E: Holy crap, are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING me? There are so many damn layers to that episode it makes an onion look like a rutabaga, smooth and bland. I can’t shut off all the connections in my brain; that was so beautifully written and acted, there’s just too much. It was extraordinary.
Just when you think Season 5 is settling down into a groove, they do this. It’s going to give me a lot to think about over the holiday hiatus, that’s for sure.
Even with the noise of the engine shrieking, I’m a little surprised to see the speedometer hit 100. It’s a dangerous game, this chase set to an a capella version of “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”; plastic shopping bags dance between the cars, threatening to obscure the follower’s view. Finally, the chase ends at brick building with a brass plaque on the side; Florrick, Agos & Associates, Fourth Floor. Kalinda, slunk down in the second car, calls Diane; the latter (perhaps just arrived for the day) fishes her cell phone out of her purse. “What’s going on?”
“I’m following Damian,” Kalinda explains. “Good. You find something?” Because we all know there’s going to be more than one skeleton in that closet. “Not with the Garietti family. I don’t think he’s still working for them,” Kalinda opines. Okay, first, my pop culture understanding of the mob is that you don’t just stop working for them, and second, so they’re back to being Italian, are they? Pick an ethnicity and stick with it!
“But?” Diane prompts, knowing that of course Kalinda’s found something and that of course Damian is up to something. What he’s up to this time, as we know, is visiting Alicia (assuming she doesn’t toss him straight out the door for stealing her furniture the last time). “What, do you think he’s jumping ship?” Diane wonders. That seems like a premature and silly supposition. Why would he do that, and why would they take him? Kalinda has no idea, so Diane asks her to keep following and call Diane when she’s got something substantial.
Between the name partner offices, Will glad hands a large group of people. “New York’s really coming together,” he tells Diane when she comes out to see him. “I’m glad,” she answers before sowing seeds of suspicion. “You know where your boy Damian is?” You mean our newest partner, Will corrects. “He’s at Florrick/Agos.” This surprises Will too, and he wonders why. “I have no idea. I guess you don’t either.” Will looks worried.
He shouldn’t have been, at least not in this instance; Damian’s just taken over a meeting for David Lee and is annoying Alicia rather than assisting her. “He’d rather, oom, negotiate wit the devil,” Damian explains, searching his memory for David’s precise phrasing. Heh. “Me, I don’t care who I negotiate wit.” I believe that. Sighing, Alicia sets aside her phone call to deal with her own devil. She clasps her hands and leans forward. “Do you have my check?” I do, he says. “A hundert and fifty tousand dollers, yer capital contribution refunded. Nice ferniture,” he adds. I’m intrigued by Alicia’s suit – gray zip front, as so many are these days, with a pattern that suggests a dense birch forest.
Because that’s who she is, Alicia refuses to rise to the bait. “May I see the check?” she asks coolly instead. “Yeah. Right after you sign the exit contract from Lockhart/Gardner.” Have they given up on LG? He hands over the contract instead of the check, and as she sits down to read it, he sits too. Whether he’s intentionally trying to distract her or simply can’t stand the momentary silence, he inundates her with small talk. “So. Yer the governor’s wife?” Yup, she says. “Yer husband is the feller that slept wit all those prostitutes?” This time she does look up, and it’s a mark of how far she’s come that this extraordinary rudeness wins only a faint smile. “Yup.” He puts his hands up. “I’m all fer forgiveness. You know, confession, the best thing God ever invented.” Better than people? “Actually, I was talking to me Ma last night, and…”
She cuts him off. Does he want her to read the contract or not? Probably not, but he can hardly say so. He apologizes, but she’s saved from his troublesome company by Cary rapping on a paned glass wall. Ah. It looks like they’ve set up the desks on the outside rim of the office, and there’s now a proper conference table on the other side of those internal windows. I really don’t have the layout clear in my mind, but I’m sure once it stays the same for more than a single episode I’ll catch on. Who would have guessed one big empty room could be confusing? “Here,” she tells Damian, “here’s something to play with.” She tosses him a bright blue stress ball – the kind you might give to fidgety children – and heads off to put out whatever the fire of the moment might be.
My heart sings a little when the first person she runs into is Clarke Hayden. Yay! We get to see him working with them! I figured he wasn’t going to join the cast full time but it’s nice to have him take part. And of course, he’s in the know. The problem is the holiday party. When he sighs at the thought, she very smartly delegates, asking him to check the contract for anything suspicious while she deals with the party planning. (And hey, maybe it’s just because it’s event planning, but there are two women besides Robyn there – excellent!) The problem there is this; they sent out 800 invitations, and they only have 30 yeses so far.
Ouch. That’s painful. And, wait for it…
“We didn’t want to ask you this, but we need you to invite your husband,” Cary tells her. Yep. There it is. Alicia’s as thrilled by this idea as you’d expect. “Oh, come on guys, we can’t keep going back to that well,” she sighs. If the governor comes, Robyn argues, there’ll be a jump in the rsvps. Alicia would rather wait a day in the hopes that people are just being slow to respond, but Cary explains that “another firm” has decided to throw their party on the same night and it’s pulling away guests. Gee, let’s guess who that firm could be? “They’re still trying to starve us,” Cary nods when Alicia guesses correctly that it was their old bosses at Lockhart/Gardner. Fine, fine. She can’t promise he’ll come, but she’ll call.
Before she can call, however, Clarke’s found something in the contract. Because of course he did. “Who’s Matthew Ashbaugh?” A client, why, Alicia wonders. “Special pains are being made to separate your interests from his,” Clarke notes. Huh. That’s odd.
“You can’t get rid of me, Alicia,” Matthew appears in a flashback. I know this is his real accent, but after so many years of Walter Bishop, it sounds so wrong to hear John Noble talk like this. (Of course, I’m just grateful to see this amazing actor at all, and on my favorite show? Huge treat.) “I’m always here,” he grins, his personal music playing in the background.
“He’s dead,” Alicia tells Clarke. Ah, but are his cases dead? Because the contract is geared specifically to excluding Alicia from any money related to him.
In an attempt to solve the mystery, Alicia phones Ashbaugh’s widow. (He’s married? That’s a little uncomfortable, considering the very emotional revelation at the end of “Death of a Client” was that eccentric inventor Ashbaugh had been pursuing ridiculous lawsuits – including the one that got him killed – in order to spend time with Alicia. Of course all this was bound up in Will and Alicia’s submerged feelings for each other, and the surfacing of those feeling is what prompted Alicia to join Cary’s rebellion – so there were already tones of infidelity in his story.) “This is Alicia Florrick, I don’t know if you remember me, I used to represent your husband? Hello?” What do you want, the wife snaps. Ouch. That was weirdly hostile. “Is this a bad time?” Alicia tries delicately. “What do you want?” the widow repeats, so stumbling a bit, Alicia tries to suss her out. “Well, there are some cases, your husband’s cases still left unresolved, and I’ve since left Lockhart/Gardner ad I was wondering if they were settled to your satisfaction.” Nicely done, Alicia, turning this into a pitch.
“You’re not getting any of his money,” the wife barks. Well. Okay. At least that’s honest. “I’m not – what do you mean?” Alicia asks. “There already is a will, and if you make a big deal of this, I swear I’ll sue you for everything you have.” Having delivered this utterly baffling message, Mrs. Ashbaugh hangs up. Damian Boyle plays handball with the squeeze toy, hucking it with all his might against the wall behind Alicia’s desk, thump after rhythmically satisfying thump.
“You’re not getting paid enough, Alicia,” the dead man speaks from her memory. “Tell your friend Will that,” she smiles as they sit facing each other in the conference room. Her suit is bright blue and pretty, but those bangs, so ill-considered! They certainly do establish a time frame, though. “My friend?” Does he not have friends, that this word puzzles him so? “Will, Will Gardner,” Alicia clarifies. “Thought you meant my will,” he replies obscurely. What? “My last will and testament. You’re a bit slow today, aren’t you?” She admits to it, smiling, but puts the blame on his loud music. Couldn’t he lower it to help her concentrate? “And give the NSA a respite? No. It’s it’s driving you crazy, just think that it’s doing to them!”
Ah, the irony. Nicely done, Kings, nicely done.
Clarke calls Alicia back into the present. Did she find anything out? Not really, but based on Mrs. Ashbaugh’s reaction she guesses it has something to do with his estate. Sondra lets Alicia know that Peter’s on the phone, but before she takes the call Alicia catches a hold of Robyn. “See that man over there?” she gestures at Boyle. “Ask him if you can record the negotiation. Tell him you had a mistake and you were supposed to record from the beginning and I’m mad at you.” I love Alicia’s fake mad face here; Robyn gives her a big cheery “Cool!” in reply.
“Peter, is everything alright?” Alicia wonders. No, he smiles, signing reams of paperwork, “why did you wait till today to invite me to your party on Friday?” His wife doesn’t share his happy outlook. “It’s a mistake,” she explains, looking stricken, “we’ve had some arguments around here about imposing on you. Who called you?” She tries to drill holes in Cary’s side with her eyes. It was an evite, he says. He checks his own email? “By the way, it wasn’t an imposition. Although I do need to go to dinner with my mother on Friday.” Ah, Alicia sighs in relief; now she can tell everyone she asked and he can’t come. “No, I really wanna go,” he insists. “Mind if I bring mother along, I think she’d love it.” Oh God. Alicia closes her eyes. “Jackie?” she sighs in defeat. Does he have another mother? Answering Alicia’s question as if it were perfectly normal, Peter says yes. Oh, and could Alicia invite her personally? “She doesn’t think that you like her.”
And she’d be right. Alicia only laughs. I’ll see you Friday, her husband says, and hangs up.
Seriously, does it make sense to anyone that they’re not living together at this point? What is that? This is the kind of thing that makes me think the show’s vision is pro-Will.
Anyhow. Eli, who had been passing papers to Peter while the latter talked to Alicia, snaps. “You can’t agree to a public appearance without seeing the guest list!” Oh yes I can, Peter grins. “I just did.” Indeed, but as Eli is quick to point out, not all of Alicia’s clientele are exactly photo op ready. Hmm. Didn’t she leave most of her unsavory clients with Lockhart/Gardner? They’ve said specifically they’re not making a play for Lemond Bishop, they passed on representing 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 do what you do, okay? But I’m going to my wife’s holiday party.”
Before we can get to the party, however, Alicia needs to deal with Damian Boyle, who slaps the papers down on her desk with gusto. Robyn, of course, is sitting to him, her cell phone out. “So, are we signing this or what?” In her richest, most lawyerly voice, Alicia begins. “Just a few questions. If I sign this, I get my capital contribution?” Yes. “And this contract will have no impact on any profit participation earned during my employment with Lockhart…”
“This contract has nothin’ to do wit profit participation,” he cuts her off. “So it would have no impact?” That would follow, he agrees. “It would follow that this contract would have no impact on any profit participation dying my time at Lockhart/Gardner?” Finally twigging to her very pointed point, Damian starts to chuckle, pointing his finger at Alicia. “No. Nice try,” he says, exchanging the ball for the contract. “This is your, that is mine.” What’s wrong, she asks innocently. “Nottin’s wrong. Very nice talking to you Robyn and Alicia. Bye bye.” He whistles on his way out.
“That might be all we need,” Alicia cries, excited, “play it back!” And she has indeed captured the conversation, but the voices are unrecognizably squeaky, like Alvin and the Chipmunks. “I had it on Smacktalk,” Robyn realizes, horrified. “Uh, my nephews, they were playing with it.” At the words “profit participation,” the app starts blowing raspberries. “It does that when you push the farting button,” Robyn pales. “And you pushed the farting button?” Alicia whispers “farting button” like Neil Simon’s elderly relations saying “emphysema” in Brighton Beach Memoirs. “Not on purpose!” Robyn winces.
Ah, here’s Clarke Hayden to break up the fun, and wow but he looks absolutely gobsmacked. “Mrs. Florrick,” he begins. So formal! “This is a bit of a surprise.” He inhales dramatically. “You haven’t signed the exit contract?” No, she tells him. “I called an old acquaintance in probate court about Mr. Ashbaugh’s estate. A contending will has been discovered. There are 2 beneficiaries.” Okay, replies Alicia, not understanding his drift. “The Smile Train, a charity; it’s been bequeathed twelve million dollars.” Oh, that’s actually super nice – that’s a really great organization. “And you have been bequeathed the rest.” The Gloria starts to play again. “How much is the rest?” she smiles. “Twelve million dollars,” he sighs. Robyn gasps “Holy…” and the credits cut her off.
The Christmas carols continue, this time through the halls of the governor’s offices as Jackie places a statue of the holy family next to a reindeer, snowman and Santa. There’s a moment of comedy where she attempts to answer her smart phone and just can’t figure out what to push (poor Jackie) before she finally picks up and – not wanting to embarrass herself by talking to no one again – simply stays on the line until Alicia’s forced to say hello first. “Hello, Alicia, hello,” Jackie’s tinkling laughter fills the air. “I’m sorry. I have a phone now, it’s very confusing. How’re the kids?” Fine, Alicia says, sighing and forcing herself to be brave. “Jackie, actually, I wanted to invite you to a party.” A party, Jackie asks, clearly delighted. Really? “Yes. This Friday. It’s for my law firm. It’s a holiday party.”
And now Jackie looks pained. “I’m honored, Alicia, but Peter and I have dinner plans.” I invited Peter to, Alicia replies gracefully. “I would love it if you both could come.” Ah. It seems this is the following day, because Alicia’s wearing a different gray suit and a red coat. It’s about time they broke out the coats, if we’re going to be talking holiday parties! “Wonderful! Thank you, Alicia!” Alicia is not happy with this turn of events; Eli is just plain unhappy. As he stalks past Jackie, he snaps at her; “Holiday decorations, Jackie, not Christmas, not Jesus, holiday.” The governor’s mother holds up a fist-sized dreidl. “I have a Hannukah too!” she says.
Oh my lord, I’m going to die laughing.
As usual, Kalinda’s working in a conference room. “So yer followin’ me?” Damian Boyle intrudes on her paperwork. “Yeah,” she admits. “Will was worried why I was at Florrick/Agos.” He sits on the edge of the table. “I explained to him that I was there negotiating Alicia Florrick’s exit package.” Good to know, Kalinda replies, pretty much making it clear that he’s beneath her notice. “Maybe I can help you. What’d you need to know?” She jumps on his offer immediately, though I’m sure she doesn’t expect a straight answer. “How involved are you with your old clients?” And she doesn’t get one, of course. “I’m not involved. They’re criminals. And I’m a lawyer.” Well that cleared everything up! Of course, she snarks. Thanks.
Tossing Alicia’s invite list onto her desk, Eli demands Marilyn look at the highlighted name – Colin Sweeney. “What’s this?” Marilyn asks, much more concerned with a strange contraption she’s untangling, black bands with white circles edged in acid green. “It’s the guest list for Alicia’s party.” Still she’s not impressed. “The one Peter is attending.” She fumbles over the name. Who? OH. “Yes. The wife killer. The white OJ. One of Alicia’s clients.” Former client! But maybe that’s a silly distinction. “Well, you should tell Peter,” Marilyn declares, unconcerned, wrapping the contraption around her belly. “I did. He’s still going.” Oh, that’s unfortunate, she answers, still not caring; when Eli exclaims over her indifference, she replies that it’s a publicity issue, not an ethics one. She connects two wires in a side pocket, and music fills the room. Ah! The white circles were speakers!
“What is that?” Eli wrinkles his nose. Marilyn absolutely glows. “It’s a pregnancy sound system. It soothes the baby.” Excuse me while I roll my eyes. “The baby has to listen to that all day?” Eli asks with great distaste. Then he makes his pitch. Remember how Colin Sweeney got out of jail because he wore a wire that enabled then State’s Attorney Peter to prosecute a white supremacist/prison kingpin? Well, apparently something about that is an ethics violation, although I’m not really sure whether it’s making the deal in the first place or ever talking to Sweeney afterwards. It’s probably the latter, but either way it’s just ridiculous. However this finally wins Marilyn over to Eli’s side. “Okay,” she agrees. “But it’s too late to change Peter’s mind. Once he says no, he doesn’t reverse himself.” Is that true? I’m not sure that’s true. “Then what?” Eli asks; luckily for him, Marilyn has a plan of attack. “Alicia.”
Alicia, however, is now in Judge Peter Dunaway’s court. “Okay, this seems to be a matter of two wills,” he opens the proceeding. No way! “Yes, Your Honor,” Will stands, “our client, Lila Ashbaugh, is the true beneficiary of her husband’s will…” “Not after her husband’s will was discovered in a safety deposit box, Your Honor,” Cary exposits. Damian Boyle jumps in, saying the second will is invalid and they’d like Dunaway to declare it so immediately. Okay, I know it’s a bit belated of me to say, but shouldn’t someone – namely Matthew Ashbaugh’s lawyers or executors – have informed Alicia that she was the beneficiary of the second will? Even if they wanted to contest it, doesn’t she have to know? However, I’m going to chalk that up to creative license, because this storyline is just too brilliant to object to.
Anyway. Though the second will is more recent than the first, Will understandably objects to the fact that the will was drawn up in magic marker. “It could be drawn up in crayon, it’s still valid,” Cary argues, and the room goes mad.
“Gentlemen, look, I know, I know. Other judges let their lawyers run free and wild, but in my court,” he bleakly takes stock of the room – ” my probate court where I have been assigned, you will behave yourselves.” Will closes his eyes, feeling that Dunaway must blame him for this assignment. Oops. Briefly, he sums up the distribution of money between the two wills; since we’ve already heard this information my attention is captured instead by Alicia’s black and white tweed with its fascinating little capelet. “Well hello Mrs. Florrick,” Dunaway says, coming up to speed with her involvement. “This seems to be your lucky day. The wife of a governor, and a 12 million dollar inheritance.” Huh. When you put it that way, you’d think Marilyn would be all over this. Thankfully Will’s here to look peeved instead. “Well, it’s an odd day, anyway,” she observes wryly, clearly embarrassed by the whole thing.
“Now, it seems as if it’s our duty to decide which will is valid, is that correct?” Duh. He really is new to probate and uncomfortable with it, isn’t he? “Yes, Your Honor,” Will steps in, “and to that end we have a witness.” Ah, do they? They call an extremely pretty young blonde wearing a dark red dress with keyhole openings. “Paula Goodfar,” she leans over to the microphone to tell us in a sort of cultured little girl voice. “I was the witness to Matty’s will.” After twitting her about the nickname, Damian makes her identify her signature on the document; “Yer little happy face over the i? In magic marker?” Why is there an i in Goodfar? “Yes,” Paula agrees, “It’s all that we had. Just before Matthew left, we couldn’t find a pen.” Now Damian start in with the banter. Does she perhaps work as Matthew’s notary? “Do I?” Goodfar-i laughs in delighted surprise. “No.” Are you in the legal profession, he wonders? Wrong again. Cary smirks as he clues in. “The reason I asked is because Mr. Ashbaugh seemed to trust you with the witnessing of such an important document,” Damian finishes.
“Your Honor, we would concede that Miss Good-(i)-far works in the sex trade as an escort,” Cary says. Aw. Matthew! You disappoint me. “Oh, no, he’s ruined my presentation,” Damian pretends upset, making me laugh. “And we would also agree that her profession doesn’t matter because…” Chaos ensues again, and Alicia slips into memory.
The memory, in fact, of Paula’s name on another document. Oh. She clearly pronounced it Goodfar, but when I freeze-frame the image of her signature, it’s Gidfar, happy face and all. Did that confuse anyone else? Flashback Bang Alicia raises an eyebrow at Matthew Ashbaugh. “It’s an associate of mine.” Alicia is unconvinced. “What kind of associate?” Heh. “Why, are you jealous?” Heart-stricken, she smiles fondly. “Paula’s a very close associate. Very talented.” And she reviews all your contracts, Alicia asks. Indeed.
“How much did Matty pay you for the night in question, Miss Gidfar?” Damian asks, back in the present. $5,000. Yipes! “And what does $5,000 buy?” Boyle wonders, and when Judge Dunaway asks if we really need to go there, I’m so with him. Promising that he has a point, Damian elicits that Matthew Ashbaugh customarily paid for the “9 to 9” – whatever he wants from 9pm to 9am. And it’s not just sex, either. “Yes, uh, some men want to cry all night and be held,” Paula explains, “some want dinner dates, and some breakfast, you know?” Oh, obviously. “Matty wanted a signature,” Damian presses. “Well, that and an enema.”
Yeah, and that’s way too much detail for Judge Dunaway and me both.
Thankfully, we’ve gotten to Boyle’s point at last: “Your Honor, a paid witness is an invalid witness, and Miss Gidfar is obviously paid.” For sex, Cary corrects fruitlessly, because as Damian reiterates, she gets paid for everything. “Ergo she was paid, ergo ergo, this will is invalid, thank you.” He’s here all night, people.
You cross, Cary hisses to Clarke Hayden. “What?” gasps Clarke, unprepared. I love it! It brings me back to Alicia teaching Cary the King of Plea Bargains how to cross examine a witness. Alicia whispers something to him Clarke.”You can handle the cross,” Cary encourages, and Clarke literally chokes; Judge Dunaway threatens to move on if he can’t get started. Cary pats Clarke on the back, and the latter stands, gaping, closing and opening his mouth like a fish; Paula Gidfar straights up and gives him a helpful, attentive look which has Clarke spinning back to the table for his notes, and the judge admonishing him again.
“Yes. I. This all service contract with Mr. Ashbaugh,” he says, back to the judge. “Could you speak up, counsel?” the judge asks. “This all service contract” Clarke repeats, with Nathan Lane using his best, most stentorian “play to the cheap seats” stage voice. “Too loud!” shouts Judge Dunaway. Hee. Stumbling, Clarke finds just the right decibel level. Did Paula and Matthew usually engage in 9 to 9s? Yes. “Yes. Oh, good, yes. And, have you witnessed other contracts for Mr. Ashbaugh?” She considers? “Have I? Oh. A few, yes. ” Stammering, Clarke asks if she witnessed Ashbaugh’s retainer with Lockhart/Gardner. “Come on, Your Honor,” Damian scoffs, “this isn’t about our retainer contract, this is about a will!” Is that an objection, the judge wonders. Yes, it is.
Then Judge Dunaway turns to Clarke, who looks back at him in abject terror. “Uh, counselor, do you have a counter argument?” His mind clearly a blank, Clarke prevaricates hilariously. “Yes, I do, I very much do, Your Honor. It’s is an argument about … many things.” Snort. He scuttles back to his colleagues, where Cary has helpfully written down some instructions. “Oh! Specifically, if this will is invalid, then the identically witnessed Lockhart/Gardner contract is invalid too.” I just love the relationship between Clarke and Cary – it’s adorable and endearing. And look at those big glasses and those big brown eyes! How can you not root for this guy?
“Well, I think that’s probably true,” Dunaway agrees, “but you’re still left with an invalid will.” Yes, and Lila Ashbaugh can simply renew the contract with LG after she gets all her husband’s money. Clarke sends a desperate look to Cary and Alicia – but then a switch goes on, and you can see he’s figured it out on his own. “Actually, Your Honor, uh, just one brief thought, if you will indulge me.” I will, says the judge. “Miss … sorry, I forgot your name,” he almost laughs in embarrassment. “Gidfar,” Paula suggests, gracious and Disney Princess-like. “You testified earlier that you – just before Mr. Ashbaugh left he had trouble finding a pen.” He did. And when did he leave? “9:30. He had to get to work.” Why would she possibly remember that? Oh, whatever. “And he had contracted with you for a 9 to 9, you said.” Yes. “So your service to him was over at 9am?” Oh yes, she replies sweetly. “Oh! I see where you’re going!” So do Will and Damian. She witnessed the contract after 9am, and so therefor was not a paid witness. Phew! When Clarke thanks Paula and ends his questioning, Cary gives his protegee a restrained fist pump. Cute!
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating; I love the way this show gives us friendships. And I really love it when the characters look out for each other.
Kalinda sits in her car, waiting for Damian Boyle to get out of court. A ska version of Advent carol “Come O Come Emmanuel” blares over her sound system as she speeds off after him. Boy, she’s enjoying this game of chicken a lot – and it does literally turn into a game of chicken when the two race down a deserted road toward each other. Why is there no one else on the roads int he middle of Chicago? Holy crap! Instead of crashing into her, Damian spins around Kalinda with the precision of a race car driver and the two manage to park next to each other, driver’s window to driver’s window. They smile like sharks in greeting. Cat and mouse is a game they both know well and enjoy. “Havin’ fun?” he asks. “I thought you were going to go fast,” she taunts. “Wanna try the highway?” he suggests. “That’s up to you. I’m just your tail,” she throws the (metaphorical) ball back to him. “Well if I lose you, give me a call and I’ll slow down,” he grins, before gunning his engine.
The music returns as Kalinda rushes after Damian, nearly getting herself killed in intersections, taking corners as if her car was on rails. Probably good she’s not in her huge black SUV or it would have tipped over. Her phone rings, and she hits a button on her steering wheel. “Kalinda, you need to go out wid me,” Damian Boyle enthuses through her speakers. Oh, God, not that again. “Sure, when?” she scoffs. “Naw, I’m serious,” he says. “Just the two of us. Me mum loves the Indians.” Seriously, he did not. (I totally get that he’s provoking her to be funny, but wow.) “What makes you think I’m Indian?” she asks. He guffaws. “The highway’s just ahead. Are you ready?”
They screech around a corner, heading for the on ramp, and of course that’s when a unmarked police car pulls out of a parking space and pulls Kalinda over. Of course. “Aw, no, Kalinda! Yer drivin’ too fast, luv!” Damian moans over her speakers. Kalinda waits patiently for the cop to approach, a woman in plainclothes. A really pretty, tough woman wearing a short wool trench coat and a badge on a chain around her neck, who had clearly been planted at that particular corner. It’s all too easy to see where this is going, and I don’t just mean now. “Goin’ a little fast there, aren’t you, speed racer?” the woman leans over to ask. Is that Jordana Spiro, the Mob Doctor? The “my” in My Boys? It is! Remember the little tangent I went off on last week about how showrunners and nets keep trying to turn Jason O’Mara into a star and it hasn’t stuck yet? Jordana fits that same bill. (And now that I’ve done more research, one of those failed shows that Jason O’Mara starred in? In Justice, produced and written by Michelle and Robert King.)
“Detective, I’m a licensed private investigator in pursuit of a suspect,” Kalinda explains. “Really, what suspect?” Of course that’s when Damian races back over. “Jenna?” he says like seeing her is a surprise, “how’s it going?” You were right, Jenna tells him – not feigning surprise – she was following you. I don’t know why, but Kalinda’s shocked that Damian’s called in the law to get her out of his hair. “Yeah, but don’t be too hard on her, she meant well.” He drives off.
“M’am, please step out of the car,” Detective Jenna tells Kalinda. “Come on,” Kalinda says, aggrieved. “What? 90 miles in a 45 zone, it’s reckless driving, aggravated fleeing of a police officer – that’s a felony. Get out of the car, you’re under arrest.” Oh, very nice.
Fairly bursting with importance, Veronica Loy walks up to receptionist Sondra’s desk under the Florrick, Agos & Associates sign. “I’m here for my daughter, Alicia Florrick,” Veronica announces. I love seeing her so proud of Alicia. Of course Alicia is still in court, but Veronica’s perfectly happy to wait – or she is, anyway, until Jackie (still decking the halls with Santas and reindeer and angels) calls her cell phone. “Oh yes, Jackie, How are you?” Veronica asks tartly. “I’m very well, thank you,” Jackie gushes. It’s so funny, all this reflected glory. “I’m in Peter’s governor’s offices, they’re very impressive.” God, she is so insufferable, isn’t she? Not that she shouldn’t be proud of Peter, but ugh. “I’m glad,” Veronica replies dryly, and she’s never sounded more like she was related to Alicia than in that moment. “What do you need, Jackie?” Well, the other woman begins, “I was just wondering when you were going to Alicia’s party, I was hoping to meet up with you there.”
Veronica’s smile is gone.
“You know, the holiday party on Friday. At Alicia’s new firm? Veronica?”
“According to it’s date, this was drawn up 16 months prior to your husband’s death. Could you comment on your husband’s mental state at that time?” It’s Diane asking the question, wearing a slick silvery suit, sleek and shark-like. “Objection,” Cary calls out, “improper expert opinion.” The objection’s sustained, so Diane rephrases: “was your husband having difficulties with Bautech, the company he founded?” “He was,” Mrs. Ashbaugh explains. “The New York board was attempting to have him removed for cause.” And what was that cause? “Mental incapacity. My husband was being deposed by the board for acting erratically.”
“That’s why we need to prep you for your deposition tomorrow,” flashback-bang Alicia tells a frustrated Matthew Ashbaugh. She’s wearing a demure blue suit with a round collar, and Will’s sitting to her right; Matthew’s at the end of the table to her left, wearing a cozy looking gray sweater. “It’s power,” he grins, and I have to rewind it several times before I understand the word, because it sounds like “paur,” the final r rolling. “What is power, sir?” Will asks in confusion. (Oh, guess I didn’t have to rewind it after all.) “Insanity,” Matthew enthuses. Narrowing her eyes, Alicia considers this. “So you’re saying, your eccentricity is a put on.” Then she turns, eyes widening in shock, toward Will, who’s begun to stroke her thigh under the table. “It is throwing off the equilibrium of your opponent,” Matthew Ashbaugh suggests. Well, Alicia’s not Will’s opponent, but he sure is throwing off her equilibrium.
“I have a saying over my desk,” Matthew continues. “Play the fox. Play the fox!” Will’s fingertips curl under Alicia’s skirt.
Back in the present, Alicia squirms in her seat, uncomfortable, turning her haunted, longing face toward Will. He doesn’t look her way. Diane finishes by getting Lila to confirm that her husband never mentioned wanting a new will, which seems foolish to me because if he was thinking of disinheriting her it seems unlikely she’d be the one he discussed it with. Or at least plausible that she wouldn’t know. Clarke has the cross again, and Alicia whispers into his ear before he begins.
“What does she have?” Diane asks Will. “Something from the weekend we were out there with Ashbaugh,” Will guesses.
“What did your husband have written over his desk?” Clarke asks Mrs. Ashbaugh, which confuses her. “Your husband had a motto written over his desk. Do you recall what this motto said?”
“It’s pawr,” Matthew Ashbaugh repeats in Will’s memory. “So you’re saying your eccentricity is a put on?” Will’s surprised to hear that the answer is yes. The conversation plays itself out as Alicia recalled it. “Always plays the fox. They’ll never know you’re the smartest man in the room.” Um, unless you write it over your desk to remind them of it, anyway.
Slowly Present-Moment Will looks over at Alicia, who is no longer looking at him. “Did your husband often pretend to be crazy to throw off his opponents?” Not back then, Mrs. Ashbaugh scoffs. Right. He only pretended to be crazy when it would be convenient for you – not when other people thought that he seemed crazy. “Not when he was writing up this… stupid will.” Right. “And did your husband’s board of directors rule that your husband was of unsound mind?” No, they didn’t. “Nothing further.”
“Okay, I’m ready to rule,” Judge Dunaway decides as Clarke sits. “We lost,” Diane grumbles to Will. “Given that we have conflicting testimony regarding Mr. Ashbaugh’s sanity, lack of …” Will flashes back to the offices at Lockhart/Gardner, where Ashbaugh (seated in the conference room) stares longingly at Alicia, who is innocently discussing something with colleagues in an adjoining room. When Ashbaugh notices Will noticing him, he glowers, and Will slinks out of view.
“Therefore, I have no choice but to consider both wills valid,” Judge Dunaway continues, “Given the laws of Illinois…” Will stands. “Your Honor, before you rule, we have another witness we’d like to call.” Color begins to flood Judge Dunaway’s face. “I have ruled,” he says, annoyed. “That Mr. Ashbaugh was of sound mind.” Yes, Will agrees, implacable, “and we accept that ruling. But there is the matter of undue influence.” Uh, say what? On the deceased? Yes, that’s his play. “We contend that he was encouraged to draw up a new will by his lawyer, Alicia Florrick.” Alicia narrows her eyes, disbelieving. “Your Honor, this is offensive,” Cary snaps. “We ask for the leave of the court to question Mrs. Florrick,” Will finishes. “You have already ruled, Your Honor,” Cary argues, and as their colleagues skirmish, Will and Alicia glare at each other in a mixture of cold fury and pain. We’ll take this up tomorrow morning, Judge Dunaway concedes. Mirroring his sometime mentor, Cary leans over to Alicia. “What’s he got?” “A whole lot of anger,” Alicia sums up.
Eeee, and it’s my favorite new locale, the freight elevator! Cary, Clarke and Alicia are riding back to the office. “Mr. Gardner will argue you seduced Mr. Ashbaugh,” Clarke predicts. Alicia closes her eyes as he says it; she can’t believe that Will could misunderstand her so badly. Because she know he won’t just be arguing it because it’s expedient, because it’s a way to win; he’s going to be arguing that because some part of him believes it. “Yes,” she sighs. Hesitating, Cary looks over at her, puppy-like. “Are you ready for it?” I will be, she tells him, pained, brave.
“Oh thank God you’re here,” Robyn nearly collapses in relief as they step out into the office. “What now?”Cary laughs. “We got some more rsvps,” Robyn explains. Cary thinks this is great news until he hears how many – 835 – and has to ask her to repeat herself. Heh. It’s up to Clarke Hayden to state the obvious: they can’t fit 835 people in this office. “You sent out a press release about Peter?” Alicia guesses. No, no, nothing that broad; Cary sent an email alert out to those who’d already received the invitation mentioning that the governor was going to attend. “Cary,” Alicia pulls him aside in frustration, “when did we stop acting together?” He protests. She doesn’t like him being so on the ball, but surely the whole point of having Peter come was to drive up attendance? It just worked a little better than they expected.
And Alicia’s weird day just keeps getting weirder and worse, because the moment she steps toward her desk, she’s accosted by her tiny, miserable mother. “What did I do to you?” Veronica wails. (Where do we even start?) Poor Alicia’s blindsided. “Did I hurt you in some way?” Veronica moans. Again, where to begin… “Mom, what’re you talking about?” Alicia puzzles, sitting down. “You invited Jackie – not me, your own mother!” Its not really a party, Alicia sighs wearily. Wrong tactic, dear. “Jackie calls me,” Veronica whines, “Out of the blue, and lords it over me. And I was standing there like an idiot. ‘What party?’”
And because that’s how it works, Eli and Marilyn arrive. They really need a reception area. “Alicia, do you have a moment?” Eli asks, and Alicia holds up a single finger; he does the same, backing off. “Mom,” Alicia begins, “it was an oversight.” Now that’s the right tact. “I meant to ask you tonight to come.” The words work a miraculous change. “You were?” Veronica asks, suddenly a little girl with her heart in her eyes. “You’re sure? You’re not just saying that?” No, Alicia smiles, I am not just saying that. “Would you come to my party tomorrow night?” Robyn sets something down on Alicia’s desk. “Can I bring someone?” Veronica asks, eyes shining; Robyn frantically motions no. “That would be great,” Alicia smiles, and Robyn freaks. “Oh. Well. I know exactly what I’m gonna wear, I bought it last week,” Veronica gushes. The two women hug.
And now it’s time for the dynamic duo to wreck a little more havoc with Alicia’s day. Oh, the joy of it. Eli and Marilyn sit down. “We have a small issue,” Marilyn declares. So small that both of you had nothing better to do than show up in person? “Of course,” Alicia replies. “Is this about the holiday party?” How did you know, Marilyn beams. Indeed, that took so much brainpower to divine. “Alicia, we can’t have Peter being the same room as Colin Sweeney,” Eli spits out. I just love the face he’s making, winging up the outside of his eyebrows and wiggling them as if this problem were so reasonable and obvious there’s no way Alicia could fail to agree. It’s kind of incredible. “It’s not just that Mr. Sweeney has an unseemly past,” Marilyn explains delicately. That’s one way of putting it! “It’s an ethical question.” Oh, well, if it’s an ethical question… “It might seem like a quid pro quo for his plea bargain.” It might seem like that, if you’re brain dead! Gah, I hate stupidity. Where does a party invitation possibly weigh into this plea bargain? I mean, if you think about it, a plea bargain is already a quid pro quo.
“Do you hear that?” Alicia’s distracted by Marilyn’s classical music; you can tell she thinks she’s making it up. I cannot believe she’s playing that in public, but I so love her true believer face. “It’s my pregnancy sound system. It soothes the baby. He doesn’t like Chopin very much, but he really, really…” Of course Eli can only take so much of this. “Alicia, will you speak to Sweeney?” No, Alicia declares flatly. “Why not?” Marilyn asks, astounded. Stick around, chickie, and you’ll get used to the word no. “Because I won’t dis-invite a client.” Remember how you said that Peter won’t go back on his word? Well, he’s not the Florrick with that character trait. “Alicia, this is not a small issue,” Eli snaps, disapproving. “I know,” she agrees, “you should tell Peter.” Eli and Marilyn exchange glances. “My guess is you already told Peter and he’s coming anyway?” She can read on their faces how right her guess is. “But I’m not dis-inviting a guest.”
Good for you!
It’s dark outside Detective Jenna’s unmarked police car where Kalinda stews, cuffed, in the back seat; Jenna’s reading, her paperback propped up on the steering wheel. “So, ah, what’s the plan?” Kalinda asks. “My plan? Reading” Jenna dismisses Kalinda. “For how long?” Kalinda wants to know. “See that bus right there,” Jenna gestures at the bus behind them and across the street. “Takes arrestees to court for their bond hearings.” Ah. Again, we all see where this is going. “And you’re waiting until it leaves?” Yup. “So I’m gonna be stuck in holding overnight.” Yup. “Because Damian asked you to.” Yup. “Why?” Kalinda’s starting to sound like a relentless preschooler. Why is the sky blue, Mommy? Why is the grass green? Because I owe him, Jenna replies shortly, still not looking up. “What you owe?”
“Wow, you can’t turn it off, can you?” Jenna turns around, annoyed. “Just stop being an investigator for like 10 minutes.” Why should she bother? Also, since it was light when you arrested her, I guarantee she’s been sitting in that car without answers for a lot longer than ten minutes. “Will that help me?,” Smarty Mouth Kalinda asks. “Sure,” Jenna says. “Okay,” Kalinda replies, and somehow her acquiescence is what causes Jenna to look up from her book. “Charm me,” she says. I knew it. I knew it. I knew they wouldn’t put a hot female cop anywhere near Kalinda without it turning into sex. I’m going to say it right now; how grossed out would we all be if a male cop said that?
Somehow Kalinda wasn’t expecting this is at all. “What?” she asks. “You want outta your cuffs? Turn on the charm.” I don’t do charm, Kalinda scoffs. “Okay, then sit tight.” Now Kalinda looks justly annoyed. Yes, she knows how to play this game, but the fact that she has to must be pretty galling. “What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back?” Kalinda asks, her words sour. Jenna bites. “What?” “A stick,” Kalinda replies flatly, and Jenna turns around, sighing, to give her an frankly appraising look.
Wow, that is one pristine and empty refrigerator: pickles, cocktail olives, and six bottled beers arranged neatly, their cardboard box no doubt folded up in a recycling bin. Just as neatly, Will pops the top off one of the beers and sets it down next to a perfectly placed legal pad and heavy silver pen; this is probably his desk, but it looks like a table with its wooden planks. He sits.
Mrs. Florrick, he writes on the pad in blocky letters. (I know he’s preparing for court, but the formality of this new era is so striking; she’s never Alicia, she’s Mrs. Florrick even at her new office, while even the support staff at Lockhart/Gardner used to call her Alicia. Perhaps it’s a sign of her growth, of her taking on big new responsibilities, but it also feels like a wall around her. And certainly for Will it’s a reminder of his distance from her; it’s Peter’s claim on her, the identity she chose over him.) He thinks through his opening out loud. “Mrs. Florrick, how long have you been Mr. Ashbaugh’s attorney?” Surely the verb should be past tense. A Dream Alicia appears, lovely in a white suit, her eyes so wide. “Around 2 years, right up until his death.” He makes notes, thinks. “And in all that time, did Mr. Ashbaugh ever threaten to fire you?” No, not to my knowledge, she says.
“Are you certain of that?” he asks, trying to pin her down, writing down his question and her presumed answer. “Well, I’m not certain of anything,” she laughs, ” but if Mr. Gardner has something more specific he’d like to ask…” Looking irritated, Will traces back up his tree of questions. “And in all that time did Mr. Ashbaugh ever threaten to fire you as his attorney?” Oh yes, that’s so much more specific. What else was he going to fire her as, her side job as his butler? He corrects his original question on paper. “No,” she answers. “I mean, are you talking about the thing two years ago?” Yes, snarls Will, his voice dripping with bitter sarcasm.”Tell me about the ‘thing’ two years ago.” He drinks, shakes his head. “Did Mr. Ashbaugh express worries about your representation in a meeting in his New York apartment on September 23rd, 2011?” The book shelves behind his desk are the last thing I notice before we fade into another flashback.
Here Matthew Ashbaugh paces in front of his large stone fireplace. “They’re out to get me,” he growls. “If you say that in this deposition, it will sound crazy,” Will explains impatiently. While Matthew is wearing the same gray cardigan we’ve seen before, and Will the same suit, Alicia’s wearing a tight red dress with a scoop neck, and her eye makeup is much smokier and more intense than usual. “If I don’t say it in this deposition then they’ll get away with it,” Matthew snarls. “I have enemies.” Yes, Will agrees, “And your enemies will cheer if you say this. Trust me, Matthew. Please.” “Stop saying my name like that” the client snaps. “I’m not twelve years old.” Yes sir, Will nods. Putting her hand on Will’s sleeve and giving him a knowing look, Alicia takes over.
“Matthew. Listen to me. You’re a smart man, whose words are easily twisted.” Ashbaugh walks away from the fireplace. “People don’t see as deeply as you do, and they’ll use the surface of your words…” Stop it Alicia, Matthew barks in her face. “Are you married or aren’t you?” Did he really say that? After the way he’s sexed her up, I’m a little suspicious of Will’s memory. “Are you married, Alicia?”
In the present, Will writes and reads “And after he asked you that, did he threaten to fire you?” Dream Alicia – so much more pure than the vixen in the flashback – is distressed. “Yes.” And why did he threaten that? “I don’t know,” Alicia replies. “Later that night, didn’t you say that Mr. Ashbaugh was in love with you?” Dream Alicia looks betrayed, hurt; she doesn’t respond. “Do you want me to repeat the question?” No, she squeaks. “I was only joking when I said that.” Will sneers as her distress. “You were only joking when you said that Mr. Ashbaugh was in love with you and would do anything you asked – are you saying that was a joke?” He’s not joking, certainly; in fact he looks wrecked.
In a cutesy voice much more reminiscent of Tammy Linnata than anything we’ve heard Alicia use before, new flashback Alicia kisses Will and tells him that yes, he shouldn’t worry. “I can get him to change his mind.” How, Will asks between kisses. She’s sitting on his lap in a black woven chair, wrapped in a gray comforter, the twinkling lights of New York City behind them in spectacular wall length windows. “He cares about me,” she smiles. “You have him wrapped around your finger, is that it?” Will asks, doing God knows what with his own fingers under the comforter. She throws back her head to laugh, wiggling. “I have my ways.”
In the present Will looks ready to cry. He gulps, remembering, pacing behind his desk.
Now they’re cuddling, slumped in the chair, their heads together. “This is crazy romantic,” he sighs, stroking her arm. I never thought they used words like that with each other, and it catches me off guard. She laughs happily; all that extra make up is gone, and she seems truly herself. She leans up to whisper it in his ear: “This is the happiest I’ve ever been.”
Haunted, Will lunges for his seat. “Mrs. Florrick, you knew he was in love with you, and you used it to get your way.” He stabs with the words, bitter and angry, and if he was ever talking about Matthew Ashbaugh it’s clear he isn’t now. Dream Alicia doesn’t answer him. “May I remind you that you are under oath,” he snaps, forcing her to answer him as we can only in our daydreamed scenarios. “I didn’t intentionally use him,” she gulps, on the edge of weeping. “Not intentionally? I see. So it’s just the way you are with men?”
“No. I cared about him,” she counters. “I liked him. “And so it was alright to use him?” Will asks scornfully. “You make things sound so simply,” she sniffles. “I’m married. ” You always use that, he sneers, don’t you? You’re conveniently married when you want to be. “That’s not fair,” she cries. “I loved you.” We see them both in the dream courtroom for the first time as he slams both hands down on the railing of the witness stand. “You made me believe that so you could steal my clients!” God, is he that far gone? Can he really be so destroyed that he thinks it was all an elaborate plot? “No!” she calls out, blinking back her tears. “Will!” Dream Will searches her face fiercely. “You stop it!” he berates her. “I don’t like it when you’re weak.” The real Will sighs, searching for answers in his fruitless notes.
And that’s when the soothing voice of Tattoo Bimbo Isabelle breaks into his reverie. “Come back to bed,” she says, wearing one of his white shirts, her arm curling around his shoulders. You know, she annoys the heck out of me, but if he’s this unhinged I can see why he keeps her around. “You’re working too hard.” I have a tough witness tomorrow, he explains without really explaining. “Let it go,” she says, wrapping herself around him, kissing his ear, “I’m here now.” He smiles and relaxes, threading his fingers between hers and kissing her hand.
Damn. Now that, my friends, is what an Emmy reel looks like.
Eli practically struts into Peter’s office. “Good news! Donna Brazile wants to meet.” Perhaps burned by the last promise of her attention, Peter can’t help but ask why. “Why do you think? 2016!” Eli trills. No, Peter demurs. “Yes! Peter, it’s not just the presidency they’re looking for, it’s the vice presidency! Biden won’t be Hillary’s, and Hillary won’t be Biden’s.” That’s for damn sure. “They’re looking for new talent,” Eli concludes. “They’re looking for a stalking horse,” Peter dismisses the idea again. “So?” Eli’s not having any negative talk. “The horse goes lame, the stalking horse becomes the horse!” Wait, what? Who’s the horse? “I don’t know, whatever you meant,” Eli tried to dig himself out of his weird metaphorical hole. “The point is, she wants to meet.”
Great, says Peter. When? “That’s the problem,” Eli admits. “She’s in town this Friday. During Alicia’s party.” Damn. I’m sure you’re deeply broken up about that. Peter’s not pleased. “I know,” Eli agrees, “but she’ll understand. Alicia will understand. This is about your future, Peter.” Because his wife isn’t a part of his future? That was laying it on a little too thick, Eli – you need to let him reach his own conclusions, and not spin it. “You’re not trying to pull something over on me, are you?” Peter narrows his eyes, suspicious. “Yes,” Eli scoffs. “I’m arranging a meeting with Donna Brazile to keep you from going to Alicia’s party. That makes sense!” They laugh, and I can’t even say how much I loved that he admitted to manipulating Peter and still got away with it. Though Eli offers to call with his excuses, Peter would rather do the dirty work himself. Once Peter turns away, Eli’s eyelids flutter closed in triumphant relief.
And speaking of dirty work, there’s Detective Jenna leaning on her headboard, a white sheet tucked under her naked armpits. Yep, just what I was expecting. She tilts her head and smirks at Kalinda, similarly attired but leaning against the foot board. Unusually, Kalinda seems almost bashful, not meeting her new lover’s gaze. She notices a gleaming police officer’s hat on one bedpost. Did Jenna used to be a beat cop? Yes, five years. (Do they promote you to detective without spending some time on the beat?) “Still got the holster scars?” Kalinda wonders. Both hips, Jenna nods. “You like your bursa?” She checks out a handgun sitting on her bedside table, and soon the two women boast about the best features of their favorite weapons.
“You wanna find out about Damian, don’t you?” Jenna asks. Ooooh, so smart. I would never guess she was investigating and following someone she wanted to find out about! “That’s why you’re here?” Yeah, Kalinda says, admitting it. Jenna drops the sheet and oozes forward. “It’s too bad I like Damian better,” she whispers right into Kalinda’s ear. Somehow, Kalinda smiles without actually smiling. “Wait till you get to know me better,” she promises. They kiss.
I have to say it again. If Jenna was a man, there would be nothing sexy about this; it would be clearly obvious as an abuse of power tantamount to rape. So why is this kind of behavior okay because she’s a woman? Because lesbians sex is so hot? Or do we think that there can’t be coercive sex between two women? That the power dynamic must be so different than between a woman and a man, that one woman couldn’t force another? Or perhaps because Kalinda’s too strong a person to have sex she doesn’t want to have? I think last season’s evil husband plot line should shoot that theory to bits. Jenna arrested Kalinda on trumped up charges, for heaven’s sake, which is uncool enough without then pressuring her for sex to avoid being charged. It’s what Kalinda’s character does, blurring the line between sex for pleasure and sex as reward; she dangles herself like a carrot, and she uses her body to get what she wants. So, fine, this situation is consistent with her character, and I don’t object to that. But I’m sorry, I do find the presentation of this unsettling. I try to stay away from the casting news, but it looks to me like they’re setting Jenna up as a longer term love interest for Kalinda, and it wasn’t an impressive introduction.
Problematic as I find this, I fully applaud the transition into the next scene – which seems to be Jackie setting baby Jesus (or at least his manger) between Mary and Joseph in a nativity set, all to the strains of Silent Night. And she’s back on her cell phone to Alicia (because Alicia doesn’t have enough going on). Could she bring a plus one to the party like Veronica is? Oooh, does that mean that Cristian is still in the picture after all? Robyn’s going to be a wreck.
In Judge Dunaway’s court, Diane leans over and whispers insistently to her partner. “Let me take it,” she pleads. Yes, Will, that’s a very smart idea.”No, no, I’m good,” Will lies. He doesn’t look good. He rises to his feet and faces Alicia, already seated in the witness box. Unlike in his dream, she’s wearing black. He should take it as an omen. They wish each other a formal good morning.
And so he begins where he planned to begin. “How long have you been Mr. Ashbaugh’s attorney?” About two years, Alicia replies as expected. “And did Mr. Ashbaugh ever threaten to fire you as his attorney over those two years?” And because people never follow your internal scripts for them, never, she says yes.
He doesn’t know how to respond to this departure at first. “And when was this?” September 23rd, 2011, she volunteers without him having to badger it out of her as he’d hoped. “Could you explain the circumstances?” he asks, and so she does. “You are I were at his apartment in New York City, prepping him for his testimony.” And was there anything about that night, he begins, but she cuts him off coolly. “Actually, I wasn’t finished. Do you want me to finish?” Damn. He’s forced to ask her to continue instead of directing her testimony. “He was being removed from the board of one of the companies he created,” she explains. Both Diane and Cary seems worried about where this clash of the titans is heading: Diane takes notes, and Cary just bites his lip. “Mr. Ashbaugh thought that he should be allowed to testify to some of the concerns he had over the board members. We argued that was not essential to the facts.”
“And did you change his mind?” Will asks, steely. “Yes, I did,” she answers, and Will flashes mentally to their coupling in the woven chair. “And did you claim that Mr. Ashbaugh was in love with you?” She doesn’t answer, and he presses her. “I did claim that.”
“And did you suggest that you.. could use his love to.. manipulate him?” Will can barely make the sentence pass his lips. In the end, he doesn’t want to think Alicia capable of it. He want to be contradicted. He wants to know she loved him. But then again, he wants just as much to still be able to hate her for leaving him, for leaving the firm. Which conflicting desire will she fulfill?
She owns her culpability. “I said it was a possibility.” And did you manipulate him into signing off on his will, Will asks. “Yes.”
Cary almost falls out of his chair. “Your Honor, may I have a minute to consult with my client?” No, counselor, Judge Dunaway says, transfixed, “I think she’s doing fine. Continue.” And so they do: Will asks if she believes that this manipulation could be considered undue influence, and sadly, she does. “And was there anyone else involved in this manipulation?” Yes, she says. Who? “David Lee.”
Oh, brilliant, Alicia.
“David Lee was involved with this will?” Will Gardner asks, confused, holding up the magic marker will. “No. The other one,” Alicia explains. Cary twigs to her strategy and grins. “Thank you, Mrs. Florrick,” Will says, trying to shut her down. “Woah, wait a minute. I don’t think Mrs. Florrick was finished.” Still spellbound, Judge Dunaway agrees, and Alicia simply keeps talking without Cary or Will asking her questions, explaining that yes, she meant the original will. “David Lee’s Lockhart/Gardner’s lawyer in family law. He asked me to use my influence with Mr. Ashbaugh to get him to sign this will.” You mean the will benefiting Mrs. Ashbaugh, Judge Dunaway clarifies. “Yes. Mr. Ashbaugh was delaying. Mr Lee asked me to ‘prime the pump,’ I believe were his words.” Ah, David Lee and his ever colorful expressions. Okay, Judge Dunaway says. “Anything further, counselor?” Not for the moment, Will replies.
So have any of you seen David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive? There’s that famous scene where the would-be actress played by Naomi Watts goes for an audition and learns by accident that everyone involved is bored by the obvious readings most auditioners have given – the same interpretation she was planning to give. The resulting scene – an audition where Watt’s character finds a plausible way to play the scene that totally belies the words – catapulted Watts to stardom. I can’t help being reminded of that. Alicia took Will’s expectations and utterly up-ended them. She refused to play the penitent, refused to grovel. She was amazing.
Elegantly dressed Donna Brazile lounges in a limo next to Peter, exchanging pleasantries. “You know, Eli thinks this is about 2016,” Peter drawls. “Is he right?” Well, he’s partially right, Donna answers. ” We’re gonna see who’s suiting up, and who’s sitting on the sidelines.” Facing them, Eli jumps into the conversation. “Would you like us to be ‘suiting up’?” I love his lack of ease with her colloquial language – he sound like he doesn’t really know what it means. “Well it depends,” she replies coyly, “would you consider it?” Aaaaand Peter’s phone rings. Eli must be cursing it right now. Peter begins to make excuses. “Go ahead, take it,” Donna Brazile offers. “It’s my mom,” Peter shrugs. “Well now you have to take it,” Donna orders. No, he really doesn’t, Eli adds, trying to stop him because he knows where this will lead. “Thanks, Donna,” Peter smiles, and picks up the calls.
And of course the call consists of him letting Jackie down and apologizing for not joining her at the party, which he has to then explain to Donna. “Do you have somewhere to be?” she asks. “No, no, we’re just….” Eli flutters, but Peter of course cuts in with the truth. He trusts his instincts, Peter does. “Actually, yes. My wife’s party.” But I’ve occupied your time, Donna flirts. Peter just smiles. (Eli shakes his head, trying to be emphatic yet discrete at the same time, which is pretty awesome to watch.) Contemplating his next move, Peter taps his fingers against his knee. “Donna, would you like to go to a party?” Eli just about has a heart attack. “Those are magical words,” she coos. Nice work, Donna Brazile!
The Florrick/Agos holiday party is filled with raucous laughter and gorgeous lighted stars. There are flower arrangements and finger food, and lots of people (though clearly not the feared 800 guests). Poor Alicia grapples with her phone instead of networking. “Hello? I can’t hear you, hello?” “Yes, we’re coming now,” Eli hollers into his cell. “We’re coming to your party.” “Eli?” Alicia tries to block out the party noise, finger in her free ear. “With Donna Brazile,” he adds. “Did you just say Donna Brazile is coming to my party?” Hee! Oh yes he did. “Yes, we have lost all shreds of sanity,” Eli explodes. Hee. Peter and Donna laugh from the back of the limo. “Please God, is Colin Sweeney there?” Eli asks. “Be of good cheer, Eli,” Alicia smiles. “Colin Sweeney couldn’t make it. His flight got delayed in San Fransisco.” Aw, bummer. You know that would have been fun. “Oh thank God. Thank your Christian Jesus God.” Merry Christmas, Eli, Alicia laughs. The audience laughs, too.
“So, are we millionaires yet?” Zach asks his mother. “Only in the love we have for each other,” she snarks. “Can we buy anything with that?” Grace zings back.”Well, you can always…” but ah, Alicia’s sarcasm gets stuck in her throat when another surprise guest shows up. And no, it’s not Uncle Owen. (Perhaps he’s busy doing press for his excellent Oscar bait movie The Dallas Buyers Club? ) It’s Lemond Bishop, strolling in his usual lordly style, camel colored trench on, hands in his pants pockets. Um, how is he not still in prison for murder? I thought that they weren’t going to give him bail because he’s a flight risk? “Eli’s not gonna be happy,” Alicia whispers under her breath. “Why,” Grace wonders, “Who is that?” “A client,” Alicia confesses, and I thought she was going to leave it at that, but she doesn’t. “Lemond Bishop. The top drug dealer in Chicago.” Zach stares, struck by this confession. “Sometimes I think of you as mom,” he admits, “and other times just as this interesting person who lives in our house.” Ha. Because it’s her firm and her job to put out the fires, she excuses herself.
She finds Cary dancing with Robyn. “Cary! What’s Lemond Bishop doing here?” “Oh, he came,” Cary enthuses, sunny, “that’s great! Where?” You invited him, Alicia growls softly. “No, I did,” Robyn steps in. “I thought you wanted him as a client.” Um, no, not really. To make matters even worse, Alicia notices Veronica talking to Jackie over by a waiter in a tartan vest. Oh God. Veronica, Jackie and alcohol – a lethal combination.
“Because we don’t actually have a national religion in America, Jackie!” Veronica snaps. Oh, you know it. These two are so much fun. “That should have no impact on office decorations,” Jackie responds with as much dignity as office decorations can muster. I never think of Jackie as tall, but she looks like a giant next to Veronica. Alicia’s mother is dressed in black (a family preference!) with gold jewelry; Peter’s stately mother wears a platinum silk suit with a thick pearl choker. “Have some sensitivity!” Veronica instructs Jackie, taking a swig of her drink.
“Veronica, I don’t want to offend you,” Jackie replies seriously, “but you really should think about drinking less.” Oh no you didn’t! Oh really, Veronica wonders waspishly. Why is that? Because you’re raising your voice, the prim Mrs. Florrick declares. “Well, maybe if you drank a little more, that would kill the bug up your ass,” Veronica suggests.
Alicia points Zach and Grace in the direction of the Grandma Battle Royale. “Could you two get that?” Yes, by all means, give them something to do for once! They’re the perfect fit for this crisis, and they’re off to take care of it. After thanking them, Alicia answers an office phone off one of the desks. “Florrick, Agos & Associates,” she chirps. “Oh,” Will Gardner answers, deflated. “I expected to get Cary.” I’ll have him call you back, Alicia offers politely. “No, that’s alright,” Will says, sitting alone at his desk. “There’s been a … something happened. We discovered another safety deposit box belonging to Mr. Ashbaugh.” Um, okay. “There were four more wills in it, leaving all his money to four other women.” Wow, Matthew. You sure know how to make a girl feel special. “It seems to be something Ashbaugh does. Did.” Poor Will searches for words, still so broken, still so handsome. “So. It looks like all five will be found invalid.”
“Anything else?” Alicia asks coolly. There isn’t. “Well, thanks for calling,” she says. “You’re welcome,” he says, without anger. “Happy holidays.” When he hangs up, he sits alone in his office. If they’re having their holiday party tonight as advertised, it’s not a well attended one.
Alicia turns around to see Peter – oh God – talking to Lemond Bishop, and Eli chewing a hole through the inside of his cheek. “I usually vote Republican,” Lemond schmoozes, “but I couldn’t resist voting for you.” Peter smiles. Immediately, Eli breaks in with a suggestion that they find Alicia. Leaping as if at his last chance, Lemond makes a pitch. “I would love some time to talk to you, sir. Some charity ideas.” Wow. You have to give him credit for trying, considering that Peter was in charge of prosecuting him a month ago. “Sounds good!” Peter puts him off, but smiles for real as he sees Cary and Robyn rush by. “Hey, Cary, congratulations!” He clouts the younger man on the shoulder as they pass each other, then pitches his voice low. “Was that who I think it was?” Um, obviously. Just keep moving, Eli instructs his boss.
“Donna, I’d like you to meet Alicia,” Peter makes the introduction. Under his breath, Eli mutters to Alicia; Lemond Friggin Bishop??? It was news to me too, Alicia whispers back. “Hey!” Peter greets her enthusiastically. “This is terrific!” They kiss in greeting. “Thank you for coming,” Alicia says. “Donna, I’d like you to meet my wife Alicia,” Peter finishes the introduction, and the two women smile over their new acquaintanceship.
Poor Eli makes his way to the bar and demands anything strong from the tartan-clad bartender. Marilyn Garbanza (really?) leans her back against the bar with Veronica next to her. “Is that music coming from your stomach?” she can’t help but ask. “Yes!” Marlyn answers, delighted to find a new audience for her favorite topic. “It’s my music system for the baby.” She’s cute. Oh how clever, gushes Veronica. “How many months?” 3 1/2. Hmmm. You don’t actually feel the baby moving that early, so it’d be rather hard to know if it needed soothing or not, and you couldn’t possibly know what music it preferred. I guess she thinks it needs soothing all the time? “And do you know the sex yet?” She does. Interesting. She must have gotten one of those new blood tests I mentioned in A Precious Commodity. “It’s a boy.”
Veronica loves that. “Oh, a boy, how sweet. I love boys.” And don’t we know it. “Do you have a name yet?” She does, she says, bringing her water glass up to her lips. “Peter.”
Eli sprays his strong drink all over the room.
Oh my gosh. That was truly an amazing, amazing episode. From the writing to the acting to the costume department, it was absolutely brilliant and thought provoking and it just blew me away. Happy one hundredth episode, Good Wife! You hit this one out of the park. Or set the speedometer to one hundred, as it were. (Funny, too, that this is my 500th post. Yay, me!)
Let me just get the ending out of the way. Marilyn hasn’t know Peter long enough for him to be the father of her baby. Eli was hilarious, and the name is a little bit odd (especially coming from someone as concerned with appearances and the surface of things as she is) but it’s not evil. She must have been pregnant when we met her. No, we still don’t know anything about the origins of the baby, but pretty much all possibilities are on the table except for Peter being the dad.
Then, wow. This episode was all about sex in the workplace, power and vulnerability – the power of insanity, the power of seduction, the power of expectation, the power of love. For some people sex is love – that seems Will’s focus, certainly. Isn’t it fascinating that Alicia could break the sexual bond between them and have him understand, but then send him into a desperate emotional tailspin by breaking their professional one? I guess we can say that it’s all personal to Will, that he doesn’t have boundaries between the areas of his life; we see that in their “working” get away, in the way he touches her even during meetings. His work is his family, his creation, and for Alicia to reject that part of him makes him question everything else. You can see, too, his doubt, his desire to believe Owen, his desire to believe in Alicia, his hope that her love was real, warring with his anger and pain.
I love the way he got to take out his frustrations on Alicia in his imagined cross examination (so brilliant, so perfect), and then of course the real woman refused as ever to play along with his personal script and trounced him instead. I think everyone imagines that – having a conversation with someone who’s wronged you, an ex-love or former friend or boss or competitor – in which we brilliantly deploy our anger and make them sorry. But in real life, this revenge scenario rarely works. We don’t get closure. We can never anticipate what someone else is going to say, no matter how smart we think we are or how well we know them. Reality never lines up with the fantasy.
As I said, I’m a little sorry to see Matthew Ashbaugh complicated quite so much. I mean, it constitutes a sort of cheating on your wife if you spend your nights getting enemas from prostitutes, doesn’t it? Not to mention falling for other women. I’m definitely disappointed that he had so many other crushes (although I’d like to hope they weren’t all concurrent), and Death of a Client left me with the impression that Alicia hadn’t really understood the depth of his feelings before, so the two episodes seems to fight each other a bit. But I also can’t help feeling like Matthew is like Doc, the dog that Meredith and Derek shared back in the second season of Grey’s Anatomy; he’s in some ways less a person and more s physical (metaphysical) expression of the bond Will and Alicia share. “I’m always there,” Matthew says, and it’s no accident. Didn’t it break your heart to hear Alicia tell Will “this is the happiest I’ve ever been?”
In one of my favorite books, the hero gives the woman he secretly loves a job, hoping that spending time together will improve his chances with her. The woman – newly widowed, struggling to make a career for herself after staying home with her son – grabs the chance gratefully but quits when she realizes that she wasn’t hired on merit, that ulterior motives were at play. This season, I can’t help thinking of something the hero wrote in his apology – that in creating a project for the widow to do, he had hoped to give her a victory, but he has come to understand that victories can’t be given. You have to take them for yourself. That’s just how it seems to me with The Good Wife; Will wanted to give Alicia a victory, wrapping up the managing partnership with a bow. I am certain that he wanted to make her his equal, that his motives were good. It seems clear he still somehow held out hope. But what we see over and over again is that Alicia has to take this for herself; she needs to do it the hard way, to earn it. And while Florrick/Agos definitely feels like the hard way, it’s what she needed to be whole. Maybe at some point, Will will understand that.
Augh, this was just amazing! This season is amazing. How long do we need to wait for a new episode? What did you all think? Big happy sigh. Let’s talk!