E: And the law – won? Sure, we know the classic song lyric, but this episode messes with what that means. Who stands for the law? A police officer? A lawyer? A protective parent? A State’s Attorney – and if so, which one? A partner? A reporter seeking for truth (or is that scandal)? A teenage sleuth? A court appointed trustee? Or the Law as an abstract entity and not an individual at all? As always, The Good Wife takes a concept that appears simple, and breaks it down for us into competing factions and points of view. Who won? The easiest answer; the audience. And to the thrill of every viewer, this season starts off just where the last one ends, with Kalinda’s door cast in shadows.
There’s a knock.
From her white wingback chair, Kalinda calls out that the door’s open, nestling her gun behind the seat cushion, trying to appear calm. Gently, slowly, the shiny silver door handle turns down, and Kalinda inhales, steeling herself. A shoulder slips in, then a round and strangely smiling face. He doesn’t look nearly hot enough to be the mystery husband, and she looks – not relieved so much as irritated. She got all worked up over this? And, surprise! It’s not her elusive husband after all; it’s one of his henchman. He wants to turn the light on, but she’s not having it. “He misses you,” the man shrugs. “It’s not just the money. He wants you back.”
Oh, is that supposed to be appealing somehow? She raises an eyebrow.
At her prompting, the Mild Looking Henchman explains that hubbie’s here and wants to talk. He reaches into his jacket for what he claims is his phone, but Kalinda’s already on high alert and whips out her gun, making him kneel. He goes to his knees slowly, a silhouette in front of the white door. She wants to know who called her office; he plays the reasonable man still. Your lawyer called us, we just called back! She reaches into his jacket to find a bright and shiny handgun rather than a phone. Who called Alicia at home, Kalinda wonders. I did, he says, why? She smacks him in the head with the gun.
And that’s when his actual phone rings.
“He’ll get angry if I don’t answer,” the man claims, and this must ring true, because Kalinda goes for the phone. The Mild Looking Henchman uses the opportunity to knock the guns out of her hands, and they struggle. He throws himself onto the floor, crawling after one of the guns, and Kalinda – even more prepared than we could see – grabs a sledgehammer from the side of the chair. A sledgehammer? Holy crap. And without hesitation, she smashes it down on the henchman’s grasping right hand.
He howls in pain like a wounded Nancy Kerrigan, throwing insults at her. Personally, I wouldn’t have called someone a stupid bitch when they were standing over my head wielding a sledgehammer they’ve already shown themselves willing to use on me. The phone rings again and she pulls it out of his pocket as he pants and curses ineffectually. “Hi, honey,” she says brightly, “Bill’s here. You wanna talk to him?” Then she clicks the phone onto speaker mode, and stomps on Bill’s battered hand. Don’t come after the money, she starts – it’s community property, which is to say, hers. “I don’t want any trouble, but I am staying put, and… it’s over. I’ve moved on; you should too.”
The husband hangs up. “He’ll find you,” Bill hisses like a curse. Kalinda stamps on his hand again (Bill, how stupid are you to keep talking?) and darkness enfolds us.
And light blinks back up to the sound of – rapping chickens? What? I mean, okay, obviously it’s not a chicken but a person clucking a rap. Damn. Talk about mental whiplash. I swear this chicken is swearing. And, oops. Alicia struggles to wake up, her head leaning against a car window, police lights flashing in the background. “Is that for us? What do we do?” Grace wonders. After instructing Zach to pull over, Alicia sighs. “I shouldn’t have fallen asleep.” Perhaps not.
A tall and handsome cop asks Zach for the usual items (license, registration, proof of insurance). Alicia and Zach answer all the questions; they’re returning to Chicago from looking at Washington University, presumably in St. Louis. Not to besmirch what a good university, but we’ve already established he’s incredibly smart, and that they’re spending a ton of money on his education. I’d always assumed they were thinking Ivy League level for him. Alicia bites her lip as the cop asks Zach to get out of the car so they can talk, as he can’t hear over the highway noise; I don’t know about you, but that made me nervous right away. They don’t ask you to get out of the car unless it’s something serious. There’s a lovely field of tall, waving grasses behind them; Grace’s coral cardigan stands out against it so prettily. How fast were we going, Alicia wonders. Grace doesn’t know, but not that fast. Maybe there’s something wrong with Uncle Owen’s car? And yes, I wasn’t particularly thinking about it, but that’s Owen’s old paneled wagon with its worn leather seats. Didn’t Alicia buy Zach a car last year? Why does he need another one? I can’t imagine it wasn’t cooler or newer than this, unless he prefers a retro hip look?
Able to stand it no more, Alicia joins Zach and the cop outside the car. Heh. She lasted longer than I’d have thought. “Tell him we just bought it,” Grace advises, because who knows what Owen might have been doing in that car? The officer tells her everything’s fine, but won’t let her join their conversation, so she stands, sighing, her teal suit brilliant in front of the yellow-green grass. Zach returns to the car, and the cop tells her that Zach put on his brakes when he saw the cop a half mile back. Well, duh. “I thought he was having some trouble. Was he?” What – really? Just give him the ticket if he was speeding, dude. You’re clearly just messing with him because you can. No trouble, she answers; but he said you were asleep, so how would you know? Then why did you ask, dirtbag? I hate cops who play with people like this.
“Now here’s the thing,” the officer gets down to business, “your son seemed a bit worried when I was talking to him, and this road is a major conduit for drugs, money, weapons…” Are you for real? Alicia rightly insists that any 17 year old getting pulled over for the first time would be worried. Doesn’t everyone look worried when they get pulled over? (Plus, he doesn’t know it, but that worried expression is pretty much Zach’s every day face).
Probably, probably, but to be on the safe side, the cop would like to run his canine around their car.
Alicia looks at the German Shepard sitting in the police car, then back at the wagon. Who knows what might be left over in there! “Officer, are we being profiled?” she asks, hoping to get him to back off, but of course he doesn’t. Just because he saw two teens driving at 8 am – he would never just assume they were running drugs. And yet he still really wants to check it out. She checks out his name tag – Officer Robb – and asks what would happen if she says no? Something bad, apparently, because the next thing we see is the dog circling Uncle Owen’s old car.
“It’s like a police state,” Grace overstates glumly, sitting next to Zach on the guardrail. Zach, on the other hand, wants them to name drop Peter to make the cop go away. It’s a little late for that, don’t you think? Plus, Peter’s name is a double edged sword. Also, ew. Alicia’s appalled. “That’s Cook County. This is Madison County. And we don’t do that, we don’t use Dad’s name, we use the law,” she scoffs. Wait, she realizes. “You use Dad’s name?” How do we use the law, Grace squints. Good question. Looking at the dashboard camera in the cruiser, Alicia calls Cary at Lockhart Gardner, wonder if Cary knows anyone at the Madison SA’s office. We’ve been profiled on route 55, she tells him. Wait, so non-famous insider contacts are okay, but name dropping isn’t? That’s using the law? “I need to get the patrol car’s dashboard camera.”
The kids are thrilled. “Go Mom, get him fired!” Zach enthuses, which seems a little harsh at this point. No problem, Cary says, getting the car number and Robb’s name from her. He waves to Diane, holed up in her office, and reminds Alicia of a meeting with Eli that she’s missing.
“I’m not upset, do I sound upset?” David Lee sounds reasonable as Cary lets himself into Diane’s office, but yes, he’s upset. Turns out he’s quitting. And suing the firm. Oh, lovely. What’s this snit about? Will launches into a defense revolving around the balloon payment, the loss of Patric Edelstein, and the worst recession since… “Okay, at some point you have to stop with the recession talk and own this bankruptcy.” Agreed – but, what? They’re declaring bankruptcy? Well. I still don’t really see what David Lee’s suing them for, but Cary doesn’t stay to listen; he walks out into the office, shaking his head, watching colleagues pack their desks. “Yup. I’m always in time for the fall of Saigon.”
Alicia’s not doing any better; the dog scratched and barked on the passenger side door, which gives Officer Robb the right to search the car. Outstanding. Does Zach have anything to declare? Hell no. Sorry, Eli. Looks like Alicia won’t be on time for that meeting after all.
The meeting in question seems to be taking place on Peter’s new campaign RV, which is quite a sleek and exciting new set for the season. Eli’s pissy as usual, though not nearly as pissy as he would have been had he known what was going on; Kristin Chenoweth assumes she’s inspired his irritation, when all she’s doing is showing Peter a little old campaign ad on her lap top. And what an ad – after generic shots of happy white families and waving grain, we get Mike Kresteva’s cancer ridden bald son, sitting in his bed, talking about how his dad asked permission to run for office and how he sure hopes Daddy wins, because Dad’s does a great job taking care of him, and would do a great job taking care of everyone else. (I know that’s super sweet and totally plays on voters heart strings, but isn’t that generally the opposite of a Republican message? Having government take care of you?) Chenoweth aptly points out that Kresteva’s running on a “family values” card, which hits Peter in a tender spot. Maybe they should hit back with a crack at the nanny state. Peter attempts to steer the conversation to other issues (state bankruptcy, drugs coming across the border – interesting, right, since we’ve spent the last few minutes talking about bankruptcy and drugs?) but prim, canny Miss C is having none of it. She knows that Peter and Alicia are separated.
“But working to mend fences!” Eli pipes in. Peter, on the other hand, down plays the whole thing. Kresteva’s a Republican, and only if they both win their parties nominations will Peter eventually have to face him. Chenoweth thinks he’s got the Democratic Committee in his pocket, which means he’ll automatically get the nomination. “In politics nothing is a foregone conclusion, Peggy,” Peter shrugs. She can ask him when he wins the nomination what he thinks of Kresteva’s “attempt” to re-brand himself as a family man. “Attempt?” Peggy smirks, “Do I detect a hint of sarcasm?” He smiles. “In four months you can detect sarcasm.” Nicely done, Peter. Also, this gives Matthew Perry’s latest sitcom enough time to fail or at least take a break from shooting. Good work, all.
Back on the high way, the situation is getting even worse. While careful to say that he found no actual drugs, Officer Robb claims to have found something called marijuana shake under the front seat. What’s that even mean? How would extra bits of leaf not be drugs? Just not salable drugs, but certainly evidence of it. Also, damn that Uncle Owen! Zach’s exclaims in his disbelief, and Grace wants to leap in, but Alicia hushes her. Oddly enough, Robb hands Alicia a ticket (why is it Alicia’s ticket?) and is going to let them go. How much sense does that make? It was serious enough to search the car but not enough of a big deal to do anything more? So it all seems to be going well until good old Officer Robb notices that Zach’s ever so causally holding on to his cell phone. Which has been recording the conversation.
At this discovery Officer Robb – heretofore pleasantly implacable – turns into a rage machine. How dare you? How dare you record me without my permission? What, aren’t you already being filmed by the dashboard camera? Couldn’t that be argued as implicit consent to be (additionally) recorded? Robb and Alicia argue a bit about Article 14 and whether or not it applies to this situation, and whether Zach is suddenly going to go up the creek for a class one felony. He asks -read that as demands – Zach delete the recording immediately. “What, so it’s illegal for us to record you doing something illegal?” Grace asks helpfully. I’m not doing something illegal, comes the mature response (very much in the tone of the school yard taunt “I know you are but what am I?”) and he renews his demand for deletion. Otherwise he’s going to impound the iphone.
“Mom?” Zachs asks. “Just do it, Zach,” she whispers. “This is so wrong,” he pleads. “I know,” she agrees.
With the bravado of youth, Zach emails the recording instead of deleting it. I love that everyone there knew the sounds of an iphone well enough to know what had happened just from listening.
Oh, this is so not going well. Petty Officer Robb starts working on a heart attack, and he calls Zach “son” for the four thousandth time, which frankly makes me loathe the patronizing monkey. Nicely written, that. Alicia tries to calm everyone down, but it’s too late; when Zach admits he emailed the file, Robb cuffs him.
Sporting a new pair of large round glasses, Diane tells the Honorable – and sleepy – judge James Chase that Lockhart/Gardner is 60 million dollars in debt. Holy cow, for real? I’m sorry, but I am so very very tired of this firm being in financial trouble. I’m starting to get really bored with everyone’s job being in constant jeopardy. It’s not that I’m utterly without sympathy for their First World problems, but good lord. Why can they not manage their own budget? Does anyone else find this tedious? Judge Chase seems to; his head is slumped to the side, just shy of resting on his shoulder. “This is largely due to unforeseen circumstance; the loss of a major client, late receivables, and an exponential increase in our lease.” Well, okay, I’ll give her that last. Can that even be legal? She thinks that they can have this all straightened out in five months if the judge gives them a reprieve now (which is to say, declares them bankrupt).
Alicia runs into the court, and immediately begins unburdening herself to Cary. Wow, they certainly have buried that hatchet, haven’t they? It’s nice. “My son has a felony notice to appear,” she gasps, on the verge of tears. Cary’s surprised. “The cop said there was marijuana shake in the car, but that’s not why.” Cary snorts, squinting at the paperwork Alicia’s given him. “Yeah, that’s what they say when they don’t find anything.” Then he notices the complaint “Eavesdropping.” Say what? That’s kind of lovely, actually; he was arrested for eavesdropping on his own conversation. I love legal jargon. “Four to fifteen years. Zach was holding a cell phone in his hand,” Alicia bites bitterly. Cary scoffs at the idea. Zach’s at home now, but there’s a preliminary hearing set for tomorrow.
Judge Chase finally wonders where Will is in all this. Just ready to finish his suspension this week, he says from the gallery, and get back to work “restoring this firm to its former glory.” Hee.
Panicking, Alicia wants to know what Cary can find out about Officer Robb that can help her. “They’re not going to pursue this, Alicia, don’t worry. The cop just wanted to make a point.” Which is what, that he can toy with their lives on a whim? That he’s so far above them? Bah. The episode title’s making me nervous here. Does it mean the law’s going to come down on Zach because he tried to fight it? If it weren’t for the recently purchased car, I’d wonder if the whole thing wasn’t set up to embarrass Peter. “It’s on Zach’s record! He’s looking at colleges,” Alicia squeaks. Okay, okay, you got him. Cary will call his friend. Phew!
It turns out that Dewey & LeBeouf (was that Celeste’s old firm?) went bankrupt recently too, and Judge Chase thinks their restructuring plan shows the same problems. The same management, the same excesses of debt and compensation… Well, they really don’t seem to know how to run this firm at a consistent profit, do they? No one wins if you liquidate us, Will pleads, and the judge agrees. “But your plan doesn’t address the management problems,” the judge insists. “But we are the management,” Diane replies, stunned. “Yes I know,” the judge answers gently. Get the point, Diane?
“Why are we being punished for Dewey & LeBeouf?” Will whines. Actually, you’re explicitly being punished for your own sins, buddy. Why did you think this would be easy? The judge doesn’t owe you whatever you ask for. And at this point, Diane sees a man leaning on one of the chairs in her office. Oops! It’s a new client, and she and Will need to explain the new deal to the partners; Cary and Alicia get pushed in to take care of the new guy, even though (as Diane ruefully tells them) it’s one of their more prestigious cases. After all, they could really use the money.
“I own a tow truck company,” declares a bug eyed yet still sexy Brit hunched over, his leather clad shoulder wrinkling. “Okay,” Cary smirks, and how may we help you with that, Mr. Savarese?” Nick, the man insists – and why doesn’t he merit the partners anymore? Alicia pretends she and Cary are just doing the preliminary interview. Okay, he says, and gives the details; he’s hoping to move into the Chicago market and compete for an RFP (a government contract), but they won’t accept his bid. And why not? Because he’s a felon. A fellow with a troubled past. Ah, see what sort of trouble you could be getting into just for sending an email, Zach?
Let me stop you right there, Alicia cuts him off; it turns out that they wouldn’t be able to represent him if they knew too much about his criminal past. That’s interesting. I know they’re officers of the court, but don’t you feel like lawyers necessarily know all sort of dirty, illegal secrets about their clients? The line is so confusing. Eli takes this moment to rap on the glass wall, sending a clear ponging noise echoing through the room. He’s arrived with perky Miss Chenoweth in tow. That golden yellow jacket is quite a look, girl. You probably weren’t surprised to see Alicia making them wait until she’s done with the Brit, huh? He’s looking for the firm to vet two gentlemen willing to act as figureheads on the contract bid and tell him which guy should pretend to run his company. Oooh, classy. Cary looks like he wants to spit.
When the meeting’s over, Cary chases Alicia down and expresses his outrage. How could it be legal to collude in the stealing a government contract? Well, if he actually is going to get the work done that puts him a step above some of the government crooks I’ve been reading about lately, but of course Cary’s point is still valid. The whole thing’s extremely yucky. It’s also an odd request to make of a law firm, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you normal go to a private investigator? Gently, Alicia reminds Cary that he’s moved out of the moral clarity zone into one in desperate need of funds, and he acknowledges it’s not easy to get out of the prosecutorial mind set.
Twiddling his thumbs and pursing his lips, Eli chaperones Alicia through her interview. Peggy goes right for the juicy stuff. How long have you been separated? About a year. You were separated when he announced his run for governor? Yes. Wasn’t standing with him for his announcement hypocritical, then? No. “You seem to prefer one word answers,” Peggy laughs. Ask better questions, then, chickie. (Alicia didn’t say that, I did. Alicia says yes.) So what Peggy wants to know is whether Alicia and Peter really are mending fences. I suppose they are in the sense that there’s a very nice, amicable fence between them? Alicia affirms the party line, and Peggy digs in; why? How can you stay? What message does that send to other women? Eli rises to his feet, appalled, but the wily reporter’s managed to provoke a response from Alicia, finally. “I like my husband,” she says. “I respect him. He’s flawed, but I’ve grown to accept that. And I’ve committed to a marriage. I don’t like breaking commitments.”
Oooh, we’re going to be talking more about this.
“Isn’t that dragging women back to the fifties?” Peggy leans in. Alicia’s stiff, imperious. “Women have all the obligation, men have all the freedom?” “I don’t know,” Alicia sneers, “this isn’t about women or the fifties. This is about me.”
Well. Okay. Detour! Here’s the central dilemma of the show. No matter what Peter does, Alicia needs to be the person who doesn’t leave. She needs not to break that commitment. And that’s fair; she can’t control whether Peter keeps his vows, she can only control whether she keeps hers. But she’s not really living her commitment either, is she? I mean, she does press with Peter, they manage the kids together well, they can even laugh together occasionally, but does she think this is part of an end game? That if she gives it enough time, the love will grow back, the wounds will scab over and they’ll have a real marriage? Is that what she’s hoping for? Has she even asked herself what she’s hoping for out of this scenario?
Okay, back to work. Looks like Cary’s buddy came through, because Alicia’s now watching the dashboard camera footage from the traffic stop on her laptop. Just as we see Officer Robb urging his dog to “come on, boy, get it boy, there you go, what’d you got, boy!” Eli stops by to chide her for snapping at the reporter; going into an interview mad is like shopping hungry. Ice Queen Alicia of course denies being angry. (And be fair, Eli – it’s not like you’d have let her to blow the interview off just because she’d had a really bad morning.) Let’s just stay on message, he says, but it turns out that they haven’t figured out a message about the separation. Well, that’s stupid. Eli, I’m disappointed in you. He’ll set up a meeting to discuss it. He wants her to campaign more, she reminds him she has a job, he’ll talk to Will and Diane, she doesn’t want him to. Wow, he was really annoying. Alicia focuses on the film, instead.
And it gives her an idea. She chases down Kalinda, who has a police canine trainer friend. Why does Alicia know this? Both women are distracted by the complete fracas going on in the conference room. Man, when the partners meet, they really sound like a room of rowdy school children, don’t they? That or a pitchfork carrying mob.
Will shouts over the howling that the judge approved their bankruptcy plan. Is that strictly true? Well, they did avoid liquidation, anyway. David Lee starts snarking, and Will wishes aloud that he’d already left. “What, and miss all this? Never.” You little imp, Lee. Diane explains that Judge Chase has assigned them a trustee to oversee their decisions to help them back onto sure financial grounds, and of course the peanut gallery goes wild again. Honestly, these folks are adults. Why do they all insist on talking at the same time? Diane needs to insist on Robert’s Rules or something. The trustee will have authority over new cases, but everyone will still get paid and still work. Theoretically this person could veto new clients (like, oh, sketchy tow truck company owner Nick) but since we haven’t met the person yet, we don’t know. A small voice from a small man calls for attention out of the crowd, but Diane’s explaining things first. “Our hope is that this trustee will work closely with us, and that he or she will have as much invested in our success as we do.” Excuse me, repeats the small voice, and Diane – perhaps stunned that someone would be so polite – responds. “I’m Clarke Hayden,” Nathan Lane informs us. “Who?” Will squints. “The trustee,” Clarke explains, and lo, the crowd around him parts like the Red Sea for Moses.
We take a long, long look at the abstract, vaguely cubist art on Diane’s office wall. Clarke is hoping the piece was leased, you can tell from his tone, but no, just the office furniture. Will tries to make the case that fine furnishings are necessary in order to attract refined clientele (oh, like Nick the tow truck driver?). Clarke gives him a stern look through his round Harry Potter glasses, and writes in his binder. Diane and Will exchange wonderful, hilarious glances (sometimes this well written show works best in its non-verbal moments); Clarke spears Diane with another dour look, and takes more notes without even allowing her to speak. Hee. “I think that’s enough for today,” he says, making them both squirm even more. Wonderful. Much to their dismay, he wants to meet with them separately next. No, Haymitch, say it isn’t so! I thought we were supposed to be a team.
And it’s about staff reductions. Not this again, seriously. He takes a long look at another painting (this one red and less geometric) which prompts Diane to admit she owns that one personally. “It’s pretty,” he not quite sneers. Will takes a long time turning to meet Diane’s eyes. “Do you think we’ve hit bottom yet?” Nope, she says. Oh, honey. Not even close.
Boing boing boing bounces the Safari icon on Zach’s toolbar. He’s doing online research (on ChumHum – love you, digital prop folks! Go, consistency!) about Article 14 and electronic eavesdropping. There’s a bouncing Pages icon, too. When Alicia arrives home, he explains his findings; you can videotape a cop, but it’s the audio that requires their permission. And no, he didn’t get the info from school, but in part from a website for medical marijuana users. Ha ha. “I’m not looking at that,” he waves off Alicia’s concern. (And actually, he doesn’t seem to be.) He’s got much cooler news; because he’d been listening to music in the car, and never switched his phone off Bluetooth, the encounter with Officer High and Mighty is set entirely to “Mucka Blucka.” Nice. Of course, the song isn’t actually that long, but whatever, maybe it played on a loop.
And that’s just what we hear at the preliminary hearing; cluck rapping. That song is starting to grow on me, and I can’t help laughing at the look on the Honorable Gregory Kakissis’s round red bristly face. Outstanding. Even Zach looks a little embarrassed at his choice in music, and there’s at least one onlooker in the gallery struggling to remain composed. Judge Kakissis is about to grant Alicia a “no probable cause” finding when a new ASA marches in, introduces himself, and declares his intention to bring a new charge – obstruction of justice. Um, say what? Alicia (glowing in red) contends that Officer Robb is the only one obstructing justice with his illegal traffic stop. This implication of deliberate impropriety offends both ASA Altman and the judge (oops) who demands Alicia assemble proof of her counter charge before he rules on whether to bring the new charge. Ah, you knew it wasn’t going to be that easy.
A young-ish man with a prominent brow accompanied Altman half way up the aisle and rather oddly remained there. Alicia senses that he’s the author of this new distress. She chases him down outside the courtroom. “This is about my husband, isn’t it? You want to embarrass my husband by going after my son?” The fellow introduces himself as the State’s Attorney for Madison County, Phil Tappia, and starts to assert how pure and above petty politics he is. Don’t take your beef out on a 17 year old, she snaps. You think I’m small time, he surmises, which, yes, very astute of you, sir. “Your son obstructed justice,” he insists, and I honestly still don’t understand that charge. Does that just mean he didn’t follow orders? Maybe I’m taking “justice” too literally here – thinking of Justice, the concept, rather than “justice” meaning doing what the cop wanted him to do. It’s not like he actually interfered in an investigation, or prevented Robb from finding out the truth of a situation.
Anyway. Alicia’s worked up about the illegal search. Good luck proving that, Tappia snarks. He starts to leave but changes his mind, finishing the conversation with this parting shot: “and you might tell your husband – the police love their pensions.” So much for your purity of intention, you rat. He leaves Alicia with her mouth open; Zach scurries out of the blurry background to get the scoop. “So. Am I in trouble?” Not if I can help it, she declares confidently. Go Alicia!
When next we see Alicia, she’s staring into the deep brown eyes of a quizzical, velvety-nosed German Shepard. A tall, slender woman with a glorious mane of tawny curls walks toward her. “So the issue isn’t the dog. And it’s not the trainer. The issue is the handler,” she says, drawing Petey the pup to her side. The handler can force a false positive? Yes indeed. “The point is, Petey doesn’t need to be encouraged. He’ll alert without prompting.” Kalinda’s trainer friend demonstrates the technique for creating that false positive by encouraging Petey to bark and scratch at an empty cardboard box in the conference room. Man. It’s glaringly obvious what Robb did; we hardly need the replay of the dashboard film to confirm it, but Alicia plays it for her expert and gets the answer she was hoping for.
When Cary beckons Alicia out of the room, Lion Maned Trainer sashays over to Kalinda. “See, I’m a good person,” she says. Damn it, I should have known that when Kalinda says friend, she means ex-lover. No wonder she told Alicia she doesn’t know how to be friends; she really wasn’t exaggerating. And no wonder Alicia’s so important to her. I never said you weren’t, Kalinda smiles. “My dogs miss you,” Lion Mane tries. Oh, God, really? That’s all you’ve got? “You know, I’ve never liked the way they looked at me,” Kalinda replies lightly, “there was always something…”
And that’s when she catches sight of Nick Savarese walking through the office with Cary and Alicia, and completely loses sense of her surroundings.
Meanwhile, Cary and Alicia explain to Nick that his two possible associates are equally worthy to be his front. They’d recommend the black man, to take advantage of preferential hiring in state bids. Very good, he says, but I’d like to talk to whoever compiled the report. You know, whichever random stranger that might be. And – how odd! Kalinda seems to have stepped out. Humph. Well. I don’t mind coming back again to talk to her, he shrugs. Of course not. “It’s just a few more billable hours, right?” he snarks, tossing the report on the table.
And he’s off to the elevator, checking his phone, when, hello! There’s Kalinda, dashing in to stand next to him. As the doors close, she clasps her hands together, and he puts his phone in his back pocket, both pairs of eyes trained politely ahead. Until the doors close, that is. He looks at her, clearly hoping to provoke a response as she keeps her eyes focused forward. “So?” he prompts. And then she slams her arm into his throat.
Everybody, meet Kalinda’s husband. Kalinda’s husband, everybody.
She slams him in the stomach – he pushes her into the wall. Holy crap. She blocks his punches like she was Michelle Yeo in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, then knees him in the groin; he pins her face-forward to the wall until she kicks backwards to the groin again. Then the doors open, and after missing each other in a charge, he slinks backwards out the door into the parking garage. And then he puts up his hand and crooks his fingers for her to come at him again.
And she does. She does! My heart pounds. She punches him smack in the nose, and he leaps for her, blood racing down his chin, wrapping his hand around her throat and shoving her up against a pillar. And then they stand pressed against each other, panting into each other’s faces, and there isn’t any doubt what the fighting has done to both of them.
So instead of following up on that, let’s move on to accounting, shall we? Soooo much more interesting. (Not!) Clarke Hayden wants Diane (waiting patiently as he paces, autumnal in a bronze silk blouse and tweedy olive skirt) to explain why the firm needs Will. Oh, goody. This again. Isn’t Diane the one who takes care of the money, and has been running things for the last six months, so shouldn’t she be the one dropped if there’s name-partner dropping to be done? But I digress. “I guess I don’t understand the question,” Diane tells the trustee. Cutting Will would save a lot of money, he explains. “Well, Will is the heart and soul of litigation,” she begins. And no, his suspension and our subsequent trouble only proves how much we need him. Then perhaps he’ll be better as a trial lawyer and not a partner? “Just so we know here, Will’s partnership is essential to this firm,” Diane announces loftily, crossing her arms in self defense. Wouldn’t it be simpler to have one person in charge, Hayden prompts. He wants her to think about it, and not just give him an answer now.
Alicia, on the other hand, wants to get the kids ready to go back to Peter’s. She catches Grace taking a cute poster to put up in her other room, since that one’s bare. “I’m just taking it because it’s easier,” Grace stumbles. Easier than what? No, it doesn’t make sense, but I can’t imagine how awkward that must be, trying to negotiate living in two places with two parents you want to please and affirm. Thankfully, Zach interrupts with a question about his case (did she get the names of other people pulled over by Robb? she didn’t, because the SA’s freezing them out) and the moment Alicia’s back is turned, Grace puts the poster back up. Aw. Poor sweet kid. Weird nice moment that distilled a lot of personal information into a tiny bit of action.
“I got a few names,” Zach offers. Oh really? Turns out Zach’s been doing his amateur investigating online again, with even more impressive results. He’s gotten the names of three people from a police abuse forum by bringing up Officer Robb and Highway 51. Nice! Does Lockhart/Gardner have an internship program? I’m equal parts horrified and thrilled by the idea of Kalinda mentoring Zach in the art of detection. Anyway. Alicia’s so impressed, and she’ll call them in the morning – but wait! Zach’s already skyped them! Ha. Well, you can see why he’s motivated. One guy had his car impounded for a single joint (well, at least that’s actually illegal), and another guy had 10,000 bucks in his car for a down-payment (on a house, presumably?) and Robb confiscated it on suspicion of being drug money. Yikes!
“It’s a forfeiture corridor,” Alicia exclaims, before explaining to Zach and to us that this means a stretch of road where cops bust out of town cars for alleged drug offenses when they really just want to make money. Oh, lovely. Our neighboring town used to do that with speeding tickets, which was offensive enough. Grace announces Peter’s arrival, and so Alicia stands to thank Zach ones more. “I have to say it again – I’m really proud of you, Zach. Wow.” Good work, little buddy! You can tell how truly pleased he is at her approbation.
And, oh, how awkward is this. Alicia and Peter have a quite word in her bedroom. Their old bedroom. With Eli standing at the doorway! Oh, is this supposed to be their discussion about the campaign and how to play the separation issue? But why on earth have this conversation in their bedroom rather than, I don’t know, any other room in the apartment? I will say, it’s a nicely shot scene; her red suit is balanced by the rusty red pillow shams on the otherwise silvery blue bed. Peter has to physically force Eli back over the threshold. After awkwardly joking about the awkward awkwardness of the situation, Alicia goes right for the big guns. “I don’t want the kids doing events.” I don’t either, he insists. Eli will pressure for it with Kresteva using his son, she notes, but Peter agrees that it’s non-negotiable. Excellent. She stands.
“So do we?” He has no idea what she means. “Live together?” He wants to know how she answered the question for Peggy and laughs at her answer (“none of your business”). “I think we should probably say that we’re working on it,” he decides. And are they, she asks. She kind of looks amenable to working on it, doesn’t she? Wink wink nudge nudge. “In the sense that there’s nothing definitive, yes,” he says, and then pauses. “Why?” It just helps to know the truth, she shrugs, and it seems clear she’s masking her interest in the answer. And then she switches topics. “I think I need to tell you something because it involves you now,” she begins. What, you didn’t tell him already that your son was arrested? Were the kids just not going to mention that?
Out in the living room, Eli’s thumbs are flying over his phone. Gathering up his courage, Zach walks up the political consultant. “I wanna help out with the campaign,” he asks, practically trembling with excitement. Eli shoots him down without even looking up.
“He what?” Peter asks, sitting on the bed, slumped. “He said the police like their pensions, and I said if he wants to come after you he should leave our son alone.” You can practically see the steam coming out of Peter’s ears. He leaps to his feet, and she puts a hand out to his chest; don’t do anything, I’m handling it, you’ll only make things worse. His face is bright red against his white shirt.
Diane sits, brooding, in one of the comfy chairs in her darkened office. It’s clearly long after hours, and he’s nursing a drink. Will walks in and wants to know how it all went. “He wanted to know my thoughts on how to reduce staff,” she says. “That’s it?” Will leads, making me think he knows what Hayden told her. Hesitating only slightly, Diane confesses that Hayden suggested Will be dropped down into litigation. “Yeah, he said the same thing to me,” Will replies, sitting down with a drink. Diane’s genuinely shocked. Hee. “Our friend Clarke seems to have learned his management skills under Mao.” Ha! To Will, Clarke suggested that Diane was responsible for the mismanagement. “Now it needs a man at the top.” He didn’t say a man, Diane hisses. No, I said it just to piss you off, Will smiles. Heh. Diane goes for another drink. The two realize that to get out of the 60 million dollar hole they’re in, they need to somehow keep David Lee in the picture. But how?
I know that she had to tell him, but damn, Peter is utterly incapable of letting Alicia handle things; he’s on the phone with Phil Tappia. Well, if Tappia wanted to send a message, it certainly came through – but not one about pensions. It was just a traffic stop, the man insists angrily, walking away from his dinner table. I’m following the law. “That’s right,” Peter counters in his dangerously smooth tone, “the same way I will with your son at the University of Chicago.” So we’re threatening each other now, Tappia wonders. Um, duh, dude. Not that it’d be okay to manufacture a charge against your kid, of course, but if you didn’t want to be threatened, you shouldn’t have threatened him first. “No. I’m threatening you,” Peter hisses. At this, Eli looks up from his phone and walks over to eavesdrop more easily. “And here’s a handy cheat sheet for the next time you forget. I’m the State’s Attorney of a county that actually matters, jackass.” Well now that’s just ugly. But it’s worked to scare Tappia, who asks for Peter’s list of demands. Drop the case, expunge the arrest, and get Robb to apologize. Give me a day, Tappia asks.
Unsurprisingly, Eli’s displeased. I can’t help thinking that he’s upped the stakes in a way that could easily come back to bite his candidacy (not to mention Zach) but that’s Peter for you. Chicago isn’t famous for its sharp elbows for nothing.
The camera takes us through the tree lined corridors of Kalinda’s apartment building into her bedroom, where she’s pinned down on the bed, panting, looking up into her husband’s eyes. Man, who wears underwear like that every day? It can’t be comfortable. It does look amazing. “You missed this,” he says, caressing her face only to turn it sharply away from him so he can kiss the side of her neck. Don’t flatter yourself, Kalinda snaps, pushing him off her. Um, Kalinda, I hate to tell you, but the cat’s out of the bag. After she stalks off to the bathroom, he wanders around her place, noticing the empty closet and fridge. Unlike Henchman Bill, he’s comfortable in the dark.
She wants to know why he showed up at her work, although really what that means is what the pretext was; anyone can see why he was really there. Oh, expanding his business, he glosses casually. “Were you robbed?” he asks after looking at another empty cabinet, which is actually a little charming. It’s all in storage because I knew you were coming, she says. I have real trouble imagining she cooks much at the best of times, though. I want my money, too, he finishes, swaggering back to the bedroom to see her sitting on the bed behind a small wall of pillows (weird, that) pointing a gun steadily at him. “What, you don’t love me anymore?”
I want you gone, she says. He obediently pulls on his black jeans, and asks her out to dinner. “Nick,” she says, patiently but with more sincerity than bravado, “I want you gone. From Chicago. Forever.” As long you come home with me, he replies casually. No, she says. “I forgive you,” he continues. Hello? “I just can’t stay angry with you.” Things have changed, she says, and it sounds like that encompasses both her new life and his alleged ability to let go of his anger. Then he goes all cliched, pointing out the sun tattoo on his shoulder; I got it for you, baby, because you’re my midnight sun. Oh, gag me. Of all the women in the world to woo with a sappy line like that… It’s over, she says gently. “You know why it’s not over. You could have run,” he says, shrugging on his black t-shirt. “You knew I was coming. But you stayed.” This time it’s not his hands but a serious, significant look that pins her down.
Except, she stayed to fight him. She stayed to fight for her life here. Does she fear what he would do to her life if she admits that? Not that he’d believe her anyway. He’s – perhaps rightly – wholly confident of his effect on her.
The following morning Will waits for Alicia in her office. Her hair’s looking pretty today, and I like the black suit very much. And she’s rather cutely flustered about him being there. After some polite patter about how they haven’t seen each other much lately, he explains his presence; Peggy Burns the reporter wants to talk to him. And even though she claims it’s just about Alicia and work, she was pretty insistent about talking to Will rather than Diane. Could Peggy possibly know? No, never. We were so discrete. (Peter’s prosecution of Will, on the other hand? Not so much. Just saying.) “Hey, did you have a dog here yesterday?” he asks, a pro pos of nothing. She did. Long, not actually work related story. (Or, I don’t know. Could she bill Zach – which is to say, herself – for the time she spends on his case at work, so she can say it’s with a client and not wasting work time?) She remembers that his suspension ends tonight, and congratulates him. Thank heaven that’s done with. And, Will? Better not to talk to the reporter, just in case.
Don’t worry, he smiles. I got it. He likes that feeling, you can tell – helping people, taking care of them. But she carries her own burdens; her smile erases the moment he walks out of view.
David Lee needs copious note-taker Clarke Hayden to know he is out of here. Any day now. “So this interview’s a bit pointless, unless you want me to tell you where all the bodies are buried.” David chuckles in appreciation of his own wit. So what does Clarke want? “You’re one of our creditors now,” he begins. When David exclaims over the pronoun, Clarke explains that he likes to identify with the firms he works with. Oh, goody. Diane will be so pleased. David explains he’s owed one million dollars (and no, he does not make the Doctor Evil face) for his capital contribution and 2 million for his 5% stake. It’s good that you’re leaving then, Clarke replies, because if you’re a creditor rather than a partner, we can pay you 5 cents on the dollar, which rounds out to 150k. Definitely a win for “us.”
And, ha ha ha. The look on David Lee’s toad-like face…
He calls Clarke back from the doorway. 80 cents on the dollar? Somehow I don’t think Hayden negotiates with terrorists. Or, you know, divorce attorneys. “Mr. Lee, you misunderstand me. You’ll get five cents on the dollar, and you’ll get it last, after we pay off the lease, the furniture, the bottled water deliver – then we’ll get to you.” And I thought the look on his face was gratifying before! “Why?” Lee cries, genuinely puzzled. “I don’t like people who quit,” Clarke says simply, and leaves. Woo hoo! He passes Will in the hall, who looks at David Lee, clutching the conference table and practically shaking, and wonders what on earth he just missed.
Alicia’s got the dashboard camera film playing so the court can hear Officer Robb urging his dog to the false positive. “What does this have to do with obstruction of justice?” Altman leaps to his feet to ask. If I recall correctly, the judge was going to decide if the would-be obstruction charge was even relevant after hearing whether the initial stop was legal, wasn’t he? We’re talking about the illegal impounding of my son’s iphone, Alicia counters, which Altman thinks is just ridiculous. And this next bit is genius. She explains that this stretch of divided highway is a forfeiture corridor, where the police and State’s Attorney Tappia make money for the war on drugs by knowingly impounding cars and cash on bogus suspicions. “We have witnesses who haven’t received their cars and cash back after stops by Officer Robb.” Well, we have a drug problem in Madison County, Altman huffs. Which would make it okay if you’d proved those people were drug dealers, maybe. “Then why are all the stops being made on the northbound side?” Alicia asks.
That got Tappia to sit up. Turns out that drugs come south from Canada, but it’s the money going back north that the cops are more interested in. 90% of the stops are on the north side. Wow. That is so despicable. Seriously warped. “That is an outrageous lie,” Tappia interrupts, stepping up to the prosecutor’s table, but Judge Gregory (anyone else reminded of Kakistos, the demon whose name Buffy could never pronounce?) warns him off. “Your Honor, these are very serious allegations, ” Altman attempts. “That’s putting it lightly,” Kakissis snaps. Altman wants to refute the charges and asks for a trial date to prepare. A trial date! “For what, the obstruction of justice charge, or the impounding?” Er… the obstruction charge, of course. Zach looks fit to burst.
What a lovely transition to the jubilant sound of a New Orleans style brass band, accompanying Peter as he shakes hands with a small group of supporters outside his bus. He and Eli dash back in between police officers only to find – Phil Tappia? Not so useful, those guards. “You set your wife against me?” Tappia snaps. See, this is what comes of not letting her handle the problem when she told you she was going to, Peter. You’re sending mixed signals. “You think you’re above our problems in Cook County?” Peter doesn’t get it. “She went after my forfeiture corridor,” Tappia barks, utterly pissed off. “I am coming after your son to the full extent of the law.” Wait, what? Did the judge approve the obstruction charge? Why ever would he do that? Didn’t she essentially prove there was no basis for the original case. Ugh. So much for it being over. Peter looks ashen.
“You wanna come after my corridor? I’ll come after yours. My guess is your haul on I94 is ten times what mine is.” No! Wow. That’s seriously gross. We know Peter’s a good old boy who’s played the system, but damn. Zach and Alicia and Grace would all be pretty crushed by that news. “And I’m not the one running for governor,” Phil finishes, sprinting off the bus, leaving Eli struggling to scrape his jaw off the floor and his eyebrows off the ceiling. I wonder if he was aware of that little side business or not.
David Lee pops into Diane’s office. Kill the fatted calf – the prodigal son has returned! “You showed me loyalty, I want to show you loyalty in return,” he grins. Ha ha ha. He steps over to Will’s office to repeat the performance, taking his faux enthusiasm down to a slightly less manic level. The fury on his face as he walks between their offices? A marvel. He’s such good value for the money, David Lee. Diane traces his footsteps over to Will to discuss this peculiar turn of events. Will catches sight on Clarke’s retreating back. “What happened?” Diane wonders. “I don’t know,” Will shrugs, “maybe Mao’s not so bad if he works for you.”
Ostensibly writing in her little notebook, Kalinda’s really checking out the bruising on her wrist, caught up in the memories of last night’s encounter. Wow. Kalinda, day dreaming about getting smacked around? They did say they were going for a 50 Shades vibe. Alicia interrupts this happy reverie with the news that Nick wants her to sit in on his meeting today. Kalinda glazes over. “Wow, you are… really somewhere else today,” Alicia observes, waving her hand in front of her friend’s face. Making the effort, Kalinda smiles and says she’ll come.
“Hey, good job with the video – I woulda never thought of that.” What, Alicia wonders, and so do we. “The one online, about your traffic stop. Smart: like Breakfast in Collinsville.” Back in her office, Alicia watches Zach’s smartly cut little video about the traffic stop and Officer Curtis Robb, “a real putz.” (A putz? What is he, doing stand up in the Catskills in the 60s? I wonder how the writers landed on putz as likely teen slang.) Alicia’s amused by the interspersed zombie footage, and very, very interested in the 81,129 views the video has already got. Tappia watches the video, seeing dashboard footage from 4 other stops. Eli notes with alarm Robb putting his hands on Zach – and the fact that views are now up to 432, 152.
Cut to Zach sitting in a leather armchair next to his desk (and, hmm, there’s a laptop on his desk – has Alicia lifted the ban on computers in his room?) receiving a phone call from Officer Curtis Robb. Oh dear. At first, I’m afraid he’s calling to accuse Zach of ruining his life or threaten him or something, but no. Tappia’s there to make sure the K-9 officer does what Peter wanted; he apologizes. Slowly, furiously, horrified that he has to do it, but he chokes it. “I was wrong,” he grumbles. “Really?” Zach can’t believe it. “Yeah,” Robb answers, looking over at Tappia, “I think we’re dropping the case.” Of course, they’re also back out on the highway, so I bet they’re not dropping the forfeiture corridor. “And expunging your arrest. And… that’s it. Okay?” Okay. Zach’s electric with excitement. He’s won! He did it! He’s the one who fought the law, and he’s the one who won.
Robb settles down against his cruiser. There’s practically water in his eyes, he’s so infuriated over what he just had to do. “Five hundred thousand views?,” he asks Tappia. “Really?” Kids, Tappia snorts. At home, Zach heads onto Vid Look (what, not Vid Trope?) and smiles to see that his is the top viewed video of the day. So to celebrate, he pulls up a phone sex website. Ew! Zach! Did we really have to see that? I know he’s a teenager, but those women are seriously skanky. (Oh, go ahead, call me a prude. It’s just nasty objectification of women and I don’t like it.) Please tell me that’s the site from back in the first season and he’s looking into finding out who Photoshopped that woman into the doctored picture of Peter with the crack pipe. It’d be nice to pick that plot back up.
Clarke and Diane walk through the darkened halls of Lockhart/Gardner. “I’ve given it some thought,” she smiles. “I need Will. There can’t be just one partner.” Excellent. (Do you think that was a test on his part, seeing if they’d flip on each other or if they were really committed to working as a team?) That’s what they are, she says, a team. “Alright,” he sighs, the vision of Lockhart and Associates departed. “Then come ready to work tomorrow. We have to cut 30% from the staff.”
Holy crap, really? That sucks. Have I mentioned how sick I am of the lack of job security? I wonder if Alicia will have her pay docked, since she’s probably not liasing with Eli so much anymore.
Diane only stands aghast for a moment, though; checking her watch, she hustles into Will’s office just in time to grab a drink for the countdown to midnight. One, two, three, four, five – and they raise their highball glasses and drink to the end of his suspension. “You’re a lawyer again,” she celebrates. Will exhales. “Just like that,” he replies, wondering a little at the strangeness of it all, the shift in momentum. “An odd year, huh?” he reflects. “I think we’re heading toward an even odder one,” she says, drinking again.
Out in the receiving area, Alicia stops, be-ribboned bottle of champagne in hand. She chooses to leave the bottle instead of interrupting them. Probably wise, all things considered, if bittersweet.
The simple title card read “In memory of Tony Scott.” We fans salute you too, sir.
And there it is, the fourth season begun. As with the third season finale, the real action (of all conceivable kinds) belonged to Kalinda. And wow, did she have a – honestly, I can’t even think of a way to describe what just happened to her without it sounding like a euphemism. It’s fascinating to see her in thrall of someone; after all, we’re far more used to seeing her as the user, as the cool one, in control. But really, the whole thing is interesting. What do you think Flat-handed Henchman Bill was going to do with his gun? Use it to make her come to Nick quietly? I have to admit, I’d seen the casting announcement over the summer that the excellent Marc Warren would be playing Kalinda’s husband. I like him (he was particularly excellent in State of Play, a British miniseries I strongly recommend) and I’ve been excited to see him. I’m mad at myself for reading the casting, or maybe just at the writers for announcing it and then introducing him in this tricky way, because there would have been a lot more tension in the episode if I hadn’t known who he was. Sort of like knowing which actor played Private Ryan in Saving Private Ryan, or that Haley Joel Osment sees dead people in The Sixth Sense. But as they say, you can’t unring a bell.
I liked the case with Zach, even though it’s so clearly inspired by Breakfast in Collinsville. Nice that they acknowledged that, at least. I cannot wait to see Will back in the courtroom. What strikes me as the biggest development is this, however. Was it just me, or did Alicia seem amenable to moving back in with Peter? To being with Peter again? I’m not making that up, right? I got the feeling that she might have done it if he’d asked. That is a huge shift. Watching her work through her issues over long periods of time is a fascinating thing, especially since it’s not worked out through overt action or monologues. It’s tiny changes over time, the build up of interaction over interaction.
What do you think? Is the Chicago forfeiture corridor a ticking time bomb? It could take down Peter’s candidacy and his tenuous family life in one stroke. And man, the Fighting Florricks would be a formidable force if they ever bothered to coordinate their efforts, don’t you think? Will Matthew Perry show up again in the spring? Are you happy to see Cary back, and are you wondering how he can avoid Clarke’s axe? How does the firm balance the need to do more work with the need to pay fewer employees? Will Clarke put us on a firm financial footing for good? I could deal with this tedious plot now if it meant things would get better in the future. Watching characters learn and change – it’s a good thing.