E: The team turns in a solid episode in preparation for next week’s explosive Chicago Shamrock Dinner. They couldn’t have come up with a more glamorous name for a white tie ball? Guest stars abound, Robyn worms her way further into our good graces, Will and Alicia are awkward, two recurring players get the boot, and Cary has another mountaintop moment.
Delicate music opens the episode, and then the squeal of tires and screaming, tearing metal; the music changes to rock as we look out over a shattered guardrail onto a crash – a car turned upside-down like a bug, its wheels spinning. “Swapping your blood with formaldehyde,” the song offers, and indeed, next we see a naked man on a slab in the morgue, being delivered into a shelf and tagged “Roger Ludwig.” “Don’t you know that you could have died, should have died,” the song admonishes us. From one high stakes event to another, CBS 2 Chicago puts up current vote totals for the Democratic gubernatorial primary. How did this happen without us being prepared? Peter’s leading Maddie 51% to 46%.
Two (living) bodies lie facing each other. A hand slips beneath a flowered shirt, wastes no time on the waist. At first I’m convinced we’re seeing Grace and Connor, but no, why would we go back to that thread? How silly of me. It’s Zach and Nisa, kissing. “Zach, seriously,” she breaks off, pushing away his hand, “why aren’t you serious about me?” Er, I’m pretty sure that no matter how serious he may or may not be about her, he’s still going to want to get to second base. “I am,” he shakes his head, “it’s really not that far away. ” Um, okay. That’s clear as mud. “College changes people,” Nisa insists. Ah. Wait, is the far away thing the college he’s planning on attending, or the end of school? Either way, she’s so right; I can’t even count the number of friends I had who showed up to orientation desperately in love with their high school sweethearts only to realize, many before the end of the first month, that the distance and change was just too much. “You sound so old. Anyway, you’re going to college too,” he offers, but this isn’t helpful since she’s a year younger. “Then we’ll both change,” he proposes (aw!), and apparently that’s enough because they press their faces fervently together.
Alicia opens the door to the apartment. “Mom’s home!” Grace calls out from her perch at the kitchen counter. “Yes, Mom’s home,” Alicia agrees, shutting the door and tossing her keys on the credenza, “put your clothes on!” She’s grinning when she say it, but not when she walks into the den as the TV reports something about Judge Richard Cuesta returning to the bench, and turns on the light to discover Zach and Nisa apparently doing their homework in the dark. She replies to their greetings with a very regal “how’re we doing in here?” “We’re just watching the results,” Zach lies, “Dad hasn’t won yet. They say they won’t have the results until tomorrow.” Really, at 73% reporting? Huh. It looks like a decent enough lead to me. Also, why are they at home and not with Peter? They all seem pretty nonchalant about such a major event, especially if it’s actually too close to call. “But he’s ahead,” Nisa adds, looking as uncomfortable as you’d expect. “Maddie’s down by 5%.” Mmm hmm, Alicia observes. Chilly! “And Kresteva?” He won the Republican primary, Zach explains. “Dad knows who he’s gotta beat, anyway.”
Yes. Maddie. Good grief, people; talk about blaze!
Nisa wonders if Zach can have dinner at her house; sure, Alicia nods, as long as your folks call her to clear it. Which is to say, so she knows for sure that’s what they’re doing. “Mom, there’s someone on the phone for you!” Grace yells, hanging onto a door frame. “Janie Ludwig?” Alicia takes the phone and whispers “you should be studying in the same room!” Good luck with that one, mum. Grace obediently heads for the den while Alicia greets Janie on the phone, standing in front of a brightly colored peg board. If you noticed the name on the morgue drawer, you don’t even need to see the shock on Alicia’s face to know what this must pertain to.
Okay, get out of town – that’s Jessalyn Gilsig waiting for Alicia in a vomit-yellow tiled hallway, leaning into a doorway. Not that I didn’t find her hilariously evil on Glee, but this is awfully distracting, somehow. It’s like she’s in the wrong universe, standing here playing a grieving widow. As a Patti type I could see, but… oh well. Her hair is flat ironed to a paper thinness; it probably follows from her being a client of Alicia’s, but she looks expensive.
Reaching a steadying hand to the other woman’s arm, Alicia asks Janie how she is. “I’m good,” Janie nods automatically before blinking and correcting herself. “Actually I’m not good. I don’t know why I said that.” Because that’s what you say when someone asks; I think we’re all done that. Clearly it hasn’t all set in yet. “The insurance lawyer is here,” she says, jerking her chin toward a tall man pacing the other end of the hall, talking into his phone. “He made me so mad I had to … step away,” she shudders. I don’t know anything about this kind of thing, but it surprises me that insurance would be involved so quickly. “Janie, you don’t need to be here, go home!” Alicia tells her, sincerely worried. “Roger always said my best quality was my toughness,” Janie declares, the veins in her thin neck standing out, arms crossed fiercely. “I’m not gonna let him down, not know.” Alicia knows when not to press, and backs off. It belatedly occurs to me – I was assuming that this was the same night, but Alicia walked into the house in her red winter coat, and is now wearing the purple/blue one. So I guess it’s the following morning?
Game face on, Alicia practically struts down the hall to confront the insurance company lawyer. “Mr. Hobson,” she demands, even though he’s still on the phone; he turns, and oh my gosh, it’s Joe Kent’s smug, loathsome lawyer from VIP Treatment! Remember, the one who got into a fist fight with Will? He grins – an unpleasant bearing of teeth – and keeps talking, holding up a finger; ” I love you too, dear. I won’t be too long. The other side doesn’t have a leg to stand on. See you in two hours.” Ick. Alicia’s face sours as she realizes the kind of day she’s in for. “Hello, Wilk Hobson. I’m sorry for your client’s loss,” he introduces himself, almost mocking. What the heck kind of name is Wilk? “Yes,” Alicia snaps, “but not sorry enough to pay out her life insurance policy.” Turns out the insurance company (Woolson Bland? this guy has terrible enunciation) has some questions about the untimely death. “Justice Ludwig died in a car accident,” Alicia notes, “I’m not sure how much more accidental it gets.”
He’ll tell you how, but prepare yourself for something truly dreadful. The victim was talking on his cell phone! In his car! Which wasn’t Blutooth enabled! No! Well clearly he deserved to die. “Which isn’t required in Illinois,” Alicia puzzles. This speaks to recklessness, Wilk contends, which negates his policy. “Which might be relevant, had he been hang-gliding,” Alicia waves her hands, unable to contain her disdain for this ridiculous contention. I, on the other hand, cannot contain my disdain for Wilk, and his sneery ways and his pinched nose in the air and his supremely self-satisfied name. Also, are they seriously standing in front of the body drawers? Ick. His company is willing to offer 10% of the policy, just to be nice. Right. Turns out 10% is 200k; the policy is for 2 mil. Alicia, she is not biting. In fact, she laughs in his face.
Yes, I know you’re shocked.
“Ha ha! More than usual,” laughs Rene Auberjonois as he ambles into a large room, wearing a fleece vest over an informal-looking button down. WHAT!!!!!!!!!!! Talk about distracting. Benson! Deep Space Nine! Oh my gosh. “Yeah, most people have trouble finding us down in the basement.” Indeed, there’s a little bleacher section where Alicia and Wilk and perhaps 15 other people are sitting, all wearing their coats; the walls are chilly green tile. “Sorry it’s a little cold in here. That’s the way we ride in the Coroner’s Office.” He looks daffy and delighted, white hair flying in every direction. He moves behind a desk, explaining that this is an inquest into the death of Chicago Supreme Court Justice Roger Ludwig, Case # 91-R. The fleece vest as the Coroner’s seal on it.
He gestures to six people sitting to his right in metal chairs; “six jurors have been seated from the regular jury pool,” he explains, bowing to them, hands clasped to show his gratitude. He wants to make sure they know, however, that this is not a regular trial. “An inquest is merely a fact-finding proceeding to answer the question, what is the cause and the manner of death. So, ah, I will call our first witness.”
The witness must be another coroner (though her clothes suggest EMT), who explains that the cause of death is blood loss due to massive internal injuries. Rene asks what – if any – substances were found in the decedent’s system; “the toxicology report was positive for cytrophenol as well as alcohol,” she explains. “That’s a lie,” Janie hisses to Alicia. “I know,” Alicia leans over, soothing, “we’ll address it.” The coroner/EMT – a Miss Patel – continues to explain that his blood alcohol level registered at .06.
“Excuse me, Mr. Coroner, can I ask a question?” Alicia asks Rene. He leans forward, squinting at her. “Who are you?” She introduces herself and explains her purpose for being there. “Ah yes,” the coroner replies, “the wife of the State’s Attorney in the one county that sees fit to do away with the office of the coroner altogether.” Er, okay. I guess we’re not in Cook County, then. While Alicia merely looks conscious, Janie looks alarmed. ‘By all means, probe away.” From his sardonic tone, I’d say Janie’s right to be nervous.
Forging on ahead, Alicia asks Miss Patel if .06 BAC (blood alcohol content) is below the legal limit; it is. Hmm. I’m not sure why she’d be giving this testimony if she was an EMT, but why isn’t she Dr. Patel if she’s a coroner? Alicia suggests the number is consistent with the judge having a couple of glasses of wine with dinner an hour before driving; based on his height and weight, Miss Patel agrees with this characterization. She admits that the cytrophenol, too, likely remained in the decedent’s system from a sleeping pill he took the night before or even longer ago. So, Alicia begins to sum up, could … And that’s where the head coroner/judge/Odo cuts her off.
“I’m sorry, m’am, you’ve asked your three questions.” What was that? He repeats himself at her request. “Attorney’s in an inquest are permitted to ask questions, but only a total of three.” What, the whole time? Or just per witness? Wilk smirks his loathsome smirk; I suppose with a client like a insurance company, he’s done this before. “Really?” Sorry, Odo shrugs, not sounding sorry at all. What if I’m really fast, Alicia asks, apparently not understanding the concept of numbers. Not even then, Odo laughs. With a pained look, Janie lets herself out of the room as Alicia sits down and Mr. Evil stands. “Mr. Claypool, I’m Wilk Hobson, counsel for Wolf and Bland Insurance. Unlike Mrs. Florrick, I have just one question if that’s okay.” It is. The men laugh, making me want to smack them both. “Miss Patel, in your opinion, could the amount of alcohol that results in a .06 BAC still be enough to impair someone’s judgment?” Alicia objects, but there are no objections in an inquest; Miss Patel says yes.
Out in the yellow hallway, Janie calls for backup. Which is to say, Will.
Will nods to Diane, who walks into his office as he’s asking over the phone if Janie’s sure she wants his help when he doesn’t know any more about inquests than Alicia. She’s sure. He has to fill Diane in. “Oh, yes, that car crash, that was horrible,” Diane frowns, “how is she?” Upset, Will says. “She wants me to help Alicia at the inquest.” “Well that sounds right,” Diane agrees, “what’s the problem?” Ah, the idea of being in a morgue with the woman he can’t resist is just too much for him, apparently? But obviously he can’t say that. “Nothing, what’s up?” Diane holds up a cream colored card and envelope. “We got invited to the Chicago Shamrock Dinner,” she announces with pride. “We’re asked to buy a table.” Ooooh, swanky. “They never invited us before,” Will realizes. I know, smiles Diane. “We’re moving up in the world. And with Alicia’s husband there, might be a slap in the face if we say no.”
“Peter didn’t win yet, did he? Last I heard it was neck and neck between him and Maddie,” Will puts the brakes on her enthusiasm. Diane purses her lips, agreeing. “I’ll wait to see if he wins before buying a table.” Good plan.
That’s when Cary wanders into view, and Diane pounces. “Cary!” she exclaims. “You needed me?” he asks. She moves toward him, beaming; I thought she was going to hug him at first. “Congratulations! Fantastic news!” What? What did he do? Will walks toward him as well. “Talk about landing the big fish, good job!” The two men shake hands; it’s painfully obvious Cary has no idea what he’s being thanked for. “We weren’t even trying for Emends Pharmaceuticals, we thought they were too deep into Canning’s pocket,” Diane thrills. “How’d you do it?” Will asks. Oh dear. He genuinely has no idea.
“Well,” Cary extemporizes, “I’m just one part of a team.” Will grins. “That’s not what I heard! Their chief counsel said it was all you.” Erm, wow. That’s peculiar, both picking away Canning’s top client (who we’ve trashed in court) and Cary doing it without knowing he was doing it. What a good way to stay on the equity partner track, Diane enthuses, five million a year in litigation costs! Again, I will say, wow. Cary just nods, because what else can the poor befuddled boy do? “Pretty impressive!” Yeah, he’s impressed with the number, too. “That’s their spokesman now,” Will ends the discussion. “He’s in your office right now; he wants to say hello.” Oh. Now I’m starting to get an inkling, even if Cary isn’t. “Emends Pharmaceuticals,” Cary walks off, practically pumping his fists. There’s something so jaunty about his walk, bouncing down the hall to meet this mysterious spokesman. Ah, Cary. You already know the man standing in front of your window, behind Alicia’s desk! It’s your Dad.
“Hello,” the elder Agos beams. “Cary!” “Hello, sir,” Cary replies, utterly stunned; he’s stalled in the doorway, so his father advances on him and gives him a pleased handshake. This is a surprise, Cary stutters. “I hope so,” his father beams. Er, okay. What’s going on with this? “And this is a very cool office,” Daddy enthuses, returning to the window. You have a view …” of the office building next door “two desks…” because he shares the office…”on the same floor as the partners…” because they only have one floor! Le sigh. “I’m impressed.”
“Yeah, thanks Dad,” Cary says, meaning ‘stop stabbing me with your compliments,’ “what’s going on?” I’m back in Chicago, Dad grins. “Yeah,” Cary agrees (because, duh),”I’m sorry about that press secretary job.” Oh, that was nothing, Mr. Agos dismisses his former outrage with a shake of his head. “No, no, no, look. It was inappropriate of me to even ask for that favor. And I realized the job wasn’t quite the right fit for me anyways.” And what is that, sour grapes? A positive attitude? Perspective? Good, says Cary, still wary. “I’m lobbying for Emends Pharmaceuticals now,” Mr. Agos proclaims, pointing to his son with his clasped fists, “and we’re looking for a firm to help us draft a medical marijuana statute to take to the general assembly, and I,” he says with a dramatic flourish, handing over a folder, “thought of you!”
Clearly suspicious, Cary narrows his eyes, flipping through the folder. “You thought of me?”
Dad laughs through his nose. “Don’t sound so surprised, of course I thought of you, you’re good. Firm is hot right now!” Still, Cary gives his suspicious face. Why does big pharma want this law written up? “Well, right now there is a competing initiative being written,” Senior admits. Ah ha. “We want ours to take a … different approach.” Now Cary gets it. Emends is afraid that its business will suffer from the current initiative, so it wants a second one to confuse voters? I love seeing Cary lose all sense of diplomacy because it’s just so unlike him; we’ve seen Cary play the game, but he’s being aggressively truthful, recklessly suspicious and punishing in a way you can only be with someone you once trusted and even idolized. “Come on,” Dad laughs, “don’t put it like that. We want a more sensible initiative. How’s that sound?”
Cary smiles. “Sounds simple.” Good, declares Dad, pointing at his son. MAN, Mr. Agos senior is the fakest person ever. The cheese, I can’t even. He explains so much about first season Cary – and yet he’s also this wonderful contrast to the heartfelt, sincere man we know Cary to be. “I thought that you could draft the initiative, and then represent us through the legislative process.” Cary gives his father a long, measuring look. “What?” Senior wonders. “I just..” Cary starts, and then his face begins to open. “I didn’t think you were going to talk to me again.” Gee, I wonder why. Could it be because he basically said you were dead to him? Dad shakes his head, tipping it from side to side in this way that’s somehow very reminiscent of his son. “Oh, Cary,” he says, advancing. “I’m never not going to talk to you.”
Cary’s eyes are suddenly red with tears. It’s like a punch in the throat.
“We are now confident in reporting the projected Democratic primary winner…” a female voice on CBS 2 Chicago proclaims over a picture of – surprise – Peter Florrick’s smiling face. The campaign headquarters burst into cheers. Eli yells his congratulations to Peter over the phone. Sigh. Is this going to be a clunky Peter-less episode? They’ve done so well this season. Won’t pre-judge, won’t pre-judge… Eli has to repeat himself. “Now we turn to Kresteva,” he yells, walking toward his own office. “I said, now we turn to Kresteva,” he hollers a second time, spinning in his doorway and turning to his own nemesis, Jordan. And with that, the smile disappears.
“Sir, I wanted to talk to you about Jordan,” he says. “I don’t think we need him.” On the other end, Peter’s not responding well. “Well, sir, because I think we’re losing our singularity of purpose,” he weasel words. Why not just say that Jordan’s dead weight? That he proved in the debate that his instincts are off, that he’s not that helpful? No, no, Eli understands. The boy wonder. Better luck next time, Eli.
At this point the smiling little leprechaun himself walks up behind Eli, zhuzhing his sleeves. “Good job, Eli, well done!” he yells beneath Eli’s ear – literally yells, making Eli literally jump. In mid air, Eli spins around. “Oh, come on,” smiles the Californian, “let’s hug.” He grasps Eli by the shoulders and sort of pummel hugs him. Eli pushes him away as soon as possible. “Now comes the real battle,” Jordan grins his guileless grin. Oh, dude, you have no idea. Here it comes, Eli agrees.
“On that note, I need to show you something,” Jordan says, and soon Eli’s seated at the conference table, and Jordan’s bringing over his laptop. “Zach Florrick has a girlfriend, her name is Nisa Del Mar,” Jordan begins, causing Eli to roll his eyes. “I know, she’s black, it’s all fine,” Eli sighs with a studied weariness. “No, that’s not it,” Jordan replies. “Did you see this photo that she tweeted today?” Um, that’s interesting. It’s a picture of Zach with Nisa and her parents – and Nisa and her mom are wearing head scarves. That’s surprising. “The Milad un Nabi festival – it’s a celebration of the Prophet’s birth.” Did we know Nisa was a Muslim? Wow, the crafty look on Eli’s face as Jordan sits down… “I did a deeper check into Nisa’s father. He donated to the Hamas charity organization, Mujhadeen Musaleen.” I can’t verify if that’s a real thing, although whether it’s because they made up the charity or because I transliterated it improperly I don’t know.
When was the last time he donated, Eli wonders? 2008. Last October, Jordan continues, the group was put on the State Department’s list for terrorist affiliations. Eli is suddenly very, very interested. “What?” Jordan wonders. “You should do something about it,” Eli suggests. Oh, you wicked, wicked man. You can just see those wheels turning; if a direct appeal won’t work, then let Jordan hang himself.
“The skidmarks on the road reveal a course correction,” a cop explains using photographs as Coroner Claypool nods sagely. They used a formula to discover Ludwig was driving 55mph, which is 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Will arrives at this point, and joins the gallery just as Loathsome Wilk is leaning over to taunt Alicia and the widow by gloating “speeding equals reckless driving!” Wow, dude, the sing song thing is very adult. I don’t know about you, but I’m completely expecting a reference to fisticuffs. “Well, Mr. Gardner, time for the main event!” Was that the reference, or is he just being a sexist ass? Or perchance a vile combination of both?
Giving Wilk the attention he deserves (which is to say none), Will leans over to Alicia instead. “I’m not replacing you – Mrs. Ludwig just asked me to assist, that’s all.” It’s okay, Alicia nods. Sigh. Poor Alicia. “We recovered Justice Ludwig’s cellphone, which he was using at the time of the crash,” the cop continues, looking out at the jury. “That may also have contributed to the crash.” Claypool asks if there are any questions from the gallery. “Yes, sir, if I may,” Will stands, but he’s got to introduce himself first. “Only three questions, you can only ask three questions,” Alicia whispers as Claypool snorts over the idea of Mrs. Ludwig needing an entire legal team. “This is getting serious,” he jokes. Poor Will is still squinting at Alicia in disbelief.
“I, uh…” he begins, “although there was no Blutooth in Justice Ludwig’s car, his phone had a speaker function making it possible for him to make a call and not hold his cell phone without driving – isn’t that right?” Yes, agrees the cop, who’s been watching Will quizzically. “But we have no way of knowing if he was actually holding it or not.” Which works both ways. “Okay,” Will replies, clearly thinking through his phrasing in his head, “but rather than the use of a phone, or the speed he was traveling, couldn’t the presence of black ice on the road have forced Justice Ludwig to make the course correction, sending him into the guard rail, which, by its presence, implies that this is a very sharp curve in the road?” Irritable Wilk tries to follow Will’s logic, and stands to object. Habit, I guess; Claypool explains that you can’t object and it doesn’t matter if Will’s combining questions.
The Officer, whose name-tag reads Rivera, breaks down the question into its various prongs. “Guardrails are placed by the Department of Transportation for various reasons, sir, and yes, I observes black ice on the road that night, but with those road conditions, the victim should have been driving under the speed limit.” So, wait, is the cop going to say that other under conditions he shouldn’t have been driving under the speed limit? Will wants to reserve his third question; Wilk objects, and has to rephrase. “Point of clarification; can he do that?” I don’t see why not, Claypool answers. Meanwhile, he’s interested in hearing more about the black ice.
But the show isn’t, because next we’re off in the field taking pictures and looking at crime scene photos with Batman and Robyn. Robyn, by the way, is wearing a blue and red coat (superhero colors! I love it – how did I not see it was blue last week?) with a super cute teal knit cap, and she hustles back to the car to get Kalinda’s phone. “This is Robyn, Mrs. Florrick, the other investigator you hired.” She’s just so dear I can’t stand it. Wacky.
“Oh, hi, how’re you?” Alicia asks from the morgue hallway (ew, those drawers again). “Good,” smiles Robyn, “cold. Ah, I saw Kalinda’s phone ringing and I picked it up. Do you want me to ask her something?” Yes. She explains that they’re questioning the officer; do they see anything that points to an accident and not recklessness? Hold on, says Robyn, finishing her sprint toward Kalinda (quite some distance from the car) and gives her the phone without passing on the message.
Okay, I still like her, but that’s totally annoying.
As if to provide as much contrast as possible, Kalinda is dressed in all black. She takes the phone, but almost immediately asks to call Alicia back, hanging up without waiting for the answer. She’s staring up at a streetlamp, blazing yellow as the sun during the gloomy day. “Yeah, I know, I saw that,” Robyn articulates. “That’s weird, huh?”
Back in the morgue, Rivera is finishing up his explanation to the jury. “Which is why we concluded that black ice is not a likely cause.” Very well, says Claypool. Alicia stands ready to ask the third question when Wilk – either because he suffers from short term memory loss, can’t count, or because the writers want us to hate him even more than we already do – claims that Mr. Gardner has already asked all the questions for Mrs. Ludwig’s legal team. Sigh. Once she’s cleared to ask the last question, Alicia starts working through all its components in her head. “Officer Rivera,” she begins, “has the county been replacing the dimmer orange incandescent street lights on that road with the brighter LED lights, which would mean that the night of the accident, in the hundred yards preceding the bend in the road, the judge entered a darker stretch that doesn’t show the black ice as well, resulting in the judge having to make a last second course correction?” Rivera chews over the question, and consults a blue folder full of notes. “Yes,” he answers. Claypool turns down his mouth to show Alicia that he’s impressed.
Will leans over to taunt the enemy. “Looks like an accident to me.” Claypool wonders if Mr. Hobson has anything to say, and slowly he stands. “Officer Rivera, upon looking into the cell phone records did you determine the call the judge was making at the time of the accident?” Yes, he did “He called his voice mail.” And from whom did he receive voice mail messages that night? “There was only one. It was from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. Their anti-corruption unit.” Uh oh. Last question – what does that unit do? (Gee, let’s guess!) “High public officials. For ethics and corruption violations,” Rivera explains. Yeah, that was worth wasting a question on. “Mr. Coroner,” Wilk asks Claypool directly, “I’m aware that only you can introduce evidence, but it is our belief that the deceased ran his car off the road in an attempt to commit suicide.” Oh, come on, Will yells, he can’t just spin a story like that in front of the jury!
After admonishing Will, Claypool wants to know what evidence Hobson thinks he has. “Evidence regarding the judges last weeks,” Hobson offer, “where he discovered he was being investigated for bribery.”
Will explodes to his feet. “This is outrageous, Mr. Coroner,” he thunders, causing Claypool to put a finger to his lips, “Mr. Hobson is trying to void a life insurance policy. That’s the only reason that he’s arguing for suicide.” Not at all, the disingenuous rascal replies. “Like Mrs. Ludwig’s abundant legal team, I’m just trying to get to the truth here.” Indeed, none of them are without bias. Okay, cautions Claypool. ‘Whether it is or is not outrageous, I will decide. Please have your evidence ready tomorrow,” he says, and Hobson nods. “and I will review.”
I’ll say it again; uh oh.
And I’m not the only one thinking it, though not for the same reasons. “What’d I do?” Zach Florrick asks, sitting at the table in Eli’s office. Oh, nothing, nothing, Jordan says, while Eli heaps praise on Zach for his work with IT. Then he gives Jordan the go ahead look. “You and your girlfriend, you’re pretty serious, huh?” Jordan begins. Um, yeah, the teen answers, but then turns to look at Eli. “This is about Nisa?” Eli rolls his eyes, abdicating responsibility. “No,” Jordan assures him before backtracking, “Well, kinda. I remember my first girlfriend. She meant everything to me,” he emotes, trying to establish a rapport. Ha. “Nisa’s not my first girlfriend,” Zach replies, almost pityingly – something that Jordan actually ought to know, right? How public were those accusations about Becca’s abortion anyway? “Well,” says Jordan, taken aback, “that’s good to know.”
Hee. I can’t even read that without snickering. “Do you mind if I show you a tweet that your girlfriend sent out?” Eli frowns, looking up from his phone. “What tweet?” Zach wonders. “What, now? Right now? Okay,” Eli sighs into his phone, which is almost certainly not on; Jordan looks up as he opens his laptop. “They need me to change something in the stump, I’ll be right back,” Eli lies. He pats Zach on the back on his way out, holding his phone pressed flat onto his chest in the hopes that Jordan won’t notice it’s not actually on. He looks a bit like a medeval funeral sculpture, and he cracks me up. Jordan doesn’t notice the oddity of this at all.
As Eli closes the door softly, Norah walks by and hisses into his ear. “I can’t believe you’re trying to break them up!” Who, me? Never! “Do you see me doing anything?” Eli replies innocently. That’s not his game at all, but I don’t see that he’d care about Zach’s romantic life, either. He arches a brow, trying to convey his innocence. I don’t think Norah is moved.
Jordan’s twitching, looking for the right words. “See, you have to start thinking of all your relationships in relation to the campaign,” he explains. Oh no he did not! Zach recoils from the implication. “There’s already a spotlight on your mom and dad,” Jordan continues. Wow, that is cold. Outside, Eli paces. “See if they’re done,” he whispers to Norah. “I’m not seeing if they’re done,” she hisses right back. I love Norah. “Norah, I am the boss,” Eli lectures, “You are the…” And that’s when the door opens and bang, Eli springs his phone back to his ear and pretend chats again. Zach glares in his direction. “Oh, Zach, is everything all right? What’s wrong?” Zach gives him a flat look. Don’t lay it on too thick, Eli – Zach isn’t stupid. The teen tosses his bag over his shoulder and speeds out of the office. “It’s nothing, I’m fine,” he grumbles. “What is it, what did he say?” Eli asks with wide, innocent eyes, pleased with the way the plan is coming together. Silently, he pumps his fist and mouths the word “yes!”.
“Mrs. Florrick!” Mr. Agos chirps from Cary’s office as Alicia walks down the corridor. “Mr. Agos! I heard we were representing you now,” Alicia smiles. Did Cary tell her just what Mr. Agos’s end game was in D.C., and how badly everything fell apart? “Yes, well, I had to do whatever I can to help Cary,” he claims. Riiight. “Why not?” Indeed. Why not. Would that this was really your attitude all the time. “You know, I saw your name listed with the partners,” he recalls, advancing on her. “Aren’t you the same year as Cary?” Cause that’s not an awkward question or anything! “Well, we came in together, and then Cary left, and came back again, and we’re thrilled to have him,” she declares with a diplomatic smile that says very clearly, stop asking. “So he’s not on the partner track?” Dad asks in a confidential tone.
“No,” Alicia answers, disconcerted, not knowing that Cary’s walking up behind her.”No – ah, I mean yes, he definitely will be. Soon.” Dad, Cary nods quietly. “Hi, Cary,” the father nods, “I got sidetracked with Alicia. You know, it’s fantastic how quickly she made partner.” Damn, that’s mean! Somehow that one comments seems to cast aspersions all around – it’s a compliment and an insult to Alicia and all around nasty crack at Cary. I thought the office comments were supposed to be nice, but this is definitely a barb that’s intended to sting. Cary gives his father a suspicious smile. “If that doesn’t light a fire under you, I don’t know what will.” Wow, where did that come from? Alicia, too, regards Mr. Agos with suspicion.
“Kristie Jurgen,” a woman with short, ash blond curls introduces herself in the witness folding chair at the inquest. “I’ve been an investigator at the Illinois Attorney General’s office for 6 years.” “Apologies for the temperature in here, m’am, “Claypool offers, “I’ve asked for some space heaters.” He rubs his hands together to ward off the chill. And indeed, today his official Coroner’s Office fleece has sleeves. “Now, you were in charge of the investigation into Roger Ludwig,” he begins. She was. Claypool gestures at Hobson, who stands to ask what the basis for the investigation was. “We had him pegged as a bribery target.” In the gallery, Janie Ludwig looks aghast. “I see,” Wilk Hobson hurries, “did this have anything to do with participation in a Wednesday night basketball game with Mr. Gardner here?” Will frowns, exasperated.
“Yes, and no,” replies Jurgen as Will crosses his arms. “We started looking into the deceased because of the basketball games, but we continued the investigation because of Justice Ludwig’s financial troubles.” As Alicia looks on, concerned, Kristie Jurgen jerks her chin toward Janie. “He and his wife were a little over-extended on their mortgage.” Janie’s eyes widen. Oh, the things we find out under oath. “You have only one more question,” Claypool cautions Hobson – something that might have come in handy the first time anyone questioned a witness, huh? “Yes, thank you,” Hobson replies, clearly plotting a complicated question in his head. “Miss Jurgen, during your investigation of Justice Ludwig would you say that the combination of this attention, along with his obviously precarious finances, was making him depressed – depressed enough in fact to do something desperate, something like suicide?” Janie turns to Alicia in horror. “Well, he wasn’t happy about it,” Kristie stiffens, “but beyond that I couldn’t say.” Yeah, prosecutors don’t react too well when you accuse them of investigating someone to death, even if it’s true. Hobson sits down.
“Nice speech, Mr. Hobson. Way to hit the suicide theme,” Will rises to condemn, patting his opposition on the shoulder in mock admiration. Hilariously, Wilk grins as if taking Will’s words as straight up praise. It’s as if he’s relishing his bad guy image; for a tiny second there I almost enjoyed his character. “Ms. Jurgen, how many judges does the Attorney General’s Office investigate every year.” It depends, she says. They’re ever vigilant in the search for corruption. “And how many of these investigations actually bear – strike that. How many times does your investigation actually lead to charges being filed against the judge?” Thankfully few, she replies. Here comes question number three: she didn’t have any solid evidence that the Justice had accepted a bribe, did she? The answer is no, though they were working to find it.
With a very uncharacteristic lack of attention of detail, Will forges ahead with a fourth question; Claypool, of course, cuts him off. Thankfully, he’s already proved his point.
“You’re sure that you don’t want to wait for Kalinda?” Robyn pleads of Alicia and Will, who’re busy gathering up files in Will’s office. “No,” he says, “we have to get back…” he stumbles for a second, looking over at Alicia “.. the morgue.” Yeah, that’s a weird one to say. “It’s okay, Robyn,” Alicia adds, “we just need a run down on the facts.” Robyn’s apprehensive, but she brings out a little black leather notebook like Kalinda’s to consult. “Okay, um, well, the Ludwigs, they did have financial problems, and as far as we can tell, Mr. Ludwig, Justice Ludwig, kept them from his wife, the money troubles.” She punctuates her sentences with her pen. “And the bribery investigation is based on a lawyer who was accused of bribing judges.” Alicia shakes her head. “It’s okay, we don’t need to get into that.” Will shoots her a funny look for interfering. Yeah, okay, what a pitfall for a new employee that would be!
“Okay,” Robyn agrees brightly, turning a page. “The Justice’s last day.” I like her maroon jacket over the striped top – it’s quirky. This is a sad subject, though. “He had dinner with a friend, Jared Bigelow, a lobbyist.” Please tell me Cary’s dad isn’t involved somehow! “And we were able to download the Justice’s ipass, do you know what that is, from the Tri-state Tollway?” They do, it’s an electronic payment system for tolls. (The Eastern seaboard mostly uses E-Z Pass.) “The last record we can find is that he exited the tollway at 10:37 pm, but what’s strange,” she smiles, “is that the accident was at 11:42.” Why is that strange, Alicia wonders? “It took him an hour to travel four miles,” Robyn explains.
Ah ha. Will and Alicia exchange a look. “You checked where he might have stopped?” Will wonders. “There are only 2 options at the exit,” she answers. “A gas station and a motel.” Uh oh. “Let’s not update Mrs. Ludwig on this until we know for sure,” Will says, and he and Alicia head out. Alicia smiles her appreciation. “Keep up the good work.”
“The application fee for a marijuana dispensary increases from 2 to 5 thousand, that’s good,” Mr. Agos tells the five attorneys arranged on the other side of the big conference table, “but the license fee ought to increase as well, don’t you think?” Cary – who’s seated in the middle, across from his father – looks up. “I didn’t want to get greedy,” he sighs. It’s good for the state budget, isn’t it, Jeffrey Agos replies. “I think,” Cary declares nervously, hesitating a little, “that it might begin to seem obvious that the initiative isn’t exactly genuine.” His father looks up through his glasses; Cary shrugs. “Dispensary locations to be at least 300 yards away from the nearest school; we should change that to 500 hundred,” the lobbyist reads, stabbing his notes with his pen. Wow, he really just wants to write this himself, huh? So why didn’t he just give the parameters and tell Cary to write it up in legalese? “We’re the 3rd largest school district in the country, if you make it five hundred, …” “It makes it more difficult to find a location for a shop,” Jeffrey finishes. “It makes it transparent that the law isn’t about medical marijuana, it’s about protecting your market,” Cary clarifies.
Oh, snap. Wow. Again, I’m sure he’s right, it could be smart advice, but would he dare say these things if it weren’t his father? I mean, kudos if he would, but damn.
Jeffrey takes off his glasses, always a bad sign. “Do we have some problem here?” he wonders. The other lawyers look to Cary. “I don’t think so,” he says. “Maybe we should ask your… partner to sit in, help supervise?” That’s a nice threat. Cary clamps down on his bottom lip. “Sure,” he bites out, “if that’s what you want.” I think I am going to expire from all the Oedipal sparring here. Yikes.
So instead, let’s see what we can find out at the nice, classy motel. The one with the monster letters reading MOTEL over the driveway. Pretty. Kalinda beats Robyn to the desk, both of them walking fast. “Hi,” she says, and clerk jumps to his feet. “Would you two like a room?” he asks, and I choke on my drink. Outstanding, especially given that Kalinda looks back at Robyn in total surprise. Robyn smiles. “Ah, no. I just would like to ask you some questions,” says Kalinda. Robyn begins immediately organizing the flyers on the desk; once again, excellent. It’s astounding, isn’t it, that the show hasn’t been able to give Kalinda a satisfying romantic pairing, because Archie Panjabi works so damn well with a partner. The look she gives Robyn for this neat freak moment? Priceless. “Am I in some kind of trouble?” the clerk fears. “I don’t think so,” Kalinda answers (smart, keep him motivated to please you). “Were you working here on the night of March the second?”
He gives Robyn the most fearful look, as if she’s going to report him for leaving the desktop messy. “Um, I work every night except Tuesdays and Sundays, so, um…” I love that peppy Robyn makes him more nervous than Kalinda. “So that’s a yes. Do you remember if you saw this man that night?” He’s frozen. “I’m not supposed to give information out about our guests unless its to the police,” he says, petrified. “Are you the police?” No, Kalinda says, and he looks at her for a moment, vibrating with indecision. Then he looks back over his shoulder and you can see he’s going to spill it.
“Sure,” he says, enjoying the gossip, pitching his voice low, “he was here. He had a room. Paid cash.” Was he with anyone? “He checked in alone, but when he left, he was with a woman.” Ah. Indeed. “A blond woman. They were arguing.” Did you hear what they were yelling, Robyn joins the conversation. “No. He got into his car, she got into her SUV, they both left. ” His gaze twitches from one woman to the other. “Do you remember anything about the SUV?” He looks up and to the left, recalling. “It was nighttime, all I could see was that it was a dark, four door, I think…” then his mouth drops open. “Oh, it had one of those, um, those license plates.” Which license plates? “The specialty ones! I, um, I didn’t see the number, but it had a bird on it,” he recalls, shaking his head wildly. Kalinda smiles and thanks him; he watches them go, thrilled.
Looking very feline in leopard print, Diane lowers herself elegantly into the chair next to Cary’s desk. “It’s hard to work with a relative, isn’t it?” she says ruefully. Ooooh, has she worked with relatives? Man, Diane needs a more personal storyline. I’d love to hear more about her backstory. “Not really,” Cary replies, suspicious, dropping the paper in his hand, “Why?” Oh, don’t pretend, Cary. Any one of those other lawyers could have told her. “Your Dad,” she says, a pitying smile on her face. “It must be hard when… personal feelings … enter into legal work.” Ugh. How embarrassing. “Makes everything a big emotional stew.”
“Did I do something?,” he wonders. “No, oh no,” she denies it, “I just think, um…” and here she crosses her arms, considering. “We want to give the Emends team everything they want. Defer to them.” He nods in understanding. Deferential is definitely not what he’s been. “It’s a good client to keep happy.”
“Did my Dad talk to you?,” he asks. She won’t say. “That’s not important, Cary.” He smiles, knowing that he did. “I should keep closer tabs on this anyway.” This time Cary won’t look at his boss. “What did he say?” he asks. “Nothing. Cary. Everything’s fine. I’d just like to sit in on the next meeting. If you don’t mind.” Ah, Diane. If you actually wanted him to think everything was fine, you would have just asked to sit in on the next meeting without the extended, sympathetic preamble. You wanted to set him on his guard. “No, I don’t,” Cary replies, properly deferential. “That would be good.” Good, says Diane, smiling. “Keep up the good work.” Cary does not smile when she leaves.
“Last Saturday night?” a burly man asks Kalinda as they walk between tanker trucks, Robyn scrambling behind and snow blowing around them. Yes, she says, at the gas station off route 2 down the street from the motel. “The attendant said he couldn’t see the road because your tanker was blocking his view.” Man, those tires are enormous. “So who’re you two, Cagney and Lacey?” Ha. “There was a crash a few minutes later. We’re just trying to find out if anyone saw anything,” Robyn explains pleasantly. “Sure I saw something,” the driver says, smirking over his white beard. (Talk of a beard probably implies Santa, but no; the beard is close cut, and he has a wide jaw and wears a knit cap, more like a fisherman.) “What do I get for telling you?” Robyn makes the goofiest face. “A clear conscience that you did the right thing?” she offers. I just want to hug her. “Yeh heh. What else?” he asks lasciviously, clearly causing her to vomit a little in her mouth. With a sour expression, Kalinda walks away, then turns and crooks a coy finger at the driver. He smirks again, and follows her, swaggering. He bends at her beckoning, and she whispers something in his ear.
He backs away, suddenly much less excited. Robyn squints at them in confusion, but his back is turned to her. He walks back, head down, shoulders hunched, looking very much like a chastened puppy. “I didn’t see the crash, but I saw the cars.” Oh ho! Robyn doesn’t hide her surprise. “Uh, cars, there was more than one?” Yeah. “There was a sedan in front, and a black SUV behind it.” He looks at Kalinda for – what? Absolution? Permission to leave? “And it came up fast, lights flashing, honking the horn, it was totally out of control.” Wow. Robyn has him officially confirm that this was the black SUV. Wow. “Yes,” he says, still looking to Kalinda. She clears her throat. “And I’m sorry,” he adds. “For the way I talked to you before.” She smiles to herself and to Kalinda, clearly very impressed. “That’s okay,” she grins, accepting the apology.
“Who’s the woman?” Alicia wonders. She’s standing, beautiful in black against Will’s office windows; he sits, listening intently to the speaker phone on his office coffee table. “We don’t know. All we know is that she’s blond, probably 40s, and she was arguing with Ludwig.” Kalinda and Robyn sit in Kalinda’s car as they explain. “Sounds like a jilted mistress,” Will guesses. ‘Well,” Robyn starts, “we can’t say definitively.” Well, Will theorizes to Alicia, they had an argument. ‘Maybe he broke it off, she wasn’t happy, she chases after him, drives him off the road.” Maybe. “Do you believe that?” Alicia looks down at her boss, curious. “It’s not what I believe, it’s what the coroner believes. He’s already intrigued by suicide,” which, hmm, might be supported if the mistress were the one to leave him – although that wouldn’t really explain her then chasing him down honking and flashing her lights, so I guess Will’s scenario is more plausible. “Let’s see if we can intrigue him with murder.” I can’t tell if Alicia is more repelled or convinced by this strategy; I think the former. “Kalinda,” Will refocuses on the phone conversation, “line up this motel clerk as a witness, and we’ll find some precedent for admitting it at an inquest.” Batman and Robyn nod at each other; message received. “Okay, good,” Kalinda says, and she shuts off her Blutooth.
Robyn backtracks a minute. “What did you tell that guy?,” she begs. Kalinda buckles up but doesn’t fess up. “Come on,” Robyn coaxes. “Tell me!” Kalinda bites her lip, hiding a smile, and all we see is the car driving away.
I. Love. This. Pairing.
Lockhart/Gardner is empty and dark. The conference room is empty. The halls are empty. Ah, but of course there’s a light on – it’s Alicia, burning the proverbial midnight oil. She seems pleased with something she’s just found on her computer. She grabs her purse, and makes her way down the hall, peering into Will’s office. He’s still there too. He looks up, notices her looking; she turns away, uncomfortable at being caught staring, and walks into his office. “What did you find?” he asks, closing his laptop. “AML v. Hellman,” she beams, sitting down in front of his desk in her best pleased-school-girl manner. “Yes,” he nods, gesturing at his laptop. “That’s what I have.” She slumps in surprise. “You do not,” she smiles. Actually, he really doesn’t, and she can go back to be pleased with herself. Also, she needs to explain it.
“Lawsuit over a biased inquest. Insufficient evidence,” she leans forward avidly. “It’ll make the coroner so afraid of a lawsuit, he won’t dare pass on murder evidence.” Good, Will says. Somehow I thought this was going to be cooler than a blackmail enabling tool. “You argue it,” he adds. She stands, happy to do so. Why did she bring her purse to do this? So weird. Will leans back in his chair, eyes narrowed. ‘Will Peter have a problem if I go to the Chicago Shamrock Dinner?” Alicia’s mouth rounds with surprise. “Will he have a problem with it? No. Are you going?” He squirms, half shrugging. “We got a table. You coming?” Yes. He stares at her. She stares back.
“Okay,” she replies quickly, and rushes out of the room.
“I don’t wanna be wary of you, Alicia,” Will calls out. Might be too late for that wish, buddy boy. You know what they say about unringing bells. She turns back. “I know,” she agrees, “I don’t like it.” God, I miss the days when they were really friends, when she was actually able to relax with him. It was so nice to see her relax. It’s been ages. “It feels like we’re avoiding each other,” he says, not looking up until after the words are out of his mouth. “I know,” she says again. “I liked it when we were friends.” Sigh. “Me too,” Will says. Me three! He gives her his puppy dog eyes. “Then let’s do that.” She smiles. “Okay,” she nods. And then she lapses, staring at him as if hypnotized.
“Okay,” she says, awakening to herself. “Goodnight.” She bounces off, or her hair bounces, anyway; he watches her progress through the hall. Oh, you two.
Some time later, Alicia closes her laptop, gathers her briefcase and coat and heads out. She catches Will in the hallway, leaving exactly at the same time; she catches herself in time, however, so she can hang back and pant, stricken, in the shadows. She waits, listening for the ding of the elevator doors. She screws up her mouth. The papers in her hand actually shake. Should she go? Should she keep hiding? What will happen if she does go? Would an elevator ride be too much for her to resist? Ding! She starts to walk. She arrives in reception just in time to see the doors close. She slows.
And then she’s home, walking through her front door. (Her front door! The elevator! This show is so fetishist about entry ways!) Nisa’s gathering up her own things from the kitchen counter. “Nisa, I didn’t know you were here,” Alicia smiles pleasantly. I wonder how late it is? It felt really late, given that no one else was at that workaholic office – much too late to be studying at your boyfriend’s house. I’m just leaving, the girl says thickly, tossing her bag over her shoulder. She walks past Alicia with her head down. “Nisa, is something wrong?” Alicia asks with soft worry in her voice. Nisa doesn’t look up until she reaches the door, not a good sign. “It’s nothing, I’m just – I – good night, Mrs. Florrick,” she settles on before squeezing out the door. Oh!
“Hey Mom,” Grace calls over her shoulder as she heads to the kitchen. “Grace, do you know what’s wrong with Nisa?” Alicai asks, following her daughter into the kitchen. As it happens, she does. ‘Zach broke up with her,” she explains looking back over her shoulder. “He – wait, I thought they were doing good,” Alicia replies, very concerned, dropping her things on one of the kitchen stools. Grace is fishing for a drink in the fridge. “Well, the campaign told Zach to cool it,” Grace adds. Alicia takes off her teal coat, her tone dangerous. “The campaign?” she repeats. “You know, the whole picture thing.” Grace drinks something bright red from a glass bottle.
“Okay, Grace, talk to me as if I were not omniscient.” Oooh, I love it. I’m so going to use that one on my own kids, should it ever be appropriate. “Well, there’s a picture of Zach and Nisa,” Grace breaks it down, screwing the lid back on her drink. “And it’s with her Muslim parents. It looked like it might hurt Dad.” That is one angry look. “According to who?” Alicia asks, and her tone is even more dangerous. “Eli?” Grace shakes her head. “Jordan.” Alicia rears her own head back in surprise. “He sat down with Zach, and then Zach broke up with Nisa.” Alicia huffs. Eli’s evil plan is working perfectly; Jordan is already dead, and he just doesn’t know it yet. “Why does everyone think it’s alright to parent my children,” she wonders, shaking her head, infuriated.
She’s wearing that same expression – lips pressed together tightly – when she bursts into the campaign office the following morning. “Alicia!” Eli trills as she storms into his office. “Not now, Eli,” she replies, stalking off in searching of her prey. (Norah, by the way, is wearing this completely awesome aqua and gold kaftan. Really pretty. She’s looking more than a bit alarmed, and justly so. Alicia’s hostile intentions are steaming out of her ears.)
And, there he is, she’s found him. “How dare you counsel my son on his personal life without my permission,” Alicia storms. “Mrs. Florrick, I don’t think that you…” little Jordan stumbles for a moment before sweeping a hand toward another office. “Why don’t we talk in here?” No, she snaps, her righteous indignation making her focused and clear and utterly unconcerned with who sees it. She stares him down until he twitches. “If this is about the Muslim photo,” he says, “Zach asked if the photo was affecting the campaign and I told him the truth.” Right. He walked into your office on a whim and just asked that? Oh, dude. Blaming Zach is not the way to go here. “I said that we were taking the hit. That’s it. I didn’t tell him what to do.” LIE!
“He’s seventeen years old, and adores his father” Alicia bites out. Her bearing is so queenly, her head so far up in the air, it’s a wonder he’s not more of a sniveling mess. “What did you think he would do?” Just what he did. That was exactly what he wanted. “Mrs. Florrick, with all due respect, it was only a matter of time before this became a serious problem for your husband.” And it still could be, couldn’t it? But that’s not the point here. The point is, you take the problem to Peter and Alicia, not directly to Zach. Stupid, insensitive mistake. “That is not the issue,” she snaps. “You stepped way over the line. Don’t you ever approach my son again. Ever.” He actually steps back, trembling. She turns and storms away.
Eli, who’s been staring balefully at Jordan in the background, follows her. “Alicia. I am so sorry. I warned him about the family issues, but I think his other campaigns ran differently.” He raises his eyebrows, giving her a conspiratorial glance as if they’re both in this together. Bad idea, Eli. Step away from the angry lion, not toward her. She’s too mad – and she’s too smart. For a moment, she just stares him down.
“Okay, Eli,” she says, compressing her lips, but keeping her tone soft,”I don’t know what the game is here, but if you’re using me? Stop.” Eli closes his eyes, sensing his mistake. “Okay?” she asks. Okay, he nods. She spears him with another shrewd look, and walks away.
“Why don’t you give it a rest, Mr. Hobson,” Will’s voice can barely – barely – be heard over the chaos. Wilk says something about obfuscation, which is awesome because how often does that word come up on television? He has a good vocabulary for a troglodyte. Claypool calls for them all to stop talking: one at a time, please, children! Hobson (Claypool calls him Hobbs) goes first. “Mr. Gardner is advocating this witness to push the ridiculous theory that Justice Ludwig was murdered,” he over enunciates. It’s either mumbles or awkward precision with this guy. The motel clerk huddles in the background, looking rather like a kidnapping victim whose captors are arguing over his fate. Alicia, of course, steps up with her Hellman precedence. “The coroner in Hellman was found biased because he only entertained one proposition of a case.” Alarmed, Claypool puts his reading glasses on. “Fairness demands that a jury not only hears evidence as to suicide…” Hobson cuts her off. “There is simply no foundation…” he begins, waving his hands, but Claypool cuts him off curtly, and Hobson knows he’s lost. The coroner strums his fingers against his lips (a surprisingly childish gesture), finishes looking over the Hellman documents, closes the folder, and the bailiff.
“Danny, you can bring in the jury. We’ll hear from your witness, Mr. Gardner, Mrs. Florrick.” Wilk’s face, let us say, does not show evidence of good sportsmanship. “I better go prepare her,” Alicia tells Will, handing him her paperwork.” Yes, good luck with that, Will replies, not nearly as snarky as it sounds on paper.
She does the telling before they get to the hall, so what we see is Janie, hand to her chest, gasping “gosh!” “I’m sorry,” Alicia apologizes sincerely, following her speechless client. “Janie, I hate to ask you think, but do you have any idea who this blond woman might be?” Janie looks horrified. “What, the one that my husband was screwing in a motel room? No!” Wow is Alicia sorry she asked. “I’m sorry,” she apologizes again. “I…” Janie puts her hand over her mouth, then apologizes herself for taking her distress out on Alicia. “It’s just that I’ve lost him and his love all in one week,” she declares, breathy and high pitched. “I don’t know what I have left!” Alicia nods in understanding. “His debts, I suppose?” Whether from sympathy or a flashback, Alicia looks gutted.
“Is everything all right?” Cary asks, walking quickly into Diane’s office. Jeffrey Agos is standing by her desk. “Well, your father has some unfortunate news about the Emends Pharmaceutical account,” she explains gravely. She’s wearing a skirt and top in contrasting textures; Cary’s suit is light gray, his father’s dark. That can’t be an accident. “I was just telling Diane that I owe your firm an apology,” he nods at the name partner, “but a decision has been made to go with Jennings Albright.” Cary turns to Diane, making his confusion plain. “You’re pulling your business?” Dad looks at the floor. “Management has expressed concerns about Lockhart/Gardner’s history of pursuing big pharma with class actions.” “I have assured Mr. Agos that our past work won’t impede our total commitment in this matter,” she replies, and Cary brings his shoulders up in agreement. “Of course not, there’s no conflict here,” Cary adds.
“That’s the very point I made to the board, but the CEO thinks that the optics are wrong. This is my mistake,” Daddy apologizes, shaking his head. “I should have prepared them.” Cary stares at his father, his brows contracted fiercely. “Is there any way for us to resolve this?” Diane asks. “I’m afraid not,” Jeffrey finishes. He gives Cary a significant look and repeats his apology before heading out.
Cary’s stunned. “Diane, this is a complete surprise,” he announces, shaking his head as if she must know it already. “It is,” she says, sitting, “for me too.”
As Alicia walks through the yellow morgue hallway (yuck, seriously, just writing that gives me the creeps), she sees Wilk Hobson talking to a tall red haired woman wearing a short, colorful trench coat, and I’m unreasonably thrilled until I realize her hair is too short to be Elsbeth’s. Oh well. I guess we can’t have her every week. So who is this mystery companion? Alicia asks as she walks into the gallery, but Will doesn’t know either.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, as you know we are now considering not only a theory of accidental death, and also a theory of suicide, but potentially of homicide. Which is why Assistant State’s Attorney of Lake County, Shirley Mann, has joined us for the duration.” Shirley, of course, is the tall red head. “Thank you, Mr. Claypool,” she responds, “At this time, if possible, I’d like to ask a few questions of Mrs. Ludwig.”
Standing, Will expresses his concern; how could her testimony be relevant? “I’m not sure either,” Claypool replies, “but the ASA has an absolute right to join in these proceedings.” Well, that was a can of worms we probably didn’t need to open. Ignorance of the rules bites us in the ass again. “Mrs. Ludwig, please.” Alicia whispers instructions quickly: “keep your answers short and declarative.” Ms. Mann begins by expressing her polite sorrow for Janie’s loss, and apologizes for questioning her. She has a very precise delivery, very self-possessed and professional. Almost professorial, even. Janie, who’s sitting in front of a porcelain sink (yuck) nods. “Now, according to the statement you gave the police, you were home the night of March 2nd, is that correct?”
Janie’s answers seem rehearsed, which is odd considered she had no time to prepare them. Yes, she stayed home that night. She hadn’t felt well enough to go to the dinner Roger attended. She was home until she was notified by the police at 12:20 am. “Now, as Coroner Claypool has explained, this is not a courtroom. But you still are under oath.” Uh oh. Why is she saying that? “Do you wish to stand by that statement?” When Janie’s only answer is to wring her hands, Alicia turns to Will, who stands up. “Mr. Claypool, I’m advising my client to invoke her 5th amendment right not to testify.”
There’s a buzz around the room at these words, and no wonder. As this show has aptly demonstrated, no one looks guiltier than someone who pleads the fifth. Claypool calms the room, and turns to a panic stricken Janie, who stops staring at the jury long enough to plead the fifth. “Mrs. Ludwig, this is an affadavit from your neighbor stating that he heard you leave on the night in question,” Shirley Mann holds aloft a maroon folder and drops it onto Claypool’s desk, “shortly before ten, and that according to him, you didn’t return until almost midnight. Mrs. Ludwig, where did you go between 10 and midnight on March 2nd?” More calmly this time, she repeats the mantra. “On counsel’s advice, I am invoking my fifth amendment right not to answer.” Alicia closes her eyes at the damage of those words.
“So you did know about the affair,” Alicia asks, back at the office. “I suspected,” Janie replies delicately. So that’s why you lied to the police about where you were, Will guesses. Yes. She’d been suspicious about the dinner, even thought about calling Bigelow (the lobbyist he was supposed to be having dinner with) . “But I knew I wouldn’t get a straight answer out of him. He and Roger were very close, and he’d covered for Roger before.” This wasn’t’ the first affair, Will wonders. Janie shakes her head, humiliated.
Sensitive to the other woman’s situation, Alicia changes the topic, asking where Janie’d gone. “I drove to the restaurant. When I saw he wasn’t there I drove around to a couple of places I thought he might be, and then I just drove around angry for a while and then I went home. Then the phone rang and everything changed.” It’s hard to imagine the emotional whiplash of being that betrayed and angry, perhaps worked up for a confrontation, and then to have the police come to you with tragedy instead. Alicia notices Jeffrey Agos and his camel colored coat walking through the halls again; hmm. Why would he be here now? “I’m sorry, I should have told you,” Janie apologizes, “I thought that it wasn’t important, and I was embarrassed.” Yes, Alicia gets that too.
“Did I just lose this?” Janie asks Will. “It’s not about losing the insurance money anymore,” Alicia explains gently, “You’re in danger of being arrested.” Janie’s pretty eyes widen in shock and fear.
“Diane!” Jeffrey calls out. “It’s good to see you.” Diane’s very surprised to see him again on the same day that he backed out of their deal. I wasn’t expecting you, she tells him. We received the official goodbye call from your general counsel. “Look, about that,” he says. “I may have overstepped a bit, trying to help my son,” oh, yes, clearly, “and so mea culpa. Parents are blind when it comes to their children.” Indeed, Diane smiles, as Mr. Agos places a hand over his heart. “What I’m saying is that I think there may be a way for us to … salvage this.” He waggles his head and gives her a conspiratorial smile. Iiiiinteresting. If they could only get a few more partners on the case so that the CEO didn’t think their business was being handled by a lowly 4th year…
And that’s when Cary walks a short man with curly gray hair into Diane’s reception area. “Diane, I’d like you to meet Dale Dazo, the CEO of Emends Pharmaceuticals.” Oh, snap! It’s a pleasure, she says as they shake. “Cary happened to catch me at lunch,” Dazo explains. He’s been telling me about your firm’s lobbying work. And your connection to the SA’s office. Very impressive.” He and Diane exchange pleased smiles. “There was some nervousness from one of our VPs,” he recalls, “but I think we’d be fools to go anywhere else.” After a disbelieving beat, Jeffrey is all smiles. “I couldn’t agree more,” he says. Diane’s happy to hear that. “Dale, Dad, welcome to Lockhart/Gardner,” Cary declares. “Again.” Everyone laughs, but Diane looks at Cary with new respect.
“Now, I am impressed, Cary – that was a remarkable save,” Jeffrey enthuses as the two Agos men walk out of Diane’s office. “And you’re good with Dazo! That is not easy.” Dad clutches his son by the arm. Oh, I don’t know, demurs the younger man. He thinks old Dad’s doing pretty good too. Oh, it’s all smiles until somebody loses an eye.” You know, we could work together,” Dad suggests. There’s a beat of silence. It seem that Mr. Dazo has other ideas; he wants Cary to work directly with their in-house counsel. “Without any middle men, you understand?” Cary presses the elevator button; Jeffrey looks stricken.
“He didn’t say that,” Jeffrey worries. Cary looks at his father, assessing. “He did,” he shrugs, hands in his pockets. “You hold a grudge, don’t you?” Mr. Agos replies, clearly one to talk. No, Cary responds quickly, and then hangs his head. “Dad, no. I’m too busy to hold grudges.” He gives him one last look. “Take care. Thanks for the business.”
Damn, Cary. So impressive.
“Janie Ludwig said you and her husband were good friends?” Kalinda asks Jared Bigelow, walking through his Pottery Barn catalog-like home with Robyn in tow. They were. “Bethany and I were devastated.” Not to be rude, but you’d think that he’d still be devastated – it can’t be more than a week ago at this point, right? They’ve arrives in the kitchen, where Jared picks up a whistling tea kettle. Had he invited anyone else to the dinner? Nope, Janie didn’t want to come. “It was just us, catching up.” Um, we mean anyone besides Mrs. Ludwig, Robyn asks, and this time (funny, that) he looks up from the hot water, alive to the nuance.
“No, no, no, nuh,” he says, walking the kettle over to the sink, “Janie and Roger had some rough spots but that was a long time ago.” He raises his hand, but keeps his eyes on the floor as he walks . Interesting. “There was a colleague he was seeing about a year ago, but we sat him down, and he broke it off.” We who? Kalinda looks the question at Robyn. “He’s been a faithful man ever since.” This colleague, Robyn asks, was she a blond? No, why?
And that’s when blond Bethany Bigelow walks in the door. Oops. As her husband explains Robyn and Kalinda’s presence, she hands off a thick paper grocery bag. The two investigators scent prey. “They think Roger might have been murdered,” Jared adds. “Oh my gosh,” she winces. Indeed.
The two women hustle out of the house, where they find a black vehicle with a cardinal on it; the unique license plate they’ve been looking for? It’s a good bet. “What’d you want to do?” Robyn wonders. Kalinda looks around for a second, then backs up to the car, leans on it, and kicks the back bumper with her stiletto heeled boots, setting off the car alarm and making poor law abiding Robyn squirm. Quickly, she scoots over next to Kalinda, leans on the car and mirrors her mentor’s pose, arms crossed, trying to look cool. Awesome.
Bethany Bigelow walks out of her house, clicking with her keys to stop the blaring, neighbor-annoying alarm. When she sees the two investigators, she slows, wraps her arms around her torso. She looks guilty of something, and with those hideous blond bangs (I know it’s on trend, but hiding your eyebrows like that seems so untrustworthy) we can guess at least part of it. She keeps looking back at the house, as if to make sure her clearly trusting husband doesn’t see.
“What?” she snaps. “You were sleeping with Justice Ludwig,” Kalinda declares, as if it doesn’t admit of a question, “and you argued with him at a motel the night he was murdered.” Go away, she answers, half pleading, half instructing. Oh, so why don’t I just ask your husband, Kalinda offers; Bethany reaches out a hand to stop her. “Yes, Roger and I were seeing each other,” she admits, making me want to vomit. Seeing each other? Is that what you call it when you’re married to his best friend? What a mild term for a life-wrecking act. “But I has nothing to do with his death! We fought at the motel because I was breaking up with him. After that, I drove straight home.” Again, lady, you say it like you’re dating and it’s all normal. When Kalinda asks if anyone can confirm the timing, she offers up her husband as an alibi. “But it will destroy my marriage,” she admonishes the investigators. Is that what you tell yourself, that it would be exposure rather than the affair which would destroy your marriage? I could argue you’ve already destroyed it. “Please?”
Robyn takes pity on her. ‘We know there was another vehicle involved,” she says. We do? Well, okay, we know there was a black SUV involved, but I guess she doesn’t own the only such vehicle in the Chicago area. “Did you see anyone else that night?” Bethany rubs her lips, thinking about it, and I can’t help thinking that she’s wearing baby pink lip gloss that she’s much too old for. But maybe that’s because I can’t stand her? “Driving the other way, I passes an SUV. Swerving. It was headed in the same direction as Roger.” Hmm. “And you didn’t report it?” Robyn wonders. “I couldn’t,” Bethany justifies herself. “Janie’s a friend of mine.” God save me from friends like her. Robyn and Kalinda exchange rich, expressive glances.
“He was driven off the road?” Wilk wonders, confused. He stands in front of Coroner Claypool alongside Alicia and Will. “Yes, by a drunk driver,” Alicia explains. “With .10 blood alcohol.” Laughing superciliously, Wilk calls this a “new new theory” and “proposes we skip the preliminaries and just get to the man on the grassy knoll.” Ha ha, you’re so funny, you vile troll. (Ugh. Must cut down on the judge-y this episode!) “Yeah, before we get to that, Mr. Hobson, I need to hear this one out.” His name is Landon Boyce, Alicia continues, handing over a file. “20 minutes after Judge Ludwig crashed his car, Landon Boyce was pulled over for a DUI on the same road.” So why didn’t the police make this connection, Hobson sneers with a touch of tough guy in his tone. “The Lake County police never mentioned this DUI because they didn’t know about it,” Will shoots right back. “The arrest happened two miles into Cook County.” Ah.
Coroner Claypool is intrigued, and starts reading through the folder. “The only thing this proves is that some guy on the same stretch of highway got hit with a DUI. There’s nothing to suggest that he drove the judge of the road.” Well, not yet. “Mr. Claypool,” Alicia adds, “we’d like to submit the EDR from Mr. Boyce’s SUV.” She hands over another folder, leaving Claypool stutters. The what? “Event data recorder,” Alicia explains. Wonderfully, Will whips out a folder for Wilk’s edification without even looking at his adversary. “It’s like a little black box for a car. At 11:42, the exact moment of Justice Ludwig’s accident, the EDR shows Mr. Boyce’s SUV swerved and braked hard, coming to a full stop before accelerating again.” Wow, that is some handy information. We found the smoking gun! “Justice Ludwig swerved to avoid being hit, and crashed into the guardrail.”
Wilk Hobson looks like he’s bitten into a lemon. Claypool, the impartial scientist, sounds delighted. “Well, Mr. Hobson,” he chirps. “Of all the theories from both sides, this is the first one with something resembling hard evidence. I’m gonna let the jury hear it!” Wilk looks like he’s going to twitch his nose off.
And there’s Janie, staring at the two million dollar check in her hands. “I never expected them to settle,” she says, wearing a markedly happier the deer-in-the-headlights look. “Certainly not for the full amount.” Will and Alicia stand before her, clearly pleased. ‘Wilk Hobson couldn’t risk it going to a jury,” Will shakes his head. I don’t get why an inquest has a jury at all – isn’t it a fact finding mission? I’d have thought it would be all scientists. “If they’d ruled it was an accident, Wolfram and Bland would have had to pay double.” Wait, then why did we settle? Not to sound greedy, but it was obviously an accident! If the 2 mil policy was for accidents, then why would an accident result in a different pay out?
“We’re just sorry about everything that was laid out on the table,” Alicia adds, looking splendid in a tailored teal jacket. I’ll say. “There’s no need to be sorry about the truth,” Janie replies, which sounds so glib I can’t decide if she’s right or not. In the end, the real new information about his infidelity they found they almost assuredly did not pass on. At any rate, the hurt done to Janie wasn’t done by anyone at Lockhart/Gardner. “Victory all around,” Will leans in to Alicia as Janie leaves, dignity in tact. Indeed. Will he see her at the Chicago Shamrock Dinner? He will.
“You do know it’s white tie, right?” she asks. His face goes blank. “What?” Ha ha.
Is that the Hulk being tossed into a box with some folder? A Hulk doll? “What’s going on here?” Eli bursts in on Jordan, a fussy Victorian retainer in his white tie and tails. “I’m goin!” Jordan answers. Not to the ball in that hoodie, you’re not; Eli too is oh so curious where. “Come on,” Jordan wants Eli to stop the pretense, “you set me up and I didn’t even see it coming!” So true. “Nicely played.” I don’t know what you’re talking about, Eli pretends primly. “Peter relieved me. Got involved in the family business, so, he asked me to take a step back.” Which apparently really means he’s fired? Or he can’t accept a demotion? “Gosh. That’s terrible,” Eli sniffs. “All I wanted to do was help him win, Eli,” Jordan sighs. I’ll give him this; Jordan’s a better liar than Eli.
Eli just snorts. “Yeah. That’s all you wanted to do.” He purses his lips, waiting for Jordan to just admit it already. “Some people are too busy with politics in the field to want politics in the office, Eli.” Oh, right. Give it up, Jordan. I’m sure such people exist, but you are not one of them. Plus, you’re just dumb about reading people; how did you not ask Peter what the rules were about his family involvement? You were not only bad at your job, but in the end, your lack of insight into both Eli and Peter (and especially Alicia) did you in. Eli puts up a hand. “Hold on,” he says, “let me write that down.” Ha ha ha! Goodbye, Eli, Jordan grins, slinging a his messenger bag over his shoulder. “You’re going to die a sad and lonely old man cause you don’t trust anyone.” Well, he’ll always have Peter. “The Florrick campaign thanks you for your contribution. Goodbye,” Eli finishes. Oh, he’s just so very pleased with himself.
“Wow. You look like a princess,” Grace tells her mother, who has arrived in the kitchen in a stunning red gown with fitted bodice with an asymmetrically folded, strapless top. She does look like a princess, although it surprised me a little that they’ve picked another red dress for her, since the only other time we’ve seen her in a gown (back in VIP Treatment) it was a red one. Not that she doesn’t look absolutely stunning in red, of course, but let’s be honest. We’ve all seen Julianna Margulies at pretty much every possible awards show, and she looks stunning in everything. Also, she looks so tiny – and so buff; we never get to see her arms, which is something of a waste because they are insane toned. The mom clutches her sides, looking surprised and pleased by the compliment. “Well this was 60% off, so thank you!” she thrills, missing the point a little bit.
Zach walks up behind her. “Nice, Mom,” he says, and she looks so very touched; her high ponytail swings as she turns to look at him. “Grandma Veronica called,” he adds, walking around the kitchen island. We see her from behind; the back of the dress is really low. “She says she’s stopping by before her St. Patrick’s day party” he finishes, laughing. “Ooo, that should be fun,” Alicia replies sarcastically. “You want us to hide the alcohol?” Grace asks. Ha! “It’s St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago,” Zach observes, “hiding it won’t make a difference.” The Florrick ladies wish each other fun and love for the evening, and Grace and her cute scarf run away. So Alicia turns her maternal gaze on her first born.
“What happened with Nisa?” asks Alicia. “It’s okay, Mom,” her son replies, who seems to be quite proud of his maturity. “No,” she counters. “The campaign – these campaigns” – good point, because it’s pretty much a perma-campaign – “they…” Then she changes tacks, steps close to him and puts her hands on the top of his shoulders. “You date whoever you want,” she instructs.
Smiling, he ducks his head, touched. “It really is okay, Mom. I was going to break up with her anyways.” What? Is that the truth? After that whole conversation at the beginning of the episode? “No, Zach,” Alicia looks into his eyes, not believing a word, “the campaign will survive.” But no. He’s insistent. “Seriously, I was going to break up with her.” Dropping her hands, Alicia steps back and tips her head to the side, looking quizzically at her son. “College is right around the corner and she wanted to get more serious.” Well, I’ll be damned. Was he lying, or did she just convince him that it wasn’t going to work? Or that it would be too much work constantly reassuring her that he was serious enough? I can see that last… Alicia looks rueful, but less worried. “Go to your party. I’m fine.”
She walks to the door, gathers her coat, picks up her keys, and turns to wave, elegant in her gown with its side bustle. Zach waves back. She looks at him fondly, but with a touch of sorrow, too, as if she is saying goodbye to something larger here, to his childhood, perhaps, and then walks out her door.
So, alright. This was mostly a filler episode, the set up for what’s sure to be a blockbuster next week; I know they can’t all be gasp-inducing, and it’s nice to pay more attention to the supporting players. Or some of the vast cast of supporting players, anyway. I keep saying it, but Robyn is a delightful addition and I love her work with Kalinda. I’m a little stunned that we dispatched of Maddie with such little fanfare, that more was not made of the primary, but I guess the writers must have considered that Peter really beat in her in the debate (a la The West Wing) and afterward the primary itself was something of a foregone conclusion. So is that three recurring characters knocked off the show at once, or will we see her again somewhere on the political scene? Maybe even at the Dinner. Hmm. I wonder if they’re going to show us the state nominating convention, or Peter picking a running mate? They have lieutenant governors in Illinois, right? I can’t see it being Maddie (will we even see her again?) but I think he’d be smart to pick a woman. Good balance. (I suppose her day job and the bankruptcy probably rule Diane out, but how much would you love that? I’d vote for the Florrick/Lockhart ticket.)
Now if the primary was an after thought, I certainly enjoyed the main political event – getting to see Eli dispatch useless, tone deaf Jordan. He was almost flawless in exploiting the Nisa situation to his advantage. Good job, Mr. Gold. And good riddance to the no-so boy and not-so wonder, Jordan! I can’t help thinking he was a wasted opportunity have a real adversary for Eli in the campaign; of course we want Eli to be better at his job, but did Jordan have to be wrong about absolutely everything? I like T.R. Knight, so I wish the writers had given him – not more to do, exactly, but better stuff to do.
And poor Nisa. Sigh. That was such a guy move on Zach’s part – he let the campaign (and by implication Nisa’s parents) take the hit for the break up, when apparently it was something he’d been thinking about for a while. It’s not that I need to see them together forever or anything, and it’s nice to see the kids now and again, but I hate to think he’s become one of those guys who says “but I am serious about you” even though he’s actually just hoping to cop a feel. Not so likable, that.
And speaking of wretchedly unlikable, I am correct in assuming that Mr. Agos went through that whole thing just to punish his son for not securing that recommendation from Diane, right? And holy cow, what a baroque and vindictive ploy that was. I mean, man, first pumping up Cary and then tearing him down? Diabolical. He’s also about as plastic as someone could be. Don’t you stand amazed that Cary turned out to be a good person with a moral compass despite the influence of this game playing turd of a parent? I love love loved seeing Cary get the upper hand, even if I was also hoping for some insight into his romantic situation of which I got absolutely nothing. Still, to me Cary was the emotional heart of “Invitation to an Inquest,” and I am happy to see him do so well. He’d had it coming.
So bring it on, fellow fans. What did you think? Are you dying in anticipation of Sunday night?