E: I’m starting to wonder if the mission of this show is to make me hate my government. When was the last time you saw something as depressing as the two callow “geniuses” sitting in the (fictional) NSA listening to phone calls, violating privacy and civil liberties without even an attempt at outside research or nuance or context? Of course, it might be the end of this episode, where a beloved character sells out their present for their dreams. Oh, the sweet torment that is The Good Wife!
On the upside, there were some fantastic and exciting guest stars to enjoy. Also, the noose tightens, and my heart breaks. Twice.
The episode opens with a horrifying montage of snooping – GPS maps, Chum Hum searches, phone calls being tapped and recorded featuring keywords like jihad, weapons of mass destruction, Middle Eastern – most clearly innocent in context (a conversation about Team America, complaints about a club called Taliban, a nasty sewer that smells like sarin), but all tripping some sort of spy feature nonetheless. There are conversation trees; this American with an Arab name talks to others in Paris, in Saudi Arabia. There it is; this is what you fear if you’re the type of person who actually thinks about whether the government listens in to your conversations. Or if you’re an American with an Arabic last name.
A bored-looking young man in his early to mid-twenties lounges in front of a screen where a phone call plays in Arabic. He doesn’t have the professional look you’d normally expect from a government employee, decked out instead in a blue t-shirt, hemp necklace and scruff. He knocks on the clear plastic wall that divides his cubicle from that of his neighbor. “Hey, I need a translation,” Blue T-Shirt Boy declares, and then repeats. For a current case, the coworker (wearing a green t-shirt) wonders. No, it’s two years old. “Then send it down stairs,” Green T-Shirt frowns; that’s clearly the normal procedure. “They mention one of the Lockhart/Gardner lawyers,” Blue T-Shirt clarifies, but Green T-Shirt isn’t impressed. “Two years old? Some of us are working on present day here,” he sneers. The camera pans back so we can see the two analysts sitting behind their dual monitors in a veritable warehouse of analysts, all listening in on our casual conversations.
“What’s wrong, David?” Diane’s voice comes through one of those government screens; Green T-Shirt (whose shirt reads “Ecoexist”) frowns as he hears David squawk that the fourth years have stopped texting. Isn’t that a good thing? “No,” David replies scornfully, “it means they’ve been warned.” Well, yeah. An exasperated Diane wants to end the call, because she’s got a meeting with Peter; clearly she thinks David’s being paranoid. “You wanted to read their texts, and there are no texts,” Will adds in on speaker phone. “Take good news as good news.” I wish he would, but damn it, the little weasel is right. “Absence of bad news is not good news,” he persists. Having had enough of his witch hunt, Diane ends the call.
“Hey, Alicia, where are you?” Cary asks on Alicia’s cell phone, which we can also see is being tracked. “I think in reception? It’s big. Where are you?” she asks, casting a wondering look around a large open space with light wood walls. “I’m coming to you,” he promises.
“$25 a square foot?” Alicia asks, incredulous, as Cary walks with her through a large conference room. They can’t believe their good luck. The massive conference table is studded with little microphones at each chair. “You like it?” Cary enjoins, knowing the answer. She beams. “I think it’s … a real law firm.” I don’t know why, but seeing this enormous space suddenly makes me feel like it’s impossible that they could really pull this off. Because this really is a big league office. This office presumes success – large scale success, by more than 10 people. 10 people wouldn’t fill up half that conference table. Are some of the frustrated support staff coming with them? I mean, they’re going to need support staff if they intend to be up and running in two weeks. Plus, you can’t see through the walls. Think of all we’d lose! Am I being paranoid? Are they assuming this is going to be too easy?
Cary snickers. “Let me show you your office, it’s right here,” he says, walking her into a supply closet full of boxes. He bends over laughing at the face she makes. “No, no, it’s over here,” he wheezes through his nose. “Funny,” she replies lightly.
Instead of her new office, however, we run into Other Carey and a pack of the co-conspirators. “Oh, everyone thank Alicia for the heads up on the phones,” he tells the group, waving a brightly colored box in her direction. “Bob bought burners for everybody,” he adds. Say that tongue twister five times fast! “Only use the company phones for Lockhart/Gardner calls.” And speaking of phones – this is a perfect time for Will to call Alicia.
The real Cary quiets everyone down as Alicia takes the call. Please, please tell me you’re not calling to press her more about the texts for David. “We have a scheduling problem here, where are you?” he demands. Lunch, she answers, immediately alarmed. “When can you get back? Diane’s heading out to a meeting on her judgeship, and I can’t take the Chum Hum meeting, Neil Gross hates me.” Ha! That’s true enough. “I though Cary was taking that meeting,” Alicia lowers her voice. Oh great. “He is,” Will sighs. “It’s just…we want a partner there too. Mr. Gross has expressed some… concern about Cary being up to the job.” Oh, crap. Alicia looks over at Cary, who mouths a cheery “what?” at her frozen face, spreading his hands open. “Sure, I’ll be there,” she says, her eyes never leaving Cary’s.
So now he’s alarmed, too. “What was that?” he asks the second she’s ended the call, advancing on her. She explains that Will wants a partner at the Chum Hum meeting. “Cary, you’re sure Chum Hum is coming with us when we leave?” He is. What did Will say to make Alicia doubt? Due diligence, she prevaricates. You know, I wouldn’t put it past Neil to make that comment to the name partners as way to suss out what they think of Cary, or simply to put them off the scent. Considering how much Neil really does loathe Will I’m sure he’ll enjoy winding him up and then dumping him. “If Chum Hum doesn’t come with us, we don’t have a firm,” she reminds Cary. Oh God. Again, they’re terrifying me. “We’re fine, Alicia,” Cary soothes her. “I’m in touch with Neil Gross every day. He’s coming. Don’t worry.” She wants to believe it, she wants to believe it so badly. I genuinely don’t know if they can make this work or not, this tremendous risk. Which is kind of delicious if you think about it. Painful, but delicious.
“All I want to do is speak the truth,” the blowhard Neil Gross pontificates. Uh huh. “And I want to tell my users just how little my company’s cooperated with these NSA subpoenas.” Ah. There it is. We know, Cary nods, “and we’re going to…” Unfortunately for Cary, Neil would rather just vent. The NSA has asked Chum Hum over and over again for user information from social networking sites. “Over and over and over; I can’t tell you how much we’ve pushed back.” A round faced old man sitting across the big conference table from Alicia, Cary and Carey twitches toward Neil and a piece of paper on the table; fitfully Neil clutches at the paper, reading and wrinkling it. “Actually, yes I know, Barney, I know I can’t tell you how much we’ve pushed back because according to this gag order, if I do tell you I’ll spend the next five years in prison.” Can we have a copy of that, Unnecessary Carey asks?
Slamming the paper down between Carey and Alicia, Neil continues his rant. “My users think I’ve sent every text and personal email over to the United States government. This gag order prevents me from denying it. So what do I do?” Huh. Fascinating. He’s livid, but I feel like this is the first time we’ve ever seen him admit that he’s at a loss, that other people might have ideas worth hearing. He’s actually asking them for help! Astounding. “Well, the first good thing you did is come to us,” Cary begins. “Good, I’m a good boy, now what do I do?” Neil snaps. “Sue them,” Alicia suggests. Huh?
“Sue who?” Neil wonders. “The National Security Agency,” Alicia replies coolly. For what, Neil wonders; Other Carey bites his lip in concentration. “Anything. The whole point is too look like they’re gagging you, that you are the injured party.” Crossing his arms, Neil reflects on this thought. “Sue them, great. That gains more billable hours for you, and for me, nothing.” “Sue them for prior restraint,” Carey suggests. Alicia’s intrigued. For those of us who don’t speak law, Carey explains that it’s illegal to forbid the expression of an idea prior to publication. (Can you ban the expression of an idea once it’s been published?) They’re stopping you from speaking with this gag order, Maybe Not Entirely Unnecessary Carey presses on. “You have the same rights as the New York Times.”
Real Cary suggests that get other social networking sites on board; it seems that Yahoo, Google and Sleuthway will all be represented at Tech Week in Chicago this week; convenient, no? The idea is to get them to sign an amicus brief to support Neil’s claim. Nodding slightly, Barney gives the plan his stamp of approval. “Okay. Good. Do it.” Neil agrees, and summarily leaves.
“Excellent job,” Alicia tells Carey, patting his arm to get his attention. I guess they had to give a reason for him being around eventually, right? I don’t quite get it, though. Cary and Alicia already had fourth year co-conspirators. The woman with the long red hair, the African-American woman with close-cropped hair, the nondescript brown haired white guy; I might not remember their names off-hand, but I know they exist. Why do we need to replace one nondescript white guy with another? “Hey, Kalinda,” Cary picks up his phone, “we need help on this Chum Hum case. We’re suing the NSA.” In his warehouse office. Blue T-Shirt looks up in surprise.
“Okay, what’d you need from me?” she asks, but as Cary explains about Tech Week, Blue T-Shirt tosses down his clip board (the only thing any of these analysts have on their strangely pristine desks) and surges to his feet. He lobs what looks like a bag of chips over the partition at Green T-Shirt.
“Hey,” Blue discloses, “they’re suing us.” Now that gets his colleague’s attention. “What?” Green Guy sits up. “The law firm? Lockhart/Gardner? They’re suing us.” Green Guy frowns. “You and me?” No, Blue Boy sneers (he doesn’t add “you dummy” but it’s clearly implied), the NSA. Green Guy frowns. “Yeah, take that one to the system’s admin. Hey, check out the link I just sent you.” It’s a goat baaing. They baa at each other. (Not the goats – Green and Blue. Or maybe I should be calling them Beavis and Butt-head.) Green picks up the bag of chips, and spikes it over the partition onto Blue’s lap.
“You have 1.3 million,” David Lee explains, his eyes wide. “Many advisers would suggest stocks. Ah, I tend to advise interest bearing bonds.” Veronica Loy – I didn’t realize she was going to be in the episode! – wrinkles her nose. “My second husband always advised against bonds.” What, really, no bondage joke, Veronica? I’m disappointed. “Really?,” David growls, “And how long were you married ta him?” Ha! Veronica’s laugh bubbles out of her, quick and bright. There’s a colorful trail of M & Ms between the two of them.
When they’re done sharing the laugh, Veronica settles back into her laugh a little. “Have you ever been married, Mr. Leibenbaum?” Hmm. Is that his family’s original name? Have we ever heard that before? “Uh, I have not,” he says, settling back into his own chair. “But then, I have an excuse.” DOMA? (Kidding, kidding.) “I’m selfish.” Oh, that. “You know what you are, Mr. Leibenbaum?” He shakes his head, grunting no. “You’re a carnivore,” she smiles faintly. “You’re a jungle cat.”
And it’s at just that moment of intensified flirting that Alicia walks down the glass hallway, and almost faints away.
“It’s a dangerous place here on the savannah,” David purrs, his eyes locked on Veronica’s. “The cat survives.” Oh, my. That’s rather … my. I think I’m glad Alicia walked in and delicately interrupts, wondering what her mother is doing there. “David and I are running off together,” Veronica replies, her brown eyes doe-like and extra wide. Laughing a weak, fake laugh, Alicia points to her mom. No, seriously. “We’re estate planning. I was advising bonds,” David Lee puts Alicia out of her misery. Could you come by my office, Mom, she asks – and then her phone rings. Oh, God, are you kidding me? One of the two phones she’s holding in her hands rings. I can’t even. Do you WANT David Lee to know what you’re doing? That defeats the purpose of getting the burner phones, Alicia!
Once she’s excused herself, Alicia rushes off to her office to talk to Cary over the burner phone. God. I am so mad at her for that stupid stupid slip. Leave the secret spy phone in your office or your purse, Alicia! I mean, I know you weren’t expecting to run into David Lee, but it can’t be that shocking to see another partner somewhere in your offices! But possibly exposing her involvement in the conspiracy isn’t enough bad news for today, oh no. It turns out that despite having put down earnest money, they’re likely to lose the office space, because the bank wanted to talk to their current employers (duh) before approving a loan. Well, that’s a crappy Catch 22. Veronica lets herself in at this point.
“How did that happen?” Alicia asks, hands up in frustration. “I don’t know,” admits Cary. “John made some assumptions.” Hey, that was his name, right? Original nondescript white guy? Bah, are you really going to make me go back and look this stuff up? They’ve barely ever said the names of these folks. And you could totally have made Ben Rappaport the new John (assuming they just had to have Ben Rappaport) and who would have cared? Anyway, the current crisis boils down to this. “Now we need a hundred and forty thousand, or we’re out the earnest money.” 60k of earnest money. What, are they actually buying the office space and not renting it? Why would they possibly need 200k up front; that seems like an awful lot for rent, doesn’t it? Just in case you forgot about our little friends listening in, we get to see the conversation in green sound wave graphics for a minute. “This is really wrong, Cary. I put up $10,000 of my own money.” I know, he replies, and he seems to be saying that he did to when Green Guy shuts off the tap to go talk to a slightly rotund manager type. “Let’s go, we’re on,” he says, collecting Blue as well, who picks up a thick blue folder.
Inside the blue folder are pictures of Danny Marwat, a Lockhart/Gardner client from two years ago who sued the government for illegally kidnapping him, torturing him and accusing him of being a terrorist. Right, that guy. Fisa court warrant 30-879, according to Blue Boy’s blue file. “So that’s why we’re following all these lawyers?” Balding Middle Manager asks. “Just two lawyers,” Blue Boy explains (which is confusing, because if that’s true then how did they listen in on Cary and Kalinda’s conversation?), “and we’ve only gone back two years in the bit bucket.” What? What does that mean? So, we’re tracking person of interest Marwat and his two lawyers for two years, I don’t see the problem, Middle-Manager says. (I guess you wouldn’t. Barf.) “Well, these lawyers also represent Chum Hum,” Green Guy explains from his position, sitting cross legged on Blue Boy’s desk. Middle-Manager Man raises an intrigued eyebrow. Yeah, their clientele is all over the map, Green Guy acknowledges.
“The problem is, they’re suing us,” Blue Boy exhales, very twitchy about the whole thing. “These lawyers are?” Yeah, Blue Boy continues. “But not for Marwat. For Chum Hum.” Well, you are the NSA; I’m sure a lot of people sue you. From somewhere to the side, a goat baas, and the two analysts turn their heads toward it and baa back. Middle Manager Man looks freaked. “Okay, don’t do that again.” He waits a beat, making sure there’s not repetition. “So, you wanna know…” Apparently they’re not supposed to be listening in when someone is suing them “for a non-terroristic action.” Ah.
Middle Manager Man nods. “Sometimes I can’t tell if you’re the stupidest people in the world or the smartest,” he remarks. “We’re the smartest,” Green Guy proclaims with complete doe-eyed sincerity. He’ll check with the NSA’s lawyers. “And in the meantime, if anyone refers to this Chum Hum suit, mark it down as a possible omit.” OH. That’s nice. If you’re lucky, they’ll keep listening but just pretend they didn’t hear the stuff they’re not supposed to hear. Now that’s an awesome idea, and certainly protective of the citizen’s rights. “Thank you sir,” says Blue. “We respect you greatly, sir,” adds Green. Hmph.
MMM swings back to to Blue’s cubicle. “Hey, have any of these lawyers done anything illegal?” Grammatically, shouldn’t it be “either of these lawyers?’ Since they’re only supposed to be tracking two? Oh, whatever. Why am I even bothering to let that annoy me? “Not yet,” says Green. “I mean, not glaringly yet,” he clarifies. “Uh, the one lawyer, Florrick, her husband is about to become governor of Illinois.” MMM’s eyebrows shoot the moon. “What?” “Yeah, in about a month. Alicia’s wondering what to wear to the inaugural.” You little brat, prying into her life and then dismissing the details because they’re not manly enough for you. I suppose it would be more meaningful if she were listening to goat videos?
His pea brain working overdrive, MMM frowns. He wants his boys to keep abreast of this gubernatorial connection. Maybe this case can prove it’s worth to Justice in another way, he muses. Which is to say, we’ve been listening in on these women’s every word for two years, entirely monopolizing two operatives; even if our targets haven’t done anything wrong, maybe we can use them to catch other fish. This attitude, that everyone is a “get,” is so freaking horrifying. I can see how it’s an off-shoot of this relentless slog through minutia for wrong-doing (after listening to so much talk about office politics, you’d be understandably anxious to catch someone actually doing something illegal) but that’s why the system is backwards.
We’re looking for any illegality, Green confirms. By the governor, Blue wonders. “By anyone, “MMM mutters. “You’re the smartest people in the world. Don’t limit yourselves.” Green wrinkles his nose. “I feel hostile energy,” he complains.
You and me both, buddy.
In his temporary office, Peter chuckles with the obnoxious Chief Justice Virgil Ryvlan of the Illinois Supreme Court about golf as Diane sits in the waiting room. “So,” Eli interrupts, impatient as always with small talk, “do you think you can get behind this? Chief Justice?” The Chief Justice’s smile becomes a triffle, shall we say, stiff.
“This?” he asks delicately. Diane Lockhart’s nomination, Peter pushes forward. “We’d like to announce tonight. If that’s possible,” he asks, waving to indicate his deference to Chief Jackass – I mean, the Chief Justice’s authority. The latter nods, pretentiously considering the issue. “How did you like my gift, Mr. Governor-Elect?” he asks instead. Poor Peter. It could not be more clear that he has no idea what that is. Thankfully, Eli’s quick with a comforting falsehood; as soon as the Chief Jackass stares off into the distance reciting Latin, Eli realizes that the present in question was an engraved gavel, and immediately apologizes that it’s out being mounted. “Words to live by,” the Justice pontificates, “Fiat justitia ruat caelum. Let justice be done though the heavens fall.” Easy to say when you’re demanding that the sky fall on someone else, buddy; far braver the judge who chooses to be just at the expense of his (or her) own career.
Riiiight, say Eli, who – perhaps not being privy to Diane’s interview with the raging Justice – doesn’t appreciate the reference. How about you join us at the press conference tonight, he continues. “Diane Lockhart is a perfectly charming woman,” the judge begins (which, how patronizing; he might as well have said that she’s perfectly charming for a woman) “with an unobjectionably appropriate resume who, when I met her, took every opportunity to defend her perfectly corrupt legal partner.” Sigh. There it is. “And you’d like for her to…” Peter prompts. “Explain herself publicly,” the Justice explains promptly. Also, he wants to know how the firm still represents Lemond Bishop. (Wait, I thought her record was unobjectionable?) He wants to know if she disagrees with her “disbarred partner.” God, that’s so annoying. “I want what you want, sir – fiat justitia ruat caelum.”
“Oh, this is ridiculous,” Eli snaps, and not a moment too soon. “You are sexist old fool.” As if he’d turned into a demon, the Justice’s eyes practically glow with fury. “You are a rude backroom huckster,” he tells Eli, which is actually quite apt. Peter tries to calm Eli, tries to stomp out the flames. “But that is irrelevant to this,” the judge backpedals.
I could hug Peter when he stares the odious little man in the face and says, ‘Chief Justice, Diane Lockhart is. my. choice.” And with that, Ryvlan is done; to Eli’s dismay, he walks out with a veiled pleasantry. In the waiting room, he walks straight over to Diane, who’s twitching in her seat, adjusting her white suit jacket. “Well this is a pleasant surprise,” he oozes over, folding Diane’s hand in both of his. “No, no, no, don’t get up,” he nearly forces her back into her seat. “What’d you wanna do?” Eli asks, back in Peter’s office. ‘Well, we can’t lose him, it’d cost too much politically,” Peter acknowledges, uncomfortably running a hand over his hair.
“I’ll tell Diane we’re delaying,” Eli nods. Fitfully, Peter’s eyes wander the room. “See if you can … give him what he wants, for God’s sake.” I wonder how hard that choice would be for Peter to make if the partner in question wasn’t Will? Would he even consider asking Diane to make such a terrible choice if he didn’t loathe her partner himself? “Done.”
Oh, yeah, and what’s the deal with the gavel? “Have you lost it?” Peter snarks. Naw, shrugs Eli, it’s over in the Gift Room with everything else. “I’ll make sure it’s out here the next time you see him,” Eli mutters, embarrassed. “Mounted,” Peter calls out.
Why does that seem so much dirtier as I type it?
Anyway. Eli’s off in the Gift Room, looking through the 900 odd gifts the governor elect has received, telling a subordinate that they’re hunting for a gold plated gavel with a Latin inscription. “Mr. Gold, remember Damien the intern?” she asks. He doesn’t. “The one in the Hawaiian shirt?” Now that rings a bell. Why would they put up with an intern who wore a Hawaiian shirt? “Oh yes,” Eli narrows his eyes, “the one I fired. Why?” Well, he was in the Gift Room, and, she’s just guessing, but she’s found the gavel on “Clark Swap” (Ha ha ha ha ha). There it is, quotation and all. “Mint Condition Gold Gavel Governor’s Mansion $890” it says above the photo. Wow. That’s ballsy and rude. Also, I’m not sure who’d pay nearly a thousand dollars for a gavel without authenticating documentation. Eli and the staffer concoct a plan to pose as buyers without tipping Damien that they’re on to him. Who else is having flashbacks to an episode of The West Wing?
“So any word from Google?” Cary asks Kalinda. “No,” she says – and not only are they being ignored by Google, but no other social networking site or search engine wants to join an amicus brief either. What’s up with that? Finally stopping her, Cary’s super-frustrated and wants her to know it. “Kalinda, what do you have? I know you have something because I can see the file.” Heh. She jerks her head and beckons him out of the busy hallway and into her office. “When are you leaving?” she asks. Turns out, she’s rightly worried that Agos & Associates (ooh, she doesn’t know about Alicia yet) is going to steal Chum Hum and wants to know who she’s doing the research for. She’s in an awkward position, and she doesn’t like the thought of him improving his position at the expense of Lockhart/Gardner.
No, he insists. This case belongs to Lockhart/Gardner; it was started here, and any money it earns will stay here. She sighs, finally believing him. “You have to change your strategy,” she explains.
“Yes, yes,” Judge George Kluger tells a Useless After All Carey Zepps, “I heard your argument, and I was mightily impressed. But no, prior restraint doesn’t apply here! The Second Circuit has ruled that NSA subpoenas are legal, and gag orders are required for national security.” Not The Real Carey frowns. “That ruling wasn’t precedential, Your Honor,” he whines. “Oh yes it was,” the judge snaps back, “and you wanna know why? Because I just said so. So, if there’s no other business before this court…” Neil and his old man Barney stand from behind their bench, ready to give up on federal court, when Alicia rushes in followed closely by The Real Cary (Who Is Standing Up). Just one more thing, please, Your Honor.
Judge Kluger’s ready for a fight but stops himself. “I know you! You were just in here last week!” She stops, smiling. Yes, good to see you again. He waves her off, calling for whatever brief she might have for him. “What,” he smiles, almost pleasant, “you’re the only lawyer in town?” No, she demurs, giving him a real smile, “we just had so much fun the last time we thought we’d do it again.” He smiles back. “Actually, counselor, I’m the one who makes jokes here, not you.” He’s still partly smiling if you know how to look for it, but it shuts her down immediately; that poor woman. She so rarely gets to show her sense of humor and she gets dinged for it the few times she does.
“We’d like to change our suit to one of selective enforcement,” The Real
Slim Shady Cary calls out from the bench. Wait, now I’m getting lost in that metaphor because fake Carey is sort of Slim Shady, isn’t he, and real Cary is Eminem? Argh. The opposing counsel (an assistant U.S. Attorney played by “hey, it’s that guy” Brennan Brown) stands to object. “Is the plaintiff really accusing the United States of selectively enforcing its gag order?” We are, Cary nods. “And we’d like to call a witness.” Judge Kluger favors him with a huge smile. “Tingles, counselor,” he says, wiggling his fingers, ‘tingles.”
And the witness is a dozy – Patric Edelstein, CEO of the social networking site Sleuthway, former client of Lockhart/Gardner and the show’s Mark Zuckerberg figure. Nice to see you, Patric, even if you did totally screw us over. “And you were just served a subpoena at Tech Week today?” Yes, Patric smiles, then bends to make sure he’s speaking clearly into the microphone, “thank you Neil.” Lovely. Cary elicits that Sleuthway has 9 hundred million users. “And growing!” And yet you’ve never been served with a FISA warrant for your users’ information, have you? The AUSA objects; the first rule of FISA warrants is that you can’t talk about FISA warrants.
“Have you ever been served with a gag order regarding the NSA’s requests – sorry, hypothetical requests – for access to user’s data?” Cary rephrases. No, Patric has not. Cary returns to the bench, and Patric rises to go, despite not having been cross-examined. “Sorry,” Cary raises his hand, ‘that was just the preamble.” Ha. Neil Gross, he smiles.
This feels like a victory until I start to wonder: do we like making Neil Gross smile now? Ick.
Anyway. Cary starts playing a film. “We can do so much with technology,” Patric acknowledges, talking at Tech Week or some other similar conference. “And yet when I was served with a warrant, I caved!” We gave the NSA emails, data, phone calls. Not that many…” in the courtroom, Neil gets to feel extra smug; Patric hangs his head. “Less than a hundred, but still. We gave it to them.” The AUSA swallows uncomfortably. Neil puts up his hand and whispers to something to the effect of “rip him to hell” as Cary approaches Patric.
“So that was you,” he starts. Um, not much Patric can say to deny that. “And you were discussing the extent of your cooperation with the NSA.” He nods, and Cary forces him to say this out loud. “And did you receive a cease and desist letter from the NSA after that talk?” He didn’t. “Were you warned either before or after you made this speech?” No. “Were there NSA recruiters in the audience?” Not so far as he knows. Kluger takes pity on Edelstein and agrees that the suit should be able to go forward. Selective enforcement. They’ve proved it enough not to be dismissed. The AUSA requests a recess. “Of course you do,” Kluger snarks before acquiescing.
Wow, what a gorgeous campus that is! Love the stone and Gothic architecture. What time do you have, Eli asks the staffer from the Gift Room. Isn’t Damien going to make a run for it when he sees the two of them? “Three o’clock. He’s late,” she notes. Sure. Maybe he’s smart enough not to even come in this cafe. “You’re not going to make a scene, are you, Mr. Gold?” I love her taking this kind of school marm tone with him. “NO,” he says, “I’m gonna get my gavel back. And then I’m gonna scare the heck out of Mr. Hawaiian shirt. I’m not gonna…” And that’s when he stops, and his mouth falls open, and his head falls back, and he’s thinking of course, of course. “What? What’s wrong?” the perky-voiced staffer asks.
The what is Becca. That bad penny, she’s back for the first time since season 2, starring down Eli as fiercely as she can. Talk about guest appearances not being welcome; her presence as annoying as Veronica’s is delightful. “Mr. Gold, hello,” she squeals, deciding that polite charm is her best play. He shakes his head. “I should have known. I’m not as fast as I used to be.” Because she’s as fast as ever she was, Becca realizes that Eli’s set up the meeting through Clark Swap. “You can go, Deborah,” he tells the staffer. A little young for you, Becca snarks. Yep, that’s Becca for you. Cheap, mean and easy. So, Eli guesses, Zach took the gavel home, you stole it, and now you’re trying to sell it. But, ick. Why would Zach do that? No, that doesn’t feel right. “I am selling it for $890. I found it at a flea market, under a stack of old pottery. It’s amazing what you can find at the flea market these days.” That’s pretty brazen, trying to keep her story up to his face. I suppose he can’t call the cops if there’s a chance that Zach gave it to her, but I really wish he would.
“It’s a coincidence that you found the gavel belonging to the father of your boyfriend?” Oh, come on. You’re much better informed about Zach’s love life (or lack there of) than this would imply. Remember maneuvering Jordan to ask Zach to break up with Nisa? Remember Zach and Becca breaking up two years ago? That’s like a decade in high school years. “He’s not my boyfriend,” Becca says unto deaf ears, “I’m in college now. I don’t really have time for high school seniors.” That, and the fact that he woke up to you being a skank a few years ago. It does present a puzzle, however. Does that mean she got the gavel from Hawaiian Damien?
“Becca, I work for the governor now. I’m his chief of staff.” Chief of Staff-elect? Congratulations, she snarks. “You can’t steal from the governor. You’ll be arrested.” Eli gets up to walk out.
“Excuse me, Mr. Gold,” Becca stands as well, “That’ll be $890.” He laughs, because of course he does. “Oh no no. Dear Becca. My gift to you is you not being arrested.” She calls his bluff. “No, Mr. Gold. Only one of us is taking something they haven’t paid for.” (I don’t suppose that means she “paid” for the gavel somehow, does it, because I really don’t want to know.) At the counter of the tiny cafe, a campus policeman sits – how he didn’t hear their argument, sitting 5 feet away, I have no idea, but he seems not to have when Becca approaches him with her sad story of Eli stealing from her. “This man is trying to take one of my father’s antiques, and he won’t pay me for it.” Are you serious, Eli sneers – but he’s not sneering when the campus cop (who is unusually fit and intimidating looking for a campus cop) asks if he’s a student.
Sigh. Eli, if you pay her, I’m going to have to throw something.
“Peter and I have a problem, Alicia, ” Eli’s voice is being recorded over at the NSA. “And it’s going to become my problem, Eli?” God. It’s a new day, and Blue and Green have new shirts on (Blue’s is black, and Green’s says “BAZINGA!”), but they will always be Blue and Green to me. At least until the show sees fit to give them names. ‘It’s about Zach’s girlfreind Becca,” Eli explains. Just at that point the MMM shows up. “Come on, Frick and Frack,” he motions to the two analysts. Ha!
A dour looking man’s flipping through a folder when the three arrive at a small conference room. MMM leads the discussion. “The question is, does this lawsuit change anything, or can we continue our surveillance?” He’s wearing a much nicer tie than I would expect; the bold orange and teal stripes seem somewhat out of character. The gaunt lawyer wonders how long it’s been since Alicia and Diane talked to “the person of interest.” Danny Marwat, Blue confirms. Yes. Two years ago. So a reasonable person would stop recording every electronic piece of their lives, right? Especially considering that it was proved – in court with actual evidence – that Danny was not in fact a terrorist and never had been. Ugh!!!!
“And you’re a two hop warrant?” For the benefit of the audience, Green explains that this means they can “hop” from Marwat to his lawyers to their contacts. Presumably this means they can listen to Alicia talk to people, but then not tap those people. “And this has taken you to the governor-elect of Illinois,” the man sums up, pinning Blue and Green with a fixed stare. Slouching so badly that his chin nearly touches the table, Blue would like to worm away from that idea; it’s not like they’re actively pursuing Peter. But you know what? Their lawyer doesn’t care. “If you’re going into the governor’s office, you need a more recent terrorist connect. Get it to me in 36 hours, and we’re going to the FISA court.”
“Wait wait wait,” says the voice of reason, who in this case is Green. “That’s not why we brought this to you. This was about the lawsuit.” Guess what? “I don’t have any issue with the lawsuit. My issue is taking a two hop, problematic warrant into the governor’s mansion.” So they’re just assuming it would be a good thing if we had a warrant inside the governor’s mansion and they need to scare up a pretext for it? And they’re just assuming that a pretext – that a terrorism link – will automatically exist? Are you freaking kidding me? “Thank Edward Snowden. Everybody’s cracking down now,” The Lawyer gets up and leaves. That is your version of cracking down? Canada, you’re looking more enticingly rational every day.
Green leans back and Blue twitches. “Why do you guys care?” MMM asks. “Move on to one of your other cases. “I don’t know,” Blue shrugs, ” we were gettin’ interested.” Like fans watching this show, it seems; can I fault them for that? (Except, yeah I can.) Fine, says MMM. Then find a more recent terrorist connection. Green gives MMM an ironic little salute.
Here we are back together again, Judge Kluger observes, sitting. “What do you have for me, Bobby?” he asks the AUSA, though Bobby is too busy conferring with his co-counsel to answer. “Bobby, I intend to move this suit forward unless you have something.” We do, he says, standing. “Your Honor, we request a very brief SCIF.” If, like Alicia, you have no idea what this means, you are not alone. Ready for your law lesson of the day? A SCIF (sensitive compartment information facility) is a safe space establish for the express purpose of submitting secret evidence to the judge. Yeah, that’s right. Secret evidence. You can have trials in regular courts with secret evidence. “And this is really necessary?” the judge asks wearily, annoyed. “Yes,” AUSA Bobby insists, “the matter is … extremely sensitive.” Sigh. Okay, we’re going to the SCIF.
Except we’re not. Bobby points out that Alicia and Cary don’t have the requisite security clearance. Clearly, Alicia can’t believe this is happening; she seems to have expected it was just another way of saying they were going to the judge’s chamber. Wrong! (I love the smug smirk on Bobby’s face – it’s subtle, but he so clearly relishes being able to shut them out. Exasperated but without options, Judge Kluger accompanies Bobby the AUSA to the cone of silence, leaving Neil and his team to fume in the courtroom.
“We have a problem that you can help us with, ” Eli tells Diane, who’s stunning in draped crimson silk and pearls. Oh God. “You can do a Chicago Law interview tomorrow.” Specifically, Eli claims he wants her to put her time at Lockhart/Gardner “in perspective.” Ah. “The interviewer’s Mandy Post.” No way! “She’s good. She won’t sabotage you.” Right. Like she didn’t sabotage you? Now that’s ironic. “Why do I feel another shoe is going to drop?” Diane asks. Because you’re smart and you’re right, Diane. You need to put the past behind you, Eli asserts. Oh, stop dealing in cliches and just spit it out, fool. She’s too smart for prevaricating. “And how do I do that?” she asks smoothly. “There will be questions about Will. His disbarment.”
I hate this. It’s clear from her expression that Diane hates it too. Immediately she sees what’s going on; this is Chief Justice Ryvlan at work. “He won’t get behind my candidacy unless I declare my antipathy toward Will?” How much do I love that this show uses words like “antipathy?” SO MUCH. “No,” Eli fudges, “not to Will. To his past behavior.” Oh, Diane snarks; she knows this is a weaselly distinction. She balances her fingers delicately against her forehead, sighing. “Eli, has any other nominee ever been asked to disavow his or her past?” No, Eli admits, though how he could possibly know that is beyond me. “Not that I know of.”
“And what happens if I don’t?” she asks. “Peter really needs you to get the Chief Justice on your side,” Eli replies delicately. Buzzing through his polite evasiveness, Diane wants specifics. “So I trash Will or I’m not nominated?” Her voice is sharp. “No. Trash his past.” Eli, I don’t think you’re going to find a way to phrase this that will ease her moral objections. “Oh of course,” she says, rolling her eyes.
Back at federal court, Alicia’s not faring much better; she’s fuming to Cary and Carey. Seriously, what kind of sick joke is his name? The rant cuts off like magic as Judge Kluger follows the two AUSAs back into the courtroom. “After a discussion in SCIF with AUSA Hortense, ” the judge intones as he walks up to the bench, “I rule for the government.”
This is crazy, says Alicia. You haven’t even heard our rebuttal. What rebuttal can you possibly have, Kluger wonders, rubbing his head in frustration, when you didn’t hear the evidence? And that’s another thing, Alicia snaps. “Now listen to me,” the crusty old judge says, walking a little toward Alicia. “If you are arguing, Mrs. Florrick, that this is absurd, then I’ll agree with you, but if you are arguing that this is illegal, unfortunately you are wrong.” The world-weary glumness that bothered me last week makes a lot of sense in this context. “”Lawsuit based on selective enforcement is denied; court is adjourned.”
Wow, sighs Alicia, leaning forward on the plaintiff’s table. “I’m pissed.” Neil sits down next to her instead of leaving, odd for someone who’s usually in such a hurry to move on to the next. “Good. Use it.”
“I just don’t understand,” a girl’s voice breaks over the phone as Zach listens. “You said you didn’t want to see anyone.” Oh, no. “Nisa, you have to listen to me, I’m not seeing Becca. But you have to stop calling.” Oh no. That’s awful – poor sweet Nisa reduced to a weepy hysterical stalkery mess. Well, at least Zach looks cute in blue and orange, so that’s something. “Who’s Nisa?” Veronica asks Grace as the two stand over a variety of small, expensive looking shopping bags. Grace explains. “Oh, that cute little black girl. I liked her,” Grandma nods.
Grace’s eyes go wide. “You’re not supposed to say black! It’s African-American.” Then Grace considers it. “But I guess she’s Somalian, so I don’t know.” How could that possibly make “African-American” wrong? “Somalian. Wow,” Veronica get a little lost in her thoughts here. What’s confusing here? Having managed to disentangle himself from weepy Nisa – or at least hang up – Zach heads in and asks what’s up. “We went shopping,” Veronica tells him, dangling some “very very pretty clothes” in front of him. Right, because he’s totally your target audience for that. “Mom’s not gonna like that” he exclaims, a little horrified.
“Oh, sure she is. She wore this kind of thing in high school. Just with rips in it,” Veronica contends. This idea of Alicia as a sexy high school rebel? Possibly punk? Veronica has gone there before, but I just do not buy it. There’s nothing wrong with that, and if you had said college I might have bought it, but it just doesn’t flow with the rest of what we know about Alicia; it’s inconsistent. I refuse to accept this as cannon, writing staff. “Her father said it looked like a young man’s rape fantasy and he wouldn’t let her wear it. But she found a way.” Okay, that’s super creepy. Why do you look so excited by that idea, Veronica? And why would you be encouraging Grace to aspire to that?
“How did she?” Grace wonders, alive with curiosity. Because if her perfect mother was a sexy vixen, it’s definitely okay for her to be one too! Also, she needs to pick up some tips. Hid it in my car and changed on the way to school, Veronica explains. “Now, make up,” Veronica moves on. “You’re gonna wanna wear more than you should.” Okay. “What happened to Christian Grace?” Zach interrupts. “I thought you were religious.”
The look on Veronica’s face is a marvel. “Jesus has no problem with Grace looking her best. That’s what Jesus believed in.” Ha! She hands Grace the strappy black and red dress.
Okay, so. It’s not that navigating your sexuality isn’t a huge part of growing up female. And Grace has always been about growing pains, about trying different personas on for size, about a shifting but passionate focus. But if this is the only plot we stick to all season? I’m not cool with the Myley Cyrus-ization of Grace – this notion that the only way for a girl to grow up is through wild, adult sexiness. What they’re doing with her is so amped up. This just perpetuates the idea that the only thing that matters about women is sex, whether we see that through the soft focus lens of romance or through a haze of make up and short skirts. This show is so fantastic at seeing Alicia in all her complexity, as a lawyer, colleague, daughter, sister, mother, wife, lover, politician; I would hate it if we had to watch Grace reduce herself to just one thing. I’m not even saying it’s not unrealistic to see girls reduce themselves that way; we’re all watching 20 year old Miley do it right now. But it’s even less appropriate in 15 year old Grace, and even less believable.
The phone goes off again. “It’s Nisa. I’m letting it ring,” Zach says, leaning against the door frame. Mom swans in at just this moment. “Isn’t anyone getting the phone?” she wonders. “It’s Nisa. We’re letting it ring,” Veronica repeats. You can bet she loves knowing something Alicia doesn’t. “Oh, hey Mom, how was shopping?” Alicia asks warily. Well may you ask. So fun, Veronica smiles. “Grace got three dresses.” Alicia sounds a little nervous. “You know she wears a uniform, she doesn’t need dresses.” Now that’s silly. You always need dresses. “She does for dances,” Grandma insists, making Alicia even more wary. “Am I going to approve of these?” She looks over to Zach, who shakes his head emphatically. Hee. “It’s perfectly appropriate evening attire for a young lady,” Veronica argues, though after the rape fantasy comment, I think her capacity for judgement is pretty suspect. Shaking his head, Zach walks out of the room.
“I’m going to start drinking,” Alicia decides, because that’s the answer to everything. “Poor me one too,” Veronica calls after her.
But ah, before any such relaxation can occur, her phone rings. “Hey, Cary, any thoughts on Chum Hum?” Not yet. “But thanks so much,” he says, beaming and patting some papers on his desk. “This is – this is incredible.” Er, what? It seems that Cary’s got a check for 140k that he’s assuming comes from her. He promises she’ll get it back first, with interest. They’ve secured the office space and everything’s perfect!
Except – and this is quite unsettling – the check did not in fact come from Alicia. The envelope says it’s from Alicia, and the check is from an Ivy Road Trust – but Alicia didn’t write it. Hmmm. Who do we know with a trust? “Alicia, where do you keep your earrings?” Veronica asks. Probably not in the dining room, dear.
“Look, I heard you on the phone, and I wanted to help,” Veronica shrugs, alone in the kitchen with her daughter. “But Mom, that’s a lot of money.” Doesn’t she know it. “This is crazy,” Alicia remarks, swirling her wine and drinking it. “Consider it a loan,” Veronica offers. ‘You pay me back in six months, I won’t come after you for it.” Six months? That was a joke, right? She laughs. Good.
Suspicious, Alicia gives her mother the eye. “Mom, what’s this about?” Veronica looks off into the middle distance. “Why does everything have to be about something? Why can’t somebody just be nice?” Alicia narrows her eyes. “Somebody” might be able to, but not you. “Okay, if it makes you feel better, you have to have dinner with me. I’ve met someone,” she smiles in a sort of nervous happiness. “Who?” Alicia asks, genuinely curious. “Michael Barnwright, very nice, widower, retired. He used to raise dogs.” Okay, good, Alicia smiles: they clink their wine glasses and then raise them. Who doesn’t like a good romance? With that, Veronica’s off; Alicia sets down her wine, takes a fortifying breath, and heads off for her next adventure.
“Okay, Mom, I’m not seeing Becca,” Zach insists. “It’s about the governor’s mansion,” Alicia explains delicately. “People are going to want things from you. And not even big things. Little things, like this gavel.” Wait, are they in the governor’s mansion already? Isn’t the old governor still there? And isn’t the governor’s mansion out in Springfield? (It is.) “Why does everyone think I’m seeing Becca?,” Zach wonders (which, yeah, how did Nisa find out about this?). “I haven’t seen her since she went off to college. I told her I never wanted to see her again.” I love that sincere puppy face he’s making. “Then how did she get Dad’s gavel from the apartment?” Zach’s puzzled, as am I. How did it end up in their apartment at all?
“What’s wrong with this blush?” Grace frowns at a square of beige make up, flashing it at her computer screen. “That is not even blush,” Becca laughs over a video chat, “that is grandma blush.” NO! Grace is so determined to be a skank that she’s going to Becca for advice? OH MY GOD! “Throw it away. For your skin, you need a skin illuminator.”
“Obviously, you are aware of the rumors floating around that you are next in line for State Supreme Court,” Mandy coaxes Diane: smiling happily, regal in black and gold, Diane mouths a platitude about all the rumors she’s heard about herself. “But right now I’m just trying to run my law practice,” she finishes, laughing. “Coming out of bankruptcy helped,” Mandy observes, and smiling, Diane agrees. “It wasn’t just bankruptcy, was it?” Mandy continues. “I mean, you were also dealing with the suspension of a name partner.” Diane breathes deeply, girding her loins. “Yes, um, that was a tough period for us.” Mandy nods; you can just see her thinking “ah, you’re going to be difficult about this.’ “But we got through it.”
“And you kept Will Gardner’s name on the letter head – was there ever any thought to taking it off?” Yes, of course there was, as Eli could have told her first hand. “I won’t say the question never came up, but, ah, here we are.” Right. “You don’t sound thrilled about it.” No, that’s just her hostility toward you and this process, Mandy. Diane steadies herself. “Wasn’t it almost disbarment? Will Gardner’s suspension, I mean?” God, she’s relentless. I know that’s why Eli wanted her to do this piece, but why does she care that much about taking Will down? We know she’s not just Eli’s puppet. Through the glass walls, Diane watches Will working in his office. “I’m probably not the best person to ask about that,” Diane laughs.
“So you don’t harbor any resentment at all at your partner for almost single-handedly destroying your firm?” Our firm, Diane corrections; “correction, your firm,” Mandy repeats, annoyed. Taking a moment, Diane gives her answer. “Will Gardner single-handedly won five of this firm’s top awards. He’s the reason we survived bankruptcy.”
“By bending the law,” Mandy asserts. “By using it,” Diane insists. “By understanding its limits and it’s complexities. And by using everything you can within the law to win cases.” Really, snarks Mandy. Really, Diane exhales, proud of herself for not succumbing. Leaning back, shaking her head, Mandy’s ready to ask another question when she noticing something’s off with her recording device. “I didn’t even turn this on! Silly me.” She turns it on, sets it on the coffee tablefacing Diane, then leans back, beaming. “Shall we start again?” Smiling faintly, Diane arms herself once more.
“Okay, now what?” Neil Gross whines resentfully, pacing the main conference room. “My West Coast lawyers are suggesting it was a mistake to try this in the Midwest, from your offices.” He stands next to Barney and the other octogenarian. “Your West Coast lawyers are saying this? Really?” Extra E sneers. Neil tries to provoke a fight; Alicia just looks uncomfortable. The seventh circuit is very sympathetic to business issues, Cary explains, and it was our mistake to take a constitutional issue there. “When you lose with the constitution,” Alicia clarifies, ‘try money.” “Okay,” Neil replies, willing to play ball, “and how do we do that?”
“Interference with prospective economic gain, Your Honor,” the Real Cary Agos offers, back in federal court. Really, Kluger smiles, amused. “The government is interfering in Mr. Gross’s economic gain by?” Destroying his good name with his customers, Cary suggests. AUSA Hortense (that’s a last name? really?) suggests that torte reform prohibits this kind of suit, but he’s wrong. “Not if the government employees in question were acting in a discretionary capacity.” Awesome, Alicia says; get us an employee of the NSA so we can ask them what capacity they were acting in. I’m a little at a loss here as far as what “discretionary capacity’ means in this context and how you’d prove it, but I don’t even think it matters.
“Got ya there, Bobby,” George Kluger smirks. “Your Honor, I have to request we go back into the SCIF.” Oh, of course he does. When in doubt, let’s go with secret evidence in the secret back room. “No, no, counselor, this isn’t about national security, this is about money. What damages is Chum Hum claiming?” 3 billion dollars, Alicia volunteers. “What?” Bobby Hortense pales. “That’s the amount of stock value Chum Hum has lost due to its forced association with the NSA,” she asserts. Ha ha ha. “Okay,” the judge says coolly, “we’ll hear testimony tomorrow.” Still stunned, Bobby Hortense stares at Alicia.
“Hey Mom!” Alicia smiles, finding her mother seated at some sort of pub with loud live music. Cool. Is Veronica wearing sunglasses inside? “Where’s your date?” Yep, those are definitely sunglasses. “He isn’t coming. Margarita?” There’s a pitcher of margaritas on the table; this is not a good sign. “Is everything alright?” Alicia wonders, sitting. “No,” Veronica grumbles, “he’s going back to his wife.” Um…. how’s that work? “I thought you said he was a widower?” “He was. I guess she didn’t die.”
Um, okay. We’ll just call that a bad situation and move on.
“Oh, come on, have a margarita. let’s get drunk! Maybe your good mood will rub off on me.” Yeah, I suspect not, but it’s as good a plan as any. “Mom, I’m so sorry,” Alicia says, her voice brimming with sympathy. This, it turns out, is exactly what Veronica does not want. “NO no no,” she howls, “the worst thing in the world is to have someone feel sorry for you.” And to distract her further, Veronica grabs her daughter’s shoulder in a hard twisting pinch. When her daughter yells, Veronica gives a delighted giggle. “You remember that? I used to do that to you when you were five.” What? Alicia rubs her shoulder, confused. “I know, and I didn’t understand it then!” I’ll say. Wow, that’s so many kinds of wrong.
So much for Alicia’s good mood rubbing off on her mother; either it’s been pinched out of her, or the margaritas have botched their job, because both women are slumped onto the table looking pensive and unhappy. “You know what I don’t understand about you?” Alicia muses. “Why I ever divorced your father,” Veronica suggests, setting her drink down next to a plate of half eaten nachos. “No,” Alicia replies, then considers. “Yeah, but we’ll save that for another time.” She looks around a little hesitantly. “You never liked me as a kid.”
Oh my God, does she think that? I think I’m going to cry. She’s got Veronica’s attention for sure.
“I mean, you like my kids now, but you never really liked me.” Veronica’s eyes are wide. “I liked you,” she says, utterly shocked. “No. We never did anything together.” Oh, God. “I think you liked Owen,” she continues, tears in her eyes. “And I was a likable kid!” Oh my God. Sorry to be a broken record, but the woman is breaking my heart here. “People liked me,” Alicia tries to convince herself, tries to defend herself.
“God,” says Veronica, her voice shaking, “if we could just do everything all over again. From the beginning.” Me too, Alicia agrees, drinking. “I think we’d be better at it now.” Well, but you learn that only by going through what you’ve gone through. You can’t have the one without the other, no matter how much you might wish it. Veronica looks over at her daughter, her lip quivering. Looking back, looking away, Alicia starts to fall apart. “Don’t make me cry,” she pleads, too late. “I’m the one who should be crying!” Veronica cries. “I’m alone!” This wins her the sympathetic hug she disdained earlier. I’m not sure that’s accurate – is she really all that much more alone than Alicia? (Okay, sure, Alicia has Peter, sort of, but they’re not living together, and Veronica has two kids and two grandkids and isn’t starting a venture on her on like Alicia is.) The two embrace, but Veronica quickly tires of their closeness and pries Alicia’s arms from around her neck. Somehow, I can see her having done the same with Alicia as a small child. Embarrassed, her daughter sniffs into a napkin, trying to compose herself.
And, wow. I think I need a drink. Or a hug from my mom. What a scene!
So, you blame the NSA for losing you 20% of your user base, Bobby Hortense asks Neil Gross on the witness stand. He does, and he can’t think of any other reason why he’d lose so many customers. Sigh. Don’t you remember this from elementary school, Neil? You can’t choose the answer that says “always” or “never” – don’t go with an absolute, because there are almost always exceptions. Neil traces this user loss to the time of the Edward Snowden leak around June 10th.
As a rebuttal witness, Bobby calls one Simon Fishbein to the stand. “Simon Fishbein, who’s that, your podiatrist?” Judge Kluger snarks. Nope. It’s a very old, toad-like man from the gallery.
Once on the stand, Simon Fishbein in a faded German accent explains that he used Mr. Gross’s site to keep up with his grandkids. (Presumably this is a social media site and not Chum Hum the search engine). Cary, Alicia and Neil exchange glances of confusion. “Ten grandkids, and 3 great grandkids. Each generation is having fewer and fewer kids.” He looks up at Judge Kluger for confirmation, which is promptly and respectfully given. So why did he quit Chum Hum, Bobby presses. “they allowed Holocaust deniers to organize on their site.” Oh boy. There it is. “Why is that a problem for you?” Simon Fishbein unbuttons his sleeve and shows the court the answer, tattooed on his forearm.
“Now, you’re not the only survivor to be offended by these Holocaust denier pages, are you?” Nope. He’s got a gang of pals who meet monthly. “We sent a letter to this putz here, Gross. Your parents should be ashamed of you.” Neil raises his hands in squirmy disbelief. “Mr. Fishbein, I’m sorry, but it’s free speech.” He tries to defend himself and his policies, but is quickly cut off by Bobby Hortense, who snaps about instructional photographs about breast feeding that did get pulled, and then by Judge Kluger, who rightly insists that this is a court and not a debate.
So what came of you writing Mr Gross, Bobby re-directs. I got a nice letter with my name spelled wrong, Simon complains. Which is to say, nothing, because it’s a Holocaust denier’s first amendment right to be an ass. Because nothing changed, Fishbein and his friends contacted the Zionist Defense Council, who organized a boycott starting June 10th. Ah ha, Bobby pounces. So we don’t really know why Chum Hum starting losing users – there could be lots of reasons. Excellent point, although of course this doesn’t prove that the NSA had nothing to do with the loses either. “Thoughts?” Neil snaps.
“I don’t understand,” Eli snaps at Diane, his body stick-straight and arms waving. “I didn’t do it,” she confesses, leaning against one of her windows, thick gold necklace over a draped emerald dress. “Oh, that part I understand,” he grouses, then tries to still his flailing limbs. “What I don’t understand is why.” She kept fishing, Diane whines. “Like she wanted me to sell Will out.” Yes. Exactly. She came in prepped and pressing you for a specific purpose. Don’t be naive about that, Diane. “Yes, people fish because the fish are biting,” Eli insists. “Everyone knows about Will’s troubles.” Everyone you’ve told, anyway – although I’m sure Mandy’s familiar enough from last year’s debacle. I still can’t believe she and Eli are using each other again. “He’s my partner,” Diane proclaims, hands on her hips, intensity in her tone. “We build this place together. That means something.”
“I hope it means everything,” Eli yells at her, ” because that’s what you traded it for.” She advances on him. “I wanna be on the court, Eli,” she says, “but I can’t betray Will. Not like that.” I’m reminded of one of my favorite lines in one of my favorite books, Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold: “the one thing you can’t trade for you heart’s desire is your heart.” (And it doesn’t mean her heart in a romantic sense; it means her soul, her integrity, her self-respect, her deepest sense of who she is.)
Eli sucks in his cheeks, shakes his head. “It hardly matters now. What’s done is done,” and off he stalks. ‘Where are you going?” she asks. He turns, doorknob in hand. “To put together a short list for the Supreme Court,” he cries, raising his eyebrows. Her defiant glare crumbles as he – and the opportunity – walks away.
“North Korea?” Will asks, reading a thick file. “Yeah,” Kalinda tells him. (Yay, Kalinda, I was starting to think we were never going to see you! It seems that the government is investigating Neil Gross because he met with North Koreans while he was in Seoul (South Korea) last year. “And how do we know this?” Will wonders. One of Robyn’s contacts at Treasury, it turns out. You know, this is badly managed. Why did Robyn take the information to Kalinda instead of Cary? Now it’s going to look like Will’s riding to the rescue the floundering law suit, when the Florrick/Agos team should have had this information themselves, where they would have come to the same conclusion Will and Kalinda did – that its the North Korean connection which is causing the selective enforcement of the gag order. “The man never ceases to amaze me,” Will sighs, watching Neil glare at him on the way to the conference room.
“It was a pro-democracy group,” Neil proclaims, outraged. “North Korean dissidents. They wanted us to help them with, uh, equipment.” Why does that sound dodgy? Maybe it’s just how Neil is explaining himself to Will. “Phones, encryption software.” Huh. No, that sounds a little dodgy on its own. Were they citizens or government workers, Cary wonders; both. Why would it matter? “Because if they were government officials, they can get you under the foreign corrupt practices act,” Will explains. Damn. Neil’s head springs back as if he’d been slapped. “It was the good guys I was talking to,” he cries defensively. It’s interesting how much more pleasant he was without Will around. Not nice, but not quite such a turd. “These are the good guys I was talking to – the ones fighting against Kim Jong Il.” You can argue that in court, Will explains – meaning that the government will still charge him for it, and his intentions won’t matter to them.
“What is your problem?” Neil snaps. “Clearly, I don’t have one,” Will replies coolly. I was trying to help until the North Koreans pulled out of the deal, Neil claims, and the two continue to draw swords. Wait, why did they back out? Because they’re afraid of the NSA, like everyone else. Through one of the glass walls, David Lee waves Alicia to join him. Did you give them this equipment for free, Alicia asks; no, for cost. Why would that matter? Will smiles appreciatively; they were supposed to pay you and they didn’t? yes, but again, why does that matter? Well, if they didn’t pay you when they were supposed to, then you have damages. As Will and Neil are working this out, David continues to wave and tap insistently on the glass until Alicia goes out to meet him.
“David, can this wait? I’m in the middle of a meeting,” she hisses. “It’s about your mother, you tell me.” Checking over her shoulder to make sure Neil and Will haven’t come to blows yet, Alicia decides she can step out for a moment.
And you know what he wants to talk about. Really, Alicia should have seen this coming. “I’m concerned about her. I know, it surprises me too. I think she’s making investment decisions without understanding the consequences.” I go back and forth wondering if this is a put on – if he’s telling Alicia this to smoke her out rather than out of concern – but he does have what passes for a soft spot for Veronica. One minute I’m sure he’s trying to torment Alicia, and the next I think he’s genuinely worried. Anyway, of course here’s the deal – he just heard from Veronica’s broker that Mommy Dearest wrote out a check for 140k and neither David nor the broker knows why. Sigh. “You wouldn’t have any idea what that’s about?” No, she wouldn’t. He looked up the check online (it’s one of his privileges as her financial adviser) and he knows its for a real estate deal. “I told her real estate is a bad idea,” he whines. “Well, she’s coming in a minute. We’ll talk.” And poor Alicia. The panic in her face!
As soon as David walks off, Alicia whips out a phone – which looks like her old, L/G phone – and immediately gets her mom on. Veronica is indeed on her way to the office to talk to David. “Yes, um, David’s going to ask about the check you wrote for me, and I’m going to need you to tell him its an investment.” Oh God. The NSA is listening in, in the person of Blue T-shirt. Of course they are. “It is an investment!” Veronica protests. “Yes – no. It can’t be an investment for me,” Alicia tries to clarify, getting the undivided attention of Blue. I shudder to think what they’re going to do with this.
But no, maybe his attention is divided, because he hits pause and scoots his chair over to Green’s cubicle. “Didja find something?” I don’t know, his cohort replies. “Under the terrorist connection?” God, there IS no terrorist connect. I hate this. Holy waste of resources, Batman. “I went back to the metadata,” Green explains, which causes Blue to throw a little fit because he’s already looked in the metadata and is sure there’s nothing there. “No, this is from yesterday. Twelve calls from a Hamas sympathizer on the BOLO list.” Wait, what? “You’re kidding? To who, Diane Lockhart?” No, Green tells his stunned colleague, to Alicia Florrick. Wait again please. Oh my lord. No. NO. Are you kidding me?
“It must be a client,” Blue insists. “No, twelve calls to her home,” Green continues. “Left messages on her machine. A Somali national.” Well, funny that Jordan and his whole “you need to break up with Nisa because her Dad’s a bad connection for your Dad, Zach” turned out to be freakishly prescient. As Green goes to open a new window, he accidentally opens a window of Taiwanese porn (“real sick stuff”) before putting up a picture of Teo del Mar, big supporter of the Muselline. And, for those who haven’t already guessed, Nisa’s father. Then Green plays us Nisa crying on the answering machine.
Because yes, when Zach stopped taking her calls, that’s what poor heartbroken Nisa did; lay on her adorable daybed, next to a pillow that says “Dream,” and sob and sniffle into the phone.
“Any further witnesses, Mrs. Florrick?” Judge Kluger asks. Hmm. I guess the trial didn’t end the last time. “Actually, Your Honor,” she stands and asks delicately, “we ask to be heard in the SCIF.” Really! That’s fascinating. I can’t wait to hear the basis for that.” They have some sensitive information they’d like to protect. “Um, actually, Your Honor,” Bob Hortense snaps, “the SCIF exists to protect the government, not …” And belatedly he realizes what position he’s backed himself into, and stops. Kluger fills in the end of the sentence anyway, his voice dripping with sarcasm: “the people, Mr. Hortense?” Well, exactly. “Whatever protections the government enjoys, the people should enjoy as well, don’t you think, Mr. Hortense?” No, he really doesn’t, but since you do it looks like he’s going to pretend otherwise. “Overruled.”
From Alicia’s self-satisfied smile we’re taken to the secure room, which appears to be guarded by hulking goons. Insane. I thought secure meant sound proof or something more like that. “North Korean dissidents?” Judge Kluger repeats. “Freedom fighters, You Honor,” Alicia continues, seated across from the judge, Eminem and Slim Shady beside her. “Due to their association with the NSA Chum Hum has lost the contract to supply these freedom fighters with cell phones?” And other tech, Alicia adds. “That’s why we asked to be heard in here, Your Honor,” the Real Cary explains. “Since Mr. Gross has the temerity to contest the NSA’s gag order, we’re afraid that the government will seize on any opportunity to prosecute him, even his attempts to spread democracy in North Korea.” Mmm, heaven forfend, the judge snarks. Ha. I like him more and more.
“So just how much was this technology contract worth?,” he wonders. Cary looks like he’d rather not say. “With the freedom fighters?’ Um, yeah! Instead of answering aloud, Alicia hands over a thick document. Cautiously, but putting his all into selling it, Cary gives the number: $14,000. “Fourteen thousand?” the judge repeats, the edges of his mouth quirking up. Yes. ‘Well that’s not quite as impressive as three billion.” No, no it isn’t. Alicia begins to present an argument about civil liberties, but the judge puts up his hand.
“Save it, Alicia.” When did they get to be on a first name basis? “We both know it’s not about our liberties, and we both know it’s not about the money, either; it’s about the publicity value of Neil Gross standing up to the NSA.” Oooh, he’s a sharp one, Judge Kluger. “Okay, let’s get going,” he says, gathering up all his files and thumping them against the table, “I’ve made my decision and nobody’s going to like it.”
“$140,000,” David Lee intones. “I know, it was a spontaneous investment. I’m kookie that way.” Veronica bats her eyes. It’s a suite of executive offices, Lee reminds her. Yes, and a very beautiful one, she adds. It is, but how will we set up sneaking and torments glances when the walls aren’t made of glass; will we really end up there? And ugh, if we don’t, will Veronica have spent this money for nothing? “When I saw it, I just had to have it.” You did, David Lee repeats. “Yeah. Gorgeous.” Hee.
“It’s just that the commercial real estate market is so depressed, it’s not the best time,” David sits down. Huh. He really must not have guessed yet. I’m stunned. Good acting, Veronica, even if you can’t meet his eyes. “Well, you know how I am, I’m just a real girl with money.” Wow. He thinks that’s hilarious; they laugh together. Okay, he says, I’ll just call the real estate agent and we’ll get you out of it. “No, I’m good,” she insists, suddenly sounding like a mafioso. “Once I’m committed, I’m committed.” Um, okay. “That’s me.”
Again, he wants to know if she’s sure. It’s a lot of money, and playing stupid isn’t going to convince him that she knows what she’s doing. “David,” she says, finally using her mom voice to show she’s not messing around. She stares him down. “Don’t do this. It’s my money. I invested it. I’m good. Okay?” Okay, he smiles.
Damn. She is good. And he is going to be so very livid when he realizes that he’s been played.
Back in federal court, AUSA Hortense stands in front of Judge Kluger with Alicia and the Real Cary. “So, appreciating the national security concerns, I’m going to find that the NSA’s gag order should remain in place,” Judge Kluger declares without preamble. Don’t look so gloomy, Neil, or so smug, Hortense. “However, appreciating the free enterprise needs of Mr. Gross, I also find that Chum Hum has been damaged in the amount of $14,000.”
“Um, $14,000?” Mr. Hortense looks gobsmacked. “That’s what I said, Bobby, $14,000. You better call the General Accounting Office, it may take them a while to raise that kind of cash.” Ha ha. “One more thing. at the request of Chum Hum’s counsel, I’m going to place a gag order on any and all discussion of damages, you got it?” The faintest ghost of a smirk passes over Alicia’s face. “I”m sorry, Your Honor, what’s the point of that?” a bewildered Bobby asks.
Why tell you when we can show you?
“I’m very happy to report that I’ve just come back from federal court,” Neil Gross tells an audience on a large, blue lit stage with an enormous red glowing CTT in the background, presumably for Chicago Tech – er, not week. Talk? Something. Anyway. “Where my legal team won a major victory for Chum Hum against these intrusions on all of our privacy rights by the NSA.” The room explodes into riotous cheering. Nice. Like the judge said, it’s not about money and it’s not about rights; it’s about p.r.. “Now, due to this gag order,” he continues, pulling a sheet of paper from his pocket, “I am not at liberty to discuss the terms of the judgement, but suffice to say,” and here he smacks the paper and grins, “we are pretty happy.”
Awesome. I would never have thought seeing Neil Gross so smug would actually make me happy too. I guess they just had to provide me with a bigger villain than he is. Beaming, he basks in the adulation of the crowd.
“Hello, Alicia Florrick,” our girl answers her work phone. “Alicia, it’s Neil Gross. I just wanted to thank you all – you did a great job.” Wow. This from the man who shut down her joke before. Nice. As ever, she’s delighted by the praise and kind words. But lest we rest on that happy thought, the scene switches to NSA headquarters, where Frick and Frack (listening in as always) have a spontaneous meeting with MMM and the dour, bespectacled lawyer.
“Is everything all right?” Green wonders as he sits. (Today he’s got a chambray button down open over a pink graphic t.) Sure, Desicated Lawyer says, “”We have permission to expand the scope.” The Danny Marwat warrant, Blue asks in surprise. (Today his dark colored t-shirt has a skull on it.) “Though we’re more concerned about the 12 calls you discovered to the Alicia Florrick voice mail,” the lawyer continues. “We didn’t catch that,” he shrugs, “so we want to expand the warrant to a three hop.” Green almost staggers from the surprise. “Three? Really?” Indeedy. Blue and Green exchange shocked, excited glances. “The proximity to the governor-elect is our concern. Anything you find, kick it up to Mr. Froinds and myself.” Good job, Middle Manager Man tells them. “Good catch, both of you.” The two analysts – who I’m not sure I can really call analysts since they’re not working with more data than this blind preposterous tapping – high five.
“Thank you so much for coming by again, Chief Justice,” Eli tells grumpy old rascal Ryvlan, standing on opposite ends of a well appointed conference room. Fine, fine, but what’s going on? “Peter would like you to reconsider,” Eli explains. Reconsider what? “Your… hesitation to the Diane Lockhart nomination.” Oh, wait, what? No new short list? YES! “I’m not hesitant, Eli. I am concerned,” Ryvlan asserts. This seems to be his thing, doesn’t it, always rewriting what you’ve said to him. He’s all about taking credit for the particulars. “Uh huh,” Eli nods, and then he smiles his sharkiest, most vicious smile. “Peter would like you to stop being concerned.”
Whoa. Peter’s going all in on Diane’s nomination, despite the political cost! I love it. “I’m not sure how that happens unless Miss Lockhart is willing to …” and that’s when the great man himself walks into the room. “Virgil,” he says, greeting the Chief Justice (no wonder he’s obsessed with Latin), and then nods to dismiss Eli. Leaning forward, hands balanced on a back of a leather chair, sucking at his bottom lip, Peter chooses his words carefully. “You’re gonna have to reconsider.”
Drawing himself up to his full height, Virgil Ryvlan begins to defy Peter. “No, Virgil,” the governor-elect cuts him off coolly, “you’re going to have to reconsider.” Someone’s definitely not getting the gentle hint. “Sir, I have some strong concerns.” Peter, however, is implacable. ‘Well then you’ll have to keep those concerns to yourself.” He shoots Ryvlan a stern look. “I know you think this is about you, but it’s not. It’s about my choice. And I’m going to make my choice whether you like it or not.”
“Diane Lockhart’s office,” Diane’s assistant of the week picks up her phone, then beams. ‘Mr. Gold, hello.” Wow. There can’t be a lot of people who’re so happy to hear from Eli, can there? Could she take a message – Diane’s in a meeting. “Actually, yes,” we can hear him say, “can you tell Diane she does not have to give the interview again. Everything’s fine.” But oh, God, it’s too late, because there’s Mandy Post and her side ponytail of evil walking out of Diane’s office, thanking her for the great interview. Which can only mean that Diane threw Will under the bus and backed over him repeatedly. “No problem,” Diane calls out weakly. Oh God. Oh God.
Well, if the wastefulness and futility of that doesn’t break every fan’s heart, I don’t know what will. Diane just sold her heart … and for nothing.
I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted! We have guest stars galore – Veronica, Neil, Patric, Mandy, Becca, Judge Kluger again, good grief! The heart break of Alicia and Veronica – the torment of not knowing how much David Lee knows, all the little slip ups, the added stress of the NSA wiretaps, the maddening fact that they don’t do an research into what they’re investigating, Grace suddenly trusting Becca and taking her advice – and then Diane and Will. I can’t even. How do they do it? How can so much happen in a mere 43 minutes? Man.
What do you guys think? Will Cary and Alicia manage to pull this off? I think it’s striking that Will came in and saved their case; first, we know Cary and Alicia are capable of out-thinking Will (smart and valuable as he is), and second, they’d have done the same thing with Kalinda’s information if Robyn had just given it to them, as would have been natural. So the writers wanted us (and maybe Neil Gross) to see Will as the cavalry. Why? Also, did we really need a new actor to flesh out the fourth years or could we have just stuck with the ones we knew? And if we had to get someone new, is Ben Rappaport a worthy addition or not?
Don’t you want to just hug Alicia, bring her tea and sconces and I just don’t know what. Her admission – having grown up convinced her own mother didn’t like her – hurts just to think about. I can’t even imagine.
Am I over reacting about the whole Grace thing? I mean, it can’t be a good thing that Becca’s her new role model, right? And Becca always has an end game and an ulterior motive. Why on earth would Grace ever think it was okay to steal something from her father’s office and give it away? That’s not even getting into the way the show’s portraying her now.
When are we going to get more Kalinda? I hope this isn’t indicative of the future. Baaaaaaa….
Finally, I can’t even say anything more about the slow motion train wreck that is Diane’s nomination to the Supreme Court. I’m devastated that she did this to Will and to herself.