The Good Wife: Two Girls, One Code

E: Sometimes I feel like this show has dipped so far into serialization that individual episodes no longer feel like self contained stories.  And mostly, I’m okay with that.  I like shows to be truly serialized.  I like seeing the characters develop over the long haul.

But some weeks, I don’t end up feeling quite satisfied.  Some weeks, I feel like we’re getting too many side dishes and no turkey.  I know the writers are setting the plots up for the season, and that’s totally reasonable, and yet I grow impatient.  It just doesn’t feel like enough – or, in some cases (and I know you know what I’m talking about) someone’s given me a heaping helping of, I don’t know, sauteed peppers and onions, something that I violently dislike and that doesn’t really go with a roasted turkey in the first place.

Anyway, I’m sure it’s clear that after this week’s feast, I’m still feeling pretty hungry.

Okay, that’s enough of the Thanksgiving metaphor.  Let’s move on to the recap.

Someone’s correcting an article about Peter and Alicia by hand, with a red felt tipped pen.  We’re instructed to insert paragraphs here, remembered Peter’s prison term and Alicia’s fidelity here, to question his reliability there.  Huh.  To a rolling beat (an alternative, apparently unreleased version of The Blow’s “Come on Petunia”), Eli’s pacing a conference room in front of a humorless looking panel of reporters.  They’re led by red pen wielding Mandy Post (the excellent Miriam Shorr of Swingtown, Damages and GCB), and she wonder when “the mother” is going to be made available. Who, Jackie, Eli laughs. ‘She’s probably circling the building.”  Ha.  I love that image. But no – Mandy wants to meet Alicia’s mother.  You and me both!  If you can manage that, I owe you a big hug. You’ll forgive me, however, if your side ponytail makes me mistrust you for the moment.

And the next words out of her mouth don’t help on that score; she wants to interview Will (ostensibly because of the Georgetown connection) and she wants to interview Alicia.  Eli laughs unpleasantly. “It seems this cover story’s more about Alicia than Peter,” he observes.  No, claims Mandy, it’s just that we’ve spent more time with Peter.  Riiiight.  So is it safe to say it’s more about his personal life than his politics?  On his way out of the coldly swank Synth office, Eli changes his mind and heads back to Mandy’s office, where Kristen Chenoweth/Peggy replacement Mandy belatedly covers up the Chicago Magazine eligible bachelor picture of Will and (poorly) pretends to be on the phone.

“Am I being sandbagged?” he demands.  “Define sandbagged,” Mandy replies unhelpfully.  “Is this a hit piece?” he says more plainly, narrowing his eyes.  Never, she claims, it’s an objective profile of your candidate and his wife.  Yeah, that’d still get them in trouble.  You’re angling for something, Eli insists, asking her to spit it out.  Finally she does. “I have solid information of an affair,” she says, and his eyes bulge.  She wants time with Alicia.  “You asked, so I told,” she tells him, lifting her chin.  She goes to press this week, so there’s not a lot of time.

Back in what passes for a hallway, Eli shakes a braided palm tree, almost tipping over its pot, and tries to reach Alicia by phone and fails.  (In a nice contrast to nasty Nick from last week; he makes sure the plant is okay immediately.)  He considers calling Will (who improbably resides on his ridiculously short automatic dial list) but doesn’t.

It turns out she’s not just avoiding her husband’s pesky campaign manager – Alicia’s in court, asking a witness why her voice recognition software (company name Margarita Motions) was first in search engine results on June 13th,2011 but the following day ended up on the 28th page.  Which, youch, that totally sucks.  It’s also interesting that they’re dipping into the SEO well twice.  The company’s named after our mothers, Margaret and Rita, the young woman sappily explains, pointing to her friend and business partner in the gallery.  Well, it might not be obviously evocative of the product but it’s still better than Renesmee, if that’s not too low a bar…

Anyhoo, Gizmodo considered it the top voice recognition software being made in America, and the girls had buy out offers from Google and Apple, which they turned down.  They wanted to make it on their own like their hero, ChumHum founder Neil Gross.  Who happens to be sitting at the defendant’s table next to Viola Walsh.  Uh oh.  The sad young witness goes on to explain that when they dropped out of view, it destroyed their business and lost all their investors money – which is to say, the cash they raised from their parents and friends.  Yuck.  I can’t help observing that there are other search engines out there, but I won’t downplay the importance of this; apparently if they were largely selling their software online, rather than in stores, and if we can accept ChumHum as TGW universe’s Google, it’s plausible.

Worse, when you search for the company name, ChumHum asks “do you want Margarita mixes?”  You know, like it would correct you if you made a typo in your search and the thing you asked for doesn’t actually exist.  As the young woman explains that a week before all this happened, a ChumHum ad rep had called them.  They’d declined to advertise there, preferring to put their cash into more employees, but behold, a week later they got buried, which is why they’re suing for unfair business practices.  “We read your book, Mr. Gross,” she pleads tearfully, “we went to the same college. We’re just trying to do what you did.”

Viola is indignant (though not enough to stop leaning back in her chair).  “Your Honor, would you please ask the witness not to address my client?” she sneers. “Would you like me to instruct her not to look at your client?” Alicia sneers back.  Judge Michael Marx, a skinny Santa with his bald head and shocking white eyebrows and trim white beard, grumbles a little at them. “Okay, do I have to separate you two?”  He points to his hearing aid and asks the witness to speak up, but Alicia has no more questions.

Finally on her feet, Viola wants to read the witness, a Miss Sun, a quote from an online review.  Two days before the precipitous drop, the blog Ubertech proclaimed “Margarita Motions software isn’t just plagiarized, it stinks.”  Ah.  Isn’t it more likely that’s the reason for the drop?  I love that Viola’s got on a snake skin patterned blazer; it’s so fitting.  Joining in the sneer fest, Miss Sun explains that bad (and good) reviews don’t change your search engine ranking: it’s link based.  Ah, but you had a new competitor put out a similar product the week before as well, right?  Wicked Savage?  (Ah, yet another name that has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of voice recognition software, excellent. No wonder no one can find them.)  Doesn’t that sell better?

“It does now,” Sun agrees glumly.  Does that rank at the top of voice recognition software searches?  Yes, Miss Sun agrees again, but they took out ChumHum ads.  Huh.  Viola waves this off, but the judge makes her repeat herself, looking confused.

“Well, here we are again,” Viola sighs as she glides off the Lockhart/Gardner elevator.  Will stands to greet her, flanked by Alicia and Cary. “This is harassment, pure and simple,” Neil Gross snaps.  Blah blah blah.  You know, there are rumors about this kind of behavior with search engines, but the company that’s under the most scrutiny for this kind of extortion is the allegedly user review driven Yelp!  As Will introduces Cary, Neil maunders on about how ill used he is. “Yeah, some people create, others destroy.”  Sigh.  “I’ll write that down,” Will snarks.  They leave the other team at the elevator bank so they can convene with Julie and Elizabeth (the clients) in the conference room.  Optimistically, Will thinks it’ll help the negotiations for Gross to have to face down these two formerly adoring fan girls.  But to Will’s surprise, the conference room is already full of folks with notes and one of those boxes of coffee.  “Excuse me?” he asks, puzzled at the group of strangers, until one of them raises his arm and points. “Is that him? Is that the bastard?  How many drinks does it take?  How many?”

Okay.  That was odd.

“You rented out the conference room?” Will asks Clarke Hayden, aghast.  Um, dude, the least you could do is warn them!  (Also, that’s just ridiculous.  Have they moved out of the extra floors yet, do you think?  Because there already aren’t going to be enough offices.  And you’re renting out the conference room on top of that?  Just silly.  “It’s for 3 days.  They’re paying 8,750 dollars.”  Well, that’s silly too.  Whoever those people are could rent a whole office for that for a month, or get a hotel suite.  No, nothing about this rings true to me.  “We’re in the middle of a million dollar negotiation.  Where do you want me to do it, in the bathroom?”  Cute, Will.  They end up in Will’s office, all thirteen of them.   Yep, that’s six flunkies we will never see again thrown in just to make it all look more awkward.

“Out of respect for his fellow alums, and without admitting fault,” Viola begins, only to have the fellow who accused Will bellow “stupid bitch” (is that our go-to insult now?) and generally act like a crazy man.  Yikes.  Embarrassing sidebar not withstanding, Gross offers $120,000 to defray the bankruptcy costs.  “It’s odd you’re not smiling,” Will responds, because usually, when people joke, they smile.  Ha ha.  Very funny, Will.  (Actually, I like when he makes people work to understand his put down. It’s one of his tics.)  Neil leans forward to threaten Julie and Elizabeth directly; when Cary asks him to back off, he doesn’t.  He will delay the trial forever if they don’t settle, just because he can.  Huh.  Maybe not the best idea to have them there after all.  “Leverage belongs to whoever can outlast, and money outlasts.”

“We take this money, we could start over,” Julie whispers to Alicia, Cary and Will.  Oops. Yep, shot yourselves in the foot there.  Well, with Julie, anyway.  Elizabeth wants to get back what they lost.  As Will asks for the rest of the day to find some leverage, Cary watches Viola sneak off to Clarke’s office.

“You’re the trustee, right?” she asks as Clarke’s about to sit down.  She introduces herself cheerily; it takes him a markedly long time to extend his own hand.  Cary watches with consternation as Viola shuts the door.

And not without reason, because she immediately begins pitching her case to him, the clever boots, obviously hoping to low ball them and force a settlement.  Not that he can legally do that.  It seems we’re working on contingency (which means we only get paid if there’s a settlement, right?) “and you don’t fight Waterloo on contingency.”  Gross will fight them to the last breath.  “Now, I know Will Gardner fights with his ego, but I hope more dispassionate minds can rule.”  You can see by the almost-smile pursing his lips that Clarke has her number; talk to Will about it, then, he says.  I’m offering cash for the creditors, she says.  He settles back into his chair, looking decidedly amused. “How much?”

Back in the courtroom, we’ve got a video of a Justin Long type with an animator gopher (Chummy), explaining in dumbed-down terms what search engines in general and ChumHum in particular do.  The judge frowns, Gross looks proud of himself, Will rolls his eyes, and Cary grins in delight.  “May I interrupt here?” the judge grumbles.  Of course, Viola says, but instead of turning the video off, she clicks the sound up several degrees, assuming that’s his problem. “Is this really necessary?  Isn’t this just trying to explain a template based link analysis algorithm?” Ha.  Gross considers this as Viola sputters.  It is.  “So then we can just turn it off, okay?  There’s no jury.  Just me.”  Ha ha ha ha.  Good for you, Grandpa.  Momentarily meek Viola turns the video off with apologies.

The general point of Gross’s trip to the stand is the assertion that there’s no link between sales and the algorithm; it acts on its own.  He crosses his arms and smirks at Will for good measure, just in case not everyone knew how peeved he was to be there.  Much to his disgust,Will prepares for cross with a Gary Oldman style neck cracking.  Why so testy, Neil? “Oh, the usual reasons.  Disbelief.  Incredulity.  Disappointment.”  Disappointed that they didn’t roll over on their case from ecstasy over his presence in the courtroom?  I’m going to go out on a limb and say they don’t like each other. .

“So you never tweak the algorithm? Chummy the Squirrel just acts on its own?”  Will’s intentionally dismissive.  “No, I didn’t say that,” Neil insists.  Um, kinda did, dude; the more nuanced truth is that they change the algorithm all the time, practically every day, in part to avoid spammers trying to “game the system.”  Ah, so you do care about quality, Will pounces.  Yes.  So if they tweak the algorithm daily, did they do it on June 13th, 2011?  Gross can’t say.  You don’t think it’s likely that a tweak caused them to drop from the first link to the 28th page of links?  I can’t say, Gross repeats, and Will immediately asks to subpoena records of the algorithm.

Yeah, good luck with that!  Their algorithm is the heart of everything they do, the engine of their engine, their most proprietary secret.  “It’s their secret sauce.  If you expose their algorithm, you expose a trade secret,” cries Viola, hand up like an indignant Valley Girl. Like, gag me with a spoon, Your Honor!  “So? The defendant has admitted to changing the algorithm based on quality, which is the exact subject of this suit!” Valley Girl Viola tries to bleat an objection, but Will cuts her off. “And,” he cries, “the only way to determine whether the defendants claim is true is to subpoena the algorithm.  Best evidence rules in this case, Your Honor,” he finishes, hands up.

They know we’re never going to give that up, Viola say – he’s just trying to force a settlement.  The judge’s answer?  “The problem I see, Miss Walsh, is that an attribute based linked analysis is not a closed system, therefor it is subject to manipulation,”  Gross closes his eyes; he’s upset, but oddly it’s also the most respectful we’ve ever seen him look.  Marx grants the subpoena.

Viola grumbles that she wants 24 hours “to prepare their arguments.”  Why argue?  Didn’t he just say they had to turn it over?  “Sorry, I couldn’t hear that,” the judge asks, dry as toast.  Now I’m thinking he plays a little dumb on purpose.

Hands clasped, Eli waits for Alicia on her office couch.  Remember when you’d walk in to find me asleep on your office couch, he reminisces as she notices him, surprised.  Ah, the simpler days when you had only one Florrick’s sex life to worry about… They dance warily around each other for a moment before he quietly asks her to close the door.  She doesn’t pick up on the difference in his tone immediately.  “We’ve never talked about this,” he says seriously, unable to meet her eyes for more than brief stretches, “in fact I’ve deliberately avoided talking about it…”  By “it” you mean? Alicia asks, looking queenly and splendid in a shiny dark teal suit.

“You and Will,” he replies simply.

She freezes, her eyebrows half way up because she doesn’t know how to look or play this.

“Just so you know, I’d rather be doing anything else,” Eli squirms.  And I believe him.  This is sooooo awkward.  She sits, exhaling. “Mandy Post, the reporter, wants to talk to you about your… affair.”  Is it an affair when you’re separated?  Does Alicia consider it an affair, I wonder, and does it make any difference in so naming it that she’s coming back toward Peter?  (If she stays married does that make it an affair, but if she divorces him eventually it’s not big deal?) What strange territory that is.  “Her word.  I pushed Mandy.  She seems to have a hotel receipt for a September 30th, 2011…”  Alicia crosses her arms.  “… encounter.  And I need to know if that timing makes sense.”  (Anyone else brought back to the “so condoms make sense” fight in Season 1?)  This time, she doesn’t know.

It could just be a bluff, Eli mumbles.  Is there any way to check?  Alicia frowns fiercely. “Is she going to press with this?”  Why so incredulous, Alicia?  She’s a reporter.  Of course she’s going to if she can.  “She hopes to.  And I hope to stop her.”  Can he?  Eli gulps. “I don’t know.”   Alicia stares at him in horror. “She likes to think of herself as a responsible journalist.  The good news is, responsible journalists are the easiest to co-opt.”   She’s turned into a ghost, her face white, her eyes red. “Are you still seeing him,” Eli asks, immediately dropping his eyes to his lap.  If you are (Eli hisses Will’s name like the grandmother in Bright Beach Memoirs uttering the word emphysema) you have to stop, if only temporarily.  “This magazine has been known to follow people.”

“I’m not seeing him,” Alicia whispers.  A teeny bit of Eli’s tension loosens. “Can I ask you when this stopped?”  No, she says, and flees the office for the elevator where so she can breathe, be alone, try not to cry.

Kalinda, hair in a high ponytail, bangs down, drinks out of the kitchen faucet.  Classy.  Her phone buzzes, and to my surprise, she answers. “Where are you?  Don’t you come to work anymore?” Eli snaps.  Ugh.  She peaks through her blinds, which have been shut tight.  “I need your help.  And first let me say, it’s not what you think.  It’s only tangentially about the campaign.”   I’m not helping Peter, she sighs, and the light hits her back – she’s wearing a black tank top with regular thick tank straps and a razor back, an oddly striking combination.

And there’s the bad penny, tucking a black t-shirt into his black jeans.

“Who’s Peter?” Nick asks, as if casually, opening the fridge and rooting around.  (Of course, he calls him Pee-tah.  Not the prettiest of English accents.)  Some one, she says, helping distract him not at all.  “You have a lot of someone’s in your life,” he observes.  And then he plops a container of eggs on the counter and stabs a finger down on it. “I want one of your omelets,” he demands with a challenging smile.

Oh, for the love of all that’s holy!  You think she’s going to cook for you?  You’re going to order her to cook for you?  (Wait a minute.  Does that mean she can cook?  Did she make him omelets in their other life? That seems wildly improbable.)  Wow, they really want us to dislike him, don’t they?  Well, mission accomplished.

Kalinda just glares.  He passes her a plate. “Oh, Bill wants to come over. Just to say hi,” he continues.  Oh my God.  She opens the package and starts cracking the eggs into the plate – and tossing the shells onto the floor.  “He doesn’t blame you anymore, this kid in the car stuff.”  What?  What does that mean?  I must be hearing that wrong.  I’d think he’d be blaming her for smashing his hand to dust, but whatever, maybe that’s English asshole speak for something utterly different.  And then he sees the second egg shell fly.

Nick sidles up to his wife at the kitchen island. “So that’s how we’re going to play it,” he nods.  That’s right.  Petulant and passive aggressive.  His eyes never leaving hers, he grabs an egg, crushes it in his hand, and smears the resultant goo over her chest.  How’s that?  She just glares, and walks toward the stove and the frying pan.  “Yeah, that’s bettah,” he nods approvingly.  She lets him think that for about a second before swinging the pan at his head.

And oh, how I wish his reflexes weren’t so good.  He parries the blow, takes away the pan, and pulls a knife on her.  She pulls a bigger knife.  Then he sets his down and moves in too close. “You know, you have a strange idea of how things work now,” he says.  “I’m the husband, and you’re the wife.”  Well, at least her hair looks pretty.  I’d like her actual response (“yeah, and this isn’t your home anymore”) if there were teeth behind it.  He doesn’t take her seriously, and who can blame him?  “Clean it up,” she insists, handing him a dish towel.  Slowly, he cleans his own fingers – and then throws the towel on the island and leaves.

At this point, I’m thinking of ways she can arrange for his death, and I’m just hoping they won’t take up too much of the season getting to that point.  The writers can go so many ways spinning that out – does she get someone else to do it, does she do it herself and hide it, does she have to admit in court to being an abusive wife?  So many options.  So let’s just off him and be done with the depressing part, okay?

Cue guy with cute, crispy English accent, three day old beard and tweed.  He’s a search engine optimizer on the witness stand. Viola wants him to explain his profession, but Judge Marx already knows; don’t you love Viola’s embarrassed laugh over that?  Posh Thomas Giles guarantees he can get his clients on the first page of a ChumHum search; did Julia and Elizabeth hire him to do that for them?  Alicia wonders how this is relevant to what they’re doing now, the preliminary hearing on subpoenaing the algorithm.  What?  Didn’t it seem clear they already won that battle?  Viola mentioned a hearing yesterday and I still don’t understand why, because the judge never mentioned it.

Oh well.  It doesn’t matter.  Judge Marx is going to allow Viola the two witnesses to establish damages.  You see where this is going; if Giles could tweak the Margarita Motions site to make it ChumHum friendly again, then there’s no big deal.  And certainly that’s a routine part of SEO – figuring out how to make your site attractive to search engines when their algorithms inevitably change.  “In other words, the plaintiffs hired you to game the system,” Viola contends over Alicia’s objection, “and the ChumHum algorithm just countered that game.”  Ah.  Well.  That’s one way of looking at it, I guess.

Next witness is one Miss Holmes, the ad rep who solicited Margarita Motions’ business.  And – uh oh for us – she went on vacation for two weeks the very day she’d made that call, and there was no one else at ChumHum who knew, so they couldn’t possibly have tweaked the algorithm in the way suggested.

Interesting.  While I still think it’s possible there could be a database or list online she could have checked off (companies that turn us down, etc) rather than just turning in the report, that’s not good.  It’s so not good I wonder why Viola has saved this information for the last ditch defense against an algorithm subpoena and not used it to stave off the lawsuit in the first place.

You’ve got till tomorrow to figure this out, Will tells Kalinda as they sprint out of the elevators.  The ad rep must have told someone.  Yeah, I’m with you. It’s too suspicious, the drop right after the call.  Alicia follows Will into his office, and oh, the looks on their faces!  She lets him see how upset she is; he pales.  He closes the door, checking to see if anyone’s watching.  Then they sit, and he waits, silent, his face expectant, for her to begin.

“Were we together on September 30th last year?” she asks, her pale face ghostly against the gray jacket.  Unsurprisingly, he can’t remember.  At a hotel, she presses, ashamed.  Maybe?  “But you paid – I don’t remember – it was that hotel downtown, the Fairmont.”  He’ll check.  “Mandy Post says she has a copy of the receipt.”  Will doesn’t see how that’s possible.  Paid a desk clerk?  Asked nicely?  These things happen, at least according to detective shows.  (Nitpick of the moment: if Eli’s been putting her off about an interview, why would Will know who Mandy is?)  We need something to refute her, Alicia pleads.

And she’s going to print it, Will wonders.  Slowly tilting her head and gulping, pale Alicia indicates that this is the likeliest course.  Eli’s meeting with her tonight to try and stave it off.  Look, we’re going to win, Will predictably reassures her.  She nods, disbelieving, and spins up out of her chair; too late, he grabs for her hand, and pulls his own back awkwardly.  She hasn’t noticed. “Are you alright?”  No, of course she isn’t – but I guess that’s how you open a conversation. “I don’t know,” she says, struggling not to cry. “I feel cursed.”

OH.  That was awful.  It hurts to watch her distress.

“Will,” Viola coos, squished back into a chair,”I like you, and that’s why I’m giving you the opportunity to save face.  We’re upping our offer 20%.”  Really?  After that day in court?  Why?  Diane and Will sit across from her, trying to look relaxed; Cary and Alicia stand stiffly behind them.  The renter wails from the conference room: “You want a divorce? You got it.”  We want to be done, Viola explains loftily, so the offer is now 160k.  Will chuckles evilly.  I know your ego is invested, but I hope that more dispassionate minds rule, Viola poo poos his response, flicking her gaze up at Clarke Hayden. Cary widens his eyes at Clarke, suspicious.  Without comment, Will hands Viola another document.

“You were right, it wasn’t about the advertising, that’s not why you messed with the algorithm,” Alicia explains.  They messed with the algorithm because they bought Margartia Motions chief competitor.  You know, Wicked Savage Designs, the one that now ranks first in a ChumHum search.  Gross looks squirrel-y, rubbing his jaw and looking away as Viola shoots him a shocked and annoyed look (which I’m sure has more to do with his not preparing her for this than with the perfidy of his business practices).  “We’re presenting it in court tomorrow unless you come up with a real offer,” Cary announces as Viola scurries her errant client out the door.  Love the gold paisley tie, Cary.  Eyes narrowing, he watches Clarke follow Walsh and Gross out the door.

Excellent.  “Well that was satisfying,” Diane sighs, and I couldn’t agree more.  “Sometimes the stars align,” Will smiles.  It takes Cary a few seconds of hesitation to follow Diane back into her office and spill the beans.

Slam goes Clarke’s office door.  We’re all about the closed door meetings this week, aren’t we?  “What’re you doing,” Diane demands.  He’s at a loss, and so she puts it right out – talking to Miss Walsh.  You don’t understand, he says. “No,” she shuts him down, lips pursed into a tiny furious line. “You don’t sabotage Will.”  Is Viola telling you to override Will, that he’s not a good negotiator?  “Is she low-balling you?”  Yes of course she is, he gasps.  “I will go to the judge and get you replaced for sabotaging our negotiations, I swear I will,” Diane promises, storming out.

“I’m helping you,” he thunders, and the decibel level is so surprising from this calm little man that she turns and listens.  “Of course she’s low-balling me.  I’m not dumb.  I helping get her offer up.  Why do you think she offered 20%?  She thinks she’s getting me onto her side.”  Hmmm.  She’s not?  “Miss Lockhart,” Clarke composes him, choosing his words carefully, “I work for the firm. Yes, I have the power to veto you and Mr. Gardner, but your success is my success.” Just so.  “You’ve been paranoid for so long you don’t recognize when someone is on your side.”

No, I’m sure not. Why is it only now occurring to me what a far cry this is from the work these two did together in The Bird Cage?  Really fun, thinking about that and comparing what we just saw.

Dressed in her comfortable everyday clothes, Alicia sits at her kitchen island and fights with Grace over the phone.  She’s waiting for Eli to call; Grace wants to use it to make a call about homework.  I get your point about the call waiting, Grace, but it’s a sign of how stressed Alicia is that she doesn’t just tell you to use your cell phone.  Not to mention that she grabs Grace’s wrist to physically prevent her from taking the house phone.  Blessedly, the phone rings, cutting off their bickering before one of them gets actually mad.

It’s Eli.  Yes, she can talk – the kids are in the dining room, doing their homework.  He’s with Mandy, talking about the story.  When we see his face, it’s grim.  “You’re in the clear,” he says, and Alicia exhales, finally.  How?  Did she get the date wrong?  “No,” he says, clearly trying to pick his words carefully. “It’s not about you.”  Oh God.  Again, it’s a measure of her stress that she didn’t ask what that means.  “Eli, I don’t know how to …” she starts, looking for words that are strong enough and not finding any.  “Thank you.”  That’s fine, he says, but he’s got to go.

“Is everything alright?” Zach asks.  Yes, she smiles.  After making Grace ask properly, she hands over the phone – and then pulls the girl in for a hug.  “I love you,” she sighs.  Grace’s face is a treat. “I love you too,” she replies, puzzled. “Is everything alright?”  Sure, sure, says Alicia – and then steals back the phone.  She left her cell phone at work (at least she remembers she has one) and needs to make one more quick call.

As you might expect, she dials Will’s number. “We’re okay,” she beams into the phone, her body curled up against the refrigerator.  Will blows out a breath in relief. “You talked to Eli?” he wonders.  She did.  “It wasn’t about us.”  “Good,” says Will, “who was it about?”

Yep.  That’s the question that should have occurred to you immediately, Alicia.

“Um, I’ve got to go,” she answers mechanically, the life draining out of her face yet again.  Will frowns, clearly still worried for her, but thanks her politely for calling. As the reality dawns, she tries to call Eli, getting his voice mail instead.  I’ve got to go out for a few minutes, she tells the kids, and heads back into the night.  Back into the office.  Back for confirmation of what she desperately fears.

“Alicia, hey, everything alright?” Eli asks, leaving Mandy in his office. I don’t know, Eli, is it, she asks, spine straight.  “Mandy!” Eli barks, sending the reporter back into his office.  Mandy’s a little creepy, slinking around in the dark like that, right?  Also, wow, was it her plan to get an interview with Peter’s wife so she could spring this surprise herself? “You said it wasn’t about us, so who’s it about?”  Isn’t she worried about Mandy hearing that there was an “us”  for her to be worried about?  The surge of energy that propelled her here wains as her husband’s campaign manager tries to calm her.  Tries to not tell. Her voice tires as she confronts him directly. “Eli, it’s going to come out anyway.”

Still, he tries.  “It’s a lie, it’s gossip – same as it was when we thought it was you.”  Well, yeah, but that was true.  Maybe not in the particulars, and she didn’t want it to be public, and God knows if she even has a right to judge Peter for something he might have done during the separation, but what they feared to have exposed was true, so that’s not going to help. You just need to tell what you know, Eli. “I’m going to make this easy.  There’s rumor of Peter sleeping with someone last year, and Mandy has a hotel receipt?”  Eli looks at his feet. “We were separated, Eli,” she says gently. “Just tell me.”

“I’m just getting to the bottom of this now,” he replies, “and I haven’t told Peter.” I love Eli when he’s not being a cartoon character.  Don’t get me wrong, I like his silly side, too, but I like knowing that he’s not all double takes and clowning.  He cares about Alicia.  He doesn’t want to see her hurt any more.  “Supposedly it’s a campaign worker,” he admits, “but it’s pure fiction.”  She nods, suddenly bone-weary, and tries to leave.  He calls to her; she’s too tired to do more than stop.  “This is politics,” he says, the very smallest hint of dramatics seeping back into his voice. “Peter is vulnerable in this and that is why it’s being used.”  She can’t even dignify the attempt with a response.

Somehow, I’m not surprised that the head which eventually pokes out of bedsheet over Kalinda’s body belongs to Lana Delaney.  I don’t even know why, but I knew it wasn’t going to be Nick the Dick.  (And no, I didn’t notice Jill Flint’s name in the credits, though if I had I certainly would have known what woman that was.) “What’s wrong,” Lana wonders, perhaps because Kalinda looks as animated as a block of wood.  Nothing, Kalinda prevaricates, shaking her head.  Then her phone rings, and what do you know, it’s the bad husband.  Kalinda shuts the phone off, but tells Lana she’s got to go. “You know you did call me,” Lana smirks, eyes narrowed.  Kalinda realizes that.  Tomorrow night, she offers.  Hmmm.  Interesting.  Lana decided to kiss her way back down, perhaps to change Kalinda’s mind, but it’s a fruitless endeavor.

“Kalinda you come here, and I feel like I’m warming you up for someone else,” Lana says, tucked away on the other side of the bed.  Fair, but that’s not quite it.  Or not all of it.  The first thing that occurred to me is that it’s Kalinda asserting her independence.  “You’re not,” Kalinda replies unconvincingly.  But when she leaves Lana’s building, we can see that Not so Lovely Nick’s outside, stalking her in his black convertible.  He get a clear look at Lana as she stands on her balcony, wrapped in a trailing bed sheet, watching Kalinda walk away.

“You seem good,” Will asks Alicia tentatively as they walk into court together the next morning. “I’m excited about the case,” she smiles widely.  But before Will can bring up Wicked Savage, Viola has a new card to play – the legal concept of standing.  Which is to say, who has the right to bring suit. She’s got a big eared academic – the chancellor of Neil, Julie and Elizabeth’s alma mater – ready to say that Chicago Polytechnic owns the rights to all ideas generated by students and faculty while at the school.  Right.  I know universities are trying to assert this right, but good luck with that.  He sites Stanford’s feud with Google and the University of Illinois’ claims over Netscape.  To say this infuriates Julie would be an understatement.  “Therefor we ask that the suit be quashed, given that the plaintiffs’ standing here is unclear.”  Viola flips the pages of the student handbook at them for emphasis.

“Just give me a listen,” Eli pleads, following Kalinda to the elevator.  Talk to the hand, Eli – she’s already on a case.  “It’s for Alicia, not Peter,” Eli whispers, and this gets Kalinda’s attention.  Peter’s being unjustly accused of sleeping with a campaign worker; he’s just trying to keep in under wraps before it embarrasses Alicia.  Yes, and I wouldn’t be too quick to assume that  Mandy doesn’t have an inkling about Will either, not after the way she played you. While Kalinda expresses disbelief that Alicia’s his chief concern here, she can’t dispute that it would affect Alicia.  Just listen to the reporter’s questions, he begs, and she softens. It’s good to see she cares about Alicia, even if they don’t actually speak to one another anymore.

“This is Kalinda, my assistant – she’s going to sit in,” Eli informs Mandy, who’s once again in his office.  Mandy takes in Kalinda’s black leather jacket, short skirt and knee high black leather boots and telegraphs her surprise (though seriously, with that side ponytail, she doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on as far as professional attire).  “Really?  I thought we were finishing up?” she covers smoothly.  “Oh no,” Eli replies, “I’m sorry if I gave you that impression.”  I like this exquisitely polite Eli.  It’s refreshing.  “If you want face time with Peter and Alicia, I have to know what you’re going to ask.”  She still doesn’t believe that Kalinda’s Eli’s assistant (heaven knows what she thinks Kalinda’s job actually is) but she goes with it.

Peter slept with a campaign worker, Mandy maintains, on September 30th.  “Eli, we vetted this,” she adds.  Then what’s your worry, he wonders (good question – why not simply publish it?) and she sighs.  Why?  They stayed at the St. Martin – the whole campaign was there (you’d think Eli would know this) with Peter on one floor, workers on another, and she was supposed to knock on his door at 11:30.  Supposed to?  Did something go awry?  Why are you uncertain, Mandy?  How many times, Kalinda wonders, and Mandy looks like she doesn’t know.  It’s odd.  Get me my face time, she insists, or you can just buy the magazine.

Weird.  There’s something sketchy about this she’s not saying.  If you don’t believe it, Mandy, why bring it up to Eli at all?  Just gambling?

Improbably, Peter’s opening up a bottle of wine in Alicia’s kitchen.  Wow.  The guy has balls, I will give him that.  And we know his wife loves her wine, but if I were him, I’d be afraid of her lobbing the bottle at my head.  Or doing something worse with that corkscrew.  She stops in disbelief, looking at him. “Eli told me,” he says, putting the bottle down.  ‘It’s not true,” he shrugs, not sounding particularly concerned.  Can we not do this now, she begs quietly.  “I just wanted you to know,” he says casually.  “Seriously, I’ve had a very long day. And by the end of the week, I’ll have had a very long week.”  He can’t restrain himself.  “I have a target on my back,” he tells her, “and this is not true.”

She takes a moment before answering, her face strange against the creamy peach blazer.

“Do you know what you said the first time?  It’s not true.”  And that’s why they’re throwing this crap at me now, Peter replies, because my denials will look like lies.  That’s a fair response, but it misses the mark.  It’s only to be expected because men who cheat once cheat again – that’s what they do.  And of course the media will try to take Peter down again.  That’s what they do. But that’s all well and good until you have to say it to her.  How can she believe you when you’ve said those same words and twice been proved a liar?  “The problem is, Peter, I don’t give a damn,” Alicia replies wearily.  I’m sure you’re too tired to care much at this moment, honey, but Rhett Butler gave a damn, and so do you.

Will greets the cheery Chancellor on the stand.  (Adam Godley’s a Brit, and a stage actor, and you’ve seen him at some point someplace.  He’s one of those guys.)  It turns out the the Chancellor has written a book about ways to improve the American educational system, and guess what?  Chicago Polytechnic hasn’t seen one dime of the roughly 70 thousand dollars he’s made from it.  (Mostly by forcing students to buy it for his classes, Will notes.)  Why is that, given what it so clearly states in the student handbook?  It’s not a fair comparison, the man claims.  “I’m the University Chancellor!”  Oh, so the rules only apply to some people, Will questions. The college is selective in enforcing the rule?

Lounging as usual, Viola’s offended by the very idea.  Who would dicker over a mere 71k when they could take millions from Julie and Elizabeth?  Oh, Viola.  You’ve played right into Will’s hands, you silly goose. “I find this line of questioning offensive and irrelevant,” she declares.  “No it isn’t, Miss Walsh,” the wonderful Judge Marx responds. “It actually isn’t.” He skooches his chair up close to the witness stand, the better to hear the thoroughly alarmed Chancellor.

And here comes Will for the kill; I’m glad you’ve got a good seat, Your Honor. “Isn’t Neil Gross a graduate of your university?” he asks.  Yes, an honored graduate.  I’ll just bet. And did you know that ChumHum is worth 86 billion dollars?  The Chancellor gulps a little.  “And even if you didn’t,” Will continues, “he’s given a 50 million endowment to the university.” Yeah, he knows that part. “So, have you claimed ownership of ChumHum?”  The previously mentioned autobiography tells us that Gross invented his ranking system while he was at school.  The judge leans in for the answer.  Of course it’s no.

Okay, the judge says, I’m ready to rule.  He declares himself disgusted by the Chancellor (excellent, although I’d be just as disgusted with Viola; you have to know it’s her idea.)  The college has no standing.  And Gross is ordered to reveal all pertinent aspects of the algorithm.  You know we can’t do that, Viola pleads. “Yes you can,” Judge Marx says implacably. “What you cannot do is hide behind the skirts of trade secrets indefinitely.”  Nice.  He’ll have a third party to look over everything so nothing leaks.

Neil Gross waits for Will in the hall, stopping him as he walks out.  “I know what you’re doing,” he says, his contempt plain.  You’re bankrupt (check) and you lost my competitor (Patric Edelstein, check) so you’re looking for another big fish.  What, really?  Yuck!  Gross!   (Er, sorry for the pun.)  This hadn’t occurred to me at all, but it’s clear from Will’s nonchalance that it’s true.  “You know I have a tendency to buy out my irritants.  Hire firms who sue me.”  Huh.  “So was this just a little performance piece?” And does that explain why they took the case on contingency? “Well, not to toot our own horn, Mr. Gross, but there is strategic advantage in hiring the firm that used to represent your competition.  Although we’re legally bound by attorney client privilege, we know how Mr. Edelstein works, and we know to beat him.”  They also know how to beat Viola Walsh.  I have to say, though, I hate watching Will make blatant sales pitches.  I understand it’s part of his job, I know they need the money, but there’s something craven about it. I prefer Alicia’s approach with Clarke from last week; hire them because they’re better than other firms.

“You’re right,” says Gross, “strategically smart.  But you see, here’s the thing.  I don’t like you.  And I’m going to go out of my way to never hire you.”  Will smiles, and to my surprise it’s not his gambling face, his shark smile. Gross says his goodbyes.  Will calls after with some advice. “If you’re looking for a lawyer, don’t go with who you like.  If I can irritate you like this, just think what I can do to your enemies.”  Indeed, that’s a good point. “I’m rich enough not to care,” Gross declares, and walks off, hands in his pockets.  Will’s smile fades.

In his new office space on the bus, Eli and Kalinda pours over an picture of the 12 campaign workers who were at the St. Martin, posed in front of a campaign sign.  Kalinda lets her finger run over the crow until she finds the tall, perky blond at the end of the row.  “What’s her name?” she wonders.  Indira Star (yes, seriously) an “advance” worker.  Why her, Eli wonders, and Kalinda shoots him a look.  Interesting, this.  It’s not like the other women aren’t pretty, but this girl is clearly Amber 2.0.  It’s not true, Peter did not sleep with her, Eli insists, and Kalinda just gives him a look.

Peter barrels onto the bus, wanting Eli to check a speech for him.  He stops cold when Kalinda says hi, though.  “Ah, Peter, you know Kalinda Sharma,” Eli prompts.  Ha.  Yes, from the State’s Attorney’s office, that’s right.  Watching her scoot out around Peter is a delightful little moment of awkward.  Kalinda’s helping us with Mandy, really?  Of her own free will?  Peter’s justifiably surprised – and he looks very stiff.  “What do I need to know here, Peter?” Eli asks.  Nothing he’s going to tell you, Eli.

Neil Gross takes the stand again to explain (as if we don’t know) why he doesn’t want to make the ChumHum algorithm part of the public record.  Yes, yes, trade secret, billions of dollars, we get it, dude.  So he’s got a new legal theory – it’s his first amendment right to keep it secret.  “Oh dear God,” Will exclaims, drawing the ire of Judge Marx.   This would be the same thing as compelling a reporter to reveal their sources.  (Really?)  Cary and Will can’t stop sniggering.  The judge gives them a stern look. “I guess that gives you editorial discretion,” Viola suggests.  Yes, and that’s why he’s resisting the subpoena.

There’s a sparkling waterfall of wineglasses hanging over a swank bar; Kalinda shows up to see Lana in a cocktail dress with orange banding along the top.  Have we ever seen her dress up like that?  And wow, there’s Nick the Dick, oozing over Lana’s shoulder, pretending he’s never met Kalinda.  Must have been pretending to hit on Lana, who looks sleek and lovely in a black dress with a sheer embroidered top.  That open shirt under Nick suit jacket? Ick all the way.  He’s been thrilling me with his accent, Lana says, sipping her drink down with a straw.  Trying to, Ick Nick shrugs. “How do you two know each other?” he asks.  Just friends, Lana not quite answers.  Really, Ick wonders, you seem like more. “Like adopted sisters or something.”  No, Lana adds, friends from way back.  They smirk at each other.

Ick Nick wants to buy them both a drink, but Kalinda pretends to have a call and scurries outside.  And, what a surprise!  Nick excuses himself and follows her.  How shocking.  Real smooth, Romeo.  Kalinda’s waiting at the edge of the room.  He walks up, hands in his pockets. “Dyke,” he taunts her.

And that’s when Kalinda punches him in the face and drops him.  Then she walks over his body and goes back to her date.

Excellent.  That’s the most satisfying moment of his short tenure on the show, particularly the noise of his body hitting the ground.  Granted that’s a very low bar…

Cut to a tubby fellow in an open necked plaid shirt with a repulsive little chin beard, ready to testify in Gross’s trial.  He’s Kevin Costas of Ubertech, the blog quoted at the beginning of the trial, and he’s oh so pleased to be here. He can’t help leaning over to speak into the mike each time he answers a question, or letting us know that his blog has been praised by other technology blogs.  Awesome.  Congratulations, Alicia deadpans without looking up.  She brings up the quote – “Margarita Motions  wasn’t just plagiarized, it stinks” and he proudly admits to having written it.  Where are they going with this?

And how does he know this?  “How do I know it was plagiarized?  Because it was.  Because it’s not very good.”  Yeah, terrible answer, dude.  And does he have proof they stole it?  “You mean actual ‘proof”?” he wonders. Hell no. “But I don’t need it.  It’s my opinion.”  And there he is again, pleased as punch.  What’s the point, Viola wonders, not bothering to sit up.  Unlike Miss Walsh and I, Judge Marx knows where this is going; he’s polishing his glasses and barely suppressing a smile.  “Mr. Gross is claiming editorial discretion for his search engine; therefor, he is responsible for its editorial contents.”

“Oh, wait a minute,” Viola calls out, bring the Valley Girl hands out again.  They can’t have their cake and eat it too, Your Honor, Alicia shrugs. “If they insist on free speech protections, then they are responsible for that speech.” The Honorable Michael Marx is flat out laughing now.  “Your Honor!” Viola whines, but she doesn’t get any further than that. “No, Miss Walsh, she’s right.”  Ha!  Take that, nonsensical tactic!

“So, Mr. Costas, you printed the plagiarism accusation without checking truth or falsehood?”  I did, he says proudly. “I didn’t need to.” Tool. Are we making Gross responsible for everything written on the internet now?  Just checking. “And did he give anyone at ChumHum his reasons or evidence?”  Um, no, he sneers, looking around the court as if imagining cheers and high fives.

“Your Honor, this is absurd,” Viola finally gets on her feet. “ChumHum has millions of pages; if my client is going to be held responsible for every single one…”  Yes.  Absurd, isn’t it?  “Well then there’ll be a hell of a lot of defamation suits,” Alicia laughs, and the judge agrees.  Sorry, but that’s what you get for making a free speech argument, love.  Couldn’t they argue that the webpages aren’t ChumHum’s in the way that the algorithm is?  Oh, good lord.  I don’t even know why I’m trying to figure it out.  Bottom line; we outwitted them.  Again.  Viola sighs dramatically, throwing back her head.

“One million dollars, but you have to take it now,” she says, walking into Clarke’s office and leaning on his desk.  “No consulting with Will, no second guessing – just business between two like minds.”  Good luck with that, chickie.  I’m pretty sure that’d be totally illegal. Clarke starts taking notes.  “Ah, no.”

“We’re not going higher,” Viola warns him.  That’s probably true, he replies serenely.

She throws herself into a chair, showing frustration.  That’s one million dollars, this firm is bankrupt!  Then take it up with Will, Clarke replies, leaning back and tenting his hands – but I’ll advise him not to take it.  Really!  Why?  “I’ve seen the evidence,” he says simply.  You’re a businessman, Viola cries. “Yes,” he agrees. “Show a businessman a winning hand, he doesn’t have to be a gambler to go all in.”

Oh, very nice.  Very nice indeed.

You won’t get a better offer, she warns.  I’m sure we won’t, he nods. “I’m going all in.”  Woah.  Viola snorts and stands back up.  Will’s gotten to you, she says. “He’s put dollar signs in your eyes. I’m trying to be the peace maker here.”  Now Clarke can’t contain his laughter (wonderful, since it took him 3 episodes to get there).  Why can’t people be straightforward, he wonders.  “Why don’t they ever just say what they mean?”  “Well you have chosen a really strange time to get philosophical,” she grumbles, shaking her head.  No, he disagrees politely, it’s the perfect time.

Nice, Clarke.

Indira Star hops up onto a table at one of Peter’s campaign offices and smiles winningly at Kalinda.  She’s wearing a cute flowery top with a ruffled razor back over jeans and a tank, very young and very casual. “At first I was just, you know, flirtatious,” she says.  “Older guys like to flirt with me.  I have a … nice laugh.”  Brilliant!  You’re right, that’s totally what it is.  Your laugh.  Kalinda could tell that from a picture of you, that you had a nice… laugh.  “And then you two had sex?” Kalinda asks, notebook out.  Yeah, but it wasn’t a big deal, she scoffs.  (Do people really think like that?  Sigh.  I guess.)  She’s no Rielle Hunter, she insists.  Meaning what, she doesn’t believe there was a cosmic emotional connection?  I suppose that’s sensible.

“How many times did you have sex?”  Maybe 8 – she doesn’t know.  Could she be more perky?  She’s weirdly guileless, too. In response to Kalinda’s next question, she says two of the encounters took place at Peter’s apartment.  “Once,” she leans over, girlish in her glee, “we were doing it in the bedroom, and we heard his wife coming home…” Huh?  Alicia never “came home” to that apartment.  Would she have even had a key?  “Yeah, it was like something out of a movie, I had to hide in the bathroom.” She seems delighted by the experience, while Kalinda makes a noncommittal noise that barely masks her lack of amusement.  “She saw me, too,” Indira finishes.

Now Kalinda’s incredulous. “Alicia saw you?”   “Yeah,” Indira continues sunnily, “but she said it was no big deal and she’s used to it.  I guess he’s a real man whore,” she snickers.  Kalinda snorts.  Oh really, she says. “Oh yeah,” Indira adds, “she was like, ‘you can do it anywhere you want, just not in my apartment.'”  This is odd, because she doesn’t seem like she’s lying, does she?  But obviously Alicia would never say that, so she sounds utterly deranged.  “You know how it is,” the girl shrugs.  Kalinda just smiles.

Why is Will hopping so strangely through his hall?  Because the unstable divorcees have broken one of the windows in the conference room.  Well, that turned out to be a smart investment, didn’t it?  I hope we charge them a nice little fee for that. The partners join a stalled negotiation, which has fallen from that one meellion dollars down to nothing and a promise not to sue us for court costs.  Okay.  So what changed?  It looks like Neil was just waiting to gloat in Will’s face; instead of buying out Will, he’s bought out Julie and Elizabeth, and put them in charge of former competitor Wicked Savage Designs.  Elizabeth thanks Alicia; “if we ever get in trouble again, we’ll give you a call.”  Hopefully the next time they’ll be able to pay.

As she sits in her office, laughing to herself over this turn of events (because it’s either that or cry), Eli taps on one of the glass walls between them.  Warily, she waves him over.  He doesn’t know quite how to say it nicely so he just blurts itout: “do you and Peter have an open marriage?” You can count down in your head, watching her try to stay composed before bursting into wonderful, soul cleansing laughter.  “I’ll take that as a no,” Eli replies, and she waves again.  “Take it however you want.”  Eli explains about the campaign worker.  “Well I can’t help what Peter says,” Alicia giggles. “No,” Eli replies, “she says you told her.”  Alicia’s face is a study. “She says you found her in your apartment bathroom hiding, and you told her not to worry about sleeping with Peter,  just so long as it’s not at your apartment.”

Again, Alicia stares at him, incredulous.  “This is all a lie?” Eli realizes.  Alicia nods slowly, as if to someone excessively dim witted.  The song from the beginning of the episode cues up again.  Eli’s pleased; if Indira’s lying about this, she’s clearly lying about everything.  (Um, that’s optimistic, but let’s save that discussion.)

Over in his office, Will’s searching for himself on ChumHum, and finds the search directed to “Will Gardner, disbarred lawyer.”  He laughs in appreciation, though I’m not entirely sure it’s funny.

And there’s Ick Nick making an omelet.  Must we?  “I don’t know why you go on about this.  It’s not that hard.”  Is there even a point in talking about that?  He starts gesturing with the spatula. “I know you tried a lot of things when I was away,” he starts, “and I forgive you.”  Well, there’s nothing more irritating than that, is there?  But now that he’s back, he wants her to give up on the “college dorm stuff” – what he sees as experimentation.  Oh, if you only knew.  He remains solid in his conviction that she’s his, and therefor should stop sleeping with other people, which would be fair enough were he not a complete psychopath.  “Things don’t change.  You belong to me.  I belong to you. And I know where your girlfriend lives.”

I’d like to see you try, Kalinda smiles.  No you don’t, he boasts, but she’s ready for him. “She’s a federal agent. My girlfriend is a federal agent.”  Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Ick!

This time, the red felt tipped pen belongs to Peter, who’s correcting a speech.  And the dark suited form swaying down the hall of the campaign bus isn’t Eli, or even Mandy (as I wondered wildly) but Alicia, looking much like she did back in Heart.  Without a word of explanation, and much to his surprise, she bends down and kisses him.  Alicia pulls back  to smile avidly into his eyes.

And then she kisses him again.

Okay, so. I’m going to start by quoting the song from the opening as best I can, since I can’t link to it.

Can everybody see that I’m on fire

Can they see you torched me like a car?

Do they look at me in the street discreetly

I’m just your average melting heart.

Can everybody see that I’m on fire,

Did they watch you burn this mother down?

Please don’t rescue me, I’m free to burn up as I please

Just leave me be, don’t put me out.

I don’t care if people know.  I don’t care what they’d say.

When a little spark got started I’d just sit and watched it grow. 

I loved this song – I love the contrast between the singer’s little girl voice and the meaning of the lyrics.  I know I don’t have to explain why that’s so fitting for Alicia’s life, right down to her refusal to accept help, but I find it rather ominous that we’re talking about burning her down now.  Anyone else have the most horrible feeling that Indira was telling the truth, and that the person she thought was Alicia was just another of Peter’s lovers, who was having a laugh pretending to be his wife?  The writers scrupulously refrained from showing us whether Peter saw other people during the year of complete separation, so it could go either way.  It’s perfectly plausible that he lived out a swinging fantasy lifestyle; she’d left him, she was sleeping with another man, and made it fairly clear the marriage was over.  I don’t think Alicia would even expect fidelity through that – but what she does expect is honesty.  And he’s said it isn’t true.  So if it proves true – and I’m pretty convicted that it will be – she’s going to be shattered yet again when she finds out.  So maybe that’s why I finished the episode feeling unsatisfied; I can’t help thinking of what’s to come rather than what just happened.

I have to say, though, I appreciate the way Alicia’s relationship with Eli has evolved, and the way he cares for her, as a friend.  Since he’s insinuated himself into the Florrick marriage, I’ll be curious to see how he takes it if things fall apart again.

As for the case – well. I found the Judge amusing.  SEO interests me because I know a little bit about it and because intellectual property law has always fascinated me, and certainly Neil Gross and Viola Walsh are vivid characters.  But, eh.  I can’t decide if I’m pleased that Will lost his play to push Viola out of her job; I kind of think I am.  I’m certainly pleased not to be seeing more of Gross the Insufferable!  I’m glad they took the loss and the wasted hours with good grace, and it was nice to see Clarke go all in on the firm, as it were.  The show’s giving Nathan Lane to do good work – I mean, of course they are, that’s what they do and why he’s here, but it’s something very different for him, and I like it.

Let’s see.  Mandy.  Was Eli reading into her hints because he surmised something happened between Will and Alicia, or did she deliberately make him think she had something on Will and Alicia?  And if the latter, does she know that there’s something to be found there and simply isn’t interested in it, or is it just that there’ve been rumors and she thought she’d play that angle enough to get an interview with Alicia where she could then spring the big surprise of Peter’s alleged tryst?  Trysts?  I’m frankly astounded that Alicia needed Will to ask who the September hotel reservation was for, but it made for a nice moment.

Ick Nick.  Sigh.  Really, Kalinda can get on with killing him any time now.  Why is it that they can’t put her with anyone we don’t loathe?  I have to say, at first I thought it was pretty evil (and obviously calculated) of her to set Nick on Lana.  But I guess Lana did offer Kalinda up as bait to track Lemond Bishop, so perhaps turn about is (deeply twisted) fair play.  Hmmm.  Maybe Lana will be the one to take out Nick.  Maybe Nick will end up killing Lana and then going to prison for it?  As long as he’s gone, I really don’t care.  Kalinda’s got to be planning something.  She can’t be completely under his dubious spell, can she?  Please tell me she can’t.

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18 comments on “The Good Wife: Two Girls, One Code

  1. Angee says:

    E, another great review, if only the episode was a great as your review SIGH. I miss season 1 The Good Wife, they set an impossibly high bar for themselves that first season. I want Nick to die a quick, painful death soon. If Lana doesn’t kill Nick maybe Lemond Bishop will kill him. Of course, it is going to turn out Peter is lying and Alicia is going to be devastated again. I don’t understand The Good Wife’s character development, Alicia is stuck in a depressing non-triangle with Will and Peter, Kalinda is stuck in a sick relationship with Nick, Cary is doing nothing, Diane is trying to hold the firm together. As much as I like Nathan Lane’s work, I am tired of the firm being in financial trouble.
    The problem with Kalinda and Nick is I cannot imagine the Kalinda we met during the first season of The Good Wife being remotely attracted to Nick in the first place. Why is Alicia so cold to Will, the way she is treating Will lately makes me miss Tammy!
    In regards to the case, why did they take the loss so well? I mean they are in such dire financial straits that Will was practically begging Neil Gross to hire the firm to replace Viola.

    • E says:

      Angee! You’re so right – as much as I love the show, I can’t help longing for the brilliance of season 1. Actually, I think I agree with every single thing you said, from Nick to Will to Peter. And good grief, I haven’t really gotten into it, but Cary is totally missing, which is no fun at all. With such a terrific and deep cast, it’s hard to spread the time evenly (more Peter so far, less Cary and Diane) so I’m just hoping we get more Cary and Diane very soon.

      It makes me laugh a little sometimes. How can I write this much and still not get into everything they do? I normally try and reflect on (or decode, ha) the title and this week even that was more murky than usual. Which two girls? Whose code? It’s not just Julie and Elizabeth and the ChumHum algorithm, of course – there’s all sorts of stuff about Alicia and Kalinda and the “codes” of marriage. And that’s good, but it just didn’t come together in a meaningful enough way. Although again, maybe I’m just too worried about Alicia and Peter to feel good about the episode.

      • Angee says:

        The Good Wife has an awesome regular cast and some great recurring characters, unfortunately Nick is not one of them. I want to see: Kalinda and Alicia rebuilding their relationship, Alicia moving beyond Peter and Will. I wish they would let the women define themselves more as individuals separate from work or men. I would like to see Alicia interacting with Grace and Zack more and see how Alicia balances work, motherhood and womanhood. Kalinda exhibits amazing vulnerability with Alicia and Lana highlight that more and creepy ex-husbands a lot less.
        The title of the show is The Good Wife but Alicia seems to have a diminishing supporting role, I saw a video clip of a frustrated Julianna Margulies talking with Claire Danes and Kyra Sedgwick that I think is enlightening on the issues with the show:
        Danes: But you have to recognize what a valuable challenge is. You’re indulging your neurosis about being a “good girl” or something.
        Margulies: I think that’s exactly it. And I hate to say it turns into a [gender] issue, but being a female …
        Sedgwick: Do it! I’m right there with you, girl.
        Margulies: Do you know what I mean though? Being female and asking for what you need.
        Danes: We are very accommodating, typically.
        Margulies: Because we don’t want to be thought of as bitches or as incapable. “No I can do this! I can be a mother!” Then you show up and you start to …
        Sedgwick: Unravel.
        Watch the entire great video at http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/gallery/thrs-emmy-roundtable-drama-actresses-330478#4

        • E says:

          I love that roundtable! (Wow, that might be the dorkiest sentence ever.) THR does them for the Oscars and the Emmys and they’re terrific, and you really can’t beat the women they had for this one. A big part of the frustration they’re discussing, is the demands of leading a show, and being in most of the scenes and balancing a life with that. So I think Julianna was arguing for less screen time for herself, which is tricky from a fan’s perspective!

          Marc Warren is a good actor, and I was pleased they cast him (even though I’d have preferred someone else). I don’t really blame him for Nick; my problems are more structural than performance focused, I think. We knew he would be bad news – I was prepared for that. I just expected to also see his twisted appeal, but we haven’t. We don’t see why she can’t resist him, just that she doesn’t. It would be SO much more effective if they’d given us that, but it’s not how he was written. I was reading something (The Daily Beast, maybe?) where they called him a polarizing character, but I don’t think that covers it. To be polarizing, you have to have people who like you! Even Blake had fans. I’ve never heard anyone defend Nick.

          • Angee says:

            E, what I think I heard Julianna saying is while she wants less screentime, she wants to be doing more with the screentime she does have and she’s right working fourteen hours and basically just sitting next to someone is a waste of her time and talent. I think the roundtable relates to The Good Wife because you have these beautiful, talented, smart women who are torn between being the good girl and standing up for themselves in a male-dominated and often sexist industry, who feel guilty that being good at their jobs is making them bad mothers. Kyra Sedgwick says that people tell her that her children just want her to be happy and she is being a good role model for her daughter, Sosie, but Kyra knows that her children would have preferred to have her at home. Julianna is terrified of the prospect asking for time off to check out kindergartens for Kieran and that pulling a 14 hour a day schedule is not leaving her enough time to be a good wife and mother. These are some of the issues that The Good Wife misses out on addressing, because they think people would rather watch Kalinda act out 50 Shades of Gray. I read Robert King complain about if they focus on Alicia too much men would be turned off and think of the show as the “estrogen hour”. And he may be right, commercial broadcast, ratings driven television may not be the place to examine the issues of working women and mothers. But watching things like THR Roundtable makes wish there was a creative platform for these issues.
            The Good Wife is blessed with three strong female actors/ regular characters and it would be great to hear their voices more. I personally could see less of the campaign and more of Diane balancing work and her personal life, more of Alicia balancing work, motherhood, and self-discovery, and Kalinda balancing work and developing positive intimate relationships.

  2. Kiki says:

    E!!!!

    Great review as always!!! Ahhh I can here to read your reaction cause I love reliving the episode with you. And your last comment about Alicia/Peter hit me so hard, mostly because like you, as much as I LOVE them, I am soooo terrified that he did sleep with her. AND Alicia will be look like a fool again 😦 and she will be shattered again 😦 It breaks my heart. Deep down I want to believe Peter, but the Kings are sneaky and I have a bad feeling. And it won’t be the sleeping with her that will kill Alicia, it would be the LIE again, cause she believed him, and he did it to her again. It makes me all depressed…..GAH I was so happy for like one day after that kiss, but now the more I think about it, I get worried LOL…..My poor couple might never get a decent chance…….sigh *bummed* But as of now I am going to keep my hopes up, cause we don’t know. There is no way I can forgive Peter for lying to her again. So for the sake of my ship and sanity I hope he was telling the truth……also the idea that it was another women in Peter’s apartment? (or was it Alicia’s apartment?) I cannot even believe, I mean she has to know how Alicia looks, no? IDK….ahhh so depressing LOL

    As for Nick, I hate him, I want him gone. They are destroying my Kalinda, I am so angry at the Kings. Ugh. Also I will start calling him Nick The Dick in your honor. I am sad he will be around for much longer 😦

    Thanks for the review again for making me happy and depressed at the same time LOL

    Next Sunday cannot get here fast enough!

    • E says:

      Oh, Kiki, I’m so nervous about what’s to come! And I hate raining on your parade by saying that, I hate it. I can’t help thinking, that girl is clearly not the world’s deepest thinker, but she didn’t seem like she was lying, either. Maybe she is (how much did you love Alicia’s face when Eli made the open marriage comment?) but oh, I’m nervous nervous nervous. I would never guessed going into the episode that I’d be so worried about Alicia and Peter and not Alicia and Will!

      I agree, I think if he’s lying now, that’s it. That’s it for Alicia trusting him, that’s it for the show. And as always with politicians, it’d be about the cover up more than the initial – well, we can’t really call it a crime when they were separated, can we? Not Alicia would LIKE it if he was man whoring around, but it’d be falsely presenting himself as having changed that would really get her.

      So. It’s going to be very interesting to find out and to see if Peter and Alicia have a real chance here or not.

      I’m not interested in affording any kind of chance to Nick the Dick, though! Have they given a precise episode count of how long he’s going to be around? Honestly, I don’t see how he gets out of this alive. As my Dad likes to say about villains in general, they couldn’t kill him enough times to make up for everything he’s done!

      • Kiki says:

        How much did I love Alicia face during the “open marriage” comment!!!!!! SO MUCH, I seriously don’t get tired of looking at Gifs from that scene, I swear Julianna is just too good as Alicia, give her another Emmy for that scene alone hahaha
        And no worries you are not raining on my parade, I HAVE to prepare myself for this if its coming. I just wished I could more great A/P scenes before the fall LOL

        I am nervous too, so so nervous. And yes you said it all, the sex it will not be about that, cause I mean Alicia also did have a relationship and wasn’t necessary honest about. It would be the fact that once again when she is giving him the benefit of the doubt, she is basically “trusting” him again, it comes back like a slap her in the face. It would destroy her, and there would be no going back. Alicia would not forgive this mispresentation of having changed……and I truly believe that A/P would be over for good, it would be over for me personally. But I guess we have to wait and see,

        We don’t know the exact episode count, but is going on to at least 10 already 😦
        And yes no way Nick makes it out of this alive, I want to choke him with my own hands. I need Kalinda out of this, we are not seeing anything interesting from her, so whats the point of all this abuse? I hate it. Painful death for that fucker!

  3. Tvdramafan says:

    Ok. It always bothered me as to why Alicia was supporting Peter, and I have always thought she still has feelings for him. Otherwise why not divorce him; she was not interested in working on the marriage with him. The negatives of a campaign just do not justify ,make sense otherwise. So she did give a damn. I do not think Peter is lying about the intern. And u are right..they never even hinted that Peter was with anyone else. Alicia said NO to everything he suggested, she gave him no hope , and he thought she slept with Will even when she didn,t. So Alicia is not on higher ground abt the an affair for Peter. I agree Alicia wld be devastated bec she wld feel betrayed be of the lying. But if this were the case, how cld she continue to support Peter, and I think she will. BUT the

    kings being the KIngs, I think Peter probably he had an affair with someone else… Hard to believe he wldnt. So it all hinges on if , and how Peter tells her. And I hope he will. When Alicia asked him in prev epi, shld we live together, he did not jump at that. That’s when I wondered if there was someone else. But why wld he not have an affair she never give him any indication of caring.
    Iif he does tell her, they are on a bit of a level playing field..she never told him abt Will… I am thinking writers will go this way bec how else can Alicia remain supportive to Peter, at least for the time being. It is kind of sad, bec we were given the sense Peter did love Alicia ..the looks he gave her at the end of last epi..but he thought marriage had no chance.

    Everyone is mad over K arc, and all agree.
    Your being turkey analogy made me howl… But this has been a problem with the show from the beginning…also they are so committed to guest stars you never get enough of the regulars. CN usually does 2/3 of the episodes that the others do, so maybe he is front loading bec of the campaign arc.

    Will watch the round table. ..JM has a young child and works 15 hours a day..if shevhad fewer scenes, assumed itbwas her choice.

    • E says:

      I’m glad to be wrong about the writer’s intent for Peter! And I agree that Alicia isn’t on high ground. She gave Peter no reason to think their marriage would continue, and had a relationship herself, so it’d be hard to blame him. Although yes, they both seem to love each other still.

      I think the Kings were intentionally scrupulous about not showing us Peter outside the office or away from the kids; he could have done everything or nothing, and we wouldn’t know. So I’m going to be really curious to see how it all plays out. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that we’ve seen so much of CN, too – I like when they use him sparingly in episodes, just as much as we need, but actually use him when necessary. There have been instances in the past when they didn’t and it showed; perhaps he’s altered his contract so that they can use him in smaller but vital ways. Maybe by screen time rather than episode number? That’s what I’d rather they do, anyway.

  4. […] Er, that’s familiar.  I know I’ve typed those irritating words before.  There’s the supercilious internet billionaire Neil Gross in court on the witness stand and […]

  5. […] August with blunt trauma to her skull.” Ah, Chicago Polytech, the fictional alma mater of Neil Gross and home of The Dunk.  A beefy sheriff grabs his belt buckle behind Jeffrey, ready to grab the […]

  6. M says:

    Just came across this and thought you’d appreciate knowing. The “tubby fellow” that played Kevin Costas of Ubertech? Played by actor Devin Ratray, better known as the annoying older brother Buzz in Home Alone.

  7. sandra says:

    There is a website when I saw it I was really shocked: http://chumhum.com.cn/ But I think Neil Gross would not be the one running it…

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