E: Ah. Now that was a more satisfying episode. Of the many reasons, the first one is clearly the lack of the husband who must not be named. What a profound relief to have Kalinda unchained, doing what she does with flair and competence! We had an unambiguous case, and despite the many permutations it undertook, we knew who the good guys were the whole time. That was refreshing. I love the show’s ambiguity, don’t get me wrong, but it’s nice to know we’re fighting for the good guys every once in a while. Diane burns up the courtroom. And while scandal still hangs over Peter’s head, the truth comes out, and it’s a comforting one. It’s always a pleasure when my tendency to assume the worst proves overly pessimistic.
Get out the lipstick, the patent leather flats and the headbands – Jackie’s coming home! My, that’s a lot of medication. Peter pushes her wheelchair out to the curb himself. As he natters about the stroke leaving no permanent damage, Jackie cuts to the chase. Where will she be living now? With me, of course, Peter smiles. “Won’t Alicia have a problem with that?” Jackie wonders. I hate her tone, and the prim, nasty way she purses her lips, but after the whole blow up about the house it’s a fair question. Peter’s response is interrupted when a flunky hands him a cell phone. Suddenly he’s too important to carry his own phone? My eyes just about rolled backwards in my head.
Anyway, it’s Eli, calling to say that “she’s getting them to commit to a timeline” and that “the investigator” will check dates on Indira Star’s allegations. There’s a moment of real awkwardness where Eli hesitates before confessing that the investigator is Kalinda, but Peter’s unphased. Good. He then checks in on a straw poll (which, interesting, I didn’t realize the tradition was that widespread – I’d only really heard of the Ames Iowa presidential one, but it turns out to be a lot more common); Eli replies that of course Peter’s going to win. The only question centers on his margin of victory. Will it be enough for the press?
“Well, okay, let’s get you to that luncheon,” Peter chirps brightly, but his glowering mother won’t be sidetracked until he explains the other sides of the conversation she just eavesdropped on. He prevaricates, but eventually comes clean. “It’s just a story we want to prevent to be written, that’s all. Somebody’s lying about me.” Well, I’m sure it’s already written, but understood. “About you and some campaign worker?” Jackie presses. How embarrassing must that be, having to have this kind of conversation with your mother? Poor Peter. Ugh. “And Alicia’s hurting you?” she guesses.
“What? No!” Peter says in surprise. Though Jackie can’t believe it, Alicia’s been Peter’s greatest champion.
And indeed, there the other Mrs. Florrick sits in the offices of Synth magazine, poised and powerful looking in her usual black and white. I love that soft draped shirt; I suspect it’s not the first time I’ve coveted it. “And this happened when?” Mandy squints and observes that Alicia seems to answer questions with questions. “Yes,” Alicia agrees, but she’s just looking to clarify the questions. A much older gentleman explains that “to the best of [Indira’s] recollection” it was August 25th, 2011. In my apartment, Alicia clarifies. “Yes,” says Mandy, “sleeping with your husband.” Wow, there wasn’t the tiniest hesitation there, the merest scrap of scruples or consciousness of inflicting pain.
Happily, Alicia’s response is barely suppressed laughter. “And she said I found her hiding in my bathroom and I told her that Peter and I had an open marriage?” The older gentleman – who has to be either Mandy’s editor or (more likely, considering his age) publisher, has to bite down on his own laughter to confirm this. Well, that’s hopeful. “Well,” Alicia replies in measured tones, “Peter and I were separated then, so that’s impossible.” Quite so. I keep wondering if he has a key now (we didn’t see the kids home to let him in last week) but he surely didn’t for most of last year.
Eli steps in. There, that’s another lie, he notes. “At a certain point, the story just crumbles, Mandy.” Mandy, however, is not ready to back down. Well, what about the St. Martin hotel on September 30th – Indira recalls overhearing Peter talk to Alicia on the phone about the kids. “What time was that exactly?” Alicia wonders. So Eli can check out her story, Mandy snaps? No, so I can refresh my memory, Alicia replies (though Eli waits in plain view with a pencil and paper). What’s wrong with that, anyway? I mean, what sort of person would remember when they got a phone call the year previously? “You really are a lawyer,” Mandy snarks. Yes, replies Alicia, and I’m late for court. 11:30 at night, Mandy admits, at which point Alicia shoots her down entirely. To the best of her recollection, she and Peter didn’t talk at all that night. I will say it again; who would possibly remember that far back? It would have made more sense (and seemed less like she was toying with Mandy) if she’d just said that they didn’t routinely talk that late.
But anyway. The elderly gentleman thanks her for her time, patting Mandy on the shoulder to end the conversation. “You’re welcome,” Alicia smiles. “I hope you kill the story. I don’t like being lied about. No one does.”
Down in the hallway beneath the Synth conference room, Eli and Alicia head out. “I could kiss you,” Eli enthuses. “Well that would give them something to write about,” Alicia snarks coyly. Aw, she made a funny! I love it. As she speeds off to court, Eli passes on the timeline to Kalinda (clad in the most stunning jewel tone teal top – sleep and v-necked and structured and just gorgeous). Peter was on the 15th floor, Indira was in 803 but went up to join him. And, ooh, recalls Eli – I was in the adjoining room and the door between our suites was open. I think.
“This is Trey Lawson,” Diane announces, holding a framed photograph of a handsome young black man in slick shades and a pink button down shirt, posing in front of palm trees and an ocean. He was a 19 year old freshman “living out his dream” on a water polo scholarship to Chicago Polytechnic. What, them again, for the second week in a row? Until one day he was hazed to death.
Ah. Hence the title.
Opposing counsel (look, it’s Lex Luthor’s Dad!) Jared Andrews has his own photo – the mug shot of the killer. You may also remember gaunt, lioned haired John Glover from In Sickness, where he first played Mr. Andrews, Patti Nyholm’s on again/off again boss. Wayne Crockett taunted, bullied and eventually drowned Trey, and plead guilty to doing so. But oh, no, it’s not enough for Miss Lockhart that Crockett is serving 8 years for the crime. Surely its whoever her clients are, not Diane! At any rate, she’s suing Chicago Polytech for letting the bullying get out of hand at a yearly water polo party. “It is about the university turning a blind eye to a vicious ritual that cost Mr. & Mrs. Lawson their son.” A handsome couple looks down at their laps – the clients, not wanting to listen to this too closely. It must be a special type of hell, hearing someone dramatize and embroider on your suffering that way.
And, splendid; Trey Lawson’s death was captured on video! How convenient for us that everyone’s got a cell phone camera these days. Wayne Crockett and a few other hulking behemoths press other boys under water, thumping their chests and bellowing as a crowd cheers them on. The coach squirms under Diane’s withering glare; this is an annual event the team holds the night before its first game called The Dunk. “Yeah, but it’s not approved,” the coach grumbles. “By the school, or by me.” Ah, but he’s attended them in the past. “But when I saw what was happening, I left.”
You left? Are you kidding me? You disapproved, so you left? Well, that makes it all okay, then! How noble of you. Dude, you’re supposed to be in charge of these kids! You’re not there to be their pal, you’re their coach! Sorry, but that’s appalling. You see something that dangerous and don’t think you have sufficient respect to make them stop, call the police. Diane rolls video, and the poor Lawsons avert their eyes, as a maddened crowd splashes more water on the rookies as the upperclassmen hold them under water. But the school doesn’t approve, the coach insists again. The judge taps his cheek, his attention caught by the video as the crowd begins to scream in panic once it’s clear that Trey has stopped struggling. No one in the courtroom can bear to look.
“In fact, didn’t you tell the team not to do The Dunk this year?” Mr. Andrews asks the coach in the now quiet courtroom. Yes. “I thought it was wrong,” the coach adds. You know, trying to stop college kids from partying is pretty much a losing game. BUT. Either this man has no authority over his team, or he just didn’t care at the time. But if it was an off-campus party, at the house of one of the team members (with a pool? really?) it’s hard to say the school is responsible.
“They knew about it,” a young student proclaims. The Dunk’s been going on for fifty years. (That sounded like a preposterous claim, but it turns out that water polo was the first Olympic team sport back in 1900, so it’s totally plausible.) And did the university have a “wink wink” attitude toward the party, Alicia wonders. When Andrews objects, the Jimmy Kimmel look-a-like judge waggles his eyebrows hilariously, head balanced on his chin, and makes Alicia restate the question. She has the student read a text from Coach Shank he received the night of The Dunk: “don’t get too drunk at the dunk. have match tomorrow.” Every year the coach says not to throw the party, but he knows they will. It’s Alicia’s turn to waggle her eyebrows at her opposing counsel.
In the hall, Diane reports an offer of 500k, which she turned down because they’re sticking to their original 6 million dollar ask. The Lawsons still agree, but they’re uncomfortable. “This has been hard, hearing them call you greedy.” Poor Mr. Lawson “The more they call you names, the more you know you’re winning,” Alicia smiles. Diane – resplendent in a red jacket, takes a call from Will’s, who’s supervised what was apparently the demolition of the 27th floor. Poignantly, there’s a Lockhart & Gardner sign in the trash. I don’t even know what to say about that; why was it necessary to rip down the walls? The furnishings and signage I get, but the walls? The ceiling? How does it look, she wonders. “Sad,” he says shortly, and it really really does. It looks like a construction site. “We’ll get it back, Will,” Diane encourages her partner. He knows (and clearly it doesn’t help). “You retreat to advance, Will,” she reminds him. He knows. “It just feels like we’ve been retreating for four years now,” he observes.
YES! Oh, good lord in heaven, YES! I know that there’s drama in struggle, and I know it mirrors the real world economy but I could not be more tired of their money troubles. When you live under the same threat for long enough, it really loses its sting.
“We’re still standing,” Diane observes. “Every other firm that started out when we did, they’re gone.” Okay. Good to know, but that doesn’t help the internal structure of the show. Will knows that too. “But if you ever want to be motivated, you should come on down to the 27th. It’s a kick in the ass.” Will hangs up.
Prim in pink, Jackie’s right at home behind a microphone in a room full of similarly pastel-hued, well-to-do women. So it was a working luncheon, right out of the gate? Wow. “I imagine you’ll forgive a mother for singing the praises of her son.” The audience titters. “He’s handsome!” she shrugs. Long time Florrick operative Jim Moody’s taping her with an old fashioned video camera at the back of the room; the topic cracks him up. “I know that’s not the best reason to vote for a governor,” she continues (and ya think?), “but there will always been some women who will come forward saying my son flirted with them, or, or touched them.” That’s when Moody almost sprays a little canape across the elderly ladies’ backs. “But I want you to know Peter has always struggled with women coming after him.” Choking on his food, Moody pulls out a flip phone and dials, his other hand still on the camera. Dryly, he fills Eli in on the goings on at the Retired Americans luncheon. “Your girl Jackie, would you like to know what she just said?”
Eli starts stomping as Jim Moody holds up his phone. “I told him sometimes you just have to beat them off with a stick!” Yes, that’s so the story Eli wants out there. He kicks furniture around the room. Is this the new campaign office? He’s not at Lockhart/Gardner – there’s a lot of dark wood and no glass. Stop her, he bellows, with a two by four if you have to. As Jackie flutters about how Peter’s a gentleman and women misunderstand his politeness, Jim hands her the phone. “I’m supposed to tackle you if you don’t take it,” he insists. Eli demands Jackie stop speaking (pleading weakness after her stroke) but Jackie snaps the phone shut decisively. Youch. Marvelous Eli laughs to himself in complete horror, because the only alternative is tears.
The young polo player (Horace Sultan) is back on the stand. When Andrews presses him he denies being Wayne Crockett’s best friend (funny how a murder charge will do that), but will admit to being friends. Andrews want him to read a text: “Is Mary bringing the brews?” He was talking about the drinks for The Dunk. Horace doesn’t want to answer, which causes confusion and consternation at the defense table. At first I fear this is Mrs. Lawson’s first name (I told you my mind goes immediately to the worst case scenario) but what do you know? This turns out to be a slur on her son’s masculinity. “Mary is a derogatory term for someone who is gay,” Andrews explains, causing Diane and Alicia to leap to their feet, objecting vociferously.
Once they’ve been pulled in front of the bench, the judge shushes all three lawyers and has Andrews talk first. And what an interesting theory he’s working on; he admits that the university knew about the party, but that Trey’s death couldn’t have been prevented because it was actually a hate crime. As Alicia and Diane trip over each other protesting this, the judge draws down his eyebrows and asks for clarification. “Mr. Andrews, are you saying that the university isn’t liable if Mr. Crockett killed Trey because he was gay?” There’s something very particular about that emphasis, and Alicia looks up slowly; you can see the wheels turning in her head. Gay hate crime brought in front of gay judge? Huh.
“Yes,” Andrews points at the judge, excited, his lion’s mane of hair shaking, “if the murder was not an inevitable consequence of The Dunk. If it was not inevitable then the university could not have foreseen the murder.” There was no hate crime charge brought, Diane protests. The judge doesn’t see that as a sufficient problem. You want to argue hazing gone wrong, he wants to say that the hazing was beside the point. He’ll let the jury decide. “So come back tomorrow, ready to argue whether this is a hate crime or not.” Lovely.
Steeling herself, drawn to it against her better judgment, Diane opens the elevator doors onto the devastation of the 27th floor. She actually has to steady herself against the door. And then she walks onto the 28th floor with a fire, a stabbing step we have perhaps never seen. Which is good, because things aren’t going super well after the defense’s recent tactic. “My son isn’t gay!” Mr. Lawson wails, indignant. Good, so help us prove that, Alicia replies, seated across from her clients. “He’s lying! And he’s going to keep on lying as long as we hold out!”
“No, sir, he’s going to keep on lying to make you settle,” Diane snaps, striding into the conference room like a queen. When the Lawsons begin to protest, she shoots them down. “What I told you, sir, is that the defense would do anything in its power to make you lose confidence in this case.” Lawson gives her a long look. “Can you promise me you can win this still?” He looks like a turtle, shoulders hunched up, suit jacket climbing up his neck, and she takes a beat before answering. “No,” she admits, “but I can promise you that we will work even harder now.” They twitch, uncomfortable. “Because I’m angry,” she tells them, slapping her hand down on the table, “and this should make you angry too.” Mrs Lawson turns to her husband, speaking with her eyes. “Okay,” he nods.
If he’s not gay let’s prove it, Diane delegates to Alicia. Get Kalinda on it. Can you prove someone’s not gay? Diane will work on hate crime case law and they’ll reconvene in two hours. “It’s not about comfort, we’re the name partners,” Will’s telling Clarke Hayden – and they’re both inside Diane’s office. Okay, that’s a little odd. I can veto your decisions, Clarke says; not on this, Will claims. I have more clout and I’m willing to take a smaller office, Clarke insists. What on earth? Will explains the situation; Clarke would like to wall off part of Diane’s office so she and Will can split it. Well, says Clarke, we have to put the folks from the 27th floor somewhere, and leading by example would be good for morale. ‘True,” Empress Diane agrees, head high, “but we’re not going to do it. We’re bringing this firm back, and we’re doing it in the offices we have now. So unless you want to go to the bankruptcy judge on this, Mr. Hayden, I suggest you back off.” She absolutely barks those last words.
Hayden looks a touch wounded. “At some point you’ll realize I’m trying to save you from yourself,” he sighs, shaking his head. “What got into you?” Will asks, obviously impressed. “Wheaties,” Diane quips.
We are so not worthy of you, Diane.
Reclining against a bench, Jackie’s got a bow around her neck and a bad attitude. I was only trying to help, she insists, utterly unrepentant. “Every time you talk about women chasing him, you make that the story!” Eli explains, but she still doesn’t get it. “Don’t bark at me, Mr. Gold,” she says girlishly. “Oh, that wasn’t barking. THIS IS BARKING” he barks. Ha. “When you’ve calmed down, we can discuss my schedule,” she proclaims. You’re in AA ball now, he says; Jackie doesn’t get the reference, so he tells her right out that he’s putting her out into unimportant events, like one in Greater Morton Grove. I’ve never heard of that, she frowns. Yes, exactly.
And, look, it’s Maddie Hayworth lurking out in the main office! Eli tells her that he’s busy getting ready for the straw poll. “It means everything and nothing,” he explains (meeting those press expectations) but then stops himself to wonder aloud why she’s there. Ah, we know why. He clears the room so she can honest. She’s heard rumors about the other shoe dropping. “Eli, I agreed to contribute. That was contingent on Peter keeping his pants zipped.” Ugh. This rumor comes to her via the women’s leadership forum. Hmm. Does Mandy belong to that, I wonder, or does she have friends who do? Or is it a common rumor? Maybe there’s always a rumor running around about Peter and women because of his past. “I was encouraging other donors to give, and there was some, uh, reluctance.” There’s nothing to the story, Eli insists; Peter’s background is such that his enemies will always try to bring him down. Yes, that. “Have I assuaged your concerns?” She doesn’t know.
There are interesting layers to this, right, if we think about how that kind of scenario unfolds? Because bimbo eruptions are always going to be an issue for Peter, and the press will always try to ferret out new bimbos. And surely Indira Star qualifies. But Eli’s comment about Peter’s enemies does make you wonder; if Indira is lying, is she doing so on her own (out of a desire for Amber-like notoriety) or has she been pushed forward or even recruited by someone with an agenda? Someone who’s spread the pseudo-information to Mandy as well?
Anyway. One thing you can put money on is that Eli was not pleased by that conversation.
Clarke Hayden calls Cary into his office for a little chat. At first he congratulates Cary on forcing a settlement in a copyright case that brought in some nice money. Shades of the days when all Cary did was settle because he was afraid of court! Ah, how far our little boy has come. ‘I feel you’ve been without an office for much too long, Cary. You’ve been with the firm how long?” Two months. Two months of what, keeping his things in the conference room? Yuck. Yes, its beyond time to land him somewhere. “And everyone speaks highly of you. So I’d like to move you into an office by the end of the day.” Alive to nuance, Cary’s pleased but clearly can’t figure out where this is coming from or how it’ll work.
I want you to come to me with any problems, Clarke adds, and now you can really see Cary’s Spidey senses tingling. “If there’s anything you think can be … improved… please feel free to contact me.” Oh, you didn’t! Is this another obscure test, or is Clarke really trying to set up a spy network? I hope it’s a test. I’ve been enjoying Clarke and I’d like to think he was above this. (You see, I only fear the worst because I hope so badly for the best to be true; paradoxical, but there it is.) “You mean, like anything, like the lunch room?” Cary smiles awkwardly. ‘Well, people, cases, management decisions – anything. I’d hate to limit your scope.”
Dude, you picked the wrong guy to try and turn, if that’s what you’re doing.
“Beth Alexander,” a young blond woman introduces herself on the stand. She’s so flustered she can’t even remember Alicia’s second question – which is where she lives, which is on campus at Chicago Polytech, which makes it likely she really isn’t the bimbo she seems. She’s also a classmate and “friend” of Trey Lawson’s, or rather more. “What do you mean?” Beth asks, staring nervously at the Lawsons. “You dated,” Alicia asks, causing Andrews to object on the grounds that gay men still date women. Which clearly doesn’t make it irrelevant, but the two descend into a screaming match anyway. The Honorable Greg Brouchard smacks them down, and Alicia’s allowed to continue. “You made me break my paperweight,” he mutters to himself, piqued. Hee.
Alicia establishes that Beth and Trey had lots and lots and lots of sex. (Then why did Beth not understand the question about them being more than friends?) To the best of your knowledge, did Trey ever sleep with men? “No,” comes the resounding answer, “he came from a very religious family. He never… sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Lawson.” she apologizes, presumably embarrassed to be going through this in front of her sort of boyfriend’s religious parents. Or sorry that he died? Mrs. Lawson’s got her arms crossed and her glare on. “He never slept with men.”
In his cross examination, Andrews wants to know if Beth heard the rumor that Trey was gay. We try to object (hearsay) but since the question is whether she heard such a rumor or not, the judge will allow. Of course he will. Sure she did. “Because he had a lisp?” Andrews wondered. “I don’t know,” Beth muses, “it was probably just the way he was.” Effeminate? She guesses. So, Andrews posits, anyone who didn’t know they were dating might think Trey was gay. Alicia objects, and we have another side bar, which reveals an interesting quirk in Andrews’ strategy; his point – at least now – is not whether Trey was actually gay but whether he was perceived to be so by the killer. That’s a far more slippery slope; even though Andrews seems to be positing a new theory of the case every day, this one actually makes more sense. “The reality of the victim’s sexuality is immaterial,” Brochard rules. “I might seem gay to someone,” he adds, hands to his chest, “until they found out I had a wife.” Alicia’s eyebrows shoot up, and Andrews does a double take; awesome. Only Diane remains impassive. Instead of proving Trey was an effeminate heterosexual, they’re going to have to prove that Crockett was homophobic.
As they walk out of the elevator, Diane assigns Alicia the task of siccing Kalinda on Crockett. He has reason to help us, she says. He does? As I’m stuck pondering this, Eli sneaks up behind his favorite liaison. “I need your help,” he begins before she can even see him. “And why should today be any different?” she sighs, guard up. Ha. He blocks her doorway with his body. “This is the new Eli, the thankful Eli. So thank you. Now I need something else.” Of course Clarke has been lying in wait as well, and pops up to ask for a moment. I would be starting to feel claustrophobic if I were her. She asks Clarke for a minute, and Eli begins his pitch. He frightens Alicia by explaining he knows she’s having drinks tonight with Maddie – and then annoys her by asking if she’ll assuage Maddie’s fears for him. Ugh. “She knows I lie for a living – she’ll believe you.” Bwah!
Yeah, this is exactly the problem with Alicia and Maddie trying to be friends. So much baggage! I would never, Alicia swears. Too awkward, too exploitative. This is a friendly drink, she protests. “So tell her as a friend,” Eli demands. If she brings it up, I’ll explain, Alicia concedes as Clarke pops back into the hall to compel her presence. She’ll never ask you, Eli grumbles. “Take what you can get, Eli!” she trills.
“What do you think of Cary Agos?” Clarke asks. With a big smile, she says she thinks he’s great. They don’t just get along; she was the one who suggested the firm re-hire him. Aw, that’s so nice. It’s such a nice reminder of how far they’ve come! Great. That’s all. Alicia’s confused by this, but not for long – Clarke has an extra desk brought into Alicia’s office and young Mr. Agos to go with it.
Oh dear. The weirdness of it all brings a dimple out of Alicia I’d forgotten she had. Nobody knows quite how to react.
Not that they can’t do this, but her office isn’t so very large that it’s not going to be a little awkward. Man, that seems to be my word for this episode: awkward, awkward, awkward. “So, this should work out fine. Thank you for understanding,” Clarke tells them before hastily removing himself from the situation. I didn’t ask for this, Cary stumbles. “I know,” Alicia waves, “Welcome, Eli,” she says, before correcting herself, her hand circling around an ear. “Cary. I’m losing my mind.” Her phone rings, and he jokes that it’s not for him (and it’s not, it’s Kalinda) – but a few seconds later, the phone on Cary’s new desk rings, too. Ha. Over Cary’s discussion about solicitation, Kalinda can’t hear Alicia very well, but don’t worry. She and Cary will get used to making calls in the same space. People do it every day.
Something else people do every day? Check into hotels. Kalinda’s at the St. Martin with a severe-looking clerk in a severe angled bob (very much Hollywood’s interpretation of WW2 Soviet military), who’s getting the key to Peter’s 15th floor suite from September 30th of last year. Quickly, she hangs up on Alicia without explaining what she’s doing (an unnecessary precaution, to my mind) and confirms that the clerk was there the night in question. Then she flashes the group photograph from that night. Does the clerk recognize Indira? No, but she wasn’t the only person working, so it doesn’t mean much. As they walk to the elevators, Kalinda puts out Eli’s theory; he was in the suite next door with the door open between, and she wants to know how good his view would have been. Nope, says the clerk. You have to request the doors be unlocked, you can’t just do it yourself (sensible) and there was no such request that night.
Kalinda looks grave. “I’ve disappointed you,” the droll clerk assesses. Her hair is starting to look dominatrix-like to me – or maybe it’s mostly the way she phrased that comment. No, Kalinda lies. Disheartened, she’ll still see the room. Which is a good thing, because that’s when she notices the clerk putting the suite’s key card into the elevator. It turns out you can’t get onto the 15th floor (the concierge floor) without such a key. Sweet! “I seem to have pleased you now?” the clerk inquires. “You certainly have, Miss Ledger,” Kalinda nods. (Ledger? Really? That’s an on point name for a hotel clerk, no? There’s a sort of performance art aspect to this character I really enjoy.)
Giggling at a bar, Alicia tries to repeat the name Pedro Almodovar back to her new kind of friend. I hear ya, honey. I find that one tricky to remember sober. Maddie twits her for being tipsy. Alicia denies it, but then wonders where a new set of drinks magically appeared from. “Did we order these?” No, says Maddie, they just bring them. “They bring rich people free things.” Alicia finds that hilarious – because how much sense does that make? “Apartment rooms, food, free computers…” Apartment rooms, Alicia laughs drunkenly. Huh? Hotel rooms, she means. Cars, too. “It’s really very wrong. Poor people have to buy everything, and I’m given things I could buy a hundred of.” That’s the definition of very wrong.
Maddie presses Alicia to take one of the free drinks. Mojitos, maybe, with that sprig of mint? Oh no, Alicia demurs. “I won’t make it home.” My driver can take you, Maddie counters, though that wouldn’t help move her car. Alicia smiles, and then considers – and because she is tipsy, it comes gushing out. “Why do you want to be my friend?” Maddie’s puzzled. “Why do you want this, why are we here?” Um, I don’t know, Maddie replies, self-conscious and inarticulate. ‘Do you not want to be here?” It’s not that. I wish she’d explain herself – it’d make the whole thing less (say it with me) awkward. “I… I’m not very interesting,” Alicia apologizes; Maddie throws back her head, laughing.
Alicia opens her mouth to say something, opens and closes it, opens but decides against. Oh, come on, Maddie encourages her. “Oh, no, I’m just an idiot,” Alicia laughs it off. Now you just have to say, Maddie chuckles. Oh, Maddie. “Thank you for giving to Peter’s campaign,” Alicia begins, and Maddie does a kind of hilarious twisty shrug. “Is that it?” And Alicia – oh, no, Alicia – brings up Mandy and the story and the grossness of Mandy thinking Alicia approved the affair. “So I wanted you to know what I’m going through,” Alicia finishes lamely. Oh, honey. Of all the ways you could have done that. Does she think that Maddie’s only there to pump her for information? That’s it’s all political calculation, that there’s no way Maddie could honestly be interested in being her friend? Is she drunk talking? Ugh.
Oh, that’s lousy, Maddie squints, slumped on the bar with her chin in her hand. Is there anything she can do? No, says Alicia, I think we’ve convinced the magazine that the story’s false. Maddie squints a little bit more. Did Eli tell you to say that? Alicia initially denies it – making the whole thing worse – and then admits to it. “But I wanted to tell you, I did,” she declares, hand on her heart. Oh, honey. The two lapse into an uncomfortable silence as Maddie brings out her credit card to pay for their free drinks.
Kalinda primps a touch as she waits to see Wayne Crockett in prison. He sits, and she picks up the phone. “Lawyer says you’re with the Lawsons. They’re the reason I’m in here. Why’m I gonna help?” That’s some logic for you. I guess you can forget about regret, huh? So Kalinda doesn’t go there; he should help them so he won’t end up with a hate crimes charge. He scoffs at first; he’s already been convicted, so what can they do, charge him again? Since hate crimes are federal charges, yes, they actually can. Uh oh.
“The school is saying you killed Trey because he was gay, is that true?” No, he says, Trey wasn’t gay. Excellent – except he won’t testify to it on the stand. “There’s more that can go wrong than right,” he quotes his lawyers. Okay. “Then help us. Who can we speak to?”
“Chad Minson,” a delicately featured young man says on the stand. “I’m a friend of Wayne Crockett’s.” At Diane’s prompting, Chad describes an evening where he and Wayne witnessed Trey coming out of Beth’s room at three in the morning, still kissing. The two laughed about it: “Beth was hot, and Trey had no game,” he laughs, sobering upon seeing Trey’s parents, “so we… didn’t know how he pulled that.” Um, I hate to break it to you, buddy, but Trey was pretty hot himself, and you’ll find plenty of girls less into game than you imagine. Anyway.
And, in case that wasn’t enough, Chad Minson is gay. And Wayne Crockett has always known it. “When I came out in tenth grade, he was one of the first people I told.” Excellent. So he’s not a bigot, just a perhaps accidental killer. Alicia watches the jury as Chad says of course his close friend doesn’t hate him. “I think that puts this hate crimes insanity to rest, ” Diane gloats. Actually, she’s practically floating, puffed up with self satisfaction. Delicious.
Here’s poor Jackie addressing the elderly of Greater Morton Grove, with Jim Moody back at the video camera. And, hmm. Yesterday she had a bumblebee pin on her lapel; today it’s a dragonfly. Coincidence? The place is soulless and depressing (it looks like a basement with exposed duct work and no windows, the microphone is taped to the graffiti-ed lectern) and none of the less than affluent citizens seem engaged, but Jackie gamely praises their work on God knows what, and reminds them of how Peter thinks of them often. No doubt. She goes on gamely, that is, until she starts to see nasty black beetles crawling over the lectern. Ew! She flicks one off, and two more appear, distracting her completely. She tries to hide them under her speech; I thought they were there until she did that.
“It’s not just the most dedicated voters that matter at a straw poll,” she stumbles. “What is she doing?” Eli freaks out, watching the tape on the campaign bus with Jim Moody. (I find it distracting how much I want to call him Jimmy. That’s so good old boy, you know? The nicknames show we’re all old friends, as with all the lawyers on The Practice. Weird, I know.) She did that the whole time, he reports. “This is because I cut her schedule,” Eli gripes. “She’s getting back at me. I need to talk to that stupid…” Happily for my virgin ears, Peter walks on the bus at just that moment, thrilled with this crowd. Oh, that’s mom, he notices. How’s she doing? Well, begins Eli diplomatically, she’s struggling. Peter thanks that’s to be expected. Is that why Eli cut her speaking schedule? Wise coward Jim Moody quietly excuses himself.
Jackie’s tanked a few speeches, Eli spits out. I thought she seemed good, Peter shrugs. Eli, show him the damn video tape! You do that, and I guarantee Peter’s going to be far more concerned about (and for) his mother than you are. I hate when smart people refuse to solve simple problems. I’m the strategist, he says instead, and I have to be given leeway to make that strategy, reminding Peter of their beginning. (Ah, do you remember those days when you thought Eli was a hard ass instead of the comic relief?) “And I am the candidate,” Peter replies in his most commanding tone, “and my mother has had a stroke, and she wants to be involved. Involve her.” Oh, Eli. He swallows his resentment and chews.
Jared Andrews tries to break apart Chad Minson’s testimony. Are you Wayne Crockett’s only gay friend, he wonders? Chad doesn’t know. “Could it be he didn’t view you as a gay friend, he viewed you as a childhood friend?” He guesses. I get the distinction, but when I’m thinking about my friends, I don’t sift them according to sexual orientation. What does it mean that Trey Lawson had no game? That he wasn’t a man’s man, Minson minces words. Because those are the only men who get to sleep with women? I think not. (God, those poor parents.) “He was effeminate,” Mr. Andrews reiterates. Sure, says the very straight-acting Minson. “Did Wayne Crockett say that?” Alicia’s objection forces Andrews to rephrase; did Chad ever see Wayne mock Trey for being girlish. Yes, but that was just Wayne busting balls. Oh, did he do that to other effeminate men?
And that remark lands us in chambers. “This has become absurd,” Diane cries. “What happened to liability?” Well, he’s scrambling desperately, but you’ve been there yourself, Diane. It’s like he has a theory a day why the school isn’t responsible; when you disprove one theory, bam, he’s got another. Liability is dependent upon it being a hate crime, Andrews argues. “But you keep changing the nature of the hate,” Diane points out. “First it was against gay men, now it’s against men who…” she stops to watch Judge Brochard squeegee something off his desk. “I shouldn’t put words in your mouth, Mr. Andrews, how would you put it?” Ha. “Swishy,” he supplies decisively. “Ah,” counters Diane, “it’s now a hate crime against swishy people who are not gay.” Like, I don’t know, Judge Brochard? Excellent.
“I’m talking about effeminate mannerisms which the jury are entitled to conclude are a proxy for homosexuality,” Andrews clarifies, getting my back up. Are they entitled to conclude that? “Mannerisms are not a protected class,” Alicia argues. Diane points out that being effeminate doesn’t make you gay or straight. (Neither does being butch, but she doesn’t mention that like I wanted her to.) “Which is why the essence of gayness is an actual sexual act.” Well, yes and no. I’m not a lawyer, but it seems fair to me to prosecute someone for a hate crime if they attack a person they assumed was gay because of their mannerisms; what I don’t follow is that he’s arguing Crockett didn’t hate gay people, just gay acting people, and that fits a lot less obviously into the classic hate crime paradigm. Is there extra legal protecting for swishiness?
So there’s no such thing as an abstinent gay man, or a gay man who marries a woman? Alicia blinks at Andrews as he argues this. Well, Diane’s then forced to say, you could be an effeminate man but if you’re married to a woman, who’s to call you gay? The judge doesn’t look pleased by this. “So if someone kills an abstinent gay man, that’s not a hate crime?” Andrews presses. That depends on who kills him and why, doesn’t it? It’s no more automatically a hate crime than any other murder. “We’re saying you can’t commit a hate crime against a mannerism,” Alicia repeats. What if the mannerism is a proxy for a protected class? Judge Brochard finds this all very provocative – “but as a matter of law, I’m not sure that’s true. As my wife would say, the law can’t address everything.” Yes, Andrews agrees, “but when the law can’t, the jury must.” Brochard thinks his wife would agree with that too. “I’m willing to say it’s a question of fact, and the province of the jury.” Andrews, crowing over his victory, notes a picture of a pretty young-ish woman with a parasol in front of the sea. “Is that your wife?” No, Brochard replies shortly. Ooops. Sorry. “So,” Diane says, rolling the word around on her tongue, “swishiness.”
Hey, Alicia, you’re never going to guess what? Eli’s come begging for a favor! Who would have seen that coming? Oh, come on, Jackie’ll listen to you, he whines. Have you met Jackie, Eli? He’s momentarily distracted by Cary’s pretty young client, who’s terrified that if she’s got a prostitution conviction on her record, she’ll never get a nursing job. Um – yikes. Say it with me – that’s awkward. Please help me keep her “on the reservation,” Eli begs. “I have no leverage over her; you do!” She does? What’s that? “When did all these favors start multiplying,” Alicia wonders. Eli brings up Maddie (ugh) so Alicia boots him out of her office with advice – give Jackie something to do. Not to make her feel punished, to make her feel “valued, important, useful.” But she’s none of those things, Eli hisses. “A point you made clear to her,” Alicia notes, “now, unmake it.”
It must be pleasant to know someone else is in Jackie’s dog house, huh? Alicia and Eli’s phones ring just as Cary starts discussing probation with his nice hooker client; Eli sticks a finger in his ear in an effort to hear better. Eli, you idiot, please just walk out of the room!
In the leafy green outdoors and blessed silence, Kalinda clicks on a tiny recorder. Thanks, she says, this really helps with my notes. “Oh, no problem. I have nothing to hide anyway,” Indira Star declares, daffy and cute. They’re sitting on a bench outside, and no, Indira doesn’t have to speak up. Kalinda – poised and dressed in all black – is such a contrast to the slightly disheveled blond. So, you said you slept with Peter at the St. Martin Hotel on September the 30th, Kalinda notes for confirmation. That’s right, Indira smiles like sunshine. They met at a rally, she volunteered to help register voters, “Peter and I just kind of hit it off.” Kalinda keeps her comments to herself.
And what sort of things did they talk about? Oh, you know, stuff. I said I wanted to go to law school, he said to drop by his suite after 10 to discuss career options. She prattles on like a happy, confiding child – a lamb to the slaughter. Kalinda confirms the story; 8th floor to the 15th floor, no key, no one else in the elevator. “I made sure I was alone,” she adds, pleased with her planning. Oh, Kalinda says, (delivering the fatal blow casually, like Columbo) I’m just wondering how you got the concierge key? What’s that, how do you mean, Indira wonders, still happy. So Kalinda explains. “You pushed for the fifteenth floor when you got into the elevator, you didn’t do anything else?” Right, she says sweetly. See, you can’t get on that floor if you don’t have a key or aren’t with someone who did.
Look, we all know I believed her last week, but I don’t get women who make up stories like this. I really don’t. If only from the sisterhood standpoint – because it makes it harder to believe the other women who were mistresses or (more importantly) raped or abused. Between my tendency to assume the worst (generally and from this writing team in particular), and my desire to believe women when they talk about their lives, well, I was pretty snookered. So I’m even though I still find Indira weirdly innocent-seeming, I enjoyed this gotcha moment quite a bit.
So. Er. Back to the gotcha-ing. Indira tries to backpedal frantically (maybe there was someone else there and I just forgot! I was there! I’m not lying!) without success. Eli makes a deeply satisfied face as Kalinda plays the recording in his office. “I think it’s fairly clear that Miss Star has fabricated the story,” she says, stopping the tape. Or that she forgot that detail, Mandy suggests. “Or she’s an alien impersonating Miss Star!” Eli sneers. “Either way, I think you’re a little too close to this story, Mandy.” “So are you,” the reporter grumbles. Now, I know I’ve been saying that it’s hard to remember these things a year later, but Indira went out of her way to note that she was alone, and then became extremely flustered when questioned. I’d like to think that a reporter would want her story to be as correct and clear as possible. And even if her journalistic standards aren’t as high as they should be, I’d like to think she wouldn’t want to get sued and have to retract the story due to shoddy fact checking.
Actually – sorry, tangent – it’s not so much that it was wrong of her not to check that particular fact because who would expect not to be able to get onto that floor? Kalinda didn’t expect what happened. That’s certainly the kind of thing you find out when you’re used to picking holes in people’s stories. But it makes it look like Mandy, at the very least, wanted Indira’s story to be true; a journalist ought to be used to picking holes in people’s stories, and it doesn’t look like she tried very hard. And won’t acknowledge there’s anything worth looking into now.
The editor/publisher’s standing behind Mandy’s chair, leaning on it. “The tape’s not conclusive either way,” he declares. What? How do you get that? I think it’s strongly suggestive if not outright conclusive. At the very least, you need to go back and recheck all your facts. He asks Kalinda for her observations about Indira (nervous, covering for an obvious gap in the narrative). She has no doubt Indira was lying. Mandy has doubts, that’s for sure; just because an investigator with an agenda catches a young girl in a slip doesn’t mean her work isn’t solid. What, because you didn’t have an agenda? Eli asks the publisher, Richard, out to the hall.
“Look, I’ve played ball,” he says. Mandy had access to Peter and Alicia – Peter twice. Which we appreciated, Richard agrees dryly. Both Florricks deny the allegations, so it’s Indira’s word against theirs, and Kalinda’s just gutted Indira’s word. “Is this where you tell me you have a lawsuit waiting in the wings?” Richard smiles. Oh, perish the thought. Even if he had the meeting at the law offices instead of campaign headquarters. I wouldn’t insult you with that, he says. “This isn’t your first time at the rodeo. And it’s not mine. What this comes down to is facts – and you don’t have them.” Richard looks highly displeased.
Somebody’s convinced Wayne Crockett to take the stand. I suppose it must be Andrews’ dogged insistence on the hate crime theory that’s motivated Crockett and his lawyers to take this step. Mr. Lawson reaches out for his wife’s hand as her eyes burn holes into the table in front of her. We understand you didn’t like Trey, Alicia asks – and no, he didn’t. “He was cheap. He made comments about people’s clothing. He’d whine about 2 a day practices.” Anything else, Alicia wonders? “He was arrogant.” Somehow, Wayne looks much smaller on the stand in his neat suit than he did in the pool. “He treated me like I wasn’t black enough.”
That wipes Alicia’s face clean. “What does that mean?” she asks, genuinely puzzled. Effeminate Trey was South Side of Chicago (now that’s unexpected) while Wayne hailed from the suburbs. “He’d call me an oreo,” Wayne reveals, his bitterness plain. (Black on the outside, white in.) Wow, okay, I will say it again – that’s unexpected. The effete guy is also the slick urban one? So, was the problem that he was effeminate, Alicia finishes. “No. My only problem with Trey was that he was a jerk,” Wayne replies, decisive.
Aaaaand I think that’s time for yet another theory of the case, don’t you? No hate crime if it’s not about sexual preference or even swishiness, you say? Well, unless it was maybe about another “protected” group. “Which fraternity did you belong to?” Andrews asks. Huh? Omega Delta Omega, Wayne replies suspiciously. Andrews lets us know that’s “the black fraternity.” But how black are they – are they light skinned like Wayne (who doesn’t look particularly light right now) or dark skinned like Trey? Diane objects: “What hate crime is the defense selling today?”
Black on black hate, it seems. Our team meets in the conference room to try and sort this one out. You have to give Andrews credit, he’s got a quick and flexible mind. They’re relentless, Will shakes his head. He’s got a theory of the case and he’s looking for the facts to fit, Diane sighs. Yes, and I’m sure it’s exasperating, but we’ve done that too, plenty of times. It’s his job, and it looks like he’s good at it. And the judge clearly doesn’t mind.
“So do you think there’s any truth in it?” Cary wonders. Is Cary on this case? Huh. Well, they were in rival black fraternities, Diane admits. And there were previous fights. “But that’s good,” Cary realizes. What? “It’s good that there were fights.” Still no one gets it. “This isn’t about a hate crime,” Cary spells it out, “it’s about liability.” That’s right, guys – stop playing defense. We have to put the coach back on the stand, Alicia says, getting it. Diane smiles her wonderful, cat-that-ate-the-canary smile. “I’ll take him,” she announces with relish.
Ah, there’s nothing like Diane when she’s on her game. She grins in anticipation of delights to come.
So, Coach Shank. “In its fifty year existence, the water polo team never had members of Omega Delta Omega and Pi Gamma Phi on its roster at the same time. Why is that?” We’ve only had a handful of black athletes in the program’s history, the Coach confesses. So you didn’t know they were at odds? No, he says, I did not. Diane brings up a report citing both frats for their involvement in a “bowling alley brawl” – ha. Shank was given the report, but says he doesn’t remember reading it. And yes, he knew that Crockett was ODO, but not that Trey pledged PGP the week before his death. So Diane then hands him a photograph of Lawson at a practice wearing a Pi Gamma Phi t-shirt.
Mr. Andrews wants to know where this is going. We’re totally convinced by your latest theory of the case, she says. So we’re just showing that the coach knew that the players belonged to rival organizations – which would make the school liable for not keeping them apart. Ta da! “Wait, you can’t prove that Mr. Crockett drowned Mr. Lawson because he was black,” Andrews snaps. “Actually, Mr. Andrews, you did,” Judge Brochard notes. I wouldn’t go so far as to say proved, but the point is well taken. “All Miss Lockhart proved is that the university knew about the animus.” There’s not one of the principle players who doesn’t know what just happened. “How much,” Andrews asks as they return to their seats. 6 million, just like it always was.
Diane collapses into her desk chair in complete satisfaction. You look pleased, Will notices. “I like the law,” Diane growls happily. Will snickers through his nose. “We’re going to get our firm back,” Diane continues, spinning her desk chair from side to side. “Then we’re going to go after Louis Canning’s firm.” YES! Go on the offensive! That’s what we want to see! “Then we’re gonna open up a branch in New York – and D.C.” I love the power in her voice. “It feels pretty good, doesn’t it?” Will agrees. “What’s that, winning?” No, Will replies. “Nothing to lose.” Ah. Indeed. “Welcome to the lifeboat,” he smiles, and leaves. His hands have stayed in his pockets the whole time. Diane spins her chair completely around and puts her slender feet up on the window ledge, looking out onto the cityscape, basking in this vindication of her vocation.
To the sound of a rockabilly guitar, the Cook County Gubernatorial Straw Poll begins! There are signs and ordinary looking people with slips of paper, wandering about. There’s a band, and balloon animal artist dressed in an Uncle Sam costume made entirely out of (you guessed it) balloons. Nice. Eli’s instructing campaign workers in blue Florrick t-shirts on the proper management of voters. Someone points out Mandy, lurking behind him. Uh oh. “Two months I worked on that story, Eli, and you managed to kill it with one conversation. Nice work.” Well, if you’d fact checked it better, Mandy, you might not be in this situation – plus, you can hardly blame him for not wanting you to succeed! That’s not very rational. Somehow Eli has acquired a plate with little sausage or hot dog slices on toothpicks. “Oh, Mandy, I know you think I relish this moment, but it gives me no pleasure to waste my time proving you wasted yours,” he preens. Ha! I don’t know, Eli, looks like you enjoyed telling her off quite a bit.
Here, have a sausage, he says, handing her the entire plate. “She was a naive 25 year old who was overcome by the occasion. I still stand by my story,” Mandy cries, failing at recapturing Eli’s attention which is already fixed on Alicia (just entering the hall). Naive I’ll give you. Before Eli can reach her, Jackie wanders over with another amazing scarf creation and a glass of red wine. “Alicia! You and I.” How many times have we heard this line before? I know we don’t see eye to eye, Jackie begins. “I’m sorry I doubted you. Standing by Peter the way you have…” Alicia gives her mother in law a suspicious look. “He needs you now, and I’m just -I’m just so glad you’re there for him.” Is she crying? What on earth? Alicia doesn’t know how to react. Especially when Jackie starts staring, appalled, at the imaginary bug in her wine. “Jackie,” she asks, breaking the older woman out of her reverie. “Are you okay?” Trust Alicia to notice that it’s an actual problem when none of the men have.
And that’s when Eli’s phone rings. Despite the designation “unknown caller” he actually picks up. It’s a political blogger named Jimmy V, who’s about to post something about Synth sitting on Mandy’s story. Eli’s face goes slack; he’s clearly on the verge of hyperventilating. “I’d like to get a quote from the campaign,” the caller says – and he won’t say where he’s getting the information, either. Eli snaps. “Well, it’s a lie, and it’s defamatory, and if I were you, Jimmy V, I would take a breath before you post anything actionable.” Is that your quote, Jimmy asks calmly. What’s the blog, Eli asks. Pooranarchy.com, all one word. “Never heard of it,” Eli snaps again. “You will,” Jimmy promises, “in about one hour.”
Okay. All the way through this recap and I feel good about the episode! Sometimes writing about, spending so much time with the story, changes my response; I might notice themes or structure I missed the first time, or I might be so sick of the story that I get even more annoyed with it. But this week held up all the way through. I’m really happy to see Peter vindicated; though I wouldn’t put it past the writing team to have another awful secret lurking in his recent past, I’m glad this wasn’t it. It’s much braver to show him as actually trying to be faithful (or at least abstinent), and it puts the onus on Alicia to make their marriage work or not. I’m happy to see Kalinda debunk Indira’s story as ably as she did. And I can’t wait to see where things go with this Jimmy V (shades of Eli last week saying that the responsible media is easier to manipulate); I hope we hear more about this and not just the plot of the week next week. Eli probably can’t kill the story, but maybe he can spin it well? Or maybe we can sue Jimmy for defamation. Who knows?
I think the best part of this episode might be Diane’s renewed confidence. I so want Clarke to be a force of good, actually helping Will and Diane take back control of the firm. His weaselly offer to Cary seemed out of character, a backpedaling from being “all in.” Altogether, this left me excited about direction of the season and particularly hopeful about Lockhart/Gardner’s prospects. Go, Diane!