E: Didja miss me? I’m home from vacation and ready to chat about the last ripped-from-the headlines episode, a sordid tale of computer activists, the internet and our incredibly depressing justice system. Let’s go back in time.
To a dramatic drumbeat, the words appear letter by letter. I don’t care if they put me in jail. Todd Bratcher RAPED ME. A well-manicured finger presses send on a phone’s touch screen.
A pretty teenage girl with puffy lips and a cardigan with images of bows on it begins her story on the stand. “It was at a party.” Ugh. Of course it was. “A senior class party at Todd’s place.” The girl, vaguely reminiscent of Jemima Kirke from Girls, explains that she’d gone with friends (Gina and Becky); Will has her confirm that the party’s host is the defendant (and subject of the tweet), Todd Bratcher, a preppy looking boy in a navy blazer who won’t meet her eyes. Will begins to exposits for us that the witness, named Rainey, is suing Todd in civil court despite the fact that “rape would seem to be a criminal matter” and gets chastised by Lionel Luthor (which is to say John Glover, reprising his role as sometimes rival attorney Jared Andrews) and Judge Robert Parks for testifying himself; it’s left to Rainey – who takes a steadying breath to remain in control – to explain that Todd took a plea bargain to avoid jail time. “He’s going to Princeton, not prison. I don’t think he should get off scot-free.” Wow, that’s some plea bargain if Princeton doesn’t think it’s problematic enough to keep him out of their student body. Any money she would win will go to rape victim advocates. “I just want it to cost him something, I don’t want anything.”
And at that point, the judge shuts down the proceedings completely. Once the jury is out of the room, Judge Parks reads a copy of the tweet Rainey just sent out: a thoroughly exasperated Will rolls his eyes over his shoulder at his errant client, who sighs. At the beginning of the trial, Judge Parks insisted on one thing, he tells us. “Not trying this case in the press. I put a gag order on this case for exactly that reason.” Does that mean it’s gotten a lot of attention before hand? Otherwise, why would he do that? “And now, there’s this. So I must ask you, Miss Selwyn…” Cutting the judge off, Will asks to speak to Rainey first; she’s looking guilty, staring into her lap. “Don’t you want to hear my question first?” Uh, I doubt it – I’m sure he can guess – but Will backs down.
“Did you write this tweet?” Yeah, I’m sure that question came as a surprise. Will insists that Rainey plead the fifth. It’s alright, she mutters softly, I… Will leans in: she really needs to plead the fifth or say that her sister posted the tweet for her. “Mr. Gardner, I did,” she whispers. He whispers back, looking over at the “alleged” rapist: if you admit that, the judge will hold you in contempt, and if he does that, the rapist wins. “Excuse me? I asked a very simple question,” Judge Parks booms. “Your Honor, Rainey insists on her fifth amendment rights,” Will replies, but Rainey’s looking around, gathering up her courage. “Todd Bratcher raped me, so I wrote that.”
Will throws back his head in disgust. Ah, the idealism of youth! “Then I must hold you in contempt,” Judge Parks insists, gesturing at Rainey so that the sheriff knows who to take into custody. Damn. “Your Honor, my client is 18 years old. Young people don’t see tweeting as publicizing.” Young people? Really, Will? Ugh. She knew exactly what she was doing, Judge Parks snaps, and indeed, the whole “I don’t care if they throw me in jail” bit would seem to confirm his theory. Not that I think it’s okay, or even really understand a gag order in a civil trial, or why she felt so strongly that suing him for rape wasn’t enough and she had to break the gag order that very minute, but I see where he’s coming from. “This court is adjourned.” And off the rape victim goes to jail. For a tweet.
And the first person Will calls is Alicia, who’s at a business lunch with Dylan Stack. Huh. This restaurant seems more Jackie’s style than a hacktivists but I’ll go with it. “Oh, Mr. Bitcoin, what does he want?” Some class action, she says, still unsure. He asks for her help with Rainey’s situation; she’s distressed. “Oh, no, that’s awful,” she sighs, because it is, and commits to joining him at two o’clock to plead with the judge. As he hangs up the phone, Will looks as upset as we’ve seen him in some time.
“Something wrong?” Dylan asks as Alicia sits back down. The place is certainly posh, but more modern than I initially thought – you might almost call the flower arrangements installations, they’re so large and modernist. It’s not particularly my style, but I love the blue hydrangeas. “Nothing. A client who’s young and idealistic.” Is that a bad thing, Dylan wonders. “It just complicates things,” Alicia replies, drinking her water, and when he wonders how, keeps it in general terms. “Reality isn’t idealistic. And when the two of them run into each other, only one gets hurt.” Why do we teach our children ideals, then, if we don’t believe they can ever function in the real world? Isn’t that cruel? “Maybe it’ll be reality this time,” Stack proposes hopefully. “My guess is not,” Alicia smiles. It’s nothing more than my own response, but it makes me really sad, her cynicism. Maybe that’s why it makes me sad, because I was thinking it too. “So, tell me about this class action,” Alicia impatiently tries to refocus the conversation.
No no no, Stack says, that’s not a segue. “‘Speaking of idealism’ – now there’s a segue!” Alicia smiles her appreciation as the waiter brings her a coffee. “Do you know who Aaron Swartz is?” Oh, I like that they’re bringing him up. “The computer activist, who …died.” Died? Really, Alicia? “The computer activist who committed suicide,” Stack corrects gently, “after an unrelenting campaign by Federal prosecutors to imprison him.” Of course, says Alicia, and I can’t tell if she’s humoring him or embarrassed not to know better – because as much as she might like to see his character as paranoid or anti-government, his statement is perfect, factually correct. (I don’t know why she’d have any trouble believing this, not after the cases of unscrupulous and aggressive prosecutions we’ve seen against her friends and targeted ultimately at her husband.) “In his memory, I am attempting to organize a class action against prosecutorial misaction,” Stack declares, sipping his own coffee. Which prosecutors? The Feds? “And you want us to join this class action?” Yes, he does; Alicia will run it by her partners, “but they’re not always into causes for causes sake,” she cautioned. She gives him a serious look which he does not return; he’s too busy rooting through his bag, from which he pulls a giant stack of cash. “They tend to want to see the….” she stops, spellbound by all that money.
“Would you stop doing that?” she hisses as he smacks two thick stacks in front of her. What? “Slapping your money around!” she hisses again. Does she think if pretends she’s not speaking, no one will see them? “Where did you get it anyway?” Work, he declares simply, unperturbed, and sips his coffee. “Don’t you worry that you’re going to get held up? Because when I…” Alicia loses her train of thought when she sees Cary being ushered into a private room; though she promises to run the case past her partners with her recommendation that they take it, she’s no longer paying attention. Wow, she was an easy sell; I would have wanted to know a little more. Unless she’s just saying whatever she has to both retain his business and get him out of her hair quickly. I squeal with laughter at the production she makes out of covering the four stacks of cash with her napkin before sneaking off to the private room, which fortunately for her is made of curtained glass. Through the holes in the curtains, Alicia sees that Cary’s having lunch with most of the other fourth years.
Oh, David Lee. Just look where greed gets you; a rebellion.
“Your Honor, our client has never been in trouble with the law before, she has no criminal record,” Alicia pleads. Damn, Judge Parks has the best office ever; he’s standing in front of a wall of windows, looking out on the city. Incredible. “That’s beside the point,” he rightly argues. “She found out this morning that her rapist was admitted to Princeton and she was angry.” OH. Alright, that explains the timing. I’m still puzzled about the plea bargain, though; you have to disclose that kind of stuff on your college applications, right? Maybe she should have emailed their admissions office instead of just tweeting… It hasn’t been proved that he’s a rapist, the judge opines, and it isn’t helping her cause to keep on insisting “on facts not in evidence.” Um, okay, that’s just stupid. What’s she going to say, he’s my ‘maybe’ rapist? I mean, I get that the judge can’t assume he’s guilty but surely it’s not strange that Rainey would maintain what we can call her version of the truth consistently, right? I mean, she’s suing him. Her whole contention is that he raped her, whatever stage the trial is at. Asshat. Also, God forbid someone say something unsubstantiated on the internet; I’m sure the pillars of the earth would crumble from the shock of that.
Yes, yes, Will placates the judge as Jared Andrews snorts, but we’re just trying to explain why this was a one time thing and won’t happen again. Judge Parks counters that if Todd had tweeted that Rainey was a liar (which is probably his defense, am I right?) he’d be the one in jail. Sigh. “This gag order is, and was, content neutral. But,” he softens, stepping behind his desk, “get your client to apologize, and promise not to tweet again, and I’ll release her.” Either way, however, the trial will go forward.
And, wow. Rainey’s landed in a full scale prison – not some sort of local holding pen, but a loud and terrifying prison with many levels of forbidding looking cells. Still in her cream colored sweater, she cries as Will tells her there’s nothing wrong with apologizing to the court. “There is, I’m sorry but there is,” she wails. Well, I guess that depends on what they want her to say. To me, at least, you could apologize for breaking the gag rule, say you were wrong to tweet and that it won’t happen again. That should satisfy the court, right? What else would they expect her to say? She sniffles, tries to stifle her tears, paces the room.
“Let’s say that this goes against me,” she says once she’s recovered enough to speak, hands on her hips. “We have a good case,” Alicia asserts. “But the prosecutors had a good case,” Rainey reminds her team. “And Todd Bratcher is free. So, let’s say this goes against me. Then, what’s out there is not ‘Todd Bratcher is a rapist‘; what’s out there is ‘Bratcher a rapist.'”I’m sorry for calling Todd Bratcher a rapist.'”
Hmmm. They can’t possibly expect her to say she’s sorry for calling him that, can they? She couldn’t word the apology to avoid that? Not that I don’t get where she’s going with all this. Alicia points out that the gag order ends with the trail, and she can say anything she wants when it’s over, but that’s not enough for Rainey. And I agree, actually, although I still think she can apologize in a way that doesn’t cause her to contradict her position. I mean, my gosh, if it did, then wouldn’t Bratcher’s defense use her apology? The judge can’t possibly ask her to say he’s not a rapist.
She sniffs back her tears. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I’m scared to be in here, but I can’t apologize for saying something that is true.” I’m thoroughly exasperated with Will and Alicia for not being more helpful (which probably means I’m mad at the writers), but I kinda love Rainey for this. Alicia turns a devastated face to Will to find him almost hypnotized with anger and determination.
“Are you alright?” she asks quietly as they stand by a set of prison doors; you can tell she really doesn’t know the answer. He is never more attractive to her than when he’s taken up a cause. He shakes his head. “I don’t think I’d have that … determination.” Hmm. I don’t know if that’s fair or not; he has plenty of determination, but his methods are more – let’s say pragmatic. “So we have to win this,” he declares, and there’s something fierce and unyielding in his tone. It’s a promise.
Is this a bad time to point out my biggest irritation with this episode? Now, I know that the writers get to determine what kind of story they want to tell and what characters fit into that storyline and that they’re constrained by budget and time. It’s entirely appropriate that they get to pick their focus. But there is no way on God’s green earth that you could have any kind of rape trial involving a seventeen year old high school student and not include her parents. I’m sorry, it’s just ridiculous. And to give us this particular girl – well-educated, well-dressed, clearly well bank-rolled – and pretend that her parents won’t want to have some say? Wouldn’t visit her in prison, talk to her lawyers, have opinions? Now, okay, obviously the writers didn’t want to tell the story of this girl fighting with her parents about whether or not she should be making this choice; obviously they wanted to show her impact on other people, like Will, which in turn has a strong effect on Alicia. I get it. They stuff unimaginable amounts of story into this show (hell, no one knows that better than me) and they didn’t want to waste precious time with extraneous elements. I’m going to take the story for what it is, and I will try not to gripe about it anymore. but I can’t go further without saying I think this is an almost fatal flaw to the (otherwise moving and well-told) story’s believability.
“Let me say first that the Florrick campaign is still very enthusiastic about you filling the open seat for Supreme Court Justice,” Jim Moody informs Diane, who’s sitting with him – and, of course, Kalinda – in her office. Aw, Jim Moody! It’s been so long! He lets out a big breath. “And with Florrick 3 points ahead in the polls, we thought it best to keep moving forward.” Diane’s quite curious about his use of the word “still” so he explains that Peter wants him to go over some issues in her background. Ah. Hence, Kalinda, who is wearing her gorgeous blue leather jacket; I love that she can wear leather like a blazer rather than outerwear. Diane, on the other hand, is wearing this very interesting light-colored jacket with what looks like molded lines along the lapels. Anyway, which is it going to be: the many issues of Kurt McVeigh? Her father? The fan fiction? (The bankruptcy, that nasty TV host who tried to out her as a lesbian…) “Nothing should be read into the questions, okay?” Okay, Diane nods, though I can’t for the life of me figure out what that’s supposed to mean. That the questions don’t come with Peter’s personal judgment?
“Kut McVeigh?” he asks, and Diane turns to Kalinda, who asks for specifics. What about him? “You’ve worked with him? And he’s a ballistics expert? And your occasional lover?” Diane skewers him with a look. “Is that not the correct word?” “It’s the correct word, it’s just not the most subtle,” she laughs, casting her eyes down. Vetting is an unsubtle art, Jim excuses himself. (And, indeed, I think it’s best to be clear, right?) Moody cuts to the worst bit; McVeigh holds secessionist views. Diane tries to cut a more subtle line; he’s said he understands why people would want to secede, but he’s not a secessionist himself. “I’ve heard my liberal friends say the same about, um, Texas seceding.” And no doubt about moving to Canada if certain candidates win the Presidency.
Anyway. “Is there a problem with Mr. McVeigh’s views?” Kalinda asks flat out. Not at the moment, says Jim, but he raises red flags, in part just because of his name. “It looks bad,” Jim confesses. “Even if it’s not bad?” Diane wonders. Come on, love, you’re not that naive. Hell, the last time this came up they told you that Lockhart sounded too English for the Chicago Irish to approve. “It’s just… sometimes… superficial things like names can hurt a candidacy,” he struggles to express. “For example, having the middle name Hussein?” Diane wonders, and Kalinda smirks her appreciation for the nod to our president.
“It would be better if we could argue that Mr. McVeigh is a casual … friend. Is that a better word?” Jim Moody offers. (My world is happier for just typing his name.) “It is a better word,” Diane agrees, “but it can’t be argued … that.” Why can’t it be argued? “We’re getting married,” Diane admits, and please excuse me while I hit pause so I can dance like a fool around my living room. Eeeeeeee! He said yes! I. Love. It. I love it! Hurray for Diane and Kurt! Giddy happy dance. Awesome.
You know what’s almost as awesome? Kalinda’s head whips around and her jaw actually drops. It actually drops open. I don’t think we’ve ever seen her so shocked. Jim Moody, too, looks stunned. “Huh,” he huffs after a moment of silent, frozen amazement. “I didn’t catch that in my vetting.” Neither did I, stumbles Kalinda. “Yes, it just happened,” Diane grins. Oooooh, can I just hug her? Fantastic. Sadly, this is not Jim Moody’s reaction. “That might cause problems,” he stammers, and she gets it, but the understanding doesn’t steal away her grin. Jim looks over at Kalinda – and I love the look, because you can see he thinks that Kalinda’s the only other sane person in the room – and then asks to take the news back to the campaign. Diane has to put a finger to her lips to stop the laughter. “Congratulations,” Kalinda smiles before leaving Diane to wonder just what she’s done.
“Thanks for meeting me,” Alicia says to Cary – speaking of people making risky decisions – on a busy city street. “Are you up for a stroll?” “This is very cloak and dagger,” he observes, nodding, “a stroll it is.” Sirens scream in the distance as they stroll, and we can see he’s been sitting on a stone wall in what might be a park; there are loud red neon words behind them, announcing a business across the street. “When we met at my apartment, we talked about leaving. Together,” she begins. “Starting our own firm. Are you still thinking of doing that?” She looks at him earnestly. “Am I still thinking of leaving together, no,” he replies, too quickly, and she rephrases to close the loophole she gave him. “No,” he lies, brazening it out, “that would cause me to get fired, so, of course not.” I am mesmerized by his tie (that’s a weird thing to say, probably, but the knot is just really fat. yeah, that didn’t help) and the fit of his jacket. (To be generally fair, her blue and purple scarf is expertly knotted as well – great outerwear.) “Cary, I saw you at Clovis Seafood. Meeting with the fourth years.” Clearly she thinks this is the smoking gun; she stares him down. “So?” he asks after a short silence.
“I just want to know if you’re organizing something,” she asks; they stare and stare at each other. Oh, that’s all she wants? That’s not a lot – just his job if she’s really doing hers the way her colleagues would prefer. How much can he trust her? “We’re meeting,” Cary shrugs. “We like each other. I didn’t know that was wrong.” It’s not wrong, she starts, but he cuts her off. “Alicia. We’re not plotting anything. Okay?” So, going with the not trusting. Sigh. The equity partners sure picked the wrong person to promote if they thought the fourth year resistance would fall apart. “Was I angry when I lost my partnership? Yeah. Were the other fourth years? Of course we were. But do we trust you partners will eventually make good on your commitments, yes we do.” Alicia’s turned into a wax statue; her hair blows in the wind, but her face never moves. “Okay?” Finally she nods okay. Can he go back to work, please? Ugh. I think even more than the lying I hate that he’s treating her like a partner and not a friend; I honestly think she would be both if she could. Not that I understand what she thought she’d do with the information if she could get him to disclose it.
Aaand, Zach’s playing some sort of first person shooter war game on his laptop. “Will we move to Springfield?” Grace wonders. “Huh?” Zach replies, eyes glued to the screen. “When Dad wins, do we have to move to Springfield?” Ah, Grace, on behalf of fans everywhere, I thank you for asking the question! “Eli told me there’s a lot of governors that work out of Chicago, so…” he’s distracted by a beep on his iphone and does finish his sentence – although I’m pleased to hear what he did say. I wonder if it’s true? I’ve always thought it must be odd to be the governor of a state like New York or California or Illinois where the state capital is actually a backwater compared to the major metropolis.
So. Anyway. Zach’s got a text from Unknown asking if he wants to see something. Right, because that’s not at all creepy. (It’s 6:43, Monday April 8th, in case you’re wondering.) He frowns fiercely at the phone. “You don’t think?” Grace prompts, but he’s too busy typing in “who is this?” to answer. “A friend,” comes the unhelpful reply, “want to see something?” Ick. I’d be very, very suspicious of that. “Not until you tell me who you are,” he types back. “Open the attachment,” is the only response, and in a second, a video pops up. There are legs. Does not look good. After a few tense seconds, Zach gives in and clicks the circle with the arrow. The video loads. He clicks play.
“Hi, I’m Rainey, I’m on the gymnastics team,” we hear a boy saying in a high-pitched voice, and Grace rises from her seat in curiosity. Just what is it that’s sucked her brother in so completely? It’s a curly haired teen, playing with a blow up doll. Wow. Steubenville much? He’s surrounded by laughing boys. “Hey, what is that?” Grace asks. Evil, I think. “I don’t know,” Zach replies. “Where’s it from?” The boy slams the doll into the ground to the pleased cries of his pig friends; he playacts falling to his knees in apology. “I broke it,” he laughs, and then tosses it to a friend, while others start moaning “oh, oh, Rainey.” I think I’m going to vomit. What the hell is wrong with our society if this is how we raise our sons? My children are pretty young, and the idea of my daughters growing up to fear the sweet boys who are their friends right now makes me physically ill.
It’s at this lovely moment that Alicia walks in; Grace turns to stare at her, not speaking, which of course worries her into coming over. “Oh, oh, oh, it’s so good!” one of the boys moans, after another has passed off the doll (“don’t give me this, I don’t want it”). What’s this, Alicia wonders. “Let’s see if this fits,” one boy suggests gleefully, tossing a hairbrush to Curly. “It’ll probably get lost up there,” he replies (vomit), rushing toward the doll. Alicia looks down in horror as more moaning ensues (“oh, Rainey!”) and freezes the image on the laughing face of curly-haired Todd Bratcher.
Okay, true confession. Really my response to that reveal was “um, that’s supposed to be Todd, I guess?” We really don’t get that great a glimpse at his face in court, and the laughing freeze-frame isn’t really clear. Or maybe he just doesn’t have an easily recognizable face. I mean, I got the point. But I got the point long before the would-be dramatic reveal.
Sorry. More grumbling. But hey, I promised I wouldn’t dwell on the other thing and I’m not – so at least it’s fresh grumbling!
“You found this online?” Alicia gasps, staring at the re-started video. “Where were you looking?” No, Zach defends himself, someone just sent it to me. “You don’t know who sent this?” No. As she sputters about someone at school maybe being the sender (“no, Mom, they’re not even from our district”), I want him to show her the text history; it’s useless, though, because she’s too shocked to investigate properly. “I don’t get it. Did you tell any of your friends I was working on this case?” No. “It was sent to me anonymously. They knew enough to route it through something so I couldn’t trace it.” When did he have time to do that, exactly?
“You’re working on this case?” Grace asks, shocked, and Alicia looks up, alive with guilt for having inadvertently brought something so ugly into her home. “Are you winning?” No, whispers Alicia. “So this is good,” Grace declares. Alicia looks pained.
And once again – but this time on a laptop – we see the friend suggest the hairbrush. “No they can’t, Your Honor,” Jared Andrews shakes his head. “It has nothing to do with the crime.” Say what? Will tells Judge Parks that one of the boys in the video, a Jesse Martin, has authenticated it, but Jared insists that it’s prejudicial ( hell yeah, though I’m not sure how that makes it irrelevant). They were joking about a hairbrush being inserted into Rainey’s vagina, Alicia points out; Jared, on the other hand, posits that since it was a sex doll they were only calling Rainey, it’s not a reference to the girl. I don’t see how the judge could possibly buy that. What he does instead is change the subject.
“Mr. Gardner, how’d you get this?” It was sent to my house anonymously, Alicia explains. As Judge Parks expresses his disbelief, Jared Andrews thunders that it was hacked from Todd’s cell phone. Somehow, I cannot muster a sympathy for that heinous crime. “He deleted this file – as is his right. He was embarrassed, as you or I would be, by this awful joke. He was embarrassed by it, so he deleted it. And that is why it cannot be presented in court. It was obtained through illegal means.” Oh, yeah, he looked plenty embarrassed. Judge Parks tents his hands. “Is this true, m’am?” Um, hello, you aren’t even going to question that version of events? Isn’t it just as reasonable that he deleted the video because it’s incriminating? Poor Alicia of course has no idea how the video was obtained, and so the judge excludes it.
I get the argument for it being prejudicial, but they don’t know how it was obtained, so I can’t really see the judge assuming it was illegal. Maybe Todd sent a copy to Jesse, who sent it to Zach. (Also, frankly I don’t see it being Todd’s video because he obviously wasn’t the one who was shooting it, and it just doesn’t seem like the moment where you say to some “hey, take my phone, get a video of me laughing at this.” Isn’t it more likely to have belonged to another boy, one not seen because he was filming? Who could have sent it himself?) Ugh. My urge to argue these cases myself would probably be less ridiculous if I actually had a law degree…
What is it now, Will asks, slamming his briefcase down on the conference table. “The fourth years,” David Lee rants. “I was looking through their billables. They’re taking their vacation days.” The horror! “They are,” Diane asks in shock, “All five?” Yes. More scare tactics, Will shrugs. They want us to think they’re leaving. “Well, I’m not offering more partnerships,” David Lee sneers. “I say we split them up by firing one of their asses.” Which matters not at all if they’re going to quit. Not that he knows that. “Which one? We need all of them,” Diane replies. Should have thought of that before you treat them like crap, then. David’s gunning for Cary, the last hired and also the likely ring leader. Yes, and then Cary will lead the other fourth years right out your door, you dumbasses.
“I was the ring leader,” Alicia declares, and all heads swivel to her direction. “So, do you think these are more scare tactics, or are they really leaving?” Diane asks. Diane’s in chunky tweed, and Alicia’s wearing a sleek molded jacket like Diane’s from yesterday. “I think it’s nothing,” Alicia lies convincingly, “a coincidence.” She is lying, right? “Associates don’t take vacation days,” David Lee sneers. “It’s been an exhausting bankruptcy,” Alicia points out, her voice calm and persuasive. “Everybody needs their vacation days to unwind.”
So they’re over it, Will asks. “They’re not angry at us anymore?” Now what will she say to that? She doesn’t want to deny that they’re angry. What a fine line for her to walk; I really really hope she can do something to help them. She picks her words carefully. “I talked to Cary yesterday, and he told me they’re trusting the partners will live up to their commitments.” David Lee chokes. Will and Diane look at each other, uncertain, but are willing to leave it there. After confirming that they’ve tentatively approved taking on Dylan Stack’s class action about prosecutorial overcharging, Will dismisses the meeting.
Out in the hall, Alicia chases down Robyn Burdine. Love that girl. “Oh, a sorry about my clothes,” she apologizes. “I just came from… actually, I didn’t come from anywhere, I just like this,” she smiles awkwardly. “Okay,” says Alicia shortly, completely unconcerned with Robyn’s clothes or her insecurities about them. What she wants is for Robyn to do something privately for her. “Is it about the review?” Robyn asks, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear for the second time. It isn’t. “I’m being reviewed this week, and I just want to make sure I’m okay.” You’re okay, Alicia confirms, shifting her focus long enough to reassure her hire. “Yeah? Oh. Good. I like working here.” I’m glad, Alicia rushes, eager to get back to business without any of this mushy emotional stuff getting further in the way. She has a super secret mission for Robyn – secret from the other partners. Let’s just guess what that is.
“The sad thing is, I like Rainey. I’ve always liked Rainey.” That’s the sad thing in this scenario, Todd? Really? “And so you have no idea why she accused you of this?” No, Todd shakes his head. I still wouldn’t recognize him as the kid in the video if I didn’t know it had to be him; his hair’s brushed and maybe even shorter, and his face is just blandly preppy. (Sorry, Jason Hite – not your fault, not an insult to your looks.) “She got pretty drunk at this party. We all did – spring break, you know.” Jared nods his head in understanding; he’s all about the raging keggers too. “All I can imagine is that she got unhappy with her decision to hook up with me.”
Will snorts out a “yeah, that’s what it must have been.” Do I even have to, Judge Parks asks Will, who shuts up – but as this is going on, Alicia notices Dylan Stack watching from the back of the gallery. As Jared elicits from Todd that the hook up was consensual and that he had Rainey had dated the year previous (though he wouldn’t exactly call her his ex-girlfriend), Alicia moves to sit with Mr.Bitcoin. “I wanted to see what idealism looks like,” he says to explain his presence. She doesn’t seem to believe him, but she’s ready to return to her seat when she has a thought.
Leaning over, she whispers in his ear. “Are you the friend?” “Am I the … friend?” he asks in confusion. “Are you the friend who texted something to my son?” she clarifies. He stares at her for a moment. “No, I don’t… know your son. Why?” She leans closer. “Someone texted something to him. Something that could help me.” She pulls back for his reaction. He smiles, and then makes his face blank. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t me.” His eyes focus for a moment on the witness stand. “He’s a bastard.” Yes, Alicia agrees. “But does the jury know that?” She doesn’t know. Dylan wishes Alicia good luck, and she returns to the trial, where Will is now questioning Todd.
“You did not take advantage of Rainey’s intoxicated state by having sex with her while she was unconscious?” Correct, Todd says as Rainey stares him down; he can’t meet her eyes. “You did not insert a hairbrush into her vagina?” (Hurl.) “No, of course not.” “And you never made fun of these claims in her deposition?” Oh, SWEET! No, never, Todd shakes his head as Andrews objects loudly. Will stands, triumphantly proclaiming that the witness has just opened the door, and the judge calls them to the bench; as she rises, Alicia notices Dylan leaving.
“Your Honor,” Will begins, “the defendant has clearly made a claim that we are now at liberty to impeach.” You can see from the judge’s face that gets it. This is prosecution by stunt, Andrews snaps before Alicia insists that they have be allowed to use the video. Judge Parks doesn’t want to – he’s already ruled it inadmissible – but Will reiterates that it’s necessary to counter Todd’s assertion that he never made fun of Rainey’s claims. “The only way he could have known about the hairbrush is if he read it in the deposition or if he committed the rape. Either way we must be allowed to impeach him.” Wait, what? That never came up with the police? Plus, Todd wasn’t the one who brought up the hairbrush. Can’t we get that friend to testify to that? Of course I can see we still need the video. “I agree,” Judge Parks reluctantly confesses – but he’ll only allow that section of the tape where the hairbrush is mentioned. (Um, anyone else feel like there was more to the video, where we are happily spared seeing the doll violated with the brush?) The jury’s allowed to see perhaps the second and a half worth of footage where Todd says “it’ll probably get lost up there” and walking purposefully toward the doll. Not the the cries of “oooh, Rainey,” not even the comment about the hairbrush, which I would think would be the relevant part. “You can’t show more?” Rainey whispers. Unfortunately no.
But they can show the frog-like face of Jim Moody, who has returned to torment Diane further. “So we’ve moved past Miss Lockhart’s relationship with Kurt McVeigh?” No, actually they want Diane to meet with the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and “comfort him” – which is to say, explain that she doesn’t share Kurt’s views. You’d think the chief justice would know Diane’s politics are diametrically opposed to Kurt’s – and actually, I have no idea why he know that Diane is Peter’s choice or why he would have contacted Peter about Kurt at all. I mean, obviously he did some research about her to know that she has a causal relationship with Kurt, but not enough to know that she’s active in liberal causes? Does that seem nuts to anyone else?
You need me to kiss the ring, she surmises. “Yes, with all due deference.” I can do that, she smiles. “One other thing. You represent Dylan Stack?” This seems to amaze Jim. For one case, yes, but not anymore. Kalinda looks highly suspicious of this. “That’s odd,” Jim Moody continues, “I saw him in your waiting room.” Diane and Kalinda both look out, but of course the waiting room isn’t visible from Diane’s office. Kalinda wonders if that’s a problem. “Yes. He advocates the overthrow of government.” I think that’s incorrect, Diane asserts calmly. “Yes. That’s correct,” Jim nods fervently. “It should be addressed.”
Robyn’s standing out at the downstairs lobby doors (I think it’s our building, the view is familiar), muttering into her cell phone that she’s whispering because there are people there – but she has news. On the other end of the line, Alicia expresses how impressed she is with Robyn’s speed. She checked into the fourth years’ financials, and found that Cary’s purchased 12 million dollars worth of malpractice insurance.
Now that, my friends, is a smoking gun.
From her desk at home – glass of red wine in hand – Alicia wonders whether all the fourth years are involved, but Kalinda walks into the lobby and so Robyn has to hang up. “Who was that?” Kalinda asks. “Oh, that – that was my brother,” Robyn replies, awkward and self-conscious. She’s so bad at lying. “You’re a terrible liar, Robyn,” Kalinda smiles (and no, we can’t see her, but you can hear the amusement in her voice). I’m pretty good at it, Robyn defends herself, offended. Kalinda stares her down.
“Do you mind putting in a good word me at the review?” Robyn asks. I will say, for as much as I’ve been picking this episode apart, I appreciate that we’re actually dealing with Robyn’s probation period ending. I’ll think about it, Kalinda replies. “Was that the brother you shot?” Uh, who told you that, Robyn asks. Jilted suitor Greg, perhaps, and I like that they brought that bit of oddness up, too. “Someone at Treasury. Said you spend 6 months in Juvenile Hall for accidentally shooting your brother?” Oh. Not Greg. I still like it when they pick up loose ends, though. “Ah, no, it was another brother – big family,” Robyn replies, cagey. “Big hippie family, huh?” “From Oregon. Right.” Robyn nods. Why did I think she said Ohio? Anyway, Kalinda doesn’t really explain her interest, but wishes Robyn a good night with a smile that would have had me peeing my pants with paranoia.
Buzz goes Grace’s phone as she sits, doing homework, on her bedroom floor. “Hi. Want to see something? Open the attachment.” a message from Unknown instructs her. Damn. “Mom!” she howls.
And that leads to Alicia, tripping through the hallway of a glamorous old hotel to spooky, tinkly music. Really, it’s swanky and unsettling at the same time – crimson carpet, walls with a busy, large pattern that looks like damask in maroon and cream, the walls much too close together. It’s Dylan Stack who opens the door to her knock.
He falls back on a hello, clearly surprised at her presence. “You sent another text,” she accuses, “this time to my daughter.” She’s in full-on lioness mode and she is scary, make no mistake. He denies it. “Hi. Want to see something?” she reads. “Open the attachment. Idealism.jpeg.” Oh. Yeah, that was kind of ham-handed. I didn’t send that, he protests again. Okay, she says, walking back through the hall, I’m deleting it – and he can’t have that, so he follows her into the hall.
You don’t send things to my kids, she growls. “Alicia, I didn’t send that. But I might know who did.” You talked like this, she accuses. “Idealism versus reality, and then 48 hours later, by accident, some anonymous texter sends this to my daughter?” Yeah, I don’t think he’s saying it’s an accident. Not that she has any reason to believe him when he claims a “friend” did something – they’ve been down the “friend” road together before. Either way, he invited Alicia and her gorgeous grey coat back into his hotel room for further discussion.
Once there, he makes a confession. “It’s some friends. I told them about your case. Not that I wanted them to do anything. As an object lesson about what we’re up against.” Did he tell them that the judge stopped them from using the last present, too? Because surely that’s a big part of what ‘they’ are up against. Also, is this a reference to the lawsuit, or to reform in general? Also, what does he have against lights? It’s quite dark in here. “The cynicism,” he adds. “I think they’re trying to help you.” We don’t need help, Alicia lies. “You do need help. I was in court today. You’re losing.” Indeed, but his kind of help isn’t actually helping so far. “Where did they get this?” Alicia raises Grace’s phone to show a picture of Rainey passes out on a bed in her panties and a tank top next to a smiling Todd Bratcher, who’s giving the camera a big thumbs up.
From hacking his account, Dylan presumes. “The police checked his account,” Alicia counters. “Kids today know how to delete evidence, it doesn’t mean it’s gone,” Bitcoin explains. Alicia throws back her head in exasperation. (And, “kids today”? What’s with the writing this week? Age-conscious much?) “The police don’t know how to hack for it, my friends do.” Sigh. It’s not helping, Alicia repeats. “Would you know how to have found that photo?” he asks. He’s missing the point – what does this do other than make us all sick to our stomachs? If they want to help, they should concentrate on finding ways to do it within the system so it can be actually used within the system. “No,” she bellows, “but the judge will exclude it!” He’s trying to think positively about that. “Tell them if they ever send another text to one of my kids again, I won’t even look at it, I will immediately delete it. Understood?” He’ll pass that on.
“We want this photo in!” Will declares (duh); Alicia must have gone right from Dylan’s hotel room to Will’s office. She knows, but she’s sure that Parks will rule it was obtained illegally and not let them use it. He’s wearing a dark blue plaid button down, like it’s the weekend, which is weird because he wasn’t wearing it court earlier today. Why would he have changed at work into business casual clothes? “What if I subpoenaed the server?” he suggests. She frowns, not comprehending his wily plan. “We think that this photo was emailed from Todd’s phone to his friend Jesse, right?” They do. Well, that means that someone else had to have seen taken the picture, since Todd is in it. Why are we not forcing Jesse or other party-goers to testify?! So frustrated. (Not the story they’re telling. I know. Sorry. I just feel like I shouldn’t be able to see an easier way to solve their problems. Perhaps Jesse’s been lying to police – although why he would then authenticate the video I’m not sure.)
“Right, but then he deleted it.” These kids today, knowing how to hit a delete button. They’re so technology savvy. Will’s theory is this; deleting it stopped the police from finding it on the cell, but it would still be available on the server. “We don’t need this photo, we need the identical photo still on the server.” Good thinking, Will; I’m sure this is what Dylan was hoping for. Will crawls back off his knees onto the couch, and Alicia gives him a very impressed look. “Good!”
He grins. “How’re ya liking being partner?” “I am,” she sighs happily, her grin wide. He looks up from his notes to catch her looking at him, a strange seriousness falling over her features. It’s not a longing look; I don’t know what it is. “I better go,” she decides, shaking herself out of her confusion. He bites his lip as she waves goodbye. As usual, she can’t help stopping and watching him covertly through the glass wall before she leaves, and once she’s safely in her room at home she almost collapses into her vanity, hugging her arms to her chest, trying futilely t0 to center herself.
There’s a world of different between her lonely posture and her daughter’s; Grace is praying on her window seat, hands clasped on her knees, head bowed serenely over them. She’s all tranquil focus. “Mom, I didn’t see you,” she responds to her mother’s knock. “No, I just, I wanted to say I forgot your cell phone but I will pick it up tomorrow.” That’s okay, Grace nods, “Will called.” What, Alicia gasps. “He said you left my phone.” As Alica sputters, Grace gives her a kind of pitying smile. “You alright?” Oh, sure. What on earth did you think Will called for, Alicia? Either way, you’re not fooling Grace at all. “Grace… were you praying right now, is that what you were doing?” Yeah, Grace smiles. She seems so self-possessed now, not fearful or timorous as usual. Alicia sits down, more tentative, and leans back against the wall. “What were you praying for – oh, or is that unlucky?” That’s kind of adorable.
“No,” smiles Grace, laughing a little, “it’s not like a birthday wish.” I want to be respectful, Alicia shrugs, smiling, and I kind of want to hug them both through the screen. Grace beams and nods at her mother. “Do you pray for me?” Alicia wonders. Nodding fervently, Grace says sure, all the time. “Because I don’t believe?” Alicia wonders softly. “No! No, just because.” Because she loves you, silly, and wants good things for you – all the kind of things you want for her, safety and health and happiness. Then the conversation takes a darker turn.
“I’m sorry, Grace,” Alicia apologizes. “Why?” Grace wonders before her mother turns a guilty, almost haunted face toward her. “I wish I were a better mom,” she admits. “You’re a great mom!” Grace insists. “No,” Alicia denies it. “I was. Now, things are… out of control.” Oh, Alicia. What is it that you think you’ve done? Is it just me, or does she seem to find her increasing attraction to Will a sin against her children? I see how it’s a family problem, I do, but isn’t it odd that she seems so much more worried about them then Peter? She swallows hard. “Mom,” Grace says, her voice aching. “Is it work?” Alicia nods. “Do you want me to pray for something there?” No, smiles Alicia, clearly astounded that Grace would ask. “I’m fine,” she lies, “I have to stop thinking about myself.”
Taking a page from her brother’s book, Grace frowns. “Sometimes it’s good to think about yourself,” she suggests. Yes, Alicia agrees, nodding. “And sometimes it’s not.”
Sigh. Okay, I get that and I don’t. Because of course she doesn’t want to break up her family as it’s progressing toward a reunion. Is that it, is this is all about guilt over her feelings for Will? Or is it that she thinks she spends too much time at work? Does she really regret that so much? I mean, she loves her job, she loves being a partner, her kids are older and don’t need her to bake cookies after school or shuttle them to play dates. Honestly, if she really wants to save her marriage, she should have just started the new firm with Cary so she wouldn’t be moping over Will every damn day and drowning in temptation. Girl needs to make up her mind and pick a side.
Shutting up now…
We can’t hear the words coming out of Will’s mouth; all we can see is that Alicia is mesmerized by him, entranced until he catches her staring. “Why, Your Honor?” he turns back to say, “because we believe that the defendant deleted photos from his cell.” This is a fishing expedition, Jared Andrews complains. “Yes,” agrees Judge Parks, “but an oddly specific one. Why are you subpoenaing these exact times?” Pattern, Alicia explains. “It is the only gap in the defendant’s texting history, and we believe it is because Mr. Bratcher deleted those texts.” No gap during the rape itself? I mean, that has to take at least a minute or two, right? Jared counters that the police searched Todd’s phone. “I don’t see the harm,” the judge disagrees, granting the subpoena. I have to say, I hope law enforcement makes a habit of this – it seems to me a very smart practice. “If this turns into a broader expedition, we’ll reassess. See that it doesn’t.” While Will and Alicia congratulate each other on a motion well argued, Will casually asks if she thinks they’re really okay – with the fourth years. SO not where I thought he was going with that.
“So another walk together,” Cary shakes his head, walking toward Alicia who leans against the same stone wall in the same park. “People will say we’re dating.” I believe the quote is “in love” but I suppose if you’d actually said “people will say we’re in love” I’d have wished he was singing it, so maybe this is better. “Whats going on, Alicia?” She stands and walks with him; this time her scarf is a bright blue. She frowns, hands in her coat pockets, and looks at him before lowering the boom. “You bought malpractice insurance,” she says.
“Who told you?” he cries, shocked. “No one told me, I found out,” she explains calmly. “Do the partners know?” She looks at him, exasperated. “I’m a partner,” she reminds him quietly. You know what he means, Alicia. “Do the other partners know,” he rephrases. “When are you leaving, Cary?” she asks, and really, does she even need to dignify his question with an answer? Of course they don’t know. If they did you’d be fired, or sued, or receiving a tongue-lashing from David Lee at the very least. A month, he says. And who’s going with? The other fourth years, of course, he says. (That private room at Clovis was bigger than that.) No, she practically growls, what clients? Not Bishop, because he would stay with her, and not Chum Hum, right? “I can’t tell you that!” Oh, please, Cary, I don’t see that you have any choice here but to trust her; she can pretty much wreck your plan already if she wants to.
“Do you really think it’s going to be better out there?” she wonders. He turns to look her in the face. “Yeah,” he nods. She doesn’t understand why, and it takes him a second to formulate his answer. “I was comparing Lockhart/Gardner to a dozen other firms. It’s top heavy. Half the equity partners are soaking up profit participation without doing any real work. What is it – what is it Howard Lyman contributes to Lockhart/Gardner, and I’m serious, what does he contribute?” Shaking her head, Alicia doesn’t have an answer. (Office politics, of course – something Cary’s new firm will never have, of course.) “Do you know how much he takes in each year? Four million.” Holy crap. “They’re sucking up oxygen.” Indeed.
“Look, I know I’m taking a chance here. And you – you could get me fired with just one word,” he acknowledges, pointing to her, and it’s so true. I know she likes and values him, but what’s her end game here? Does she think she can convince the fourth years to stay? “But you and I are the new Will and Diane.” She stares into the distance, sighing. “Alicia, do me a favor, think about it.”
And after what she just went through with Will, it’s so damn frustrating that she won’t. I know she’s never got for it – she’s too risk adverse, she’s too loyal – but she really should. If she wants what she says she wants, she needs to cut Will out of her life, ruthlessly, like a cancer, because she seems less and less capable of working with him professionally. He would even understand. Of course, she would probably lose her equity stake (Peter’s mystery money), which is not inconsiderable, and so she wouldn’t have that stake to put into the new firm. Maybe it’s too late?
Think about what, she asks, snapping out of her reverie. “Coming with us!” Her head tilts to the side, and she rolls her eyes. “When you were in law school, did you want to change the world?” She sighs again. Did he want to change the world, I wonder? Because first year Cary very much struck me as a committed materialist, eager to sell out despite his time at the Innocence Project and the Peace Corps. Is this a product of his self-discovery working at the SA’s office, or is this just about Alicia’s ideals rather than his own? “You promised yourself you would always do right, and how many times did we do right in the last four years? You know I’m right. ” This is a pitch we’ve never seen from him before, in four years of passionate appeals and pitches. “Florrick Agos & Associates.” Oh, the other fourth years would LOVE that. But Alicia can’t focus, because she’s seen a man walk by in a white mask covering his face, somewhere between V and Phantom of the Opera. “Alicia,” Cary calls out as his coworker pushes past him. “Let me think about it,” she says from her trance, moving forward. Once she’s walked around the fountain, the man has disappeared.
“New case?” Diane asks Will, holding up Grace’s pink wave iphone. “You like it?” Will replies, walking over to his desk and smiling at his partner. “Very manly,” she smirks. “I’ve, ah, rethought this Dylan Stack class action,” she adds. Oh, Diane. It’s a reasonable political move, but it’s another one of those sad compromises Cary loathes. “I think we should drop it.” Why, Will wonders, genuinely curious. “He’s not in keeping with our other clients.” What the hell does that mean? What do Lemond Bishop, Dina Gross, Sloan Burchfield and Richard Cuesta have in common? Because he’s not paying close attention, Will doesn’t react strongly to her odd statement. “Will,” she says, walking toward him, clearing her throat, “can we drop the case?” Well that depends, he says. “Who am I talking to – Diane my partner, or Diane the Supreme Court candidate?” Got it in one, Will. He is paying attention.
“Do we have a problem?” she asks, which is answer enough. He doesn’t think so. “I’m asking for flexibility on one case,” she repeats, still not saying why. We’ve already decided to take the case, he points out, and she reminds him that they’ve changed positions before. “Because it was in the firm’s interest,” he says. “Just tell me this is in the firm’s interest.” “It’s in the firm’s interest,” she repeats. “There. Happy?” No, not at all.
Cary walks up behind Kalinda. “You talking to Alicia?” he whispers into her ear. Well there’s a sweet nothing for you. One lip quirks up, but she doesn’t turn to face him. “Excuse me?” You said you wouldn’t say anything, he presses, still leaning. Slowly, she turns to fact him. “About what?” she plays dumb, and he looks around, sighing. Why are you having this conversation in the hall again? “About my leaving,” he admits. Her brows contract ever so slightly. “I thought you weren’t leaving,” she frowns, and he watches her face, clearly expecting her to read the truth in his. “Don’t talk to Alicia,” he instructs (rude!) and walks away.
But she follows him, her eyes wide and distressed. “Cary, I didn’t say anything. I trusted you when you told me you weren’t leaving.” Oops. “I thought you were telling the truth, that’s why I didn’t say anything.” He flashes his eyebrows up, tips his head, trying to send whatever inadequate message he can, and keeps walking, leaving Kalinda alone with his news. Her shoulders slump in frustration – and then she sees Robyn walk by.
“I also found bruising on Miss Selwyn’s left and right thigh,” a man recites on the stand; he’s young-ish, with closely-cropped curly black hair. “And abrasions on her lower back and buttocks area.” Thank you, doctor, Jared Andrews says; hmm. Why is the doctor a defense witness? That’s odd, right? “And, do you, ah, interpret these injuries differently than the plaintiff?” Wait, are you for real? Bratcher paid a doctor to examine Rainey soon enough after the rape for her still to be bruised? Like the regular rape exam isn’t invasive enough? (Also, not to be the diction police, but the plaintiff isn’t interpreting her injuries. Whatever medical expert examined her after the rape would be, but an alleged rape victim would be either telling the truth or not, she wouldn’t be figuring out what happened based on bruising patterns.) “Yes, I don’t think that they’re indicative of sex so much as vigorous gymnastics training.” Hmmm. Okay. Maybe that’s plausible as an alternative, but hardly conclusive. As Alicia’s comforting Rainey, patting her on the shoulder, she catches sight of Dylan Stack, who motions for her to meet him outside the courtroom.
The hall is airy, modern and bright, not at all the building we’re used to. “You said bring it to you,” Dylan tells Alicia as he leans on a railing. “You said leave your kids out of it.” Bring me what, she wonders, and he hands it over. “I know you like solid things, this one’s on paper.” Ha ha. “From your friends?” she asks disdainfully. “Your friends too,” he replies pleasantly. “It’s about the good doctor in there.” Again, he jerks his head to indicate the courtroom, and she’s suddenly very very interested. As she flips through the pages, the two exchange intense glances.
“Dr. Brinks, you stated that you attended Baylor University and studied…” General obstetrics, he explains. Righto. “And you wrote several papers while there, didn’t you?” This takes him aback, but he admits to it. (He wrote papers! In school! Shocking!) “Did you write a paper arguing that women could not get pregnant during rape?” Whoa boy. That’s ripped from a whole other headline. Andrews, of course, objects to this. “Your Honor, the defense expert’s attitude toward rape is directly relevant toward his testimony on rape,” Alicia counters, rightly. “Seems inarguable,” Judge Parks concurs. I don’t know where you got that, Brinks splutters. “You did argue that ‘the reproductive tract of ducks has evolved to such a point that it can resist rape'” she quotes. Wow. That was a draft, he rushes to explain. He never submitted it. Alicia reads on, saying he posited an analogy to adult women. Oh, dude. “I was very young, I was positing intellectual theories.” Why does a guy like that become an obstetrician anyway? “Theories that women can’t really be raped?” He looks around the courtroom; Rainey Selwyn’s face is unforgiving. “No, that female reproduction uses rape as a block to pregnancy.” Jared Andrews sighs, knowing that the witness who seems helpful such a short time ago has had his testimony utterly decimated. “Good,” Alicia smiles, “as long as we know how you really think.” Youch. She shoots a look to Dylan Stack in the gallery, warm and approving.
“You there, stand up,” Judge Parks thunders, and of course we think he means Dylan, that he’s somehow caught on to this connection, but no. There are two men in those white masks Alicia noticed earlier. “Sheriff, lead these … men out of here. Take off the masks. Now!” As he’s lead out, one removes his mask, revealing a very young face. “Get ’em out of my courthouse,” Parks huffs. “Who was that?” Rainey Selwyn asks (and again, it’s my quote-loving nature, but I kind of want her to say ‘who was that masked man?’) ; “Anonymous,” Alicia informs her.
Kalinda meets up with Robyn at a coffee shop where the new investigator stands at a counter, mug cupped in both hands. I love the stylized face on the sign by the door, it’s so in keeping with the Anonymous masks. “So, here we are,” Kalinda muses, looking around. Um, okay. “Alicia asked you to look into Cary leaving,” Kalinda drops the formalities. Clever girl. When Robyn starts to protest, Kalinda snaps back. “What, isn’t that what happened?”
“Kalinda, a partner comes to you and asks you to do some work,” Robyn begins. “Alicia?” Kalinda presses. “Let me keep it as a hypothetical,” Robyn waves her hands. “Um, this partner asks you not to tell anyone else what you found out.” Well, technically she asked you not to tell the other partners, right, but I suppose a general secrecy is inferred. And perhaps particularly concerning Kalinda since Alicia didn’t got to the more experienced and entrenched investigator with her question. “You know, Lockhart/Gardner has a lot of people wanting a lot of different things,” Kalinda offers. “The problem is is, you don’t make that promise.” Oh, like Kalinda doesn’t do private favors for Diane and Will? Whatevs. Okay, Robyn nods her head, taking it in. “Lesson learned.”
“You never shot your brother,” Kalinda changes the subject. Yeah I did, Robyn asserts, taken aback. “No you didn’t. I checked your background.” What a weird, weird lie to tell. Robyn laughs. “Why are you checking my background?” Um, because that’s what she does? Because you’re in the middle of a world of secrets, and some of them are Kalinda’s? “Why are you saying you shot your brother?” Kalinda shoots right back. Good point. Robyn knits her brows together, looking deliberately pitiful. “Is this going to affect my review?” That depends, Kalinda says, and Robyn sighs. “I am from Sherwood. It’s outside Portland,” Robyn confesses, making a face. “Nothing ever happens in Sherwood!” Yes, but things happen in Chicago, so even if you had reason to make up stories back then, why would you now? Okay, says Kalinda. I’ll see you.
Even if you can’t read the carving that proclaims this to be the Illinois State Supreme Court building, it’s clear from the neoclassical columns and the Grecian frieze and the statues that this is a new and rather special building. And indeed, once inside, Diane is awed. The fireplace mantle is as high as her head; the ceilings are at least ten feet tall. Graciously furnished with antiques, the large room bespeaks history and significance, and as Diane reverently sits and runs her hand along a massive desktop, we can feel her longing. Normally, Diane’s too independent, too proud, to let this kind of covetousness show through, but soon she breaks into giggles at the thought of all this being hers, with all that it entails. Which makes it extra embarrassing when the Chief Justice calls out “Mine’s the next one over” from the doorway.
Rushing to her feet, Diane apologizes. “A real tragedy,” she says, and though I doubt it sounds it we at least know she was genuinely shaken by Justice Ludwig’s passing. Chief Justice Ryvlan advances on her with a tight, blinding smile, walking past a painting of Ludwig which has been wrapped and placed on the floor. (Similarly wrapped personal items appear throughout the room, a floor lamp here, a painting and a multitude of small rugs in front of the book shelves, boxes there.) Yes, Justice Ludwig will be missed, the Chief Justice agrees, surveying the room. His shirtsleeves are rolled up to his elbows in a way which is perhaps designed to look more casual than the meticulous precision it really is. When Diane moves toward the door, he tells her to stay, sitting in a large leather wing back and gesturing for her to return to the desk which is so large I at first mistook it for a table. She’s hoping to get in front of some misinformation which might concern him, she says. “My private life,” she swallows.
“Your secessionist boyfriend,” he replies, throwing out his chin. He’s not a secessionist, she smiles, but the judge, slipping down into the chair, shakes his head. He doesn’t care. Oh. “Not about him, he’s not a lawyer.”
“Oh,” says Diane, justly puzzled. “well I was led to believe that…” Yes, he cuts her off: “I said partner, they heard fiance. My mistake, to talk to a non-lawyer.” Oh. That is a seriously weird prejudice. Now only lawyers can understand words? This guy is full of it. “My partner?” Diane repeats, still confused. “Yes, the one who was disbarred,” Ryvlan nods, an interesting mistake for so precise a man. Diane of course explains that Will wasn’t disbarred, but it seems that Mr. Precision isn’t so into details. “I see, are we engaging in some extra-mural sophistry here?” Wow. I expected him to be sharp, but not quite so sharp elbowed; he’s way too hostile. Ah, no, just the facts. Poor Diane, thinking that the Chief Justice actually cares about facts.
He smiles, and his teeth are too white to be real. I don’t trust a man with those teeth. “Miss Lockhart. You have been striving all of your life,” he proclaims, his condescension vivid. “To understand the law – to mold it to your will?” She nods. “You’ve had losses. You’ve had wins. Well I am here to tell you that the law is a mountain. You’ve been climbing. Slowly. For decades. And we’ve been watching you climb. From the top. We’ve watched. Now I can tell you, you’re here.” Her eyebrows raise. How does she not hate him for this speech? “You’ve arrived. This is the top.” He beams, and she closes her eyes. I understand her ambition, but I don’t want a man like that in charge of my civil rights; frankly, he scares the hell out of me. “This room. That desk. And you can either stay, or slide back down.”
I will give him this, he’s mastered the use of slow pauses.
“I want to stay,” she whispers, and the naked longing in her voice mortifies me, especially when it’s followed by his pat “Of course you do.” But then there’s the hook. “You can’t engage in this sophistry,” he shakes his head. “Your partner’s a scoundrel, to be spurned and not embraced.” Uh oh. Yeah, there’s no way Jim Moody made a mistake about Kurt McVeigh and this. Does Ryvlan really believe that Will bribed judges? I wish she had said that earlier – that he’s not just not disbarred, that he was innocent. Or is this all over the embezzlement? Diane struggles for words. “Do you understand me?” She blinks. “I don’t think I do.” In what way can she publicly repudiate Will enough to shake free of this apparent taint? Well, teh Chief Justice nods ruefully, it’s very nice to meet you.
And then he leaves her alone in the gracious, powerful office she’ll never hold.
In his bright, modern courtroom, Judge Parks asks the sheriff once more to take the jury into the holding room. I would really feel like a sheep if I were on this jury – in, out, and not even a minute of camera time. Alicia, Rainey and Will watch them go. “Anything I need to know?” Will wonders; Alicia doesn’t think so, and Rainey doesn’t comment at all. In the peanut gallery, Dylan Stack shrugs to indicate similar bafflement. With a voice as flat and dry as a desert, Judge Parks asks the counselors to approach, and Rainey blows out a worried breath.
“The plaintiffs subpoena has been quashed,” Parks informs them – because the photo has turned up online. So, what, now you’re excluding it out of spite? Andrews starts immediately on a self righteous pitch about how appalling it is that Will knew about the picture. Did you know, Parks asks. Oh boy. How do they answer that one? Will tries a lie, but the judge isn’t buying, and all seems lost (which is just ridiculously frustrating when you think about it) until Alicia thinks of the fact that it’s already available online. No, sorry, it’s still lost, because it was illegally obtained, and Judge Parks will never let it in. (I know there’s the whole fruit of the poisonous tree, but if it’s not the government doing the illegal searching, that still holds?) This is the moment when folks in Anonymous masks stand and start chanting “Justice for Rainey Selwyn, justice now” from the gallery.
Justice. Because that’s sure as hell not what she’s getting in this courtroom. Rainey slides down in her seat as the sheriffs remove the protestors from the room.
“Is it true?” the reedy voice of David Lee rises above the clamor in the conference room. “That’s what I want to know.” Awesome. More misery. Is what true, Diane wonders, because let’s face it, at this point it could be anything. (Quote trigger – “what is truth?” “You can’t handle the truth!”) Lee sneers that she should stop stonewalling; she was seen in Springfield at the Supreme Court. Ah, caught in the act. Yes, she was meeting with the Chief Justice, she admits. “But is it true: are you being considered for Justice Ludwig’s seat?” Diane glances over at Will. “Don’t look at Will,” David Lee growls, “it’s an easy question.” So she answers it: “yes, I’m being considered.” Ah, just awesome. The room goes insane.
The group complains even more vociferously when they hear that this has been going on for six weeks. “Didn’t you think this was something we should know?” Oh, come on. It’s hardly something she would have wanted to make public. “We didn’t want to unduly alarm anyone if it wasn’t a certainty,” Will explains calmly. And it’s hardly a certainty even if Peter wins – and frankly, with this show, I don’t even know which way the election will land. “It’s not your choice,” David Lee screws up his face with contempt, “it’s not your personal fiefdom. What you do effects us.” Good luck with that reasoning, buddy – she still doesn’t owe you. “And did you know? Your husband is appointing her. Did you know?” David Lee demands, wagging a finger at Alicia. The would-be first lady’s in priestess garb, severe and black and so powerful. Yes, she says, and the room explodes again.
“Diane, you need to be stepping back right now. How do we know you’re doing what’s good for the court or what’s good for us?” You don’t; in fact, we know she isn’t thinking of the firm first. This is the first thing he’s said that makes sense. “You don’t,” she agrees. “Then step the hell back,” he repeats his demand. We’ll think about it, Will says, and David Lee raises his hands, wiggling his fingers. “Oh yes, your highness, please do. In the meantime, Diane, you are taking money out of our pockets as a profit participant.” Huh? I don’t get that. She hasn’t quit, and she may never. (My money, of course, is on never.) I don’t see how she would be taking money inappropriately unless she was being paid not to work. The thunder in the room stills when Cary opens the door, demanding that Will come see something. Give us fifteen minutes, Will prevaricates – but no, it’s the Rainey case, and Cary really thinks it can’t wait. “And you’re going to be getting a call from the judge any minute.” Great, because this meeting was totally unproductive. Let’s leave it.
Words flash on a computer screen, silver capital letters. WE. ARE. ANONYMOUS. Images of protest and battle follow. A digitally altered voice narrates. “Citizens of the world, we at Anonymous have watched with dismay as each year, in the United States, thousands of rapists skirt justice.” We see the cell phone film of Todd and the doll. “This is one such rapist. Todd Bratcher.” The word RAPIST is stamped on his laughing face in red. “In an effort to aid the hard working attorneys attempting to bring him to justice, we urge the judge to stop rejecting worthy evidence.” Alicia sighs in horror, and Will closes his eyes, wishing it away, knowing how furious it will make Judge Parks. “Like this photo.” Todd gives his thumbs up beside Rainey’s passed out body. “Why, Your Honor” – and here we have a formal picture of Judge Parks – “are you leaving this out?” When the red “ENABLER” stamp appears over Parks’ face, Will falls into a chair. “Oh, we are so screwed,” he moans. “It gets worse,” Cary tells his boss, still standing.
“They cannot hide. You have made your victim’s lives hell.” We see headline about women’s groups and their frustration with the way the courts fail to progress, about rape kits being destroyed in fires or lying untested by the thousands. (Duh. It really is appalling.) We also see that they’re viewing this on ChumHum and that it’s what comes up if you search Todd Bratcher + Rapist. (The first thing you actually get – on Google – is this.) “Now it’s your turn. This is the address of Todd Bratcher and his friend Jesse Martin.” Whoa. (In the name of completeness – and we are nothing if not all over the deets here at Relatively Entertaining – the two boys live in swank brownstones, 1540 North Ravenswood Avenue, Chicago Illinois 60610 and 4606 North Sheffield Avenue, Chicago Illinois 60610.)
It’s not me, Dylan Stack tells Alicia, who is accosting him in his hotel room once more. He raises his hands to show his lack of involvement. It’s Anonymous, Alicia points out, your Anonymous. (Or, hmm. Is she saying your – as in, the group you belong to – or you’re, as in you are Anonymous? Either one actually fits.) “There’s more than one Anonymous,” he shrugs. If you had nothing to do with this – and he swears he didn’t – then how did this Anonymous know about the photo? “I don’t know. Maybe they’re in court, watching.” They’re not in the Judge’s chambers,” Alicia points out – perhaps not remembering we didn’t see the photo in the judge’s chamber, we saw it in court. (Plus, it’s online – they made a whole point of it being online.) Dylan points out that anyone who was in the judge’s chambers – including the court reporter and the opposing attorney – could have leaked it. Or anyone at Lockhart/Gardner, as Will and Alicia probably discussed the case with other staff members.
“You know what I think, Dylan?” He makes a face, so I’d guess he does. “I think every bit of this is you. I think you enjoy creating paranoia and confusion to help your cause.” He chews on the inside of his cheek. And what cause is that? “Destroying in order to create.” Ooooh. Wow, I hadn’t thought about it that way, but I can see how that might be the mightiest sin of all in Alicia’s eyes. She’s the good girl. She stands for the way things are done, even when that way sucks. “Maybe,” he admits, “but that video? It’s not me.” Why, she asks, in a tone that says “surprise me” with the heavy implication that he can’t. “I have a sense of humor,” he declares, twinkle in his eye.
She smirks. We’re not joining your class action, she snaps, gathering her things. “Why, out of pique?” No, we just changed our minds, she says. (Yeah, or Diane had her mind changed for her. Honestly, after dealing with Ryvlan, I was kind of hoping she’d change it back as a kind of cosmic “screw you” to the powers that be.) “We’re a democracy,” she declares, self-righteousness roiling off of her, “we do that.”
“I’ve enjoyed these last four weeks a lot,” Robyn tells the hiring committee, so earnest and bright. “Well,” says David Lee, his fist preventing him from sloping entirely into the table, “it’s good that you’ve enjoyed yourself.” She course-corrects immediately. “And I think I’ve made a real impact.” She’s sitting in the conference room across from David, Diane and a couple of other stone faced attorneys, the stodgiest extras the casting department can conjure up. “So I hope you consider keeping me,” she smiles. Diane wants to know if she’s ready to work on her own; “if that’s what the partners want,” she answers. Diane looks over at Kalinda, slouched over in a red button down blouse, but the senior investigator’s face is impassive, so Diane asks Robyn to clear out so they can decide her fate. “If you have any hesitations, I hope you give me a chance to respond,” she replies smartly and with a disarming smile. Certainly, Diane agrees, and Robyn heads out.
“Well, she sure is eager,” Diane observes. “Like working with Minnie Mouse,” David Lee snarks, and Mr. Stodgy can’t hide his smirk. He tries, though. “Kalinda, do you have anything to add?” Leaning into the table, Kalinda takes her time, watching Robyn text through the glass wall, before declaring “she’s good. Keep her on.”
“I’m declaring a mistrial,” Judge Parks informs us from the bench. That’s grossly unfair, Will begs, but no, they’re getting a new date and a new judge. “Our client’s contempt citation?” Alicia asks. Yeah, Parks is going to make her stay in jail until she apologizes, and wow, that makes me livid. She could be stuck there for months, Will complains. “Yes, and your friends should have thought of that.” Anonymous is not our friend, Will bites out through gritted teeth. “They made a mockery of this trial…” well, some might say you did by refusing to see the evidence, sir. “…they instituted mob justice, they made it impossible…” And, yeah, that’s when about ten people in masks stand up and start chanting “Justice for Rainey Selwyn!” The judge throws out his arms, gesturing at them to show they’re proving his point. (Debatable. Highly debatable.)
And hey, look, it’s Julia’s soon-to-be ex-husband Frank from Smash! “Yeah, I remember Todd Bratcher,” he tells Kalinda, “admitted everything. The full nine.” I have no idea what that means. “Yeah,” nods Kalinda, “and then his lawyers got his confession tossed.” Turns out he was too young to be questioned without his parents there. Whoopsie-daisy. Wow, the police don’t come out of this one very well, do they? I mean, they’ve got every possible piece of evidence out there that he did it and they can’t use any freaking bit of it? “The kid skated, but I’m past it.” Oh, really, how nice for you! Is there some way I can throw things at him? “Yeah, well, the girl’s not. She’s suing Todd civilly. I just wish we could use that confession.” Oh boy, Kalinda’s bringing out the puppy dog eyes for this one! Awesome. Please work, please work, please work. Somehow. “I never knew a cop who didn’t keep a copy for himself just in case IED got involved.” You can see she’s on target from his reaction. “If ever there was a moment to do the right thing, this is it.” Yeah, but how will it help if they can’t use it?
A drumbeat rolls as Kalinda walks into the police station, and picks up intensity as she slides the disc of the interview onto a desk and into her computer. “Gonna have to step over my dead body before you walk out that door,” the song declares. How a propos. “The important thing is to get out in front of it so I can tell the judge you cooperated.” Thump thump thump. “Did she say she wanted to have sex?” I guess not, Todd admits. And, oh my God. Kalinda’s on a page called The Daily Lib. Do you have a leak, the dialog box asks. That’s right. Who do we know with super hacking skills and very little sense of humor? You’re looking at her. She drops the file in the appropriate box.
The last lines repeat. “Did she say she wanted to have sex?” “I guess not,” Todd mopes. “Your Honor,” Jared Andrews begins, “you’ve already declared a mistrial.” Will has an answer for that. “But you’re still the judge of record until such time as…” The defense lawyer cuts him off. “You can’t let an anarchistic gang control your rulings,” Jared whispers persuasively; Judge Parks looks down his amazing wall of windows, bending over, hands on the glass.
“Your Honor, forget about everything else here,” Will asks. “Me, him, Anonymous.” Will steps right up to the judge, not aggressively, but earnestly. “Rainey is being imprisoned for telling the truth. This video proves it.” Does it matter when the gag order is content neutral? Will turns the full force of his big brown eyes on Judge Parks.
And then we see Rainey, rushing out of her prison cell to hug Will. “You did it,” Alicia smiles. She walks away, giving them privacy, but turns to watch her boss. She almost smiles, but turns again, and hugs herself fiercely, shaking with emotion for the man who is forbidden her.
So what is the modern perspective on rape, anyway? That teens document everything, a la Steubenville? That girls just aren’t going to go quietly? That if you know the right people or get enough press, hacktivists mights swoop in to sort-of save you? If nothing else, it shows us how woefully inadequate our system is prosecuting rape cases and at coping with the evolving social media evidence that sometimes documents such events. Rainey made it out of jail, which is great, but what about Todd? Not that this show is about easy answers, but I don’t know that I find this as satisfying a conclusion as Alicia does.
I’m tempted to say that it’s odd Kalinda would publicize evidence that can’t be used in trial, further complicating the mess, but with the mistrial, the picture’d gotten pretty desperate. So maybe. (It’s not that it surprises me that Kalinda would be capable of exacting revenge, of course; it’s just that she’s smart and knows the system, so for her to choose to act outside of it – especially when she seemed to have no emotional involvement in it before – was unexpected.)
I’ve already grumbled plenty on issues I had with the episode (it’d be inconvenient to deal with Rainey’s parents, so we’ll just pretend she doesn’t have any!), so I’m not sure I have a ton to add in the end. Plus of course I’ve got the next episode to recap as quickly as I can, too. I will just add that, let’s see, it was nice to see Zach and Grace integrated into the show without actually having to have a separate plot line. Yay for Robyn staying on and Kalinda wanting her to, though the brother-shooting stuff is just odd. Do the writers just feel like any investigator the firm hires has to have puzzling secrets in her past? I don’t enjoy seeing Diane kiss the ring and I’m especially peeved about her dropping Dylan’s case, although I thought the language about them “joining” the class action was interesting – does he already have a legal team preparing it? Because to me, the word ‘joining’ used in that context implies becoming a fellow plaintiff. See, here I go, nitpicking again. Not sure why this episode has brought that out of me to such an extent, but there it is. I am unreservedly thrilled that she and Kurt have plans to tie the knot, though. Also less picky: what the heck is going to happen with Cary and the other fourth years?
And finally, what I’m most curious to hear is how people are responding to Alicia’s freak outs regarding Will. She seems to be in a really bad way. We know she likes the rare occasions where Will dedicates himself to the cause of an innocent, but is the show making a good case for them as a pairing right now? If Alicia really wants to resist Will, why doesn’t she (re)join the fourth year rebellion? She’s got an out. She can remove herself from temptation. So why doesn’t she? And if her desire to be with him is strong enough to overcome all rational precautions, should she just do it?