E: You didn’t think you’d be able to take a big sigh of relief after Kalinda dispatched Wendy and Dana in Another Ham Sandwich, did you? You didn’t think you’d get to relax and have everything go back to business as usual? Oh, you foolish, foolish viewer. We have an unusually Alicia-lite episode in the aftermath of Wendy’s last, desperate gambit. We dance with current events – more technology law and the struggling revolution in Syria. We get another boatload of recurring characters. Lives are changed forever – dun dun DUN!
We begin Live From Damascus with the end of Another Ham Sandwich – Wendy insisting to Peter that she’ll send the so called evidence against Will to the Bar Association, and then Will and Diane dancing in the office. What a contrast it is – Peter dismisses Wendy coldly from his darkened office, and she practically vibrates with indignation and offended dignity. The office of Lockhart/Gardner, on the other hand, glows the honeyed colors of wood paneling and champagne and beer and sunlight; everyone’s loose and smiling. “Here I go again on my own,” sings Audra Mae, “going down the only road I’ve ever known.”
“It’s over,” Diane laughs from within the throng of celebrants. Will agrees. “It is. Odd, huh?” he smiles. “Get used to it,” she smiles, patting him on the back as she heads off to take a phone call from Viola Walsh (woah, a Rita Wilson episode! cool!). Sigh. Don’t get used to it, Will. Instead, please enjoy these last fleeting moments of grace.
“Syria?” Will asks. “Yes. We go to court tomorrow. My guess is an 11th hour offer.” Good guess, Diane. It’s certainly an 11th hour something. The assistant – one we haven’t seen before – darts back out to tell Will he too has a call. From Cary Agos. “There it is!” Diane trills, pursing her lips. “The official word.” Will makes light of it: “That he’s going to indict me again,” he laughs.
Cary’s in his own office, looking out into the dark. “Hey, Cary, how’re you doing?” Will wonders. “I’m okay,” Cary replies wearily, leaning on his window,”I think you know why I’m calling.” Will snorts, his party loud in the background. “I hope I know why you’re calling,” he ventures. “You’re safe,” Cary declares, unknowing, as he sinks down slowly into his desk chair. Will blinks rapidly. “No indictment, and we’re not coming after you again.” You have to think Cary would have warned Will if he knew, but even Cary hasn’t been in the loop as much as I’m sure he’d prefer. “Thanks,” Will says, voice low. “No, no, you guys played this smart,” Cary tells his former boss, “Go celebrate.” “Thanks, man,” Will replies, setting down the phone and closing his eyes with a sigh of exquisite relief. He blinks back more tears, his eyes raised unseeing to the ceiling.
“You have 23 calls. All congratulations,” the perky assistant barges back in without preamble. “Six judges among them. And Lionel Deerfield. He said it was important you call him tonight, it’s an emergency.” “Yep,” Will says, looking at Diane on her phone over in her office, “I think I can do without Lionel Deerfield’s good cheer tonight.” The assistant smiles and he walks toward Diane’s office.
As the music continues to blare, we’re treated to a series of photographs. “I go,” Audra Mae wails, as a seething crowd is set before our eyes, “again,” more protest, “I’m just,” Arabic flags and banners, “another heart in need of rescue,” riot police or soldiers fighting the protesters with batons, “waiting on love, love, sweet charity,” running soldiers, dead protesters. Yikes. Will looks at some poster boards set up with the photos as Diane tells someone on the phone that “they’re on the way now” and “we’re setting things up.” Okay. Ah, she’s talking to Alicia, who’s on the way, too. One of the photos on the board is of a corporate head quarters – hey, it’s good old Chumhum! I love that they’re so consistent with their fake tech companies here.
“I want in,” Will declares. Diane laughs her rich and throaty laugh. “I handed it off when I thought I was going to jail, I’m not going to jail,” Will insists. Diane smiles. “You had a brush with death, my friend. Take a week.” He’s adamant. “No,” he says, “the adrenaline’s pumping, let’s take someone down.” Okay then, she smiles, handing him some paperwork, “let’s taken ’em down.”
Alicia arrives by elevator. Will sees her pass as he’s talking to Caitlin (brilliant in scarlet), and follows her down a shadowed hallway. “Hi,” he says. She turns, and they smile at each other in the dark. “Will, I’m so glad – really.” I can imagine the release from guilt is profound, especially considering that she knows for sure that the prosecution took place because of her. Me too, he smiles. “Thank you.” That’s right, she went through quite a bit of discomfort for his sake, too. He can barely contain that smile, but he tries. “So anyway, they’re going to be here in a few minutes for negotiations, can you greet them?” Of course she can. Her grin flashes white in the dim light. “Viola Walsh,” she snickers. “The last time she was here, she asked me to join her firm.” “Reeeeeally,” Will absorbs this information, “maybe you can use that.” He sort of claps her on the shoulder, sending her forth.
And there’s Viola, arriving by elevator. Her luxurious hair and leopard coat come first. (I love the way her coat’s wide open, like opulence negates the weather.) In tow is nerd hipster wannabe (and Chumhum founder) Neil Gross, thoroughly engrossed by his phone. “Miss Walsh, Mr. Gross,” Alicia calls for their attention. “Yes, and you are…” Viola looks down her nose as if she were the Dowager Countess of Grantham. Which is to say, the slight is clearly intentional. And particularly painful given the remark Alicia’s just made to Will. “Alicia? Florrick?” “Oh yes, right,” Viola flutters, and they begin to move. Gross looks around. Mostly at the ceiling. “So this is where creativity goes to die,” he pontificates. “Oh no, that’s the next floor,” Alicia shoots back, quick as thought.
She grins to herself, in front of them where they can’t see. “Was that supposed to be funny?” Gross demands. “It – it is,” Alicia stammers, turning back to look at him. “Oh,” he shrugs, looking at his phone again, “I didn’t think it was funny.” Perhaps this is because you’re a self-righteous blow-hard? Or maybe that’s just me. Because I thought it was funny. Alicia doesn’t get a lot of chances to be funny. And really, there’s no need to go out of your way to be mean. “Oh,” a thoroughly chastened Alicia replies, “must have been my delivery. This way, please.” Poor Alicia. Viola oozes after her. Gross gives a little self satisfied smirk; he’s happy to have shamed her.
“Diane! William! My two favorite people!” Viola paints a smile on her face, and extends her hand in what truly is a Dowager Countess gesture. Diane returns her greeting in a more reasonable manner; there’s Caitlin standing in her shadow. “And Neil Gross in his patented hoodie!” That’s right, Will, dig the knife in a little more. “Just waiting to get my blood sucked,” Gross snarls, hands in the pockets of the black leather jacket he’s wearing over the hoodie. Sigh. It really is an annoying affectation in a 50 year old man. (You know, for that matter, Viola looks a bit like Victoria from Twilight here. It’s the hair and the dim light, I think. Huh.) We seem to have caught you in the middle of a party, Viola cheers. “Casual Wednesdays,” Will lies. I suppose that sounds better than “I just avoided an indictment.” Lady Violet – that is, Viola – saunters past the easels set up with the photographs. Have we ever seen them do old school photo boards like this, rather than using the video screen? I guess they don’t have a videoscreen in Diane’s office, though. “Well, look at these wonderful exhibits. You just seem to be girding yourselves for battle, don’t you?” Viola shrugs her shoulders. She’s so animated suddenly. It’s a little alarming. “Oh, hello,” she beams into Diane’s shadow. “This is Caitlin. She’ll be sitting in,” Diane explains.
“Can we get started?” Will has no patience for this song and dance. “Mr. Gross, hello,” he barks. “You created a software…” “Oh, excuse me,” Viola interrupts, “we don’t need to review the case.” “Oh, this isn’t a review,” Will denies, “this is my opening argument.” Yeah, that’s kind of the same thing. We like to call it exposition, being that the audience does need a review. Since we haven’t gotten a view in the first place. You know. Um, anyway. “You created a suite of decryption software entitle Coursepoint,” Will exposits relentlessly; Viola gives up and takes off her coat. “It’s not decryption software, it’s datamining,” Gross objects. Whatever lets you sleep at night, dude. “And your company sold it to the Syrian government,” he continues, reading off a document. “We would deny that,” Viola notes; she’s lounging on Diane’s couch now, literally lounging, draped over the side. “And the Syrian electronic army used this software to decrypt and obstruct private emails in order to to arrest, torture and murder protesters.” Oh, how dreadful. And alarming. “We represent the three American protesters, and we are asking that their families be awarded one million dollars in damages, and sixteen million in pain and suffering.”
Wait, there’s a Syrian electronic army? What? That can’t be right. An electronic army? Can you buy one with bitcoin?
Gross puts his hand out. “My taste for hypocrisy is at an all time low,” he cautions Will, “discussing dissidents while party music is playing in the next room.” Oh, whatever, dude. “Can we just get to the core of the problem?” Yes, could we? Please? “You don’t care about these protesters. You care about your top client, Patric Edelstein.” Ah. Indeed. “Ooops,” Viola adds from her fainting couch. “Who’s battling me for control of the international software market. It’s just an attempt to embarrass me to make way for him – this is death by a thousand paper cuts. This is one paper cut.” Will’s not having it. “Yes, we represent you chief competitor. But this is not about paper cuts,” he argues. “This is about the families of Mohammed Alzuri, Amy Noori, and Sarah Feldner.” Will points to a picture of four smiling young folks. Eek.
Holding up her hand, Viola interrupts. “That’s all good to know, but here’s our offer. Are you ready?” Caitlin has her pen at the ready indeed, hovering over a leather binder. “A hundred thousand dollars, and a scholarship to advance the causes exemplified by these fine youths.” A lot of eyes roll. Please. A guy like Gross doesn’t get out of bed for 100k. “And a combined agreement saying we will more closely supervise third party sales of software.”
“That’s why you brought us in here?,” Caitlin asks, her girlish voice incredulous. Viola’s eye bulge. Hee! You know, she’s looking more like a vampire every minute. And also like the Dowager Countess. (Wow, now that’s cross over fanfic for you…) Alicia nearly has a heart attack; she hisses in Caitlin’s ear and virtually drags her out. Goldilocks goes. “Caitlin. I know you were trying to be helpful in there, but you really shouldn’t talk.” Hee. “Will asked me too,” Caitlin confesses, all fluffy blond innocence. “He – what?” “Will asked me to say that no matter what their offer was.” Ha! I love it. Nicely done, Will. And Caitlin. Alicia looks in to Diane’s office, then over to Kalinda, huddled over a glowing laptop.
“How close are we, Samir,” the leather clad investigator wonders. “Why, do you have somewhere else you need to be?” Samir and his great dark eyes asks via skype. He’s in a sort of blue night vision, maybe, and leans against a battered plaster wall. He looks like, but isn’t, Dr. Bashir from Star Trek. “As a matter of fact, I do,” she says, but an uncharacteristically sweet smile takes the sting from her words. “It’s tough getting around town.” “You should come to Syria, Kalinda,” he smiles, “you live in boredom. Our days are filled with excitement.” That’s one word for it. “You make it sound very tempting,” she smiles again before returning to her serious face. “Two protesters dead in Damascus today?” Yes. A similarly scarfed compatriot leans over and whispers in his ear; Kalinda waits, trying to suppress her impatience. He should have confirmation for her in three minutes; she flashes three fingers to Diane and Will. “You’re keeping yourself safe there?” she asks. “Oh yes,” he says. It seems he has friends in all the political camps. “I have covered my bases well.” Sounds like a kindred spirit, Kalinda. “Oh, I, ah, saw Barbara Walters yesterday.” Kalinda thinks this is a joke. “Yeah, she was here to interview our president. She had … much better hair than I thought.” Kalinda giggles.
Then her phone rings. She excuses herself from Samir. “Yes, Eli?” Ah, those snippety tones. He’s in a mood. “Did you talk to Stacie Hall?” “Ah it’s not a good time,” she says flatly. “I need to know now,” Eli insists. “Did you talk to Stacie Hall about my ex-wife?” Somebody’s live with Syria, dude; can’t you talk about this later? “No, Kalinda!” Eli pouts. She’s hung up before he can get the words “right now” out of his mouth. He stares at his phone in disbelief. All these subordinates refusing to be your beck and call girls, Eli. Your life is so hard.
He rounds a corner and steps to a doorway, where – woah – his ex-wife is waiting. “What’s the emergency?” Vanessa Gold wonders, leaping out from a dark doorway. Damn, she’s kind of vampiric, too. “Why?” he spits. “Why what, Eli?” She’s just so tired. “Why did my ex-wife hire Stacie Hall as her campaign strategist for her upcoming State Senate campaign?” “Why does my ex-husband care?” Great question, love. Also, lovely to see you, Parker Posey. Eli barrels into the darkened room past her. “I care because she is my competition and she has poached three of my clients!” And oh, I don’t know, maybe because Stacie took the job just to mess with your head? “So she’s good?” Vanessa charges back into what must be her campaign office. “Vanessa! She’s out to destabilize me and that’s why she’s offering to represent you,” he yells.
“Oh really, my mistake. I thought my campaign was about me, but of course it’s about you.” Ooops. Okay, maybe the truth wasn’t the best line of reasoning. “This isn’t narcissism, Vanessa, it’s strategy.” She very reasonably points out that she asked him to help first. “Which I did,” he interrupts. “…and then we got into one of our post-marital spats, and we decided not to work together, so I sought out Stacie.” Eli looks at her in horror. “That’s all. She didn’t seek me out.” Eli considers, then squints at her. “Uh oh,” she says, moving around him, “Eli’s mind is at work.” “I get it,” he claims, “I get it, this is to try and get me back on your campaign.” I guess it’s a compliment to her intelligence that he’s so paranoid about gamesmanship? “Oh my God,” she sneers, unflattered. “You’re telling me that it’s just a coincidence that you pursued my competitor?” Well, technically, anyone else who’d do the job would be his competitor, right? I get it, but I’m just saying. “I didn’t tell you anything!”
“It makes sense,” he shrugs, “you have your Bin Laden problem.” She actually jumps up and down, she’s so furious. “I didn’t know he was a Bin Laden!” “And if I’m on your staff, it looks better. See, her husband doesn’t mind that she slept with a Bin Laden!” Vanessa literally pushes him toward the door. “Okay, thanks for this,” she growls, “you know whenever I feel nostalgic for our time together, Eli, you always offer me one of these bracing little tet-a-tets.” Out the door with you, boyo.
He stares at her through the half glass door, then stomps away. We concentrate on her in the empty office space with the bottom of a campaign poster, until Eli rushes back in. “Okay, wait, wait,” he begins, more calmly. She turns to him, straightening her back. He stands, flustered, and latches on to the poster. “Don’t go with the green border.” “Why? It’s about the environment,” she counters proudly. Indeed, it appears leafy. “Voters don’t think nature when they see green, they think bad skin. Look at the McCain campaign.” Oh, ouch. “And that is not your best side.” She wrinkles her nose at the picture in rueful agreement. “You need… warmer lighting.” Hee. Love the light bulb gesture here. He does this hilarious nodding thing. “Gold is good for you.” “Stacie thought gold was too on the nose,” she notes.
Eli reacts as if taking a fake punch. “Oh, jeez. On the nose is good, you’re not trying to win the Nobel.” Ha. Indeed. Gold for Gold. “Okay. Thanks, Eli.” Vanessa answers, still ready to be rid of him. He can’t help launching one last salvo. “Do you really get nostalgic for our time together?” And that’s the end of her patience, Eli.
“Here’s your problem. To win, you need to prove two things,” Viola Walsh tells Will and Diane. Thanks for finishing up the exposition, babe. “One, that my client knowingly sold the software to Syria – a high bar in itself.” Why is that a high bar? Surely there are records of these things. “Two, that he knew the software would be used to capture and kill protesters.” The name partners aren’t enjoying the lecture. They look over to Kalinda, who gives then what I think is a thumbs up.
“You got the invoice?” she asks Samir. He’s got it. “It was routed through Dubai,” he says, holding it up to the screen. “Thanks, Samir. I’ll be in touch, okay?” His head whips around at this statement. Oh no. “I will be in touch with you. Just send me an email with three question marks, okay, and I will call you. It’s, um, safer that way.” I’d say that was so cloak and dagger of him, but if the government is tracking dissidents through their emails, it’s more than fair. “Okay, good. Um, stay safe, my friend.” He flashes her a peace sign.
“As kind as your financial offer is, we’ll take our chances in court,” Will tells Viola. “Don’t you want to check with your clients first?” No. “They’ve given us permission to reject any unreasonable amounts,” Diane explains. “Well, you’re not going to get more,” Gross crosses so he can get in Will’s face to say it. Will steps even closer. “I’m going to make it my life’s mission to get more.” That would be nicer if it were about the people deserving of help rather than about your ego and persona animus, Will. Sigh.
Gross and Walsh head out. “That was odd,” Diane notes. What was, Caitlin asks in her perky little girl voice. “The offer. It was too low ball,” Alicia explains. Quite true. It was clearly not a serious offer, so why bother making it? “It’s like they’re challenging us to take it to court.” Hmmm. Will notices good old Lionel Deerfield moving toward the office through the crowd, squints, and heads out to meet him.
“Hello, Lionel,” Will says, extending his hand, “I would have called, but it’s been crazy here.” Lionel doesn’t waste words. “Hello, Will. Can we go somewhere private?” “Sure,” Will agrees, surprised. He leads Lionel through back through the celebration, into someone’s office. He flicks the light switch, but nothing happens. “This seem to be falling apart here,” he observes. Relax, Will. The it’s just about keeping the vampires from getting too sparkly. The two men sit around a small table. “So what’s the emergency?”
“Have you talked to anybody at the Bar?” Ah, here it comes. That was fast. ” At the bar? What bar?” “At the Bar’s Attorney Compliance and Disciplinary Board.” Lionel explains gently. “Oh. No. Why?” “We’re pursuing your disbarment,” Lionel sighs heavily. Will stares, disbelieving. He shakes his head. “What’re you talking about?”
“I’m on the review panel. Look, I know I shouldn’t be saying anything, I’ve been sworn to confidentiality, but we received anonymous charges that you took $45,000 from a client’s account.” Huh. But Will interviewed him as representation – he knows some privileged information! Doesn’t he need to recuse himself? “And put it back,” Will notes. “Fifteen years ago.” Oh, you have to do better than that, Will. “There’s no statute of limitations, Will, to disbarment.” Damn you, Blake Calamar and your slow poisonous revenge! “We start disciplinary proceedings tomorrow,” Lionel says, and Will’s head whips back as if struck. Now that’s not slow at all. “I’m sorry, I just – thought you should know.” Tomorrow? How could they possibly do it so fast? Don’t they need time to investigate it or something? God, the poor man. Only a few hours of respite? “Don’t tell anyone I said something,” Deerfield asks as he trudges out the door. Will sits alone in the darkness, music from the party breaking into the his painful reverie.
“I see the way you look at me,” a man sings, warmly. “Your pretty pretty eyes.” It’s doo wop, very old school rock and roll – pre-Elvis, I’d guess. Will seethes. Veins stand out in his hand for a tense moment, resting on the top of a binder; then the binder’s flying across the room. We switch to the credit screen close ups of Alicia’s pixillated face, but the Pentagrams keep singing “I Like That Way You Look At Me.” “I love the way you hold my hand. The way you make me understand. The way you tell me that you love me, as I love you.”
You know, not to get all lecture-y on you, but I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately in terms of this show. Having a successful relationship isn’t about ticking off a list of preferred qualities, or even the butterflies in your stomach when someone looks at you, but about who you are when you’re together, how you treat each other. So I like the irony of this, that Alicia and Will haven’t made these important, these necessary declarations. What good are their longing looks if the right words don’t come after? Of course, this seems to be a problem both of them have independently. Alicia and Peter skirted a lot of the hard conversations, too – and Will hardly got far enough into another relationship to make it an issue.
Okay, sorry about that. Back to the show. Dennis O’Hare – Judge Abernathy, hurrah! – walks underneath the big letters spelling out In God We Trust. “Before we begin,” he begins, still standing, “I want to say a few words about something that is happening a mere hundred yards from this courtyard.” He flings out an arm to indicate the distance. Gross attempts to sit, but amusingly realizes that everyone else is still standing (because, duh, the judge is) and gets back up. “Occupy Wall Street! Yes!” He flings his arm out again. A fellow in the gallery turns from his conversation to stare, disbelieving. “These amazing young people are braving 36 degree weather with the grit in their eyes of a shared cause to change the system, and I for one… ” He’s overcome by the emotion. “I salute them!” And he does. Alicia’s eyebrows leap up. The one percent sitting in the courtroom stares at him blankly. I can’t help wondering why he’s not referring to them as Occupy Chicago? That would be more correct, right? He get a little embarrassed, and waves everyone to sit and begin.
Will walks into the courtroom and sits with Alicia and Caitlin. “Do you want me to take the first witness?” Alicia whispers. “No. I’m good,” Will says without turning his face. She doesn’t push, but she knows he’s not fine.
Instead of a witness, there’s a film of protests playing on two large screens in the court room. A sympathetic looking young man turns away from the closest screen as Will stops the film. “And that’s you?” he asks. The witness looks so sympathetic I didn’t recognize him as Jonathan Groff, who played Jessie, the narcissistic diva from Glee. Er, one of the narcissistic divas. The one that was in Vocal Adrenaline and dated Rachel? Oh well. Anyway. “Yes,” he says, letting out a deep breath with the word as if shaken by what’s he’s seen. “And you and your sister were in Syria why?” “We were studying Arabic at the Albath University in Homs.” Without preamble, Will switches the video back on; as the protestors near some sort structure, they’re suddenly greeted by gunfire. The screams and the chaos are terrible. Will freezes the screen again, and casually gestures at a beautiful girl with her head pressed to the ground.
“And who’s this?” “My sister. Sarah. She told me to take the camera.” Jonathan Groff has tears in his eyes as he looks away from the girl’s pleading face. “She wanted the video to get out.” Will turns the video back on in time to see Sarah get smashed in the face. She turns back to us, her mouth and chin nearly black with blood. Will freezes the video again, and asks dispassionately “what next.” It’s good; he lets the images do their work, lets the outrage be ours, not his. The brother wipes tears off his face, breathing deep, steeling himself. “The officers took us into custody.” He names a prison, which Will clarifies as being military intelligence. “They had a transcript of a cell phone call I had with Sarah a week earlier, and they kept repeating it.” Will leans forward, arms balanced on the desk. “And that’s why you were arrested?” Yes. “We discussed joining the protests on the call.”
“Did you have any idea how they intercepted this call?” He does. The contrast between his pale face and his sister’s bloody one, still behind him on the screen, is ghastly. “There was a pc in the interrogation room, and he kept reading it from the screen.” Ah. “But what does that have to do with Mr. Gross’s company? Couldn’t that have been any software?” No, it couldn’t have. “When they took me to my cell, I saw the logo on the screen. It was the chess piece logo from Chumhum.” Gross betrays no emotion. “And that was the last time you saw Sarah alive?” Yes. Judge Abernathy shakes his head to clear away the horror. “When the guards looked through her passport, there was a stamp there from Israel.” Caitlin looks ready to cry herself. “We had gone there the year before, but my stamp was too faint to see, so they let me go, and – they kept her.”
“You were demonstrating peacefully, Jimmy, you and Sarah?” They were. Jimmy looks proud of the fact. “Much like Occupy Wall Street?” Oh, Will, so unnecessary. Let the evidence speak for you. “Oh, come on,” Viola snorts (and justly so), “Objection, Your Honor!” Will attempts to prove he wasn’t pandering. “I’m merely showing the victim’s intentions,” Will begins, all earnest puppy dog eyes. “No, you’re merely playing into His Honor’s stated sympathy.” Quite so. “Okay,” says a rather uncomfortable Judge Abernathy, “Thank you. Both of you. I think you’ll find I’m made of sterner stuff, Mr. Gardner, Ms…” “Walsh,” she supplies cheerily. “Ms Walsh. Than to have my sympathies so easily plucked. Any more questions?” No. Good. Will, you need to remember that Abernathy will bend over backwards not to appear biased against his own stated preferences.
(Damn, am I really giving fictional lawyers advice on how to approach fictional judges? Argh. Fandom. Sometimes it’s really absurd.)
“Mr. Feldner,” Viola calls out, “you know that Chumhum has many software products that use the same logo.” He nods his agreement. “Business software, word processing, spreadsheets – and all are designated to use the same chess piece logo.” Yes. In case you weren’t interested in that, you can watch Alicia peek at Caitlin’s leather folder, where Viola’s business card appears prominently clipped to her notes. Caitlin notices the attention and – without embarrassment – closes the folder. “So couldn’t it have been any of Mr. Gross’s software programs, say his word processing program, for example, on the screen that you mentioned?” No. “But you weren’t sure?” Oh, he is. You’re going to wish you never brought this up, Viola. “All the software has different colored chess pieces.” Damn! “This piece was red.” Will takes the moment to interrupt the cross. “Just so we’re clear, Your Honor, red is the color of the logo on Chumhum’s…” “Objection, Your Honor!” Viola cries, half laughing. “Do we all get to testify into the record now?” Right again, Ms. Walsh.
In his position as State’s Attorney’s chief lackey, Cary is addressing his colleagues in Peter’s place. There are going to be changes, he says, and people are going to get shuffled. Uh oh. Dana frowns fiercely. “Does this have anything to do with the failed grand jury attempt?” Geneva Pine snaps. Geneva Pine! Love, it’s been so long, and I’ve missed you so! “This is about a lot of things, not any one thing,” Cary cautions. ‘Some of us weren’t consulted on that judicial bribery investigation,” Geneva continues (and why would all of them have been consulted? they don’t prosecute as a group). Dana’s livid. Of course, that doesn’t look too different from her usual face.
Cary tries to mollify everyone. “We’re not going to point fingers around here. No one’s to blame and everyone is.” Oh, come on. One failed grand jury surely can’t be behind a departmental shake up. I know the grand juries are typically a sure thing, but come on. Cary’s going to meet with everyone individually and “discuss new priorities.” If this is a fancy way of getting Dana out of his hair, I think that’s a little skeevy. I’ll take it, because I’m sick of her, but still. “Too bad that didn’t work out for you,” Geneva snipes down at Dana, clearly enjoying the moment. “Go to hell,” Dana snaps. I don’t like the cattiness (mean, unprofessional) but I’d still swap Dana for Geneva any day.
Will broods in his office, pale and smoldering. A voice materializes next to him. “I hear you did well in court today,” Diane purrs. Damn, I’m seeing vampires everywhere now – he’s brooding, she moves silently through the office before striking… He raises an eyebrow and considers before deciding he agrees with the assessment. She stands, hands on her hips, concerned. “And yet?” He moves to close the door. He shoots her a dark look before returning to his seat. He waits for her to sit. And then he makes his confession.
“The attorney compliance and disciplinary board is pursuing my disbarment.” Diane’s eyes pop. “But why?” The money from 15 years ago, he admits. “No statute of limitations. My guess is, Wendy slipped the charges to them as a… late hit.” Nice sports metaphor, Will. We have to fight it, Diane says. “Fight what? I did it,” Will shrugs, defeated. He looks at Diane, utterly wrecked. “It was a long time ago, but I did it.” “Yes,” she agrees, “and we have to point out their hypocrisy in pursuing you.” Gosh, I love them. He’s so lost, and she cares so much. He’s sure he can’t be saved. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that people in judgement don’t care about their hypocrisy.” Oh, the look on his face… Diane, however, won’t give up. “Then you have to throw yourself at the mercy of the board!” He stares off into the distance, at a loss, shaking his head. “It never ends, does it?” Well, you’re alive, so no. No it doesn’t. “Once they have you in their grasp, they never let go.” Diane takes his measure and then stands, patting him on the shoulder as she leaves his office. In a moment, we see her rush out of the office, greeting a cheerful Eli at the elevator.
Eli’s cheerful, that is, until he finds Stacie Hall ensconced in his office. “Why’re you doing it?” she brays. Ha! I love the look on his face when he realizes who’s invaded his inner sanctum. “Nora!” he hollers, “there is somebody in my office!” Oh, poor Nora. “Why are you undercutting me with your wife?” Ex-wife, he corrects. “You can’t just come in here. You have to call ahead.” Her excuse? He left a sock at her hotel/house the night before. Ew! The sock? Looks like it belongs to Pippi Longstocking – it’s long and striped. “I did not! That is not my sock. What am I, Santa?” Hee. “Oh,” she laughs. “It’s mine. What’s wrong with green? There’s nothing wrong with green.” My first thought is wait, the sock is red and white. My second is, huh, does she actually think the green poster is a good one? Didn’t she make it wrong in order to mess with him? “For trees and split pea soup, nothing! But for campaign brochures… Ah,” he realizes, “this is not campaign 101.” She agrees. Then why is he undercutting her? That’s what she still wants to know. “Then do a better job,” he insists. “Your former clients seem to think I’m doing a good enough job,” she fires back. And ooh, but he loves hearing that.
“You got me there! Good bye.” Then she turns the doe eyes on him. “I need to see you again,” she declares. He turns to her in horror. Oh, please God let us avoid another game of chicken sex. Shudder. He looks around, self conscious, before delivering a weak, slightly pouty no. “Last night was amazing. I can still taste you this morning.” Ew ew ew! He’s just as grossed out as me. I will say, it’s fun that she’s messing with him. More than a little extreme, but fun. “Okay, thank you, good bye,” he says, putting up his hand and making a sour lemon face. So many puns about taste, so little taste in actually making them.
“At least 75 people are reported dead in Syria in one of the bloodiest days since the uprising began,” a British voice narrates footage of shooting and bodies in the Middle East. Kalinda’s listening to the report (from New World Service) on her laptop, her ear buds in. She’s clearly concerned. And into this moment, the perky Miss Stacie Hall interjects herself and her acid green jacket. “I have a quick question,” Stacie begins after they greet each other. “How did you find out she slept with Bin Laden?” Hee. I guess there’s no point in using a name here; how many people could Kalinda know that might have slept with a Bin Laden? Unless she has more Middle Eastern Mata Hari type contacts. So, maybe. Anyway. Stacie’s managed to get the attention of the entire room. “Why don’t we discuss this somewhere else?” Kalinda suggests. Stacie nods her agreement. “No that Bin Laden,” she tells the half dozen or so people staring at them in shock, “Not Osama.”
Alicia’s at her desk when Will pops in to ask her to the conference room, where Patric Edelstein is waiting for an update. She gathers her things, but makes a face. ‘What?” Will asks. She smiles unhappily. “So we are doing this for Edelstein,” she informs her boss, leaving no doubt about how that makes her feel. “Conference room,” is all he replies.
In the conference room, Will sits between Alicia and Caitlin and explains that the clients rejected a very bad offer from Gross. “What are our chances?” Patric wonders, looking as much like Justin Long as ever, looking at his laptop rather than at Will. “50/50,” Will explains, “but we mean to use the trial to apply pressure to Neil Gross to get a more lucrative settlement.” So they don’t expect to go to judgement. I see. Patric frowns at his computer and sighs. “So I have to ask something of you.” Will waits. “I need you to settle. I’d rather not have Congress look into our foreign sales of decryption software.” Alicia looks at Will expressively, and he squirms in his seat. “I would imagine that would work for you, having Congress look into Neil Gross.” Will’s annoyed, but smiling. “No, unfortunately on this point Neil Gross’s interests and mine are aligned. Congress will turn this into a circus. This trial is giving it more prominence.” What, Congress? Bad pronoun, bad! Alicia shoots Will another look.
“I don’t represent you in this case,” he says, a small smile on his lips. Woah, someone’s feeling reckless. Good for you, Will! “We represent the class. The three families of the dead protesters.” Patric leans forward, at a bit of a loss for words. Things are not going according to script. “Yes, but I referred them to you,” he explains, trying to infuse the words with larger significance. “I know that,” Will agrees, “but when we agreed to take their case, they became our clients, not you. I’m sorry.” He’s so pleased with himself. Are you showing off for Alicia? Hmmm. “This isn’t…. really what I wanted.” Edelstein slams his laptop shut. Maybe he doesn’t look like Justin Long after all. Long’s too likable. “I’m sorry,” Will shrugs. “We can’t help you here.”
Though you could see that she appreciated Will’s effort while they were in conference, she expresses doubts once they leave the room. “Are we going to be all right here?” she wonders. Ah, Alicia. The twin lures of money and ideology. You can never decide which is more important, can you? “I don’t know. He may leave. Them’s the breaks.” Will leaves, and Alicia’s stunned. Who are you, and what have you done with Will Gardner?
Diane, meanwhile, has arrived at her destination. She’s waylaying Lionel Deerfield. Oh, interesting. What’s her pitch? But we don’t get to hear it.
“My name is Hassim Alhuri, I’m a software wholesaler operating out of Dubai,” a prim, curly haired man introduces himself from the witness stand. You can tell he learned his English from Brits. “And you have dealings with Mr. Gross’s company?” Alicia asks. Interesting that no one is standing up to cross this week. It seems very dispassionate, somehow. “Yes. I admire you greatly, Mr. Gross. I’ve read your biography three times.” Heh. Viola and Neil look at each other, gratified. Turns out that Alhuri’s connection to the software comes from a yearly trade show in Dubai known as the Wiretappers’ Ball. Did Chuck do an episode about that? That sounds very familiar. I can’t page through all the articles about the real thing in order to find a proper reference, however. Anyway. Alicia notes that totalitarian governments are always in attendance at this particular gathering, looking for ways to suppress their peoples. And datamine. (Ha.) Alhuri agrees but claims there are also lots of businesses wanting to make sure their employees aren’t playing solitaire.
And that’s when Judge Abernathy starts sniffling.
And I don’t mean sneezing. I mean, kind of weeping.
“Ah, sorry,” he says, blinking back tears, “please, continue.” Alicia’s thrown for a moment, but rallies. “We can take a break, Your Honor,” she offers. Ha! “No no no, it’s nothing,” he answers, tissue in hand. “Over lunch I went to offer support to Occupy Wall Street,” Viola the luxurious discretely rolls her eyes. “It’s because of the pepper spray.” Abernathy got pepper sprayed? Damn. I’d like to think that wasn’t such a routine event at the Occupy camps that he’d be so blaze about it. But then again, it’s probably a badge of honor. Once more, the rest of the court is profoundly uninterested in a movement about wage equality. I wonder why?
Alicia clears her throat.
“At the Wiretappers Ball,” she begins again, “you bought some of Mr. Gross’s Coursepoint software.” He did. And then he sold it to representatives of Syria. “And this was because Chumhum itself couldn’t sell software to the Syrians?” Yep. “The American trade embargo required using a middle man- that is me,” he says. Alicia produces the invoice for the transaction. “And did Chumhum know you were reselling software to Syria?” “Oh yes – I sent the invoice to them as well.” Alhuri’s testimony ends with wheeze from Abernathy.
Well, until the cross examination, that is. “You hold a grudge against Mr. Gross’s company, don’t you?” Whatever could she mean? “I mean you sued Mr. Gross for non-payment of debt.” Then ensues a rather boring tussle about whether this is or isn’t a normal business transaction and whether euro conversion rates would create bad feelings. And at that point, Walsh asks to recall Jimmy Feldner.
So they do.
“Why are you suing, Jimmy?” Jimmy/Jessie looks scared but answers clearly. “Because my sister’s dead, but she didn’t have to be.” Abernathy sniffle-cries again. “Sorry. Ignore me,” he waves at them with his tissue. “And that’s why everyone in this class actions is suing, right?” Yes. Viola busts out her remote control, and click up a photograph. “That’s your sister?” she asks. Yes. Click, and there’s another picture. “And who’s this?” It looks like Rebecca Romjin to me, actually, but since Jimmy says it’s his sister, I’ll take his word for it. “But I’ve never seen that photo before,” he says. “But it would appear to be your sister,” Viola asks, clicking to a slide where the photos appear next to each other. I still couldn’t say they were photos of the same woman. But again, he thinks so, and he’d know. “Yes, where was it taken?”
“We got this photo from a Syrian rebellion website. It was taken three days ago.”
“Objection, Your Honor,” Will yells. “How can you object? We’ve just given your client good news,” Viola laughs. So was this what that offer was about? “His sister is alive.” Poor Jessie – er, Jimmy – is ready to bolt from the witness chair and swim to Syria, right now. ‘We have no way to confirm the provenance of this!” Will tries to tone down the rhetoric. “Jimmy,” Viola coos, “you yourself said you were suing because your sister is dead. Well, this is evidence that she’s alive.” Leaving aside the fact that wrongful death isn’t the only reason to sue, damn it, way to mess with the poor kid’s head! Okay, I know she doesn’t care, but who’s to say that that’s his sister? Or that the photograph is actually 3 days old even if it is her? So cold. Viola smiles winningly.
Behind a closed wooden door, proceedings are … proceeding. “Mr. Will Gardner,” Lionel Deerfield intones, “one of the objectives of the State Bar Disciplinary Board is to maintain the honor and integrity of the practice of the law, and to promote the general welfare of the members there of.” He sits at the head of a table of equally grim and responsible (and humorless) looking people. Will sits on the other end. “To this end we have collected sufficient evidence regarding the theft of the forty five thousand dollars,we believe warrants disbarment proceedings.” So quickly? How did they do that? Did Wendy have actually evidence and not just Blake’s assertion? Will looks simultaneously stony and ill. “Do you understand?” He does.
“In all matters, this board attempts to show deference to any calls for leniency. It has come to our attention that you were responsible for the establishment of the pro bono department in your firm.” Will looks down, perhaps in fake modesty. “In a time when most firms are stepping down, it is heartening to see Lockhart/Gardner stepping those efforts up, at your direction.” Will looks up to the heavens, sighing and quietly rolling his eyes. This is praise he knows he does not deserve. ” For this reason, we would like to offer you the option of suspension.” Oh? Hmm. “Six months probation. No cases, no clients. No entering a court room, except as a private citizen.”
Will looks grave. And humorless. He’d fit right in if he weren’t guilty. “And if I decline?” “The we proceed to a disbarment hearing. And the determination of this panel will be permanent.”
So many people are shouting in the main conference room that it’s hard to know what’s going on until we see Jessie – er, Jimmy – pleading. “That’s why we have to drop the suit!” Ah. This is the class of the class action suit. “That’s exactly what the other side wants,” an unseen female relative of another, definitely dead protester insists. And of course she’s right. “I don’t want there to be anything out there that could jeopardize my sister’s life,” Jimmy pleads. And how is the case doing that, exactly? More than her life is already in jeopardy, that is? I get his concern, but it seems misplaced. The woman pleads with Jimmy to be rational; he rounds on her. “What if it were Amy? Would you still be talking about monetary damages?” The woman – Amy’s mother ?- has tears in her eyes. “If we walk away, this company goes about it’s business, and who’s to say there’s not another Amy or Sarah in the future?” She’s right, of course, and the rest of the class agrees – except she’s also wrong, because there will be other Amy’s and Sarah’s out there, because there’s too much money in helping Big Brother spy. And it’s too easily done. Will walks in and silently observes the passionate argument until he catches Diane’s eye.
“The majority of the class rules,” she tells Will (but really us) as she and Alicia walk out to confer with him. “Yes,” agrees Will, “but we put Kalinda on finding out more about Sarah.” “Good, I’m on it,” Alicia says, and she’s off. On to it. Will turns to Diane. “You talked to the board?” he asks quietly. “What did they say?” she wonders, and he tells her. Oooh, she says, wincing. They need to know tomorrow. “Fight it, Will,” she says, “six months away from the law will kill you.” Will it? I don’t know. I think it might the saving of him – giving him a chance to figure out who he is outside his job, to figure out who he wants to be. After all, he’s pretty concerned about that. And it’s not like he needs the money. He blinks a lot, trying to figure this out.
Also figuring things out are Alicia, Caitlin and Kalinda (the figure-outer in chief). The photo of Sarah/Rebecca Romjin was posted with the caption “The look of fear” on a website called Pink Damascus – a lesbian blogger, Caitlin’s quick to explain. Should we make note of the fact that this is the second time she’s been portrayed as familiar with the gay blogosphere? Is it just that youth=websavy here, or are the writers implying something subtle? Probably just websavy youth. The writers have certainly made a point of her sighing over dreamy boss Will.
“She’s been a huge thorn in the side of the Assad regime,” Kalinda says of the activist. “Can we find her?,” Alicia wonders, “If we know who took the picture, then we can find Sarah.” Well, maybe. Kalinda has some ideas on the subject, and she takes off to convert them into action. Alicia hangs back to talk to her protegee.
“Caitlin,” she begins, “has Viola asked you to join her firm?” Caitlin’s momentarily stunned by the directness of this approach, but confesses that yes, she has. “I said no,” she’s quick to add. “Yes. Just so you know,” and man, you know nothing pleasant is coming after that phrase, ” other firms will try to distract you by asking you to join them. It means nothing. They never trust you if they poach you.” Do we know that for sure? It’s not like Alicia has experience at that. “It’s best to stay loyal.” Caitlin smiles her golden, glowing, girlish smile. She didn’t take it seriously, she says. If I were Alicia, I’d probably say something about having been approached by Viola myself (or Stern, or Canning) but maybe that’s not so discrete when you swim with sharks. So probably better not to let out personal information like that. “I know,” Alicia smiles.
“Am I doing well here?” Caitlin wonders as Alicia rises to leave. “You are. Very well,” she says. “Good. Thank you.” Something less girlish passes over her face, but it’s gone in a flash. She’s a strange and slippy one. If she’s playing a game, and I suspect she is, I have absolutely no idea what it could be.
“This is first rate idiocy!” Eli explodes. He’s in his office, facing away from Stacie and Vanessa. Now there’s a meeting I wouldn’t want to attend. “Is that why you brought us in here, Eli? To insult me?” “You slept with a Bin Laden. You can’t just ignore that!” Sigh. Couldn’t we? Please? “How do you know we’re ignoring it?” Stacie wonders. Um, because you tried to wheedle Kalinda’s methods out of her, which is such a losing game. “You can’t just close off those channels!” Stacie narrows her eyes. “You’re right, Vanessa. The left vein in his forehead pulsates when he’s angry.” “It won’t work. If Kalinda figured it out, it’s only a matter of time before the press will.” Okay, first off, I totally object to the implication that if Kalinda can figure something out, anyone can. And second, do the press really look that hard at candidates for State Senate? Maybe, because it’s in Chicago? Cause that’s sure not true of the suburbs.
“Then what do you suggest?” Vanessa asks reasonably. This stops Eli for a second. “Own it,” he finally says. “Be the one to bring it forward.” Well, that’s consistent. That’s what he always says. “Cloak it in the veneer of open mindedness. Pushing back against anti-Islamic prejudices. It’s only a name!” Vanessa and Stacie watch him closely, considering. “The president has the same middle name as a genocidal dictator and we still elected him!” He laughs, and Vanessa smiles at Stacie. “This guy – your hotel financier – the one you slept with when we were married…” Vanessa moves in quick to stop the build up of steam. “Eli…” “What? I’m being just as accurate as the press will be!” Didn’t you want her to tell the press?
“You know, this is getting messy,” Stacie notices, throwing up her hands. “Maybe I should just back off.” Vanessa only wants a minute, and Stacie gladly complies. “Oh, there my sock is!” she trills, and Eli’s eyes bulge out of his head. She waves the striped sock at them as she jaunts out. Eli looks guilty as sin. “So who are you obsessed with, her or me?” Hmm. It is a question. Which aspect of this bothers him more, the personal or the professional? Or can he just not stand the collision of the two? “No one, I’m just helping,” he says, then gets quiet. “I don’t like her hurting you.” Do me a favor, she says. “Either stop caring, or get on board.” Excellent exit line, Vanessa!
Dana pops into Cary’s office, swaggering a bit. “So, Cary. How’s it hanging?” She sits down and gives him one of her patented challenging stares. He laughs, awkward and uncomfortable. Then he inhales sharply. “I need you to take a step back from court,” he says, and her confidence disappears. “…and do some child support enforcement.” Hello, demotion. “You need me to?” she wonders. “Yeah,” he says, and she nods. “We were both on that judicial bribery investigation, not just me.” Very true, but we all know who was the true believer and who wasn’t.”This is what Peter needs,” he says. “So it’s what Peter needs, not you,” she sizes him up. “This is what the office needs.” She takes a deep breath.
“And you’re just going to go along with it, right? You knew I was just following Wendy Scott-Carr’s orders, but you don’t give a damn?” Is that what you think, that you were only following orders? Wasn’t it your investigation in the first place, Dana? “Dana,” he pleads, but she shuts him down immediately. “No. You don’t get to say it like that. No, Mr. Agos, you don’t.” “It won’t be very long, ” he stammers. “Goodbye,” she says, and leaves the room. “What does that mean?” he asks as she’s going, but there’s not the slightest inclination in his direction.
There’s that picture again of undead Sarah Feldner, the face of fear. “Yes, I see the photograph of Sarah, but I cannot help. It could have been taken anywhere in Syria,” Samir tells Kalinda via skype. Indeed, those prison bars really couldn’t be less distinguishing. It really could be anywhere in the world, even, if there was any reason to think Syria would export its prisoners. “What about the blog where it surfaced? Can you help us find Pink Damascus?” Samir looks off to the left; you can hear shouts in the background. “I cannot stay long,” he says. She understands. “Yes, yes, we know this website,” he tells her. “No one really knows where this Pink Damascus is. If you learn a neighborhood I will keep trying.” He looks off in worry again, his face an eerie white. “I have to go,” he says, leaning into the camera.
And there’s Kalinda, entering in Pink Damascus’s code. There it is – she’s connected! “Yah?” a man answers. And, interesting, she’s skyping with him, too. How convenient that he was just home, sitting in front of his lap top. Wait. Pink Damascus is a him? Well, he looks Middle Eastern, anyway, with the curly black hair and beard. Also, quite sloppy in those sweats. “Can I help you?” Sorry, she says, I think I got the wrong person. Oh? Who were you looking for? “A lesbian blogger from Syria, Pink Damascus?” “Sorry to disappoint,” he shrugs, twitchy. “Have you heard of her?” Kalinda asks just before he’s about to hang up. Still twitchy, he shrugs yes. He keeps up with the news. She’s the news? Kalinda doesn’t let him go. “Imagine the public outcry if it was revealed that Pink Damascus is actually a thirty something guy living in Kansas, pretending?”
He’s taken aback- actually, he literally flops back on his shabby couch. What makes her say Kansas? Because of one of the worn pillows he’s leaning on, which bears the logo of Kansas University. “You know, you could face federal fraud charges. That’s 8 years in federal prison.” What? Federal fraud charges? For blogging under an assumed identity? Are you kidding? “You’re lying,” he replies. She’s got to be. “I work for a law firm,” she responds. Yeah, but she clearly has to be lying anyway. “Try me.” He doesn’t want to. “What do you want?”
“He only had an ip address for the person who sent him the photo,” Kalinda tells Diane as they zip through the halls. “He?” Diane wonders. “Yeah. Imagine that. Misrepresenting himself on the internet.” Bwa ha ha. She traced that ip address to an internet cafe in Homs, the city where the Feldners were taken. “Good. You’ll pass this on to your contact in Syria?” She will. Gosh, I love this image of Kalinda with international sources, like an ace reporter or a spy master. Just the coolest.
“You wanted to discuss the Neil Gross questioning?” Alicia pops her head into Will’s office door. “Yeah,” says Will, in a distracted way that makes it clear that’s not what he wants to talk about at all. “No,” he admits, fidgeting his pen, passing it from hand to hand. Should she leave, then? No. He waves her in, and she comes, closing the door behind her. He comes out from behind the desk, and sits with her in the chair in front of it. He smiles, and she looks very uncertain. “I didn’t tell you about the grand jury investigation at first, and I should have.” That’s right, you should. I’m glad to see you waking up to this. “It was a mistake.” “And you’re safe!” she smiles. “Yes. I mean, it’s moved to a possible disbarment and I’ve been given a choice.” In other words, not safe at all. That’s a bit of mental whiplash for you. “Wait, what?”
“The disciplinary board is looking into disbarring me.” Yep, that’s a bomb alright. “Oh my God, Will,” she begins, but he cuts her off. “It’s okay.” He’s said that to her dozens of times, but somehow, this time he seems less stressed. This time it feels more true. “It’s just – I’m used to it now. Funny. Anyway, I’ve been given a choice. Fight disbarment, or take a six month suspension.” There’s no question what the right move is here. “You can’t,” she gasps. “You don’t deserve to be disbarred!” He’s quick to reply. “I do deserve to be disbarred – I took money from a client’s account.” Will! Good for you for owning it, for not making excuses! “Fifteen years ago,” she sniffs. “But I did it,” he insists, and she falls silent.
“And you know what? The only reason I’m being offered leniency is because of our…” and here he bites down on his words, worrying them a bit. “It’s because of our pro bono program, something I fought tooth and nail.” That’s overstating it a bit, isn’t it? “You didn’t,” Alicia tries to excuse him. “I did,” he says firmly. “I’m taking the six month suspension.” Well, that’s pretty clearly the better choice. Six months versus forever? He gives her a look so solemn and vulnerable that it’s practically naked. “I did wrong, I should face the consequences.” I can’t help but think of Peter in prison, insisting to her that he wasn’t guilty of the corruption charges because his dealings were only partly shady. “There it is,” he says, “I’ve just decided. Thank you.” As he stands, her eyes follow him up, filled with worry. “”You’re giving up the law for six months?” He stops to think about it. “Yeah. Weird, huh?”
She shakes her head. “I can’t imagine it.” He squints, puzzled by this. “You did for over a decade!” She nods. Funny, that. I suppose that’s why; she can’t imagine being that person again, now that she’s claimed a new life for herself. (Speaking of which, when’s she going to take that vacation?) “Okay, ” he smiles, more with his eyes than his mouth, “I’ve got to go tell someone.”
Interesting – what will happen to the show? Honestly, I think it can only mean good things for Will as a man – well, no, I shouldn’t say it that way. I think it could mean great things for him. It could be the opportunity of his life time. So, bring it on! I can’t wait to see what relaxed Will looks like, and how they work him back into the show. Maybe he can go build a school in Haiti or something…
We can see Will through Diane’s open office door; we don’t see Diane. He’s told her. “Okay then. You’ll close out the Neil Gross case, and I’ll reassign your other cases to the partners.” Alright then. Why does he look like a kid in the principle’s office? “How soon can you get me a run down?” “End of the day,” he says. Good. “You won’t be able to come into the office, unless it’s related to handing off cases or the business of the firm. I’ll file the papers with the Bar about the firm’s name change. Lockhart & Associates seems simplest.” Will looks ashamed. I’m astounded. A name change? Surely that’s overkill for six month? Gosh, Stern was on sabbatical for years, right? “Unless you have any objections?” He shakes his head. “So we’re done?” Wow, does he look like that kid in the principle’s office. Crazy. Is he just ashamed of the situation, or does he think she looks down on him for taking the suspension? Probably both. “For now,” she nods. He heads for the door.
“You’ll still have a place when you come back,” she tells him. What? Why would that even occur to her? He looks at her, his hand on the door knob. And then he walks out.
“Technology doesn’t take sides,” Neil Gross sneers. Right. Do you think that helped Oppenheimer sleep at night? “Is that how you rationalize doing business with autocratic regimes?” Viola objects; it’s argumentative. Abernathy concurs. Will looks annoyed, but then goes still. He has an idea. And for the first time this trial, he pushes back his chair and stands to approach the witness. Heck, Alicia let the bailiff hand Alhuri the invoice; this is clearly the moment we’ve been waiting for. “Mr. Gross. Does your company sell to the countries of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain?” Will settles, sitting on the plaintiff’s desk. Gross looks at him incredulously; “you mean the allies of the United States, with whom we have full trade and diplomatic status? Yes we do.” Caitlin leans into Alicia to whisper that this wasn’t the plan. That’s because what you’re seeing is Will with nothing to lose. “Your social networking site Chumhum; did you not turn over the addresses of Chinese dissidents to the Beijing government?” Viola objects again. Will bellows about “Mr. Gross’s lack of compunction in dealing with regimes that kill and torture their own people – not to mention Amy Newton, Sarah Feldner and Mohammed Hazzuri…” As Jimmy Feldner hangs his head in the gallery, Viola objects again. “Your Honor, I understand where you sympathies lie…”
But she’s gone too far now. “Ms Walsh, will you stop saying that please? I know you’re driving a theme for your appeal, but please don’t do it at my expense.” “Your Honor, I wasn’t,” she lies. “No m’am. And I don’t mean to fly off the handle here, and I am being objective, so …. objection sustained.” Was that the point, to get Abernathy actively mad at Viola? Good. Will wants to discuss Coursepoint and the way it pings now – to establish that the company knows when and where it’s being used. “Objection! If Mr. Gardner is so curious about the nuts and bolts of the software I recommend that he go to the software convention in Las Vegas next week.” Wow does that seem like a tactical misstep. “Regardless of how the program was obtained, Your Honor, how it operates is precisely what attracts it to users.” Abernathy waggles his finger at Will. “The logic is … logical. Overruled, Ms Walsh.” Diane arrives in time to witness this small victory.
Yes, Gross admits. “When the software is in use, it interfaces with our server.” Hmm. Is that normal, I wonder? What’s the point of that feature? “So you’re able to ascertain when and where Coursepoint is in use?” Yes. “Then wouldn’t it follow that you had full knowledge that your product was being used by the Syrian government?” “We’ve never denied that,” Gross replies. “But as I have maintained – repeatedly – neither I nor my company provided it to them.” And what, you can’t shut it off remotely? You’re just a helpless bystander? Will stares at him strangely. Is it defeat? Strategy? Alicia’s once again alarmed. “Can you tell if those pings come from the city of Homs?” Viola once more throws up her hands. She’s very good at acting like he’s said something outrageous instead of something normal. “Objection! Beyond irrelevant.” Will presses on. “If you wanted to, Mr. Gross, you could tell where my client’s sister was being held right now.” Will advances on Gross, literally, as Viola splutters about the ridiculousness of that idea. “That doesn’t even make sense!” “It does if she’s being held in the same place the program is being used!”
Yeah. It does make sense. There’s also no way Chumhum would jeopardize it’s business by giving up that information. That pretty much puts paid to Gross’s contention that it’s just technology, that he’s not participating in the oppression himself. “I sustain Miss Walsh’s objections,” the judge decides nonsensically. Abernathy can be such a tool when he feels the need to seem less liberal.
Diane waits for Will in the hall. ‘Mostly good cross,” she says, and he thanks her for it. “You tried to take Neil Gross out at the knees,” she smiles. “Mostly because no one else has,” he smiles. “Be careful, Will. Don’t argue with passion, it clouds your thinking.” Thanks, Yoda. “You think I’ve forgotten about the case? That I’m suddenly hell bent on finding Sarah?” I can see why it would look that way. “I think you’re trying to hit a home run with your last at bat,” Diane observes wryly, and we know and Will knows that she’s dead right. “It’s just an observation. I’d love nothing more than to be proven wrong.” Hmm, he says, “I don’t have much time to prove anything.”
“Yes,” says Eli with a nod like Mr. Ed. He’s standing in Vanessa’s now sunny campaign office. “Is that a yes yes, or an ‘ I really don’t want to, but my ex-wife wore me down’ yes?” She’s seated at the end of a long folding table, and there are at least 3 well dressed campaign workers milling around. Really? Does she care which one it is? “Does it make any difference? Yes, I will consult on your campaign, and yes, I will even take my marching orders from Stacie.” Somehow, this is not enough. “Eli, I don’t want you if you don’t want to.” I don’t believe that. I believe she’s setting boundaries, though; he can’t come and grumble or lord it over her that he’s there. So, smart, I guess. “Okay, okay, okay,” he grouses, finger wagging, “First lesson about being an elected official? When you get what you want, shut up!” Hee.
She half laughs. ‘What?” he asks. “I miss arguing with you,” she admits. “Well,” he snorts, “I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time now to relive those glorious moments.” Ha. So she’ll send him her budget (“you were always good at cutting out the fat”) and some position papers. Do people really write position papers for State Senate? Um, great. “You know where to find me,” he says. She kisses him on the cheek in thanks. “Win or lose, this’ll be nice,” she declares, patting him on the cheek. Nice to help steer your ex-wife through the fallout of her cheating on you? He doesn’t look convinced.
“Do you need something?” Alicia asks, peeking into Diane’s office. Why yes, yes she does. “Will talked to you about his decision?” He did. Good. Diane takes her glasses off, a sign that things are significant. “I’m reassigning his cases. I need you to take this one, solo.” She hands over a thick pile of folders. Hmm. Weren’t only the partners getting his cases? “Will and I would like to keep it under the radar.” Hmmm. Then why doesn’t Diane just take care of it? “Who’s the client?” Alicia asks. ‘Kalinda,” Will answers, walking in the door. Wow. You know the winter really is over if Kalinda’s trusting Alicia with whatever this is – and you know they’d have asked her. “It’s primarily a tax case. Kalinda has a variety of complications, some business, some personal, several of which began before she joined the firm.” Awesome! Does this mean we’ll get a nice juicy peek into Kalinda’s past? More than the name change and marital status? Excellent. Although I don’t know what back story could live up to her present. “I appreciate your confidence,” Alicia says, “but I would think a tax lawyer would be more qualified.” If one would, then Will wouldn’t have been handling it himself, would he?
“It’s past what a tax lawyer can do, which is why I was handling it myself, and why we want you to take over.” See, there it is! Diane hands the bundle over. “You and Kalinda should talk as soon as possible,” she says. Alicia receives the arm load, still confused. Boy, I can’t wait for that conversation.
The skype connection is terrible. “They’re holding her in an empty… in our district.” Static crackles though his words, obscuring some of them. “Samir, you cut out, can you please repeat again?” Kalinda leans into the screen as if that will help the transmission. It’s funny how we do those things, isn’t it? He repeats, and we hear the obscured word: she’s in an empty school. “They use these abandoned buildings to hide people instead of prisons – it makes it a lot harder to find people you’re looking for.” Ugh. “And you’re absolutely sure she’s there?” Is it just me, or is light coming through bullet holes behind him? Will squints at the screen, standing behind Kalinda, a far more urban backdrop. “As sure as is possible,” Samir affirms. “I might be able to get her out, but I will need 50 thousand U.S. dollars.” “To pay a bribe?” she asks, leaning into the screen again. “I will handle it,” is all he says. “Okay? There is just about four hours, so I need the money immediately.” Will says they’ll wire it. But when Kalinda tries to ask where to wire it, Samir cuts out after the words “central bank of”. Drat. A red box appears on the screen, telling them to contact tech support. As Kalinda vainly tries to continue the conversation, Will squints harder at the screen.
“I know how we’re going to win this case,” he breathes. “How?” she asks him. “Tech support,” he answers.
“Dinesh Rehki,” a young man introduces himself on the witness stand, “I work on the Chumhum help desk. But to my customers, I’m Roger.” Judge Abernathy smiles in appreciation of the cultural subtext. They establish that he’s helped Coursepoint users. “It’s a complex program and there’s still a bug or two to be worked out. Sorry, Mr. Gross,” Dinesh nods at his boss, “but all programs have bugs.” “And how many calls have you received since March 2011 when the Syrian uprising began?” Viola rolls her eyes, but surprisingly doesn’t object. “Hundreds.” Any from Syria? Yes. From who? “Government users from the Ministry of the Interior,” Dinesh explains. How did they find this guy so fast? How is Will even still in court, for that matter? Will notes that this ministry oversees Syrian security forces. “I don’t know,” Dinesh smiles, “I just answer the phones.” Gosh, that’s true, and yet it’s such a Nuremberg moment, isn’t it?
“And how can you know for certain who’s calling?” Will wonders. “Every user who calls must identify their license number. It’s part of the user agreement.” There it is. There’s the smoking gun. The class and Viola all react accordingly. “So the Syrian government bought the software and register their software just like any other honest user.” Yes, it appears so. Gross flicks his eyes at Viola and almost shrugs. He knows they’ve got him. “But they couldn’t use it without your help.” Yes, again. “So Chumhum is helping the Syrian government arrest and torture protesters?”
Before Dinesh can answer, Viola has her hand in the air. She’s ready to talk settlement. “Harmony and concord between the two sides,” Charles Abernathy smiles, ” I’m inspired.” Bang goes the gavel. Even better? Diane arrives with more news. “They have her!” Diane and Will look into the gallery for Jimmy, and then suddenly we’re back at Lockhart soon-to-be-not-Gardner, and Jimmy’s staring in heartbreaking hope at a video screen bearing the words “secure feed.” In moments, his sister’s face flickers into view. She’s standing in front of a government seal. Jimmy begins to cry, blinking out the water in his eyes. “Greetings from Romstead airbase,” his sister says, “it’s my first trip to Germany.” He approaches the screen in wonder. He can’t speak. They both gulp. “You look like hell,” she smiles, trying to soften the moment. “You look perfect,” he says. The siblings laugh and cry, looking hungrily at each others’ faces.
“Samir?” Kalinda calls into a staticky screen. We see the light through the bullet holes again. “Hello?” she calls as you can just detect the outline of a figure as it sits. The static resolves into woman’s face; Kalinda greets her in Arabic and asks if Samir is available. “No,” the young woman says in a lost voice. Oh dear. “He’s not here.” Kalinda waits for a moment. “I just wanted to let him know that…” “I said he’s not here,” the girl says again. “Do you know when he might be back?” Violins take up the sad feeling. “Samir is gone. We cannot talk anymore.” Gone as in dead? Captured? She doesn’t say. Has Kalinda traded her friend’s life for Sarah Feldner’s? “Do not call again.” The girl shuts off the connection. Kalinda searches out a news report in the same British narration; 4 people killed today. The town is in lockdown. There are no more answers.
Will’s favorite bat lies on one of the leather chairs in his office. A wispy woman’s voice sings about the future, about being forced to let go of the past. It reminds me vaguely of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Dangling Conversation”. She sighs as Will walks around his office, the bat on his shoulder. Diane looks up. It’s a strange, emotional moment, this silent leave taking. Will’s full of coiled energy, Casey at bat. The potency of the stance, the contained emotion. “We all look so desperate,” Azure Ray sings as Will walks past Kalinda, “showing the guidance that we lack.” He drops off a law book in the same shelf that Diane was perusing early in the episode. ‘We used to be so wistful. I guess we think it’s safer holding back.” He hits the elevator button with the bat. “If I were to stay here between us,” she sings as Alicia walks into the reception area, “I might forget where I’m bound.”
“Burning the midnight oil, even on your last day?” his former lover smiles, hands wrapped around a mug. “I thought I could squeeze out one last billable hour,” Will jokes. She smiles, and rubs the side of the mug. “Any idea what you’re gonna do?” “Maybe write a rock opera?,” he suggests, and they laugh. “There hasn’t been a decent one since The Wall.” “I’m sure it will be great,” she agrees. He turns to face her. “I don’t think Pink Floyd has anything to worry about.” The elevator dings open, but he doesn’t turn or acknowledge it. “Will, if you need anything,” she begins uselessly. He won’t. “Thanks for asking,” he smiles. His collar is loose, and he seems – peaceful. Quietly confident. Different.
He walks into the elevator, and turns out to face her as he hits the button. “Follow Diane’s lead, Alicia. You’ll do fine.”
The doors close on their melancholy, smiling faces.
Wow, so, that’s really interesting, right? Good case, I liked it, good guest stars, and really interesting new direction. I’m sorely tempted to go into the preview for the next episode (airing sometime in March) which contains a lot of – interesting notes for the future. I won’t, of course, but I’m definitely looking forward to at least one of those developing stories. So what’s there to say?
I’m not as annoyed by the Vanessa plot as I thought I might be. How far in advance of this election are we? It’s interesting that she’d have a paid staff already, of more than just the consultant. I hope we get to see more of Marissa soon – although does anyone else think it’s surprising that these two super-career driven people had a child so young? They strike me as the type to wait. I have such trouble imagine Eli being domestic at all, let alone young. Honestly I don’t even see him as the type to get married young, although then again, he does get kind of moony over people. So, whatever. Do you think Vanessa will keep both Stacie and Eli as consultants? Seems like overkill to me.
Though the timing seems peculiarly speedy to me (I should ask my lawyer friends if they know anything about how quickly the bar acts on things), I like the outcome here. Clearly he did the right thing in taking the suspension (and how lovely was Diane, talking him up to Deerfield?) I like Will taking responsibility for his actions, and I like the emotional possibilities this opens up for him to take stock of his life. It could be good, really good. Of course, I have no idea how they’re going to keep him in the show, or what he’s going to do. Climb mountains in Tibet? Go home and have a come to Jesus moment with his family? Finally meet Alicia’s kids? Seriously, I would love to see it. What is Will going to do, once he can no longer go down the only road he’s ever known? I can’t wait to travel the new path with him.