E: All the interviews and reports promised it: in the season finale, Alicia will finally make her choice! Our notoriously cagey heroine will pick a side, and lordy but it’s been a long time coming. Fans everywhere rejoiced; even the most hardcore shippers have wilted, exhausted by the love triangle and desperate for the uncertainty to end. Move us forward, Alicia!
And so she did, and it was more purely revolutionary than we could have imagined. I have to say, I am pretty damn stoked; I’ve been advocating for that course for months, but I never thought it would actually happen. We have an answer. Shame on us, though, for asking the wrong question.
Instead of his usual frustrated expression, Zach Florrick almost smiles surveying the room in front of him, a giant American flag behind his head. There’s something about that slight smile – something that says he’s arrived and is taking a moment to soak it in – that’s so reminiscent of his mother. “First time?” a quavery voice asks. Ah yes, remember that he turned 18 last week? His first opportunity to vote, and he gets to cast that vote for his dad? That is astonishingly cool when you think about it.
The elderly poll worker asks for his name (hmm, I have to give my address first) and when he gives it she laughs uproariously, scrunching her face and throwing her head back. Does he know that there’s a candidate with that same name? Amazing! “I know what it’s like,” she grins, “my last name is Eisenhower.” Hee. That’s so cute. She hands him a ballot, and Zach – preppy in his prep school uniform – trundles off to an empty voting booth in the empty polling place. He can’t resist snapping a picture of the ballot with his phone before bending over to fill in the slot next to his father’s name; as he bends, we see some men walk in carrying a large box labeled 1 and 2. The box has a red seal sort of like duct tape which is clearly broken, and a bunch of loose ballots on the top. In fact, most of the unsecured ballots fall to the floor when the workers set the box down – Zach watches as one of the men gathers them up and lays them neatly on the top. The young man stops short when he notices that nosy Zach has been not-so-subtly watching him; he stands for a moment, his stare aggressive and guilty at the same time, and then he walks past Zach, close enough to smack shoulders in a deliberate (and very high school) attempt at intimidation. Ah, there it is. That’s more like it – that’s the frowning Zach face we know.
Walking toward the box, Zach notes that the vote on the top sheet was cast for rival Mike Kresteva. (Interesting – there are two gubernatorial candidates we haven’t heard about – Albert Seamus O’Dell and Renee Axeldun.) He returns to Ms. Eisenhower, who starts to instruct him on pulling his ballot into the counting machine, but he’s of course more interested in the ballot box behind him. No, dear, she says, more flustered than you’d imagine for someone virtually alone at poll, you’re supposed to put your ballot here. I know, he says, but those ballot boxes are supposed to be sealed, and that one’s seal is broken. Are you sure, she flutters, shocked and at his yes the two walk over to investigate.
Before they can, however, a Jim Parsons look-alike with a badge walks up and asks her what’s the problem. “This young man thinks there’s a problem with the ballot box,” Ms. Eisenhower explains. And, yep. That’s when Zach gets out his trusty iphone. ‘Excuse me, what’re you doing?” the man asks quietly. “Taking a picture,” Zach replies. (Duh.) “Well you can’t do that,” Parsons’ double insists. Of course I can, Zach replies; no, it’s illegal, Parsons says. Only if you take a picture of someone else voting, Zach notes (although even when you throw in possible intimidation it seems a bit hard to imagine you’d get a picture of the person and their marked ballot without their permission). But anyway, trust Zach to know the letter of the law on the subject.
“Excuse me,” the man says, stepping forward as if hoping to be imposing, “I am the polling monitor here, and I am going to have to ask you to leave.” What? You just messed with the wrong kid, Mr. Hoity-Toity Polling Monitor. Zach frowns and swallows hard.
“We’re still confident, Your Honor,” Peter cups his phone to his ear amidst the chaos of his campaign; someone walks behind him with a life-sized Florrick cardboard cutout under his arm. (Heee. I can think of a few fans who wouldn’t mind going home with that.) With the polls showing the race in a dead heat, everything depends on their get out the vote effort. “Eli,” Jackie picks at the campaign manager’s sleeve. Of course Eli’s also on the phone, but Jackie – thinking positive, thinking ahead, glowing in powder blue with a dragonfly pin – wants her home aid Cristian on the stage with them when Peter wins. “He’s family,” she adds significantly. Eli’s talking to Alicia but can’t hear her over the din, or over Peter, who stops him to ask what Jackie was on about (“oh, she wants her help on the dais.”) Peter’s frowning so hard he doesn’t register Eli’s words about problems with early voting. “I don’t want Cristian on the dais!” he snaps, and Eli can’t find sufficient expression for his outraged at his candidate’s misplaced attention.
As Eli moves into another room and loudly throw the staff out it’s clear that they’re in a hotel suite, as with the State’s Attorney campaign, and remembering how well that went makes me very nearly nauseous. He bellows for Nora, but I don’t see her. A young female staff attempts to abscond with the Peter cutout, but Eli insists she leave it on the bed. Odd. “What did Zach see?” Eli asks Alicia, now that he can hear. “He was early voting in the 43rd, and he may have seen a stuffed ballot box of Kresteva votes,” Alicia explains, heading out of her office. The city’s dark and glittering behind her; it must be the night before the election, which would explain the low turn out at the poll. Eli twitches. Why does Zach think that? Because there was a broken seal on the box, Alicia explains, and we can see both Zach and Grace behind her now. I wonder if they ever let Zach cast his ballot? Anyway…
His eyes widening with horror, Eli asks if they know for sure. He took a picture of it, Alicia says. “Alicia, tomorrow’s election day. All our lawyers are downstate. Can you ask Diane to take this?” Eli asks hopefully, Jim Moody popping up like an apparition behind his shoulder. Of course not – she’s at dinner. “You want me to call Will?” Hell no he doesn’t. “Diane’s incentive-ized. If Peter doesn’t win, she…” Yeah, Alicia gets it; I’m sure she gets the unspoken parts, too. She’ll call back.
Immediately, Eli pulls Jim aside, whispering about the ballot box. “Kresteva is trying to steal this election and we have to stop him!” he hisses. Okay, Jim rumbles, what areas worry you the most? Madison township, Eli nods, thinking about it, and the 41st ward. With a slight nod, Jim’s ready to take it on. Wait, what’re you doing, Eli asks. Jim’s eyebrows draw down. “I’m gonna take care of it. You wanna know how?” There’s swagger in his stance, in his words. This is Jim Moody’s world. No, Eli doesn’t want to know. “Do I?” he winces.
“It’s ten hours to the polls,” Jim explains. “I have a septic truck ready.” A what now? “I’m gonna park it in front of the main precinct in the 41st.” Okay, that’s just gross. “Accidentally spill it. Okay?” And that’s a whole other kind of gross. Eli’s eyes nearly roll up into his head as he considers before finally nodding okay. He keeps nodding, eyes closed, as Jim leaves.
And as Jim leaves, Cary walks purposefully across a polished concrete floor. “This is perfect, wow,” he gushes, arriving at the corner of two floor-to-ceiling window walls. “My office here,” he declares, arms expansive as his fellow fourth years chuckle, “conference room there, I love it.” He turns to the tall red head and another guy. “How much is it?” $60 a square foot. Hello frowny face. “Ouch,” he responds eventually.
“You’re not going to find much cheaper in the Loop, not if you want to move in in two weeks,” Red-Head explains. Is that Beth? Why is she not listed on the imdb? Bah, “Well,” Cary walks toward them, “we can’t afford $60 a square foot.” We can if we reduce our upfront salary costs, the man with Red suggests. Okay, and how do we do that, Cary asks. Co-conspirator guy proves himself to be a complete dumb-ass by throwing back his head, staring at Cary as if it should be obvious, and saying “Kalinda.” How are these people so stupid? You should all take pay cuts so you can afford Kalinda, you should be lavishing her with every perk she could ever want, because that woman wins cases. ‘We all agreed, we pay her ask – that’s the only way she’ll come with us,” Cary looks back and forth between the two speakers. Well, we changed our minds, says Red (and now that I get a good look at her, could be a different actress from before).
“Look, guys,” Cary explains, “Kalinda wins cases.” Yes! Thank you! “We split off from Lockhart/Gardner, we need to win cases. That’s how we grow.” Schmuck-boy thinks they can win cases cheaper. Good luck with that. Dock your own salary, ass-hat. “And maybe there’s someone who can win cases and pay us,” Cary replies, “but that’s not likely.” He gets out his phone; he’s got a message from Diane, so he’s got to bail. “Ask Kalinda if she’ll take a commitment to bump up in the second year,” Red suggests, and he nods his willingness. Oh, you stupid people, she never ever would. “I’ll see you guys down in the bar in an hour,” he says.
And the poor court stenographer is nodding over her little stenograph machine. “Judy! Stop it right now, or we’ll all be yawning in a minute,” Judge Charles Abernathy calls out a warning as he walks out of chambers and over to the bench. (Have we met her before, or is that just their favorite name for stenographers? Wasn’t she the one sniffling over Judge Cuesta?) He introduces himself, explains he’s the judge on call for electioneering dispute (is it smart or sad that they have a judge dedicated to that task?) and asks what’s going on. Alicia’s sitting at one desk, a very young-looking man at another. With Grace and Zach sitting behind her, she explains they have an issue with the provenance of some early voting ballots. “…and we ask for relief before voting is concluded in approximately 21 hours.” Which would make this what, 11pm the night before the election? Yikes.
Judge Charles Abernathy points to the frightened looking young man gripping the back of his chair. “You, sir, you’re here to represent the Kresteva campaign?” he asks. “No, I am,” declares Patti Nyholm, striding into the courtroom with an infant in her arms. Holy crap. My God, but she’s fertile, isn’t she? Three babies in four seasons is an impressive total. We haven’t seen her in a year, so I guess that makes the baby about three months old? She (the baby) seems big for that, but okay; I guess Patti could have been a few months pregnant in last seasons finale without us knowing. In true Patti-style, the harried mother apologizes elaborately, saying she just got word to come in. “And who better to argue an all night session than a mother who would be up anyway?” A flunky – a manny? – wheels in her stroller. I feel grumpy about his presence (why couldn’t she have left the baby with this guy, or with her husband) because it makes her game playing even more obvious.
Welcome, m’am, Judge Abernathy begins, I see you’ve come with some – accoutrements. (His pronunciation of this is rather French.) It’s my baby’s, she coos, all charming smiles. “I have to breastfeed the little one, or else she won’t sleep through the night. Right, because bringing her out with you in the middle of the night is a sure way to get her sleep. That said, I love the way Patti plays the motherhood card, because the male judges just have no clue how to deal with her. Alicia rolls her eyes. Next season, how about we get her to interact with a female judge? I’d love to see her try this crap on another mother. Okay, he says, just try to keep them quiet. (He says “them” but it’s not a double stroller, so I’m a little baffled.) Sure she will.
Beaming at her eldest child – whoa, really, it’s so surreal that Alicia and Patti both have their children in court, teens and infants – Alicia advances on the witness stand. Behind Zach’s head is a flat screen TV with the cell phone image of the broken seal. “Could you please tell us what you saw tonight in the fifth precinct in the 43rd ward?” He can. “I saw an unsealed box of votes being carried in and placed in a corner.” Seriously, what are the chances of the candidate’s son seeing this? Or of anyone believing him? “And did you happen to take a picture of those ballots?” Yes m’am, Captain Rulebook is on the case with his trusty cell phone. And, there she is, Baby Bite Me the Third squalling and wailing, right on cue. Sorry, Patti pleads, and the judge says it’s fine. “We’ll just wait.” Alicia’s not interesting in following directions, however; she gets Zach to confirm the box from the picture and then tenders the witness. And leans over, whispering “just be honest” as she walks to her seat, leaving Zach looking a bit nonplussed.
Oh, dear, watch out. Patti looks like a cat with a mouth full of feathers, like a vampire at a blood drive, getting the chance to savage Alicia’s son. “So,” she says, standing, blood lust in her eyes. “Zach Florrick. What did your mother whisper to you just now?” Sigh. He repeats her words. “I see. So she was afraid you wouldn’t be?” Shocking everyone, Alicia objects. “Your Honor, I gave my son the same advice I would give any first time witness.” (I don’t know why, but immediately I thought that’s not true – but it is. He never had to testify in I Fought the Law.) Patti looks happily sour, in her bright coral cardigan. How’s that possible? “Now Zach,” she smirks, “have you ever been arrested?” Oh boy. It goes without saying that Alicia objects and the judge overrules because it does, in fact, speak to his character (though not as a trouble maker in the usual sense, if that’s what Patti’s implying). It was dropped, Alicia cries. “Excuse me, Your Honor, I was questioning the witness, not his mother,” Patti smirks again. Really, it’s less than ideal to have Alicia do this questioning. Cary or Diane, one of you needs to show up now!
After getting Zach to admit that he was arrested for taking a picture of a policeman, Patti takes a dramatic pause right in front of Alicia, blocking her view of her son. “This would be the second time in 8 months you thought you saw something corrupt and took a picture?” As Alicia pokes her head out from around Patti, Zach says yes. “It seems to happen a lot to you?” Well, it’s happened twice, he replies. “I don’t know that I’d call that a lot.” Good one, Zach!
You were pulled over for drug possession, Patti asks – and Alicia can’t stop herself from calling out that the charge was dropped. Zach remains calm and explains that this was the charge, but he wasn’t carrying drugs. “The policeman was wrong,” he explains. “You seem to question authority a lot,” Patti notes fairly. (There’s a whole theory about white teenage boys loving rap music because they’re frustrated not so much by the disenfranchisement described in much of that genre, as the fact that they feel entitled but aren’t in control yet; I can’t help thinking about that here, that Zach sees himself as an equal of those authorities.) “No,” he shakes his head, “only when it’s wrong.” This reply wins a doting smile from mom.
And here’s Diane, bustling into court just as the poll monitor tells Patti and the judge that he told Zach to stop taking pictures. He threatened to call the police if Zach didn’t stop. I know it’s early voting, but shouldn’t there have been a police officer there already? The Poll Monitor contends that the ballot box pictured came from earlier in the week and is not in any way unsecured. Ah, but that broken seal gives your words the lie, PM. The leather clad, stubble-y dude who was carrying the box was just a poll worker moving it, not carrying it is. (Fine. So why not bring him to the stand?) “I think young Mr. Florrick has a tendency to exaggerate,” Patti rolls her eyes confidentially, and Alicia and Diane stand as one to object.
“My goodness! Miss Lockhart, good evening. You’ve decided to join our little slumber party,” Judge Abernathy smiles. Really, she and Alicia were rather loud in concert. “I am, Your Honor. You couldn’t keep me away.” At those preposterous words, Judge Abernathy starts to pace because of his sciatica. Because Judge Abernathy isn’t quirky enough on a regular day, we have to give him an ailment that only bothers him at night? Would you like me to pause, Patti asks – but no, he doesn’t. He doesn’t rule on the objection, either. “Just one more question, Mr. Buckley,” Patti asks the PM. “Why was this ballot box unsealed at all?” I accidentally ripped the seal trying to lift it myself, PM Buckley offers, much to Zach’s disgust. You would think there would be a procedure in case of that happening, wouldn’t you? Patti ends her questioning there.
When Diane picks it up, she immediately goes for bias: PM Buckley is a registered Republican. Diane suggests this means he’ll favor Kresteva; Patti objects, and is sustained by Judge Abernathy from the back of the court. “Your Honor, by all accounts this will be a very close election. Some polls suggest that 1000 votes will decide whether Peter Florrick or Mike Kresteva is governor. And so we ask that this box be impounded by the court until such time as their provenance can be determined.” Calling out, Patti suggests that doing so would be more appropriate for a police state. If the vote seems one-sided, Diane would like to see fraud charges brought. “Your Honor,” Patti launches into a tirade, a look of gleeful outrage on her face. “This is a blatant attempt to suppress the vote!” We have less than 24 hours before the polls close, Diane yells over Patti, and Abernathy (beaming) bangs his gavel on a guard rail until he’s pounded the lawyers into silence. “Okay. Time out. Five minute recess.”
The courtroom doors spit Diane back into the hallway; she whips out her phone, but also scurries to Kalinda, gripping the younger woman by the arm. The investigator has to figure out whether the ballots are real or not. “Quickly. Now.” She nods and rushes off without a word. “Cary,” Diane tells her other underling, “we have to look into the Republican monitor. Any connection to Kresteva,” she nods, and he’s got it, he’ll go too.
But the first thing he has to do is follow Kalinda and present his bad news. “We need to talk,” he says, and I’m impressed that he doesn’t sugar coat it. “We can’t pay your ask.” Okay, she says, and is off again in a flash. Wait wait wait, he begs. “Just listen to me. You have the chance to get in on the ground floor of something,” he begins. “Cary, please,” she rolls her eyes at him. “Don’t sell me.” He tries anyway. He starts to promise what they’ll do for her within a year – but, oops! That soft “good evening” came from Will Gardner, and Cary stops speaking. There’s no way he didn’t hear any of that – but he passes by without comment, so perhaps he was distracted.
Within a year, Cary pleads, we’ll give you 10% more than Lockhart/Gardner. Instead, she wants five percent of company profits for the first three years. “You want me to get excited about the ground floor idea,” she states as he cringes, “five percent. No overhead. Clean.” Can he do it? Is it a fair ask?
“Hi Patti,” Will smiles down at his nemesis, who’s breastfeeding in the hall. “It’s odd that you’re in this.” I like that dotted baby blanket she’s hiding Bite Me under; it actually matches her outfit. “The pharmaceutical industry likes Kresteva over your boy,” she nods. I bet Will loves hearing Peter referred to as his boy. “Is this a new one?” he asks. “I don’t know,” she shrugs, “I’ve lost track.”
Ah, Patti. You and Will are the most fantastic adversaries.
“You can call me Nana Jo,” Ms Eisenhower tells the court. Ah, when PM talked to her, I thought he was saying Hannah or Anna. Good to know. “I love your beret,” Judge Abernathy leans forward and confides, as if he were talking to a five year old. “I took it off out of respect,” she says, but with his encouragement and permission, she emits a happy little shriek and puts it back on. “Thank you, Nana Jo,” Will approaches the stand, smiling. “That is a lovely beret.” Rightly, Patti Nyholm rolls her eyes. Despite the judge’s confusing walk-about, Will manages to ask what Nana Jo knows about PM Buckley accidentally breaking the seal on the box. “I was there all day,” she shakes her said, “and I didn’t see him move from his office.” But she did see someone come in with box; she remembers, because she thought he was a voter. “And then I saw this big box in his arms.” Well, that’s a little odd, since there were two guys. I think it’s highly unlikely that one person could have moved it at all, but it’s not very relevant because there were two. I wonder if that was a last minute adjustment in filming and they didn’t want to reshoot the dialog to reflect it? Nana Jo gives a beatific smile as Will swaggers over toward Patti. “Good luck crossing Grandma Moses,” he teases.
“Hi Nana Jo,” Patti coos brightly. “When was the last time you had your eyes checked?” Ah, we’re using that old stand-by, are we? Bo-ring. Nana Jo Eisenhower squints and blinks through Patti’s little performance, during which she holds up two fingers at the back of the courtroom and asks how many Nana can see. Her answer is wrong (3) but I don’t really see the relevance; after all, neither the box nor the men carrying it were finger-sized. The best part, really, is Diane’s objection (“this stunt went out with Perry Mason”) and Judge Abernathy’s response, once she locates him in the back of the courtroom (“and yet I enjoy it every time”). In her cross examination, Diane elicits the fact that the man walked right past Nana Jo, making the eyesight question moot. How close, Diane asks, and inches toward Nana Jo in stages until she’s leaning on the witness stand. “And how many fingers am I holding up now?” Diane asks, causing Patti to roll her eyes and Nana Jo to giggle the right answer.
“I have good news for everyone, we have located the ballot box in question,” the judge says as two sheriffs bring it inside. “45s-721.” Diane wants them counted immediately, Patti starts preaching about violating the sanctity of the voting booth, and all descends into chaos until Judge Abernathy holds up a hand. It seems the votes have already been counted, so there’s no need to debate the ethics of doing so; he has the numbers in his hot little hand. There are 30,843 ballots total, which (as Diane points out) seems like a lot for such a small polling place during early voting. “How many are for Kresteva?” she asks. “Ah, 2685,” the judge reads. “26,000!” Diane thunders. “No,” the judge stops her, “2,600.” Oops. Out of 30,000?
Diane, Alicia and Will start looking at each other in disbelief. Patti’s jaw drops. “Yes, it’s a surprise. The rest are for Florrick, 28,158.” Everyone keeps looking around at each other, stunned. “We… Your Honor…” Diane stutters. Judge Abernathy smiles, enjoying the turn of events. “Would you like to change your motion?” Yes, out of respect for the voting process, they would. “I’d like to make a motion, Your Honor,” Patti pipes up. “Of course you would,” he smiles, tilting his head like a strange stiff bird, and so she does. “These ballots are fraudulent and should be thrown out.”
Arguing for Kalinda’s proposition, Cary suggests that profit sharing would be a beneficial strategy. He’s huddled around a table in a bar with his co-conspirators. “I have watched Lockhart/Gardner make the same mistakes,” the brown-haired guy counters. They overextend, promise people too much. Ironic, then since you’re leaving – and Kalinda and the assistants are thinking about revolt – because you’re underpaid. We’re not making that same mistake, Cary insists. ‘Their mistake was committing money they didn’t have,” he insists fervently.
“Maybe you’re a little too close to this, Cary,” Red suggests. That’s laughable, he scoffs. “You have no objectivity about Kalinda.” Maybe so, but you guys need to look at her record because despite his connection to her, the facts support Cary. “I have just as much objectivity as anyone,” he cries, screwing up his face. “No,” Red continues relentlessly, “we haven’t slept with her.” Oh, hello! I think this going off the rails a bit. A smiling Cary attempts to get the conversation back on track, but he’s foiled again. “Is that Colin Sweeney?” Oppositional Guy interrupts. And sure enough, a bearded Colin smirking from a nearby table. “Mr.Agos,” he calls out, raising his shot glass at Cary. What’s up with that? Cary heads over to find out.
“I wanted to toast your new venture,” Colin declares, pretentious, as Cary steps up to his small, tall table. “My new…” Cary tries to deny it. “Yes! Your little rebellion. It’s in the air,” Sweeney growls. Cary’s incredulous. “Like Les Mis, did you see that musical? Vive la Resistence, eh!” he hollers, raising his glass once more to the co-conspirators back at Cary’s table; unsure, they raise their glasses in return. Wait, Colin Sweeney likes musicals?
“I’m not sure,” Cary begins, desperately trying to figure out what Sweeney knows and how. “I own the building,” he clears up the confusion. OH. “My manager told me you were considering a lease?” Okay, makes sense. Cary smiles. “What’re you looking for, Mr. Sweeney?” Colin leans forward, sotto vocce. “I want a discount on my legal services,” he explains. “You can get 20% savings on my office space, and I get two years free unlimited legal work.” Some discount! Oh, that would make me extremely nervous. “Work it out. It’s a good deal.” Could it possibly be? Yeah, Cary’s not immediately sold. “Alicia’s not coming with us,” he feels the need to confess, and indeed, Sweeney’s face falls with the news. Clearly
“The voters have spoken!” Diane thunders. “Where did these votes come from? Out of the blue? Out of thin air?” Normal courtroom order has broken down – Patti’s pacing the room as she says this, gesticulating with an orange slice before decisively popping it into her mouth when she finishes the thought. Miss Nyholm has spent the last two hours arguing the opposite, Will insists. Yes, dude, just like you. “If the preponderance of the votes were for Kresteva, it would be fraud. The preponderance of the votes are for Florrick. So, therefore,” Patti argues – quite rightly – but Judge Abernathy just looks at his watch, leans back in his seat, closes his eyes, and lets Will, Diane, and Patti keep at it.
Out in the hall, Alicia reads off the numbers to Peter. “You think they’ll be thrown out?” She doesn’t know, Diane and Will are trying. Peter has her on speaker phone in a busy room; he and Eli are bent over a table shuffling through papers with several other people; as always its Eli who winces first. “Will is arguing?” Peter asks with forced calm. Awareness flickers over Alicia’s features, but the discomfort is quickly pushed aside for more pressing concerns. They’re trying, she repeats, but we just spent the last two hours arguing against inclusion.
“We need those votes, all of them,” Eli barks. “We think it’s that close.” She knows. She’s trying. They’re all trying. He knows. They’ll talk soon.
And from that pleasant topic, Peter and Eli turn to see Cristian sitting at a baby grand piano (can that be right? there are so many people it’s hard to tell) flirting with Jackie. They’re pointing, wagging fingers at each other and declaring “no, you!” Really creepy. “Do you think she knows I’m losing?” Peter wonders, and as creepy as this is, I can’t help thinking part of his problem with this maybe-coupling is jealousy of his mother’s attention. The comment implies it; he’s used to being the center of her world. “I’ve dedicated my life to not predicting what Jackie knows,” Eli spits out, bitter. I could howl, but I kind of want to hug him, too – his stress level is approaching the ceiling. “Jim, is there any way we can make up those 30 thousand votes?”
Like a demon, Jim Moody appears from the shadows. Maybe, he thinks. What kind of walk around money does Eli have for the 18th ward? Eli will find out what he can spare for shenanigans. “Jim,” Peter calls, not looking up. “I want you to do me a favor. My mother’s nurse, Cristian Romano.” Oh, boy. This is entering that gray area, isn’t it? “I want you to check him out.” We see Cristian slapping the piano, laughing. “Criminal? Financial? Personal?” Everything, Peter says. “I want to know if he’s using my mom.”
Back at the courthouse, poor Buckley is back on the stand. I sure hope he didn’t go home. Diane has him swear that there’s nothing dodgy with the ballots. “Yes, I am still a Republican.” And so it wouldn’t be in his interest to keep the ballots in. (Well, not unless he’s being paid off and care more about money than politics, but sure.) Patti takes a crack at him next, and, stop the presses and revoke his Republican cred – he once wrote an article for the American Spectator criticizing Mitt Romney! Well he can’t be a real Republican if he has nuanced opinions on his party’s candidates, clearly. Then we’re back to Nana Jo and her eye sight. Sigh. How suspicious was the man carrying the box? (Gah, I’m so annoying that they’re only talking about one man. What’s up with that? I’m too persnickety about details. Maybe I should go to law school.) Oh, awful. Will attacks her for taking an Alzheimer’s medicine. Because my doctor told me to, she says. I’m not showing any symptoms. My heart squeezes. Do you remember your husband’s birthday, he asks – and when she doesn’t off the top of her head, Will badgers her about it. And she starts to sob.
“I just want to go home,” she pleads. Do you even remember your address, he wonders snarkily, and for once I think Patti’s justified in calling him on it. It’s a reasonable question, Will weasels, but it seems to me that was one cruelty too far.
And then Alicia’s squirming, because it’s Zach’s turn to be back on the stand. Somehow, Patti feels the need to undo her previous questioning; you were just trying to be a good guy when you took pictures of the cop who pulled you over, right? Well, it was more the sound recording that was at issue then, but okay. “I guess,” he says. “And this cop was later fired for his activities,” Patti continues. Zach didn’t know that, and it throws him a little. “You were instrumental in getting a crooked cop off the streets,” she finishes. I wouldn’t go that far, he says, and of course she exhorts him not to be so modest. “Your mom must be very proud of you,” she says, and Alicia – wait for it – rolls her eyes. Didn’t he see the ballot box being carried in across the street, and not just moved around the polling place? Well, he stumbles. “You do know the penalty for perjury,” she adds, causing Alicia to (of course) object.
“Ah, yes,” says Judge Abernathy, “can we all just assume that witnesses know they’re not supposed to lie?” Ha ha ha! Patti apologizes, and then waves. “Just a simple question, Zach. Do you believe these unsealed ballots came in off the street?” Compressing his lips, Zach looks at his mother in regret. “Yes,” he reluctantly admits, and with that, Patti’s done. “Thank you, Zach, for being honest. I know there must be a lot of pressure on you not to.” The eye roll is there just as you’d expect.
So, wow, how’re we going to navigate this one? Alicia looks to her colleagues, wondering how to proceed. “I’ll do it,” Diane offers. “No, I will,” says Will, and Alicia’s nod shows that she trusts him, which is maybe a leap after Nana Jo. “Zach, how long were you in the fifth precinct polling place?” he wonders from his seat, a distance nicely calculated. There’s no physical intimidation to it. About ten minutes, he says. Did he see anything that went on in the poll before or after those ten minutes? Of course not. “So you had no way of knowing where these men carrying the ballot box came from originally?” Yes, that’s true, Zach catches on, really pleased. “You had no way of knowing whether these men received orders from Mr. Buckley or not.” That’s right, he didn’t; Zach’s getting more exciting, sensing a way out, hoping he hasn’t cost his father the election by noticing this genuinely suspicious box. “So it’s not lying to acknowledge the limits of your own testimony,” Will concludes. That’s right, Zach beams. “Do you know if these ballots were fraudulent or not, or if the seal on the ballot box was ripped accidentally or never attached?” Well, we can see it was ripped, actually, but we all take your point – Patti looks sour, and Zach thrilled. “I have no way of knowing,” he grins. “Good. Thank you Zach.” Seriously, when was the last time we saw Zach go that long without frowning?
As Judge Abernathy asks if there’s anything else he needs to hear before making a ruling, Will sneaks a look at Alicia to see if she approves of his handling of Zach. She throws him a quick, covert smile. Just as the judge is staring to close the proceedings, a sheriff’s deputy comes up to him for a whispered conference. Everyone waits, breathless. “Okay,” he says. “We need to put a pause in these proceedings. There is now a matter being adjudicated in the federal court which will make this matter moot.” What’s that you say? Everyone stands to ask. “An injunction on the ballots as a whole.” From which campaign, Patti wonders. “The third party,” Abernathy nods. Which of the two “third party candidates” is the actual third party here, Axeldun or O’Dell? Alicia bends over in stress. And after a beat of shock, all four lawyers gather up their things and run like hell for federal court. Patti makes it out first, but Will and Diane are mere feet behind.
“Go to the suite, I’ll meet you after we deal this,” Alicia tells her children, walking them out into the deserted streets. We’ll come with you, Zach insists, but Alicia is firmer; who know when this will end? “I don’t know how long this will go and I don’t have time to argue. I’m gonna call dad and tell him to expect you. Will, wait up!” Will, who was about to get into his car, freezes. “Mom, come with us, we’ll take you,” Grace offers, interesting. No, no, it’s good, Alicia calls out, phone ringing and on its way to her ear, and Grace stands with the wind in her hair, watching her mother rush away. Hmmm. Maybe not as cool with Mom choosing Will as you said, Grace? Not when you’re this scared for her to just get into a car with him. Looks like Miss I-Don’t-Want-To-Be-The-Reason-You’re-Not-Happy does have a horse in this race. (And of course she does – how could she not?)
“Alicia! How are you!” an oily voice declares over Alicia’s phone. Who is this, she asks. “You really don’t know?” he purrs. Ick. “Mr.Sweeney, it’s 1am.” What does he want, Will asks from the drivers side of his car – where he stands frozen, waiting for her. What an apt metaphor! Let’s hope Sweeney’s just calling to taunt and hasn’t murdered anyone. I’m a little busy, she hurries, trying to get him off the phone. “Campaign night, yes, congratulations,” he grins from the bar where he bumped into Cary. “I voted for your husband!” What, already? “Can we talk later,” she asks, settling herself next to Will inside the car. “No,” he pouts. “I think you should join Mr. Agos in his new firm.”
Oh, the timing.
“What does he want?” Will asks, and well might he. Nothing, she says, a case. Just plotting an insurrection and gutting your client list is all. “Oh! Are we keeping things from our betters?” Obviously we are, jackass. “I’m thinking of moving my business with Mr. Agos, that’s $22 million a year.” Er, not if it’s free. I’m confused. “You don’t want to lose out on that, do you?” Mr. Sweeney, she begs as he sips from a shot glass, “this is neither the time nor the …” Yes, I know you’re a partner now, Alicia, he scoffs. “Yeah, but it’s a smart move. Go with the up and coming!” He’s waving his glass around, enjoying tormenting her, as she hangs up. “That was abrupt,” Will observes mildly. “Yeah, he was going on,” Alicia grumbles acidly. If only you knew, Will, if only you knew.
“I just want to point out, if you don’t mind,” Judge Patrice Lessner tells someone as Will pushes open the gorgeous wood paneled doors to her chambers. There’s a large conference table covered with puzzle pieces and two unfinished puzzles. Love that detail, prop department! And hey, thanks for taking time from the wonderful Suburgatory, Ana Gasteyer. Love the green silk shirt; it’s nice to see you wearing something other than judicial robes (or Sheila Shay’s preppy wardrobe). “Come on in, we just started,” she smiles. “Please, continue, sir,” she waves to a man sitting out of our sight. I could never forget that light voice, however. “Sure, Your Honor,” a youthful voice chirps. “I’m campaign manager to third party candidate Albert O’Dell. And I have evidence that this election is a fraud,” Jordan Karahalios nods at Alicia, who shakes her head, unable to believe that the ghost of campaign manager’s past is coming back to haunt them.
“The problem is the ballot used in early voting,” he proclaims, holding up a ballot to the judge. “My candidate’s name is Albert O’Dell. Left out the apostrophe, you can see right there.” Indeed they have. “I’ll argue this one, you argue the next?” Patti whispers to Alicia and Will; they’re down with that. “Your Honor,” she starts, “the third party candidate has been polling at 3.2 percent. Mr. …” Patti makes a face. “Karahalios,” Alicia supplies. “The third party campaign manager,” Patti continues, emphasizing his unimportance by her refusal to learn his name, “is suggesting the disenfranchising of 800,000 early votes.” Yeah, that does seem like a stretch. “All because of a missing apostrophe?” She breaks out laughing. “That is ridiculous.” In your opinion, Alicia whispers, and Patti crinkles up her face, looking at her momentary ally as if she sprouted another head. “Is that in your opinion?” Judge Lessner asks. Patti blinks. “OH! Oh, oh, yes, in my opinion, of course.” She’s a quick study, Patti Nyholm. You have to love her.
“Mr. Karahalios, I’m not sure a typo rises to the level of a civil rights matter,” the judge informs him, scooting up from behind her desk and returning to her puzzle. At 1 in the morning? Wow. She sets a piece in place and puts a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “My candidate is counting on the Irish vote, Your Honor,” Jordan tries to recapture her attention. “You lose the apostrophe, and the Irish O’Dell suddenly becomes the English Odell.” It’s 2013. I have a lot of trouble imagining that Chicagoans are really that old school. She chews on the idea. “Illinois is %15 Irish. In my opinion, this typo is the difference between winning and losing.” Um, WHAT? Add his three percent to that 15% and you still don’t have a plurality of the votes. And that’s even assuming that the apostrophe could win him all the Irish voters in the entire state, a wildly improbable contention.
“I hate to break it to you, buddy,” Patti lays the truth down on him, “but you’re the third party. You’re gonna lose.” She folds her arms over her chest, smirking. “And yes, that’s my opinion.” Alicia turns her fact to hide her laughter, but Judge Lessner looks a little annoyed. And also like she bit down on a lemon.
“Okay, we got an apostrophe problem,” Will tells Cary, who’s sitting in a stairwell on a bench. Looks like Patti overreached a little there with her sarcasm. “Why?” Robyn asks, sitting up quickly; she was clearly asleep. “We need arguments why the judge should allow this third party’s misprint on the early voting ballots.” See what you can find, he adds, anyone you can wake up. Robyn gallops down the stairs out at a run, and Will races back upstairs.
“Cary,” Alicia says, pulling Cary back as he attempts to follow Robyn. “Do you want me to tell the partners you’re leaving?” Excuse me, he asks, and she crosses her arms over her chest. “Stop stealing my clients, or so help me, I’ll tell them.” She stomps down the stairs, and this time he follows her, full of outraged innocence. “Alicia, what are you talking about?” She explains just who came calling, and Cary winces. “Yes, that’s right. Sweeney. My client.” He approached me, Cary excuses himself. “He did not approach you,” she snaps. ‘We were looking for office space, he said he’s give us a 20% discount for free legal work, I’d never approach him, I’d never steal one of your clients, never.” Okay. I believe him, but it’s a fine line, what he’s doing. Robyn comes charging back up the stairs. “Hi. Sorry,” she beams.
In Ice Queen mode, Alicia puts out a hand. “Robyn, we’re talking.” Yeah, she grins, but I have something on the misprint. Alicia unbends enough to ask what. “A friend of mine, she works for the third party campaign.” Okay, again, what the hell about Renee Axeldun? So confusing. “And she says Albert O’Dell is Jewish. O’Dell is not his real name.” Smoking gun alert! Awesome! That took her what, a minute? Half a minute? “Good, we can run with that. Thanks, Robyn.” Alicia charges back up the stairs, and a very thoughtful looking Cary follows Robyn back down. “Robyn,” he asks, giving a surreptitious look up the stairs, ‘how you liking it at Lockhart/Gardner?” Oh, Cary.
“Your Honor, before you decide on this matter,” Alicia puffs, almost out of breath, “we have new information.” What is that, the judge asks curiously, and Alicia asks polite permission to address Jordan, which is granted. “What is your candidate’s full name?” she asks. Albert Seamus O’Dell, with an apostrophe, he says. “And who is Albert Steinman?” I don’t know, he answers, who are you referring to? “Mr. O’Dell’s real name, before he changed it.” Certainly that’s within his legal rights, Jordan suggests. Yeah, but then you can’t go claiming alienation from his fake ethnicity and pretend that someone ELSE is committing a fraud. It’s a ballsy move, certainly. Patti is loving the look of pique on Judge Lessner’s face; it’s really fun to see her working together with us on the rare occasions it happens. “Just because you don’t have a name that sounds Irish, doesn’t mean you’re not Irish,” Jordan contends, which is fair enough. “A name like Odell, for example, without an apostrophe?” Peter’s ex-campaign aid’s got nothing for that.
“Your Honor, there’s been no damage here, because Mr. Steinman – or Mr. O’Dell, as he is now called – has no Irish heritage to be damaged. In my opinion. ” Yes, agrees the Judge, and she overrules the motion for emergency relief. The three embattled lawyers shoot out of the room, bound no doubt for Judge Abernathy’s court.
“How’s Jackie doing?” Eli asks Cristian jovially. Good, he says. “She wants to go on a cruise. She watches the TV commercials.” Ew. They’re so confusing to me, they really are. I mean I’m glad Jackie’s happy and (more importantly) not all up in everyone else’s business, but eek. “And you’ll go on a cruise with her?” Eli, their are cracks showing in your happy veneer. No, sighs Cristian, “I’ve had enough water for a lifetime.” What on earth does that mean? “”Right, right coming over from Cuba,” Eli nods. Nope. He was a lifeguard. Heh.
“So,” Eli stops the small talk, “Peter wanted me to talk to you, Christian. After the election, they won’t need your services much anymore,” he smirks. Is he deliberately mispronouncing Cristian’s name, or does he just not care? Also, somewhat surprising that Peter delegated this. “I see,” he nods slowly. “Well if Jackie’s fine with that, I’m fine.” Ha ha. Like she’s ever going to go for that. This is coming from Peter, Eli nods, as if that should solve all problems. And maybe if Cristian worked for the campaign it might, but he doesn’t, and it doesn’t. “I’ll have to talk to Jackie,” he repeats.
Eli looks around as if he’d hoped it wouldn’t come to this. “I’ve seen your arrest record, Christian.” Oh. “Really?” Cristian asks, and like Eli’s tactics, his tone is more aggressive. “Mm hm. Drunken disorderly, simple assault.” Wow, I would have expected fraud, not violence. “In Daytona Beach?” Why does that make it worse? “Not a good thing,” he finishes. Yes, says Cristian, smoothing on some lip balm. “”And your debts? $18,000 to the Ocean Front Inn.” Good grief, how do you run up a hotel bill like that? That’s a Colin Sweeney/gun-firing orgy sized bill. “I think they’re still looking for you.” Wow.
Jim Moody hands Eli a slip of paper, folded. “Peter can be quite generous. This is a check for $25,000,” says Eli, unfolding the slip and holding it out. What the hell? Where is Peter getting all this money, seriously? Is this a John Edwards-style misuse of donations? I have said it before; his salary is not that big. “This is his personal thank you to you. You take it. You leave tonight. You tell Jackie you had some personal issues in Florida.” Wow, okay.
Cristian leans in. “And why would I do that?” Oh, well, to be blunt, Eli snaps, Peter is going to be governor, and he thinks you’re using his mother. Cristian considers, and quietly takes the check. There’s contempt in the tight lines of Eli’s pursed lips, as Cristian puts the now re-folded check in his jacket pocket.
A beautiful clock tower tells us it’s 4:35, and Alicia’s asleep alone in Will’s car. He steps in, waking her – she twitches with the light and her eyes startle open with the slamming door. Where are we, she wonders. Nowhere; Abernathy’s walking off his sciatica and the guard won’t let them in until he’s back. “Go ahead and sleep,” he instructs her, leaning his head back. Yeah, cause that’s gonna work. Instead, she stares at him longingly.
He swallows, which awkward, considering the angle of his head. He knows she’s looking. His eyes are not closed.
“You broke up with Laura?” she asks. He turns to look down where she’s cuddled down into his passenger seat. “No. She with me,” he admits. I’m sorry, she tells him. “”You’re still friends?” I don’t know, she replies, looking away from him. “I think she thinks I was getting between you two.” Ah. She brought it up. Wow. Will whips his gaze away almost as if he were burned.
She stares, implacable, vulnerable, sexy. “That kiss opened up something between us, didn’t it?” He doesn’t answer. “I don’t know how to close it,” she confesses. I know, he whispers, still refusing to look at her. “But if we pursue it, it’ll just be like last time.” What was last time, he wonders, finally turning back. “I don’t know,” she whispers, mesmerized. “It’d be worse. I’m with Peter.” We see the rise and fall of her chest now, her breathing shallow. “And I … I can’t think my way out of this one.” For the thousandth time, I’m reminded of Casablanca, of Elsa coming to Rick and begging him to chose for her because she can’t see a way out of loving him but wanting to stay with the politician husband she so respects and admires. The song playing in the background – Joan Osbourne’s “Lumina” – talks of the forbidden fruit in the biblical Garden of Eden, of innocence and sin, and Will stares at Alicia, his heart in his eyes, and she’s the one who moves the tiniest fraction first as they slowly lean in to kiss each other. “Oh, God,” she moans when they stop, their faces still smushed together, nuzzling. Her voice is anguished. “What do we do?”
Then there’s a banging noise, and they break apart, and we see Diane through the fogged up windshield, irrate. She backs away from the hood of the car, leaving them mortified, wiping their faces. “This night is over and we talk,” he insists. “We can’t,” she nearly cries, looking wild and undone. “The hell with the bad timing,” he barrels ahead. He looks over at her. “We talk,” he declares, and he leaves.
So, yes. I think it’s time. Or they have issues that need to be talked about, at least. Whether or not opening the door further is wise is a whole other question.
Wake up, Judy! Ah, that poor, poor stenographer; her head whips up off her machine with such violence I’m afraid she’ll hurt herself. I hope she gets tomorrow off. Oh, except today is tomorrow, huh? (Has anyone seen the brilliant mini-series Bleak House? Shake me up, Judy! It’s surely not an original observation, but The Good Wife has a real Dickensian feel when it comes to the colorful minor characters.) Steaming mug in hand, Judge Abernathy looks impossibly cheerful as he welcomes the lawyers back into his court after what he trusts was a successful sojourn. As they take off their coats, Diane asks that Abernathy decides as he seemed about to do before the federal court case intrusion, but Patti says she has another witness. “Not poor Nana Jo again,” Abernathy shakes his head, shaking a tea bag into his mug. “No, a new witness,” Patti replies. And guess who it is? Jordan Kara… cala… er … halios.
Oh, that Patti. You can’t turn your back on her even for a second.
After working for the Florrick campaign, Jordan says, shooting Alicia a vile and unforgiving look, “I was relieved of my duties in March.” Hey, that wasn’t Alicia’s fault, even if she was the one who told on you; that was all about Eli and you being a dumb-ass. I guess, however, that I shouldn’t be surprised he’s not above a little revenge. Anyway, as Alicia tries to strangle him using the Force, he lies that at a meeting on February 18th he and Eli discussed ways to “sweeten the vote” if the election were close. Like Eli would ever. He’d never trust Jordan enough to talk about that; he’d just leave it to Jim Moody and pretend he didn’t understand. “What were Mr. Gold’s thoughts on this ‘sweetening’?” Patti narrows her eyes; Diane objects when Jordan says it was a “drop box,” pointing out the obvious axe Jordan is attempting to grind into Peter’s campaign. He’s doubly biased as a disgruntled ex -Florrick staffer and a rival campaign manager. “Then you can argue against this in your cross,” Abernathy shuts her down. Interesting, isn’t it, that his liberal quirkiness has been so subsumed by the sciatica? Can he not have multiple quirks at once? You’d think he’d be going on about the voting drives in the 60s or something.
Anyway. It turns out that Will has a thought on this very subject. “He likes the third party candidate,” Will notes, looking at the judge. So, okay, there’s some tiny nod to his politics. Oh, I fought valiantly against the idea, Jordan piously explains, but I was overruled by Mr. Gold.
“It is almost five a.m. now,” Judge Abernathy begins his ruling.”The polls will be open in one hour. And I find myself humbled in the face of this decision. As has been said by many of you, at various times, there is a sanctity to the voting booth. But.” Uh oh, Alicia sighs. “that sanctity is not absolute. It needs our constant vigilance. It needs our confidence that the votes are true.” Patti’s becoming less and less capable of containing her mischievous grin. The judge stands. “I hereby am ordering that these 30,843 votes be excluded from any vote total, and that they be provisionally preserved for any possible appeal.” Alicia almost folds into herself, leaning over, rest her weight on her hands until finally she just collapses into her chair. “I’ll start the appeal process,” says Will. I’ll go tell Peter, Alicia adds, shell-shocked. “It’s sad to think you can lose an election in court these days,” Diane observes. Yes, it certainly is – but it doesn’t follow that voter fraud isn’t a threat, either.
For a minute, I think I’m watching the wrong show – did I change the channel? what’s going on? – because after a cityscape, we see a man getting attacked in his car. Oh my God, there’s a knife to his throat. What the hell is this?
Oh. An avid Eli’s watching the man get slashed on TV, a deployed air bag preventing the victim’s escape; Alicia’s asleep nearby on one of the couches in the hotel suite. Ah, so it was a baby grand. And wow, that view’s pretty nice, even if the lightening skies are cloudy. Alicia wakes to the sound of repeated stabbing and screaming, and squints over at Eli, who is literally leaning forward because the edge of his seat doesn’t bring him close enough to the carnage. “What time is it?” she asks. “5:45. The polls open in 15 minutes,” he notes by his watch.
There’s a protracted scream, and it focuses Alicia’s attention on the screen. “What are you watching?” she asks. “Hostile 3” Eli answers, refusing to even glance away from the picture. There are more screams. He looks a little self conscious, and he does glance at her. “I love horror movies,” he confesses. I don’t even know why that makes so much sense to me. “You know why I love horror movies?” Alicia pushes herself into a sitting position, and Eli looks up into his own head as if to form an impressive apologia for the genre. “Because they’re awesome!” he replies, making her laugh – but the continued stabbing on screen makes her cringe. How is that guy possibly still alive and screaming? Is the killer really incompetent, or simply skilled in hitting non-essential body parts? Biting her bottom lip, Alicia looks over at Eli. “We’re gonna lose, aren’t we?” Taking a shuddering breath, Eli turns away from the TV. “Yes,” he says, meeting her eyes.
She nods sadly. “Is Peter prepared?” He’s adjusted his thinking, Eli says, and you can hear the air quotes around ‘adjusted’. Regret and pity flash across Alicia’s face. “You ran a great campaign, Eli,” she says, reaching out to wrap her hand around his forearm, just above his wrist. He smiles, touched, and she pats his arm before leaning back. “He’ll need you,” he observes. She nods and smiles because she knows it. “He loves you,” he adds, somehow driven to help Peter in this if he can’t deliver the win he was hoping for. She looks back, nodding, trying to smile but unable to do it.
Does this mean Eli doesn’t know about the vow renewal, or that he somehow senses what’s just happened with Will? Why does he think Alicia won’t be around when her behavior to Peter should be implying the opposite – does he have some kind of crazy sixth sense for infidelity?
Zach is out cold, and like his mother is still dressed – still in his jacket, his tie loosened but not removed. I hope someone’s been delegated to get them fresh clothes. “Zach,” Alicia whispers, walking up behind him and bending down toward his ear. “Wake up.” What’s up, he says, rolling over, but she shushes him. “I have an idea,” she says, “I need your help.”
And now they’re back in court; Judge Abernathy is hiding a yawn, and everyone’s still in the same clothes, and Zach is back on the stand. “Your Honor, I think I speak for the whole world when I say can we please get some sleep?” Patti pleads, leaning on her desk. Hee. Patience, Miss Nyholm, the judge exhorts, and Alicia crosses to speak to Zach and remind him he’s still under oath. “So you’ve been working in the Florrick campaign these last seven months?” Yes, in IT, he answers. Where is this going, I wonder? Will and Diane arrive belatedly. Everyone is still wearing their old clothes; I can see it for the Florricks, since they haven’t been home, but I’m surprised about the others, especially Patti, who has divested herself of her accoutrements. Oh well. I guess the manny could have taken bitty Bite Me back home? At least Judge Abernathy’s sent out for bagels. “Now, Jordan Karahalios stated that Eli met with him and told him over Jordan’s objections that they needed to consider a stuffed ballot box. Are you aware of this testimony?” He’s been made aware of it. “And do you know this testimony to be false?”
“How do you know that?” Ah, tricky. It’s all so very Perry Mason. “Because Eli wasn’t the campaign manager on February 18th.” Ah, I knew the inclusion of the date was suspect. Jordan was the campaign manager – so he couldn’t have been overruled by Eli. “Not true,” Jordan bursts out from the gallery. “Eli Gold was still consulting with the campaign.” Yeah, but that’s hardly the point, is it? Jordan proves himself as incompetent a liar as he was a people-manager. His casual demeanor of the last few hours gone, Judge Abernathy holds up a hand and tells Jordan to have a seat. (I can’t decide if it’s awful or funny that he calls the Boy Wonder “Kermamahalios.”) After getting Zach to repeat the fact that Jordan was the boss at that point, Alicia tenders the witness.
“So, let’s return to your arrest, shall we?” Patti surges to her feet. No, Judge Abernathy’s patience won’t allow that. “We’ve pretty much bounced every which way we can on this witnesses’ reliability,” he decides. Indeed. He lets Zach go, and promises a revised ruling in a few hours. It’s a very pleased Alicia who hugs her son this morning. “You were great,” she nods firmly.
Next up is Kalinda and some sort of surveillance video of a dark street. “Hey, whatcha watching?” cheery Robyn asks, plunking herself down next to the more impassive investigator. That’s quite a shirt – her knit top is a pointillist chaos of orange and green and who knows what else. “A video,” Kalinda freezes her younger colleague out. Unconcerned, Robyn lounges in her chair, leaning back as far as she can. “Can I ask you a hypothetical?” she wonders, and steamrolls right over Kalinda’s no. “So let’s say I’m approached about leaving a law firm, and joining a small start up firm, right?” Oh, she is not coming to Kalinda with this conundrum! Awesome. “And I’m offered more money than here.” That’s about when Kalinda breaks her stare off of the video to give Robyn an open-mouthed, disbelieving, infuriated stare. Really, it’s quite tone-deaf of Robyn to do this. “But I like it here. But I’d probably like it at that law firm too. So, do you make your decision based on money or loyalty?”
“How much more money are they offering you?” Kalinda asks, focusing back on the video to hide her interest. Kalinda, of course, is wearing leather, but it’s not sufficient armor against this unwelcome news. “In my hypothetical?” In your hypothetical, she agrees. “It’s a good amount, 20% more,” she sighs, and Kalinda’s eyebrows raise up and out. The silence grows as Kalinda keeps up her vigil with the video, and Robyn contemplates her future.
But then Kalinda sees something – and literally grabs her laptop, almost shaking it, and surges to her feet. She’s almost out of the room when Robyn whines, “hey, what do I do?” Kalinda closes the laptop so we can see her face. “You should go with Cary,” Kalinda offers, pivoting to looking Robyn full in the face before rushing off.
Will’s laid out on his sofa when Kalinda walks into his office, quietly setting the laptop down on his coffee table. She sits on the arm of the couch, so that when she wakes him (saying “you better see this”) the first thing he sees is her thigh. “Kalinda, I was up all night,” he complains. “I know, so was I,” she agrees as chipper as she’s ever sounded. “Will.” He sits up, and she clicks the video back on. “it’s outside the polling place,” a rumpled Will realizes. “Yep, a surveillance camera across the street.” Kalinda hits pause, freezing the image of a white van and a shadowy figure. “Jim Moody,” she notes. “Works for the Florrick campaign.” Will blinks, then leans forward, frowning fiercely. “Where did you get this?” From the mini-mart across the street, she says as she presses play and we see one of the flunkies pull the ballot box out of the white van. Oh my God.
Oh my God. They are fraudulent votes. We suck.
Are there any other copies, Will wonders, his gaze intent on the screen. “Nope, just this one.” Frowning even more fiercely, Will closes the laptop.
“I heard it went well in court,” Peter walks over to Will, who’s looking out a window in the hotel suite. “It did. Your son did good.” The rivals face each other, hands in their pockets. “You have something for me,” Peter asks, pointing at the laptop on the window sill. Will nods, but as he starts to open it, staffers flood into the room and we need to wait while they’re sent away. This time, he decides to preface the information; Kalinda found some evidence, he says. “No one else has seen it.” Peter frowns at the still closed laptop. “And you’re telling me this why?”
“I want to know what to do with it,” Will asks. Well you’re the lawyer, Peter replies. You decide. (Whoa. There are so many levels of – no. Must wait. Would never get there otherwise.) Shaking his head, Will gives Peter a serious look. “This decision needs to be the client’s.” Peter merely frowns back. “Why’re you doing this?” he wonders. I need direction, Will prevaricates. “No, if you needed direction, you’d have given it to Alicia to show me,” Peter surmises, which is partly right. He’s not going to out you to Alicia; interesting, isn’t it, that Will can cross so many lines in his work, but he wouldn’t cross this one? Shaking his head, he frowns. “I didn’t want to hurt her,” he admits. Shifting from one foot to another, Peter breathes menace. “You really handled this poorly,” he growls. What the hell? Did he take that as an insult, implying that Peter doesn’t care if Alicia’s hurt? That’s not what Will meant. “That’s possible,” Will admits. I know Peter doesn’t ever want to see him – wants to be insulated, doesn’t want to know, doesn’t even want to be reminded Will exists – but geesh. Peter steps in closer. “She’s my wife,” he says, his voice rumbling. “Then punch me,” Will shoots right back, unflinching. It’s Peter who breaks the stare, backs away, leans against the window frame, shaking his head, sighing.
“It shows your 30,000 votes are fraudulent,” Will snaps, and Peter frowns again. “If it goes to the judge, you’ll lose.” Who’s going to take it to the judge? “Then I’ll lose,” Peter says. “This seems to be some kind of lesson in mutual hypocrisy which I’m not going to participate in,” he grumbles, pulling back from the window. “What do you want me to do? Bury it?” Will asks. Do what you want, Peter decides. “You want me to lose, show it to the judge. You want me to win, don’t. I’m not owning this decision.” And with that extraordinarily frustrating bit of sophistry, he walks away.
So when Judge Abernathy’s ready to announce his verdict, Will’s frown threatens to break his face. Alicia sits down next to him, edgy. Why have you not changed your clothes, Alicia? “I think we’re good,” Will tells Alicia – and then actually pats an even more anxious Diane on the back. Also still dressed in her black skirt and coral cardigan, Patti pushes to her feet, but as Judge Abernathy enters, shuffling into his judicial robes, he waves everyone down. He doesn’t need the formality now. He sighs loudly. “So. In thinking over my earlier decision, I thought of a story.” He clasps his hands. “It’s about a very young boy, an old man, and a donkey.” He sighs, shaking his head to clear it. “What the hell, I’m too tired. Judgement in favor of the defense, the votes will be admitted.” Bang goes the gavel, sending Alicia and Diane rocketing out of their chairs. Their smiles are wide and shocked and delighted. They hug. “Thank you, thank you,” Alicia cries. ‘It’s a good thing!” It is, Will agrees, patting Alicia’s back as she hugs him.
And next comes the roar of the crowd in the hotel suite, waving large campaign signs, which seems a little odd for the suite, though not at as odd as the contrast between the supporters and the tension still in Peter and Eli’s faces. They can’t take their eyes off a TV screen which announces Peter the projected winner with 96% of the vote counted. Eli launches himself at Peter for an spontaneous hug. “I didn’t think that would happen,” Peter confesses, shocked. Now Eli’s getting news from his phone as Peter’s buffeted about by congratulatory hugs and pats on the back; everyone’s looking to touch him, to connect. Would you look at that, we won by half a million votes, Eli can’t believe. I can’t believe it either – that’s huge! So I guess no one needed to prostitute themselves for those piddly 30,000 after all, huh? (Fun fact; the 2010 Illinois gubernatorial election did actually come down to less than 33,000 votes.) “Yeah, yeah, all the polling was off. We didn’t need to go to court and fight tooth and nail, ha ha!” Yeah, and you didn’t need to cheat, either.
‘Where’s Alicia, I gotta find Alicia,” Peter asks over the din. (Aw, that’s so sweet.) You have to be downstairs in the ballroom in fifteen minutes, Eli cautions. Well surely he can find Alicia in that amount of time! The suite’s not that big. “And you-know-who’s here,” Eli adds. What, Voldemort? He made it, Peter asks, shocked. Yeah, he’s here for a meeting of his, um, reduced gun violence coalition. So not Voldemort, I guess. How likely is it that Michael Bloomberg could have been at Peter’s suite without actually meeting Peter before this point? But that’s who it is, Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg and his deputy Mayor Patty Harris. “Congratulations – or should I say condolences, with those deficits you’re gonna have to deal with.” Both men laugh, and Peter introduces Eli. As they joke about the Cubs and the World Series, I can’t help noticing that the life-sized cardboard cut out of Peter is bobbing around the room. Awesome.
Peter passes Nora on his way to hug Jackie. “Peter! I am so proud of you!” she says, glass of wine in hand. “Oh, I knew you could do it, I knew you could do it,” she coos, kissing his cheek over and over. And, what’s this? Eli arrives just in time to see Cristian, congratulating Peter. “Uh, thanks, Cristian,” Peter says, reluctantly extending his hand. “Have you got a minute?” Oh, sure. They’re writing Peter very territorial today, huh?
He pulls Cristian through the crowd and then leans down. “Eli talked to you, right?” It’s a minute before Cristian can hear – or is ready to acknowledge it, anyway. “Oh, he did. We had a very good talk.” ‘Well he gave you the $25,000 check?” Yes he did. “I cashed it,” he adds, laying a hand on Peter’s chest, “thank you.” Oh, no. That’s kind of hilarious. No no no, Peter stumbles, that was leaving town money. “No, I don’t think so,” Cristian replies with a straight face. Yes, it was, Peter replies. I love it. This is the problem with extortion. “Well I don’t want to go,” Cristian shrugs.
“It’s not about what you want,” Peter replies, scrunching up his face. “Yes,” Cirstian laughs uproariously, patting Peter on the shoulder,”it is.” He slips off into the crowd.
Wow. So that worked out well.
Cary has WEQTS news on his computer, where Peter’s once more predicted to be the winner. He’s in his office, and Kalinda’s waiting int he doorway when he turns. “Hey, you startled me,” he cringes before smiling. “Florrick won the governorship.” She saw. “What’s up?” he walks toward her. “Don’t ever do that to me again,” she wags her cell phone at him, leaving Cary playing catch up over tactical errors for the second time this episode. Do what? “Lead me on with a salary proposal and then go to Robyn,” she replies, actually upset. He tilts his head, sighing and walking toward her, sorry. “Kalinda,” he begins softly. “Go to hell, Cary,” she says, pushing at him. “And good luck with Robyn,” she finishes, leaving him to futilely call her name as she walks away.
None of the hugs and handshakes he’s getting from everyone in the suite makes Peter as happy as the bear hug he gets from his daughter, who launches herself at him with delight. “Congratulations!” she grins. “Zach, come here, come here,” Peter calls, trading one child for the other. “You really helped me out, you know that?” he says softly into his son’s ear, giving him a one-armed guy hug rather than the full contact he shared with his younger child. “Dad, it was nothing,” Zach demurs, but he can’t help beaming as his father shakes him by the shoulders to emphasize his point. ‘It was something! It was something!” Aw. Very cute. “Mom,” he reaches out again. “Alicia’s in the bedroom,” Jackie trills before pulling Peter in for a hug. “It’s my life,” she whispers firmly into his ear. ‘Not yours. Don’t mess with it. Ever.”
Whoa. She pats him on the cheek softly. “Congratulations, dear,” she smiles.
Alicia waits nervously, even primly on the bed, her posture stiff and perfect. There’s nothing prim about her black dress, though, with its gorgeous cut out neckline exposing a slice of her left shoulder. She twists her hands, looking at the results. (In case you were wondering, it’s 46% to 51%, 1,418,234 votes to 1,938463 – a huge win for Peter. Also, that math doesn’t seem right – 500,000 votes would make a different closer to 15% than 5%, I think.) Alicia watches her husband moving toward the bedroom door, glad handing supporters along the way. Is she having flashbacks to a less happy victory party?
But no, it’s not Peter she’s caught a glimpse of in the crowd. She sees Will shaking hands with someone. She closes her eyes, stands, shakes it off, (It and no, it’s not him, not even close. Her mind is playing tricks. (It was, of course, through the magic of television.) Her disappointment is followed by frustration and self-loathing. “There you are!” Peter calls when she’s practically hyperventilating with distress. Pulling on her game face, she hugs her husband, smiling. “We did it,” he says, “thank you.” Aw, she smiles, there’s no reason to thank me. You did it.
His hands smooth against her shoulders, but the tension shows. How’s he feeling, she asks, clearly feelings trapped. “Good. How does it feel to be the First Lady of Illinois?” Odd, she replies, making the strangest face as he squeezes her shoulders, looking to share his joy. “Odd,” she repeats, shaking her head. “I need to freshen up,” she decides. “You good?” he wonders. Good, she lies. “Just unfresh.” Ha. She giggles, which is weird, before locking herself in the bathroom; poor Peter looks lost before a bevy of teenage volunteers with signs invade the bedroom and require him to paste his happy face back on, accepting their congratulations.
Alicia looks around the hotel bathroom as if she hopes something there will provide her a way out of this impossible emotional trap. She stares herself down in the mirror, and then with sudden, breathless inspiration pulls her phone out of her purse. She considers, dials. “Hi,” she breathes in the phone as someone pounds on the door. “One second!” she hollers before whispering into the phone. “Do you want to talk?” The answer is clearly yes. I know I said that she and Will should talk, but this doesn’t seem very wise anymore. “Meet me at my apartment. I’ll get away. Right now.” You can’t get away right now! You have to stand with your husband on the dais on television! There is no way you can do this now, Alicia, oh my God! She’s shocked by her own boldness, shaken; she presses a palm to one flushed cheek and then the other, blows out a breath, trying to cool herself down. She stumbles through the jumping teens and waving signs almost blindly as if she were passing through ghosts. She looks down, refusing to make eye contact with the supporters, the security, the hotel staff bearing enormous congratulatory flower arrangements.
And then she’s back in her empty apartment, which I still can’t believe. As she did in Heart, she opens the refrigerator to distract herself. She pours a glass of red wine. She stares at the door, waiting. She tops off the glass, sets down the bottle, stares at the door, impatiently waiting. And then – oh, she presses a finger to a small black box, and I want to cry for the beauty of that gesture, that Matthew Ashbaugh has left her his box, as his personal soundtrack fills her apartment with classical music. Is that Peter’s new ring on her left hand? She bends to the dryer and her kitchen is framed in its round door. She folds laundry on the kitchen counter, waiting impatiently, staring at the apartment door, and it feels clear that she’s made a choice, that she’s impatient for her new beginning. Is there any way in the world that Will won’t come? There aren’t enough towels to distract her.
“Is this stupid?” she asks herself, staring at her own face in the beautiful round mirror in her entryway. Before she can talk herself out of anything, the long awaited knock sounds at the door. She breathes in, and opens it, framed again in the room mirror. “Thanks for doing this here,” she sighs – and oh my God, but it’s not Will at all, it’s a rather grumpy and confused-looking Cary Agos standing in her hallway.
He nods, suspicious, eyes narrowed and red, his voice rough. “No problem. What’re you thinkin?” She exhales, tries to smile, fails at it.
“I’m in,” she says.
Oh my God no way! That seriously did not just happen! That is the most frickin’ awesome game change ever! This show excels at season finales and that lived up even to The Good Wife’s impossible standards. I did not see that coming in the smallest degree and I love it so freaking much; I love the way they set us up, I love what it sets up for the future, I love that they messed with the DNA of the show. I just love it. How many times have I said that Alicia should leave Lockhart/Gardner, should start her own firm with Cary – and yet I never in a million years thought they’d make such an enormous structural change. Also, how wrong was I in thinking that the end of the season would be about finding Nick’s body, that Robyn was there so they’d have an investigator to help if Kalinda went to jail or in hiding? No, the firm needs two investigators so one can leave with Alicia and Cary. They must have had this planned long before they needed to come up with a quick way of getting rid of Kalinda’s awful husband. Wow. I’m shocked. And I’m so impressed. For all the focus on the love triangle, this was Alicia’s choice.
Of course, you can’t separate it totally from the love triangle. If she wants her marriage to work, she can’t be near Will, not now. She has to get away. And conversely, if she does eventually end up with Will, it’s better for her not to be working under him. Of course, she needs the power of being First Lady to make this new endeavor work – that’s the value she brings (aside from her smarts, of course), the reason she’ll be a name partner. And oh, but poor Will. I’m really really excited about Florrick, Agos & Associates, but Will is going to be gutted as surely as his company is. After all the times he’s gone out on a limb for Alicia, this is what she does? Of course, if she puts it in terms of needing to get away, I think he’ll understand that, but he prides himself on running a great company, and this will be an ugly wake up call. Not that he didn’t have plenty of warning that he needed to think about how the company felt on the inside (to employees), as opposed to how it’s perceived on the outside (to clients and rivals).
Will Diane really take the judgeship? With Diane and Alicia and Cary gone, that leaves Will with a disgruntled Kalinda and, um, David Lee, with whom he has never gotten along. And Julius, who we haven’t seen all season. And gosh, if she has to stay to save the firm, she’ll never forgive Alicia. And that’s not even touching the poaching of clients. Will Alicia take ChumHum (however much of ChumHum we actually have – this has always been confusing to me) and Lemond Bishop as well as Colin Sweeney – would Dina and Lemond come with her? Is this going to be an idealistic new firm, a better firm, as Cary promised – and how could it be with those clients? How are her new colleagues (who, lets face it, never liked her that much to begin with) going to respond to her joining their revolution, bringing no money – having blown it all on Lockhart/Gardner – but a really advantageous and influential name? Will she take Lorna with her? I cannot even wrap my mind around the myriad complexities of this situation, but it makes me so desperately excited about the fall.
The plotpoint I’m less thrilled about: I questions about Peter forcing Will to choose about the video, rather than doing so himself. First, did he really think it was fair, or just expedient? Did he know Will would never tell – would never cause Alicia pain even if it might have meant that Alicia would leave Peter – and wanted to make him suffer? Not that I think it would, actually, because it’s entirely likely Jim Moody was acting alone, and I’m sure Alicia would believe that, but she’d still be really upset. Does Peter think he’s above claiming responsibility for his campaign? Like I said, I’d expect Jim Moody did that without anyone knowing, and I’m glad it didn’t matter to the election as a whole. But Peter knew while there was still time to admit the truth, and wasn’t willing to give up the advantage, and it’s disappointing. It’s typical of the show, an understandable choice (and no, I wouldn’t want Kresteva to win either) but it’s disappointing. I would love to know, actually, what Alicia thought when she realized that the ballots favored Peter so heavily, if she thought the ballots were at all suspicious. God, what would Zach and Grace think – especially Zach, so honest on the stand even when it hurt him. I can’t help thinking they’d be wrecked. And, was the polling monitor bribed? He must have been, right? My head hurts.
Here’s another question. Now, we all know that the fans have been clamoring for Alicia to just chose a man already and get on with it, and we all know she didn’t. Most of us have been saying that it’s gone on so long that we don’t even care who she picks as long as she picks already. Well, I tell you. I’m really curious where next season is going to pick up. Like the ever-interfering Veronica, I think if Alicia renews her vows with Peter, that should be it. Do I trust her to stay away from Will? Do I know if Will would even still want her after the betrayal she’s planning? All I can say is this. She’s been in an in-between state for four years, inside her marriage but also outside of it. Not that I’m arguing there’s such a thing as a “time out” from marriage, exactly, but if there was, she was surely in it. Alicia spent four years deciding whether to trust Peter again. If she does this – if she chooses to say the words, to recommit herself – than I would find it hard to deal with her if she then breaks those vows.
I think it’s clear from what they’ve shown us that she wants Will, that her longing for him is overwhelming. And that she prefers to be with Peter, to stay in her marriage, with her husband. Are we supposed to root against that? I don’t know what they’re doing besides making me unsatisfied with both possibilities; if she’s with Peter, her heart (or some vital part of her anatomy, anyway) isn’t in it, but if she’s with Will, she’s a cheater. It makes me ill, this conundrum.
The show has successfully convinced me that Peter loves Alicia, that he’s reformed his philandering ways. They’ve convinced me that Alicia’s moved past her anger with him. (Ironically, however, he doesn’t trust her.) And they’ve convinced me that she feels a stronger passion for Will – but they have yet to convince me that she loves Will, or that this passion is sufficient reason to throw away a marriage restored at such cost. Worse, they have yet to convince me that any of the three can actually have an adult relationship. Is Alicia honest with either man? Are they with her? I don’t see it. Given a chance to act as partners, they all fail.
But I’m all about the new company and the new season. So, let’s talk about some other stuff. Are Cary and Kalinda done? Did he make an irretrievable mistake in approaching Robyn as a backup? Could he have known that she would ask Kalinda for advice – and was that as guileless a move as it appeared, or is there more duplicity in her than we’ve seen? Well, fine, we know there’s more to that whole juvie story, but I don’t think of her as a game player in the slightest. I’ll be sorry to see Robyn no longer interacting with Kalinda – those two are a comedy gold.
It was fun to split the episode between Judges Lessner and Abernathy; Dennis O’Hare and Ana Gasteyer are pretty great. And you know I love me some Patti Nyholm, the queen of season finale guest appearances; she’s not endearing like Elsbeth, but she’s still a tart, Sour Patch Kids kind of tasty goodness. Cristian and Jackie weird me out – especially now that its clear he’s on the take – but oh, I am totally amused to see that the aide will just not stay paid off. That’s pretty darn funny. We also got excellent use of another regular character this week; I liked seeing Zach in his idealism struggle with the same real world issues as his parents; it makes me weep for his morally compromised parents a little, but I liked it. Why don’t we know where he’s going to college yet? My guess would be local, though living on campus. That could present some interesting challenges for Alicia, now that he can’t drive Grace around – and now that the young teen will be able to spend her afternoons alone with her dodgy boyfriend.
And finally, let me give you some numbers. If you take the voting totals reported and you do actually do the math, you get Peter at 57.75% and Kresteva at 42.25%, for a difference of 15.5 %. Knowing that Axeldun and O’Dell/Steinman will capture some percentage of the vote, you can posit them at 3% each (the 3 ‘third party candidates’ totaled around that in 2010), Peter’s still in the lead by 9%. So yeah, I don’t know where they got those numbers. The last number of all; sorry it took more than an extra week to get all the recaps done after my vacation. I hope you guys are still excited to talk Good Wife, because as exhausting as writing up the recaps is, I’m no where near tired of talking about these characters and their stories. We’ve got a long summer coming up, but there’s still a lot to say.