E: I know, I know, it’s been ages, but I’m finally back, with the first of the final three recaps, coming to you late, in order. Didja miss me?
I’ve got to admit, I’m having trouble getting back in the swing of things. I’ve really enjoyed this season – in many ways the individual episodes have been more rewarding than last year when taken as a whole, the characters growth more fascinating – but right now I’m feeling what many people have said all along; the overall plotting has left us with less of a payoff. At least up to this point, and especially when compared to last season.
Okay, that’s enough whining. Are you ready? Here we go. We begin where we left off, oh so long ago – or rather, just before.
“He could be President!” teases the flattering, insinuating voice of Jackie’s stylist Jacques as the mother-in-law from hell’s face slowly appears on our screens. There’s a brown towel around her neck, and her hair is slicked back as Jacques washes it. “He’s handsome enough. He’s certainly tall enough.” That is just the kind of political thinking that makes me want to bash my own head in. Is that genuinely the criteria for some voters? Argh. “Oh,” she shrugs (tricky when you’re lying down with your head in a sink; at least she has some talents besides being a conniving busybody) “he doesn’t even know if he’s going to run for governor.” There’s truth in this level jumping; Mitt Romney’s been fond of saying that all 50 governor and all 100 Senators have in the back of their minds the idea of running for President. (At least, he was fond of saying that back when everyone knew he was planning to run for President but before he was ready to admit it.) The stylist is convinced he’ll run: Jackie’s unsure, but helpfully reminds us Peter’s got to make the choice by next week.
“Hello, Jackie,” Alicia says, interrupting this flattering little conversation. Jackie opens her eyes wide to see Alicia glaring down at her. “Do you have a moment?” Convenient of Alicia to pick the exact moment when Jackie’s hair was fully rinsed! Absolutely, Jackie has a moment. She purses her lips in triumph once Alicia’s back is turned; hateful, hateful, hateful old hag!
Alicia waits, her spine straightened by indignation, in an empty section of the opulent salon. There’s a gorgeous pink botanically-inspired print right next to her head. Not that she would notice. Jackie attempts pleasantries with her girlish voice (it’s been so long!) but Alicia’s having none of it. “Why, Jackie, why’d you do it?” Do what, Jackie flutters. You can tell she’s enjoying her pretense. “The house, Jackie. The house Zach and Grace grew up in. The house I lived in for 13 years.” “Why did I put a down payment on it?” Jackie asks innocently. “I didn’t want to see it go to another family.”
Oh, that’s so not going to fly. “You knew I put in an offer on it, and you didn’t want me to get it,” Alicia counters, eyes narrowed. Jackie still pretends ignorance, but we all know it’s an act. (Well, I mean, technically, it’s possible she didn’t know – but it seems so unlikely, given that they were using the same real estate agency, right? Are there, I don’t know, ethical rules about giving out that information? But no, she probably knew from Grace and Zach.) “I was visiting a friend in Highland Park, and I saw the for sale sign, and I decided to put a down payment on it,” Jackie shrugs as if it were the most natural thing in the world, projecting innocence and generosity with all the evil powers at her command.
“Because you need a 4 bedroom, 3400 square foot house?” Alicia snaps, still glaring. “It’s not for me!” Jackie trills, smiling, pleased as punch. “It’s for Peter, and the kids!” “I struggled for three years, Jackie,” Alicia cries, her voice low, passionate. “We lost our home. We took Zach and Grace out of school. Where was all this generosity then?” Wow. Why has it not occurred to me to ask that question before? “Alicia,” Jackie shakes her head, as if talking to a recalcitrant child, “I offered you a place in my home…” Oh, right, cause THAT would be a good idea. “…I offered you loans, and every time, you said ‘I want to do it on my own.'” Okay, that’s kind of fair. I can certainly see Alicia turning down help from Jackie. “I don’t have that many years left and I’d like to leave something for my children.”
Um, excuse me – children? Does Peter have siblings we’ve never heard of, or is she referring to Zach and Grace as her children?!!!
“And you’d live there with them,” Alicia realizes. Jackie’s shocked; she wears the salon towel as if it were a stole, which is pretty funny. “You bought Peter and the kids the house, and you will live there with them.” I don’t know, Jackie flounders, clearly enamored of the idea: maybe. “I don’t want to presume.” Right. Of course you don’t. Presumptuous is the last thing you want to be; only someone so unreasonable as Alicia could accuse you of it. Then you’d get what you always wanted, Alicia nods – you’ll take my place. Though Jackie denies it, you can see from her point of view that this is just what she does want. “Oh, Alicia, I’m not replacing you. You left.” Alicia nods again. “I’m stopping you,” she declares, and turns to leave. “I’m not really sure how you’ll do that,” Jackie replies with delicate malice. After a moment’s consideration, Alicia arches her eyebrows at her mother-in-law. ‘I’m a lawyer. Watch me,” she smiles.
Nice! It’s good to see Alicia as a carnivore every once in a while. Time for the teeth and claws, I think – although like Jackie I don’t really know what good it’ll do.
“Lindsay, Megan and Pamela,” Diane introduces three young women in orange prison jumpsuits. The third, Pamela, looks beaten down, but the first two seem to cling to her words with their whole beings. “These three young women have spent five years in prison for a murder they did not commit.” Oh dear. Cary stands to object. “Excuse me? Your Honor that is still unproven.” The crusader and true believer Tommy Segara of Silver Bullet takes this one: “What is proven is that the DNA evidence tying these girls to the body was bogus!” Well, Tommy’s made hay from the crime lab before – nice continuity! Cary puts the best face on he can. “Your Honor, that is an assertion,” he claims. “Yes, but it’s not looking good for you, ” Judge Carmella Romano notes, “does it, Mr. Agos? This is the fifth case I’ve had through here due to the malfeasance of the Illinois State Crime Lab. And I’ve overturned all of them.”
No, it doesn’t look good for Cary. It does look good to have the marvelous Joanna Gleason on the show, however! Here’s hoping we see more of you, Judge Romano.
“But those cases were built only on DNA,” Cary persists, “here there was physical evidence.” What, DNA isn’t physical? Oh, fine, I know what he means, but still. “The footprints of all three women were found in the vicinity of the body.” That’s hardly conclusive. Especially since it turns out the footprints were on a nearby trail the three used daily. “And witnesses at the summer camp testified to them repeatedly bullying Rosa Torres on the day of her murder, Your Honor. It is unfair, Your Honor, to discount the totality of that evidence due to one simple infraction.” Well, that’s not good, but again, it makes them good suspects, rather than actually proving anything. Also, manufacturing evidence against three people is one simple infraction?
Megan’s lawyer (freckled faced model and Massachusetts native Julianne Nicholson) agrees with me. “One simple infraction!” she repeats, incredulous. “Really? The cornerstone of your case was the DNA, and the court was lied to!” “Not by the State’s Attorney’s office!” Cary insists. Oh, Cary. Good luck making that argument matter. “Which is why the State’s Attorney’s Office should share our anger with this injustice. They should be agitating for the immediate release of these women, not fighting against it!” If they believed the girls were innocent, then yes, they should, but they seem predisposed to assume guilt.
“Okay, thank you. You can sit down,” Judge Romano cuts them off, bored and impatient. “Given the egregious nature of these accusations, I have no choice but to vacate these convictions.” The three girls stare in shock, starting to be thrilled. Our side moves for an immediate release, but of course it’s not going to be that easy. Then what would the rest of the episode be? Cary’s going to press charges again, and the defendants weren’t released for the first trial, so Judge Romano agrees to boot them back to prison. Does that seem incredibly harsh to anyone else?
“What’s that mean, I stay inside?” Lindsay blinks at Alicia. “Just for the moment,” Alicia tries to buck the fading girl up, “but this was the big one, getting the conviction vacated.” “I’m gonna cry,” Lindsay tells her, and you can see she’s ready to lose it. “It’s good, Lindsay,” Alicia repeats. “I know. It’s just, I don’t think they’ll let me out. I have this nightmare of this open door. Every time I get close, it shuts in my face.” Well, yeah. There it is.
“You know what this is, don’t you? I’m paying for the sins of the past,” Peter looks up at an unknown interlocutor. And sure; there are so many sins in Peter’s past, I don’t even know where to start. “Crime lab screws up under Childs, I have to pay the price.” He stabs himself in the chest with an angry finger. Oh, right. Because you’re the victim here. It’s all about you. It’s always all about you. I kind of want to throw a glass of wine in his face. “Do we even try?” Cary wonders, standing in Peter’s office. Peter’s sitting by the window (on the couch that will live in infamy). “They bullied and killed that girl. Not only that, I promised the Torres family I wouldn’t see the killers of their daughters unpunished.” Right, because again, it’s all about you. Your promise, not their loss. (Although, if Childs was in charge then, why did Peter promise the family anything? This whole conversation is unsatisfactory.)
“Well,” Cary continues, Judge Romano seems to be leaning against us. It’s – it’s crime lab fatigue.” I can see that. Peter chews on this for a moment. “Offer them an Alford plea,” Peter decides, “I’ve got to get this off our ledger.” Um, whatever that is. What happened to justice for Rosa Torres? His phone rings; he picks it up, but calls out to Cary before actually conversing, clutching the handset to his chest. The plea is only on offer if all three take it. Oh, of course, because where else would the drama be? And how would his ledger become clean otherwise? Cary shrugs, hands in his pockets. “If that’s what you want.”
Peter pulls the phone up to his ear. “Hey, Alicia, what’s up?” Well might you ask, Peter Florrick. I’m sure you’re going to love the answer. “What?!” We move to Alicia, who’s stepping off the elevator at Lockhart & Gardner. “She said she bought the house for you and the kids.” Incredulous, Peter’s left repeating her words. “This is the first I’ve heard of it,” he confesses. “It’s not that I don’t want you in there, Peter. It’s just weird, being separated, and having the kids wanting to be in the house with you while I’m on the outside.” Course it is. Peter’s taken aback, however. “Yeah. But you were thinking of buying the house too, right?” Yes, what with the condo conversion and all. “Yeah, but then it would have been you in the house with the kids and me on the outside.”
Ha. He’s so right. Of course, that’s how it usually goes with a divorce, isn’t it? The woman gets the house and the kids? Not that that makes it okay. Alicia’s stunned, but to her credit, she absorbs the information. “You’re right. I’m sorry. We should have talked.”
Damn straight, you should have. Processing your emotions (and giving other people space to do the same with theirs) isn’t exactly your strong suit, but it was his home too, and you’re trying to be amicable, so you should have talked. “Okay,” Peter replies. “Look. Don’t worry. I will speak to Jackie.” She thanks him, and turns around to see Mike Kresteva in reception.
Hmmm. What does that oily snake want?
He certainly takes his time getting to business, oozing around her office, looking at her framed photos. “Must be odd, working in the same town as your husband,” he observes. Ugh. “Nope, it isn’t,” she snaps. “What can I help you with, Mr. Kresteva?” “Mike,” he insists. “Nice kids!” he adds, making them sound like, I don’t know, champion golden retrievers, or a really good jet ski. She bought the ones with upgrades special to impress. “Thanks, Mike,” she replies impatiently. I love the venom she puts into his name, and how little patience she has with game playing or diplomacy in this sort of situation. “Ah, it’s just, how do you handle it, fighting criminal cases when your husband is on the other side?” How many times did we have to go over this last season? Old news, dude, old news. “With great delicacy,” she replies.
“I like you, Alicia,” he grins happily, eyes crinkling. “You have wit.” His hands rest on the back of a chair, leaning in. “Thank you. I didn’t think it ended so well the last time we spoke, Mike,” she replies, cautious. “So what is it that you need?” “Oh, I thought it ended quite well,” he smiles, because of course he did – he got what he wanted by threatening her. “I never try to make enemies…” Oh, does it just happen naturally, then? “Whenever I disagree with someone, I think: today, I can’t see their side, but tomorrow, who knows?” He makes it all sound so reasonable, even saintly. “So you see my side?” Alicia puzzles. “I’ve come to present you with the report from our blue ribbon panel,” he explains, putting the report itself on her desk. She brings up the recusal, and not actually being on the panel anymore, but this doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm. “Yes, but we’ve changed our conclusions.”
What? Um, yay? Yay! But why? What’s that about? What happened to the whole “Damn it, Jim, you’ll have a race riot on your hands!” hysteria?
“We censure the officers for not announcing themselves, for shooting an unarmed man, and possibly even placing a drop gun to cover their tracks.” That’s still the part that rings the least true, that the cop would have been carrying a gun just in case he (or his partner) needed to shoot someone and make it look plausible. “And it also censures my husband for covering it up?” Alicia demands. Mike’s cheerful face is smug and loathsome; he’s ever so pleased. “Well, yes. Truth is truth, isn’t it? You wouldn’t have us compromise the truth out of some misplaced deference to family connections, would you?” His eyes are snake-like, challenging. All the warmth is leeched out of them. When did Chandler Bing turn into Voldemort? “No, so then you understand why I have to recuse myself,” she snaps.
And yet, he doesn’t; he claims he wants her to write a minority report. Which would argue what, exactly? She articulates the question as soon as it pops into my head. “Whatever you want it to say. Whatever your conscience guides you to say.” Oh, he just really sucks. He’s enjoying tormenting her so much. It’s an impossible offer, and he knows it; he must just like taunting her. Also, ha. “I think I’ll decline,” she scoffs, handing the report back. “Mrs. Florrick, I know you don’t trust me,” he says – and gee, whatever gave him that impression? Was it the many times he had to threaten her to make her do what he wanted?, “but I’ve come around to your side. All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to do nothing.” And what’s the tyranny here? The good old boy/back room deal/promote the status quo ethic he favors, or is Peter the tyrant?
Diane chooses this moment to walk by, and can’t resist stopping in. “Michael? Hello, how are you?” They toss some flattering pleasantries back and forth; I can’t help feeling like she sounds like his old teacher or something, calling him by the more formal version of his name. “Don’t you dare think about poaching Alicia. We’ve got our hooks into her,” Diane laughs. No, no, he says, I’m here to poach you. Ha, ha. “Alicia just asked me in to discuss our blue ribbon panel,” he adds, and while they’re both confused about this (Diane knows Alicia had to recuse herself) no one questions him on it. Which turns out to be significant. “Really? I hope that all works out,” Diane dismisses the odd remark. “I’m sure it will,” Mike smiles. “Anyway, Alicia, thanks you, it was most helpful. And thank you, Diane, for putting Alicia on the panel.” Oh, yes, that was a lovely accident of fate, wasn’t it? Mike bows out.
“Well, that was odd,” Diane observes. I’ll say. “Yes,” Alicia agrees. Diane sits. “So, uh, Cary called, and we have an Alford plea.” Alicia’s surprised, and cautiously intrigued. “My guess is they’re worried about a lawsuit,” Diane explains. Uh, okay. “My guess is Lindsay will need some hand-holding,” Diane continues, and gee, I wonder why she’s talking to Alicia? “We don’t want her to take it?” Alicia wonders, surprised. “No, we just want her to know all the facts,” Diane says. Well, that’s probably good, since none of these facts are obvious.
“So what do I do?” Vanessa Gold asks her ex-husband. “Don’t sleep with other people,” he replies, and um, wow, do I feel like I’m coming into the middle of a conversation which requires more explanation. Don’t sleep with other people – does that mean that she should be sleeping with him? “And that’ll get me elected?” she wonders rightly. “I’d vote for you.” Ha ha, Eli. “Here’s how people will elect you as Illinois State Senator. You’re a woman.” The mother of his only child thanks him sarcastically for noticing. “There are three other men in the race,” he observes, and not to be the diction police, but they’re only “other” if she’s also a man. “They’ll split the male vote. You will win the female vote – but only if you win the female vote.” Now that’s clear as mud.
“Meaning?” she asks. “Female voters are traditional.” Is that true? And what does that even mean? “They don’t like a modern woman.” Again, what does that mean? “And that’s why you’re going to stand beside me? Stand by your woman?” Vanessa snarks. Ah, I like her so much. I’d go so far as to say I like Parker Posey in this role more than anything else I can recall seeing her play. I like her sexy walk across the office, and the relaxed way she plops down. “Vanessa, that is not what I was saying,” he huffs, but she goads him; it’s what you mean, isn’t it? It is. “Having my ex-husband approving of me makes me more traditional?” Does it? Doesn’t it make you wonder why they got divorced, if they were really so close? “Vanessa! What?” Eli twitches. “I’m not saying we have to mean it,” she smiles. “I’m talking about politics.”
He raises his eyebrows. “Just politics?” Huh? “Yes,” she replies, “what else is there?” He gives her an intense look, flecked with moments of self-consciousness. “I don’t know,” he says, “you tell me.” Oh. Wow. He did mean that she should only sleep with him. Unlike his horrific game of sexual chicken with Stacie, or his creepy age-inappropriate longing for Natalie Flores, this feels really natural and nice. I like the chemistry between them. “Uh oh,” Vanessa says.
Hee. That was cute. It came out of left field, but it was cute.
“A what?” Lindsay asks from the prison meeting room. “An Alford plea,” Diane explains. “It’s a form of … guilty plea,” she admits. “No!” Lindsay practically yells, allergic to the thought even after years in prison. “I already said…” Alicia steps in with the requisite hand holding. “Lindsay, just listen to us. We’ll do whatever you want. But with an Alford plea, you get out. You acknowledge to the prosecution that they have enough evidence to convict, but, you get out.” So that’s not exactly saying you’re guilty, which could be palatable. “Do they?” Lindsay wonders. “Have enough evidence to convict?” Alicia guesses her meaning. “Without the DNA, normally we would say no, but you never know for sure what a jury would do.”
The camera curls around someone’s body. “So if I take this plea,” little Megan begins. She’s got a massive purple shiner on her right cheekbone, traveling up to her eyebrow. “The State’s Attorney agrees to a sentence of time served. You go free now, immediately.” Well, that’s nice. Very nice. You can see that this is highly motivating to the human punching bag. “Really?,” she gasps. “Yeah, Megan, but there are drawbacks,” bearded Tommy Segara cautions his client. “You’ll be a convicted felon for life. One parole violation and you’re right back here.” Right. That kind of thing goes on college and work applications too. “But if I don’t take it, I have to stay here?”
“Yes,” answers Pamela’s lawyer. I like the way they’re splitting up the exposition between the three interviews; it’s a complicated concept. “At least until you get a new trial.” Ick. “And that’s how long,” Pamela wonders. “I don’t know,” the lawyer admits, “I want you to have a complete picture here, Pamela. The State’s Attorney offers this plea because they’re afraid of being sued. As part of the plea, you have to promise not to sue.” Huh. Peter never mentioned that when he displayed his guilt about the Torres family for Cary. “But I’ll get out?” Pamela hones back on the best part. “Yes, that’s why they do it. They dangle freedom in front of your eyes to get a guilty plea.” Her use of the word “dangle” clues us in that Pamela’s lawyer has very clear preferences about the path her client ought to take, even if she’s also trying to appear impartial. Tommy didn’t sound too keen on it either, actually.
“And if I turned it down and sued?” Well, that’d depend on whether won the new trial, right? But Diane has a different answer for Lindsay. “The last crime lab lawsuit against Cook County resulted in a ten million dollar award.” Lindsay gapes like a fish. “Ten million, that’s…” she stumbles for words. “Not a guarantee,” Alicia cautions, and Diane gives her a look. “And any award you get you’d have to split 3 ways.” Lindsay stares at the two women, looking for a message in their words. “You think I should reject this plea?” “No, we are just laying out the options,” Diane cautions. “We have a very good case against the State’s Attorney’s Office. We won a lawsuit last year on exactly these kind of crime lab missteps. And it’s important to hold these people responsible. But…” Alicia steps in. “We’re not the ones who have to sit in prison for another year.”
No, you’re not. It’s really hard to believe the judge could be so cruel.
“You have no idea what that kind of money would mean. My family… it would change everything for us.” Sure. They probably weren’t wealthy to begin with, and then with legal fees (assuming this isn’t a pro bono)… Lindsay’s face takes on the glow of a true believer. “I guess the question is, then, is it worth another year in prison to maybe change everything?” “More or less,” Diane agrees. Either way, she’s got 72 hours to figure it out. “What would you do?” she asks Alicia. It takes a moment for Alicia to muster the words: “I have no idea.”
Because you never could, could you? You could guess, but outside of the situation? You wouldn’t know.
“So what do you think?” Diane asks Alicia as they step off the elevators back in the office. “I think she needs the money,” Alicia shrugs. “Who doesn’t?” Diane laughs. Um, Diane, we have seen where you live. Nice try. Feeling like it’d be nice to find a different silk wallpaper for the library (or even needing a 100k bonus so you can buy your $2 mil dream house) isn’t quite the same thing. Alicia’s phone rings – or perhaps she gets a text, because we only see her looking at her phone and then rushing frantically for her office, tossing down her things and clawing open her laptop.
On WEQT8 Chicago (News as It Happens First!), there’s a report in midstream. “A recently released report from an independent review authority has found evidence of a cover up meant to protect a Chicago police officer.” Er, two police officers, guys – one who fired the shot, sure, but the other who lied and planted the gun. The screen reads “State’s Attorney Controversy Again? Mike Kresteva “this is a cover up, pure and simple.”” The news anchor continues: “This panel investigated the shooting of an unarmed man on Chicago’s EL train.” Er, didn’t they make a big deal of the fact that they weren’t supposed to investigate, only review? Sigh. They go to film of Kresteva. “This report, exhaustively investigated by a prestigious blue ribbon panel,” and damn, there’s that word again, “that even included the wife of the State’s Attorney himself,” cue footage of Peter’s press conference from the pilot, with Alicia in the awful boxy jacket looking devastated, “has found a cover up by local officials including the State’s Attorney.” Oh, man. I thought this stuff was supposed to be confidential? “Kresteva also dropped a bombshell that could complicate the ongoing Illinois political scene. “I am running for governor of the great state of Illinois,” he beams. “Together we need to stop corruption like this. We need to stop people like the State’s Attorney,” don’t you love how he doesn’t use Peter’s name, just his title? “from covering up police shootings like this one.”
From the doorway, Kalinda calls out to Alicia in concern. “What’s wrong?” Alicia looks up, wrecked. “Everything!”
Oh, Alicia. This is not a good week for you, is it?
“Gubernatorial curveball” proclaims the legend on the screen. Mike Kresteva’s giving yet another interview – the interviewer at WQET8, Kresteva in front of what must be the state capitol building. “I was never the best father, or husband, or – person, really,” he laughs self-deprecatingly. I think we can safely say he’s still not. “But then something happened to me. My son was diagnosed as having acute lympho-blastic leukemia,” Oh, and that happened to you, did it? We see a photo balding little boy in a hospital gown clutching a Waldorf doll. “And I just – woke up.” Well, okay. If I didn’t know he was a stone cold people user I might find this moving. “Like Paul on the road to Damascus, except -” and here he chuckles again – “I was at a Bears/Lions tailgater, stripped down to my underwear.”
Eli, his hair mussed up, his shirt open and tie undone, recoils from his laptop in pain. “Damn it, damn it!” he curses, running a hand through his loose and floppy hair. “What’s wrong?” a voice calls out softly. And, you guessed it. That’s Vanessa yawning in the bed behind him. “I just didn’t see something coming.” Yeah, we probably all should have. He stomps about. “Where’s my shoe?” On your foot, she laughs. Ha ha, he says, I mean the other one. “What is that?” Vanessa squints at the screen, pulling the embroidered duvet up under her arms. “The competition,” Eli snorts. “My competition,” she wonders. “No,” he snorts again, “Peter’s.” “Peter,” she spits, “You’re thinking about him, aren’t you? You’re in bed with me, but you’re thinking about him.” Now that’s the Parker Posey I know. Eli turns a vile look in her direction. “You’re joking, right? That was a joke?” Her smile reveals that it was. I told you I like her in this role. I genuinely like her.
“Come here,” she laughs. No, he growls. “I need my shoe.” Come here, she repeats. “No, look at this, ten messages, he’s been trying to reach me all day.” Come here, she says again, her naked arm reaching out of the bed.
He comes. He takes her hand. They kiss, and she relaxes back into the bed.
He bows his greasy head. “This was a mistake, wasn’t it?” What an asinine thing to say at that moment. Does she look like she’s consumed with regret? Sure, ex-sex isn’t the best idea ever, but even though this came out of the blue, it’s not looking so terrible at this moment. “Yes,” she laughs, making him laugh. “Now go off to Peter,” she faux-pouts, curling around a pillow. “Not without my…” he begins, till he realizes that she has, in fact, hidden his shoe under the pillow. Ha. She holds it out, making him smile again. “Our first date,” he remembers (and boy, do I want the back story on that one). She chuckles delightedly, and he returns to his desk to watch the distressing political coverage as he puts on the shoe. “Yeah, this was a mistake.” Oh, you’re only saying that because you liked it, Eli.
“The wife of the State’s Attorney, Alicia Florrick, invited me into her office and told me if I changed the report and exonerated her husband, she would sign it too.” Damn! I think perhaps we have found the liar liar with his titular pants on fire; it’s Kresteva on the news, accompanied by more film of Alicia at that first press conference. Eli howls like a wounded predator. “Damn it!” he cries, slamming his laptop shut.
At the main conference room, Diane’s holding court with the extended team, reminding everyone (especially us) that all three girls have to take the Alford plea in order for anyone to get it. “So where are we?” “Pamela wants to hold out for a civil suit,” her lawyer offers. “Oh, I’m sure she does,” Tommy snarks, “after your sales job.” Ha! “Excuse me?” Ms Self-Righteous declares, mortally offended. “Are you accusing me?” “It’s money to you,” Tommy clarifies with a world weary wave of his hand. “It’s a potential 10 million dollar lawsuit. You get twenty percent of that. You can’t get twenty percent of freedom.” Oh, very nice turn of phrase, Tommy!
“Okay, let’s keep it civil,” Diane mutter almost under her breath. “Tommy?” “Megan wants to take the plea. She was beaten up in prison yesterday.” That’s fair. “So here we go with the emotional blackmail,” Ms Self Righteous Money Grubber snarks. “It’s not blackmail, it’s the truth. She’s being targeted in prison, and talk of a civil suit’s just making it worse.” Self-Righteous has had enough. ‘What about your client, Lindsay?” she asks Diane. “She hasn’t made up her mind yet. She doesn’t want to admit to something she didn’t do,” Diane answers. “Exactly,” Self-Righteous chimes in. Yeah, because that’s what’s motivating you. “She doesn’t want to spend the rest of her life in prison, either,” Alicia contributes, giving Self-Righteous an annoyed look.
“Look, we all know this case isn’t a slam dunk. The only reason the State’s Attorney is even offering us the Alford plea is because he’s on the run.” She turns to Alicia. “You’re married him, right? Tell us.” Now Alicia’s (clad in a creamy suit with a soft tie and blouse underneath) the one who’s offended. “I can’t speak to that.” And indeed, she couldn’t even if she wanted to. “None of us can,” Tommy notes wisely. “We’ve all heard of cases that seemed like slam dunks and turned out not to be.” Diane’s – impressed? “Okay, so we have three days to figure out whether we have a slam dunk.” Referee Diane agrees. “Our clients are looking for an assessment of their chances, and the prosecution is using our dissent against us.” Self-Righteous notices Will walking by, and can barely contain a smile of avaricious delight. Oh my goodness. I think he’s about to become this carnivore’s tasty snack. Diane suggests they use the rest of the 3 days to work through everything.
“You’re on it, right?” Alicia turns to look at Kalinda, who’s been sitting quietly behind her. “Yeah, I’ve got a call into the medical examiner’s office.” Both women shift so Tommy can get by them. “Oh, and, um, ” Alicia adds, “Kalinda, can I hire you to look into something for me?” Kalinda leans forward. “Sure, what is it?” As always, it’s hard for Alicia to talk about her family issues. “Just a …a… I think there might be something wrong in a financial arrangement.” Woot! She’s going to sic Kalinda on Jackie! I love it. “Sure. Whose?” Alicia hesitates. “I will need to know,” Kalinda tells her drolly, with that wonderful hint of a Mona Lisa smile. “My mother-in-law’s,” Alicia admits, embarrassed eye roll and all.
There’s a knock on Will’s door. “Hey bum,” a dry voice calls out; Will looks up from his paperwork. “Callie!” She actually giggles (she did not seem like the giggling type), lounging sexily in his doorway. He get up to greet her. “What’re you doing here, the slumber camp murder?” Yes indeed. She looks impossibly tall and skinny in her maroon pants suit, shirt the same color. “We’re trying to win them some money, but kids today,” she snorts, hugging him, “they don’t want money they want freedom.” Hee. Will laughs. “You look good suspended!” She’s very obviously checking him out, making sure he sees it. He smiles. “Thanks, got any pointers?” He goes back to his desk. “Don’t get rusty,” she says immediately, “You’ve been suspended, ay, what, six months?” Yes, he says, lowering himself into his seat.
“I was a year,” she admits rather bravely. And when I say bravely, I mean you can see that she’s a little nervous about sharing the fact, but does it anyway. Despite asking her for pointers, he seems to have not known this. “Addiction. Cocaine use.” Oh. “I didn’t know that,” he says, looking up at her. (Hmm. I know what I said a second ago, but can that be true in this gossipy town, that he genuinely hadn’t heard?) Yes, she says. “Some of my best summations were done high.” Damn. “But don’t I seem calmer these days?” She leans on hand on his desk, tosses her hair uncomfortably, and laughs; it’s brazen and awkward at once, and rather weirdly endearing. “You do,” he says gravely. She sits, and asks after his paperwork.
“I’m reading a book I wrote,” he confesses, not looking up. It’s finished already? Impressive. “How is it?” she asks, tossing up her eyebrows. “Not good,” he admits ruefully. She laughs, thinking he’s joking until he looks up at her and she can see he’s serious. “Oh,” she says, chastened, “sorry.” “No,” he tells her, “it’s just one more thing I know I can’t do,” he shrugs. She thinks she knows something he might like – Behind the Bar, a support group for sanctioned lawyers – disbarment, suspension, drug. The look on his face say it all. He is not a twelve stepper, our Will. “Sounds exciting.” Oh come on, she laughs, what’re you doing anyway? She’s challenging him: is he just lying around doing nothing? “Didn’t we almost go out on a date three years ago?”
Okay, now he’s interested. A smart, sexy woman wants to make time with him? Well, maybe he could check out a support group if there was the possibility of sex at the end of it. “Yeah,” he says, “you stood me up.” “I was in rehab,” she stares back, unflinching. Good excuse. “So, we’ll make this our date. Come on. What’re you doing tomorrow night?” Slowly, not sold but not uninterested either, Will smiles.
“Kalinda!” a voice rings through a bright white tiled hallway. “Hibernating,” she quips to a short man in scrubs. It’s Jason Kravits, a classic “Hey, It’s That Guy!” (thought technically he doesn’t appear on the website); you know, the sort of character actor you see everywhere but don’t necessarily know by name. He’s mostly known to me as persnickety prosecutor Richard Bay of The Practice, but he’s been everywhere. “You guys haven’t been too forthcoming lately.” Yes – so why does she feel like it’s okay to come out now? “Oh, that’s all changed, we’re loosening up around here.” He helps straighten her visitors badge. She wonders why, but he doesn’t know. Did the writers just get bored of her not having sources? “Your name is no longer dirt,” he explains, and she’ll take it. He starts howling at some orderlies who’re wheeling a body into the wrong place, then gestures at Kalinda in solidarity, smart people against the morons. “What’d you need?”
She follows him down the antiseptic looking hall. “Slumber camp killing. 2007. Three girl killers.” Oh, yeah, that one, he says – “I thought that was getting kicked.” You’d think so, but the SA’s not ready to let go. “Ah yes, dead horse beaten yet again. Come on.”
He takes Kalinda into a storage room. “16 year old girl,” he says, taking a large box down from a shelf, “the other girls brought her into the woods, stabbed her 8 times, uh, slashed her carotid, weapon was never found.” Good memory, dude; he says all this before he takes the cover off the box. Once he does that, he starts flipping through the folders within. “Ah, oh, and look at this.” What, Kalinda wonders. “A note for you,” the little man tells her, bringing over a post it which says “Kalinda – One step ahead of you – Good luck, Cary.” Making me think he remembers the details so well because he just went over this with Cary, little man twists the knife. “ASA Agos, he’s one step ahead of you.” For the moment, she replies, slapping the post it onto the medical examiner’s chest as he hands over the thick autopsy report.
First things up are photos of Rosa’s limbs half covered with leaves. She was naked, Kalinda realizes, surprised. Turns out the cops thought rape at first (“cops always think rape”) but since there was no actual evidence of that, they deduced that the killer(s) wanted to make it look like rape. “What’s this?” she asks, pointing to Rosa’s bruised ankles. The examiner goes into a lengthy explanation of lividity (post mortem bruising) to which Kalinda says “duh!”. She means a tiny white line above Rosa’s ankle. “I don’t know,” he says. It’s probably a mark of something which stopped the blood from settling at that particular point in her ankle, where something pressed against her skin. Huh. There’s a matching one on the other ankle. “Oh my God you’re right,” the man says, bringing the photo right up to his nose, “you solved it!” She smiles in tolerant appreciation of his sarcasm.
Except you know she probably has immediately found the most essential clue. She can afford not to be annoyed by the ribbing.
And there’s Mike Kresteva, his accusations about Alicia playing on a laptop. “It’s a lie, Eli, he’s lying,” she wails. They’re in Eli’s office. “So you weren’t on this blue ribbon panel?” No, she was. It’s not that. Mike’s spun his lies out of truth; best way to do it! “So you didn’t meet with him?” Now Eli’s giving her the fish eye, which is a little silly because he can’t think she’d do something like that. “I met with him – that is, he met with me – he came here, but he came here to ask me if I wanted to write a minority report, and I said no.” But you were on the blue ribbon panel, he pounces.
She’s stuck. “Unfortunately, I cannot say anything about those proceedings, because they were confidential.” He rolls his eyes at her careful phrasing, and then sits. “So, that’s it.” Wait, she cries, puzzled, you have to send out a statement or something! “Saying what?” he says, checking his phone. “That it isn’t true, I didn’t ask him to change the report,” she splutters. Why would we do that? “Because he’s lying, Eli!” Alicia moans.
Oh, Alicia. It’s interesting to see how thin her skin still is, when she’s struck in an unorthodox area. This isn’t Peter’s ethics under suspicion for once, it’s hers. Eli laughs. “Alicia, people lie. And politicians are just people.” Her frustration is clear. “The problem is when you run around putting out statements saying people lie, it just draws more attention to the lie. People think there’s something wrong with you for making such a fuss about it. People think you lied because you’re making a fuss about a lie.” Crazy, Alicia laments, and it is. It’ll go away when the 24 hour news cycle is over, he pacifies her. “But it – it makes me look bad,” she sighs. Yep, that sucks. “And, and he gets away with it?”
“Yup. You gotta let it go, Alicia.” Easy to say when it’s not your honor on the line, Eli. “It’s the big leagues. You foul a few off.” She doesn’t try to argue anymore, but he hasn’t convinced her.
Aaaaand, we’re back to that picture of Rosa Torres’ ankle. Kalinda looks at the pictures, grabs her own ankles, feels them up, looks at the pictures some more.
“It’s a bicycle clip,” she tells Alicia, tossing one on her desk. Kalinda victorious! “You wear it on your ankle to keep your pants from getting caught on the bike chain.” Alicia turns the clip over in her hands. “Which one is this for? My mother in law?” Kalinda laughs. “The victim’s body.” She explains about the spots pressed into Rosa’s ankles and lack of lividity. “But there was nothing in the police report that said she was riding a bike that night,” Alicia worries. Kalinda, on the other hand, is thrilled. “I know. And yet…” she smiles avidly, leaning over Alicia’s desk. “Where was she riding it?,” Alicia follows through with the thought.
Good question, ladies.
“A bicycle?,” Lindsay asks, incredulous. “There was a chance that Rosa rode a bicycle that night before she was killed,” Alicia explains; she and Diane are conferring at the prison. “But she didn’t have a bike,” Lindsay continues, “I mean,we weren’t allowed to bring any. They didn’t want any of us off grounds.” Very reasonable. Could it have belonged to a counselor, Diane asks. Turns out Rosa’s cabin counselor, one Mary Jane, liked to mountain bike, so yes. “Good, thanks, that’s helpful,” Diane nods, giving Alicia an excited look. Before they can leave, however, Lindsay has a question. “What about the plea? What are Pamela and Megan going to do?” Ah yes, Diane answers, shooting Alicia another look as she settles back in her seat. She restates it; Pamela votes no, Megan yes. “Megan’s being beaten up in prison,” Alicia confesses. “Oh my God,” Lindsay cries in true concern, “I’m so sorry. Maybe I should take the plea…”
Diane cuts her off, not wanting her emotional response to go too far. “Here’s what we’re trying to do, Lindsay. We want to line up the evidence to demonstrate to Judge Romano that the State’s Attorney has no evidence to bring you to trial.” Right, and so no need for a guilty plea. “They’re merely trying to neutralize a civil suit. If we’re successful, you won’t have to plead guilty. You’ll just be released.” Lindsay, as usual, addresses her question to Alicia. “But you have to do this before the plea expires?” Yes, of course. And two more days is a much better timeline for you (and punching bag Megan) than a year! “And you want me to sit tight?” Alicia smiles. ‘Yes, just for a little while longer.” Then I will, Lindsay say with a big intake of breath. It’s smart – it’s the right thing to do. Diane’s pleased.
“Tell Megan to stay strong,” Lindsay finishes, and the two women smile without making promises. “Thank you, Alicia,” Lindsay calls out again before Alicia can make it through the door. “You still having nightmares?” Alicia asks, standing in front of an open, buzzing door. No, Lindsay admits nervously. Liesel Allen Yeager, you’re doing a nice job here.
The camera takes us over a barren forest – rolling hills, some pine trees, but mostly bare gray trunks, a lake. “So we have evidence that the victim Rosa Torres might have ridden a bike the night she was killed,” Kalinda says when she walks in front of a lake with an outdoorsy-looking young woman with long, light brown hair. “I understand that, uh, you had a bike, right?” This is clearly Mary Jane, and she did. “Why?” Mary Jane asks suspiciously. “And you reported it stolen,” Kalinda continues, “but then you found it, right?” Well, we can all see where this is going. Fascinating. “Yeah, a week later, why?” I’m such a dork that the first thing I think is hmm, I wonder where it was for that week? Was it deliberately hidden and returned? Again, Mary Jane doesn’t see the point. “Rosa borrowed it that night, intending to return it, then she was murdered.” How do you know all this, Mary Jane wonders, but Kalinda’s above giving answers. “Where’d you find it?” she presses.
“What does it matter?” Mary Jane replies, annoyed. “Well, it matters because Lindsay’s innocent, and and my guess is, Rosa borrowed your bike that night to meet someone off grounds, and he (or she) moved her body back on grounds, but never knew about the bike.” Huh. You can see Mary Jane thinking this through. “So where’d you find it?”
“I want complete separation between the legal, and the political,” Mike tells a room full of minions. He’s in the middle of taking a big breath – more hot air to expel at his subordinates? – when he notices Alicia, and so dismisses the underlings. Silently, they exit the room. Almost all the walls here are adorned with enormous abstract paintings, providing an interesting backdrop for the conversation. Mike apologizes evilly for not talking to her before his press conference. Because they’re such close confidants, you know. “I didn’t want to let my campaign get in the way of the panel,” he beams. Damn. He really is such a politician. And that’s the perfect way to get under her skin.
She smiles. “So – I invited you to my office?” Clearly, she expects him to taunt her with the lie, but that’s not his strategy. “Excuse me?” he asks, feigning bewilderment very effectively. “”I invited you to my office and tried to get you to change the report about Peter?” she asks, sarcastic. “Yes,” he replies without a trace of irony or understanding. Nope, nothing’s gonna make her madder than this. “Which is a lie,” she says. “Which part?” he wonders. “All of it,” she gasps. I won’t keep tormenting you, but it goes on. And on. In the same vein. He’s pleasant, he’s innocent, it all happened like he said on tv. Sigh. “Alicia, I, I’m sorry, our memories seem to diverge here.” The only thing that’s not rehashing is that he’s claiming she waived confidentiality so he could mention it in the press conference. You know, because that’s plausible. He dismisses his assistant so they can keep up the childish taunting. You’re lying! No, you are!
“You’re gonna lose,” Alicia declares wrathfully. ” I am?” he asks, ever the innocent. “To whom?” “Peter,” she says. “Naw,” he replies affably, “You know why I’m not? He isn’t going to enter the race. He’s smart. He knows he’s too vulnerable.” Hmmm. “Stop lying about me,” she bites. “Alicia,” he begins, sitting down on his desk, “you’re pretending what I’m saying isn’t the truth. I know a lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting its shoes on, but still!”
Realizing how utterly pointless it all is, Alicia leaves. Well, that was useful.
“Found it right here,” Mary Jane tells Kalinda, “a week later, just leaning there against a tree, the chain broken.” Huh. So her body wasn’t moved from off grounds, probably; she broke the chain and left her counselor’s bike to walk home, where she was attacked? Kalinda notices a tiny red cabin nearby. “Who lives here?” Some people who work in town, Mary Jane shrugs. There are other little cabins – a brown one, a green one. “And counselors?” Kalinda presses. “A few,” Mary Jane admits, shuffling her feet.
Someone knocks on a green wooden door. Hey, it’s Kalinda! Her pitch to the home’s inhabitatns; would it be a good idea to send her daughter to the camp up the road? Next door, which is brown; she wants a job at the camp. Third door (where she is considerably more flustered): she’s an investigator for a reality tv show (ha!) looking at Rosa’s murder. This wins her a big, rather unpleasantly excited smile from a nice looking guy – kind of a low rent Matthew Bomer – in his thirties. She so picked the right tactic here. “Really?” he says, “I worked at the camp then.”
And so the fellow ushers Kalinda in. “Rosa was a great girl – that was a tragedy, what happened,” he says, distracted by looking for a glass to pour Kalinda some water. “Yeah, must have been tough,” she sympathizes. “Were you guys close?” No, just the usual camper/staff relationship, he says, which immediately makes me curious because there’s an enormous range within that ‘usual’. He ran the photography program. He’s got what is either a funky, chunky blind over a window, or some really artistic piece comprised of wooden bits glued to his wall. Interesting texture, but very distracting. I suspect it’s some sort of window treatment because it’s backlit, but it’s hard to say. I’m way more interested in it than him.
He’s very interested in himself, of course. He taught at the community college. Film is much cooler than digital. Film was art; digital photography isn’t. Blah blah blah. Kalinda pretends to be sympathetic. “I loved workin’ at that camp, though,” he smiles, having found the right album. “Those kids inspire me.” He has a happy, nostalgic smile on his face. In what way? “Their reverence for nature. There’s not a lot of reverence anymore.” Kalinda can’t roll her eyes at this bit of world weariness, but I sure can. Poser. ‘There she is,” he says, finally securing the correct photograph, tilting the album so Kalinda can see. He pulls out the picture and hands it to her. “There’s Rosa,” he says, and we can see that in a group of roughly ten girls, he’s wrapped around Rosa, and she’s holding his hand. “Nice girl.”
They smile at each other, but the music foretells dark things for the pretentious photographer.
“I don’t know, he hasn’t decided yet,” Eli tells Alicia back at Lockhart/Gardner. They’re walking, they’re talking, just how I like it. “Which way is he leaning?” Surprisingly, he’s leaning against. Huh. Why? “Honestly, he feels the Democratic Committee is yanking him around. They promised him a speech at the national convention, then they backed down. It doesn’t help that Kresteva has declared; he’s pretty popular, you know.” Nice finger waving, Eli. “I spoke to him,” she confesses, and ooooo, that’s got Eli’s attention. His head snaps up. “You – when?” Alicia looks down, ashamed of herself for trying. “Today.” “You spoke to him about lying, didn’t you?” I can’t help but chuckle at his exasperation. She did. “You couldn’t help yourself. And he said he wasn’t lying, you misremembered, right?” She hates to admit it, but yes.
Eli purses his lips. “Alicia, I am good at my job. I know what people do. So when I say don’t speak to them again, please believe me – I know what I speak of.” She still hates to admit it. They stare at each other for a minute. “Peter should run,” she says. You can see the hope flickering in his face, though he tries to keep it under wraps. “I know,” he says quietly. “He needs your help.” She nods. Eli leans forward, beginning a pitch. “Kresteva is dangerous – he’s like, Blagojevich dangerous.” And that’s too much. “Stop selling, Eli, quit while you’re ahead.” Okay, Eli nods. Then he realizes what she said.
“I”m ahead?” he repeats, excited. Hee. “You tell me what you need and I will think about it.” Damn. “No kids,” she remembers to add, and he puts up his hand, warding off the caution. He knows. She leaves, and he gasps dramatically to himself, unable to believe he’s got her cooperation and blessing. “There it is,” he says, throwing out his arms as if to steady himself. And then he wraps an arm around his stomach, undone by the pivotal moment.
“You don’t have to say that, Alicia,” Peter says, sitting in the conversational area in his office across from his wife. She knows. And she knows he’s unsure about running. Peter snorts. “Well, Kresteva’s no worse than… most.” He looks up for her reaction. “I’m not sure I agree,” she says, “but either way, this isn’t about him.” “It’s about you wanting to see me elected?” Peter smiles, the ends of his mouth curving up into his dimples, incredulous. “Peter,” she begins carefully, “we have had our issues, but I’ve always respected your political abilities, and I’ve always thought you were better in office than… the alternative.” Huh. Okay. He considers her words. “You know, to be honest, Alicia, I’m finally enjoying what I’m doing here. That’s why I’m thinking of not running.” Okay, she says, standing but giving him a coy little twinkly grin that says she knows better, “if that’s the reason.”
Well, the man is allowed to like his job, right? And he’s barely been in it for a year this time around. “Hey,” he calls out, “your support means a lot to me.” She smiles at him. “Run, Peter. You’d be a good governor.” You can see how much he was leaning the other way by how stunned, how overthrown he looks now.
“And that’s when I found out … I was disbarred,” a man says, collapsing into full-on weeping. “I worked my whole life to be a lawyer,” he sobs. Callie and Will look at each other, alone in a room full of chairs with this . Lousy attendance, huh? You know, this show has real contempt for people who wallow in emotion; it’s like Alicia that way. It wants to keep your pain at a distance unless it seems sufficiently worthy. This is played for laughs; it’s much too unseemly to qualify. “It was everything to me!” he wails.
Who set up the room and those three dozen donuts, I wonder? The weeping man? “This is fun,” Will snarks as he and Callie grab coffee. “There are usually more people,” she smiles, a bit embarrassed for having brought him. It’s not a very promising date so far, unless it’s to show they’re both too cool for the histrionics. “Yep, that’s all this needs,” Will snarks again. She looks down at him; she’s really quite a bit taller, at least in the heels she’s presumably wearing with that olive colored dress. “You know one of the dangers of not having the law to fall back on?” she asks. “Coming here with you?” he quips. She smiles. “Distractions. Drugs, gambling, anonymous sex with strangers…” “We’re not strangers,” he flirts.
“I could pretend,” she offers, and yes, that certainly gotten his attention. By all means – let’s not talk about our lives, let’s have near-stranger sex! She gives him a quirky little smile. “My apartment is ten minutes from here,” she says, presumably writing the address on a slip of paper. “I’ll leave first,” she whispers. “If we left, he’d be alone,” Will jerks his chin towards Weeping Man, who’s got his head down between his knees, distraught. She gives him a flirty, coy little look and hands him the slip of paper. “My address,” she says. Will doesn’t seem to know quite how to feel about it all, when it comes to it. She takes a very flirty, challenging bite of donut, and stuffs another chunk into Will’s mouth. When she leaves, he’s left to look bemused. He wipes his face, but there’s still glaze on his nose.
“Mom!” Peter bellows, “how are you?” Jackie, wearing a black pants and a bright jacket the color of an under-ripe tomato, sets her purse down at the conference table in Peter’s office. You know, that really is a massive space. She’s fine, and thrilled as ever to see him there. “It seems so appropriate.” She sits, and Peter holds onto the back of another chair from the set, spinning it to face her but not sitting down. “Don’t buy the house, Mom,” he begins without preamble. “She talked to you,” Jackie grins, catty and gleeful. (Um, wasn’t that the reasonable thing for Alicia to do? How could you have tried to buy him a house without talking to him?) Peter laughs. “Yes, Alicia talked to me,” he agrees. “She doesn’t understand,” Jackie flutters, dismissive, “she thinks I’m doing it to hurt her. I’m doing this to help you, and the kids.”
“I know that, Mom,” he says. “And thank you. Now don’t buy the house.” She’s not listening. “You know she wants to buy it, she wants to live there without you,” Jackie tells her son, as if he didn’t know it. As if it were her business to discover his wife’s secrets and then expose them to him. “It’s not your house!” he insists. Finally picking up on his response, she’s surprised. “I put a down payment on it! I’ll lose that.” No you won’t, he says. She won’t? “You’ll lose the earnest money at the most,” he says. “I can’t afford losing that,” she declares. “Yes you can,” he says patiently, “you’ll be fine.”
“Peter,” she shakes her head, standing to deliver a blow, “I love you. You have a good heart. You don’t know when people are manipulating you, but I do. And Alicia is manipulating you!” She tells him this in a patronizing, taunting way, and it has the reverse affect from her intention; he’s been kind and pleasant and patient, but she’s managed to make him mad. “Alicia and I are trying very hard to act like adults. I need you,” he points right in her face, raising his voice for the first time, “to butt out.”
For that moment, she stands gaping at him, her mouth open. “Peter, I can’t believe it,” she chirps, trying to brazen it out with another smile. He grabs her arm and roughly guides her back into her seat. “Listen to me, sit down, listen to me,” he says, following her down. “Do not buy that house. D’you understand me?” He’s not yelling anymore, but his face is red, and he’s wagging his finger, as if she were a dog or maybe a kid who’d crashed his car. She’s got her head and arms braced against the back of the chair, trying to get away from him.
“Peter, she’s controlling you,” she declares through gritted teeth. “Mother, do you want me in your life?” Yes, of course she does. His voice is low and threatening; there’s a vein in his forehead. “Then stop it, stop it right now. Call the seller tomorrow, or I will. Do you understand me?” This time she does. And it rather looks like she’s about to cry as she nods yes. “Good,” he says, standing and rebuttoning his suit jacket. “Thank you for coming in.” Woah – she is crying. She’s crying!
If you’d asked me, I would never have thought that I could come out of this kind of conversation actually feeling sorry for Jackie. Oh, she’s loathsome, don’t get me wrong, but wow. He’s scary. Seriously scary. I never ever thought I’d see him stand up to her that way, that’s for sure.
Diane’s staring at the picture from the photographer’s album. “So you think he was having a sexual relationship with her?” she says, incredulous. Kalinda does. “I checked his record. Two years after the murder, another camper accused him of sexual harassment.” Huh. We’re in Diane’s office, standing with Alicia, Kalinda, Tommy, and Will’s faux-stranger Callie, who decides to restate everything we’ve just figured out. They’re all staring at photos. “So you’re saying that Rosa took Mary Jane’s bike and rode it to this counselor’s house?” Yes, exactly. “Yes, Justin Varney, But no one ever knew because the body was found in the woods back near her cabin. The killer must have dumped her there.”
Tommy wants to know what his motive is. The sexual harassment accusations, Kalinda supposes; Rosa was 16, Varney was 25. (Yeah, right. For the record, the actor playing Justin? Tony nominated Will Swenson, who’s currently 38.) “So call a hearing – ask for reconsideration on bail,” Callie suggests, excited. Diane purses her lips and tilts her head at Tommy, who looks doubtful. “It’s worth a shot,” she judges, and he accedes. Alicia will write up the motion.
“No, you take it head on,” Eli tells Vanessa, “we had problems with our marriage, but we’ve worked hard to mend fences.” “Mend fences?” Vanessa sneers. “Do you have a better cliche?” Eli wonders. Hee. And look, it’s the shiny bald head of the lovely Frank Landau lumbering toward Eli’s office. That’s always a delight. Excusing himself, Eli heads into the little reception area outside the door. “Hey, Frank, what’s up,” Eli smiles. “You tell me.” “You saw Mike Kresteva’s running for governor.” Indeed he did. “Is Peter running against him?” “Is the Democratic party supporting him?” Good question, no matter who your “him” is. “You come out for Peter, he’ll run.”
Frank dodges the question. “That’s your ex-wife,” he nods at Vanessa. Eli turns elaborately to look at her, turns back and agrees: yes, Vanessa. “And she’s running for State Senate?” Oh, you can see the wheel turning behind Eli’s cheery smile. Of course she is. “And you’re running her campaign?” Consulting, Eli clarifies. “I can do both at the same time, don’t worry.”
“And what if you can’t,” Frank says, with a hint of threat. Eli’s face wipes clean of geniality. “What’s up, Frank?” “We don’t want her to run,” he says, pointing at her with his chin. “We want Robert Mulvey for State Senator.” Oh, so that’s why they got so close so quickly; so Eli could stab her in the back. “Don’t do this to me, Frank,” Eli pleads. “Hey, she jumped the line, Eli” Frank insists, reasonable, “Mulvey wins the women’s vote without her.” Ugh. There it is. “So let Mulvey compete,” Eli suggests. “No,” Frank declares, implacable, “that’s not how this works. Mulvey loses the women’s vote, he loses.” Huh. Wait, is this the Robert Mulvey of the naughty photographs, the one with Presidential ambitions who had to go to rehab to get his scandal to go away? Again, nice continuity. “You want us to help Peter, you drop out of your ex-wife’s campaign.” “This is crazy,” Eli shakes his head, as upset as we’ve seen him. “No it isn’t,” Franks shakes his head. “I can’t do this to her,” Eli claims. “Yes you can,” Frank tells him mildly. “She can run in four years, you can help her then.”
“Damn it,” Eli spits out; Frank puts out his hands at this unseemly show of emotion. “Hey, don’t go getting melodramatic on me.” He takes a step in. “You don’t care about the state race.” That’s right; he cares about Vanessa. “Peter’s the ballgame. Tell her you can’t help,” Frank shrugs, as if it were that easy. He slaps Eli on the arm. “Good to see you, Eli!” he says genially, and leaves. Slowly, melodramatically, Eli turns tortured eyes on his ex-wife. She gives him a cheery wave, and he responds with an empty smile.
Justin Varney’s Facebranch page tells us that he likes snowboarding, movies and burritos. (Eye roll) It also shows that he was partying with friends in a bar at 11:46 on August 5, 2007. This is significant because the medical examiner has established time of death at the very precise 11:44. (Leaving aside how unlikely it is that they could time her death to the minute, is anyone else curious about the timing of this case, btw? Lindsay, Megan and Pamela were convicted 3 years ago. The lab must have processed this evidence just before conviction, because otherwise Childs wouldn’t have been in office as Peter claims. So – does that mean that the trial took place in 2009, two whole years after the crime, or that it’s 2010 on the show? Surely it’s the former; it seems a little confusing, that’s all.)
Just as she’s beginning to panic at this ruination of her perfect scenario, Kalinda notices a bracelet around Justin’s wrist. She quickly flips through more papers: at the end of the smiling photography class from the camp, Megan has the same bracelet design wrapped around her tiny wrist.
“And what do we have today, counselors?” Judge Romano asks. There’s itty bitty Megan, recovered from her shiner and looking rather malevolent. Diane’s about to make the pitch as Kalinda crashes into the courtroom. She grabs Alicia, explaining that Justin couldn’t be the killer, but still drags her out as Diane tries to make the judge feel the urgency the three young women are feeling.
“The timeline might be off?” Alicia guesses, looking at the time stamp, blown up on Kalinda’s tablet. “Yeah, but I found something else,” the investigator exclaims. “That’s a friendship bracelet, the kind teenage girls give to their boyfriends and keep one for themselves.” Well, that’s not the only use. You also give them to, you know, friends. Kalinda skims ahead several photos. “And that is Megan. Megan gave Justin her friendship bracelet.” A split screen on the tablet shows that it is the same design. “Justin didn’t do it.” Alicia looks thoughtful. “He was dating girls from the camp, but he wasn’t at home the night of the murder. Rosa went there looking for him…”
“Megan was jealous,” Alicia realizes, shaking her head. Kalinda nods. “Megan laid in wait for her,”Kalinda fills in the blank. Does Cary know? It’s only a matter of time, Kalinda guesses. “And our client?” “I don’t know,” Kalinda answers, “I think the only one involved is Megan, but” “…their fates are tied,” Alicia finishes. Oh, you two, finishing each other’s thoughts that way. Go on with you. Alicia’s phone rings, and, guess who? Jackie. “Okay, go show it to Diane,” Alicia says, “and thanks for your help with my mother-in-law.” Kalinda disappears into the courtroom, and Alicia clears her throat.
“Hi Jackie,” she says. “Yes, Jackie. The money for the down payment. You borrowed it from Zach and Grace’s trust, and that is…” She did NOT! Oh no she didn’t! Wow. That’s beyond low. And how did she possibly get access to their trust? That is beyond shocking; I almost feel like she could go to jail for embezzlement and fraud. But wait, why did Alicia stop talking? “What?”
“I had a stroke,” Jackie says, laid flat on her back in a hospital bed. Holy crap. Boy, she really wasn’t used to Peter talking to her like that, was she? “Oh, come on, Jackie,” Alicia snaps. “Alicia,” Jackie replies, “I can’t reach Peter. You need to call him. I’m in the hospital.” Alicia puts the phone away from her ear, rolling her eyes, unsure whether she should play into this or not. She purses her lips, and you can tell she’ll make the call.
There’s Friendly Voldemort stepping into an elevator, in a dark stone paneled lobby. The doors are almost closed when Peter steps in and pries them apart. Well. How manly of him. He’s got his villain face on, too (twice in one episode!) and he’s using every ounce of his intimidating physical presence to, well, intimidate. Are his hands balled up in fists? No, no. No light-saber there either. (You know he’s Darth Vader; good and evil war with him.) “And here we are,” Voldemort snarks. “Yup, here we are.” “Have you decided?” Mike wonders. Peter screws up his face, not ready to spit it right out. Maybe not even decided yet. “No private lives,” he says.
Oh, that’s funny coming from the guy with the biggest sex scandal in the state. Like you’re ever going to face a competitor who won’t go there?
But of course, that’s not what’s private.
“Mafia rules?” Mike snickers. “We can come after each other but not the families,” Peter clarifies. “Nope,” Mike replies. “Sorry, Peter, my one play here – sorry, guys,” he interrupts as the elevator doors open on the next floor. “Can you grab the next one? Thanks,” he says to the people waiting, smiling affably. He stabs the door closed (with his finger on a button, not with a wand. Some things are too much to hope for.) As the doors close, he turns his smiling face to Peter. “My one play here is to keep you out of the race.” Right, so no hard feelings when I eviscerate the people you care about, okay? “And how do you keep an ambitious man from running? Tell him you’ll go after his family.” Hmmm. Will it be all Alicia, do you think, and all lies, or will he ferret out stuff like their separation, her affair/relationship with Will, Becca’s abortion, Grace’s crazy dance teacher and kidnapping scare? Will dredging up old stuff suffice, or will he keep inventing new ones? Voldemort keeps smiling. “With everything you got,” he finishes. Peter turns to look him full in the face. “You’re a real piece of work, aren’tcha?”
“I try to be,” he swoops in a little closer. Peter laughs. “Well, I’m gonna come after you with everything I’ve got. With everything I can find,” he promises in return, raising his eyebrows. “Sure. Why not,” Mike replies, walking off the elevator. Did he think that would work, or is it just that he thinks he can make it ugly enough for Peter to eventually drop out? Won’t that make him look like the bad guy, too? He walks back to the doors to deliver this threat: “Peter, I can promise you one thing. If you enter the race, you might not regret it, but your wife will. Oh, and, your phone’s ringing.” Peter picks up the phone, watching Mike leave. “Hello Alicia,” he says as the other riders get on the elevator. “What?” he cries as the doors close.
And there’s Jackie in her hospital bed. Alicia walks in nervously, and Jackie opens her eyes. Silently, she beckons her rogue daughter-in-law to her bedside. Step by step Alicia moves forward, until she’s bending over Jackie’s face. “I forgive you,” says the bitter old snake.
It’s a good thing Peter walks in just then. “Is she alright?” he asks, genuinely upset. “I don’t know,” Alicia replies, but if she’s alright enough to pull that sort of passive aggressive crap, I’d say she’s alright. “Mom, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry I yelled at you, are you alright?” She makes a martyred face for her son, but while he’s beating himself up, she gives Alicia a little eyebrow raise that says she knows just how much power her illness gives her.
Yep, she’s alright. Whether Alicia’s going to be able to avoid moving into the house and taking care of Jackie in her recovery, now that’s another question.
“I’m sorry,” Eli says softly. Oh, Eli. You know, he didn’t want to take on Vanessa’s campaign, and that it’s obviously not where his ambition lies, but it’s still crappy that he’s letting himself be dictated to by a bully, and that he’s letting her down like this. Vanessa thinks very little of this remark. “I thought I could handle two campaigns at once, but I just don’t have the bandwidth to do both well enough at once,” Eli lies, a large wineglass in his hand. Oh, I hope this didn’t start out as a romantic evening, but I’m going to bet it did.
“So you chose him,” she snaps. “I chose the campaign I was managing, not consulting,” he pretends (which would be reasonable if it were true). Right. She’s got her arms crossed defensively, and is ready to let rip. “I’m sorry,” he repeats. Why is he just falling on his sword, pretending it’s not within his control, like an unsexy version of Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons? She’s a big girl. I’m willing to bet she’d understand. And she could use it in four years as a promise of support from Frank Landau. Instead, she gets right in his face. “This is because we slept together, isn’t it?” See, is it better for her to think that than the truth? Of course, then she’d have to admit she’s wasting her time and money and emotional energy to run a race with enemies she doesn’t even know about. “No,” he replies unconvincingly. “Vanessa, it pains me to do this.” And, there it is again, the Parker Posey we all know: “Well I’m so sorry for your pain,” she barks right into his face.
“Look, I hope,” he begins as she runs for her coat. “What?” she snaps. “I hope we can still be friends, because – this has been nice,” he offers, attempting a smile. And it’s for real. But when you lie so many times, it all blurs together; she can’t see it, and she clomps over and shoves him with one furious hand. And then she stomps out, leaving him alone in the darkness, mulling over his wine.
“Okay, run this by me again?” Cary asks in his new/old office. “Hypothetically,” Alicia begins. “Of course,” he assents, with a little touch of that Cary humor that I love. “If I could convince you that one of the defendants was guilty and the other two weren’t,” she continues. ‘Well that’s a big if,” Cary says. (I hate to say it, but we don’t actually know that Lindsay and Pamela didn’t do it, other than the fact that we like Lindsay and she says she didn’t. Granted Megan was the one grasping at the plea deal, Tommy could certainly argue that it was Megan’s motive but that Lindsay and Pamela helped out.) But if I could make you believe it, she presses, would you release the other two?
He sighs. “Alicia, it’s not my call to make. I still have a job to protect here. For the time being, at least.” Can’t she go to Peter, then? Or have him take the information to Peter? Alicia looks confused at his clear job stress (which is a little silly, given the demotion). “But I thought you liked the – what did you call it? – clarity.” He smiles, rueful. “Well, let’s just say it’s getting murkier by the day.” And that’s actually true, isn’t it, what with the prosecution of Will, the scandal with the couch, Dana, Peter’s bias… I’m sorry, he adds, but I just can’t. She nods her understanding.
But she can’t leave; at the door, she turns, worried. “You don’t seem happy here, Cary,” she says softly. “Really?” he snaps, “here in my cubicle?” Sigh. Is it really the size that matters, Cary? “I got a Family Circus cartoon right here,” he says, and adds something about a ficus I can’t see. She smiles at his attempt to amuse her. “I’ll talk to you,” she smiles. “Yup,” he says, not looking up.
“Peter,” Eli says into his phone, “it’s time to do this. It’s time to decide.” I think maybe you’ve had a bit more of that red wine than you intended, Eli – you sound like it, anyway. “Yeah, I know,” Peter agrees from Jackie’s hospital room. “Which way did you decide?” Eli asks, but we stay concentrated on Peter’s face. “Let’s do this,” the once and future candidate says.
Eli nearly collapses with relief. Maybe you should have made that phone call before you ditched Vanessa, Eli – or were you that certain of how it would turn out? You didn’t look it. “Good,” he says, “we’ll win this.” “I don’t know about that,” Peter says, looking up at Jackie, “but, it’s been decided.” I can’t help wondering if he’s told Alicia about Mike’s threats. She’d probably still tell him to go ahead – she doesn’t like being dictated to – but still. He hangs up, sighs, and leans forward so he can grab Jackie’s still hand.
“No,” Callie tells Diane and Alicia. What, no Tommy? Have they deliberately kept him in the dark, I wonder? “Both our clients are going to sit in jail for a year while the State’s Attorney’s Office is going to devote every resource they have to proving them guilty.” Because at that point, it’s about defeating the lawsuit, right? But still, what option are they discussing? “Do you really think they’re not going to find this?” Callie’s implacable. “It’s not about what I think, Diane; my client has made up her mind.” Diane won’t let it rest. “Then your client needs to be told the facts. This evidence against Megan looks equally bad for all of us. How are we to prove that Lindsay and Pam didn’t help Megan do this?” See, just what I was saying! Thank you. “Then we’ll take our chances,” Callie stonewalls. “No, you want the money from the lawsuit, that’s why you’ll take your chances,” Alicia butts in. Callie scoffs, laughing. “Oh, grow up. You were just as much into the money as I was. ”
Okay, fine. “And what if Lindsay testifies against your client?” What, Callie gasps. Yeah, now who’s using the big league methods? “It’s a new trial,” Alicia shrugs, and Diane looks at her in covert surprise, wondering where this is going. “Cary needs new witnesses to replace the DNA evidence – and Lindsay would make a good witness.” “She’d lie?” Callie can’t quite believe Alicia’s going there. Me neither. “She wants out of prison, she’s desperate. You never know what a desperate person will say.”
Giving a funny little smile, Callie clearly can’t believe her ears. “So I’m wrong to want money, but you’re not wrong to blackmail?” Yeah. It’s not impressive. Neither is suborning perjury! Of course, it’s just a bluff, but Callie doesn’t know Alicia well enough to know that. “That’s right,” Diane nods brightly. The three women look at each other.
And there’s Lindsay, in a soft turquoise cardigan, picking up a sad paper bag of her belongings. Wow. Just like that. They’ve accepted the plea. “How’s that door looking?” Alicia asks, very pleased. “Within reach,” Lindsay nods, sounding like an entirely new person. “You have any idea what you’re going to do?” Alicia beams. “No,” Lindsay shakes her head, her ponytail swinging. “I used to like volleyball,” she smiles, which strikes me as incredibly, weirdly poignant. “I wouldn’t mind playing some volleyball.” Alicia nods to the guard, who reaches for the door. “This is where the nightmare always ended,” Lindsay beams. The door opens with a click and a whine, and through it, we can see family members waiting and waving. Lindsay takes a breath, thanks the guard at the door, and steps through. Beaming and crying, she hugs her parents. “Oh sweetheart,” her mother says. “You’re coming home,” her father cries, and the three embrace.
“We’ve had it for far too long in the state of Illinois. It’s the politics of divisiveness and discord. Personal attacks instead of public achievement. Negative campaigning instead of positive creation.” Peter stands on a podium, reflected in a TV monitor, in front of a massive sign saying “Florrick for Governor, 2012.” “And that is why today, I’m throwing my cap into the race and announcing my candidacy for the governor of Illinois.” For the governorship of Illinois, surely? Bah. The crowd cheers (though as usual we don’t see anyone but the reporters) and calls out his name. And suddenly he’s raising his left hand, and the camera moves, and we see that Alicia’s standing with him, beaming, wearing in a beautiful blue dress. She smiles at the cameras. She steps up close to his shoulder, Peter turns to her, and they beam at each other. They look as happy and as couple-like as we’ve ever seen them. But when the camera flashes, giving us the final freeze frame of the episode, we see the single moment of her hollow doubt.
Damn! You know, the first time I saw this episode, I didn’t realize Lindsay’d accepted the Alford plea. I know, I know – I must have been half asleep. I must have been too tired to hear Cary’s denial. It certainly didn’t occur to me that they all plead guilty and that murderess Megan must have also gotten out. This is certainly one of the show’s very gray endings.
I liked Lindsay and her big innocent eyes a lot, but I’m not in love with this case. Why did the girls bully Rosa? Was it because of the skeevy Justin Varney, or did they already not like her? Was the bullying a new development? Did the other two girls know about the relationship and the jealousy? Given the friendship bracelet, that seems pretty likely; that’s not a detail other girls would miss. But if that was a secret, then what was the real cause of the bullying? Shouldn’t there have been scores of other footprints on that trail? Sigh. I don’t know. And why did the SA’s office want to retry? Peter’s motivations here seems haphazard and motivated merely to make drama for the episode, not as organic actions. Why did the judge keep the girls in prison; she couldn’t have let them wait for the retrial on the outside, after they’d been unjustly imprisoned for so long? Let’s not even get into the fact that Rosa was quite a bit bigger and taller than Megan; even assuming the latter could kill the former, how likely was it she could have undressed her post mortem and dragged her off the trail, all without getting blood on herself or suffering defensive wounds or anything? And then what did she do with the clothes? Bah. The Alford plea concept was interesting enough intellectually, as was the tussle of co-defendants, and I’m probably over-thinking it, but when the case leaves me with more questions than anything else? Meh.
Also there to just serve some drama? Eli’s romantic interest in Vanessa. It’s not that it’s a bad idea; I just don’t know why we didn’t get more preparation for it. If we’d seen signs of their blossoming (re)attraction, if we’d been rooting for them to reunite for weeks, wouldn’t his eventually betrayal have been so much more devastating? That could have had so much more emotional impact. What a waste.
Callie Simko as a love interest for Will? Interesting. She certainly fits the mold; smart, successful, beautiful (and happily age appropriate). I like that she’s so honest, too – it’s cliche to admit, but it’s refreshing amidst so many weasels. He’s so the James Bond character of the show, though; women just throw themselves at him. He doesn’t have to do anything at all to earn it.
And, okay, another picky detail. Does Illinois have a governor’s mansion? I’m just saying, if it does, they’re going to have to sort out their living arrangements right quick. And it might not be worth spending that much money on a house – well, but I guess if the kids would be spending most of the their time with Alicia, and she was not living with Peter, it wouldn’t matter.
Ah. It does. And? I thought this too; the capitol of Illinois is Springfield, not Chicago, and those two cities are not close together at all. I wonder how many governor’s families move into the mansion, and how many stay where they are? I mean, it’s not as if Grace and Zach could just pop over after school. If she acts like they’re a team, won’t people assume she’d move with him? Has Alicia really thought this through? Another reason why this episode annoys me; her agreement to be a part of his campaign seems motivated by the needs of the show rather than by her making a reasoned decision. Of course it was really a response to being bullied by Mike Kresteva as much as it was about Peter, and either way, not well thought out. Although it’s funny; much as people have speculated that Peter could go back to jail so that Chris Noth could leave the show (or at least lessen his involvement) a move to Springfield could serve the same end.
So, there it is. What did you guys think? Did you like this week’s case? How is this season’s final push comparing to seasons 1 and 2? Alright, off to start recapping The Penalty Box.