She doesn’t think she is. “Well, then thank you. I’m honored,” he says. And he leaves.
The Western-like music from the beginning is quite loud now. And Kalinda’s in the bar again, waiting. “Hey, there you are,” Side Ponytail smiles. “What do you have?” Don’t let your eagerness show, Dana! Kalinda hands over – yes, she does. She hands over the McDermott file. Wow. “What’s this?” Dana asks. “You’ll see,” Kalinda replies gloomily. Dana reaches out to grab Kalinda’s hand. “Thank you,” she says, barely able to contain her glee. Kalinda says nothing. She just leaves.
Okay, so, I’m going to have to talk about this first because it clearly obliterates everything else that’s happened in this episode. I in no way believe for even the smallest second – I have not the slightest moment of doubt in my soul – that Kalinda would betray Will, even to save Alicia. I have no doubt that she is in some way playing Dana (which, GOOD – she’s no Evil Boyscout, but her transparency is becoming tiresome) which will save both Will and Alicia. She would never just hand over those documents, not without tweaking them in some way. This has to be a game.
Of course, I was absolutely certain that Darth Vader could never be Luke Skywalker’s father, too.
I enjoyed Jason Biggs as a guest star, but the case overall didn’t thrill me. I think mostly it’s that I don’t enjoy seeing Kalinda batted around between Elaine and Bao. Not cool. Higgs wasn’t quite as menacing as the first time around. And even Elsbeth and Wendy weren’t really given enough to do to perk things up. This was one of those episodes that sets up the big events to come, I think; fine for what it is, necessary, but not setting the world on fire.
I guess I don’t even have that much to say. What about you guys? How would you have handled Zach and Nisa? Is that a problem? Of course it’s natural to be concerned about your children’s romantic lives, but is there actually anything you can do about how they feel? It’s pretty normal that he’d lie and manipulate her to keep on doing what he wants, I think, so I guess I feel like honesty on her part, and serious conversation, is the only thing that could get through. Are you as horrified as I was that she’d have the conversation while she was already on the phone?
Finally, are you ready for the next episode? How do you think Will’s case will play out? Do you think any of these judges are actually on the take? Will we meet Jonathan Meade, and is he really as shady as Wendy’s implying? More good stuff to come.