E: Let’s play a game as we go back through this episode together. How many ways can we interpret the title? How many precious commodities can we guard or lose in the course of 43 minutes? I can think of quite a few off the top of my head, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
There’s so much going on in this episode that I can’t help wishing some bits of the case were a little more fleshed out. And I have more than a few quibbles with the obstetrics; be warned that I go a little library ninja on a few topics. But between the complete devastation at the firm, some well utilized guest stars and the hot button case of the week, we have a hell of a lot to talk about.
Wearing the same fitted teal dress and large chain link necklace as she did at the end of the last episode, Diane stares at Will, sitting in his office in blissful ignorance. (I have to say it again; if our time at Lockhart/Gardner truly is ending, I’m going to miss these sight-lines big time.) Her courage nearly fails her, but eventually Diane stands in front of Will, ready to confess. He murmurs banal words about work. Ah, Will, you’re going to wish your only problem was client maintenance in about 1 minute. “Why is everybody so unhappy?” Diane takes a deep breath.
“I gave an interview to the Law Advocate, just now,” she says, clearing her throat, putting on hand on the back of one of his leather chairs and leaning as if casually. “I … talked about you.” Whatever you want to say about this – and we can all say a lot – you have to respect her for being honest immediately rather than waiting for him to find out on his own. Okay, he says, prompting the rest of the story. “They asked – no, I talked about your suspension.” His brows furrow. “What did you say?” She swallows. “That we were lucky. That we thought you were going to be … disbarred.”
He narrows his eyes, not upset but puzzled.
“I talked about the money,” she confesses. ‘The 45 thousand that you took. How we agreed that it was wrong.”
The predominant emotion in his face in no longer puzzlement.
“Why?” he asks, his voice hard. He swallows, over and over. “The Chief Justice would only support my judgeship if I made a clear statement,” she admits. His glare freezes, breaks into shards that can cut. It’s a long time before he speaks, and when the words do come, they stab.
“You talked about the money?” he asks, and there is the smallest second when the words are out where it looks as if he might cry.
“I went there, and I realized…” she babbles as he stands. “I’m sorry.” Yeah, I should think you would be. Honestly, of all the things she might have told Mandy, I somehow didn’t expect that. I’m sure that was naive, but I didn’t. “I was wrong,” she starts again, as he walks past her. “The interview…” He leaves his office without a word, without a look.
Still holding herself tall, she sleepwalks back to her office. It takes at least two tries before she notices the tiny assistant. “Miss Lockhart? Lisa asked me to give you a message.” She waves an equally tiny sheet of paper. “Eli Gold called and want you to know, don’t worry about giving the interview; he found another way.” The assistant waves the message toward Diane’s hand, but it’s a moment before she can take the paper, and another before she turns her devastated face to the camera.
Rather than dwell on her misery, however, we’re immediately presented with the smiling faces of Peter and Alicia Florrick as they pose for photographs. He’s sitting on the couch in his new office, she’s sitting on it’s arm, and she’s wearing a gorgeous brick red dress with a sort of triangular neckline. A reporter, seated in front of Eli, lets us know that Peter’s said his governorship will be the most ethical in the history of Illinois. “That’s a bit of a low bar, isn’t it, given that four of the last eight governors have been to prison?” Quite, because Illinois has only had 8 governors… wait, it has a whole history before the recent troubles to compare itself too! Get out of town. (Also, 9 governors. Sigh.)
Peter laughs and gives a better answer: “Well, I’ve already been to prison myself, so I guess I’m pre-inoculated.” Which is totally what I said after the season premiere when Garbanzo Bean brought this up, except for the word choice. Pre-inoculated? Doesn’t he just mean inoculated? I take back the compliment. On the other hand, the reporter is laughing. “That’s good,” she giggles, writing it down. Eli and his assistant chuckle.
“So why don’t we try one with you two kissing, arm in arm?” Oh no, Alicia smiles pleasantly, her arm already around Peter’s shoulders, “that’s alright.” “Just for variety,” offers the reporter. “No,” Alicia replies, no less polite but absolutely firm, “these are good.” Shall I bring in the kids, Eli wonders. Yep, good distraction.
Except the reporter isn’t really done with Alicia. How would she feel about addressing the rumors that Peter and Alicia live separately? I can’t imagine a little digging wouldn’t make that question unnecessary. “Yes, I can,” she smiles. “My career is here in Chicago, and Peter’s is in Chicago and Springfield. So we have residences in both. We use both.” Ah. I wonder if that means that they’re giving up the house? ‘So when you’re both in town, you stay together?” “Anne,” Eli snaps disapprovingly. “What, that’s a fair question, Eli?” Anne the reporter, a middle aged woman with nice hair and pretty eyes shrugs. “Yes, we do,” Alicia replies coolly to everyone’s surprise. “In fact, I understand that you’re taking a week off to go to Hawaii to renew your vows,” Anne continues, and suddenly everyone looks awkward (why? now that’s odd), and both Florricks leap off the couch.
“Okay, Anne, are those really the issues we wanna be talking about?” Peter tries to shut the questions down. Eli looks annoyed. Actually, Anne is very interested in these issues. Shocking! But she has another if he insists. There’s concern that he’s replacing the “good” members of the ethics committee with yes people. Who’s worried about that, Eli snaps. “Well, you fired Marilyn Garbanza, one of the most respected ethical watchdogs in the Quinn administration.” Yeah, you didn’t think you were going to get off that easily. Or, er, you didn’t think you were going to not get off that easily? Get off that easily with out getting off? Oh, dear.
As I’m tripping over my poor attempt at puns, Alicia’s phone rings. “Alicia, it’s Kathy,” says the cultured voice on the other end of the line. Kathy’s got smooth blond hair, elegant black clothes, sunglasses on top of her head, and – holy cow, it’s Donna Moss! It’s Janel Moloney of The West Wing! Eeeee! Now that was an unexpected bonus. Okay. Sorry. Enough fangirling. How can I squee when Donna Moss is so unhappy? “I’m not calling for me, it’s for Tara,” she says, closing her eyes. “Oh, Kathy, hi, is everything all right?” Alicia asks, oblivious. “No. There’s been a complication. We’re at Dr. Tuft’s office, and Tara’s headed over here now. Can you come? I think she’ll need you.” Sure, Alicia soothes. “Are you okay?” No. She isn’t.
As Alicia heads into the outer office, she runs into Zach. Has he seen Grace, so she can tell her she’s got to leave? “She’s right there,” he gestures at a seated figure. “Grace?” Alicia gasps, because Grace is wearing a very fitted, rather short sheath dress. Seeing her mother’s stunned expression, Grace smiles, shy. “Grandma got it for me,” she says, smoothing out the fabric. “Do you like it?” It’s a pretty plum color with a nice seaming detail, and certainly fits properly, even if it’s a little shorter at the hem and a little lower at the neckline than we’ve ever seen on the teen.
“It’s, ah, wow,” Alicia stumbles. “Is that a good wow?” Grace asks smoothly. “That’s a ‘you don’t look like yourself wow‘” Alicia mutters softly, lost. Eli’s eyebrows crawl up toward his hairline as Grace walks by, and he shoots Alicia a quick shocked look. Mom turns and heads back into the room.
And there’s Will, a slim black figure running along the shore of Lake Michigan when his phone rings. He slaps at the blu tooth against his neck and slows down, the Chicago skyline stunning behind him. “Yes?” “Mr. Gardner, this is Mandy Post.” Oh, crap. “I’m fact checking an article I’m writing about your partner, Diane Lockhart, and I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions.” He’s frowning in the glare off the water, but he doesn’t blink before acquiescing. “Have you stolen any more money from clients since the 45 thousand you took ten years ago?”
Well. That was an … aggressive opening. He pretends to have another call, hangs up politely, and runs back away from the city.
“Kalinda,” he says, walking into his office with a hoodie thrown over his workout clothes. “I need you to look into Diane’s cases.” What would she be looking for? “Any lapses, any complaints, anything she mishandled.” He slips off the hoodie and goes to hang it on his coat rack. What’s this about, Kalinda wonders. “Nothing, I just need it done,” Will grumbles, not looking at his most loyal employee. Cause that’ll work. She throws her arms out and stalks off in a huff.
“Wait,” he calls after her.
“Diane hurt us with an interview,” he explains carefully, avoiding the obvious and the personal. “We need to ask her to step away from the firm.” Kalinda’s mouth falls open a little. “And you need her lapses?” In case it grows contentious, he explains. “Will, one thing I know, you look into her lapses, it will grow contentious.” Kalinda’s excellent advice goes unheeded. ‘I need it by tomorrow,” Will nods. Sigh.
A red head in fashionable sunglasses chomps on a Twizzler, walking down a sunny sidewalk. Mmmm, Twizzlers. She’s a very young and obviously pregnant red head in a jean jacket and a pretty mustard colored dress. “Tara,” a voice comes from the side, ever so slightly out of breath. “Alicia! There you are!” Tara smiles around her Twizzler. She has an entire package of them in her left hand; she uses her right to push her sunglasses up on top of her head. “Is it another amnio, cause I have class in like an hour.” Another amnio? No, Alicia says carefully, I think there’ve been some complications.
“Oh,” blinks Tara, “Are Kathy and Brian here?” Yes. Inside. “They called me.” The previously sunny Tara frowns as they walk into the building together. “Red vine?” No thank you, Alicia replies; there’s warmth and a suggestion of laughter in her voice. Take the Twizzler, Alicia!
“I wasn’t sure after the first amniocentesis; that’s why I requested the second,” a doctor tells them in a posh office (warm brick, lovingly arranged antiques, carefully lit art). Um, what did he say? Was the first amnio botched? I’ve never heard of anyone getting a second amnio. I don’t even know why you’d do that, given the availability of this super cool new genetic test, which unlike an amnio is completely non-invasive. Except as a test for fetal lung maturity before a premature delivery, and if that’s what was going on she’d be hospitalized. “The screening detected an 85% chance of Patau’s syndrome.” Say what now? “It’s a chromosomal anomaly which is very rare, and – I’m sorry – very severe.” To the doctor’s right, Donna Moss (I’m sorry, Kathy) sits with Tara, looking utterly wretched; Tara looks shocked and even uncomprehending. “What is it?” she wonders, her gaze running between the doctor and Kathy, who puts a comforting hand on her arm.
“It’s a surfeit of chromosomes,” Dr. John Tuft explains (a name tag on his lab coat, how handy). “Babies with Patau survive only a few days after birth.” Alicia’s eyes close at this devastating news. “Some less than a year. All have major developmental disabilities.” I don’t get it, Tara responds, still in shock. “Last night, I felt him kicking. All night.” Kathy puts an arm around the girl’s shoulder. “And he’ll continue to kick. There’s nothing anyone did wrong, Tara. This is not about the surrogacy.” Thanks for confirming that’s what we’re looking at, Doc, but I don’t think that was what she was asking.
“And what do we do now?” a man’s voice asks – presumably Brian, who is presumably Kathy’s husband, presumably the man sitting next to Alicia in a pair of chairs arrange across from the love seat. He too is dress all in lux-looking black. Well, that’s why I wanted to get to you as soon as possible, the doctor replies. “So you’ll have options. You’re in the second trimester, so … termination is still a possibility.” Tara gasps as if someone had punched her; finally she grasps the significance of what Tufts has been saying all along. “I am so sorry,” she cries, turning to Kathy, who shushes her, pulling her into an embrace. Sighing in distress, Alicia looks away as Brian surges toward Tara. We’ll pay for everything, he says. Not just the surgery but the full amount of the surrogacy. You don’t have to do that, a weepy Tara cries. “No, Tara,” Kathy says, putting her hands on Tara’s face, “you’re part of this family now. We’ll deal with this together.” The doctor suggested a clinic, Brian explains. “And I’ll go with you,” Kathy adds. No, it’s fine, Tara sniffles.
And that’s when Alicia has to answer her phone. “Will, can I call you back?” she whispers. Actually, no. He needs her for an emergency committee meeting. Nice, unemotional euphemism, that. He’s short of a quorum, and he needs her. He’s changed into a button down, but doesn’t have a tie back on yet. “How far away are you?” Not far at all, but she’s a wee bit busy, love. “Come to the office, but go to the empty floor on 16. Make it when you can.” It’s plain from the terror on her face that Alicia thinks she and the rebellion have been caught out; there’s no inkling of what Diane’s done.
“Of course the Governor-Elect chooses his own commission,” Eli enthuses into his cell phone. Ah. So people really are talking about the ethical watchdog thing. Those appearances are going to bite you in the butt whatever you do, Eli. Peter walks in, glowering at his Chief of Staff, and Eli hangs up. “Ethics commission?” he wonders. “It’ll die down,” Eli blusters. “They’re just probing for a chink in the armor.” As ever. “I don’t think so,” Peter contradicts as they walk and talk, surrounded by flunkies. “Bring Marilyn back.”
Eli blanches. “Peter, that will look just as weak,” he suggests, but Peter’s not having it. “I made a mistake – it looks like I replaced her because she was too ethical, not because of how she looked. Bring her back.” Yeah, that wasn’t predictable at all.
Looking incredibly apprehensive, Alicia arrives at the abandoned 16th floor; in the low light, her dress is the color of old blood. At the far end, large globes are strung up, providing the only illumination over a group of maybe 10 or 12 people; is this the partner’s steering committee? “Ah, here’s our quorum,” David Lee trills. “How’d you come, by bicycle?” Ha ha, very funny. “What kind of exit package are we talking about here?” Howard Lyman asks; that’s why we’re here, Will explains. Figure out how much damage she did to the firm and discount that amount, David Lee offers. “With overhead,” Howard adds, which is probably the first thing we’ve ever heard him say that doesn’t make him sound completely inept.
“What’s going on?” Alicia whispers to Will. “Diane,” he whispers back. Not illuminating, Will. “…one of my biggest divorces,” David grouses. “She got a call from this reporter who wanted to fact check her article.” Oh, boy. I see calling Will, but why their clients? What would it remotely have to do with a divorce case? For once David right’s to be pissed. “Diane is out for herself,” he finishes, actually looking upset. “So cut her off!” Howard howls. “No,” Will replies, steely. “We negotiate an exit package.” Unable to believe what’s happening, Alicia asks the room at large. “What happened?”
“Diane gave an interview that exposed the firm to criticism,” Will explains smoothly, able to canvas the subject with more ease, “we’re getting calls from clients.” We vote, Howard jumps in again. “How many want Diane gone?” She wants herself gone, David tries to calm Howard. Wow. That’s uncharacteristic. “We just want her gone two months early. All those in favor of negotiating Diane’s exit package, say aye.” Of course David and Howard raise their hands; Alicia looks around the room almost feverishly.
“Who’s taking minutes?” Howard wonders. Oh, Howard. I’m just waiting for him to ask Alicia cause she’s a girl. No one, David says, they’re just counting, and count he does; with Will’s belated hand, it’s 8 to 6. Alicia, of course, is one of the six. “Good. Appointments to the negotiating committee,” David moves. The next exchange is too delicious not to quote verbatim. “I appoint myself,” Howard Lyman steps up. “You can’t appoint yourself,” David snaps. “I appoint David Lee,” Howard tries again. “I appoint Howard Lyman,” David Lee adds. Awesome. “And Will.”
“And I appoint Alicia,” Will jumps in. “No,” Alicia shakes her head. “Thank you, no.” We need someone who voted against the package, Will asserts. “You’re the balance.” Okay. That makes a certain amount of sense.
Again, Alicia steels herself to walk into a loud, dark room – but this time, it’s her living room, which is filled with her co-conspirators in relaxed clothes; by comparison, Alicia’s still dressed for the day. “We’re not saying anything if we use a font that everybody else uses,” Carey Zepps zealously argues. “All those in favor of the better-looking font,” the Real Cary smiles, and much to Extra E’s disgust, everyone raises their hands. Real Cary laughs. “I’m joking, I’m joking,” he says. ‘All those in favor of Classic Roman Standard,” he rephrases, still convivial, and as he does Grace walks in with another top that shows off more of her cleavage. Cary watches her go. Ew! As she brings in a tray of snacks, Alicia observes this in distress. “And all those in favor of Trajan Pro? Congrats, our law firm now has a font. Any new business?”
“I heard a rumor that I wanted to share with the group,” Carey gossips. “I heard that Diane was being pushed out. The partners got together and they’re composing an exit package.” Wow, word travels fast. Alicia immediately looks wary. Which would leave her clients ripe for poaching, Cary notes, if it’s true. Holding up her hands, Alicia demurs. “As a partner, I’m bound by my confidentiality. I can’t say anything.” Carey narrows his eyes as she hovers over the one open chair. “Okay,” Extra E suggests, “I’ll count to ten. And if you don’t sit down by ten, Diane is being pushed out. One,” he begins. “Guys, I can’t. I can’t even hint,” she pleads. “Well, you did more than hint when you told us about the partners tracing our texts,” he replies.
Come on, give her a break, you little shark! Sadly, the Real Cary shrugs in agreement. “Yes, and I’m not so sure that was a good thing,” Alicia sputters. Extra E is on four. Why did they give him the same unusual name as a main character? I’m so annoyed by that. “Alicia, we’re two weeks away from leaving. Getting a jump on her clients would mean everything.” Would it? I’m not so sure, but Alicia softens a little. And she doesn’t sit. “Seven, eight, nine, ten.” Extra E smiles as he finishes his little count down. “You can’t read anything into this,” she proclaims as they all stare at her. Her phone rings, happily allowing her to exit the room as Fake Carey quizzes Real Cary about Diane’s clients.
“Alicia, what did you say to her?” a panicked voice asks. At first I think it’s Diane, and I’m lost, but with a shake of her head Alicia identifies the voice as Kathy’s. “What did you tell Tara?” I didn’t say anything, what do you mean, Alicia puzzles. Kathy’s voice breaks. “She wasn’t at the clinic!”
“I don’t wanna do it,” Tara proclaims, sitting cross-legged on what looks like a dorm bed. It is a dorm bed. My brain is a little stuck on the idea of a college student being a pregnancy surrogate (not that it isn’t an amazing thing to do but, but, it’s not exactly fun or carefree or conducive to a great social life or even basic comfort), but it’s right there: brightly colored spread, desks, novelty lights strung around the window. Alicia sits down on a red and white polka dot desk chair. “You don’t want to terminate the pregnancy?” Alicia confirms. Yes. That. “You understand,” the lawyer begins delicately, “that Kathy and Brian will feel like you’re the surrogate in this situation, that they’re the parents.”
It’s as if Tara doesn’t even hear this, she’s so caught up with what she’s feeling. “Yeah, Alicia, I can feel him kicking,” she explains, leaning forward, lit up with her belief. “I don’t think he really is what the doctor says he is.”
“Would you like me to set up another appointment with Dr. Tuft?” Alicia asks. No, the girl frowns. He’ll just say what he said again. “Tara,” Alicia replies heavily, “He has birth defects.” Tara tosses her hair, exasperated. “I know it feels like he’s healthy, but he’ll be in pain when he’s born, and he won’t survive.” Tara’s so certain the diagnosis is wrong. “He has a fifteen percent chance, that’s what the doctor said,” she glows. “That’s not a real chance,” Alicia replies. “My parents said I had a ten percent chance of getting into DePaul, but I’m here,” Tara glows. Now that’s a really scientific example. I understand it, though. How do you give up on someone who might be fine?
“Tara,” Alicia tries, ” It’s not your baby.” He didn’t become an “it” because he probably has a life-ending genetic mutation, Alicia. “And you’re not my lawyer, Alicia,” Tara points out. Yes, what is their relationship? Alicia compresses her lips and nods. “Not really. They’re paying you.” Yes, Alicia nods. “But I represent your interests. I represent the surrogate’s interests.” Tara’s hair shadows her face; slowly she looks up and smiles. “Then start!” Her confidence is catching.
“It’s not your decision,” a miserable looking Kathy sits next to her husband, across from her surrogate. They’re both dressed in black again; I’d say they were in mourning, but they started out that way. “Tara!” Alicia, who sits between Tara and another man. Lawyer? Oh my lord, it’s Tom – the marvelous Tony nominated Christian Borle – from Smash. Eee! He looks really wrong in a suit, though. “Tara has decided that in the best interest of the fetus, that she carry it to term,” Alicia explains carefully, in a way that makes clear she doesn’t agree with the decision. Sooooo awkward. Well, at least her exquisitely fitted dark purple suit pairs well with Tara’s pumpkin colored longer sleeves t. “Excuse me,” Kathy starts, then restarts. “We talked about this!” Tara shakes her head, so sorry. “I know. I can’t. He’s not sick. I can feel it!” Oh, love. “You’re not a doctor!” Kathy squeals, and immediately Tom’s soothing voice interjects. Tara, he says, on page 18 of your contract you agree to terminate if there’s a substantial problem. “Yes,” Alicia agrees, “but Tara believes these do no constitute substantial signs of birth defects…” Both Brian and Kathy jump in with their shock and their dismay.
Because he’s magic like that, Tom coolly calms them down. “Really? And have you explained to her how she’ll be in breach?” I have explained her options, Alicia replies. We’re the ones paying you, not her, Brian reminds Alicia. “Yes, and as part of the surrogacy agreement you agreed to pay me to act in her best interest during the course of the surrogacy.” Kathy leans forward, trying to rip out her own broken heart and shove it on the table between them so that Tara will understand. “Tara, you’re hurting us,” she pleads, her voice quaking. Tara looks to Alicia, just not sure how to answer.
You can’t agree with this, Tom asks Alicia in a private conference. It’s not about what I think, Alicia reminds him. “So you’re just cashing a paycheck?” he asks. Oh, unkind. “No, I am faithfully representing the interests of my client.” “And does the interest of your client involve being the mother of a child with major birth defects?” No, Alicia agrees. “So Tara wants to give birth and force my clients to raise the child?, ” Tom wonders. Wait, so what IS Tara’s plan here? She wants to have the baby because she’s sure he’s part of the 15%, right. Is she assuming that Kathy and Brian will then want their healthy child? Because that seems pretty reasonable. If their son does have Patau’s Syndrome, and isn’t part of the 90-5% that die just after birth, that would be when it becomes tricky. And, I guess, the hospital bills if he dies after a day or two. Does it matter if she doesn’t have a plan? Maybe it’s okay that she says, I thought I could do this, but I can’t.
Tara’s exercising her right not to choose abortion, Alicia counters. “No, you don’t get to use the word choice,” Tom answers, implacable. “This child is solely my client’s genetic material.” Their genetic material, really? “Their egg, their sperm. The only one who gets to choose is the actual mother.” So, Tara’s just what, a fancy incubator with no control over her own body? I thought we had problems with that view of women. It’s a little Handmaid’s Tale, no? We would disagree with that characterization, Alicia counters quietly. “Ah, and that settles that, then?” Tom asks. And then he looks at his watch.
“We’re suing,” he adds casually. “Today.” Alicia can’t quite believe the words she’s hearing. “Wha – You’re suing for what? To force my client to have an abortion? How does that work?” Those are really good questions. Tom has a quick answer for her: economic devastation. It seems that the Eisenstadts (Kathy and Brian) have shelled out a half a million dollars in their quest to find and pay off a surrogate. YOUCH, that’s a lot of money. “A half million is going to bankrupt your client – unless she decides to honor the terms of her contract.”
Nope, says Alicia, not biting. “Then we’ll be seeing you in court,” she dismisses him. Ah, but we won’t be seeing you, he shakes his head. “You’re fired. The Eisenstadts are terminating your employment as Tara’s lawyer.” Oh ho! “Well they can’t do that until the surrogacy is concluded,” Alicia insists. Actually, since Tara broke her contract, it turns out that they can. “So, unless you’re into doing this case pro bono, it was nice meeting you.” He turns with an almost military precision; the audience watches Alicia’s thoughtful expression and laughs at his over confidence. Giving a quick look to Tara sitting in a conference room, Alicia takes off down the hall, only to see that Will and Diane are arguing in the latter’s office.
“You put your interest before that of the firm, Diane,” Will intones. Sigh. “This is my firm,” she growls. It was, he growls right back. “Then get the security guards,” she demands, hands on her hips. “Carry me out.” No, Will replies, turning away for a second. “We have too much respect for you to make this a public spectacle.” Oh, ouch. If that didn’t hurt, it should.
Yeah, it hurts. She walks toward him, quivering with anger and hurt. “You wanna end it this way?” she practically whispers. “Diane, you ended it,” he replies, utterly calm. “Now go be a judge. We have work to do here.”
She goes. And nothing is good, and no one is good, and no one is happy.
Really, that seems to be the theme of this entire episode.
Alicia whips a ringing handset out of her kitchen window (um, okay). “No, this is her mother, may I ask who’s calling?” Presumably she gets an answer. “She should be back in an hour; may I ask what this is regarding?” Sounds like she doesn’t really get an answer. “That for me?” Zach asks, heading into the kitchen with an empty plate as his Mom hangs up the phone. “No, your sister. Who’s Jimmy Lawrence?” Someone from school, why? “Well, he was calling for Grace,” Alicia explains. Zach walks off without a word.
Suddenly worried, Alicia rushes after him. “Zach, is something going on with your sister?” He’s already flopped down on his bed, texting, but he looks away from his phone long enough to give her a shady look. “No,” he parses his words. “But something’s going on,” the lawyer deduces. He just looks at her. “Zach! What?” The older brother sighs. “Grace has nothing to do with this,” he confesses, rolling up off his bed. “It’s not her.” Yeah, because that’s not going to provoke Alicia’s curiosity or anything. He calls up the infamous article (10 Hottest Politicians Daughters) on his laptop for Alicia to see – and I lose it just for a second, because as soon as he touches the keys, a baaing goat video pops up.
It’s a lot less fun when we get to the actual list, however, and Alicia starts scrolling through with her gigantic new diamond ring on her finger. “I don’t understand,” she stammers. “Where?” She whips around. “So that’s why this kid is calling?” Zach nods. “Lots of kids.” Oh, no. Alicia gulps.
“We want you back, Marilyn,” Eli pretends enthusiasm for the coolly gracious ethics watchdog. Yes, Peter agrees, sitting between them, we’ve decided we were a bit hasty in moving you to the Transit Authority. “Promoting me to the Transit Authority Board,” Marilyn Bean prompts a little bit meanly, but certainly not without cause. “Yes, well, we heard you weren’t very happy there,” Peter adds. “Yeah, I didn’t feel…” she searches for the right word, “qualified.” Ha! I like it when you’re sassy, Bean.
“Then come back to us,” Eli promises, and he gets a little run away with his vision. “We’re reorganizing the Ethics Commission, giving it more power.” Peter, meanwhile, steals surreptitious little looks over at Marilyn. Oh, that’s not so good. “We’d like you to head it up,” Eli finishes his part of the pitch. “And we’d like to announce today,” Peter closes their pitch. Instead of rejoicing, Marilyn looks at them suspiciously, which makes me like her more. “In what way, reorganizing?”
“Well, the Ethics Commission has always seemed isolated here in Chicago. We want to move your offices into the governor’s suite in Springfield.” Her eyes narrow even more. “More in the … heat of the action,” he says, pinching his fingers together in a bizarre attempt to symbolize – the density of the heat? Her closeness to the action? I’m sure it was something. Marilyn flat out guffaws. “No thank you,” she replies in that calm, posh tone, standing.
Wait a minute, Peter sputters. “Why not?” She turns and gives her answer seriously. “Pat Quinn governed from Springfield. Rod Blagojevich governed from Chicago. Each governor is different. Where are you gonna be, Mr. Florrick?” He looks down at his lap. Well I hope that’s not where you’re going to be, Peter.
Of course Eli answers with his typical patter – he’s going to be in both places! At the same time! He’s superman! – Marilyn knows better. “Then why are you adding all the offices here?” They’re caught out, and they know it. Did you think she was dumb, or did you just hope she’d be so grateful for her job back that she wouldn’t call you on it? “With the Ethics offices isolated out in Springfield?” The two men exchanged embarrassed glances. “I don’t think so,” she almost laughs.
“What if the offices were here?” Peter offers reluctantly. “Along with unfettered access?” she asks, turning, her hair spilling gorgeously down her back. ‘Yes I’d consider it.” No one has unfettered access, Eli thunders. “Give us a day to think about it, okay?” Peter asks, causing Eli to nearly expire in horror. “Thank you, Mr. Florrick,” she smiles with a sort of wry satisfaction. The triumphant parting look she gives Eli – well. Despite her cultured manners, the lady likes playing the game.
“They hate me, don’t they?” Tara moans, her head slung back against the top of her chair. “No, I don’t think they hate you,” Alicia gives more nuance to the situation than the college student is wont to, “I think they want you to consider all the repercussions.” Yes, and she’s not – but on the other hand, I’m not sure that Kathy or Brian care about the emotional and psychological repercussions for Tara so long as they get the result they want. (Is that harsh? Maybe I just mean that they care more about their point of view than hers?) “They can do that, take away all my money?” she squints up at Alicia. “I don’t even have that much.” “Well,” Alicia considers, “you have the $120,000 coming from your parents’ trust when you turn 21, they can take that.” My, she’s very off hand about something that’s actually quite a lot of money. I still can’t get over the fact that she’s doing this while in college – she either has to be strongly altruistic or really good at not considering the repercussions. I’m not wrong in considering that an unusual choice, am I?
Weirdly, David Lee’s standing at the door making monkey faces at Alicia to get her attention. (Well, okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but there you go.) Exasperated, Alicia excuses herself to shoo the divorce lawyer. “Is that her? Is that the surrogate?” Why is he so curious? “Look, David,” she explains, “I’m doing this pro bono, this is one of mine, I won’t exceed thirty hours…” That’s when he pushes past her to get into the room. “I’m taking first chair with you.” Um, okay. That’s weird. “You’re what?” Alicia can’t believe it either.
But no, David’s surging forward, taking Tara’s hand, putting on his most sympathetic voice. “Tara? Hi. I’m David Lee. I am in awe of your courage, young lady.” The flattery wins a smile immediately. “Life is such a precious commodity. Isn’t it?” Alicia squints at David, trying to figure out what his end game is (which is to say, how he can possibly think they can monetize this situation, because money is always David’s end game). It can’t possibly be that he actually cares about the issue, can it?
He’s motivated enough to try and pull Kalinda off her secret investigation into Diane’s cases. “No, come to think of it, you’re still friends with Cary and the fourth years, aren’t you?” He looks away, annoyed. “What do you need, David,” Kalinda asks in a deliciously weary tone.” “No, that’s okay,” he tells her. “Robyn! I want you to look into this…”
Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Excuse me while I fall off the couch laughing.
“And you’ve been seeing Tara Bach for how long?” Alicia asks a professional looking woman on the stand. “I’ve been her ob/gyn for about seven months now,” she nods. (Where does Dr. Tuft fall into this equation, then? A reproductive endocrinologist? A specialist in high risk pregnancies?) They establish that she’s due in approximately 12 weeks. “And in your professional opinion, it Tara’s fetus viable?” Smashing Tom objects, saying this is irrelevant to a breach of contract suit. So what is the relevance, the judge asks Alicia. “If Tara’s fetus is viable, Your Honor, then she can’t abort, and there is no breach of contract.” Huh. I don’t know much about abortion and how it’s legally linked to viability, but generally a fetus is considered viable at 24 weeks (which is to say, it has a 50/50 chance of survival outside the womb) and since Tara’s at 28 weeks (an important milestone for lung development) a genetically normal baby would have an excellent chance of surviving. Of course, if the baby has Patau’s Syndrome as expected, his chance of survival is basically zero, so I’ve no idea how you factor that into the equation.
(Yeah, sorry, preemie-mom knowledge cannot be contained. This is why I can never watch medical dramas involving premature births; I don’t know why its so hard to get this stuff right, but they almost never do.)
“That makes sense to me, counselor,” the judge shrugs. So, awesome – except why doesn’t the doctor actually answer the question? That makes no sense. You press for this being an important issue and then don’t actually get us the testimony? Bah. Alicia’s done with her questioning, but – ha! – David Lee isn’t. Of course, HE doesn’t get to skinny on fetal viability either. “Why was the amnio performed so late in the pregnancy, doctor?”
Well, okay, interesting question. Typically it would be performed at least a few months earlier than this. Also, it’s not normal protocol for a woman so young, or anyone who hasn’t had problematic results on early testing, to have an amnio in the first place. And if the baby had abnormal results in the early testing, why would everyone have been so shocked by this? Tara looks on, intrigued, chin resting on her palm; she’s got a rainbow of bright, Crayola-colorful bracelets going up her wrist. Well, I wasn’t the one who did it, the ob says. And it was the second amnio; she’d done one at the usual time back in April, which had (as David prompts) resulted in spotting. At this point, the judge breaks in. He doesn’t know why Smashing Tom’s not objecting, so he’s going to shut down this line of questioning for him. “I sustain the objection that never came,” he says. From their table, Alicia glares at her co-counsel.
And it all comes out in the elevator soon after. “So you want to sue the hospital,” Alicia deduces. “I don’t want to sue the hospital, I will sue the hospital,” David explains, texting furiously. “Their amnio caused these birth defects.” Okay, I’m not a doctor or a scientist but I am a mom and an obsessive researcher and I’ve never heard or read anything that suggests that an amnio could cause a birth defect. Miscarriage, absolutely. Genetic mutation? No. I’d love to see where they got the idea for this particular twist.
“And you want the child born?” Alicia surmises. “No, your client wants the child born,” David answers mildly, thumbs flying. Alicia clamps down her lips in a bitter line. “Yes, but it means more to a suit if the child is born.” David snorts. “8 million more. Pain and suffering. 2 million if Tara aborts. 10 million if she doesn’t.” I can’t help echoing the shock on Alicia’s face as David talks so coolly of cashing in on that little life. This is why people hate lawyers.
“Does Tara know that?” our heroine wonders. Finally, this wins her David’s attention. “What, that we’re suing? No,” he sneers. “She’s doing it because she believes it.” When David steps off the elevator, he leaves Alicia alone with these thoughts. How can she participate in this exploitation of such an awful circumstance?
The exit package committee paces the empty 16th floor – or at least the area below those few lights. There are a few more members than the four we know about. “I’m pro-choice,” Howard Lyman proclaims, “it gives you the most options.” Um, yes. “Abortion is a sin,” an unknown member chimes in, a man with a bulldog face. “You’re a Republican, you have to say that,” David Lee grumbles. “No I’m not a Republican,” the lawyer responds, glumly indignant. “I just look at photographs of fetuses and think, how can we flush them down the drain?” No one’s flushing anything down a drain, Lee rolls his eyes.
“I met this Rockette back in the fifties,” Howard muses. “Looked just like Cyd Charisse. Oh, God, Cyd Charisse. Those legs!” He grabs his head. She does have pretty amazing legs, but I so don’t want to hear about it from Howard. “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament,” the other woman on the committee snaps; Alicia paces, looking at her phone. “It’s legal, what else do you want?” Mr. Pro-Life grumbles. Howard’s still lost in his memory, “messing around” backstage with the Rockette; Alicia closes her eyes in horror. Yeah, none of us want to hear this. I was about to say, aren’t you thrilled you won’t have to listen to him in your new firm, but then there’s Extra E. “She came to me three months later. Pregnant. Are you kiddin’ me? Took her to Canada.”
Well. I feel so much better knowing that.
“This is what I don’t get about abortion. Where do you think the personality went? If it had been aborted…” Thankfully Will shows up to calm everyone down because the small group practically exploded at that comment. “Hold on. Everybody calm down. We’re here to negotiate Diane’s exit package.” Thanks for the reminder.
“And I have some research,” says David, holding up a packet. “This is what we offered Jonas Stern when he exited in 2009.” Are you friggin’ kiddin’ me?” Howard squawks. “We were in better financial straights then,” David adds. Howard thinks an offer of half Stern’s package would make Diane lucky, which David thinks makes sense. “Jonas Stern was a founding partner,” he begins. “So was Diane!” Alicia makes her first contribution to the conversation. Howard puts the emphasis on “was.” Is there a difference between Jonas’s impact and Diane’s? “What has Diane done lately but move us toward bankruptcy?” Ouch!
‘David,” Alicia explains in clipped tones, “she’s going to be a Supreme Court Justice.” Which is to say, how smart is it to screw her over? What’s the precious commodity here – money, or good will? Granted, it’s not like we’ve seen them argue a lot of cases at the Supreme Court, but still, Will agrees. He also thinks they’d be in danger of losing Diane’s clients if she feels like they’re not taking her seriously. “How will we lose them?” David sneers. She could suggest they go somewhere else, Will explains patiently. Suddenly Alicia’s looking very self-conscious, and very, very guilty.
“Tara’s fetus will not be viable until the third trimester,” Dr. Tufts finally answers the question. (Okay, I’m sorry to keep going on about this, but isn’t the whole argument for termination that the fetus will never be viable? That a child with Patau’s syndrome has a 90-95% chance of dying immediately after birth? A genetically normal baby is viable well before the 3rd trimester; a baby with Trisomy 13 – Patau’s -isn’t ever “compatible with life” outside the womb. None of this makes sense, so I have to research it, and I’m sorry, but it annoys me that he’s sticking the 1973 legal definition of viability beginning with the third trimester; according to the 1992 Supreme Court ruling in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, the line of viability is movable, in recognition of technological advancements and individual circumstance. Fun piece of trivia? Despite the fact that they don’t seem to be using the most relevant case law, I can’t help thinking they’ve borrowed a little something from this related case.)
“And that’s in 48 hours?” Smashing Tom responds. “Yes, that’s why the decision to terminate has to be made quickly.” That is, that’s why they’re looking to compel Tara to change her mind quickly. Why didn’t they just perform the second amnio right after the first if “Now, Tara’s ob/gyn has suggested that the fetus is viable now,” Tom brings up. Did she? Wish we’d heard that. “Yes,” replies Tuft, who sounds to me like a very glum, toneless Stanley Tucci, “I heard that. She’s wrong. Viability is based on survivability out side of Tara’s womb.” Yes, that’s the textbook definition, thank you. And that’s why the Supreme Court set the 3rd trimester as an inviolable line of viability, right? Right. (Grrr.) That’s all he’s got.
“Dr. Tuft, isn’t survivability based on current technology?” Of course, says Dr. Tuft. “And given the advances in neo-natal technology, can’t the fetus survive outside of Tara’s womb earlier?” Not in my opinion, no, Dr. Tuft replies evenly. “This is a very special case.” One which somehow re-conforms to the 1973 standard? I would buy the special case argument if he was positing that the fetus will never be viable; I am not going to buy that as it stands.
Unlike Alicia, David Lee stands and barges in. “Dr. Tuft, don’t you have a reason for wanting this fetus aborted?” Smashing Tom throws a fit over David popping in. “If the fetus is aborted, then the malpractice lawsuit against you…” Tom cuts David off. Judge Timothy Stanek raises his hand for quiet as Tom and David talk over each other, spitting out words like “big boy court” and “slander.” Finally, he’s forced to slam down his gavel, and he does not look pleased about it; that’s one angry smile.
“The question before me is whether the contract is moot. Due to fetal viability, there’s no way not to be in breach. Given the conflicting testimony of the doctors, I have no way to split this, uh, dilemma.” (Anyone else think immediately of the judgement of King Solomon here?) “So I fall back on the Supreme Court’s decision.” Damn it, David curses. “With respect to the contract in question, the fetus is ruled non-viable and will remain so for 40 more hours.”
“Your Honor,” Tom stands, “given that, we move that this proceedings continue apace.” But we won’t have our next witness until Friday, Alicia stands to complain. Ha ha, Alicia. It was unworthy when the state tried it with the death penalty case, and it’s unworthy now. “Mrs. Florrick, have your witnesses available this afternoon, or we will proceed without them.” Good for you, Judge Stanek.
And now we travel from Tara’s doe eyed face to the crisp slap of a document hitting a table – the small conference table in Diane’s office, to be precise. “No,” Diane snaps, sitting down behind the paperwork, wearing a pale, beautifully fitted jacket in some slubby material (perhaps linen or dupioni silk). ‘What does that mean?” Howard grouses. Why am I now surprised Howard of all people would ask that? “It means I don’t accept your exit package,” Diane growls, her voice low. “We can shove you out, you know,” David Lee counters gracefully. ‘Yes I do know that,” Diane answers, uncowed. “My clients, too.” What is that, a threat, Howard leans over and peers at her. “It’s a fact,” she snarls. “Don’t act innocent. You already have some of the associates calling my clients, trying to split them off.” Alicia’s twitchy face here makes me giggle, or maybe that’s just the tension and the awfulness. “And you’re paranoid, Diane,” Will says from the shadows. “These are similar to the terms offered to Jonas Stern.” “I am not Jonas Stern,” she replies, her voice thick; Will nods, chastened.
“What do you want, Diane,” Alicia pipes in. “I want what I’m worth. You want me not to bad talk you to my clients, rethink your offer.” So how do they know what she thinks she’s worth? “Now get outta my office,” she commands. David Lee takes a second before replying. ‘This isn’t your office,” he points out coolly. “It is,” she snaps back, “until you have the security guards escort me out.” She hasn’t been here the whole time, has she? Howard rubs his hand over his face; he clearly can’t believe it’s going so badly.
“Alicia,” Will calls after her as the group leaves. It’s late, and there aren’t any lights on. What’s with all the skulking around in shadows? “Do you have a minute?” Sure, she says, clearly nervous, and so she walks into his darkened office. “I can’t decide this myself, but I think I can swing most of the partners, and I think you’ll enjoy a honeymoon period as the governor’s wife.” Um, what? She’s justifiably confused. “I want you to consider replacing Diane as managing partner.”
Oh. Now that’s unexpected. She swallows, shocked. And also tempted.
“Tara asked a lot of questions about the contract,” Kathy Eisenstadt explains on the stand. “We listened, made changes at her request. We wanted her to feel part of the process.” Tom also has her establish that Alicia was paid by the Eisenstadts to be Tara’s legal advocate. “And did Mrs. Florrick ever raise any concerns the the surrogacy contract was coercive in some way?” Alicia interrupts to say that the contract as whole is not coercive – it’s merely the one provision. Stanek nods in understanding,
“Yes,” Tom agrees, “now that Mrs. Florrick has given herself cover against a malpractice suit, may I continue?” That was unnecessarily snippy; Alicia’s eyes roll back into her head. At Tom’s prompting, we find out that the clause about terminating the pregnancy isn’t the normal practice for such contracts. “My husband and I insisted on it,” Kathy tells us. And why was that? “Because our first child, Caleb, had a heart defect.” As she has every time we’ve seen her, Kathy’s wearing black and looking pained. “He lived 6 months. 5 operations. And in the end we just… we couldn’t bring another child into the world to suffer.” Oh, how awful. “And is that why you want to terminate this pregnancy?” She nods, tilting her head, widening her eyes in an effort to avoid crying on the stand. “Yes.”
“I wish I were the one who was pregnant. But I’m not.” She turns to Tara, suddenly venting her anger. “But it’s our child. Our choice.” Tara looks sad, but uncowed. “No one should be allowed to take that from us.”
“What I want is a proposed budget before the state assembly…” That’s Peter’s voice speaking from a panel, yes? In the crowd, Eli’s conferring with Marilyn instead of listening. She’s come to him with a perception problem, and it’s a dozy. Remember the perfect $25 a square foot office Veronica leased for Florrick & Agos last week? Well, the man who owns the building – Barry Ravinski – was Peter’s appointment to the Water Board. Eli finds this ridiculous, as neither Peter nor Alicia likely had any idea who owned the building, nor Barry who his new tenants might be, but Marilyn finds it a clear case of conflict of interest. It doesn’t seem to matter to her whether anything untoward actually happened; it’s just that it looks bad, what with the price a good $15 under market rate.
“Well what would you have Peter do?” Eli asks when faced with her insistence. It’s a good question, because Veronica’s already shelled out all that money and the lease has already been signed. Her solution is to reconsider Barry’s candidacy. Though he looks ready to burst, Eli fake-smiles and says they’ll consider it. Marilyn is smart enough to see this as the brush off it is, which again makes me like her a little more. “I was promised unfettered access,” she pouts. “With all due respect, you’re not the Governor-Elect.”
He’ll take those respects and see her one. “This is unfettered access,” he claims, “to the Governor’s Chief of Staff.” The Bean remains unimpressed. “We should be on the same side, Eli,” she stares him down. “We are on the same side,” he snaps. “You can’t keep disagreeing with me and pretend it’s an agreement,” she points out. Ha! He can do that all day, lady, but I like that you’re willing to call him on it. “I agree,” he replies, winning a snort. Okay, fine. “Ethical issues are never obvious,” she says, which is weird. “And they never go away. Which is why I raise them, because I like Peter, and I wanna see him succeed.”
“You mean Mr. Florrick,” Eli seethes. Check it out, Eli’s getting territorial again. Actually, it may be more likely that her saying that she likes Peter makes Eli nervous for Peter’s virtue, as it were. I mean, surely all this is her job, and whether she likes Peter or not is irrelevant to it? (I get that she’s trying to win Eli over; I’m just afraid that highlighting her professionalism would have been a better way of doing it, even if Peter did invite her to use his first name.) He looks livid. “Of course,” she says, and leaves.
And now it’s time to cross examine Kathy Eisenstadt. To start, Alicia reiterates that Kathy believes she and her husband have absolutely control over the fetus. “Why is that?” Kathy’s eyebrows shoot up. “Because it’s ours.” I don’t think it’s an accident that she’s no longer using the pronoun “he” in reference to the fetus. “And your body? Do you think you should have control over that?” Again, she seems surprised by the question. “My body? Yes, I do.” So you’re pro-choice, Alicia asks. Sure, sure, that should be obvious since she’s suing to force an abortion, but this is where Kathy picks up on where Alicia’s going. “Yes, but this is different.”
“How?” Alicia wonders. “How is it different? You want this contract imposed, even though Tara doesn’t want an abortion.” David Lee nods along. “It’s different because Tara isn’t the mother,” Kathy states. “I’m the mother.” But it’s her body, Alicia points out, prompting Smashing Tom to object (argumentative). Are they ever going to tell us what his name is? According to the imdb, it’s Carter Schmidt, but because I’m stubborn that way, I’ll stick to Tom until the show actually bothers to tell us otherwise. “It’s okay, I wanna answer,” Kathy stops her lawyer.
“Yes,” she begins, “it’s her body. But she’s agreed to subject her body to my needs, as a mother, that’s what this contract was.” Tara looks appalled. “This is about my choice, not hers.” Alicia considers this argument before speaking. “So you would drag Tara to a clinic and have this fetus forcibly removed?” I don’t think she has to fake the outrage in her face at this idea. Looking lost, Kathy’s eyes find Smashing Tom, who doesn’t object. “Withdrawn,” Alicia says anyway. “No more questions.”
“I’ll have a ruling on the contract’s enforceability within the hour,” Stanek says.
Alicia uses the time to eat a yogurt and moon over the 218 comments under Grace’s 4th Hottest Politician’s Daughter picture. It’s all awesome stuff you totally want to read about your daughter like “I’ll take seconds,” “I’d like to swim in that gene pool” (er, okay), and “no way this girl is sixteen.” That’s right, genius! The bleeping article just said she was 15! 15 months from 17 is more than a year away. Alicia sighs in horror at “um, she’s got my vote” skipping right past the fact that one commenter has named himself Gracefan93. Her head rears back when she happens on “Tasty biscuit!!!!1” Ick.
So it’s a perfect time for Cary to stop by, even if Alicia does need to be back in court in 15 minutes. He cuts right to the chase. Is she taking the managing partnership? “Where’d you hear that?” she wonders. “Is it true?” he asks, a little stunned. I guess he expected to be told it was a false rumor? She looks around, wanting to be sure no one is observing them. “Will offered it to me, but it’s not a sure thing, and I’m not even sure I would take it.” He sits. “But you’re thinking about it,” he chastises her mildly, “don’t you think that would be a good thing to tell us?” Extending her hands, shaking, Alicia can’t believe he’s pressing this. “It just happened!” she complains. According to that new ribbed suit – purple, but markedly different from the zipper front one she wore during the negotiation scene – it happened last night. That’s clearly enough time to make a phone call on your awkward burner phone.
“Alicia,” Cary sighs, “Staying would be a mistake. You’d always be under Will.” I expect Cary has an inkling of how complicated that position is; still, she’s a bit offended that he’s brought it up. “You finally have a chance to get out from under him…” “Managing partner is not under him,” she objects, annoyed. It is, he counters, and she chews on that for a second. ‘Why do you think he offered it to you?” Oh, boy, that was a tactical error. That could get ugly. “He wants someone he can influence, someone that he knows…” I suspect he knows all of the partners, Cary. At any rate, she’s had enough. “Okay, thanks,” she says, standing. He’s lucky she didn’t unleash after that; he inhales, knowing that she’s upset. “Alicia, this is your chance – take it,” he calls after her without turning his head or raising his voice.
“After much consideration – actually, thirty minutes of consideration – I’ve concluded that control of one’s body is an absolute. This principle is enshrined in our Constitution and jurisprudence,” Judge Stanek begins his ruling, and Tara’s mouth drops open in joy, and David pats her on the shoulder. The judge, meanwhile, stares down Smashing Tom and the Eisenstadts. “Parties may not contract around it.” Gulp. “A provision empowering the Eisenstadt’s to compel an abortion is an affront to public policy. The application for specific performance is denied.” Alicia and an ecstatic looking Tara embrace.
“Your Honor, my client moves for a declaratory judgement that the contract has been breached.” Alicia stands, somewhat puzzled. Isn’t the contract now moot? Well, the court only ruled on the abortion provision, Tom opines, which is pretty much correct. When he says that his clients allege other breaches, the first thing I think is the red dye in those Twizzlers. What a load of bunk, David Lee charges, exploding out of his seat. “They’re trying to extort this lovely young mother to be into an abortion.” Be that as it may, the judge wants to here more. “Mr. Schmidt, what breaches are you referring to?” Ah ha! The name! There we go!
“The defendant failed to live up to various performance sections of the contract,” Smashing Schmidt says, and it sounds very much like he doesn’t actually have any specifics to offer yet. “Oh, come on, Your Honor,” Alicia responds, “If Mr. Schmidt’s clients want to bring a separate suit…” No no no. In the interests of “judicial economy,” Stanek will hear their petitions.
Confused, Tara looks at each of her lawyers.”They lost, right? What are they doing now?” Alicia throws her head back in exasperation. “Scorching the earth and poisoning the wells,” David acknowledges.
Wait, you mean this episode can get even uglier?
Who could it be knocking at Alicia’s door now? Well. That’s unexpected. There’s a man in his, I don’t know, mid to late twenties, hair flopping over his eyes, clad in a slick leather jacket and carrying a motorcycle helmet under his arm. “Hi. I’m Cam. Is Grace here?” Oh my GOD. Is he kidding? That’s horrifying. Alicia blinks, then crosses her arms over her chest defensively. “I’m sorry, you are?” “Cam,” he repeats stupidly, as if this were somehow a sufficient explanation. “You must be Mrs. Florrick,” he drawls, smiling hesitantly. “I told Grace I might swing by after dinner, I, I’m, uh, running a little late…” “She’s out,” Alicia interrupts, spluttering a bit. “but maybe you’d like to come in and have a beer?” Yeah, that’d be great, he smiles enthusiastically.
“Are you insane?” Alicia lunges at him. “My daughter is 16 years old. You do not coming knocking at her door again, do you understand, Cam?” Hee. She makes his name sound like such an insult. His lips quiver as if he’s trying to come up with a response and is just too intimidated to get the words out. Yay, lioness Mommy! Way to guard your precious commodity. (I wish the show would decide how old Grace is, though.) “Now is the time to say yes,” she prompts. “Yes,” he gasps. “Good!” she very nearly screams. “Express elevator is right behind you. Turn around!” She slams the door in his face and then stands in front of it waving her hands and hyperventilating.
A far less demonstrative Kalinda closes a file, sighing unhappily. She can see Diane talking to some underlings. “Why does David Lee not trust you?” Robyn wonders, slumped down on the big conference table. ‘He thinks I’m doing what you’re doing,” Kalinda replies coolly. “What am I doing?” the girl asks, wondering if she should be offended. “Leaving with Cary and the fourth years,” Kalinda explains patiently. As ever, I’m reminded of an older cat schooling a kitten. Robyn uses her eyebrows to shrug. “Oh. Well. I need help,” she finishes, cutting to the point.
“I think this doctor in the surrogacy case has a drinking problem, but I need someone at the SA’s office to confirm rumors of a DUI. Do you have suggestions?” Yeah, Kalinda replies daintily, then goes back to writing in a file. “Can you tell me them?” Nope, says Kalinda. “Why not?” Robyn, you’re leaving, Kalinda reminds her colleague. “Yeah, well, so is Alicia, but you help her!” And our super sleuth did not know that, because oh, the shock that ices over her face! “What?” Kalinda repeats stupidly. “So is Alicia, but you help her on the death penalty case.”
“Alicia’s leaving?” Kalinda repeats, dumbfounded. “Yeah, I thought you knew,” Robyn scoffs. What kind of investigator are you, Robyn? Why would she keep asking if she’d known? “Wha…” Kalinda watches Will through the glass walls now, and swallows hard. “She didn’t say anything.” “Yeah,” Robyn shrugs, leaning over the table and wiggling her eyebrows, “it’s supposed to be a secret.” Right. As Robyn and her hoodie walk off, thinking the cause is useless, she gets a tip. “Check with the clinic’s medical rep. They usually know all the doctor’s problems.” Thank you, the girl whispers, grinning widely.
“So Eli tells me you have a concern over my choice for the Water Board?” Peter asks, sitting behind his desk, a beautiful window behind him. Marilyn Bean stands before him, suit jacket over her shoulders, her hands primly clasped, and explains the situation. “The problem is, sir, one of appearances.” How ironic is that, consider that she herself in many ways is a problem of appearances? “Appearances,” he nods. “So who would you choose?” She shrugs. “The current Water Board head.” I don’t know why, but suddenly that sound like the head of waterboarding. (It’s probably just typing it that makes me think so.) “Grabowski? He’s an idiot,” says Peter dismissively.
“Well I can’t speak to that, sir,” she demurs. “Continuity is of course to be valued, and there would be no conflict of interest.” Except with the people’s interest in their officials not being idiots, and the Water Board running efficiently, I guess. An assistant sets a steaming mug on Peter’s desk. “So, what you’re saying is, you would hire someone second rate because they’re more ethical?” What does it say about our political system that ethics legally refer to the appearance of wrong doing and not actual wrong doing? Ugh. It’s like the whole department exists to press-proof politicians. I’m starting to think she would understand if Eli had explained she was too blond and pretty to be continually photographed next to Peter.
Well, she says, a conflict of interest is a matter of law, and “second rate” is a matter of opinion. He leans back in his seat, considering her point. Which is an awful one, honestly, and I can’t help feeling like he’d have been disdainful if someone else presented it. Not that the law is unimportant. Anyway. “Who do you like better, Hemingway or Dan Brown?” She smiles awkwardly. “I’m not a good judge of literature, sir,” she replies, looking unsettled. “Uh, who’s Dan Brown?”
“DaVinci Code,” he explains, eyes fastened on her face. “Ah,” she replies, happy to be back on solid ground. “Well I haven’t read it. I have seen it. I like Tom Hanks.” Well who doesn’t, Peter smiles, and continues to stare at her face until she looks down. “Well, I don’t think I can take your advice, Marilyn, and I really do appreciate it, but I just,” he shrugs, “can’t choose Dan Brown over Hemingway.” Well stated, Peter. “Well thank you for listening to me, sir,” she nods. “And I’ll make sure I take a look at DaVinci Code.”
No, no, that’s totally the wrong take away from this! His point is that it’s bad! “Don’t do it on my account,” he laughs. She looks back coyly over her shoulder. “No,” she smiles prettily, “I spent too many years in law school with my eyes tied to Lexus-Nexus.” She mimes typing at a keyboard, accessing the main database of legal records. “I should, I don’t know, probably broaden my horizons.” He shrugs. Don’t think about broadening her horizons, Peter, don’t think about it. She smushes up her mouth in a very personal smile; after looking fondly at each other for another moment, she leaves. And that’s when he starts to look worried.
“Yes, I read the contract,” Tara snarks at Smashing Schmidt. He asks her to read a highlighted section, and she does. “During the course of the pregnancy, the surrogate agrees not to engage in any sexual activity that will constitute a risk to the fetus.” Kathy looks a bit embarrassed. Scorched earth indeed! “How many sexual partners have you had since your pregnancy?” Alicia bounces uncomfortably in her seat. ‘Four, I guess, but they always used a condom,” she insists. Ugh. Just ugh. I guess being pregnant didn’t cramp her social life as much as I would have guessed, at least not at first. “Did you and any of these … upstanding gentlemen engage in a threesome?” Objection, Alicia cries. I’ll say. I don’t know that by it’s nature a threesome would necessarily present a risk to her pregnancy, but it certainly makes her sound like a floozy. “This is character assassination,” Alicia continues. No, an orgy is a violation of her contract because it’s risky sexual behavior. Really? (Also, do threesomes constitute orgies? None of that follows to me.) The judge thinks it makes sense, however, so dewy eyed Tara has to answer the question. “No, I never engaged in a threesome,” she replies, aghast.
“It was her idea,” a very smarmy youth in a chambray button down drawls. “The threesome was?” Schmidt looks over the judge to make sure he’s said it enough times. Now I’m thinking that the name Schmidt is important after all, perhaps as a reference to New Girl‘s notorious player. Tara has her head on the desk in horror. “Yes. We were in this bar called Chesterfields, and she saw this guy with tattoos, Evan, and Tara said we should bring him back to her place.” And did you? Yes. Brian has his arms around Kathy, though what he’s protecting her from I’m not sure. “That’s a lie. You’re a liar. I haven’t seen you in a year,” Tara spits out, prompting the judge to threaten moving her out of the courtroom, and Alicia to say sternly that it won’t happen again. Smashing Schmidt raises his eyebrows at Maybe Threesome Boy as if to imply some solidarity against psycho girls, making me want to smash him in the face. “And what happened after you brought Evan back?” He gives a sly grin. “We double…” After much squirming and gesturing, he restates with no less gusto. “We had a threesome.” No, none of them used protection.
“It doesn’t matter if it isn’t true,” David Lee explodes out of the courtroom, “the judge believed him. So whadda we…what is going on?” There’s a mad rush out in the hall, with a flurry of suited men clearing the way for – huh. For Peter, shaking hands with some small boys. “Mr. Florrick,” David insinuates his hand between the children, “it’s so good to finally meet you. I’m David Lee, one of your earlier fans. Alicia and I work together.” “Oh, Mr. Lee, glad to meet you,” Peter replies, giving David the old two handed-hand shake. Impressive flesh pressing technique, sir. Oblivious to the fact that Peter clearly wants to talk to Alicia, David compliments her instead. “You’ve got quite a wife here!” Yes, yes he does. Alicia rolls her eyes as her husband snickers. “What’s up, Peter?” she asks, impatient. “Nothing, nothing, I had a little break and wanted to say hello. It was supposed to be a surprise,” he grimaces. “A little difficult with the security detail.” Um yeah. David still hasn’t budged; “It was still a surprise to us,” he smirks.
Right, right, says Peter. Excuse us, he finally is forced to say, pulling Alicia to the side. And guess what? He’s booked a suite for them, at a hotel (Waleia?) with a package for renewing your vows.
Alicia’s response isn’t exactly gratifying; it’s more shocked than pleased. Really she doesn’t seem pleased at all. “Peter, I thought you said – I mean, I thought we decided to wait until after the inauguration?” He nods. “I did too, but it’ll be just as difficult after the inauguration, so I think we should do it now!” He smiles widely, and her eyes narrow in suspicion. “What’s going on?” she asks him, wiping the smile off his face. Wow. He takes too long to answer. “Nothing’s going on. I love you!”
She smiles at him, buying his words in a way I don’t think the audience is supposed to. “I love you too,” she begins, but before she can say whether or not she thinks this will work, David Lee interrupts their tender moment. Judge Stanek wants them back in court.
“Your Honor,” Smashing Schmidt proclaims, “thirty minutes ago Miss Bach approached my clients and offered to abort the fetus in exchange for $100,000.” Oh my God. She would never! That’s horrifying. It doesn’t sound like her at all. I mean, if that were true, they’d accept, right, even if it was horrendous blackmail? Because there’s no way for them to compel her to have the abortion. That has to be a dirty lie. “That is a preposterous lie,” David thunders as Alicia gapes. It’s extortion, Schmidt pushes on. Well, yeah.
“Wait a minute,” Alicia bursts in. “You’ve ruled my client has to right to have an abortion, there’s nothing wrong with monetizing that right.” Um, what? That’s seriously what you’re going to argue? “So you’re saying that she made this offer?” Stanek stumbles verbally, too appalled to believe the situation before him. “No, I’m saying that if she did make this offer – and I have no knowledge that she did – she was merely using money as a carrot, just as the Eisenstadt’s used it as a stick.” Er…..
“Judge, if the destruction of a fetus to the payment of money isn’t blackmail, nothing is,” Schmidt intones piously. Where did his sudden reverence for fetal life come from? Oh yes, his fiduciary duty to his clients. “Okay, I’ll hear from Miss Bach on this first thing tomorrow.” Hoping to set up some sort of defense, Alicia tries again. “Judge, even if she were to make the offer it was nothing more than a permissible settlement negotiation in a civil case.” I’m not sure why she even bothered; the disgusted look on Stanek’s face means this tactic never would have succeeded. “Or a crime,” he barks. ‘If I find your client’s committed one, I’ll refer it to the State’s Attorney.” Oh, Tara. Please tell me you didn’t. Alicia nods in nervous defeat.
“Mom,” Grace’s worried voice breaks, “did you tell Cam to leave me alone?” Oh, you better believe it, honey. “Good morning, Grace,” her mother smiles, making her bed. “Did you tell Cam to get lost?” “You mean the man with the motorcycle helmet?” Alicia asks, pulling on a heel. “You mean the man who came to my door and wanted to have a beer and wait for you?” The very one! “He’s my pastor,” Grace whispers, her little heart breaking with the embarrassment. Ummmm. Okay. Shouldn’t he have just said that? Shouldn’t a grown up know better than just saying “I’m Cam. You know, CAM.”
Alicia’s stunned. “He’s the head of Campus Faith. He was supposed to pick up some reading plans!” Now it’s Alicia who’s embarrassed. She sighs. “Okay, Grace, he didn’t look like a … I don’t know what he looked like.” Yes, Alicia. You can be a Christian and not look like a priest. Amazing! I like that Alicia’s prejudices got her in trouble here. Of course, if the foolish man had identified himself like a reasonable adult none of this would have happened. “But… just because they’re pastors doesn’t mean anything.”
Grace processes this strange outburst.
“Mom, what’s going on?” she wonders. “I saw the website, the Ten Hottest Daughters,” she confesses. Zach showed you, Grace grouses, sounding betrayed. No – well, yes, but only because I made him, Alicia explains, because of all the phone calls. “Mom, that doesn’t mean anything,” she says. “I’m not after all of that.” Why are you slipping Becca gavels in exchange for make up advice, then? Not that I’m not happy to hear it. “I know, honey,” Alicia agrees, her voice calmer, which I think means she used to know and wasn’t sure and is really really pleased to hear her say it. “But boys are.”
“So?” Grace almost sneers. “So,” Alicia goes on, “you’re dressing differently, you’re taking dresses from my closet…” You said I could, Grace squeals. “I know, but Grace, I’m your mom! And this…” Grace looks away, pained; it’s a vintage Grace look. “Mom,” she admits quietly, “I wanna be pretty.” You can feel that she doesn’t like admitting to it, but there, she’s said it. Jaw dropped, Alicia stares at her, horrified. Grace looks up, looks so small. “Just let me be pretty.”
“Oh, honey,” Alicia says, shifting toward her child (because how could you not want to hug her after that?) and putting her hands on Grace’s shoulders. “You are pretty.” Grace turns away as if stung. “You have to say that,” she complains. When she looks back up at her mom, there are tears in her eyes, and she can only whisper the words for fear they’ll all fall down. “I want other people to think that I’m pretty.” This breaks my heart. Alicia touches her cheek, then pulls her close. There are no words.
“Did you tell my clients that you’d only have an abortion if they paid you $100,000?” Mr. Schmidt asks Tara on the stand. “No”, she squeals. “I did not.” Schmidt accuses her of lying and wants the judge to remind her she’s under oath; Alicia objects because obviously Tara’s just been sworn in. Stanek whips off his glasses. “You are under oath, m’am.” Tara gasps. “I might have said that…” But despite this being a vital point in the case, the show doesn’t actually care, undercutting the moment by having Robyn hiss for – and get – David Lee’s attention. “I was looking into the possibility that Dr. Tuft has a DUI,” she begins, leaning against the rail that separates the gallery from the benches. She’s wearing a black and white baseball t. “Really,” David smirks. “Yeah. He doesn’t. But I was checking with his medical reps, and I did find out something else.”
Out in the hall, we meet with Schmidt. “So, what do you have?” he asks. “As Dr. Tuft’s notes show, he cultured the embryo 48 hours prior to implantation,” David explains. “Meaning there’s been a miscalculation of fetal age,” Alicia explains. Hmm. Interesting. “Can I see that,” the opposing lawyer asks, and he does receive a copy of the notes. Both Eisenstadt’s look as well; Kathy’s arms are wrapped around her torso. “We’re in the third trimester, Mr. Schmidt,” she finishes. “Meaning the fetus is viable.”
“Meaning you won’t be able to pressure our client to terminate,” David Lee adds. Brian and Schmidt exchange rueful glances. “Okay,” Schmidt admits defeat, handing back the notes. Kathy takes a moment to lean in, her lips set together in a furious line, cold and seething. “You’re selfish, Tara,” she bites. “It’d be one thing if you said I’m adopting him.” She trembles with anger, with frustration, with pain. “But you’re walking away.”
“Remember what you said, Kathy, after the first sonogram? ‘Do everything you can to protect my baby.'” Kathy’s laugh is bitter and sharp. “This isn’t protecting. This is owning.”
“I’m keeping him alive. That’s the only way I know how to protect him,” Tara frowns. “Feel him kicking, Kathy. Just feel him.” She wraps a hand around her rounded belly, bright bracelets pressing into her side. Kathy looks down at Tara’s stomach with horror. “No,” she gasps, and walks away. Her husband puts his arm around her, rubs her back, and her lawyer comes to her other side, a wall of black linked together. Sorrowfully, Tara splays her hand on her belly, rubs down firmly.
This is the final offer, David Lee tells Diane as she leafs through yet another settlement package, sitting behind her desk. “No, it’s the final offer when I accept it.” Her desk is made of glass: we can see David Lee and Howard Lyman through it as the camera spins to face them.
She finishes her desultory glance at the paperwork. “No,” she declares, looking at Will who lurks off near her conference table as if no one else in the room exists. And hey, maybe in a way they don’t. This is as much about his forgiveness as it is about anything else.
He knows it, and he asks the other two men to leave.
“You have a problem?” Howard asks. No, Will says. This is something between Diane and myself. Without turning his gaze from Diane’s, he asks Alicia to stay. She’s wearing a new suit (beige, ribbed) so it must be a new day. “I’m going to want you to run a change in the contract,” he says, sitting in front of Diane, so Alicia moves forward, hesitating, trying to disappear.
“What do you want?” he asks plainly. “More than this,” Diane replies. “No,” he says, shaking his head. “This isn’t about money, this is about us.” Yes, of course it is. “So what do you want from me?” She starts to breath heavy; the military style buttons on her asymmetrical suit jacket rise and fall with each breath. “I put my life into this place,” she whispers, staring at him. “My whole life.”
“And it’s appreciated,” he says, raising his chin. “No it’s not,” she dismisses the idea. “Not with ghouls like that shoving me out the door.” Is that why Alicia is here, because she’s not a ghoul? Because she’ll bear a silent witness? You’ve always been so adept at managing everyone, Diane; what else did you expect them to do? “Well I can’t negotiate appreciation,” Will admits. “That’s right,” Diane nods. “That’s why you better do it with money.” Traitor Alicia closes her eyes.
“And how much … appreciation are you looking for, Your Honor?” Will wonders; Alicia looks up at the ceiling, anywhere but at the two old friends, not wanting to be the witness to this most intimate of moments. “I must have really hurt you, to make you want to hurt me like this,” Diane gives Will a measuring look. Of course you did. You know you did. Even more precious commodities – their absolute trust, his reputation, the soul they both poured into their work instead of into families or relationships. “That was the deal from the beginning, Diane, do you remember? We work together until it’s not fun or profitable anymore. Well here we are. Are you havin’ fun?” Pained again, Alicia looks away.
“Bump the package up by 20% and I’ll leave,” Diane replies crisply, suddenly all business. “I can’t do that,” Will says her. “Then find another way,” she informs him. “I’ll be at home.” She snaps shut her leather binder, and leaves through a side door I’m not sure I even knew was there.
Alicia throws back her head. ‘She’ll come around,” Will says, standing. “She knows she can’t be sworn in with a partnership dispute hanging over her head.” When he leaves, Alicia heaves a terrible breath before rushing through the office to Cary’s door. “We need to leave this week,” she tells him.
“You sure?” he asks, blinding in his pink shirt.
“Yes,” she nods.
Oh my gosh. Are you broken yet? What an emotional wringer! As if Diane and Will breaking up weren’t enough, we had to throw abortion into the mix?
So, okay, yes, I did research elements of the case of the week – the legal stuff about viability – and I have some specialized knowledge anyway because of my life experiences, and yes, I’m a little annoyed at the writer. Now, most weeks I don’t know much about the law connected to the case, and though I’d prefer it all to be meticulously researched, I guess could go with Marilyn the ethicist here. It not as important that the details are true as it is that they make sense.
But even if I were willing to absolve the writing staff of the responsibility to do the same research that took me maybe as much as ten minutes, I do not absolve them of the logical flaws in the case. Was I compelled? Sure. Abortion is always a compelling topic for drama, even if you’ve framed the abortion as the mercy killing that will prevent an innocent from suffering, which surely has to be the least controversial kind. I like that they moved back and forth from the Eisenstadt’s seeming cold to being sympathetic (they’re just trying not to repeat a devastating experience!). Yet there’s still that 15% chance the doctor could be wrong and that makes for good dramatic possibilities, too. Is Tara right to hope? Does she have the right to make that choice?
But the whole viability boondoggle annoys me, because both obs would take the Patau’s into account when considering that line. You can’t argue that a fetus should be aborted because it’s not compatible with life and then argue that it’s going to be viable at 28 weeks. That’s senseless.
Also I just didn’t love the way they’d set up a binary, nuanced it, then had the Eisenstadt’s play horrible hard ball and then apparently show us that Tara lacked the convictions she’d fought so hard so. Or the strength to continue fighting after all the nasty character assassination stuff? I don’t know. I don’t even know whether she truly made an offer to abort or not, but you’re certainly made to think she might have. And then with the final scene the episode returns to its original view of Tara, turned her back into the pure spirit protecting her precious commodity the only way she knows how. I won’t argue that people are consistent, but surely a character needs to be a little more so for a story to hang together.
Grace and Alicia. You know I’ve been very loudly hating on this storyline, but this week felt both funny and tremendously real – not least because I had that exact conversation, in those exact words, with my own mother when I was a teen. You have to say that; I want to hear it from someone else. Grace’s innocence, her childhood is Alicia’s precious commodity. But that wish, that desire to make boys react to you? We get it, even if we might not enjoy where it takes her. I adored Alicia’s interaction with Cam – the brutal beauty of her put down, the eventual embarrassment. It’s his own fault, though – and not for dressing in an unorthodox way (that’s not at all surprising in a youth minister, if you actually know any) but his freakish inability to speak for himself. Who doesn’t know how to introduce themselves? Ridiculous, especially in someone who talks for a living and must have to introduce himself constantly.
Back to the stuff that annoyed me about this episode, what’s with the indecision about Grace’s age? She was fifteen two episodes ago – 3 months from her birthday, even, if the article is to be believed, and we know that much time has not passed. What’s with the continuity errors? Fifteen makes more sense with the show over all, I think. Either way, they need to pick an age and stick with it.
Speaking of picking something and sticking with it, Peter and Marilyn. Oh, man. Remember how he was upset to think that Alicia might be leaving Lockhart/Gardner to get away from Will, and how I thought that was unfair? Well, I might have to take that back. Because the idea of rushing their re-commitment ceremony so it’ll stop him thinking about another woman? That is not cool. It’s also not smart. It’s not an exact parallel – Peter’s the one pressing for the re-commitment ceremony, not Alicia, and that feels more desperate – but it’s close enough.
Finally, Will and Diane. Gosh, this was so devastating. What adds an extra level of fascination to this is the preview we see of Alicia’s secret betrayal. You can see how guilty it makes her feel, knowing that she’s doing something similar. Will’s so controlled, fighting to give Diane a fair deal, to stop the bickering, to give her respect; he’s cold, and he’s bitter and he wants to hurt Diane back, but he wants to protect her, too. Of course it intrigues me to speculate how, and why, his reaction to Alicia’s departure will compare.
I hate that this show has killed off all its great friendships. Will and Diane, Kalinda and Alicia – heck, even Alicia and Will. Maybe I will take a page out of the Eisenstadt’s look book and start wearing all black to grieve for the charming, funny, telepathic pair Will and Diane used to be. I’ve got to come up with something to last me until the next devastating, wonderfully torturous episode, anyway. Or there’s this. How about you guys talk to me about the episode? Anyone else still wrecked?