The Good Wife: Whack-a-mole

E: Wow, guys.  I got a real 80s nostalgia vibe off this week’s episode.  Mary Stuart Masterson is in the house, doing her best Robin Wright impression.  That’s some kind of wonderful!  Or at least it is for some of our characters. And whack-a-mole!  Like new LG addition Damian Boyle, I can proudly say that I too have played whack-a-mole and have fond childhood memories of doing so at arcades and the occasional Chuck-E-Cheese.

Oh, yeah, and the Mommy Dearest routine?  Very 80s.  What’s old is new again.

This week breaks the recent trend; we open with conference meetings, but not pep talks. “We need money,” Cary Agos tells his troops.  “Put simply, we need more more.  Quite simply, we were hampered by our slow roll out.”  Well, I guess it’s not all the troops – the meeting is between 7 of them, including Alicia, Carey and John, drawn up together in their desk chairs as if centered by an invisible conference table.  When there’s protest that they couldn’t have done otherwise without an office, Cary agrees. “I’m not saying there wasn’t a reason.”  Alicia leans forward, pinching the bridge of her nose between her fingers, hanging her head.  She’s had enough. “Okay, okay,” she yells. “We’re in the situation we’re in, so what do we do about it?”

At LG, the conference table is real, and covered in food (sandwich trays with a gorgeous fruit tray in the center, largely untouched) but so are their complimentary problems; they’ve got the money and the clients, but they’re down ten top litigators do to the actual work.  In fact, Queen Bee Diane claims that they’re down half of their best litigators. Really?  Does that seem right?  “And our client load has increased,” she says, adding that they’ve gotten continuances of 8 of their 12 open cases. ” We need to start hiring soon,” she concludes.  Because he’s nothing if not surly and contrarian, David Lee grumbles about the loss of Chum Hum, entirely missing the point. Even if you had Chum Hum, who would be handling their casework?  You’ve lost your worker bees!  Trying to ignore him, Diane calls for the hiring of at least 4 associates with strong trial experience.

David, of course, won’t let the Chum Hum matter drop.  Sigh.  Man, he is exhausting. He’s like a malevolent toddler; he only wants to play with the toy the other kid at the play date has.  Diane accuses him of obsessing, and things descend into chaos until Will starts yelling for attention. “Listen, we do both,” he hollers. “No first things first.  We expedite hiring, and we work on client loss. David, I want you to form a client retention working group.  Bring our clients back home. And Diane…” Suddenly Will’s distracted by a slender woman in a orchid colored dress; he turns the meeting over to Howard (WHAT? because that’s going to end well), grabs Kalinda, and takes off.

Back at Florrick/Agos, Alicia’s laying out her plan. “We need new clients.  We can’t keep looking to Lockhart/Gardner.”  Indeed, Alicia, good idea. “How about a Christmas party?” Robyn asks.  Say what now?  The look on Cary’s face is pretty darn fantastic.  And her idea is really a good one; throw a party to counteract the slow roll out, to network and score some nice publicity and generally let people know they’re there. Guess her stock still rises after almost being laid off a week ago.  Nice. Their receptionist breaks in to announce that Alicia has a call; she beams at Robyn, pleased with the surprising idea, and heads off to her desk to answer the phone.

You know, I like their office furniture.  It’s kind of sleek and interesting, much more so than your average office furniture.  I have to admit, though, I really wish we’d seen them put a little sweat equity into that office building.  Wouldn’t you have loved to see them all scrubbing the floors and those filthy windows?  Polishing the concrete floor?  Okay, maybe you need to hire a specialist for that one, but still.  Something!  Maybe I just want to see them all in jeans or sweats.  Anyway, the call is from one Zayeed Shaheen, an old client whose name Alicia recognizes, but I don’t since he hasn’t been on the show.

“Zayeed?  Yes, it’s Alicia.  How’re you doing?”  I’m going out on a limb and guessing not well, because why else is he calling her?  “I hate to be blunt, but I need your help right now,” he tells her.  It turns out the FBI is at his house, vetting one of his colleagues for a government job and asking questions that set off his Spidey senses; it’s feeling too personal, and he doesn’t want to get his friend in trouble.  Are you still on campus, she asks, and the answer is yes. He gives his address (2123 Burnham) and she heads off to see him.  “Ask the federal agent – politely – to wait until I get there for new questions, okay?”  He agrees, and she ends the call.  “Robyn, I need you as a witness,” Alicia calls for the investigator.  See, there’s another reason not to lay her off!

“New client?” Cary wonders.  That’d be nice, but not yet.  Old, she explains. “With money?”  Some, Alicia teases.  Enough, anyway.

There’s a dossier with the photo of a grim looking older woman on Will’s coffee table.  The woman in purple explains to Will that he’s looking at Lauralee Greg – undergrad Tulane, law degree from Yale, 10 years at McKinley, Barrett & Skiff.  That doesn’t seem like an associate’s resume.  No, Will states flatly.  The consultant/HR rep is surprised; does he mind if she asks why?  Because Ms. Greg second-chaired her most recent case, even after 10 years at her firm.  Don’t read anything into that, the woman instructs him. I do, he informs her.  Sigh.  Diane’s seated next to Lavender Lady, and Kalinda’s perched on the coffee table, typically sexy.  (It’s great to see her, but when is she going to be more than window dressing?  Last week’s conversation with Robyn was really nice, but for the whole season?  Sigh.)

The next name up is David Benjamin Goldbaum, and Will’s rolling his eyes before it’s even all the way out of Orchid Purple’s mouth, despite his degrees coming from Georgetown and Stanford. Orchid warns that the competition will snap Goldbaum up if Will doesn’t, and he’s okay with that. “Ah, David’s a great litigator,” Kalinda contradicts her boss, “We lost to him in court.”  No, we settled, Will corrects her.  Yeah, for two million dollars, Kalinda replies – but in Will’s opinion, it should have been four. “So you’re rejecting him because he wasn’t hard enough on you?”  Lavender scoffs.  Um, duh. Of course he is.  Why would that surprise you?

So who’s up next?  After exchanging a significant look with Diane, Lavender skips the next dossier. “Who was that?” Will asks, because of course he’s going to.  If you genuinely didn’t want him to see it, there’s a super easy way to make sure he doesn’t; don’t bring it.  “No one,” she says, “not appropriate.” And obviously she couldn’t have said anything that would interest New Will more.  “Beth, we’re not who we were. What was inappropriate two months ago is appropriate now.” She hands it over with a smirk. “Damian Boyle,” she recites.  He’s spent 14 in criminal law. “His clients are – well – not your clients.”  Pro bono, Diane wonders. “No,” Lavender Beth smiles, “very NOT pro bono.  Antonio Pola last year, Sal Calistana.”  Will doesn’t care about the Italian names – which are supposed to be code for what, the mob?  not cool – but wonders instead why there’s no photo.  What is this, a dating website?  Who cares what he looks like?  He’s notoriously photo shy, Beth shrugs.  Oh. Because that’s not suspicious or anything.

“He’s looking for a home. Some of his top clients are in prison now, and he needs to make ends meet. The problem is, nobody wants him.”  Let’s see. Is it because he’s (allegedly) a mob lawyer, or because he’s not a good enough one to keep his clients out of jail?  Somehow this makes Will smile.

Diane tries to nip the nascent idea in the bud. “Will.  Just because someone is wrong for us doesn’t make him right.”  Ha ha ha.  I love how she’s captured the essence of Will’s reaction, the way his new risk-taking rush entices him to make the craziest choice possible. That’s perfect. “Let’s see him,” he shrugs. ‘What can it hurt.”  That sounds like famous last words to me, sir.

Alicia and Robyn have arrives at Zayeed Shaheed’s front door.  “Alicia, thank you for doing this,” Zayeed says, waving them inside.  He’s a good-looking man in his thirties, very fit – wait!  It’s Haaz Sleiman from The Visitor!  Long time readers might remember I gushed about this movie during my review of “Mock” and I will take the time to praise it to you again; Sleiman is marvelous as Tarek, a passionate young drummer with citizenship issues whose joi de vive revolutionizes the life of a miserable college professor.  Though his award nominations all come from that role, Sleiman’s been in other television shows that I admire (family favorite Veronica Mars, Covert Affairs, 24, Nurse Jackie, Blue Bloods) and it’s a delight to see him here.  Oh, and he’s Lebanese, which makes him feel a little bit like family.

Erm, anyway.  It turns out that the FBI agents decided to hang around and wait for Alicia. “They’re a little impatient,” he admits. “Play it sweet,” Alicia tells Robyn, “After we’re introduced, ask them if you can record the interview.  For your records.”  Good plan.

So they sit down, and Alicia thanks the FBI agent seated with them, another man somewhere in his thirties. “Call it a lawyerly overabundance of caution,” she tells him, self-deprecating. “So this is about Mr. Shaheed’s colleague?” Hmm.  Didn’t she say he was at a university?  But not Dr. Shaheed or Professor Shaheed?  “Yes,” the agent says (identified on the IMDB as Agent Norwich), passing over a picture of Zayeed with one Azadem Kalb.  “We just had a few questions.” He waves a hand to indicate how minor all of this is – clumsy, because why was he so insistent about chatting. “Mr. Kalb was in Milwaukee recently with you?”

That’s when Robyn asks if she can record the interview, and Norwich is utterly taken aback. I can’t help smirking; you can just see him thinking ‘hey, only we get to record people!’  He wonders why. “For our records,” she says. “We do it all the time.  I’m bad at taking notes.”  We’d rather this be off the record, he tells her confidingly.  Oh yes, totally off the record, as long as I can record it, she says. Hee. “I just need a correct copy for my notes.” Alicia smiles at her fondly. “Robyn’s a stickler for detail.”  Norwich looks at his partner, who stands impassively against the wall.  The man’s facial expression doesn’t change, which Norwich takes as permission for Robyn to do as she asks.  “Certainly, if it’s for your notes.” Interesting,

“You were in Milwaukee with your colleague two weeks ago?” he asks Zayeed. He was. “For a conference on educational differences in developing countries, he explains. “I see.  And did you spend the whole time with Mr. Kalb?”  No. “How about the afternoon of …” he shrugs, as if searching for a date, any date. “… October 15th?”

At the date, Alicia’s head whips up.”The 15th of this year?”  Norwich pretends to think about this. “Yes.” “The day of the explosion at the Milwaukee Food Festival?” Uh oh.  How original, asking an Arab about an explosion.  “Yes, I think that’s right,” he answers, as if just discovering the fact himself. That was a lame, lame attempt at innocence, Norwich.  Not very sneaky at all.

“I’m going to ask my client to stop answering questions at this time,” Alicia announces. Lamewich wonders why. “Because I don’t think this interview is what you’re implying,” she declares fiercely. “What’d you think we’re implying?” Lamewich keeps trying to engage her. “Zayeed, you can ask them to leave now,” she instructs.

But as Zayeed opens his mouth, Lamewich is forced to play his real hand. Turns out he has a warrant for all files, electronic or otherwise, in the house. Poor Zayeed isn’t keeping up – he still can’t fathom what’s happening to him. “I need you to step out of the room for asecond,” Alicia tells him. ‘Robyn, can you take him?”  Not to be outdone, Lamewich insists his colleague Agent Ames go with them, so that they don’t disturb any of the materials on the warrant. Alicia compresses her lips.

Outside Zayeed’s house, there’s flurry of FBI agents.  I have to say, this doesn’t look like they’re on a campus at all, or that college professors would live there.  The ones I know get paid surprisingly poorly, and if Shaheed only has a masters he can’t be more than an adjunct, and they get paid an embarrassing pittance.  Like, below the poverty level pittance. On a lighter note, it doesn’t look like they should possibly be thinking about Christmas parties – everyone’s wearing sweaters or light jackets but no coats, and there’s not even a touch of Autumn in the meticulously manicured landscape. “It’s the color of my skin,” Zayeed declares bitterly, “they think I planted a bomb.”  That does seem likely, but Alicia hushes him.  She wants to know if he was anywhere near the bombsite; he swears he wasn’t. “What are they going to find on your computer, Zayeed?”  He takes in some nasty looks from his neighbors before answering that there’s nothing but his book and his lectures. “No porn, no foreign financing? Anything that needs to be explained?”

His mouth gapes, and he inhales sharply. “No,” he says, but she doesn’t believe it.  Tell us now, she pleads, because we’ll find out eventually. “Look, the subject of my book is jihad,” he confesses.  But it’s not what you think, he pleads.  It’s a spiritual jihad, not a violent one.  But, um, perhaps it could be open to misinterpretation.

Great.

The more time we spend outside, the more it becomes clear to me that whoever wrote and especially found the locations for this episode have no idea what academics actually make or what colleges look like.  This is a pretty fancy neighborhood.  “Okay,” Alicia tells Zayeed, “Stay out of their way, and don’t answer any more questions.”  The women step toward Alicia’s car. Where are you going, he wonders, panic leaking into his tone. “To quash the warrant,” she explains.

I like your confidence, Alicia.

“Your Honor!” Ouch, that gavel slammed down pretty loudly. “Why are you yelling?  I’m not yelling,” the ever fabulous Jeffrey Tambor announces, reprising his role as whip smart and world weary federal judge George Kluger. A hatchet faced AUSA grandstands for him. “I’m passionate, Your Honor. The abuse here is passion-inducing.”  Oh my.  At the back of the gallery, Will Gardner slinks into a seat. “Passion-inducing.  Well, goodness. Let’s not have our passion induced. Let me get this straight.”  He points his gavel at the defense table. “You want me to bar him from representing him,” each time pointing the gavel at an unseen fellow, “that’s your requested remedy?”  Yep, that’s it. “Damian Boyle is not just representing the Garrity crime family, he’s a member of the Garrity crime family.”  Huh.  So much for the Italian mob.

“Why, because I’m Irish?” Jason O’Mara’s voice drawls.  Ah.  Well, I liked him in Terra Nova and Band of Brothers, but he really is one of those actors the networks seems bound on turning into a star (see also Life on Mars, Vegas) who just can’t get all the way there.  Maybe the Kings can do it for him; they’re good at it, after all.  And, cool – he gets to use his actual accent for the role.  Score! “That has nothing to do with it,” the AUSA sniffs, resenting the implication of ethnic bias. “It isn’t because I’ve beaten you three times in court,” Boyle suggests rather raucously. Oh Lord.  I think the AUSA is going to start frothing at the mouth.

“Your Honor, I’m a simple, small town lawyer…” Boyle drawls. Right, one who routinely trounces federal prosecutors. “I have an idea, how about you stand up?” Judge Kluger interrupts. Hee. “My apologies, Your Honor. I’m a simple, small town lawyer who’s come to the big city [God, he really just said that. Twice.] to defend an honest business man.”  The AUSA folds his arms across his chest, his body fairly bristling with self-righteous indignation.  “And I’ve beaten the AUSA three times in three previous court hearings, and that’s why he wants to bar me from representing an innocent man.  But correct me if I’m wrong, but this is America.  And I’m going to be damned if I let this man tread on my rights, your rights, or anyone else’s rights!”

The Judge gives this performance a thumbs up. “Thank you,” he snarks, “that was a beautiful speech.”  Oh my gosh I love him in sarcasm mode. “You’re welcome, ” Damian Boyle declares generously. “I know we work in a cynical business, Your Honor, but I believe in it.”  Sigh.  I’ll bet. The AUSA, meanwhile, has gotten sick of listening. “Your Honor, we have federal wiretaps of Mr. Boyle conducting business for the Garrity crime family!”

“Oh really?  Well, let’s hear it,” Boyle snaps. “Mr. Boyle,” Judge Kluger cautions, “let me do my job.”  Boyle nods, and Kluger looks at the prosecutor. “Let’s hear it,” he says.  In his seat, despite all the obstructions between them, Will is eating this all up.  “The tapes are sealed, Your Honor,” the AUSA answers.  Then why bring them up, you tool!   No judge is going to take your word for it, and you might have just tipped Boyle off. But no, he’s not even going to ask to use the Cone of Silence, because it’s part of a wider investigation. And now Boyle knows that too.

Boyle guffaws. “Keep laughing, Mr. Boyle,” the prosecutor charges, irate. “We’re coming after you.”  He’s practically rabid he’s so mad. “I beat ’em, fair and square,” Boyle reiterates, and Kluger’s gavel smashes down repeatedly.

In another courtroom, Alicia argues that this warrant is racial profiling, and bickers with Agent Lamewich over Shaheed’s book and how to interpret it.  “You need more evidence than his name and the color of his skin,” Alicia insists, especially since he wasn’t anywhere near the bomb site.  And that’s when another FBI agent pops in with a blurry photograph of a dark skinned man in a pale aqua t-shirt and white baseball cap, a backpack fitted closely over his shoulders.  Between the pixelation and the hat, his features are entirely obscured.  “And as you can see,” Lamewich prattles on, “that is Zayeed Shaheed passing the garbage can where the bomb was placed.” I don’t see that at all! There’s nothing remotely clear about that. “But I would love to hear more about Mr. Shaheed being in room 546.”  Alicia twitches.  Alicia!  Bring up the total lack of facial features!  That could be anyone!  Augh!

Blaring Irish music floods our senses as Will follows Damian Boyle into a bar.  Such a cliche, right down to those hats – but at least the work class clientele are racially diverse. “If there are legal papers anywhere on your person, I suggest you keep walkin’,” Damian spots Will immediately as a fish out of water. Will opens his suit coat, demonstrating that he’s not a process server. “Will Gardner.  I’m a partner at LG.”  After a few moments of blank stares, Will mutters “Lockhart/Gardner,” defeated.  Ha ha ha!  But spelling it out (or not spelling it out, as it were) doesn’t help. “Oh,” Boyle says with indifference, “Congratulations.  What do you want?”  To buy you a drink, of course.

Boyle’s companions snicker to each other before decamping. “What was that?” Will asks.  Why on earth would you want to know?  “Jewish joke,” Boyle shrugs.  Wait, really?  Does that mean Will is Jewish – and apparently so Jewish that random strangers in a bar can identify him as such?  Or is that some sort of crack about lawyers?  Huh.  I never really thought about Will following any religion or religious ethnicity.  “Has he heard the one about the Irish pilot?” Will asks as he and Damian sit at the bar.  He has, Damian glowers.  Well. So much for find solidarity in racist jokes.

Once they’re both settled with their beers, Will tries a new strategy. “You’re gonna lose the case against the government,” he says. “It happens,” Damian shrugs carefully. “Judges are just human,” Will continues, “they don’t mind pissing off an individual lawyer.  They do think twice when it’s an entire law firm.”  I can’t help thinking this is nonsense (let’s just say its less than ideal if judges decide a case based on whether or not they feel like they can piss off the lawyers), but it gets his point across – he’s interested in Damian as an employee.   “What’s the name of your law firm again, pal?” he asks.  “Lockhart/Gardner,” Will repeats, abandoning the use of the re-branding entirely. “Never heard of it.” You can say this much for Damian – he’s certainly not a suck up, is he? “What law firms have you heard of?” Damian laughs.

“You still looking for a home?”  Will presses. “Why, you offering me a job?”  I might be, Will answers, coy. Swiveling so he’s facing away from the bar, Damian leans over so his words aren’t overheard. “There are friends I have that I defend, no matter what.”  “Do they have money?” Will asks.  Oh God.  Of course they do. “Then it’s not a problem.”  WHAT??????!!!!!  Diane is going to kill him.

“I don’t work on Sundays,” Damian adds.  Thanks, Eric Liddell. Don’t tell me that’s a religious observance thing; the hypocrisy will knock me over.  As long as he works twice as hard for the rest of the week, Will doesn’t care.  Okay, first I’m not sure that would be true if a crisis came up on a Sunday, and second the math really does not work in Boyle’s favor there.  “Okay,” Boyle nods, “let me think about it.”

So, lets see.  We’ve discovered that Boyle’s a cocky mob lawyer with a penchant for courtroom theatrics and racial jokes. What’s not to love?

Back at the converted t-shirt factor, Alicia and Zayeed pour over the photograph.  It’s not me, he says, I was napping in the hotel at the time.  No one saw you there, Alicia tells him.  Why on earth would anyone see him napping?  Come on.  I know that sucks as far as proving an alibi, but it’s hardly his fault he didn’t arrange for witnesses to watch him sleep. “I didn’t have anything to do with this. I’m a teacher, that’s all.”

Robyn calls Alicia over because she’s found the source of the photo; instead of being a surveillance video like they thought, it’s an iphone photo.  (She can tell this because there’s actually a piece of thumb blurring one edge.)  It’s a tourist photo which the FBI seems to have found on Scabbit.com, a crowd-sourcing site with a (fitting, it turns out) cockroach as its logo. And as with the Boston Marathon bombing, contributors are trying to piece together a picture – a 3D image, in a way – of the event.  “And one other thing,” Robyn adds, “If the federal government is using Scabbit, then Zayeed is in real trouble.”  Why, Alicia wonders. “Well, the people on here think he did it, and they say they can prove it,” Robyn explains.

So that’s no good.  On her screen is the photo, right next to a book jacket with Shaheed’s picture on it and a little biographical data – he was born in Detroit in 1976, has a masters in Sociology from Princeton,  and is not only a professor but also the department chair of International Studies at Braddock University.  (I’ll say it again.  They really need to get some basic information on academia before they do this stuff.  First, Sociology and International Studies are not the same field.  Okay, maybe the masters isn’t his only advanced degree, but ugh.  You cannot be a “full” or tenured professor without having the most advanced degree possible – what they call a terminal degree.  And you wouldn’t be the department head if you didn’t have the appropriate degree.  So, you could be a professor with an MFA, say, or MBA, but there is no combination of circumstances in which all of those things – being a professor and a department head of a different subject area without a terminal degree – could be true.)  The website clearly indicates that the poster believes Zayeed Shaheed is the Milwaukee Food Festival Bomber.

Far from these ugly accusations, Jackie Florrick sits at a swank restaurant and boasts to her friends about the perks of being the governor’s mothers.  Her sycophantic friends are all so impressed that Peter misuses state funds to send town cars for his dear mother.  Awesome. Ah, but Jackie’s tale of triumph sputters out as Eli walks into the restaurant with a steely blond woman dressed in black.  She reminds me so strongly of Robin Wright that it takes me a minute to realize it’s Mary Stewart Masterson.  Awesome!  And this time I’m not being snarky. “Rachel!” Jackie says, creeping up to the table like Gollum.

“You two know each other?” Eli asks in surprise. “Yes, I clerked for her husband a zillion years ago,” Rachel explains smoothly.  “Nice to see you, Jackie.”  Ah.  I see. “Rachel was the Judge’s favorite clerk,” Jackie adds with such sweet malice that I know immediately what’s gone on.  Those Florrick men and their blonds! I guess that’s why we’re seeing someone named Kaiser and not Janet Suzaki.  “Well, hats off for not playing that card with Peter,” Eli smiles at Rachel, and then explains to a bewildered Jackie that Rachel is Peter’s choice to replace Diane as candidate for the Supreme Court vacancy.  Shocked, Jackie offers her congratulations. “The Judge would have been proud,” she adds. Why does she refer to her dead husband by his job title? “Thank you, Jackie, that means the world,” Rachel smiles, chilly.  And that’s when Jackie asks to speak to Eli alone.

Of course they’re still in the middle of a crowded restaurant, so the conversation isn’t very forthcoming.  Jackie’s quite blunt about her intentions, though. “Tell her no. Shes not getting the Supreme Court seat.”  Really, Eli wonders. “Why is that?”  Let her down gently, Jackie replies loftily.  I understand this isn’t a good place for sharing secrets, dear, but you have to do better than that.  And of course Eli has to make it all about him.”Jackie.  No.  You get to decorate the offices and throw the inaugural ball, but this?  This is my prerogative.”  Yours?  Um, don’t you mean Peter’s?  “This is Peter’s prerogative.”  Okay, better, but it’s still not a pissing contest. “Whatever grudge you have, you need to suck it up.  Good to see you.”

Ah, he’s never going to learn, is he?  He can be such a smart strategist, but I love that his self-defeating flaws are so clear and consistent.

At Florrick/Agos, Alicia, Cary and – hey, it’s not her Other Brother Carey, but bland and smart John – pour over the photo, debating its significance.  It’s not him.  But it could be him.  Couldn’t it?  Go to the FBI with a proffer, John suggests, explain the jihad stuff away.  Show the feds it’s not him.  And that’s when Robyn calls it – there’s another picture on Scabbit, which someone is claiming is Shaheed “fleeing the bombing.”  Except that’s ridiculous, because this guy’s much paler and is wearing a bike helmet and a long sleeved red shirt with stripes and is riding off on roller blades or a skateboard. Ah, the posters are starting to acknowledge the obvious differences; that’s not Shaheed, they say, that’s his accomplice.  Look at the walkie talkie in his back pocket!  (Okay, there is a walkie talkie, but it’s still a ridiculous leap.)

And just like that, more photos and more comments roll in. “Looks like he stuck around to appreciate the aftermath – sickening!” This is about a third guy in a different outfit, one who’s barely visible in a different photo. “Mysterious backpack accomplice – 10 minutes before bombing.” This is an even paler guy with thick hair (unlike Shaheed’s close cropped locks), a backpack and a pale aqua t-shirt.  If this is the first guy and that’s what his hair looks like under the cap, then it’s conclusive not Shaheed. “Some creepy dude hanging out in the park,” reads another caption under a picture of tens of people on a lawn.  Why is this one guy creepy?  “Same white ball cap,” a comment reads, but we see arrows pointing to at least 3 different men in caps, maybe more.  Are these people blind or utterly devoid of observational skills?  It’s very reminiscent of the New York Post fiasco after the Boston Marathon bombing, right down to the white cap.  Not to mention more than one thread on Reddit. “This has to be the same guy!  He wrote a book about jihad!”  I thought he was writing the book now?  Oh well.  Perhaps it’s not his first.  Finally there’s a picture of Zayeed in a classroom, next to photos of people on stretchers. “My teacher is the Milwaukee bomber!!!!  My teacher did this??!!!”

“Oh my God, this stuff is crazy,” Alicia breathes.  Yes.  Yes it is.  “What’s crazy is the FBI using it,” Bland John observes.  Right again, Bland John, right again.  Some day they write you a personality and so you’re not merely a mouthpiece for common sense, but I guess today is not that day. “Sue for an injunction,” Cary decides.  “Against Scabbit. Force them to take down the thread.” What will that do, John wonders. “If the FBI’s using crowd sourcing for its investigation, cut off the supply.”  Yeah, except everything they post helps clear Zayeed in my mind, anyway, because it’s so utterly nonsensical.  But they like the idea; Alicia will go to court, and John will write the proffer.

It’s madness in the LG conference room, madness. Why does the TV on the wall still say Lockhart/Gardner?  Shouldn’t that be the easiest place to update their logo?  “We didn’t vote on this,” David Lee sneers. Yes, Will agrees, but we discussed hiring a new partner.  Um, you discussed stealing the top litigators in the city, and you discussed hiring associates. “In a meeting you left,” Lee rightly points out. “Yes, but I got a sense of the room,” Will responds weakly, and David uses the feeble comeback to rip him a new one. “What’s this ‘sense of the room’ crap?  When did that start replacing votes?”  Excellent, David. Lost as ever, Howard wants to know who Damian Boyle is , so Will explains, adding that he would have been snapped up had he not acted so quickly. “He’s a mob lawyer,” Diane cuts in. “No he’s not!” Will shoots her down.  Um, Will?  He virtually told you he was!

“Will, that is not true,” Diane says, frustrated.  What?  “What you just said!  He wouldn’t have been snapped up. Our head hunter told us the exact opposite.”  Ah, so that’s what Beth was. “Oh,” David Lee coos, “so the truth comes out!”  Will is unrepentant. “Decisions sometimes need to be made on the fly. In my opinion, this was one of them.”  Well, he did warn you all that his management style was going to change, but I can’t help seeing a bit of his gambling addiction leaking out here.  He’s high on the risk, the rush, the very perverseness of the choice. He puts his hands up. “If you disagree, sanction me.”  The room descends once more into chaos.

Outside Will’s office, Damian looks in on the proceedings with some surprise. “Excuse me. Is it always like this?” he asks a very pretty, very well dressed red head who’s making notes in a file. She must be the assistant of the week. “No,” she says, indicating that it’s only the last few weeks that have been crazy. Is he chewing gum with his mouth that wide open?  Gross.  He stands up and starts to whistle. “What’s this song?” He leans in toward her so she can hear. I have no idea, she smirks at him, aware that he’s flirting, shooting him down without kicking him out of the game. “Doncha hate that, when a song gets stuck in yer head?”  More than anything, she agrees.

“You have very pretty eyes,” he adds, and ugh.  So unprofessional that the first thing he does is flirt with an assistant!  No I don’t, she demurs. “No, no you do. And I know from pretty eyes.”  Will exits his meeting and calls out to Damian in passing. “Damian, you’re on the client retention working group.”  I suppose a fresh perspective could be a good thing, but since he doesn’t know anything about their clients it is kind of a weird choice, no?  “Yeah, yeah, hold on,” he says, and ignores his brand new boss to continue flirting with Foxy.  Will and Diane march past him into Will’s office.

He did not just do that.

“Will, you can’t be doing this,” Diane sighs.  Will tries to defend himself, but Diane sees the snap decision for what it is – a risky move that should have been discussed first.  “You know how this works, Diane.  David Lee argues for a relative, you say no, it’s referred to a sub committee.  They take three weeks and come back with a stalemate.”  Fair enough. “After a certain point, someone needs to decide. We don’t have the luxury of being a deadlocked government.”  Right, but what this really means is that you knew no one would go along with your plan so you just pushed it through. Diane sees Damian sniff Red Head’s perfume.  Ugh. “Well then welcome to your decision, because that’s what happens when one person decides.”  She leaves the office, purposely smacking into Damian’s shoulder on the way out, lips compressed in rage.

In her office, David Lee waits, doing his best jack o’ lantern impression. “What’d he say?” he asks. “He’s sick of debate,” Diane shrugs delicately. “Well I don’t give a damn,” David growls. “This isn’t communist Russia.”  Well, what do you propose to do about it?  His plan is to sanction Will and get Damian kicked out.  “David, a month ago you wanted me out,” Diane observes.  There’s some interesting irony there for sure. “Yeah?  So? That was a month ago,” he scoffs. “I have 2/3rds of the partners ready to dump him.”  Who, Will, Diane asks.  No, Lee sneers.  Him.  And through the glass we see Damian still determinedly flirting.  “Mr. Mob.  They want to know if you’re on board.”

Judge Kluger smirks at Alicia. “Hello again!”  “Hello again to you, Your Honor,” Alicia smiles. “I hear you started your own law firm,” he says, and Alicia’s shock is quite obvious.  Who’s been talking about her? “Yes, Your Honor, three weeks in.”  God, their timeline will never make sense to me. “Congratulations!  What brings you to brighten my courtroom today?”  Is he flirting with her?  He’s not flirting, is he?  She explains her presence.

“I see we seem to be alone today,” he notes, and indeed the defense table is empty. “Yes, Your Honor, Scabbit has ignored our subpoena. We believe this is brinksmanship through absence.”  Be that as it may, he won’t shut down an entire site without at least discussing things with them first.  Oh, but she doesn’t want that either – she just wants the thread down.  He asks for documentation; she gives it. “Of course, it’s good seeing you again.  Can you do me a favor, next time, can you bring me back something just a little more serious?  I don’t know, like a grocery store robbery?” I suppose I see why he thinks this isn’t serious, but with the FBI showing up, I can’t help but feel it’s very serious to Zayeed.  Alicia just smiles. “Definitely, Your Honor.”

“Three ayes,” Diane counts, sitting between Howard and David with five other men including Damian Boyle, who’s sort of flopped over on the table, making a show of his indifference.  I swear this program used to make an effort to show more women as part of the firm.  Didn’t they?  I suppose there’s never been a woman partner we’ve spent any time with (and certainly there’s been the suggest that Diane doesn’t like female competition for her throne), but why are there no women other than assistants here anymore?  Four of the committee members are opposed, including Diane, David and Howard.  Predictably, Damian is not only lost but not even paying attention.  Should I put you down as an abstention, Diane wonders, before reluctantly explaining the vote again; should they negotiate with Florrick/Agos to join the most recent Chum Hum privacy suit?

“The firm that stole your clients?” Damian catches up. Yes. “And that’s one of the clients they stole?”  Yes again.  The 35 million in billable hours gets trotted out, which nearly knocks Damian over.  “Why don’t you try listening next time?” David Lee (say it with me) sneers. “And you wanna negotiate with ’em?  They stole 35 million from you and you wanna negotiate?”  Diane’s ready to put him down as an abstention, though it seems pretty obvious to me that he’s a no. “Just vote,” David groans. “Sure.  Which way do I vote to get buggered?”  David raises his eyebrows.

True to her word, Diane marks him as an abstention. “What’re you doing?” Damian asks Howard.  Nothing, of course. Damian gathers the elderly partner up along with Foxy the Red Head and two random guys in the hall.  (I kind of love that bit, actually. “What do you do here?  Doesn’t matter. You’re coming with me.  Take off your jacket.”)  We’re taking a legal field trip, he says, waving them all into the elevator.

And you could also say it’s a sort of field trip – or time out, if you will – from adulthood, because what they do is pop into the old t-shirt factory and tell the poor receptionist (who must not have come over from Lockhart/Gardner, because she doesn’t recognize Howard) that they’re from the furniture rental company and they need to pick up the furniture that’s there.  Including the lamps.  Who imagines that movers look like business people without jackets on?  Foxy’s heels and fitted dress aren’t exactly conducive to lifting things, and Howard would probably keel over and die, but I guess Damian orchestrates it all with such confidence and flair that she doesn’t dare object. Man, they need a tougher receptionist.  And a lock.  As his minions are moving equipment, Damian takes a moment to look at the Scabbit files on Alicia’s desk, as well as the #1 Mom pin on her pencil cup. “Aw!”

Little suspecting what awaits them, Alicia, Cary and Robyn ride the freight elevator up to their office.  It’s terrible security, but I really love that elevator.  It’s just so cool looking with those metal gates. They’re crowing over the fact that the thread has been taken down.  “Well, the law works, even on the internet,” Cary muses.  Ah, don’t be so sure.  “Oh,” says Robyn, staring at her laptop. “There’s another thread?” Cary the cynic guesses. Yes.  Robyn holds out her laptop so they can see that Zayeed’s book jacket photo is the icon for the thread. Frustrated, Alicia throws up her hands. “This is Whack-a-mole,” she declares.  Awesome!  Or a hydra.  “We get an injunction on one thread, and another one jumps up.”  Right.  I guess the law doesn’t work on the internet. We need to get Scabbit into court, Cary suggests, and Alicia thinks it might help since Judge Kluger leans their way.

And that’s when they notice that all their computers and paperwork is now on the floor.

Talking already, Norah in tow, Eli walks into Peter’s office.  But what is this?  It’s Jackie sitting at Peter’s desk.  “You cannot let Peter appoint Rachel Kaiser,” she insists.  Eli motions for Norah to head back outside, so he can deal with the mother-in-law from hell. He has already appointed her, he says.  Then tell him he made a mistake, Jackie presses. “I thought you said she was the Judge’s favorite,” Eli snaps.  Oh, Eli.  Sometimes you’re completely dead to nuance; you can be too straightforward for your own good.  “She was,” Jackie admits, and glares at Eli until he gets it.  Eli actually steps back in shock when he figures it out.
“OH,” he gasps. “Oh,” she agrees. “I will not have a woman who slept with my husband and almost ruined my family be rewarded with a seat in my son’s cabinet.”  I totally get that, Jackie.  (Is the Supreme Court part of the cabinet?  Oh, whatever.)  Does Peter know, Eli wonders.  Um, I seriously doubt that.  I think we’re all familiar with the way Peter punishes the people who hurt his family; I can’t remotely picture him offering a cleaning job to his father’s mistress, let alone a position of power and prestige. She shakes her head. “I’m sorry, Jackie. I understand why you’re upset.”  No you don’t,  she replies, steely.  “That’s true, I don’t, ” he agrees (though surely the whole Bin Laden thing comes close), “But my hands are tied here.”  Indeed.  It’s a pickle.  As Eli points out, Peter can’t reverse appointing two women in a row.

“You don’t want me to go to my son about this,” Jackie warns Eli.  Oh my God, would she do that?  “No, you’re right, I don’t,” Eli agrees, because not only would it hurt Peter, but of course it would result in Peter shooting down a second woman candidate for personal reasons.  Not as much as she doesn’t want to do it, I bet!  “But I don’t think you want to either,” he assesses.  That’s right.  That was totally a bluff.  She would never hurt Peter and destroy his memory of his father like that.  She gasps, her eyes misting. “That’s dirty, Eli,” she declares, sounding truly hurt. ” He smirks.  Oh, Eli.  Why must you always be a jerk?  Why do  you always need to rub it in somebody’s face?  “There’s no political reason to dump Rachel.  And I will not pretend there is to make things… emotionally easier.”  Like you did with Diane?  He declares this with a mixture of self-righteousness and regret.  They stare at each other, seething. “How… understanding of you,” Jackie replies, real tears in her eyes.  Though he tries to apologize, Jackie stomps off without another word.

“Well that injunction didn’t work,” Judge Kluger notes. But there’s a bright side to this dilemma – Scabbit has messaged him saying that they are indeed coming today, with their new counsel.  Gee.  Let’s hazard a guess as to who that could be?  “How’s it going on your own?” Kluger asks Alicia while they wait.  “On my own?” she repeats wildly, and you can see she thinks he means personally at first. “Oh!  My own law firm.  Bracing, Your Honor,” she smiles. “I remember my first year hanging the shingle,” he reminisces. “Oh, my God, there’s nothing scarier in the world.” She smiles in agreement.

“Ah, here’s your opposition,” the judge observes. Will and Damian Boyle march into the room with a white-haired fellow. “Will Gardner?  Why is that… Oh yes!  You two used to be on the same side, didn’t you?” Judge Kluger realizes. Yes, indeed. “Oh well. That’s awkward.”  Will and Alicia stare at each other. “Not at all, Your Honor,” she smiles.

The main question to be determined in court is this: has Scabbit adhered to the cease and desist order or not?  Is this the same thread renamed, or is it a new one on the same topic, and how much does the distinction matter. Damian expresses the firm’s pro-Chum Hum argument: ” We can control our actions, but we cannot and should not control the actions of our members.”  Then he gives a very winky thumbs up.  What the heck?  As we’ve seen, Judge Kluger agrees with Alicia, who is also standing at the bench; “You’re playing with semantics,” he tells Will as the later stands in front of the bench. You’re not going to the spirit of the law.”  At the judge’s order, Scabbit’s CEO, a Mr. Essex, takes down the new thread with a keystroke. “This is a game, Your Honor,” Cary adds in, “may I approach the bench?”  Oh, come on down, Kluger invites, it’s a party,

I love him. That extra dry, world weary sarcasm?  I really love him.  He is a martini of a man.  (Actually, I don’t even like martinis, but I do know one thing about martinis and that is that they are supposed to be dry. Which is weird, considering that a martini is a drink, but there it is.)  I used to wonder what all the fuss about Jeffrey Tambor was, but now I know.

“This is a game of whack-a-mole, Your Honor,” Cary picks up his partner’s metaphor as he approaches the bench.  “There’ll be three more threads by this afternoon.”  Judge Kluger is bemused. “I have a question.  Has anyone actually played whack-a-mole, or it is some metaphor we use mindlessly?”  Is it that common a metaphor?  Damian Boyle raises his hand.  “Yes, I have, Your Honor.  Navy Pier.  It’s really good. Helps get out yer aggressions.”  Kluger frowns.  “What’s your name again?”  Damian gives it. “What part of Ireland?” Kluger wonders. “Oh no no, the accent’s fake, I’m from Queens.”  They laugh. So hilarious.

Interrupting this uproarious moment, Cary asks that Scabbit delete defamatory threads as they appear.  Somehow, however, this is a sticking point, since the threads are user-created.  As Alicia suggests that Scabbit use their content moderators to look for the threads, she notices Damian wearing the “#1 Mom” pin that used to adorn her pencil cup, and the sight of it utterly wrecks her train of thought. ” We ask that Chum Hum – I mean, Scabbit,” Cary stumbles, even though he has no excuse, “issue an edict to have those moderators prohibit postings vilifying Zayeed Shaheed.”

The counter argument uses the concept of “prior restraint” to suggest that you can’t punish someone for something they haven’t done yet.  Well, but if the threads don’t come up, then no one has to restrain anything.  “Maybe that would work for Chum Hum,” Will shrugs, and Alicia closes her eyes in horror.  This is not going well. Pointing out that it’s unconstitutional to restrain speech before someone utters it, Damian scores more point with Judge Kluger.”Your Honor, this is a game,” Alicia reverts to her original argument in frustration. Kluger knows.  It’s well established.  Robyn chimes in with the news that a new thread has been added, and at the judge’s request Essex deletes “Milwaukee bomber part 2.”

“Your Honor, this is ridiculous,” Alicia cries.  He agrees, but can’t see a way around it.  They’ll need to come back to him as each thread appears. “Where did you get that?” Alicia hisses at Damian as the lawyers begin to pack up. “Oh, this old thing?  Why, d’you like it?” he wonders, eyes wide in innocence. “I liked it when it was on my desk,” she snaps. “Oh, you have one too?” Damian asks her. “You’re the world’s number 1 Mom?” she asks, amazed at his ability to continue lying. “Well, I have me moments,” he shrugs.  Heh.

“You took the furniture from our offices?” Cary asks.  No one answers. “So this is what it comes down to?  High school pranks?” Alicia barks at Will.  “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Will answers, and maybe he doesn’t, but we all know Will likes a little plausible deniability. “Oh my God!” grouses Alicia.

Clearly Diane has followed up on David’s plea, because she’s convened a small group of partners to rescind Will’s offer of partnership to Damian Boyle.  (Wouldn’t they have had to confirm the offer in the first place? Oh, whatever.)  When she opens up the debate, however, she gets quite a surprise. “I kinda like the guy,” Howard shrugs.  I bet he does.  Damian’s old school. “I saw we give him a chance, ” David Lee suggests, and Diane is absolutely floored.  Weren’t you the one who called for this meeting, she asks, incredulous. “I know,” he agrees. “I changed my mind.”  Huh. Because you approve of his vehemence against Florrick/Agos, or his prank? “Me too,” Howard declares. “And he brought us this internet thing, what’s it called.”  Exasperated, Diane says the name.  While new business is awesome, wasn’t the whole point that they need lawyers to help on cases they already have? “And he’s a very funny guy,” Howard finishes.

Of course Howard would think that.  “This is a law firm, not Second City,” Diane snaps, but as with Bones and Captain Kirk, her objection is overruled. “If the motion is to remove him, ” David replies piously, “I’d vote no.”

Sigh.

Kalinda walks into Diane’s office, where Diane stands by one of the windows. “What do you think of Damian?” Diane asks the investigator.  “Hmm,” Kalinda considers. “Not much.”  Based on what, Diane wonders. “First impressions,” Kalinda replies. “Can you get me more than that?” The two women agree that since Damian wasn’t vetted before he was hired, he’ll have to be vetted retroactively.

At Florrick/Agos, Robyn walks to the center of the room with two folding chairs.  “I sent Sondra to get another card table,” she says. I wonder if Sondra is the receptionist.  Probably not a fun day for her. “Who was that guy?” Alicia asks, and Cary as ever has the juicy gossip: Damian Boyle, LG’s new rainmaker. “Brass knuckle type.”  Alicia muses on LG’s motives here. “It’s a double bank shot,” Cary tells her, “They want Chum Hum to see us arguing against internet freedoms.”  Yep. In addition to the fact that they just want to harass and annoy you. “So they can pull Chum Hum back,” she realizes.  Yep.

Thankfully the replacement furniture is arriving later in the afternoon (please tell me they don’t have to pay for it!) but Robyn can’t prove anything about who took it because the surveillance cameras at the building’s entrance don’t work.  Shocker.  Um, why can’t the receptionist identify Damian and his cohorts?  As Cary wonders whether they should get the police involved or not (if they have to pay for the missing furniture, I say yes), Zayeed shows up, stumbling like a zombie.  Well, okay, that’s a wee bit of an exaggeration, but he does look utterly wrecked. “I just got fired,” he says.

And, okay.  If he actually held the title of professor at a university, that’s not even possible, because he would have tenure.  And even if he didn’t, universities don’t tend to reason that far ahead of the law.  “I went back to my office and security blocked the door,” he tells them, his face a blank.  “Oh my God, I’m so sorry,” Alicia consoles him. “It’s these threats.  They’re saying incredible things.  They’re saying I was at a madras in Afghanistan.  They’re saying I was in a terrorist training camp.”  An idea stops Alicia in her tracks.  What?  “We’ve been going at this wrong,” she realizes. “In a piecemeal way.” She turns to Zayeed. “You have damages now.” Goody.

Okay.  You know, sometimes, writers make inaccurate statements out of ignorance and a lack of research.  And sometimes they do it using poetic license.  While I’m still annoyed about the book jacket biography, I guess in this case I have to give it to them – they need him to have damages, and so they need him to be fired.  Is there another way, more rational way, they could get to damages?  Probably.  But I’ll endeavor to forget that this scenario is impossible. Or that the mainstream press would be all over this, the way they were in Boston, and it would be more obvious that these people are idiots.

Defamation, Your Honor,” Alicia announces, back in Kluger’s courtroom, standing next to Will at the bench. “Well that’s imaginative,” Will scoffs. “You two do know that I have other cases,” Judge Kluger glowers.  Sure, but since you insisted they come back whenever they needed something, that’s unlikely to stop them. At this point, Alicia’s asking for 400k in compensatory damages, and 8 million dollars in punitive damages.  “Wow, 8 million, why not 60?” Will asks. Um, maybe because Scabbit couldn’t pay that? “Our client lost his job and a lucrative book deal due to the reckless behavior of Scabbit,” Alicia asserts. “There’s no defamation,” Damian Boyle huffs. “Section 2-30 of the communications Decency Act specifically exempts hosts from the responsibility of postings for their users.”  Right, Will adds. “You can’t sue the city for building sidewalks that protestors use to voice their freedom of speech.”  Ha.  What a nicely pointed analogy.

“Yes,” Alicia agrees, “unless the poster is an employee of the website.”  Damian Boyle accuses her of fishing, but she informs them she has a witness to testify to this. “Goody,” cheers Judge Kluger.

And what a witness he is – a rather oily looking fellow in a brown stitched 70s jacket. “Grant Irving. Scabbit screen name LotionMyFeet,” the man introduces himself proudly. “LotionMyFeet?” Judge Kluger asks, transfixed. “Yes,” GI tells him. “It’s a joke.”  Oh, is that what it is?  Good to know.

With her questions, Alicia establishes that Grant has been on Scabbit “since the very beginning.”  He even calls out to Mr. Essex (“Hi Daryl!”) though the latter disdains to reply. He’s a “ground floor poster” – which means what, exactly?  “It means I’m pretty cool,” he brags. “Pretty gangsta.”  Oh, dude.  People just should not.  Do the writers really think everyone online is this stupid?  I mean, okay, the people on this thread are stupid, but the generalized contempt is starting to get a little annoying. I get that this is not the moment, but I would love to see this show give us an internet user character (not a CEO or programmer) who wasn’t a complete tool. “We’re happy for you,” Kluger tells him, deadpan.

“And this is your comment from two days ago,” Alicia quotes him back to himself. “‘ Zayeed is a terrorist – trained in Pakistan and sent to America undercover.  LotionMyFeet.”  I love the way she says his username.  Yep, he said it alright. “And how do you know this about Zayeed?”  He practically laughs. “How do I know it?  I don’t.  It’s my opinion.” See, that’s the kind of thing we’ve heard on this show before. Why is he so proud of that?

Alicia’s shock and disdain suffuse her expression. “Okay.  Did you know he was born in Detroit.”  Nope.  Alicia then establishes that LotionMyFeet is a moderator, who monitors threads and boots abusive users off Scabbit.  Boy, I’d love to know what he considers abusive. For this work, he is awarded “pimp points.”  Oh, that’s just lovely. It’s like internet money, he asserts. “It gives you more prestige. I have about as much influence as the founders.”  Influence on what?  Or on whom?

Making the obvious counter argument, Will points out that pimp points aren’t actually money.  He suggest this doesn’t amount to being an employee, even though Grant is being rewarded by the company, because it’s not an actual currency.  (I’ve said it before, but this show should totally take on the legal quagmire of interns as employees.  Fascinating issue.)  He’s merely a user, despite doing unpaid work for the company.  To counter this argument, Alicia suggests that moderators must be supervised, or else how would they be awarded those pimp points?  Someone must check up on them.”Nice pivot,” Judge Kluger smiles appreciatively.  “Supervision is enough to establish employment.”  Will has more questions for Mr. Irving.  “You can call me Mr. Feet,” Grant offers. Um, no.  But Will does get him to explain that the pimp points are awarded by an algorithm – like Words with Friends rankings are, say – and that just about grinds Alicia’s argument into dust.

Bah.  Losing on the facts because you just haven’t done your research or don’t understand the problem is totally unsatisfying.

Jackie, sour in dark red and pearls, calls out to Rachel Kaiser as she walks across another blandly posh restaurant.  “You should have turned it down.”  Rachel spins. “Jackie, hello,” she says. “I’m sorry, what was that?”  “I said you should have turned it down,” Jackie repeats.  She’s a bit like Dolores Umbridge, isn’t she, with her prim girlish headband and her malevolent spirit?  “Now it will be much more embarrassing when you bow out.”  Rachel snorts. “Jackie, why don’t you call my office.  We’ll sit down and talk.”  She tries to leave, but Jackie’s not having it. “No thank you,” she says primly.  “If this is about that … confusion,” Rachel begins, but Jackie cuts her off. “Is that what it was?  Confusion?  What, where to wear your panties?”  Jackie!  You did not just say that in public. Rachel huffs.  “That was a long time ago. I was 25,” she excuses herself.

“Yes,” Jackie agrees, “and you should have slept with the husband of someone with a shorter memory.”  Ha!  You have to give it to her, Jackie is good value for the money. “It was nice seeing you, Jackie,” Rachel tries to leave while her dignity is still intact. “I’m not bowing out of anything.” And of course that’s when Jackie threatens to spill the beans to Rachel’s husband.

“Tell my husband what?” Rachel snaps. “That you had sex with my husband for two years after you were married.”  Gross.  “He’s in the hospital with cancer,” Rachel gasps. “That’s too bad, it’ll make it that much harder for him,” Jackie declares, oozing malice, narrowing her eyes. “You are an awful woman,” Rachel realizes. “Yes.  I am.  Bow out, or I’ll tell your husband.”

Damn.  That is stone cold.  Rachel counters this threat, however, by saying that her husband knows; Jackie doesn’t believe it. “Ronald and I don’t keep secrets from each other.  He’s known for years. So do your worst, Jackie.”  Jackie’s returning insult is a telling one. “You were never important to the Judge,” she snaps.  How fascinating that this is the nastiest thing she can think of to say. “Excuse me,” Rachel replies, “I have to get to my lunch.” As Rachel leaves, Jackie pinches her eyebrows together.

“Thanks for doing this,” Kalinda tells Damian Boyle, seated across from his in the large conference room. It’s such an imposing place for a two-person interview. It’s just the usual employment questions, she explains. “We like to keep this stuff on file.”  “Oh, you’re the investigator,” he says. I am, she replies. “I don’t believe in women investigators.  You’re just not… thorough enough.”  While this is clearly a provocation and not necessarily an expression of his beliefs, I still want him fired on the spot.  “Good,” she says mildly, “it’ll give me more time to work with the other partners.”  Of course she wouldn’t let this ruffle her.

“Birth date?” she asks, and he’s got three of them for her – July 13th, 1971 (which he pronounces “tert-teenth”, excellent), May 5th, 1971, and November 3rd (terd) 1972.  “And do you have a primary one?”  Naw.  Cause that’s not sketchy at all.  “How long have you been in the states?  “15 years, and yourself?”  Sigh. He’s been in private practice for 8 years, he says.  Family?  Yes.  After a long silence, she asks the follow up, pen in hand. “Who are they?”  So he lists them. “5 sisters, 4 married, one in school, me mother’s in a home, me fater’s dead, he left when I was 8, I have authority issues, and I really like the color purple.”  That happens to be the color of her dress. Does that work, do you think, insulting someone’s professional competence and entire gender before complimenting their appearance?  She snorts.

“So have you ever been arrested?”  No comment, he says.  “No, you don’t understand.  I need an answer.”  Or, he asks.  “Or I will have to investigate. And you won’t get a chance to put your arrests in perspective.”  He thinks about it. “Yeah, fair enough,” he says in defeat. “Last first?”  If you want, she offers graciously. “Before we, um… a few things.  I feel like I have a better perspective on the law because I’ve seen both sides of it.” She cuts him off. “Save the speech for Will and Diane.  I just need the fact.”  Well, she did ask for context, but I guess that wasn’t really context, was it.

Judge Kluger holds his hand up, blocking the Federal seal behind his head.  Section 2:30 applies, he concludes, because of course he must.  But of course our intrepid and indefatigable crew were expecting this, and they’ve got a new request; the actual names (not just user names) of the posters involved in the Bombing thread.  How can they be sure that none of the posters are Scabbit employees otherwise?  This is a classic Mrs. Florrick ploy, Will argues (I love it, she has ploys), but no, Judge Kluger finds it sensible. How much do you love that bright smile?  Okay, then, Will wants a gag order to protect the identities of the posters. “Absolutely,” Judge Kluger smiles, “Come on.  Ask for anything that you want.”  Ha ha ha.  I love this guy.  “Unlike Scabbit,” Alicia declares, “we are not interested in defaming innocent people. We only want the truth.”  Hmm, says Judge Kluger. “Well try to accept your victory without gloating, Mrs. Florrick.  Please release the names to Florrick/Agos by the end of the day.”  Bang goes the gavel!  You know, I like him just as much when he’s chastising Alicia for being smug.  He’s entertaining.

Diane and Kalinda have a little conference about dear sweet Damian.  “He was pretty forthcoming,” Kalinda tells her boss. “Well that’s surprising,” Diane observes, and the whole world agrees.  “Yeah,” says Kalinda, “he gave me three different birthdays.”  Only three, Diane raises an eyebrow.  Hee.  Snorting, Kalinda continues her report. “He did pass the Illinois bar, and he was in a DUI a few months ago in which he hit a street light.”  Now that sounds like a normal fit for LG.  Diane wonders if the DUI is on record, but no such luck; he bribed the police with a donation to their memorial fund.  Well that’s awesome. Diane finds it suspicious for a different reason than I do: “Was the donation for $18,000?”  It was.  Well how did she know that?  Because Damian confessed Howard’s sin to Kalinda instead of his own.

And that’s just a sign that Kalinda needs to dig more into Damian’s background and life.  “This one’s a little off, isn’t he?” Diane says.  More than a little, I’d say.  It’s like he was transported forward in time from 40 years ago or something.  Yeah, Kalinda agrees. “Dangerous?” Diane wonders. “No,” decides Kalinda, who has a rather elastic sense of the word, “just off.”

Meanwhile, the show’s other investigator is in a similarly frustrating pickle. LG dumped 180 names on us, Robyn tells her coworkers, she cross-referenced Scabbit employees and there were no hits.  Damn, Cary replies. “So what, we lost?” I can’t help but think that as much as they’re wrapped up in this aspect of the case, the real issue is getting Zayeed cleared and his good name and job and book deal restored, right?   “Well,” Robyn offers, “there was a poster named Dante Pryor who doesn’t exist.”

Say what?

I’m not the only one bemused by her phrasing; what does that mean, Alicia asks.  “It means… I have no idea,” Robyn starts. “But he’s all over the web.  His screen name is ChubbySocks52 and he’s on Chum Hum, Foursquare, Twitter, but I can’t find him at the DMV or utility companies.”  Okay, so what do we do, Cary wonders. “I have no idea,” Robyn replies. “His name is Dante Pryor and he seems to be a ghost.  180 users defamed Zayeed, 179 I located and one I haven’t.”

A hideous – and hideously amateur – alien monster screams on a television screen, all dripping fangs and scabby legs, and a man lies in a hospital bed and watches it impassively.   He turns to his right, and calls out in surprise. “Jackie Florrick!”  Oh, she isn’t.  She wouldn’t.  Hiding behind an enormous flower arrangement, Jackie minces into the room.  “Ronald!  I heard you were ill, and it reminded me of just how long it’s been sicne we’ve seen each other.”  She sets down the massive bouquet of tropical flowers next to the bed. “Yes,” he says. “When you’re in a hospital, you find out who your friends are.”  Oh God.  “Yes you do,” agrees Jackie, who has experience being a patient but certainly is not his friend. “And I brought you flowers.”

“Hey Rache!  Look who’s here!” Ronald calls out to his wife, who is passing by in the hall to his left.  What kind of hospital room has doors on both sides? Nutty.  “You remember Jackie?”  Oh yes she does. Rachel nods, smirking, and Jackie shoots her a vile look. “Hi Rachel,” she says primly, “It’s so good to see you.”  Oooh, most chilling use of Jane Bennet’s signature line ever.  The movie soundtrack fills with screams as each woman attempts to stare the other down.

Eventually Jackie turns her attention to Ronald. “And how’re you feeling?”  Well, he says, the diagnosis isn’t good.  “But the bright spot is the way Rachel has stuck by my side,” he adds, reaching out and capturing his wife’s hand between both of his, bathing her in an adoring gaze. “Yes, she’s very special,” Jackie agrees, her voice full of insinuations the husband can’t hear. “I remember when she worked for the Judge.”  I find that more creepy the more she says it. “He’d come home every night and sing her praises.”  Why don’t we talk outside, Rachel asks Jackie. “It’s been a while since we’ve caught up as well,” the Florrick matriarch agrees. She makes me shudder. Too much eyeliner, too much evil.

We know it’s a new day because Alicia’s wearing a new suit to court – in Damian Boyle’s favorite color.  Won’t he be pleased. Also, she’s got serious power hair going today, and I don’t really like it.  It’s like armor. She calls Dante Pryor to the stand and of course he doesn’t come. “Dante Pryor?” asks Judge Kluger, “Okay. That’s a name?  Where is he?”  Sounds like a name to me. “Well, that’s what we’d like to know,” Alicia explains. “We can’t find him.”  At the defense table, Will and Mr. Essex whisper fiercely. “Why did you call him?” Kluger wonders. Cary explains that he’s Scabbit user ChubbySocks52, on the release list.  And, oh yes, he’s a robot.

What now?  Will objects, but Alicia explains anyway; Dante Pryor is a social bot, created by Scabbit and released on their site as ChubbySocks52.  No way!  Do they know that for sure? “Your Honor, I have an objection.  Relevance.”  Nice try, Will, but Kluger’s not going to shut this down until he knows what the heck Alicia’s talking about.  “This social bot was designed to drive traffic from it’s Chum Hum account and Twitter feed to Scabbit.”  Diabolical. And it defamed your client, Kluger guesses. “How could a robot defame your client?”  And so Alicia explains; it’s designed to repackage comments and gossip by others, and disperse it onto sites so it can drive interested users back to Scabbit.”  Do those exist in a sophisticated enough way to make sense?  I’ve been spammed by plenty of those and it’s always clear that the bits of text don’t actually mesh.

Wanting to argue that a robot can’t defame anyone, Will starts to make his plea, but he’s cut off by a quote. “Zayeed Shaheed is a guilty Muslim terrorist who bombed the Milwaukee Food Festival – ChubbySocks52.” Kluger needs to confirm that this is even possible.  “Yes,” Alicia says. “It’s a computerized version of the worst part of human nature.”  Well, that’s grandstanding a bit, right?  I mean, can the bot decide to post vile things as opposed to good ones, or does it simply repackage what’s popular already on the site?  So theoretically, it could repackage something good just as easily. “And it was built by Scabbit. Therefor, Scabbit is responsible.”  Kluger shrugs, forced to agree, before turning to Will. “Any thoughts?”  Will thinks he would like a recess.  Alicia thinks that she and her enormous helmet hair would like to gloat.

The recess turns into another legal field trip, this time by Will and Diane.  We join them on the freight elevator, where they look significantly freaked out. Don’t be such babies!  They’re greeted by a faded logo painted on the brick wall: Premium Quality Danzette Manufacturing Co, Chicago Illinois.  I kind of like that – it’s so boho-chic!  Will, not so much. “Well. This is… different.” Um, you remember that it’s your fault that they’re there, right?  Because you sabotaged their swanky first office? “On the bright side,” Diane snickers, “we weren’t shot by the crack dealer on the corner.”  Ha. Are you really that wimpy, guys?

When no one answers their tentative greeting, Diane and Will walk into the main office.  And, ah.  There’s a Florrick/Agos sign.  I’ve no idea why it isn’t out by the elevator, though.  Who’s going to notice it on the way back wall?  One guy sits at a desk, and a woman crosses the floor to talk to him; neither one looks up, which is annoying. They need to realize they work at a small firm, where everyone’s going to have to wear many hats. “What?” Will asks, watching something cross over Diane’s face. “The Spartan look,” she says, “The neighborhood.  Reminds me of us starting out.”  Will’s not buying. “This wasn’t anything like us.”  Oh, just keep telling yourself that.  You couldn’t sustain this manic frenzy if you stopped being so angry and wounded. “Yes it is,” Diane smiles ruefully. “Do you miss it?” Will wonders.  Wow, everyone’s nostalgic about starting out now – first Judge Kluger, now Diane. “I don’t know,” she ponders the question.

Back at LG, Kalinda catches Damian Boyle on his way home.  “Cutting out early?” She asks.  Yes, he snarks. “This is generally the time I wire my ill gotten gains to my account in the Caymans.”  Hee.  “What’d you need?”  A small clarification, she says. “It appears you never had any student loans from law school.  How’d you pay for it?”  Oh my, that’s a good question.  “Me parents, they owned the one movie theater in town.  They sold it so they could cover my tuition,” he claims. Kalinda, of course, catches him in the half-hearted lie. “You said your father left you when you were 8.”  The background music says gotcha.  “Me mam,” he corrects, “She owned the one movie theater in our town, and sold it so I could cover my tuition.”  What game are you playing, Mr Boyle, the investigator asks.

“Oh, you got me all wrong, Kalinda,” he smiles.  I half expected him to call her sister, he’s such a 30s film gangster. “I’m not the game playing type.  I might be the fun loving type, but games?  No.  Too much energy.”  Yeah, whatever.  You put a lot of energy into lying, a lot more than most people are willing to expend in teasing out your truth.  “Then why don’t you just come clean, hmm?  You know, sooner or later I’ll find out what I need to know.”  This is reminding me very strongly of Blake Calamar, which is not a good thing.  I don’t dislike Boyle so strongly, but still, it’s hard to escape the parallel.  “Great,” Damian says, gliding onto the elevator and opening his arms, “Come at me.  I’m here.”

With a bubble-wrapped frame in her hands, Jackie walks through the gubernatorial office suite.  As luck would have it, Eli’s on his cell phone, taking the inevitable bowing out phone call from Rachel Kaiser. “Rachel, I admit I’m disappointed, but I understand. Thank you for calling.”  He’s seen Jackie making her way through the halls, and when he hangs up he snarls her name and tracks her down. “Yes, Mr. Gold?” she asks, unassuming and polite.  “Rachel Kaiser has dropped out as a Supreme Court candidate.”

“Well that certainly is unfortunate,” she replies, “But I’m not at all surprised.” And why is that, Eli growls as Jackie unwraps the frame. “I heard her husband was ill. I’m sure she wanted to devote time to his care.”  Somehow Eli is not convinced. “That’s the only reason?” The frame contains 4 separate smaller frames – two hold old photographs and the others text. “What else could it be?”  Gee.  I wonder.

“You,” Eli suggests baldly. “Me?  No. I’m here to decorate Peter’s office, that’s all.”  I’m not sure I’ve ever said this about her, but her clothes are kind of interesting today – the textured jacket feels a bit less stodgy than what she usually wears.  “Jackie!” Eli hisses. “You can’t do this!”  Do what, she wonders delicately. “Rachel has always done what’s best for Rachel.  Well it’s always nice chatting with you, Mr. Gold, but I have to find a place for this. Art work, party planning, you know, my domain.” Ah, Eli.  Say what you might about lying being your greatest gift, you cannot help but show Jackie your true contempt for her – and it bites you in the ass pretty much every time.  The guitar picking music from the opening starts up again.

Finally, Will and Diane, sit across two plastic folding tables from Cary and Alicia, the old guard versus the new.  Cary sits across from Diane, and Alicia from Will.  At least they’re not sitting in the folding chairs. “830,000, that’s our final offer,” Will opens.  Smirking, Alicia lets him know just what she thinks of this. “We used to work for you. There are always three offers before the final offer.”  Ah.  Are they really so predictable?  That’s a bit lame. “You shouldn’t over estimate our generosity,” Diane warns them.  What, this is about generosity?  Right. “And you shouldn’t underestimate how great it is to watch you scrambling, cause you know you lost,” Cary gloats. Alicia leans forward. “Why don’t we skip the next half hour of gymnastics and get right to the $1.5 million you have been authorized to offer?”

Sondra the receptionist picks this important moment in the negotiations to tell Alicia’s she’s got a call.  “Take a message,” Alicia replies, none too kindly. “I think you’re gonna wanna to talk to him,” Sondra insists, and so Alicia leaves the negotiations in Cary’s capable hands and heads over to her desk,  “This is Alicia Florrick,” she says. “Oh, there you are.  Hello to you, Mrs. Florrick.  This is George Kluger,” the judge beams into the phone, his smile shockingly wide.  I feel like I can see every one of his teeth. “George…” she grasps at straws, and he sighs. “Otherwise known to you as Judge Kluger the Magnificent.”  Ha!  Can I hug him?  Please?  “Oh,” she beams, “yes of course, Your Honor.  Is everything alright?”  It’s certainly odd that he’d call while she still has a case in front of him, even if it’s clear that it’s not going to go back in front of him. “Of course. Mrs. Florrick, please don’t take this the wrong way,” he says, which is one of the world’s most alarming conversational openers, “but I was wondering if you’d like to get some coffee?”

“Excuse me?” gasps the governor’s wife.

And there we end, with – if I’m not mistaken – a federal judge hitting Alicia up for a job.

Alright, so.  This was a perfectly adequate episode.  Great guest stars, tremendous judge, fun technology elements.  I’ve gone on long enough about the flaws with the academic bits of the case of the week – most of which, to be fair, weren’t really relevant to the case.  I do want to expand a little more, however, on how odd I find the whole turn into tech law rather than straight up guilt or innocence.  It feels like two shows, like two issues.  Will we ever find out if Zayeed got his old life back?  $1.5 million dollars is all very well and good, but I wanted him cleared, not paid off.  I wanted him exonerated. (Or exposed as guilty if that’s what he was;  I doubt that, but I’d almost prefer it to not knowing.)  So my main critique of the episode is that it didn’t really tell the story I wanted to hear.  That said, I was very interested in the story they did tell.

What do you think of Jackie and Eli continuing to butt heads?  It fascinates me that the two continue to make the exact same mistakes in dealing with each other.  In contrast to his relationship with Alicia, which has grown over time, Eli makes no effort to understand Jackie or to placate her.  In fact, he goes out of his way to antagonize her whenever possible.  Yes, she treats him like a servant, and no, that doesn’t change.  But they’re really great combatants because their methods are so dissimilar; Eli is too straightforward, and Jackie is all about the underground game.  I shudder to imagine what the two of them could accomplish if they ever really managed to work together.  (And no, the union thing doesn’t count.)

The other big element of the episode – how interesting that there were really only three, that’s very low key for this show – was the addition of Damian Boyle.  I think I’m fifty/fifty on him right now.  He brings a fun energy, but he also is an idiotic throw back and so annoys me.  Will he veer quickly into Satan Spawn (Blake Calamar) territory?  I hope not.  I really hope not.  That said, I think it’s entirely in character for Will to hire him.  I also can’t help agreeing with Diane and Kalinda that it’s a bad long term decision; Will is drawn to risk right now.  He’s drawn to the choice with the highest thrill.  He’s gambling like a man with nothing to lose, and that is a frightening thing.

I’d love to wish those of you here in America a lovely Thanksgiving and wonderful long weekend – one only filled with Christmas shopping if you want it to be.  To everyone else, enjoy the rest of your week, and have a great weekend!  Can you believe the tenth episode will air on Sunday?  I can’t even believe it, but we’re nearly half way through the fifth season.  Crazy, huh?

As a Thanksgiving treat, let me give the link to the full webseries I referenced above – The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, an Emmy winning web series modernizing Jane Austen’s masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice.  If you like Austen, you should check this out.  It’s romantic, funny and charming and a good way to get yourself through the long wait till Sunday’s new episode of The Good Wife!

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5 comments on “The Good Wife: Whack-a-mole

  1. John Graydon says:

    Hi, E. I guess all your American correspondents are busy lately! (You were right, we celebrate our Thanksgiving in mid-October, when it doesn’t get all mixed up with Christmas — or “the holidays”, as the politically correct insist on calling it.)

    I was pleased to see you were confused by some of the same details I was — like the lack of familiarity with academia that the writers seem to have.

    Also, I have to say that, when I watch the show from outside your borders, I’m often startled, and wonder if U.S. courts are really that different. (I too was surprised to hear that a Supreme Court judge would be in the Governor’s CABINET.)

    I’m often not comfortable with the informality in the court scenes on TGW. A judge seeming to be flirting with an “attractive female” lawyer wouldn’t sit well with the other side at all — but then, where I’m from judges would never be playing basketball with lawyers either!

    I worked in court for many years, and my eyes roll back in my head to see the lawyers sitting down in court to ask their questions. (Here they’d be out in the hall in a big hurry.) Or WORSE, when they’re all on their feet at the same time, trading snipes at each other, with people in the gallery jumping into the exchange. Here, everyone has to sit down and shut up, and only one at a time is allowed to stand and make his submissions, and then the other stands and makes his, and then he sits down again while the first stands to reply. With the free-for-all I keep seeing, their court record would be a bloody mess.

    Yes, Judge Kluger was a hoot — but bordering on creepy with Alicia. Jackie often gets written off as a nasty old hag, but I love her steely resolve. She’s fun to watch. And how UNsurprising that Peter’s father was philanderer, too! Like father, like son….

    In the hospital scene, Rachel came out of his washroom, not from the hall. And it startled me to hear Damian call Kalinda’s dress purple, when on my TV it was clearly royal blue. I just put it down to the way straight guys tend to say things like “green”, when it’s actually hunter, or kelly, or kiwi, or chartreuse, or olive, or mint, or sage, or avocado…. 😉

    Can’t wait for tonight’s episode, which looks like fireworks. And then the long “holiday” hiatus….. 😦

    • E says:

      I’ll give you a long and proper response soon, I promise, but I have to agree – any episode that promises Jackie and Veronica in a room together (let alone with alcohol) will definitely feature fireworks. Can’t wait!

  2. Kiki says:

    Great review as always! I am sorry I didn’t write you a response, I didn’t around to do it!!! And then episode 510 aired and I love my sanity cause this show is just that amazing!!!

    Can’t wait to disucss this new episode with you!

    • E says:

      Oh, don’t worry. Holiday weeks are crazy. And holy crap, this episode. So brilliant, I just can’t. Say what the critics may about Homeland and Mad Men and Breaking Bad, I can’t believe there’s anything better than TGW on tv right now.

      Writing, writing…

  3. […] 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 do what you do, […]

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