E: Well, they certainly went for it, didn’t they? Mostly due to the always fabulous Elsbeth Tascioni and her suitor/adversary Josh Perrotti, Going For the Gold was a blast. Maybe it wasn’t the shocking marvel that was Red Team, Blue Team, and yeah, the ruthless persecution of Eli is rather troubling, but for all that it continued the streak of top tier episodes. Season 4, keep on getting down with your bad self!
Chicago’s CBS 2 online has exclusive film of gubernatorial candidate Maddie Hayward questioning Peter’s hiring practices. “I don’t intend to speak to that,” she weasels before beginning to speak about it. “However, I do think diversity is a fair…” Diane cuts her off, closing the window. “But I did think diversity…” she repeats with a mocking sneer. Alicia breaks into this interesting little reverie, delicately sneezing her way through Diane’s office door. “A little under the weather?” the name partner asks pleasantly. Oh, just a little, Alicia waves off, smoothing her hair with the hand she’s just sneezed into. Ew. “You needed me?” Indeed.
“How’s it feel to be an equity partner?” Good, Alicia smiles. “Power surging through you?” Ha. Bemused, Alicia gives a typically dry answer – “something surging through me,” she offers. Diane chuckles – but then she brings up a complicated problem. She’s concerned they’re billing too many hours on the Lemond Bishop defense. “Usually that’s not a problem, but Bishop is a top legacy client.” Legacy? What does that mean in this context? You didn’t inherit him from anyone. “We don’t want him to think we’re padding – so I need you rein it in.” Huh.
“That’s Cary’s team,” Alicia replies, which is a little odd since it’s generally been Alicia working with the partners on Bishop’s case, because he likes her, right? Oh, but I guess Cary does have all that experience with the States Attorney’s office that would make him particularly valuable here. “Do you want me to get him?” Nope. “It’s your team,” Diane explains. “You’re the equity partner in charge as of now.” Oh. Excellent. Promote Alicia over Cary and then make her be the one to cut his hours! Splendid. She’ll get right on it. “Just find out if the hours are being inflated. And if they’re not, steer them on to a more conservative path.” Okay, I guess that’s not too horrible. Will walks in and stands next to Alicia in the doorway, glancing over at her warily. She doesn’t turn her head, but she practically vibrates with awareness of him. He too has been called in by Diane, who hopes to have him look over a civil proposal for her since she’s going to be out for the afternoon.
His answer? Sneezing into his hands. Oh Lord. First, gross, and second, could it be more high school that they’re caught sharing germs like that?
“That’s another cold,” Diane observes, advancing on Will with the proposal. “You two need to stay away from me.” Or they need to stay away from something! Do you need anything more from me, Alicia wonders; Diane doesn’t, just to get those germs out of her doorway. Alicia backs around Will, still sneezing; he winces to hear her.
And cut to Josh Perrotti, sitting on an elaborately carved wooden bench (it’s back high enough that it looks like a day bed) looking enormously pleased. There are glowing red lanterns above his head and an ornate Venetian mirror behind. “Hi,” he breathes in happy anticipation, standing to greet – you guessed it – Elsbeth Tascioni, who herself is standing in front of an elaborate screen. This restaurant just boils over with pattern and color and texture. “I was thrilled to get your call,” he grins, inching a mosaic table forward and patting the padded bench seat beside him. Elsbeth stares down at the seat in consternation. “This is a working lunch,” she reminds him, hand slashing through the air, but then she sits. He knows it is – but he was still thrilled she called him. Thrilled enough to have two mango lassis waiting in front of their plates in tall goblets. “Your wire tap has been found inadmissable, Mr. Perrotti,” she begins. Josh, he grins goofily.
She bites down on her words, exasperated. “Your wiretap has been found inadmissable, Josh,” she restates. As she does, an older waiter stops by with a small, burnished copper pot typical of Indian restaurants. “You have nothing on my client, so we ask the Department of Justice to cease and desist from harassing Eli Gold!” She looks down in consternation at the food as a second servitor brings up from the opposite side. “I ordered for us – I hope that wasn’t presumptuous.” Perrotti explains. Her mouth drops open as the first server puts down a plate of naan. Yeah, that’s definitely presumptuous, dude. “Well, I’m not that hungry,” she stammers as Josh leans over, unfolds her napkin and drops it on her lap. Way too much, dude.
“You were saying?” Josh prompts. At first she’s too flustered for words. “I was?” Quickly she gets back on track, though how she can think over the relentless chiming of new dishes being set on their table I just don’t know. She pulls out a folded up newspaper and reads to Perrotti (busy serving her white rice before serving himself – again, waaaaaay too pushy) from one Petra Moritz’s column: “Is Florrick strategist Eli Gold off the hook yet? Not according to a conversation overheard at Parillan between an unnamed source and AUSA Josh Perotti.” They misspelled my name, he leans over to add; she keeps reading, this time the quote from the unnamed source. “‘I know personally Eli Gold was buying votes. He’s going down. He’s going down hard.'”
Buying votes? Not just trading favors for discounts, but buying votes? What on earth? By this point, there are at least ten different dishes arrayed in front of them, making for a sumptuous image. I know he’s trying to be attentive, but I would not be wooed by all this wasting of food myself. “The problem is, Elsbeth,” Josh says, reaching in front of her for another dish, ” you and I are a lot alike.” He offers her the naan; she refuses even though you can tell she’d love some of the fluffy flatbread. (Okay, I am aware that’s a contradiction, but it’s still deliciously accurate.) “And I know Eli is guilty. So I found another way to prove the charge.” I guess that’s fair enough, even though those are two completely different sins. She watches him closely as he picks up dish after dish. “Conspiracy.”
Energized by the revelation, Elsbeth seizes her fork, and tucks in. For conspiracy you have to have a co-conspirator, she exposits. “And who might that be? This unnamed source? At Parillan?” Clearly thrilled that she’s playing along, Josh plunks a plum samosa on her plate. That’s for me to know and you to find out, he grins. That’s for me to know too, she replies, just as pleased. “Discovery.” “Then take me to court,” he answers, chipper, and she pauses to watch him, puzzled over this play. “You want me to take you to court?”
He turns and answers her slowly, his eyes fixed on her face, clearly, er, entranced by the prospect. “I can’t wait for you to take me to court,” he murmurs, his voice intimate and low. I thought he was going to kiss her right there. Yikes! She draws back, contorting her lips. “I love the shape of your lips,” he purrs as if unable to contain himself, staring at them. “You leave my lips out of it,” Elsbeth drops her voice, unnerved. Hee hee! “I can’t. They’re so… pillowy.” Pillowy? That’s the best you can do? The music tinkles, driving the scene’s intensity. His spell is working; she can’t decide whether to run or rush him. Finally she decides on flight, oozing back in her seat, their eyes still locked, pushing against the heavily laden table to squeak out. She flees without a word, leaving Josh alone.
Genius, genius scene.
“Look,” Peter explains sincerely in front of a blue backdrop, “all you have to do is go to prison once on a false corruption charge, and you’re going to take it very very seriously.” What, it doesn’t take multiple incarcerations? Sorry, sorry. “Thank you Mr. Florrick,” an unseen voice proclaims. “Miss Hayward, you have two minutes to respond.” Oh, funny; it’s debate prep, with Diane playing the role of Maddie Hayward. The voice playing the moderator is Jordan’s. “I don’t need two minutes to respond,” Diane proclaims, sitting on a stool and holding a microphone to her lips. “I only need two words. Eli Gold.” Somehow I like her floral jacket more in this context than in her office; it really stands out against the blue. She stands to pace the stage, which is littered with follow spots and massive debate posters. “Peter’s own campaign manager is accused of corruption,” she flourishes. “Uh, he is no longer my campaign manager; Eli Gold has resigned.”
What? No, Eli! Say it ain’t so!
“Yes, but you can understand why I take your ‘intolerance for corruption’ with a grain of salt.” Diane expresses her contempt so beautifully; she doesn’t descend to sneering, but it’s all there. “Well,” Peter begins, looking out at Jordan, “unlike Ms. Hayward, I like to get all the facts before I make a judgement.” Yes, you’d think that would be the major result of being unjustly convicted of a trumped up charge. You said he was off your campaign, Diane cuts in. No, I said he resigned, Peter repeats. “So you do accept corruption, or you would have fired him,” Diane pounces. “What I don’t accept,” he walks over her, “is having my words twisted into something which is not what I…”
And that’s where Jordan cuts him off. Let’s take ten, he guffaws. Almost immediately, he bounces out of his seat and over to his client. “Here’s the thing. You’re tall.” Um, okay. “And you’re much taller than the actual Maddie, so when you go after her like that it looks like you’re bullying.” Oh. “Should I crouch?” Peter asks hilariously, clearly at a loss as to what Jordan wants him to do. No, the Boy Wonder replies; be calm, don’t let her rattle you, make her look desperate. She’s the one down in the polls after all. “Don’t go aggressive. Absorb the punches.”
It all sounds reasonable enough, but Peter scratches his head. “Like Obama in his first debate?” Clearly someone’s aware he only has the one debate – dumb, dumb idea. “No, this is different. This is about the women’s vote.” Wait, and the presidential election wasn’t? Sigh. Why are you bothering with this clown, Peter? “You go angry, you’re going to remind women of their first husbands.” WHAT? Oh God. Peter just nods in agreement. When Jordan rushes off to take a call, Peter paces the stage, sighing.
“I hope that was alright,” Diane offers. I love that they got Diane to do this, although I bet Alicia would have been brilliant at debate prep, too, especially since she knows Maddie. Anyway, Peter’s glad Diane’s pushing him so hard. “That’s why you’re here. Don’t let up on me, because she won’t. By the way, thanks for doing this.” My pleasure, she replies, the two of them at a little coffee station set up on the side of the stage. “So I hear the State’s Attorney’s office is looking for an outside firm to represent it on its civil suits?” Diane switches topics, peeping sideways at Peter. Ha. Always thinking, Diane. You heard about our law firm going bankrupt, Peter surmises, opening up a carton of milk. “That seems to be happening a lot,” she replies with a very tight, satisfied smile. “I know we were allowed to pitch the first time round. I hope we’re allowed to pitch the second.”
He stops to look at her. He’s not making the choice himself; this time, he’s appointed a committee. But you know what? He’ll tell the committee that L&G’s interested. “Thank you. That would be great. Once more into the fray?” Diane suggests. Quaffing down a giant swallow of the coffee, Peter smiles and points at her, promising “Oh, you’re going down!” We’ll see about that, she laughs.
And there’s Parillan restaurant; it’s got what appeared at first to be one of those wooden facades you see on Irish style pubs, but actually turned out to be painted brick, and inside it’s rather more French and swanky. Although actually, from a quick Google search the name might indicate Finnish food. Interesting. Fun with the new restaurant locations this week! Somehow Elsbeth has gotten Kalinda to do a little bit of investigating with her here; they’re waiting in line for seats, or something. “How’re you going to do this?” Elsbeth wonders. “Do what?” Kalinda replies in a typical Kalinda deadpan. “Find out who this co-conspirator is?” Elsbeth wants to know. “I don’t know,” Kalinda sighs. “You don’t know?” Elsbeth is stunned. You don’t have a plan? “I don’t plan,” Kalinda boasts. Love it! As does Elsbeth, who trills “you’re a crazy woman!” in complete delight.
“Reservation?” asks the bored hostess in a wine colored, just-on-the-classy-side-of-low-cut dress. “Hello!” Kalinda coos, quickly adjusting to mimic the hostess’s British accent. “I’m Mr. Joshua Perrotti’s personal assistant. And he came in her yesterday for lunch. He was supposed to give his number to his wait person, but he doesn’t remember the name of his wait person.” Ha – I love her gender neutral nomenclature there. Too funny. Elsbeth can’t suppress a squeaky cackle, earning her a glare from the hostess. “Is there any way you could find out who served him?” Obediently, the hostess searches through her computer for yesterday’s lunch guests, but doesn’t find Josh’s name. When Kalinda’s given permission to search the screen herself, she sees the name the reservation was made under: Perrotti spent a quick fifteen minutes with the Democratic National Committee’s Frank Landau. No way!
And a bronze plaque proclaims that here we are outside Cook County’s DNC headquarters, a gracious brick building in a Federal style with Grecian columns flanking the door and a wrought iron fence. Eli walks impatiently toward the door, catching up to Frank as he tries to slip inside. “You turned on me?” Eli calls out the accusation. What, Frank frowns. “You went to the Feds?” What do you want, Eli, Frank asks wearily; gee, I don’t know, what do you think he wants? “They’re using you to get to me,” Eli insists. “Who said that?” Frank wonders. “You got yourself printed up in Petra Mortiz saying I paid for votes!” In the face of Eli’s outrage and accurate information, Frank winces. “They’re comin’ after me, Eli.”
It only takes a beat for Eli to adjust to this news and follow Frank up the path to the door. And you threw me to them, Eli cries. “My head and my career are on the chopping block?” Frank turns. “You’d do the same.” Well, and I suppose Eli would make an appealing target, since Frank obviously knew he was being investigated. Eli wants to know what the Feds have. “What did you give them?” Frank attempts to unlock the door, and Eli swats the keys out of his hand; they hit the stoop with a satisfying clunk. You need to calm down, Eli, Frank frowns before retrieving his keys. Breathing hard, eyes wide – no, Eli is very far from calm. “They are coming after me,” he hisses. “You calm the hell down!”
“I don’t owe you,” Frank shrugs it off. Or is he claiming not to know Eli? “Anything I did wrong was at your prompting,” Eli promises. Yikes. “I don’t owe [know] you, and this encounter never happened,” Frank goes on, turning his shoulder toward Eli. “I’m going inside my office now.” It’s like he suddenly thinks Eli’s wearing a wire, and he can’t get inside the building fast enough.
Back at Lockhart/Gardner, Cary’s running a meeting of his team, the red-headed girl among them. Unsurprisingly, Lemond Bishop hasn’t been granted bail because he’s considered a flight risk (gee, do you think?); they have three briefs prepared for his defense. And that’s when Alicia walks in. Cary greets her coldly (no!), and then instructs the others to give their newest equity partner a round of applause. Hello, awkward! Oh please don’t be bitter, Cary. It’s not that I’m saying you don’t have cause, but holding grudges is just so ugly. Alicia beams as they golf clap.
So, Cary says, they’re on track, but each of them should pull 4 or 5 other associates in to work on the briefs. Well, Alicia interjects, aren’t the second brief and the third essentially the same thing? You can see they’re all wondering where this is coming from; the associates look to Cary for the lead. “Well, the last time we were together, we all thought that was a good idea,” he replies, hands in his pockets, staring her down. “Yes, and I’m wondering now if it’s a doubling of effort,” she suggests. Cary narrows his eyes; does he think she’s just exerting her new power needlessly? Probably. God, I am much too straightforward for this crap; I would have just walked in and said “alright, people, Diane says we’re coming in too high on billable hours (hilarious, I know, because normally that’s all they want from us) so where are we over-working ourselves? What if we combined these two briefs.” Maybe that would have been too deferential (or cowardly, to make sure everyone knew the idea came from above), but what’s with all the weird pussy-footing around? Just be honest about why you’re there!
Sigh. This is probably why I’m not a highly paid lawyer; I couldn’t handle all that office politics. That and the fact that I don’t have a law degree.
Anyway. Back to the show, where Cary is peeved and not afraid to show it. “Well,” he says, his eyes locked with Alicia’s, “let’s vote again.” Ugh, someone’s not thinking of her like a boss, is he? He virtually spears his colleagues with his eyes. “Who thinks we should pull back on the jurisdictional brief? Just raise your hands.” Gee, when you put it like that… No one does. He shoots Alicia a triumphant, defiant gaze.
She smiles awkwardly. “Maybe it’s not about dropping the brief. Maybe we could be more conservative in our approach to it.” Sure, he agrees. “You wanna take charge of that?” Oh God. Okay, she says, admitting defeat. Sure.
Score one for Cary; minus one for Alicia trying to lead without actually stating her objective.
In a court room so dark it looks like Charlie Rose’s set, Elsbeth and Josh duel over whether he has to tell her what his mystery evidence is and whether he’s played by all the rules. “Stop,” the judge says gently, freezing Elsbeth mid-sentence. Oh, psych – the judge is S. Epatha Merkeson from Law & Order, Chris Noth’s old boss! I love it. That is just plain outstanding. “Let us stop, please.” Damn, she’s kind of scary with that soft, kindergarten teacher/serial killer voice. “Mr. Perrotti, this is not justice by ambush; we must offer the defense discovery.” Oh, I love that line, too, justice by ambush. “Once we have it, Your Honor, but any premature release might damage our case.” Premature release, ha. Elsbeth practically stamps in her annoyance at this preposterous idea. Josh doesn’t think the idea is so laughable – what if the defense dissuaded a witness from testifying? – and Eli starts to look a wee bit unsettled.
The judge, it seems, is curious why Mr. Perrotti thinks his witness is at risk, and allows him to call Frank Landau. Eli writhes in shame.
A furious, red-faced Frank insists on the stand that he witnessed Eli purchasing votes. That has to be a lie, right? Of all the questionable things we’ve seen Eli do, he would never have done that, right? You conspired with him, but had a pang of conscience, and you came to me, is that right? Yes, Frank grumbles, and the look he shoots Perrotti is so virulent I’m surprised the prosecutor didn’t break out in sores. “And what happened yesterday?” Perrotti prompts. “Eli Gold discovered that I was going to accuse him,” Frank recounts, causing Elsbeth to turn to her client in shock. “He showed up at my office. He was violent and destructive.” Okay, I think that’s overstating things just a little bit. Not completely, but surely it’s a mis-characterization at the least. “Did you fear he might hurt you?” Frank has been looking at the floor the whole time, clearly embarrassed as well as angry.
“Yes. He knocked my keys from hand,” he begins. “Oh my God!” Elsbeth gasps, “he knocked away your keys!” Hee. The judge counsels her to calm down. “Your Honor, the point is clear,” Josh declares, swaggering over to stand before his would-be paramour, his arms swinging. “The defense cannot be trusted with discovery at such an early stage.” Dude, you didn’t give them that information. Maybe if you had, things would have gone differently. Anyway. Eli bursts out of the courtroom, hands shaking in distress. “Okay, that was my mistake,” he admits. “What does he have on you, Eli?” Nothing, Eli assures her. There is no scheme to buy votes. “And if he says there was, he was lying.”
Now, to prove conspiracy, they need not just Frank, but a corroborating witness. “So we need to know what he’s going to say,” Elsbeth observes with one of her wonderful little karate chop motions. How do we figure that out, Eli wonders; she doesn’t know. “We have to think,” she instructs him. And then she looks over at Josh, and starts thinking. “What?” Eli wonders. Huh? She’s lost. “You just had a thought,” he guesses. Her mouth falls open. “I think I did!” And that’s when we cut to Frank Landau, walking up to his office, only to be interrupted by a guy who appears to be a bike messenger but turns out, instead, to be a process server. “Defamation of character,” Frank reads from the subpoena. “I’m just the messenger,” the server says, hands up. Oh, nicely done, Elsbeth, nicely done!
“So, I hear you want our business,” Laura Hellinger tells Will, plunking herself down in his office. At first he’s confused. Have you not been talking to Diane, Will? The civil cases directed against the State’s Attorney’s Office, Laura explains. Oh, that – sure! “Are you on the committee?” Don’t sound so surprised, she flirts. ‘That wasn’t surprise, that was … awe,” he flirts back. But when she hands him the application, half an inch thick at least, he sneezes into his elbow and she snarks about the wittle boy having a wittle cold. Almost over it, he says. Is that a metaphor?
They start reviewing applicants today, so the application should be filled out in a hurry. “And we’ll be reviewed fairly?” he wonders. Why wouldn’t they? Well, we have won a few cases against you, he shrugs. Yes, now that you have Cary back. (I was glad he didn’t bring up any other kind of weirdness, of which there is plenty.) Yes, we’re so worried about you and your one case winning streak, Laura plays along.
Elsbeth pops out of the elevators (best surprise ever!) and asks for a minute of Alicia’s time; she can have it. She’s really hoping to have Alicia’s help on Eli’s case; Alicia’s at first confused, because Lockhart/Gardner can’t participate in his defense (which is why he has Elsbeth, after all), but she’s soon set straight. “Oh no, not that, this is in civil court.” Alicia’s confused, and says so. “Well, it’s in both courts, actually. It’s not as confusing as it sounds.” After a detour involving Alicia’s distractingly pretty earrings (which we can’t even see through her hair) we hear that Team El is suing the head of the Democratic committee for defamation.
“Why?” Alicia wonders, totally puzzled. “He said some nasty things about Eli in a gossip column,” Elsbeth nods her head. This explanation doesn’t help. “I don’t understand the connection. You know how hard it is to win in defamation!” Oh, she does, but don’t fear. She doesn’t want to win! Obviously not. Nope, she wants the defense to ask for a dismissal. “Then we’ll be able to put Frank Landau on the stand in civil court, to find out what he intends to say against Eli in federal court.” Oh, you tricky, tricky lady; I love you, Elsbeth! Alicia’s still working it out. “It’s not as strange as it sounds,” Elsbeth assures her friend. ‘Really?” Alicia asks, making Elsbeth laugh. “You’re funny,” she giggles.
Now that’s one Alicia doesn’t hear every day. But will she help? ‘You want me to play act a lawyer in your sham defamation suit?” she asks. Pretty much, yep.
“This is not a sham,” Alicia argues in court later that same day, wearing the same really weird outfit, some sort of zip up wool vest/shirt under her jacket which really looks like she’s wearing a jacket under her jacket. “We take the defamation of our client very seriously.” Hee. Frank’s lawyer protests, correctly guessing their end game. It’s so obvious it’s comical, she shouts, fluttering her hands. What’s with the cuffs on her shirt being folded over her suit jacket? Very odd look, this. “I can hear perfectly well,” neatly bearded Judge Michael Marx informs them mildly. ‘Why is everyone shouting? Nobody needs to yell.” He goes on to explain that he’s read the petition for third party defamation. “Mr. Landau didn’t print this comment, he didn’t scream it from the rooftop…” Mr. Landau looks pissed.
“Yes, because he didn’t have to. He was in a public place, Parrillan. And he should have known his comments could have easily been overheard!” Judge Marx agrees. “Third party public acclamation is still defamatory.” Okay, good to know. “Are you arguing for a dismissal?” the judge asks. Yes, absolutely. “No,” a voice from the gallery asserts.
“Excuse me, sir, do you have business here?” Judge Marx whips off his glasses, David Caruso style. “I do now,” Josh Perrotti grouses before shooting a coy grin at Elsbeth. “You don’t want to dismiss.” Alicia jumps in here loudly asking for Frank to testify, hoping to drown out Perrotti. Wonderfully, Marx favors her with a sharp look. “Okay,” he smiles, “what’s goin’ on?”
“Mr. Perrotti is a Department of Justice lawyer,” Alicia ad libs “who wants to use this defamation to fuel his prosecution of our client.” No, no, it’s just the opposite, Perrotti insists. “You’re with the Department of Justice?” Marx squints. He is. “Good, well then, shut up. Call your witnesses, counselor.” Whoa! Elsbeth gives a flirty little grin and shrug. Alicia calls Frank, seething in his seat, to the stand. Damn it, Josh mutters under his breath, all the while giving Elsbeth a manic, almost greedy smile.
Did you say it, Alicia demands once Frank is on the stands. She reads from Petra’s article. “I know personally that Eli Gold was buying votes.” He did. “And you still insist that this was not defamatory?” He does. How does that work? “It’s true.” And how do you know it’s true, Alicia asks; Frank shoots a look to Josh in the gallery, and the latter stands. “Your Honor,” he interrupts the proceedings. “this testimony will seriously undermine a current Department of Justice investigation. We ask that it be delayed.” Mr. Perrotti, the judge begins as Eli and Elsbeth turn to look. “AUSA Perrotti,” Josh corrects. Oh, dude, you didn’t. “You have no standing in this court. And furthermore, I do not like the Department of Justice. So please sit down and stop interrupting.”
Well! I guess that put him in his place. Must focus on case and stop wondering why a judge would so strongly dislike the Department of Justice. (To judge by this show, they’re total cowboys who think they’re above the rules, so I suppose that could be one reason.) Again, a smiling Alicia asks how Franks knows that Eli bought votes. “I arranged the meeting for Eli to buy votes,” he explains. Elsbeth hisses to Eli, wondering what Frank could be getting at; he’s baffled. “And with who did you arrange this meeting?” Frank looks at Josh, who shakes his head, but Judge Marx chews on his glasses and insists he answer the question. “The meeting was with Hugh Saxon.” Eli’s still puzzled, and Elsbeth motions for Alicia to keep going. I still don’t know why Alicia’s doing this instead of Elsbeth, other than to give her something to do this week, but okay. And what does this Mr. Saxon do? “He’s CEO of Greengates retirement center.” Are you crazy, Eli calls out, outraged. “That wasn’t to buy votes!”
Marx shushes Eli. “And you witnesses this meeting between Mr. Saxon and Mr.Gold?” Frank did. “Mr. Florrick’s mother was to speak at one of his convalescent homes.” Okay, that makes sense as far as it goes; she did a lot of that in the fall. And how does this tie in to his accusation? “Mr. Gold was worried that he wouldn’t get enough votes to make a strong enough showing at the Democratic straw poll, so Mr. Saxon promised to bus 600 senior citizens to the straw poll to pack the vote for Peter Florrick. Your husband.”
Well. That’s awkward. I’m starting to sense a theme.
Aaaand there’s more to come. At L&G, Elsbeth wants some time alone with Eli (oh, if only it were for better reasons than this) and Alicia doesn’t want to give it. I’m momentarily flummoxed by this idea of women fighting over him. “This has nothing to do with Peter,” Eli excuses his client. Ah. So, Eli is only a means to an end here. “You packed the vote,” she grumbles. I was wondering where he could have bought votes, since there hasn’t been voting in this election yet, and straw polls are notoriously sketchy. How ridiculous to pack the vote so that you could win by, what was it, 96%? Of course that did drive out the competition, which in turn nicely cleared the way for Maddie, his real Democratic competition.
Er, anyway. Sorry. Elsbeth doesn’t want Eli discussing this because Alicia could be subpoenaed; Alicia thinks it doesn’t matter because of attorney/client privilege. Only if you didn’t know about it before hand, Elsbeth cautions. “Peter doesn’t know?” Alicia presses. Still insisting he’s done nothing wrong, Eli calls it a Democratic outreach program to seniors. I guess that’s plausible. Wouldn’t there be evidence of such in Frank’s office? “In trade for a discount in Greengate’s crisis management?” Alicia snaps. How much crisis management could they need? On the other hand, some retirement homes need a lot. “No in trade,” Eli sighs, “coincidentally. At the same time. That’s all.” Oh, right, because that’s gonna fly in court. Alicia walks out without a word.
But if she thought that was the end of her troubles, she would be wrong. “You didn’t rein in your hours,” Diane admonishes her without preamble. Good morning to you, too, Diane! And, hmm. Leopard print? Er, okay. “There are more associates involved than before! You need to find a way to assert your authority.” So is that all this is about, forcing Alicia to assert her authority? Alicia stops. “I’ve gone over the work, Diane. It’s all necessary. And part of asserting my authority is telling you that.” Yay, Alicia. “And here’s another way,” Diane replies evenly, handing over a sheet of paper. “Find a way to cut 10% of their billable hours.” Damn. Frustrated and low, Alicia heads over to the elevator bank. And just because that’s how her morning is going, when the doors open, Will is already inside.
She freezes, and he closes his eyes. “It’s alright,” he waves her in, and after a fractional hesitation, she steps over the threshold and presses her button. She stands with her back to Will, refusing to put herself where she can meet his eyes, too conscious of his presence.
“You over your cold?” he asks softly. She is; his still lingers. Is that a metaphor for something? She looks haunted. “Alicia, it’s okay,” he says easily. “We’re not going to act on it.” “Again,” she reminds him. Do they even know why they’re not acting on it any more? He’s no longer her boss in the same way. Is it still about the kids? Fidelity to Peter? Love for Peter? Does Will know about her sort of reunion with Peter? Is that even what Alicia would call it? “Yes, again,” he agrees. “It was a mistake, it happened, we can’t… avoid each other.” That last is very true at least. He looks toward her, aching with – what? Regret? Compassion? Lust? She still looks haunted to me. “You’re right,” she agrees. Is she more afraid of what could happen? Is she afraid she wants it more than he does? “I’ll see you around,” he finishes, stepping out. I can’t help thinking she looks disappointed. “See you,” she repeats, lost.
“I met with Eli Gold,” a thin man confesses from a floral sofa, his fingers laced together. “You’re from his defense team?” I am, Kalinda acknowledges. They’re sitting in a waiting room, stuffy but nice, evocative of the elderly; it’s a more interesting space than an office, but it’s filled with families who might not be the ideal audience for a confidential conversation about a law suit, right? Weird. “The prosecution says you met with Mr. Gold for the purposes of voter fraud,” she continues, and now the thin man – presumably Hugh Saxon – leans over, whispering. “I have an agreement with the Department of Justice which prevents me from going into these matters.” Lovely. She tries to press him, but he won’t comment. “Alright then,” she backs off, “let me just say this. I think that the Department of Justice is trying to scare you…” Her eyes flick to the side, and then she loses her train of thought.
Saxon follows her gaze, wondering why she’s so abstracted. “This picture,” she says, standing and walking across the room to a large bulletin board studded with photographs. “This one right here. Was that from the Straw Poll?” Immediately I can see why she’s excited. The picture shows perhaps 20 seniors decked out in the red, blue and green shirts that proclaim they voted for the different candidates. Which is to say, they’re not all wearing Peter’s blue; they’re in red (Staub) and green (Acavello) as well. Yes, he replies. And yes, he probably has more from that day. Why?
Oh, silly man. Don’t you see Kalinda’s solved the case? Why didn’t YOU think of that before you allowed yourself to be bullied by the Feds?
“Hey, do you want to have dinner tonight?” Peter hollers to the back of his campaign bus; he’s sitting slumped against the back of his couch, bright blue shirt unbuttoned over a white t-shirt. He has to repeat himself to Alicia. “Why?” she asks in horror from off screen, making me smile; she seems to automatically assume a meal means a major problem. “What do you mean why?” he smiles, and she laughs. “No, I mean who with,” she clarifies, apparently assuming it’s some sort of campaign event. “Oh no, not the campaign. Just us.” Alicia tentatively comes out from around the corner, and her open clothes (and very swanky black lace under that zip up shirt/vest/top) make it clear that this was a tryst. I’d even suggest it was a planned one – or maybe she wears underwear like that all the time, just in case? It kills me that this must have been where she was going when she got stuck in the elevator with Will.
Either way, Alicia stares at her husband in comical surprise. He looks up, and after a moment, smiles. “What?” She zips up her top. “A date?” she wonders. No, no, he reacts quickly, but then thinks about it. “Okay, a date,” he admits, shrugging and re-buttoning his shirt. She thinks about it for a second, pleased. “Okay,” she smiles. Hee.
Peter heads over to a mirror, reflecting. “You know that Jordan says that if Maddie attacks me in tomorrow’s debate, I should back off so that I don’t look like a bully. You think that’s smart?” I love when he asks her for political advice. She considers this as he puts on his tie. “I think you should call Eli and ask him,” she replies decisively. Aw!
It’s not the answer he expects, and he gets a little uncomfortable. “I haven’t been talking to Eli,” he confesses. She nods in understanding. “I think you should call Eli,” she repeats, raising her eyebrows to show just how much – and then leaves him to think it over.
“We book over 55 million in yearly client fees,” Will pitches to Laura and Geneva Pine – yay, Geneva! – “and we do this by providing individualized service. One of the prime reasons we’re one of the last few big firms left standing is that we don’t forget it’s all about the client.” I could go on, he says, but I understand you only want a ten minute pitch. Any questions? (I want to know why it’s Will and not Diane pitching myself.) No, this is great – good presentation, Geneva declares, dismissing him. “Actually I have a question,” Laura stops them. “Miss Hellinger,” Will acknowledges. “You represent the drug dealer Lemond Bishop, don’t you?” Geneva – who seems to be sitting behind a container of soup – looks unsettled that she brought it up. “I don’t think we need to go into that,” she says softly. Wouldn’t that be a problem, Laura presses anyway, you representing the city’s top drug dealer while representing us? (Surely all defense firms would have those kinds of conflicts of interest?) “Obviously there’s a Chinese wall between the service I would supply for you and the service that others in our firm would supply for Mr. Bishop.”
Geneva nods. She gets it. “Thank you. Very helpful.” That’s it, Laura wonders. A Chinese wall? Will smiles awkwardly, clearly not expecting to be pushed like this, and by his one friend in the room. “Well,” he offers, “if we had to make other adjustments, we’d be willing.” Whoa – is he says they’d let go of Lemond in order to get the city? It’s cleaner money, at least, but that surprises me. A lot of people must sue the State’s Attorney’s Office. “Okay, thank you,” Geneva repeats, ready to be done. Will still looks at Laura in consternation. I think Alicia’s lunch worked out a lot better.
“Have you seen these photos before, Mr. Saxon?” Elsbeth asks back in court, displaying the photos from the Straw Poll. He has; he took most of them. We re-establish that Hugh Saxon arranged the transportation for the seniors. “Now, the prosecution, in the form of the formidable Mr. Perrotti,” Elsbeth begins, with Josh Perrotti hilariously puffing out his chest at her gaze and her compliment, “he has suggested that this was an attempt to stack the deck in favor of Mr. Florrick at this poll. Is that true?” No, says Hugh, leaning over. “As you can see, the seniors involved voted for all three of the candidates.” He’s referring, of course, to the t-shirts which proclaimed their support for their chosen candidate. “Yes, only a third of the seniors voted for Mr. Florrick.” This seems unlikely math, given the landslide victory and the size of the room, and the fact that we only see about 20 of the 600 seniors allegedly bussed in, but okay.
Mr. Perrotti objects, since we can’t know whether the folks pictured actually voted for the candidates whose shirts they wear. “That is true, as far as it goes, ” Judge Melanie Ellis sort of agrees. “Now, the prosecution – Josh Perrotti – has also presented a witness.” Perrotti smiles like a delirious fool every time Elsbeth mentions his name. Even the merest glance in his direction sets him beaming. “This witness, Mr. Landau, claims that you had a deal, that Mr. Gold discounted his services in exchange for you transporting these seniors.” That is untrue, Mr. Saxon proclaims in outrage. Elsbeth points out that Frank Landau alone can’t hang Eli; there has to be corroboration of the collaboration. And Mr. Saxon does not so testify.
“Yes, Mr. Perrotti,” Judge Ellis grumbles, “we are prone to dismiss this suit.” Ever smiling, Josh rises to his feet to explain that there’s one more witness who can corroborate Frank’s allegations. Who, Eli snaps. “A witness I will make available to you tomorrow,” he grins. Quick cut to Jackie Florrick – oh God – on a shopping excursion with two tiny, elderly friends. Guess what? That bike messenger who thinks you look exactly like his grandmother isn’t a fan of Peter’s. You’ve been served. (Bonus points for the offended look on her friend’s face. Awesome!)
“Yeah, yeah, I agree,” Peter mutters into his phone, hunched over in the seating area of the debate room. “Alright, well hang in there. No, I’ll be fine. We’ll talk later.” Jordan stalks him in the background, piqued. “Hey,” Peter says, acknowledging his new campaign manager’s presence, “I’m ready.” “Let me have it,” Jordan stretches out his hand. “Are you feeling threatened?” Peter wonders. No, but he does know there can be only one captain. (There can be only one! Death match!) Eli would agree, he says, which is certainly true. “The surest way to screw up a campaign is to listen to two captains.” Ah, but what if – like Mitt Romney – you pick the wrong one?
“Do you trust me,” Jordan asks, offering his hand like Aladdin did to Jasmine. Giving up Eli is rather like jumping off a roof, now that you point it out. Peter takes a little too long to answer yes. “Then give me your phone,” Jordan replies reasonably. “I trust you but, I like my phone.” Which is to say, he might think Jordan is smart, and he might respect him, but he doesn’t trust him yet, and he certainly doesn’t trust his judgement over Eli’s. Peter will not give up the phone, but he does promise not to call Eli again.
Brows furrowed, Will walks through the SA’s office till he finds Laura filing in what appear to be the hall. “Is this a courting, a stalking or a casual drop by?” she flirts. Man, there is a shocking amount of flirtation in this episode. “What am I missing,” he asks. Oh, Will. How much time do you have? “What are you missing?” she wonders. “With the pitch? You were a little north of hostile.” Oh, that. Will, you’re a dumbass. “Are you kidding,” she asks, shocked. He thinks this was some sort of sadistic power trip, bringing him in just so she could embarrass him in front of Geneva. Riiiight. “Yup, that’s me,” she says. Well thanks a lot, he snaps. “Are you really this dense,” she asks – and yes, Laura, he is. “I got the message,” he claims.
“Geneva Pine was against you,” Laura whispers. “She wasn’t against me until you started asking your questions,” he whispers back. “She was being polite,” Laura hisses, “that’s why I was asking the hard questions. She doesn’t want Lockhart/Gardner because you represent a drug dealer. That’s why I was asking, I was giving you a chance.” Will huffs, realizing he’s been a complete fool. “But thanks for your understanding,” she flares, walking away; Will’s left looking even more frowny than before.
Jackie minces her prim little girl way through the courthouse, looking up at the architecture. Does anyone else think its weird she’s hear without babysitter/boyfriend Cristian? I hate it when they drop plot threads like that. At any rate, Eli unwisely tries to engage her in conversation. “I don’t think we should be talking, Mr. Gold,” Jackie replies, a delicate putdown. For once I have to agree with her. “Jackie, I need to know if you’re gonna… what you’re going say,” he amends. “I’m going to tell the truth, Mr Gold,” she answers, sweeping into the courtroom with an admonishing look, clutching the neck of her coat as if to prevent contagion. It would really help you so much to get a preview 30 seconds in advance? I hate to agree with Frank Landau about anything either, but Eli, you need to calm down. He calls Alicia in complete panic.
She takes the call from her office, coat in hand, explaining that she’s on the way. But as she starts out, Cary asks for a second. “No,” she answers. Really? That’s so rude. Couldn’t he walk with you? Also, why are they still sharing an office? Cause that’s not awkward or anything. Also, what’s with cuffs this week? Like Frank’s lawyer, hers a flapping over her jacket sleeves (though thankfully not as silly looking). “I got the revised billing statement on the Bishop case. You cut my hours?” Oh. Even more awkward. Also, she’s being rude on purpose hoping to ignore him – because that policy works so well for Will and Diane? Argh. “It’s coming from the top,” she explains curtly, still not meeting his eyes. Forgive me, but aren’t you the partner on this case, he wonders. Yes, the one who was going to speak for the associates, remember? Let’s talk about this later, she warns him, pressing the button for the elevator.
“You cut my hours, it screws me come promotion time, and I’d prefer not to have the rug yanked out from under me a second time,” he accuses her. The look on his face kills me. “Right now, let’s just focus on winning for Bishop,” she declares, rushing into the elevator. I really want to give him a hug, and then make them sit down to talk to each other. Once again, we see the doors close on a completely (though differently) frustrated Alicia.
And there’s Jackie’s smug, cute little face with her 1950s curls and headband. “Jacqueline Florrick,” she states her name for the record, and yes, she’s the State Attorney’s mother. “And future Illinois Governor Peter Florrick, yes,” she coos. Mmmm, mumbles Josh Perrotti as Eli looks in his lap. “Mrs. Florrick, on October 18th, 2012, did you give a speech on behalf of your son to the residents of the Greengate Retirement Center in Northbrook?” Yes. Was Eli Gold also there? “Yes. He arranged for me to speak there. I’m sure he wanted to insure I stayed on point.” Meanwhile Eli nearly bursts a vein trying to engage Jackie telepathically, his desire to influence her testimony is so great. “At the reception afterwards, did you talk with Mr. Gold and Greengate’s CEO Hugh Saxon?” Why yes. And what was discussed?
“Arthritis,” Jackie replies without a trace of irony. Love it. Titters break out through the gallery. “I don’t mean to be funny,” she smiles, “the facility was offering wonderful new therapy…” Josh cuts her off. Was there anything more (incriminating) that you heard? “Well, Jewish stuff,” she offers. Eli almost strokes out. “Jewish stuff? What is ‘Jewish stuff’?” Judge Ellis asks, and well might she wonder. “The Sabbath, and a seder – a seder is a dinner,” Jackie leans over to explain things more confidentially. She kills me. (Although, does this mean Hugh Saxon, who has the WASP-iest name conceivable, is Jewish? Because that would be kind of great.) She’s doing this to get back at me, Eli leans over and tells Elsbeth. “For what?” Elsbeth wonders. ‘For everything,” Eli sighs.
Was anything of a political nature discussed, Josh tries to steer Jackie back where he wants her. “Actually, much of a political nature was discussed, but Mr. Gold doesn’t like it when I try to talk politics so often I just listen.” And did you hear anything when you were listening? Did you perhaps hear them agree on a deal. “I don’t know if I would call it a deal. They had an agreement,” she nods. “Did Mr. Gold agree to cut his crisis management fee in return for Mr. Saxon transporting residents to the Cook County straw poll to vote for your son?” Eli brings a clenched fist to his lips as Jackie thinks it over. ‘That sounds about right,” she agrees.
“We need to poke a hole in what she heard,” Elsbeth realizes. They’re out in the hall, and Elsbeth’s carrying another large floral bag. “We can impeach her as a witness,” Alicia offers. But how, Elsbeth wonders, so Alicia brings up the stroke. I have to say, this was as focused as we’ve seen Jackie all season. “She’s had problems with her memory and orientation,” Alicia explains. Exactly, Eli enthuses, and Elsbeth nods along. “She’s easily confused?” Like a blind donkey,” Eli oh so colorfully suggests. But she doesn’t like being called on it, Alicia warns, so be cautious. “She also doesn’t like me, because I cut down on her speaking schedule.” Ah, if that were the only reason, Eli, rather than just the most recent, you wouldn’t be so worried. “And Jewish stuff?” And the Jewish stuff, Eli confirms.
Will waits for a maybe ten people to walk about a door before he ogles Laura’s backside as she bends over a table. Because that wasn’t obvious or anything. Noticing him, she looks up, leery. He moves forward with a bottle of wine, a peace offering. She squints at it. “Looks expensive,” she assesses. “It is,” he replies, his voice sing-songy. She squints even harder. “You don’t know wine. You bought it because you like the picture on the label.” Ah, mockery flirting. It’s so fun. “Pretty mountain. See the wagon?” he points out. “Very lovely,” she agrees. “Okay,” she decides, “I forgive you.” This Laura is so different from the tense victim of her early episodes. “I didn’t know I was apologizing,” he lies. “You were,” she smiles. “In your own way.” Then she remembers something which stops her smile. “By the way, you didn’t get our business. You were cut after the first round. You want your bottle back?” Heck no. She watches him go, her interest alive in her face. He turns back to stare at her from the doorway. It’s a really nice moment.
Or it would be, anyway, if this weren’t his way of distracting himself from Alicia. Am I reading that wrong? I’m not saying he doesn’t like Laura, of course. She’s smart, funny, independent, pretty – what’s not to like? She’s a better option for him romantically and of course he knows that.
“Hello, Mrs. Florrick!” Elsbeth chirps brightly. She’s joined the weird sleeve club, have I mentioned? She’s wearing a short sleeved jacket over a long sleeved shirt. We’ve seen this look from her before, and she pulls it off, but I can’t think ever seeing on another human being. “Hello,” Jackie answers warmly. “You testified that you gave a campaign speech at the Greengate Retirement Center in Northbrook on October 18th?” Yes. “What specifically did you talk about in this speech?” Josh objects for relevance. It’s just part of the whole picture of the day, Elsbeth insists, but Perrotti doesn’t see the point. “If the counselor would like to testify himself, Your Honor, I’d be happy to swear him in!” Elsbeth snaps, objecting to Josh’s objection. “Okay, you’re both overruled. You can answer, Mrs. Florrick.” Jackie, wearing her pearls and a blue suit with a little bee pin, says she talked about the retirement age, among other things; Eli’s ears prick up. Alicia watches, cat-like. And then you had a conversation with Gold and Saxon.
“If you say so,” Jackie shrugs, causing everyone to perk up. “You said so, during Mr. Perrotti’s questioning,” Elsbeth reminds the witness, pointing with both hands. “I, I go to so many of these events for Peter, and they all tend to blur into each other,” Jackie explains, hands clasped. Hmmmmm. “Mrs. Florrick, are you saying you don’t remember this meeting?” As surprised as Josh looks, it’s nothing to Elsbeth’s shock. “I suffered a stroke several months ago,” Jackie confesses, prompting Alicia and Eli to exchange stunned looks, “and it’s left me with, let’s say, cognitive issues.” Indeed. “What’s she up to now?” Alicia whispers. Was Eli even at this meeting, Elsbeth wonders. ‘Asked and answered, Josh snaps; but the witness might have erred, Elsbeth suggests, and he’s overruled. Was Eli there, she asks again. “Miss Tascioni,” Jackie responds flatly, “there are days when I can’t even recall my own name.”
Eli’s jaw just about hits the table.
And what more can Elsbeth ask? In the hall outside the courtroom, Eli follows his old adversary. “So why’d you do that?” he wonders. Jackie favors him with a prim smile. “It’s the truth, isn’t it?” As Eli stands alone, his face is a mixture of gratitude, confusion, disbelief and perhaps even shame.
That woman never ceases to amaze. I suppose it is consistent, however; she must have decided that Peter needs Eli to win, and she’s willing to do anything to make that happen. Of course, she may just want to insulate Peter from even a hint of scandal amongst his underlinings. Either way, she’s clearly able to put her feelings for Eli aside when it comes to helping out her son.
Eli looks like he’s practicing his “blue steel” gaze again, or chewing the inside of his cheeks out. Josh Perrotti looks typically smug. The Honorable Melanie Ellis bangs her gavel. “The issue on the table,” she sums up, “is whether there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate whether Mr. Gold arranged and agreed to a vote bribery deal. I was fully convinced there was,” she looks over at the AUSA, hands clasped, “until Mrs Florrick’s admission about her cognitive challenges. Which I’m afraid, Mr. Perrotti, leaves you with only Mr. Landau’s testimony, and that is not enough to bring to the jury. So we have no choice but to disqualify…”
Don’t look pleased yet, Team El! Guess what? The AUSA has another avenue for getting the dirt on Gold. He’s got a new conspirator to add to the charge! “I know Mr. Perrotti is highly competitive and aggressive,” Elsbeth stands to say, “and wants to assert himself, but you were about to dismiss.” Since the judge allowed an extension on the discovery phase, Josh contends that the extension is still in effect. Now, okay, I get it – he believes Eli is guilty and will use every method to get at him – but isn’t there a point where prosecutorial tenacity turns into double jeopardy? “We ask merely for the 24 hours.” Granted, the judge nods, but she’s clearly losing patience.
“We need to talk about the Bishop case,” Diane comes into Alicia’s office to insist once again. Sigh. Damn, she’s getting crap over this from every possible angle. The joys of middle management! At least they both look great; Alicia’s hair is flippy and fantastic, and Diane’s blue blouse practically glows. “Oh,” says a busy Alicia, “we’ll be ready. We’ll have the motions ready long before …” And that’s when she gets a good look at the sheet Diane hands her of the hours. “I already revised this bill, I cut the hours.” “You cut your hours,” Diane smirks down at her. “You were instructed to cut the associates hours.” I was instructed to cut the bill down, Alicia rightly points out. Does it make a difference where the hours come from?
“A considerable one,” Diane replies. Sigh. “Clients like to see partner hours. It reassures them.” Okay, I guess I see that. “A disproportionate number of associate hours makes them wonder whether their case is still a priority.” Understood. But won’t there always be more associate hours? By a lot, since there must be more associates than partners? “The associates are the ones doing all the heavy lifting, it doesn’t seem right to penalize them…” “They’ll find other opportunities to make up the hours,” Diane insists regally. Wait, so you’re saying you’ll pad someone else’s bill to make up for their unpaid work here? That’s attractive. Diane sits, still smirking, unsettling Alicia thoroughly.
“You’re management now, Alicia,” she patiently explains. “You’re not an associate; stop pretending that you are. Will the other associates grumble about you? Yes. But if you pretend you’re still their peer, they will grumble all the more and they will come to hate you.” Hmm. I don’t know how right she is, but it sounds at least a little like the distinction between being a parent and a friend, something many parents (who don’t want to hurt or upset their children) struggle with. Alicia closes her eyes. She gets it.
“This is not the queen’s hamlet,” Diane continues. “You cannot dress up like a peasant here. Stop it.” Oh, but it’s so cute! That little rustic village was totally the best part of Versailles, even if it was also completely appalling. I like Diane mentoring Alicia, and I can see that this situation was a kind of cruel test set up to help her over this hurdle (acting like management) in probably the hardest possible way just to start. Kicking her off the dock, as it were, and into the deep end to force her to swim. “It is galling to them, and it is galling to me.” Alicia throws her hair back. Off in the distance, Cary squints unhappily at the sight.
“Saint Alicia sign off on the brief?” the red-headed associate snipes. Sigh. I guess I’m glad you didn’t turn down the partnerships so you could save their petty asses after all, Alicia. Cary couldn’t show it to her, since she was talking to Diane. “Any idea what they were talking about?” Red wonders. “Probably other ways to shaft us,” Cary whines, setting his coat on the back of his chair and sitting down at the conference table with his fellows. Red snorts. “She’s been the golden girl since the day she got here.” I don’t suppose you could admit that she’s just plain smarter than you, could you? “Well, life lesson,” Cary sighs, taking his pen out of his jacket pocket, “be nicer to her, so she doesn’t cut our hours on the next case.”
That’s when Will pops his head in. “Hi! Everything good in here?” Sure, says Cary – just plowing away on the Bishop case. “Good,” he nods, “don’t let up.” He moves as if to go, but changes his mind. “By the way,” he adds, “the issue with the bill has been resolved. Alicia cut her own hours instead of yours.” Cary and the red head stare at Will, blinking. “Keep up the good work.” The two look conscious, taking a moment before putting their pens back to paper.
“We’re live in 20 minutes!” a voice calls out on the set of the town hall debate. (I so can’t write that phrase without hearing this in my head. I probably have linked to that every time this debate has come up; well, there it is. I really cannot get it out of my head.) A properly political and newsy theme song plays in the background. As Alicia wanders through, Maddie walks up to her. “Wrong side,” she says, waspish, but continues more politely. “I believe your group is watching from the other wing.” Thank you, Alicia answers quietly.
“It’s not going to work, you know,” Maddie adds. What? “Jordan. Sent you over here to unsettle me before the debate, it’s not going to.” Right. Wow, that woman is stuck so far inside her own head she just has no idea. Would anything she knew about Alicia suggest to her that she would be a campaign manager’s pawn? Alicia laughs. “You know they’re always wondering whether men and women can be friends,” she smiles, “But the real question is, can women?” Wow. Um, nobody’s bitter here! Backing away for a second, Peter really called it when he termed Maddie a hypocrite; she’s distanced herself so far from the ugly thing she did to Alicia that in her head everything’s now Alicia’s fault. And the dastardly things she’s done, the complicated deceptions, others would do back to her. Her perceptions are just so far off from reality…
Under the lights of the televised debate, Peter ponders the impenetrable mess that is our nation’s immigration problem. “But let me just say this; we are Illinois, not Arizona.” Indeed. ‘Thank you, Mr. State’s Attorney,” the rich, nasal voice of the young blond moderator replies, and then immediately apologizes. “Oh, I see according to your pre-agreed upon rules I’m supposed to call your Mr. Florrick.” That’s fine, he replies, going back to his seat (a bar-type stool). “I won’t hold it against you, Petra.” Fine, she says, a little less pleased, “and I’ll let you call me … Petra.” Hmm. I don’t know that she’s happy about that.
Oh, wait. Petra, as in Petra Moritz of the political gossip column! Nice. As well as of Wrongful Termination, now that I think about it. Also, was she playing dumb there (I swear there there was hair twirling), or flirting, or was she purposefully getting in Peter’s title despite the agreement to go without titles (presumably since Maddie doesn’t have one)? Now I’m sounding as paranoid as Maddie. “Now, let’s see, Miss Hayward, do you have any response?”
She certainly does. “I do,” she concurs, popping off her stood and clearing her throat. “I am thrilled that the state’s Attorney has found the Latino vote. Our state is only 16% Hispanic, and yet, of the nearly ten thousand inmates of the Cook County prison, which you oversee, 36%are Hispanic.” Wow, Alicia leans over to Jordan in the wings, she’s really going after him. Well duh. It’s one debate. And she’s no shrinking flower. Peter mutters about statistics. “Well, those statistics tell a very frightening story if you live in Mr. Florrick’s county,” Maddie replies, “and your skin is not white.” And off to the races we go. “How many African Americans do you have working under you, Mr. Florrick?” It’s less than five percent, she speaks for him. And we’re working on it, he responds. Ah, but you were told about this two years ago in a staff memo, and yet you’ve done nothing. Petra cuts her off.
“Where’d she get that?” Jordan wonders. From me, Alicia admits in frustration. “She’s using it,” she grits through her teeth. Well, yeah. That was the point of betraying you, to use the information she got! I thought we were talking about immigration, Peter grouses. “I thought we were encouraging a free range of topics here,” Maddie replies loftily. Petra wants everyone to calm down. “Mr. Florrick, would you like to respond to Miss Hayward on the issue of preferential hiring?” Bright and patriotic in a slim red dress, Alicia waits, hardly breathing, for his response. “No thank you,” he says. “Come on, Peter!” Alicia sighs, frustrated.
Elsbeth has just one more witness to call before Judge Marx over in civil court; Josh Perrotti. Frank’s lawyer strenuously objects. “The defamatory comments Mr. Landau made against my client were made to Mr. Perrotti – his testimony is more than relevant.” Josh stands, self-satisfied as ever. “Your Honor, the always creative Miss Tascioni is using this suit to obstruct my federal case.” Which is not my problem, Judge Marx replies, gesturing with his glasses in hand. “Here you’re a private citizen who’s out of order in my court.” Nice! Eli smirks. ‘The witness sounds perfectly relevant to this case. Mr. Perrotti, come get a view from the front.” Love it. Totally love it. “You enunciate,” Elsbeth instructs as Josh walks past her, “I wanna make sure he hears you.” Oh, he will, Josh promises.
“I will fight for you; that’s what your vote means to me,” Maddie declares, a TV screen split between her face and Peter’s. “If you want someone who’s polite and calm, vote for Peter, but if you want a fighter, vote for me.” Alicia’s beside herself as all Peter can do is look down. “Thank you Maddie,” says Petra. “Well, that bring us to our half way point. We’ll take a short break now. This is the Illinois Democratic Gubernatorial Debate,” she announces over the logo of CBS 2, “and we will be right back.”
(Trying to remember the last time I watched a debate that had a “break” in it… I’m thinking never.)
“Oh, she’s trying to bait you!” Jordan exclaims as Peter wearily lurches backstage. “Just stick with the plan, we’ll be okay.” Wow, he’s really short, isn’t he? Forget about Peter; Alicia towers over him. Peter, by the way, has eyes only for his wife. “How’m I doing?” he asks. “Mostly good,” she tells him, lips pursed together. “That’s all we need, mostly good,” Jordan cheers. It’s not that he’s wrong, but he’s entirely missed that “mostly good” means “you’re getting slaughtered” in Alicia speak. Not to mention the fact that both Florricks are swing for the fences types. Mostly good is mediocre. Mostly good is damning.
Peter, of course, can read her better. They walk together, and he whispers “tell me the truth!” What’s with the sci fi music in the background? Very odd, those ominous chimes. “I don’t know strategy, but you have to call Eli,” she advises. (And doesn’t know debate strategy is what she means, since she knows strategy like whoa.) He’s got three minutes, and she’s willing to throw herself at Jordan with questions so he has the time. Aw. He thumbs through his phone until the right one appears.
On Judge Marx’s witness stand, Josh Perrotti sticks out his chin. “But isn’t it true, Mr. Perrotti,” Elsbeth begins. “You can call me Josh,” he interrupts smoothly. “Isn’t it true, Mr. Perrotti,” she repeats, flapping her arms (yay! don’t fall for it, girl!), “you failed to prove this vote purchasing charge in federal court?” For the moment, he admits. “Time is irrelevant!” she howls. HA! “How bad,” Eli whispers into his phone from the door of the courtroom. “Ah, well clearly she’s treating this debate like it’s a game changer,” Peter sighs from the TV studio. “Jordan wants me to stick to policy and not push back.”
Like Eli would ever endorse that! “You can’t play rope a dope, Peter! You bland out when you don’t punch.” Peter nods in agreement; Eli couldn’t be more on target. So how does he solve this dilemma? “And don’t let her near you. My guess is, she got the advice that she should stand near you when you start bullying. Don’t let her.” So? What’s a tall, powerfully built guy to do? “Well I can’t have her chasing me around the stage,” comes the sardonic reply. “Be aware of the camera frame. There are three cameras. Keep her from getting in the frame with you.” How does he do that? “Walk the outskirts of the arena closest to the bleachers,” Eli whispers. “The cameras can’t get cross angles.” Nice! Peter nearly slumps over in relief.
“Okay?” Eli asks. “Your three minutes are up?” “Yup,” Peter agrees. “I forgot how good you are at this.” Eli thanks him quietly. “I really miss having you run the show, Eli,” Peter says,; we hear him, and see Eli receiving the message. He’s taken aback. Aw! “Oh. I know, I miss you too,” he stutters. Okay, replies Peter, shaking off the emotional moment, “Good luck.” You too, Eli replies. Jordan sees Peter put down his phone, and probably knows he’s been cheated on. Eli stands for a moment, stunned, before returning to court.
In court, Elsbeth is still establishing that Josh Perrotti cannot prove that Eli tried to buy votes. “Isn’t it true that Frank Landau was disqualified as a co-conspirator?” Geez, does that leave him with any case at all? “That’s true, in the judge’s opinion,” he admits, “but it doesn’t make it any less true.” Really, she laughs, arms swinging at her sides. “How’s that? The federal court has decided it.” No, it hasn’t decided it, Josh responds, “it’s left the question open.” Until you bring in another co-conspirator, she realizes. “Yes,” he smiles, which is frankly getting annoying. “And have you found another co-conspirator?” she demands. “Again, Your Honor, this testimony is being used purely to shake me down,” he grins.
“Again, that’s awful,” Judge Marx replies, utterly devoid of sympathy. Judge Marx, never change. “Please answer.” Elsbeth raises her eyebrows in happy triumph. “Yes, I’ve found another co-conspirator.” And who is that? The judge has to once again prompt the AUSA to respond. “Mr. Perrotti? Josh? I’m afraid you have to cough up the name, or be held in contempt.” How much do I love that the judge sarcastically called him Josh? Awesome. Perrotti stretches his arms out as well as the moment, enjoying being at the center of attention, everyone waiting on his words. “Who is the new co-conspirator?” the judge repeats. Josh Perrotti leans very deliberately into the microphone and drops the name: Diane Lockhart.
What? Eli’s eyebrows threaten to take flight.
It’s split screen time again at the debate. ‘Simply put, Mr. Florrick has spent the last twelve years being a politician.” Well, I’m not sure a prosecutor – a public servant – is exactly that, but we take your point. Peter listens attentively. “I’ve spent them building and running a company.” Petra thanks Maddie for her comments, and for keeping so nicely within her time limit. “Mr. Florrick, do you have anything here?” In the wings, Alicia and Jordan (gosh, I keep writing Eli instead of Jordan, it’s just so unnatural for him to be gone) watch Peter frowning and staring at the floor. “Would you like to pass?” Petra asks as Peter continues, frozen. “Mr. Florrick, you can bank your time if you like,” Petra adds helpfully. “Come on Peter, come on,”Alicia mutters under her breath. “Mr. Florrick,” Petra prompts.
And then, to the stirring of heroic music, Peter stands up. “You know,” he begins, “You talk about creating jobs, m’am, but isn’t it true that recently you closed your company’s semi-conductor plant in Schaumburg and shipped 1200 jobs to Mexico?” We also opened a distribution center in Aurora, she replies, creating a thousand new jobs. He walks off to the edges of the stage. “60% of which are part time and don’t receive benefits,” he points out. “Ah, ah, I don’t think that’s exactly true,” Maddie stammers.
Spinning around to face her, Peter replies easily. “Oh, it is true. 62.5, to be exact.” As Peter continues to talk of furloughs amidst Maddie’s workforce, Jordan turns on Alicia. What’s he doing, the diminutive campaign usurper demands. “He’s trying to win,” replies Alicia, rapt and excited. They were furloughed because of the economy, but now that the economy is improving, Maddie suggests. “You’ll try to union-bust them,” Peter cuts in. “Last month in a conference call with Wall Street analysts, didn’t you say within five years you would drive the unions from your plants?” Well that’s a 47% moment if I’ve ever heard one.
Maddie wags her finger, stammering. “I did not say – that, that, that is not what I said. That is not what I said.” Try the rhymes on Dr. Seuss, lady, because Peter’s not buying. “I said – I said – union cost, union costs were increasing demands, so…” Alicia’s almost floating, the look on her face is so ecstatic. “So it’s okay to cut your employees’ wages,” Peter smiles, “while you renovate your summer home on Lake Geneva?” When you can’t beat them, obfuscate the issue. “I believe the audience member asked a question about over regulation, not, uh, me,” Maddie stumbles for a way out. “Yes,” Petra smiles, clearly enjoying herself, “but I believe we’re encouraging a free range of topics here.” Ha! The last shot is of Peter, peeping out from behind a furious, befuddled Maddie.
“Diane Lockhart, senior partner at Lockhart/Gardner,” Diane introduces her on the stand; we get to see a computer screen where her words are recorded. Court reporter, or speech recognition software? Who knows. “Miss Gardner,” Josh Perrotti begins, “This is a Lockhart/Gardner invoice to Greengate Retirement Centers. It includes a 25% discount for Eli Gold’s crisis management services.” He shoots a triumphant look to Elsbeth. “Would you please read the hand written initials at the bottom?” She leans forward and does so; they’re her own. “You initialed this invoice?” Anyone else bummed we didn’t get her middle initial? “Yes. Will Gardner or I sign off on every bill before it is sent to a client.” And that, he tells the judge, proves that Miss Lockhart conspired with Eli; she is the co-conspirator. Ah, that mysterious, ellusive co-conspirator.
“Your Honor, that is a stretch,” Elsbeth half-laughs, poo-pooing the notion. “No,” Josh Perrotti declares, “there are two ways to show conspiracy. The agreement of services received, and the agreement of services offered. This is for services offered.” I’m not sure that you can prove she knew what the discount was for – that doesn’t follow at all from her approving the bill, he could have lied to her if he were indeed on the take – but the judge thinks it makes sense. Or at least enough to present to a jury. So she asks directly. “Miss Lockhart, did you approve Eli Gold’s 25% discount to Greengate?” No, Diane states clearly; Elsbeth’s head snaps up. “You just testified you initialed this invoice,” Josh asks, at a loss.
“Yes, but I didn’t approve it. I only signed off on it because my supervisor…” oh, excellent “…instructed me to.” AUSA Perrotti has clearly not done his homework; Diane has to explain to him that Clarke was in charge at the time the invoice was issued. Eli and Elsbeth look at each other, smiling, as understanding dawns. “He was eager to boost cash flow, and had us offer clients discounts for quicker payment.” Elsbeth stands, energized. “If Miss Lockhart did not approve that discount, it rules her out as a co-conspirator, Your Honor.” The charge still stands, the relentless Mr. Perrotti insists. “It will be amended to reflect Lockhart/Gardner as the co-conspirator.” No so fast, swifty. “The trustee, Mr. Hayden, was an employee of the creditors, not Lockhart/Gardner, isn’t that right, Miss Lockhart?” Hell yeah it is! “So Mr. Perrotti,” Judge Ellis steps in, “are you going to continue to play musical co-conspirators, or are we done here?”
And I guess we’re done, at least for now, because that’s Elsbeth in her coat, belting down the hallway. “Well done,” her erstwhile suitor proclaims, chasing after her. She thanks him. “Do you like the ballet?” he asks. “No,” she spits out, as if it were the most preposterous question in the world. “”Me neither. Let’s not go together. Dinner?” She opens her mouth, but searches her feelings before answering, her eyes flickering to the side. It takes some time for her to arrive at the answer – no – but none at all for her to walk away.
“May I ask why?” he asks, as surprised and offended as Mr. Darcy during his first proposal. Can’t lose graciously twice in a row, huh? “No,” she smiles pleasantly, leaving him standing alone, still bewitched, softly smiling.
Alicia’s pulling together her things off her desk as Cary steps into their office. “You did right by us on those hours,” he smiles, his face open and sincere, “thank you.” Aw! This can’t end well, though. Did Diane make her take the hours back? “Do I want to know the names I was called?” she asks. He chuckles. “Let’s just say your fairy tale favorites got some play.” (Which is what? The Wicked Queen, maybe? Fascinating. I wish we’d heard something more than St. Alicia.) She hands him a sheet of paper. “Well, you might want to break ’em out again. My notes are in the margins. Don’t worry about the preamble.”
Cary stares at her, stunned. The black dress with that leather bib is vaguely witch-like, now that I think about it. “I thought we were set,” he asks, looking confused and quite possibly hurt. “We were,” she agrees, looking him full in the eyes. “I’ll need the revised brief tomorrow, no later than ten.” She steps out briskly, and he practically collapses into his chair, head in his hand. Damn it!
Back at the campaign headquarters, Eli’s packing up his things into a cardboard box. An unhappy looking Peter wanders around, arms cross. “Well, polling say that 56% of viewers think that I won the debate.” That’s not as impressive as we’d have hoped for, huh? “Probably a few point higher,” Eli points out, “they always under-sample younger voters. No land lines.” Ah, where’s Matt the hipster pollster when you need him? I liked that guy. “You’re still packing,” Peter observes. Eli looks pained and cowed, as if he’s trying desperately to hold on to his pride “I’m still damaged goods,” he sniffs. “I want you back,” Peter asks. Aw! “Kresteva will use this,” Eli warns. Peter laughs the thought away; “Kresteva will use anything and everything.”
“You can’t be sentimental,” Eli warns, wagging a warning finger at his candidate. “You think that’s sentimental?” Peter asks, standing to approach Eli. “How about this?” He extends his hand, and when Eli smiles and takes it, clearly moved, Peter pulls his consigliere in for a one armed hug. Both men are chocked up. “Thank you,” Peter say, clapping Eli on the back, trying to meet his eyes. “You’re welcome,” he replies, his voice low as he returns to packing. Still, Peter follows him. “Well are you going to stay,” he asks, “because I don’t see myself getting to Springfield without you.” What with Jordan being so epically wrong about everything, you mean? Eli has a little glint in his eye as he looks up at his boss. “Or Washington?” Peter smiles, flushing. “Or Washington.”
Eli considers. “Okay I’ll stay,” he smiles. Well good, Peter grins, slapping Eli on the back. “Now unpack all that crap and let’s get to work.” Eli twirls the lid to his box, and starts unpacking with glee.
Well, okay. That’s a lot to talk about! Eli resigned, and then took his resignation back! Can we just get rid of Jordan, please? He seems to only exist to give bad advice, which is getting boring. Wouldn’t he be a more interesting complication if he actually brought something useful to the party? Sigh. I’m not sure there’s been a more tender scene on this entire series, however, than what we just watched between Eli and Peter. It was all the sweeter for being so atypical. And I love that Alicia has become such an Eli partisan as well.
Of course, the opposite of sweet is the current dynamic between Alicia and Cary. I can see why Diane thought that our girl was being cowardly in cutting her own hours, but I’m not sure why she thinks being a hard ass is the only way to be a boss. I know it’s different, but she was such an excellent mentor to Caitlin! She’s clearly capable of doing better. Of course it’s one thing to be guiding someone, and another to be cutting the hours of someone who doesn’t need your guidance and was your peer five minutes ago. I completely understand that it’s the very definition of awkward. I can’t help thinking that Alicia could have made things easier on herself, though. She obviously used her parenting skills with Caitlin; she was patient, she was thoughtful, she was precise and clear and let her know what was expected. And it’s smart – as in parenting, you want those you’re leading to do and be their best, to respect and understand the limits you’ve set for them. Is she using that old teacher’s trick – be strict enough the first day, and you can be nicer later in the year because you’ve captured the class’s respect at the start? Maybe none of this is apt comparison.
Honestly, I’m not sure exactly what went on in that last scene between Cary and Alicia. Did she (or Diane) actually re-cut the associates’ hours, or was she just assigning him the task of re-editing one of the briefs? I want to thwack the writers in the head for that buzz kill; I get that we can’t ever have anything unreservedly good without a balancing ill on this show, but honestly? We have a whole new scene, set on a new day (new clothes) just so that Cary and Alicia can wait till the day’s end to run into each other (in their shared office) and hurt each other? To see his recovered faith in her crushed like that – I hated it. It’s like Alicia to be high-handed, and I’m sure the awkwardness of the situation made it easier for her to act a role (mean boss) than to treat him as the valued friend and colleague he is. But it just completely sucks.
Uh, okay. That’s very much enough of that. What else can we talk about? Looks like they’re finally moving on the Laura/Will flirtation. How like Will: he can’t have Alicia, so he’s going to distract myself with another woman! That’s just what he needs, to jump in with someone else. No wonder none of his relationships work out. And Laura is just terrific, which I guess is good and bad. I’m not very excited about Tammy 2.0 with a girlfriend we actually like – and I hate the thought of Laura being crushed when she realizes that Will has such strong feelings for someone else, particularly after she started the season recovering from an attempted rape. I just wish they spent more time building a friendship between her and Alicia rather than this.
Does any of this take away from Alicia and Peter going out on a date? (Argh, what a cute conversation.) So dastardly of them not to show that! As invested as Alicia clearly was in Peter doing his best at the debate, I’m really curious to see where their emotional relationship is. Does she care more about Peter the candidate than Peter the man? I want to know! It’s probably a false distinction, but the W/A kiss makes me question everything (including, again, whether Alicia sought Peter ought to burn off her feelings for Will or whether their lunchtime dalliances have become a regular occurrence). I’m curious to know if the show will ever have Alicia confront the complexity of her reasons for this reunion. Is it really for the kids? Has she been lured to him by ambition, or revenge against Maddie, or does she really think he will govern well? I can’t help thinking her motives encompass all those things.
Finally, Elsbeth and Josh. Are you sorry that she turned him down? Do you think it’s permanent? I’m pleased, I confess: he lacks a moral center, which makes him bad boyfriend material in my book. But they sure are a lot of fun to watch. It’s not all a game, right? I mean, he does genuinely like her, don’t you think, and isn’t only playing that angle to disconcert her? (Clearly he is playing that angle, but I don’t think that’s all it is.)
And there we are? What did I miss? Talking about Jackie’s astounding testimony? Let me know!