The Good Wife: The Next Month

E: What a flurry of events!  Thanks heaven for a little resolution this week, as Florrick/Agos gets its first new client, its first real office and its first win.  We get another course in hating the American government (or at least the Immigration system).  Lockhart/Gardner gets a re-branding, Eli gets romantic, and Will’s rebound Isabelle gets even weirder.  Who knew that was possible?

One thing we all knew was possible, however.  There’s not a word about Jeffery Grant, not a word about ratting or Zach getting into a fight at school, not a word about the Gopnik adoption suit.  Sigh.

It’s starting to become a tradition, these episode-starting pep talks of Will’s.  “This is no longer a dream,” he smiles, “this is a reality.” Some men respond to betrayal by writing a great novel or composing a symphony: Will Gardner’s starting up a satellite office in New York.  Predictably, Howard Lyman wants to poke his nose into the discussion, but Will mildly holds him off.  I have to say, this whirlwind of ambition has actually made Will’s manners nicer.  He’s not tense and worried, he’s polite, smiling and expansive. “The era of constriction is over.”

And, oh, yes, he’s renaming the firm.  It will now be known as LG.  (Well, I guess it’ll be faster for me to type.)  “Own those letters,” he says, tossing logo sheets across the table.  Are they supposed to pick which of the three different typesets they like, or is the logo going to be all of them together? “No one says Lockhart/Gardner anymore. It’s LG.”  David Lee takes a dim view of this, but I don’t know why.  He’s an L; he could spin this change to his advantage.  Maybe it’s too Kentucky Fried Chicken/KFC for him?

And that’s when Will notices Anthony the Red Shirt making hand signals in the hall, and excuses himself.

“Who’s thinking of leaving?” he asks immediately.  Sonya Rucker, Diane’s client who initially spilled the beans, and the Wabash Fund.  Wait, two out of their three clients?  “Not Chum Hum?” Will asks hopefully. No, not Chum Hum.   When Diane joins them, Will states the client’s departure as a fact. “Their infrastructure?” he presses. “Bad,” Anthony answers, because duh.  “Florrick/Agos barely exists; we’ve been working out of Alicia’s apartment for the past two weeks.”  Two weeks, three weeks, I wish they’d get this straight.  Also, why are they just debriefing him now?  I’d be tempted to say we were picking up on the same day that “The Next Week” left off if it wasn’t for Diane’s black blazer with the red roses, which she was definitely not wearing then.

Fine, fine.  Logic, whatever.  Let’s get back to the exposition.  “It’s why I’m back here,” Anthony excuses himself, as if anyone a) cares about his motivation, or b) thinks he’s anything other than a self-serving slime. “Do the clients know?” Diane wonders; Anthony says not, because Cary and Alicia have been strategic about holding their meetings at restaurants or at the client’s offices.  “But they are moving into new offices today.”  Really, David Lee snorts, joining the conversation. Where?  An old t-shirt factory over on Grand, Anthony volunteers.  David snorts again.

“It’s all we could – they could – afford. $20 a square foot.”  Will looks thoughtful.  So folks aren’t flocking to Alicia because of Peter’s new status, huh, Diane observes, and Double Agent Red Shirt tells her that the ethics rules are still scaring potential clients away.  You know, with the exception of their new office space, all this feels like information that our good friends could have extrapolated for themselves.  Will dismisses Anthony, leaving David Lee shaking his head. “What a putz,” he complains. “We should have tried to get Carey Zepps.”  Ha!  “I’ll take Rucker,” Diane ignores David as usual, “Will, you take the Wabash.”  He nods.  It’s all smooth sailing between these two.

And, oh God.  The Yoga Tattoo girl thumps on another glass wall, clutching an enormous notebook in her arms. “I’ll be right back,” Will tells his colleagues.

And then he’s tumbling onto his office couch with his giggly, giggly girlfriend.  “How’s your course going,” he asks.  “When driving in fog, you should use your…”  Wait, that’s her course?  Drivers ed?  Lots of adults who live in cities don’t learn to drive as teens, I get that, but calling it a course seems a bit much. “Low lights,” Will answers correctly, but using his sexy voice.  She leans back and frowns at him. “That’s not true, is it?”

“It is,” he says, as anyone who’s ever driven in fog knows. “I wrote fog lights,” she wrinkles up her face, sounding very young. “If they’re called fog lights, why are they not for fog?”  To trick you, Will smiles.  Okay, so.  He is not dating Isabelle for her brain; this is not a surprise.  It’s not an unreasonable mistake at all, but it does mean she didn’t study or then she would have known what the lights were for instead of just relying on the names.  The more I think about it, the more she feels like the anti-Alicia, and not just because she might be the only blond we’ve ever seen Will date; she’s all instinct, all emotion, all expression.  She’s not afraid to ask him for crazy things (let alone reasonable ones) and she’s not afraid to be ridiculous and vulnerable in front of him.  In other words, the opposite of Alicia.

As he laughs, she growls and returns to her notes. She has plans to borrow his wifi for a few more hours, but she crinkles her eyes and draws his attention to the disapproving posse (Diane, David and Howard) outside his glass walls.   “Want me gone?”  Nope, he grins, playing with her hair for the benefit of the audience. “Stay as long as you want.”

Ha.

“So do we have a Yoko Ono problem here?” David wonders.  Oh, calm down.  Yes, she’s awful, but Will’s going to wake up eventually.  Your glowering is only making this rebellion more fun for him.  Diane rolls her eyes and walks off; Howard looks like he’s trying to work out the reference.

Last week’s receptionist pops up again. “Mr. Lee, she’s still waiting,” she says. “Tell her to come back tomorrow.  Tell her all the partners are busy.”  Oh God.  He just did not get the memo about expanding their business, did he?  “I’m not busy,” Howard volunteers (because of course he’s not), “who is it?”  A walk in, David dismisses the poor woman, “not much money.”  How would he possibly know that?  “She says she used to work here…”  I’ll take care of it, Howard decides, because clearly he has nothing better to do.

Huh.  We’ve never seen Howard actually attempt to try a case or interact with a client alone.  This should be interesting.  David hoists his nose in the air and wrinkles it, unsure of whether to allow it or not.  Oh, David.

“So, you used to work here,” Howard asks pleasantly.  And – what?  The mysterious former staffer is America Ferrera – genius college student Natalie Flores from two seasons ago, who helped Alicia translate some contracts while she wasn’t exchanging creepily swoony glances with Eli.  Shudder.  Seriously, that age difference made me kinda ill, in no small part because America Ferrera’s a very young looking 29 (and her character was supposed to be what, 20?),  and Alan Cummings (at least as he’s styled on the show) is a very gray 48.  She looks very adult now, though, in a sleek red jacket. “Now you wanna come back,” he assumes, which wipes the smile off her lovely face. “No,” she shakes her head.  “That was joke,” Howard smiles, wiggling his hands as if dancing. Oh my lord, Howard Lyman just made jazz hands. “Breaking the ice!”

Riiiight.

“So,” he asks, “how can we help you?”  I have a friend, she explains, who got swept up in a raid of businesses employing undocumented workers. “They’ve threatened to deport him back to Mexico unless he agrees to a snitch visa.”  That’s a thing?  I had no idea.  Howard perks up, too, though not for the same reason. “Oh, you’re from Mexico?” he asks. Oh God. “No,” she says, horrified, but it’s too late. “Oh I love Mexico,” he tells her sincerely, leaning forward. “I was down there in the 60s.  Puerto Vallarta. God, the drinks they had.  You know the ones with the… what’re they called?” It looks to me like he’s miming opening a tiny umbrella; Natalie just stares, her brows furrowed.   “I have no idea,” she replies.

“And the women,” Howard gets lost in memory as usual, his eyebrows dancing. “And those dresses.  Those short dress.  Mmmmm!”  Reclining in his chair, nodding to himself, he stares off into the distance, visions of sexy senoritas dancing in his head.

And unsurprisingly, Natalie has had enough; she pops up at reception and politely asks the girl from last week to call Alicia. I’m surprised she didn’t ask for her in the first place. “Actually, Alicia doesn’t work here anymore,” the receptionist confesses. “She doesn’t?” Natalie repeats in the same shocked voice everyone uses. It’s practically a running gag. “Where is she?”

And instead of calling Will at the mention of Alicia’s name, as she did so effectively last week, the young receptionist must have caved, because at least the audience is going to find out where Alicia is – at the converted t-shirt factory that’s going to be Florrick/Agos’s new office.  Am I the only one who still cares about Veronica’s money and the old new office?  Ah well. One thing we can say for this new space; it’s at lot bigger than Alicia’s living room, but it’s not too big for them.  What it is, on the other hand, is dingy and dusty with pretty horrifying bathrooms and a very creaky barn-style door.  I think I erred when I called it a “converted” factory space; it looks like the conversion is going to be up to them.

“Well, here it is,” Carey Zepps announces. “The furniture should be arriving in a few hours.”   At Cary’s prompting, Other Brother Carey admits the phone lines won’t be in until tomorrow.  Walking past sewing tables and boxes of US Army shirts, Alicia looks around at the large windows, too streaked with years of hombred grime to let in much light. Today she’s wearing pants with a stunning gray jacket covered with black vines.  Though others voice dissent, Carey believes that with some thoughtful renovations, they can make the place look like a hip start up.  Open concept, he suggests, polish the floors… I agree.  All that exposed brick?  It could look pretty fantastic, very industrial-chic. “We can do it,” Alicia decides, surveying her domain.

At first I assumed the look on Cary’s face was skepticism, but nope, he’s noticed something.  Or I should say someone, because there’s a brilliant spot of red at the freight elevator: Natalie Flores.  Receptionist, I know no one wanted to talk to her, but I think letting her meet with the competition could be trouble for you.

“And when did this happen?” Alicia asks Natalie.  Are they both perched on barrels?  No, stools, but yikes. “Well,” Natalie begins, “right now.  The prosecutor’s mid-trial, and he’s pressuring Tomas to sign the snitch visa before noon. I told Tomas to wait before he spoke to a lawyer.”  Natalie’s friend Tomas Ruiz is someone she knew from school.  “And who does this prosecutor want Tomas to testify against?” Alicia asks, scribbling notes fiercely. When Natalie delivers the name – Lalo Heiera – Alicia looks up in shock. “Yes, I know,” Natalie nods. “It’s worrisome.”

Okay, Alicia smiles, let me talk to my partners. We’re just starting out, she explains in a mixture of apology and pride. “Yes, I can see that,” Natalie grins. “Are these just temporary?” she wonders, looking at the green and yellow windows, the dim walls. “It’ll look great,” Alicia grins right back, all pride now. “Just give us a week!”  Love the can-do attitude, Alicia!  Natalie puts on a brave face, but she’s clearly doubtful.

Back in the main sewing floor, Alicia consults with her boys. “It’s just consultation on a visa but she needs me now,” she tells Cary.  You can see she’s raring to go, ready to help, ready to be back in court.  Cary’s dubious – they can’t afford to start off doing pro bono cases – but Carey Zepps surprises once again. “No, you should do it,” he insists. “Natalie Flores works for a New York lobbyist named Joe Pelata. He controls 90 million in client billing. He could direct Chicago work our way.”  The silver lining – there it is!   “What?” Carey shrugs, waving his phone at his colleagues’ blank faces, “I looked it up online.”

Carey Zepps; not useless after all.

“Alright,” Alicia grins, so pleased, “I’ll take it!”  She rushes off toward Natalie – still perched on a stool in the corner – but turns around, thinking better of it. “Hey,” she whispers, holding her hand up above her head, beaming, “our first new client!” Go Florrick/Agos!  Their group high five warms my heart. She leaves them all smiling and thumping each other on the shoulder.

“Hey, who was the last person hired, the last salaried person?” Zepps asks Agos.  Uh oh.  That kind of question can have only one aim – a lay off – and only one answer I can think of – Robyn Burdine.  Clarke Hayden, it seems, has been suggesting payroll cuts.  No!  “Carey,” Real Cary frowns, “we made a commitment to our employees.”  Yes, Other Brother Carey agrees, “and that commitment means nothing if we go under.”  I thought we had a manpower problem?  Surely cutting salaries would be smarter than cutting employees. “We can’t let her go, we’d have no investigator,” Real Cary shakes his head. “And how much have we investigated in the last few weeks?” Carey wonders, short-sighted.

And it turns out he picked his meeting spot badly, too, because Robyn herself is lurking just on the other side of a pillar, listening in. “Look, it’s just for a few months.  I’ll talk to her.”  No, Real Cary wants that privilege – but not until the end of the week.

“I need your answer now, Mr. Ruiz,” the prosecutor asks a thin man in an orange jumpsuit.  The first thing that enters my mind is that Tomas is far too old to have gone to school with Natalie. “Ive been in this country for 9 years, sir,” he insists. “Our shop pays social security,” Tomas’ wife gestures emphatically (right, Alicia made mention of a body shop),  “and payroll tax!”  Yes, replies the implacable prosecutor, “and you’re undocumented. Look, it’s very simple.  Lalo Heiera used your shop to meet with the Latin Gangsters. You testify to that fact, and what you heard them say, and you won’t be deported.”

And that’s when Queen Alicia swans in.  That’s right.  Goodbye Saint Alicia – and welcome to the monarch.

“Excuse me, could you step outside?” she asks the prosecutor as if deigning to speak to a footman. “Could I – who’re you?” he stammers, taken aback. “Alicia Florrick, Mr. Ruiz’s attorney.”  I bet this is coming as quite an exciting surprised to Mr. and Mrs. Ruiz!  “Who’re you?”

After casting her a dubious look, the prosecutor leans back in. “It’s your right to hire an attorney, but let me warn you, Mr. Ruiz, any delay in signing this visa…”  If you want to warn someone, warn me, Alicia declares. “…could mean the offer’s going away,” he finishes, trying to stare into Ruiz’s eyes (and avoid Alicia’s).  “The offer’s not going away,” she contradicts the prosecutor, who stands, annoyed. “You need him more than he needs you.  Now who am I addressing?”

“Carl Dolan, U.S. Attorney,” the man reluctantly admits. “She’s gonna get you deported, Tomas,” he tries again. “Please step outside, AUSA Dolan, right now.”  He lifts a hand and opens his mouth to add to his anti-lawyer diatribe, but Alicia cuts him off. “No, that’s it.  I am conferring with my client.  Step outside.”  Giving an exaggeratedly regretful glance over at Tomas, clearly hoping the man will stop him, Dolan complies.

With Natalie standing behind them, Alicia sits down with the Ruizes.  They look like they might be in a courtroom; there’s a federal seal on the floor. “Tomas, Elena, this is one of the lawyers I was telling you about, Alicia Florrick,” Natalie begins. “I’d like you to consider all the possibilities before you sign,” Alicia tells Tomas; it seems, however, that he’s already made up his mind. “I know it’s dangerous and I’d be testifying against him, but I can’t live without Elena.  I can’t be deported.”  Aw!  His wife’s lip quivers.  “That would truly kill me.”  Alicia nods.

And then she’s out in the hall, interrupting Dolan as he checks his phone. “He’ll do it,” she says. “Praise God!” he snarks. “But he’ll need 24 hour protection for his family and himself,” she adds.  “That’s already in the visa,” Dolan grumbles, but Alicia points out that while it was promised, it’s not actually written down.  “Also, he wants a promise not to deport his wife and his girls.”

“You didn’t need to come,” Dolan smirks. “I would have offered all that.”  Right.  Then why didn’t you?  “Good,” Alicia replies. Put it in the visa, and we’ll be ready for court.

In court, AUSA Dolan paints a grim picture using his words and some gruesome photography; 6 decapitated bodies hanging off a bridge all next to a bullet with the initials L.C., which stand for El Culebra, the Snake, which of course is the nickname of Lalo Heiera, a short, fierce looking man with a bristly black beard.  Dolan makes a huge show of stopping his questioning in order to prepare for a new witness, looking back at Tomas Ruiz in the gallery to make sure that Heiera does too; Judge Albert Reardon grants his request for a break.

“That’s good, he’s scared,” Dolan cheerfully smiles at Alicia as Heiera confers furiously with his lawyer.  Um, I guess.  Seems like a less than desirable idea from Tomas’s standpoint.

Back at Florrick/Agos (which seems to be surrounded by construction sites from the sounds we’re hearing), Eli’s revived his old habit of waiting for Alicia on her office couch.  And while some of the promised furniture has arrived, so Eli has a couch wrapped in plastic and covered with moving quilts to sit on, it’s still missing a lot of things you might associate with an office. Including walls or personal space.

And, oh check out who’s with him – Marilyn Bean!  Alicia greets her warily, with all the warmth she used to reserve for Eli.  “I’m alright, Alicia, I had a bout of nausea, but I’m all good.  Do you guys mind if I, um…”  Marilyn practically loses herself in her large black handbag, presumably searching for some sort of soothing food. Ah, there it is -a shiny silver packet that looks like it contains boxed breakfast pastries.  She’s practically weeping with relief.  “If I eat?”

No, not at all, Alicia replies kindly, sitting.  They exchange pleasantries (it’s pumpkin Pop-tarts – I didn’t even know there was such a thing – and Eli tries to be tactful about the office, sort of) before Alicia asks flat out why they’re there.  Amusingly, Eli looks to Marilyn to explain. I take it he wants her to be the heavy. “Peter would like to come by and congratulate you, and we were acting as a sort of advance team.” Oh, the look Alicia gives Eli.  Shouldn’t he know better by now?  “You wanna negotiate his first visit?” Alicia asks in disbelief.  “No!” denies Eli, as if it were the most ridiculous idea ever. “Yes,” Marilyn replies at the same moment.  They look at each other, embarrassed by their lack of coordination.

Hee.  This is fun.

“There can be no photographs while he’s here,” Marilyn informs Alicia. No alerting clients, no press releases, nothing. “Look, if Peter wants to come here to congratulate his wife on her new firm, I’m thrilled,” Alicia cuts through Marilyn’s list of prohibitions. “But there’s be no policing between us.  No rules, no exemptions, just Peter deciding to drop by, that’s all.”

Yep, I think I’m going to enjoy seeing Alicia school Marilyn like she’s schooled Eli over the years. “Look,” Eli tries to smooth things over, “the only….” And that’s when he sees Natalie.  Which is precisely when he turns into a jabbering fool.

“Eli, are you alright?” Marilyn asks when the glib Chief of Staff is rendered entirely without words, merely repeating nonsense syllables.  He just can’t reconcile it.  Where has she come from?  What is she doing there?  Is he really seeing Natalie?

He is.  “Ah, I’ll be right back,” Alicia bounces up off her seats and heads over to Natalie, who’s checking her cell phone. “He ran,” she tells Alicia.  “What?” Agreed – what? “Lalo.  Eduardo Heiera.  He fled back to Mexico,” Natalie explains.  Nice!  I mean, sort of, anyway, since it’d be better if he were in prison, right?  When, Alicia asks, stunned. About an hour ago, according to the rumors Natalie’s heard, he skipped bail and took a private plane to Nuevo Laredo.  “Tomas doesn’t have to testify!” Alicia realizes, and the two women share a spontaneous, celebratory embrace.

Eli leans forward as if to join the hug. “Eli, are you alright?” Marilyn repeats (this time around her Pop-tart), and he holds up a hand to put her off.  This is too important.  As if compelled by dream logic or drawn by a magnet, Eli follows Natalie out of the building, rushing down the stairs as she takes the elevator.  He explodes into the decidedly blue collar street – delivery men, mac trucks, construction equipment – in a violin-accompanied panic because he can’t see Natalie anywhere.  Which is course is why he turns around and charges straight into her.  Natalie, of course, was too caught up in her phone to see him.

A terribly awkward, totally unnatural looking, enormous smile takes over Eli’s face. “Hi,” he breathes inanely. “Hi,” Natalie smiles back, surprised but still in control of herself, “I was wondering if I would run into you. I didn’t think it would be so literal.”  She waves at him.

“I saw you,” he gasps. “I was up …” He gestures at Alicia’s new building, which has this amazing bridge connecting it to the building across the street. “Ah.  How long are you in town?’ A few days, she says, fighting the wind as it blows her hair into her eyes. “I… I’ve been following you.”  Now she’s starting to look as giddy as he does.

Sadly, he has no idea what she means, and so she has to explain that she’s been following his career – the campaign, the governorship, the new position. “It’s all very impressive,” she says, and he preens like a peacock. “Thank you, thank you,” he tells her graciously.  “You too,” he adds, flustered again, “you’re at the Outsider Group?”  Yes, she blushes, “we’ve been following each other.”

Okay, the character age difference appalls me, but they’re cute.

Well, I, um, better go, she stammers.  I’ve got this thing with my boss. (I’m not sure, but I think they call them meetings.)  Me too, he grins awkwardly, pointing to his phone.  Me too.  But no sooner has he walked past her than he thinks better of it. “Let’s have dinner,” he suggests, seizing the day. “Um. What?”

“Let’s have dinner,” he repeats. “Tonight. Let’s have dinner!” By the third time, he can say it with confidence, and she remembers what this dinner thing is.  “Yeah, I’d love that,” she smiles.

“Will Gardner,” the man himself answers his cell phone, lounging on his office couch. “Oh, hey Joe!”  Isabelle walks by him, trailing her hand over his shoulder. “What a pleasure.”  She leans over and whispers in his ear: “I need you badNow.”  Well, so much for this professional conversation. “I’d like that. Today?”  Isabelle thinks Will’s talking to her, and starting licking and kissing his neck.

Oddly enough, Will isn’t paying attention. “I haven’t seen her,” he frowns. “Okay, what’s her name?”

And Isabelle’s wiles not withstanding, Will rushes out to Diane’s office door, where his partner’s conferring with David. “Who’s Natalie Flores?”  Ha ha ha!  That must have been Joe Pelata on the phone – Joe the 90 million dollar lobbyist. “She used to work here,” Diane remembers, “why?”  “That was her boss, Joe Pelata the lobbyist. He wants to bring all his legal work here, he sent her over here so sound us out, you haven’t seen her?”

Oh my God, the look on David Lee’s face!  I think his eyes are going to pop out of his head.  And I love that nobody notices this.

Diane hasn’t. “Well, can you keep an eye out for her?  She has a case she wants our help with.  We need to give her all our attention.”  Finally David’s forced to speak up. “Ummmmmmm…” he begins.

And then they’ve all got Howard Lyman in the hot seat.  “It was a good meeting,” the old man shrugs. “she liked me!”  Will and David – on either side of Diane, seated at her desk – stare at Howard in disbelief.  “What was the case?” Will frowns. “Some Mexican illegal alien thing,” he replies, annoyed, and everyone starts to lose it. Probably because she’s the only one in sufficient command of herself, Diane picks up the thread delicately. “Howard, what did you say to her?”

Nothing, he grumbles, ever blameless, his eyes wide.  “Nothing!  I complimented her.  I said how great Mexicans are.  How… sexy they are.”  Oh Lord, David growls.  Well, dude, this was your own fault. Just because she didn’t look like a fairy godmother doesn’t mean you don’t deserve her curse.  That’s the whole point of fairy godmothers arriving in disguise! Because he is just that wonderfully clueless, Howard scrunches up his face, gesturing at David as if to say “can you believe him?”

And that poor receptionist knows she’s done the wrong thing. “She asked for Alicia Florrick’s address,” she cringes.  Leaving aside that it makes no sense that she’d know the new address, I can see how this would happen.  She’d been trying to get people to talk to Natalie and no one would.  Of course, when Natalie asked for Alicia she probably still should have been re-directed to Will, but oh well.  It’s their own fault for refusing to be nice, and they really should learn it’s better to be professional with people they don’t know than scramble to cover themselves after. Will slams his hand down on the reception desk in frustration. “It’s not gone yet,” Diane cautions. “Call Joe back and explain.”

Now that’s funny. Explain – what, exactly?

At home, Alicia’s blissfully arranging – well, I was going to say deck chairs on the Titanic, but that’s mean.  She’s using a computer program to arrange furniture in the new office, and it’s adorable how happy it’s making her.  Well that can’t last!  What or who is going to wreck her evening?

Here’s the answer on her phone. “Mrs. Florrick, they took him, they took Tomas!” Elena Ruiz’s teary voice bleeds through the phone line. “They just said they were taking him to Nuevo Laredo.  That’s where Lalo is,” the poor woman sobs into her phone, standing in the dark next to a bus as police load people onto it behind her.  “Lalo will kill Tomas as soon as he gets off the bus!”  It must be a misunderstanding, Alicia replies calmly, I’ll talk to the AUSA and take care of it. “I saw what he does to snitches, Mrs. Florrick,” Elena’s voice throbs. “He cuts their stomachs open and hangs them from bridges.  Please help me!  Please!”

“I will,” says Alicia. “I’ll call you right back.”  She hangs up and dials the US attorney’s office from memory. “I need to speak to AUSA Carl Dolan,” she asks politely.  “Then find him!” she barks, the queen again.

“Kalinda?” Robyn Burdine’s soft voice travels across the darkened offices at LG.  No, I’m not sure I like that, even with the reduced typing time.  It’ll take some getting used to before it stops sounding wrong. “You shouldn’t be here, Robyn,” Kalinda chastises the young investigator, her desk the one bright spot in a dark room.  I’ll be gone in 10 minutes, the girl whispers.  “What do you need,” Kalinda presses. “Have they hired anybody yet to replace me?” Robyn asks, her voice quivering, and Kalinda tilts her head and gives the most positively maternal expression I’ve ever seen cross her features. “You can’t come back here, Robyn,” she explains, fond but exasperated. “I know, but  – why not?  If they haven’t hired anyone, why?”  she rushes forward, pleading.

“You’re Florrick/Agos,” Kalinda says, as if Robyn had smallpox or fought for the South in the Civil War.  “But they’re gonna lay me off,” she almost cries.  It takes a moment for Robyn to compose herself. “I’m sorry, could you, um – could you just put in a good word for me?”

“Look, Robyn, it won’t work,” Kalinda explains; like Mary Poppins, she’s firm but kind. “They won’t hire you back here.  Too much has happened.”  She stands, approaches her former protegee, and dispenses some killer advice. “You need to make yourself hard.  You need to make yourself indispensable, that’s why people keep you on.”  But I’m not you, Robyn squeaks, again close to tears.  Aw.  That’s weirdly sweet. “You don’t need to be me.  They were laying me off at the State’s Attorney’s Office five years ago.  So, I took control.  Nothing changes you like the loss of a job.” She favors Robyn with one of her Mona Lisa smiles, full of mystery and layers of feeling.  “Now go.  You can’t be here.”  With that tough love pep talk, Robyn frowns, smiles, and walks off with a lot to think about.  And a lot of tears.

Um, say what now?  Wasn’t she here 5 years ago?  Is this their undefined timeline messing with my head?  Is she talking about Peter (which seems unlikely because that was at least ostensibly about payback for helping her change her identity) or talking about making the jump over to this law firm?  She couldn’t have come over just before Alicia, could she?

Well.  Anyway.  Sorry.  That was an awesome scene, and I hate to muck with it over stupid timeline issues.  It’s a whole new level of emotion from perky, carefree Robyn, and probably more words than we’ve had from Kalinda this entire season.

A cell phone rings, blinking, on a white table cloth.  I won’t be offended if you answer that, Natalie Flores tells Eli, but no, he doesn’t want to.   He sits across from her at a blandly luxe restaurant, hands clasped, manic smile spread across his face. “Eli, if you don’t get it I’m going to,” she laughs. He’s not going to waste time on his phone, however; he’d rather ask direct personal questions. “What happened to your Cirque Du Soleil boyfriend?”  She raises her eyebrows, her face a study. “He got married,” she announces. Well, that’s young!  Of course, it’s also young for her to be employed in a position of some authority at the Outsider Group. “I’m sorry,” he says. “No you’re not,” she laughs, and it makes him laugh too, and it’s this mixture of awkward and overcompensating and sincere that’s totally freaking me out.

And then she does pick up his phone. It’s the governor, she observes – but no, he’s steadfast in his desire not to pick up.  “I’m hearing your boss speak at the minority voters conference,” she adds.  Oh, he says, suddenly cagey.  “Yes, I think he’s talking about redistricting, how it’s marginalizing the minority vote.”  Oh, good topic.  Eli looks self-conscious, and it’s soon evident why; he’s decided the topic was too controversial and made Peter drop out.  Sigh.  This is why good stuff never gets done.  “Redistricting is a hard subject,” he justifies himself. “Either way you offend someone.”

Maybe it’s a measure of dissatisfaction with that comment, or maybe it’s just that she’s younger and can’t imagine ignoring her phone, but that’s when her phone rings, and she does pick it up, apologizing as she does.  And when she does, it’s the end of their evening. “Hello?  Alicia?  What’s wrong?  Oh my God, when.  No, I will join you – give me… 20 minutes.  Eli, I’m so sorry.  I, um, I have to – it’s this friend, he’s being deported.  Can we do this another time?”  Sure, he agrees kindly, and she rushes away; the moment she’s gone, his smile fades.

Judging by their clothes, it’s the following morning; now Alicia’s in one of her zip up skirt suits, and Natalie’s in a much less 80s inspired blue blazer as they follow Carl Dolan down a staircase.  “I understand why you’re upset,” he replies calmly. “Upset,” Natalie yells, self-righteous and horrified, “we’re talking about a man’s life!”  “Tomas Ruiz did everything you asked,” Alicia adds. “Except one thing,” Dolan reminds them, “testify.”  Seriously?  Though Alicia points out the absurdity of this, Dolan notes that he’s got only a very limited number of “S visas” and he’s not going to waste one on a guy who hasn’t testified.  Damn.  That is so freaking cold.  (The visa depends not only on testimony but on a conviction; can you imagine being the person who testifies in court to see the crime boss go free – and then be denied your visa? We suck.)

“Mr. Dolan, you asked my client to inform on a dangerous criminal,” Alicia snaps. “and when that criminal jumped bail, you deported him to the exact same place the criminal fled to.”  I realize that that sounds unfair, Dolan replies.  Oh it sounds unfair, does it?  What would meet your standard of actual unfairness, I wonder?  This from Mr. Warm&Cuddly “don’t question me I take care of my witnesses”.  Lovely.  “No,”barks Natalie, “what it sounds like is a death sentence.”

Yes, that and depraved indifference to human life.

At this point, someone walks up to Dolan and hands him a note.  On the note, it explains that Tomas Ruiz loaded onto a deportation bus at 4am.  It’s now 9.  Tomas will be in Mexico in 12 hours.  “I’m sorry,” Dolan shrugs, “there’s nothing I can do.”  Alicia just stares.

“This is the problem,” Carey Zepps explains, slapping a folder down on one of their new desks.  With the help of his Other Brother Cary, he lays out the situation; there’s a conman named Tomas I. Ruiz, one who specializes in insurance fraud and airbag theft (what?), and Immigration mistook our Tomas – Tomas Y. Ruiz – for the other Tomas, which is why his deportation was expedited.  Awesome.  “Can’t we clear this up?” Alicia wonders in reasonable frustration; imagine your life resting on something as stupid as mistaken identity due to your middle initial!  “Unfortunately, Immigration has him listed with both spellings,” Cary explains.  “And since neither of them has a valid social security number…” Zepps adds.  “As far as the government’s considered, they’re the same person,” Cary finishes.

“So what do we do?” Alicia wonders. “Find the other Tomas Ruiz,” Robyn calls out from across the room.  “Show the Feds they deported the wrong man.”  Everyone turns to look at her. “And how to we do that?” Carey wonders.  Robyn frowns as if he’s being purposely dense.  “Let me find him,” she says. “Well, we have 11 hours til Tomas crosses the border,” Alicia observes. “Then I better get started,” Robyn agrees.  “Okay,” Alicia nods, “I’ll see if I can get anywhere in court.”  Robyn flies off by the seat of her pants, determination plain in her face.

More cordial but just as determined, Will’s on the phone in his office with Joe Pelata, making excuses. “Howard Lyman is one of our oldest partners, we keep him around as a legacy.”  You keep him around as a vote when you need him, and maybe for dressing (where his white hair signifies wisdom so long as he doesn’t open his mouth).  Bored and clearly not studying, Isabelle and her lace top and her curly scarves float off for a snack.  “Look, have Natalie Flores come back.  We’ll have a good sit down.  Cause I’m warning you now, Florrick/Agos isn’t up to this case.”  Maybe not, Will, but they listened and they’re there, busting their asses on a time sensitive case.  It’s not like you have expertise on immigration issues either.

In a kitchenette, Isabelle’s looking over her munchie options. “It’s really too bad,” David Lee sighs, heading over to the coffee machine. “Are you talking to me?” she asks, not at all like Robert DeNiro. ” Yeees,” Lee drawls, pouring his coffee. “It’s too bad about Will.  He’s still in pain.  I’m David Lee, by the way.”  “I’m Isabelle,” she replies, too confident to be sucked in by his machinations, “Want a pretzel?”  How much do I love that she offered him one that she already had in her hand?  Not a germaphobe, Isabelle.  Shocking no one, he declines, and resumes his oh so subtle little sabotage attempt as she walks away.

“He’s still in pain about Alicia.”  Somehow it’s extra funny to me that this is actually true. “And who’s Alicia?” Isabelle bites. “Oh, someone who used to work here. He could tell you more.”  I just love Zach Grenier’s line readings.  They’re so wonderful.  She snorts, seeing right through him.

Robyn marches up some stairs to an apartment door; she bangs on it, and a large man with a gray beard answers it. “I’m looking for Tomas Ruiz,” she declares as if looking for trouble.   He doesn’t live here anymore, the Gray Beard says.  I’m a skip tracer, the investigator lies, and anyone giving information that leads to his capture will get a percentage of his bond.  Gray Beard thinks about this.  Ruiz really isn’t there, but there’s this girlfriend, Christina Stewart – and yes, he does have her address.

“She would not agree to any set rules,” Marilyn explains to Peter in a bit of a huff. “She said if you wanted to visit her in her new firm, she would welcome it.” Out comes the Pop-tart; Eli sits next to her, but he’s gazing off into the distance or he could have told Marilyn that Alicia has always resisted being handled, and there’s no point in complaining to Peter about it. “Sorry,” she apologizes around the pastry, “she would not police her firm.  It would be our advice to steer clear until her firm establishes itself.”  Who is the “our” in this scenario?  It’s for sure not Eli.  Is she speaking for the ethics commission?  Her baby?

“No, thanks,” Peter replies politely, “I’m going tonight.  Um, anything else?”  Ha.  That couldn’t have been more predictable.  The other thing is this: using the royal we again, Marilyn explains that he should skip the Minority Voters Conference because redistricting is too controversial a topic.  “Oh, no, we decided to keep that,” Eli snaps to attention.  This leads to quite a bit of surprise and bickering between the two staffers, and Peter just doesn’t know what to make of it.  “So I guess I’m giving a speech,” Peter guesses; Marilyn chews her Pop-tart unhappily.

Out in the hall, though, she corners Eli. What’s going on?  Why is it her place to decide about speeches?  Man, she’s just all up in Peter’s business, isn’t she?  Is that normal?  “I’ve changed my mind,” Eli replies. “Do you ever change your mind?”  No, she says. “Well this is what it looks like,” he snaps.

Oooh!  That was a great line.  Sort of tricky, this; dropping the speech seems cowardly (and unnecessarily dumb as a debate, because it’s not like it wasn’t controversial when he agreed to do it in the first place), but on the other hand, the reversal doesn’t make any sense either without the context of Eli being shamed in front of the girl he wants to impress.

Waiting outside yet another doorway, Robyn Burdine scratches fiercely at her scalp.  Okay, that was odd.  A tall fit woman in a wine colored t-shirt answers the door. ‘Yeah?” the woman asks, unfriendly. “I’m lookin’ for Tomas,” Robyn declares, and ah, that’s what it was – she’s given herself big hair.  Ha. “I don’t know anybody named Tomas,” Christina Stewart lies, and she attempts to slam the door; Robyn sticks her foot in it. “You can tell him for me that Gloria’s lookin’ for him.”

Gloria!  I love it!  What an excellent tough chick name. Her casual wardrobe is really working for her here, too.

“I don’t you, I don’t know him,” Christina snaps, sirens blaring in the distance. “You should tell him that Illinois has laws about child support,” Robyn continues. “And he better pay!”

Oh no she didn’t!  That is completely hilarious.   All that’s left is for Robyn to follow Christina at a discreet distance as she drives over to Tomas I. Ruiz’s place and blasts him with her fury.  “You have a kid and you didn’t tell me about it?  I have to hear about it from some blond skank?”  Hello, Tomas!

Is that Alicia’s gold watch?  Because, I don’t know, it looks a little manly, am I right?  Beautifully made, but manly.  Bit of a fail on the product placement, although to be fair it’s not like I was in the market for a gold watch anyway. At any rate, it’s now 11:10.  10 hours left.

“You’re saying that the U.S. Attorney is in breach?” Judge Arthur Reardon from yesterday confirms.  That’s just what Alicia’s saying. “We honored every part of it, Your Honor, except the granting of the visa.”  Oh, Carl Dolan, you should take this show on the road. You’d have ’em rolling in the aisles. “That’s the only part that matters!”  Alicia wails.  You know, there are cases where you can see the lawyers pretending to be outraged (“I am shocked, shocked to find out that gambling is going on in here!”)  but it’s lovely to see them when they really care.  Like Will last week, Alicia really cares about what happens to Tomas Ruiz, and she’s really outraged by this ridiculous mess.  Sadly, phlegmatic Judge Reardon is not impressed.

“Mr. Ruiz did not comply with his duties under the agreement,” Dolan argues.  Really?  Must we?  “Your Honor, they created the danger by asking him to testify, but when he was denied that chance through no fault of his own, they let him be sent right into the lion’s mouth, and he’ll be there in 10 hours!”  Alicia cries. “So really it’s an equitable argument,” Reardon observes.  What?  Is he kidding?  I don’t even know what he thinks that means.

Meanwhile, Robyn’s texted Cary, and he rushes out to the hall to talk to her.  What does she have?  “The other Tomas Ruiz.”  I’m not sure his surprise is exactly gratifying since it implies a lack of faith, but Cary’s shock is amusing, anyway. “Whadda ya mean?”  “I found the other Tomas Ruiz,” she states flatly. He’s standing behind her, in front of his apartment. “You did?” Cary laughs, disbelieving. “In 2 hours.”  Yes.  “Will he testify?” Yeah, that’s the sticking point; Ruiz flashes two open hands at her to indicate that he wants 10 Gs to do the right thing.

That might be selling your freedom cheaply, but okay.  (Who does that?  Who shows up and says “hi, I’m the real criminal”?  Wouldn’t he just get arrested?  Is he relying on some sort of Jean ValJean like strength to fight his way out of court?)  Also, that seems like a lot of money for Florrick/Agos to absorb merely on the hope that Joe Pelata might throw some crumbs their way.  Get him in here, Cary says, and we’ll figure it out.  “Oh, and Robyn?  Good job.”

In the courtroom, things are not going so well. “The problem, Mrs. Florrick, is that your client is coming to a court of equity with unclean hands, which as I’m sure you will remember from law school you’re not allowed to do.”  Well, like most of the audience I didn’t go to law school, and I have no idea what that means.  My best guess is that as a non-citizen Tomas doesn’t have standing in the court? How this makes his hands unclean I’m not exactly sure… by emigrating without proper documentation?  I guess that has to be it.  Cary want to amend their argument. “We found the real Tomas Ruiz,” he explains. “The real who now?” Reardon squints.  Awesome.

So of course Cary tells the tale of the two Tomas Ruizes and the expedited deportation. “Well, that’s a bit of a sticky wicket, seeing that your client’s already on the transport.” Ya think? “Yes, Your Honor, which is why times is of the essence here,” he agrees. “Yes, but unfortunately I’m not empowered to hear that claim,” Reardon finishes.  Aw, man!  Seriously?  “Only the Board of Immigration Appeals is.  And I’d hurry.”

Hurry they do, and happily the Board will see them right away.  They’re not actually helpful, however. “The problem is, Mrs. Florrick, the transport’s already left,” the dour judge (Martha something) at the center of the panel explains. You don’t say!  My, I would never have known. “Yes, but the wrong man is on the bus,” Alicia argues.  Dolan – yes, Dolan followed them, because apparently now that Lalo has fled the country he has nothing better to do than punish the witness who was going to save his case – argues that it’s all pointless because both Ruizes are undocumented and subject to deportation. “Yes, but not expedited deportation,” Alicia tries. It’s not a fruitful argument, however. “I’m afraid that’s a distinction for earlier, prior to the transport’s departure. We can’t waste tax payer money turning a bus around to bring someone back who’s just going to be deported again in a few months.”  Fair enough, but considering that his life is at stake, maybe we could, I don’t know, drop him off rather than turn the bus around?  Surely Immigration has other offices beside the one in Chicago.

Nonsensical.  Seriously. I have no patience for this kind of foolishness.

“This is not just about deportation,” Alicia explains. “Our client faces grave danger the moment he steps into Mexico.” Even if that’s true, Dolan replies (making his claim for humanitarian of the year), that’s an amnesty claim. “Let me guess,” Alicai surmises, “you don’t hear amnesty claims?”  No.  They don’t.  Only appeals of amnesty cases; first they have to make the claim in front of an immigration judge.  As grouchy Judge Martha explains this, Cary and Alicia are already packing their things to seek out the next court.

Hmm, we haven’t seen Eli’s new office before; it’s largely nondescript, but I really like the gold and white curtains.  You know, for stodgy office curtains.  “I told you to cancel everything,” he barks into his phone, but his words and his outrage get whisked utterly away by whatever Norah’s just told him. “Oh, ah, no, send her in,” he says in a completely different tone.  Let’s just guess who “she” is.  (Not for nothing, but I don’t care how moony he is about you now; the guy who yells at his assistant now is not going to treat you any better once he’s used to having you around. I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: better to run and get away clean than pay for the lawyer.) All aflutter, Eli crumples his paperwork into a large ball and dumps it all in his trash can, then nearly tips over his desk chair trying to find a relaxed seeming pose; he ends with one arm on his desk and his head turned to the side, all Rico Suave.

“Hi,” Natalie Flores calls out as she glides into the room, fresh and sweet and so happy. “Hi!” Eli replies, his smile and his voice much too big. “I’m sorry to drop in unexpected.”  Please, please, he says, trying to get her to sit.  She won’t.  She’s on her way to court. “But I wanted to apologize,” she finishes. For?  “Dinner last night – or not-dinner last night. For running out on you,” she beams, self-deprecating and adorable and funny.  You didn’t run out on me, he scoffs. “I’m afraid I did,” she replies. “But it was for a good cause.  Anyway, I have to run out on you again, but I would love it if we had dinner next time?”  Damn, she’s so cute.  It must be bewitching to Eli that she actually seems to like him.

“That would be great.  Next time you’re in town, yeah,” he bobs his head like a toy, and they shake on it. “Oh, and, um, here.” Blushing, she hands him a slightly fancy plastic bag tied with raffia. “I got you dried apricots.  I don’t know why I thought of you with dried apricots.”  Um, because he’s old and wrinkly and his heart is shriveled up? He makes a silly clown face, which amuses her, and they stare at each other awkwardly until his phone rings. “Okay, um, I’ll talk to you later,” she finishes, and head off to court. Eli picks up the handset, brings it to his ear, but doesn’t even try to get words out.

And then he’s running down the hall after her, catching her at the elevators. “Natalie, wait!”  He’s breathing hard. “We have to have dinner tonight, or it will never happen.”  Really, she says, looking up at him, “why is that?”  She’s quite tiny. “I don’t know, I just have a premonition that we both lead very complicated lives.” A flunky calls his name and again, he silences the man fiercely. “If we don’t take advantage of these few minutes we have, we may never get the chance again.”

“I’ll make a reservation,” she says, convinced.

“I don’t normally do this,” he laughs. “What?” she wonders “Run after people. I’m not a running after people sort.” Ha!  So true.  I think the only other time we’ve seen him run was to stop Peter from giving that ‘stiffer the better‘ quote to that vlogger at the start of season 2.  Also, it would have been just as true if he said he didn’t date. “And normally I don’t buy dried apricots,” Natalie smiles.  Hey, there’s nothing wrong with dried apricots, except that they’re not particularly romantic.  “They were just at the store downstairs, so I bought them.”  She laughs at herself. “Throw them away, okay, they’re probably gross.” Hey, I like dried apricots. “So you’ll call me about where,” he asks, because he could not care less about the apricots themselves.

She will, she says, and he walks away beaming.  Even Marilyn, peering at them suspiciously, can’t dampen his mood: “How you doing?” he asks, sounding not at all like Robert DeNiro or Joey Tribiani.

Isabelle’s sitting in her bra, hair tousled, and eating chocolate, her expression sad and more than a little vacant. “Who’s Alicia?” she asks, as if she’s completely lost.  Will struggles up off his pillow to look at her. “What?”  She turns to look down at him: “Who’s Alicia,” she repeats. “Someone thinks you’re in pain about Alicia and that’s what I’m about.”

Well.  “Why are you about anything?” he asks, understanding what she means. “I don’t know,” she shrugs, “I didn’t think I was.” He sits up. “Who’s someone, who’s telling you this?”  She frowns. “David someone – he looks like a jack o’lantern.”  Bwah!  That is so, so mean, and yet also so true.  “David Lee,” Will realizes immediately. “I don’t know, one of your lawyers,” Isabelle shrugs, unconcerned with details. “He doesn’t like you in my office,” Will explains, “he wants to poison the stream.”

It may be true, but she’s not that easily put off. “Who is she?” she asks, stroking his face and his shoulder. “Alicia was an employee who left to start her own firm,” he explains mildly. “You were sleeping with her?” Isabelle prompts. Is this her business?  Do they have that kind of relationship?  I mean, I guess it’s not rude of her to ask but it’s still surprisingly vulnerable. Then again, she is the anti-Alicia. “For a while,” Will admits. What happened after a while, she presses, and he just cannot answer; he mumbles something that sounds like “nam.”  “Was she good?” Isabelle asks maliciously.

Will pulls up so he’s in her face. “Are we having fun?” he asks.  You tell me, she grins wickedly, back in sex kitten mode, and kisses him. “You taste like chocolate,” he breathes (duh).  “That’s because I’m made of chocolate,” she breathes against his mouth.  Yes, that’s much better than being made of feelings.

“Your Honor, only someone facing a recognized form of persecution can be eligible for asylum,” Carl Dolan argues.  Are you kidding me?  Give up, damn it!  Also, this show is really great at social activism, or at least at make me despair of the law and the federal government. “Which is what Mr. Ruiz is, Your Honor,” Alicia suggests. “Really, which one?  Race, religion, nationality, politics…”  Social group, she jumps in. “He’s part of a social group that is known to face persecution in many parts of Mexico.”  Judge Adam Tolkin, young and unusually good looking for a judge, is curious. “And what social group would that be?”

“Snitches,” Alicia answers.

Sigh.  Nice try, hon.

No, really, Cary interrupts Dolan’s dismissive replies. He has an afadavit to this effect from a professor of Mexican culture.  “And I’m sure it’s fascinating,” AUSA Carl Dolan sneers at the report, “but the simple fact is that Tomas Ruiz is not actually a snitch because he never actually…”  OMG I hate him!  He can’t even finish the sentence. “Your Honor, that’s sophistry!”  The judge doesn’t quite agree; Alicia has to prove Tomas is a snitch and also prove it’s a group that suffers discrimination.

“Your Honor, we have 7 1/2 hours before Mr. Ruiz is in Mexico.” Tolkin nods wisely. “Yes, and as Bob Dylan said, couldn’t help make me feel ashamed.”

What?  For real?  Is he admitting that the system sucks, or what?  Properly repulsed and frustrated, Natalie Flores takes a call and heads out of the room. It’s Will, calling to apologize while watching Isabelle dress. “I’m sorry, Mr. Gardner, but I didn’t have the best experience with your office.”  He knows.  He’s sorry.  He begs for another chance. I guess Isabelle likes to hear him beg, because she stops getting dressed and slides into his lap instead, holding him by his tie. “Let me think about it,” Natalie gives in a little, watching Cary yell at Alicia and wondering if perhaps a fresh perspective might help even if comes from an unpleasant source. “That’s all I ask,” Will smiles, hanging up and peeling Isabelle’s face off his fully clothed shoulder. “You’re good luck, you know that?” he tells her. “I do know that,” she grins.

Desks now dot the Florrick/Agos office floor, where Cary and Alicia share a pizza and brainstorm about the case. “Lesbian, gay or transgendered?”  I think you’d have a tough time proving any of those – and anyway, that only works if he’s being discriminated against because of his sexual preferences.  They could argue that the Mexican government can’t protect him from Lalo, but this apparently only works as an asylum claim when you need protecting from the government. Damn it, this case it so straightforward.  Why is it so hard to solve?

Robyn appears in the entryway. “I served Dolan,” she says (which, whatever), we’re back in court in an hour.”  “Great,” Alicia muses, “now we just need something to argue.”  Blood feud, Carey Zepps offers. “You could argue there’s a blood feud between Ruiz’s family and Heiera’s family.”  You can?  “But we don’t have any evidence of it, do we?” Alicia wonders, not hopeful. “We might,” Robyn thinks. Really, Cary asks – what?  Robyn rushes out. “Robyn, what?” Cary calls after her, but he’s too late. “Have you noticed that everyone’s changing?” he asks Alicia.  Funnily enough, she has.

“So what’s up?” Peter asks, sitting behind his desk.  This has to be his temporary office, right?  Because there’s no way it’s fancy enough to the governor’s – it’s not even as fancy as the State’s Attorney’s office. “I’m concerned about Eli,” Marilyn Bean informs him. Wow, she really didn’t wait to suss out that situation at all, did she? Peter laughs to himself. “What is it this time,” he wonders, not taking it seriously. “He flip-flopped on your speaking at the minority Voter Conference.”  Peter gives her a tolerant look. “Well, you know, one of the things I value about Eli is that he keeps an open mind, which means that he sometimes changes it.”

I don’t know that his open mind would really be what I value in Eli, but okay.  It’s disappointing to think, though, about the fact that Peter’s political strategist and campaign strategist are the same person; is it ever a case of the work itself, or just the game?

Delicately, Marilyn steps in for the kill. “I think he might have changed it because of someone else’s influence.  Her name is Natalie Flores.  She works for a lobbying firm.”  Huh.  I did not think about how that portion of it would look at all, and now I feel like Marilyn has more right to be upset than I thought. “Are you saying you think Eli’s on the payroll of some lobbyist?” Peter scoffs, disbelieving. “No, I think it’s personal,” she guesses (and rightly).

Suddenly she stops, sick.  In fact the way she hisses in her breath, I’m afraid she’s cramping and immediately my mind goes toward miscarriage. “Are you okay?” Peter asks instantly, moving out from behind his desk to sit solicitously next to her on the couch. “I’m fine,” she gasps, trying to make herself breath evenly, “I hate being weak.”  You’re not weak, he tells her softly; can he get her something?  No – damn it, she’s out of her magic Pop-tarts.  “That’s not good,” he realizes. “No, it’s not,” she agrees.

They stares fondly at each other for a few very long moments.  This is so not good. I thought that the pregnancy would make Marilyn untouchable, but it seems to be calling out Peter’s protective instincts instead, and God help us if he ends up consoling her for a miscarriage. “So, Natalie Flores?” Peter gets back on track. “Yes. Right. Well, just to be clear, if Eli’s directing policy due to somebody’s outside influence, then that’s a potential ethical violation there.” Giving her a serious look, Peter says he gets it – and that he’ll look into it. “Okay,” she replies, giving her a very personal smile, “thank you.”

This. Is. Not. Good.  Whether you’re Team Peter or Team Will, it would wreck Alicia to have Peter cheat again.  Not. Cool.

Sneaking up on a nice red brick house, Robyn crouches in front of the door and scribbles “L.C.” on a bullet casing with a sharpie.  No way!  Wow, she really is a woman on the edge. She shoves it into the mail slot and, still crouching, reaches up with her right arm to ring the doorbell. She scuttles off, and soon Elena Ruiz opens the door, clutching the bullet in her fist, looking around her street with a wild terror.

Kalinda stands over Diane’s shoulder in a cool blue leather jacket; the color is a cool tone, and the cut is cool.  Of course everything about Kalinda exudes cool. “I was complimenting her,” Howard Lyman protests, throwing up his hands. “Didn’t ask her to clean up my office.”  That’s right.  That would have been worse. “I just think this one is… touchy.”  “This one,” Diane questions him in a queenly, dangerous voice. “This, this Natalie.  Maybe she’s a lesbian.”  Riiight.  That’s the only reason a woman wouldn’t want to hear about sexy Mexican ladies during a professional consultation.  Kalinda just smirks. “I don’t think she’s a lesbian.”

“But she is our link to a potentially valuable client,” Diane refocuses the discussion. “Howard, we’re going to need you to apologize immediately.”  Fine, he snaps, folding his arms across his chest defensively, leaning back on Diane’s little sofa in an unintentionally gangsta pose. “Well, what’d you want me to say?”

Kalinda steps up. “I think it’s important for Natalie to understand that you see her as intelligent and capable.”  Mmmm, good luck with that. “Not just some spicy tamale,” Howard nods.  Oh God. Diane’s nearly apoplectic. “Oh, come on, I’m just kidding,” he rolls his eyes. “Kidding is what got us into this mess!” Diane barks. “No, political correctness got us into this mess.  But I’ll get us out of it,” Howard promises.

I don’t know about you, but I feel so reassured.

Once more behind his desk, Peter sneaks a look at the person who stands, unseen, across from him.  “I don’t think I’m gonna do the speech at the Minority Voters Conference,” he says, testing the waters, testing Eli, to see what he’ll argue and why. “You aren’t?” Eli replies, surprised. “Redistricting cuts both ways – I don’t want to be accused of supporting ghettoizing anyone.”  You aren’t ghettoizing anyone, Eli argues, they want this.  Because “they” all think as one, do they?

“A lot of people want a lot of things,” Peter answers mysteriously, flipping through documents. “Yes, but we’ve already RSVP’d and …”  It’s true that it would have been much smarter to have this discussion before saying he’d give the speech, but Peter looks up as Eli’s justifications peter out. “And what?” Eli looks markedly self conscious. “”Why is it suddenly so important that I do this, Eli?” Because the redistricting amendment has legs, the Chief of Staff stammers, clearly suffering from a guilty conscience.  Something new and different, folks!

“No,” Peter demands, steely, “what changed your mind?  Eli, I need to know that I can trust you.  I need to know that the advice you give me is in my own best interest.”  Eli pales. “It has never been anything but,” he gasps. “Good,” Peter sighs. “So long as you don’t let anyone use you.  Or me.”  Eli’s quaking.

And then he’s stomping through the halls, more like his regular self in his fury. “The next time you wanna correct my behavior, come to me,” he nearly spits in Marilyn’s face.  Playing the innocent, her does eyes wide, she asks what on earth he means. “I don’t know what you think you saw, but if you’re trying to score points with Peter…”  I’m not trying to score points!” she replies, outraged. “Then why bring it up?”  How funny that he doesn’t know the answer; I guess he can’t see that someone might oppose something he does without opposing him, that it might not be a game to her. “Because it’s my job!” she snaps.

“My private life falls way outside your job description,” Eli barks back at her. “Not when it impacts the counsel you give the governor,” she shoots at him. “Let’s get something straight.  I have been with Peter…” her hand goes to her throat. “I can’t do this right now,” she croaks, standing, and retreating. “Oh, spare me the rigors of pregnancy bullshit,” Eli howls, certain she’s playing him.  I’m not so sure; I’m worried about this baby.

Also, hmm.  I don’t think I realized  you could say bullshit on television.

Alicia, Cary and Carl Dolan are back in front of Dylan-loving Judge Adam Tolkin. “”Your Honor, blood feuds are a recognized ground for asylum,” Alicia argues dutifully.  “Yes,” Dolan sneers, “in places where they exist. Albania, for example.  The Caucuses.  Sicily.”  The concept applies anywhere someone is targeted because of bad blood between families, Alicia argues, and in this case Lalo and the Heieras hold a grudge against Tomas Ruiz and his. “No, they don’t hate him because his name is Tomas Ruiz,” Dolan snaps (and I agree, this is their least plausible scenario), “they hate him because he …almost snitched.”Alicia throws up her hands. “Besides, Your Honor,” Dolan continues, “even if they could argue [that], where’s the evidence?”  Indeed.

“Right here,” Cary says, making Carl Dolan laugh as he stands up with the bullet in a baggie. “What a surprise, now what?” he asks cynically.  He doesn’t know how right he is to be skeptical. “Just this morning, Mrs. Ruiz received this bullet in her mailbox with the letters L.C.  written on the side. That’s Lalo Heiera’s calling card, and it’s a clear threat.” Hold on, Dolan cautions, we have no way of verifying that. “Your Honor, as soon as it was brought to our attention we brought it to you,” Cary adds piously. “Okay, that’s enough, Mrs. Florrick, Mr. Agos, blood feud is a very specific claim.  And I’m just not seeing enough here to support it.” You mean they panicked Elena Ruiz for nothing?

“Your Honor, this bullet is clearly a warning of violence to come to Mrs. Ruiz and her family,” Alicia begs desperately. “But it isn’t relevant to asylum,” the judge declares.  Are you kidding me?  I hate us.  “Maybe not,” Alicia tries, “but  it is relevant to an application for a T visa.”  A what now?  “The Ruiz family has been the victim of a crime; witness intimidation.  That is one of the recognized grounds for granting a T visa.”  And even though Dolan finds this absurd, they’ve finally intrigued Tolkin. “Hold on, Mr. Dolan,” Tolkin grooves, his eyes closed, his pencil bopping. “When someone says, ‘you’re in the wrong place, my friend, you better leave.'”

Wow.  Dude is weird.

“Bob Dylan again, Your Honor?” Alicia asks. He nods. “It’s a good claim,” he notes to Alicia’s joy. “Actually it’s an excellent claim – but I can’t consider a visa application. ”  Oh for the love of God!  “Your Honor, Mr. Ruiz’s bus is going to reach the border in less than 2 hours!”  This is just exhausting. “I understand,” Tolkin explains patiently, “but you need to see an immigration case worker for that.”  Ah.  Hence the Dylan.  They need to leave. Cary and Alicia pack up again.

With Natalie accompanying them, Alicia and Cary pass all their documentation to a weary looking case worker in a cardigan and flowered shirt. She’s curious about the chain of custody with the bullet, which they enumerate. “So I can only get a T visa for Mrs. Ruiz and her son – they were the ones who were victims of intimidation.” Hmm. (Her son?  They said two girls!)  That presumes that Lalo knows Tomas is on the bus; I guess that’s what we’re assuming too, but I don’t know if it automatically follows.  Also, who’s to say it wasn’t a message to Tomas through his family?  That seems unnecessarily literal.  Also, UGH!
Alicia tries to cozy up to the case worker, asking her name (Estelle Bardoss).  “Estelle, any minute now that bus is going to cross the border into Neuvo Laredo, Mexico. Our client won’t make it a mile past the check point.”  I’m sorry, Mrs. Florrick, I truly am, but we have rules,” Estelle replies, her eyes resigned. “Let me tell you something, lady, your rules are right out 1984. The book, not the year.” Cary hollers, and I can’t say that I blame him for losing his cool. “I’m sorry,” Estelle repeats, handing the papers abck to Alicia.  Natalie looks at the floor, and Alicia looks gutted.  Wait, aren’t you going to get the T visas for the remaining Ruizes?

Anyway, that’s when Natalie calls Will and tells him that she does in fact want to meet. That kind of makes me want to cry – Cary and Alicia and Robyn have put everything into this case, and though he has more resources Will’s no expert in immigration law either – even though I get it.

“Natalie!  How good to see you again!” Howard calls out as Natalie steps off the familiar elevator. Her greeting is just as cordial. “Thank you, Natalie, for giving LG another chance,” Will smiles, joining them.  You know, as weird as it is to hear Will call the firm LG, I find myself coming around to the idea of it.  It’s not the firm we’ve known, and the change emphasize its difference from Florrick/Agos.  Anyway. Howard steps smoothly into an apology; when last they met, he tells Natalie, he was “a little distracted” upon learning of a dear friend’s death.  Immediately Natalie tells him how sorry she is, although I can’t help thinking she must you don’t get distracted into being a bigot.  Diane, who’s also stepped over, almost smirks.

“It’s fine,” Howard waves off his alleged grief, “but I wanted to be clear that I, uh, how wrong I was in my comments the last time.”  Think nothing of it, Natalie smiles kindly. “Oh,” she adds as the elevator dings open, “I’d like to introduce you to the partner of our lobbying firm, Joe Pelata.”  A handsome, sleek young African-American man steps onto the floor. “Hey hey, man!  How’s it going?” Howard enthuses, turning Joe’s proffered handshake into a stunningly awkward fist bump.  Oh dear God.  Will and Diane look on in anguish.

I feel like all episode I’ve been taking notes that say “Robyn rushes off to/into…” and here we have yet another instance.  This time she’s aiming at the Mexican consulate in Chicago, where she immediately sits down with a slender, good-looking young man with shaggy light brown hair and some scruff, clad neatly in a well fitting shirt and tie. “No,” he tells her in a slight accent, “the transport is stopped at the border, but they’re about to release it, why? Is there a problem?”  She sits down next to him, and he smooths his tie. “For me?” Robyn asks. “No.  For the government of Mexico – possibly. This is Immigration Enforcement’s expedited deportation list,” she says, fishing out a folded piece of paper for him.  It crackles crisply as she unfolds it.  “And you can see Tomas I. Ruiz is on that list.  He’s one the most infamous conmen in the U. S. – responsible for millions of dollars in damages.  He specializes in airbag fraud.”

No way! Using the mistaken identity in their favor?  That feels good.  After all this crap, that feels really good.

The cute consulate worker looks up from the list, puzzled, his large brown eyes widening.  As well you might be, buddy, as well you might be. “Air bag fraud?” he asks.  Yeah, so weird and confusing. “Not only does he cheat people, but if they get into an accident, they don’t have a functioning airbag,” Robyn explains, for all the world sounding as if she were telling the most macabre ghost story around a campfire. “And given Mexico’s traffic safety record, I’m sure that would be troubling.”

Damn.  The girl is so good.  This is genius!

“But rather than deal with the problem here, the U.S. government decided to pass the buck by sending him back to you.”  Cute Consulate Worker sits back in his chair, clearly upset. “Of course,” Robyn suggest, “it is within the discretion of any sovereign nation whether they choose to accept a deportee back into their country.”  He shakes his head.

And what’s left but for Alicia to rush through her office, past a map of America marking the transport’s route, and give Elena Ruiz the good news: “they turned him away at the border!”  Alicia curves her hand around Elena’s shoulder, and then Elena surges forward to hug her lawyer.  “Thank you, thank you!” she cries into Alicia’s neck. “Daddy’s going to be okay!”  Two super cute little kids, a boy and a girl – both very dressed up – embrace.

(So, um, not to be a continuity grinch, but why was the daughter not getting a visa?  Was she at a sleepover, perhaps?  First it was two girls, then just a boy, and now a boy and a girl.  Aren’t they supposed to have people who track this kind of thing?)

Probably because we’ve become so used to seeing everything through glass walls, Robyn has opted to watch the proceeding through a window.  She’s the one who deserves the thanks, but she doesn’t go take part. Cary sidles up to her anyway. “Feeling good?” he asks.  She is. “You should be,” he observes. “Pulled it out of the fire for us.”  That’s my job, she shrugs. “Yeah,” he agrees decisively, “it is. Keeping doing it.”  This time there are tears first and then a smile that lasts as she walks away.

“Wait, his own country wouldn’t let him in?” Natalie puzzles happily, sitting at yet another blandly posh table at another blandly posh restaurant.  “Somehow,” Alicia smirks, “he ended up on the Mexican consulate watch list.”  Thank God, Natalie gushes. “Alicia, thank you.”  Note you did not get that help from LG, please!  “Just remember to tell all your paying friends about us,” Alicia replies. Sigh.  I hope something comes of this for them – and I really hope we didn’t end up giving the conman that 10k!

Natalie hangs up the phone, giggling, and orders two glasses of wine off the menu.  She’s changed out of her suit into a very pretty red wrap dress, soft and sexy without being at all inappropriate, and she glows against the golden Venetian plaster walls. “You’d be wise to get here fast,” she coos as she answers the phone, “I’m in a great mood, and I have a corporate credit card.”  She beams at the phone, leaning over, flirting with Eli even though he’s not there.

“Natalie, hi,” he says. “Hi,” she frowns, taken aback immediately. “You sound – something.”  Indeed. “It’s just that I’m not going to be able to make it,” he says, from outside the restaurant.  He launches into a preposterous story about minority legislators arriving at the governor’s office with metaphorical pitchforks because Peter canceled his speech.  Too many fires to put out; he can’t possibly come. “You’re the last line of defense,” Natalie excuses him.  He stares longingly at her through the restaurant window.  Lame!

“I’m sorry, Natalie.  Peter needs me.” Blah blah blah, Eli. “He’s lucky to have you,” she answers graciously, and Eli looks up at the heavens as if this more than one man could possibly bear.  She’s very nice; he must not know what to do with that niceness in someone who’s also smart and who actually likes him. He mutters something that sounds like “play safe” – it’s probably “stay safe” – and hangs up.

She sets the phone down, clearly disappointed, just as the waiter sets down the glasses of wine. So call a girlfriend from school!  You must still have friends in Chicago, Natalie.  Be young!  Hang out with someone who isn’t old enough to be your Dad.  But no, she just mopes, then tosses her phone in her purse and stands to leave. And as she does, Eli charges up to the table.

“That was just me being stupid,” he greets her.  She blinks, frowns; it’s not a normal kind of hello. “Eli, if this is too complicated,” she begins. “No, no, it’s not.  Look, I lie 24/7 for my job.  It’s actually a gift,” he adds with obvious pride. “But lying to you gave me a stomach ache.”  A remarkable fast one, it seems. “So…, ” she flounders before relenting, “how were the dried apricots?” You can see him thinking about how to answer before wrinkling his nose and going with the truth: not so good. She laughs. “Well, maybe next time we’ll…” she starts to say, when he cuts her off by planting one on her, right in the middle of the restaurant, hands soft on the sides of her face.

He backs up.  “I just had to do that.”  She searches his face, then steps forward to kiss him first this time.  In the middle of the restaurant.

My, that’s quite a ring, Alicia – gold and, I don’t know, garnet?  She sets down Matthew Ashbaugh’s little black box (I love it when they trot that thing out, it’s so pretty and such delicious continuity) and starts playing a soft hipster cover of  “All I Have To Do Is Dream.”  What’s Alicia dreaming of?  Her new desk chair – and of course, the future of her little company.  She pulls the wrapping off and twirls it around, luxuriating in the feel of something which – while not actually luxe – is all hers.

“Well, Marilyn, I hope I didn’t make any ethical infractions on the elevator ride,” Peter’s voice carries into the room.  Oh, I totally forgot he was coming. Marilyn jokes back, Peter gives her credit for preventing him from pushing all the elevator buttons, and Alicia stands in time to greet them.  With her arms folded like that, she looks a little hostile (gee, could it be Peter’s ease with Marilyn?).  “Hey,” Peter greets her, smiling, “These are some digs.”  Alicia looks at her surroundings. “Ah,” she nods, unoffended, “I think the operative word is cheap.” Hee.

“Nice to see you again, Marilyn,” she adds, and the blond ethicist nods.  “Okay,” Peter asks. “Where on the ethical spectrum does it fall to have an intern help my wife unpack?”  It’s only now that I really notice the group of young people who’ve come up behind them. “Well, technically in the red zone,” Marilyn pretends to deliberate, “but we’ll note it as a good will gesture of the governor to a citizen.”  Thank you, Peter says, and releases the hounds (as it were) with a sweep of his hand.

“Thank you for stopping by, Mr. Governor,” Alicia flirts, walking with her husband. “No problem, Mrs. First Lady,” Peter smiles at his wife. “You know what?  I think you’re gonna take over the world from here.”  I can’t think when I’ve ever seen Alicia look so hopeful, like she was truly open, like she genuinely let herself be vulnerable. “You think so?”  He meets her eyes, serious, his eyebrows winging up. “I’d bet on it,” he says.

So, wow.  What to say?  Anyone whole-heartedly in favor of the Natalie/Eli liaison, or are you as disturbed by the age difference as I am?  Plus, as much as I like him, I just don’t see Eli as a good relationship bet.  On the other hand it would be freaking hysterical if they got married and he ended up with a few tiny children.  Does the show plan on being around long enough for that to happen?  I would feel more comfortable with it, I think, if she’d been a graduate student instead of an undergraduate back when we first met her. And if she had an MBA or a degree in economics, that would make more sense of her job.  Honestly, math and economics were her passions; I wouldn’t have expected her to work for a lobbyist (even one that perhaps specializes in minority concerns, if we can make assumptions based on the name) for any other reason that it’d cause trouble for Eli.

I’ve probably gone on long enough already about how frustrating the legal hoops they had to jump through were.  I really really hope Florrick/Agos gets some good will out of it, and some business from the Outsider Group.  And I probably have gone on long enough about Ruiz’s mysteriously expanding and contracting family.  Seriously, guys, you need to hire someone to look out for this stuff.  This is just embarrassing.

Oh, speaking of which?  When I went to find a good link explaining a T visa, I got a little surprise.  At least according to my (admittedly cursory) web search, T visas are for victims (or witnesses) of human trafficking; U visas are for victims of a crime.

Hmmm.  Is there anything else?  Do we need to talk about Isabelle, or would we all rather forget she exists?  And how long can Will keep Howard Lyman around?  I thought he was going to knock over or buy out anyone who got in his way.  It’s way past time to enforce the retirement age.  And, the new office.  I look forward to seeing a better bathroom, some lighting and some cleaner windows.  It’s gonna be cool.  And somehow the open concept gives it the feeling of a police station or a newsroom.  It’s more egalitarian; we’re all in it together.  I like that.  What about you guys?  Thoughts?

5 comments on “The Good Wife: The Next Month

  1. Kiki says:

    Hey E!!!!

    Episode was good, not great, but enjoyble!! Eli and Natalie really grew on me, I wasn’t crazy about it first time around but now I like it more!

    Peter is not going to cheat on Alicia, especially not with Marilyn. I am not sure what her point is. But in that scene Peter seemed more like a concern about her, like almost “oh I remmeber when my wife was pregnant.” So I am not worried, Peter has changed, he won’t hurt her like that again. (RK better not dare, Alicia doesn’t deserve this)

    Alicia is just kicking ass all around! I am excited about the new offices, hope they fix them up, is going to be fun seeing F/A grow into something bigger.

    • E says:

      Hey, sorry to take so long in responding, Kiki! I really hope you’re right about Marilyn. My feelings of impending doom have been wrong before…

      I agree, Natalie and Eli have their own weird thing that sort of works, and the fact that she’s now living in adult land helps.

      And I agree, I really like the new office and love seeing Alicia succeed on her own. Hope you enjoy Thanksgiving!

  2. John Graydon says:

    I thought Eli and Natalie were sort of touching to see together. It’s such unfamiliar territory for him, and it’s fun to see him stumbling around like a bewildered teenager. But it was wonderful to see him step up and say what he feels, for a change — unlike Alicia….

    I don’t care at all about the age difference. He really seems to care for her, much to his own surprise. She could do a lot worse, like so many women do. (Again, Alicia….)

    And yes, it was exasperating to see the levels of indifference and buck-passing from the authority figures, when the guy’s life was in danger. Where is the compassion?

    It’s way past time to get rid of Howard. They really need to get on that. And when Will was trying to do business on the phone, it was just revolting to see Isabelle slither in and start slobbering over and pawing him. I notice she finally got that teeshirt off him, though! Good for her. 😉

    Something is “up” between Peter and Marilyn, and it’s not just “little Peter” either. With his long and sorry history of infidelity and betrayal, even a pregnant woman isn’t safe from him.

    • E says:

      Hey there John! Sorry not to have gotten back to you earlier. Where IS the compassion? I can’t even express how awful that whole immigration mess felt. I love your description of Isabelle – slithering and slobbering. Yuck! I really hope we don’t see any more of her, but I guess I’m too pessimistic to expect it.

      Speaking of which, yes, I have a terrible feeling about Marilyn and Peter. I hope I’m wrong, because I will be so furious and upset on Alicia’s behalf it he steps over the line – but I guess I always anticipate the worst.

      If tomorrow is a holiday for you (I think it isn’t?) have a lovely day. And if it’s not, have a great day anyway!

  3. […] Colin Sweeney.  Who is Eli afraid of?  It’s not Neil Gross or Natalie Flores or Tomas Ruiz.  Zayeed Shaheed?  Peter stands and clasps his Chief of Staff by his shoulders. “Eli, you […]

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