E: Thank God. Thank God. This show has put us through a lot of changes, and it’s too soon to see where any of them will lead. After three absolutely brutal weeks, after fumbling blindly in the gloom, we get a little sunshine back into our lives.
It is fitting, however, that we begin with a black screen. “Is your first name Jeff?” asks a man’s voice in the dark. Yes, comes the answer. “Are you currently in Illinois?” it asks again; again, the answer is yes. “Did you pick the number 12?” Huh? He did. “Are you now a member of a group that advocates the violent overthrow of the United States government?” Nope. And, whoa. He turns out to be the original Tweedle Dee – the taller, darker haired half of the original goat-video-viewing NSA analyst duo from “The Bit Bucket.”
“Is your first name Jeff?” Yes. Hey, it’s nice to finally have a name to go with your puppy dog face, Jeff. “Do you work for the National Security Agency?” Yes, Jeff answers, bored, pushing his knees out against the sides of the chair. Jeff is hooked up to machine, and the man attached to the other voice sits behind a lie detector machine. On the pale beige wall behind him are three sheets of paper – one with a typescript letter A, one with a red square, and another hidden by the examiner’s head. It’s odd. “Have you ever discussed confidential materials with individuals not employed by the National Security Agency?” No. Jeff’s practically asleep answering these questions, but according to the squiggly lines and graphs, his words are smooth and truthful. Did you pick the number 8? No. What’s with this picking a number thing? Are they magicians? Is this a card trick? “Have you ever removed confidential materials from the workplace?”
Huh. That’s got Jeff’s attention – he turns and looks at the examiner. “No,” he replies, but if the examiner’s not an idiot, he ought to be able to tell that Jeff’s still thinking about the question. “Did you pick the number 12?” Yes, Jeff answers absently. Are the numbers supposed to orient them, or show when they’ve been thrown? “Are you currently in communication with any foreign national?” Jeff blinks.
If the rumbling of a flushing toilet wasn’t enough to clue you in to what’s going on next, Jeff steps out of a bathroom and hands the pink-faced examiner a cup of pee. Lovely. Dude is standing so close to the door, if it opened out instead of in it would have hit him. What a job, seriously.
His expression slightly gloomy, Jeff walks down a long corridor between cubicles filled with chatting 20-somethings in similarly unprofessional clothes until he reaches his own. “It’s not baby blue soul, it’s ‘boy’s soul,'” Tweedle Dum waves his arms frenetically, all bent elbows and wide spread fingers, arguing with someone across the aisle. “That’s what Mac thinks it is, not what it is,” declares – oh my God, it’s Ugly Betty‘s Michael Urie in a maroon hoodie that would have made his nice/evil fashionista assistant character Marc cry. Eeee! I love him. I’m already loving this episode and we’re what, a minute in? “What is it, Dell?” Dum asks, and I guess he means which lyric? It’s both, Jeff blinks, clearing his head as he sits down. Once in each verse. “You gotta pay the troll toll, if you want to get into that boy’s soul,” a burly, bearded guy in flannel sings, snapping along to establish a beat. Wow, so many new folks! What happened to Tweedle Dee 2 – was he not available this week? Is the point that they’re interchangeable cogs in a machine? “Shut up, Jay,” Smart Marc snaps.
(Okay, in case anyone actually wants to know what this little bit of oddness is about, it’s a reference to a musical (The Nightman Cometh) created by the characters on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which they have sanitized because the joke is that one character constantly sings or appears to sing the word hole instead of soul, thereby – ahem – changing the meaning quite a bit. Mac, mentioned by Michael Urie, is the playwright, not one of the four chuckleheads here at the NSA. Helpful? Because you know me. I have a pathological need to look these things up. E explains it all!)
Anyway. Back to (fake) reality. Jeff/Dell/Dee wonders what he’s missed. Sharp elbowed Dum fills him in – Cary’s on the phone with Clarke. “They’re worried about Alicia.” Jeff raises his eyebrows, his voice softer and even a shade empathetic. “She’s still in bed?” Aw. I’ve been dying to see these guys respond to recent events; there’s something in their voyeurism that makes them excellent audience substitutes, and I’ve been really curious whether the extreme has affected them. Dum nods, wordlessly. Could he actually be a little emotional about this?
“Do you want me to call her?” Clarke asks delicately. “Alicia? No. She just needs a little time,” Cary replies, and though we can only see the green graph of his voice, we can still hear him shrugging, protecting Alicia. “What’s wrong?” Cary moves on. “I was just talking to…” Clarke whispers, his voice trailing off so we don’t hear whom , and Cary has to ask him to repeat himself. It turns out that Clarke’s over at LG, and has to do a little dance around the reception area to avoid anyone overhearing him.
“I was here about the joint client agreement, and Diane Lockhart just asked me when we were coming in to discuss the merger.” At his desk, Cary frowns fiercely, as he should. I don’t know whether to give Diane credit for assuming that Alicia had discussed things with her partners or not. On the one hand, hell yeah she should have, but on the other, since Alicia’s been so unavailable it might have been better to broach it more carefully? I suppose she’s desperate at this point.
Cary switches the corded phone to his other ear. “Merger?” he repeats. “Yes,” Clarke reiterates. “Are we merging with Lockhart/Gardner?” Why haven’t you left, Clarke? What’s he still doing there, whispering? Behind Cary’s head is a sign that say Western California, which I find kind of hilarious – it’s just more designed, more urban chic, than I was expecting. There is no hilarity in his reaction, however. “Ah, um, I think this is something coming from Alicia,” he blinks. “They want our clients, Cary,” Clarke declares passionately. Truer words were never said, sir. “If we merge, they will squeeze us out.” Indeed. To be fair, this was Alicia’s initial reaction as well. If it were just a question of Diane’s ability to treat them fairly, I could see a merger maybe working out, but we all know it’s not just a question of Diane. “We’re the small fish, they’re the big.” I know, Cary nods, loosening his tie. “Let me talk to Alicia.”
“You,” Clarke begins, and then hesitates.
“Go ahead,” Cary offers.
Clarke shakes his head. “I don’t want to be the one saying this,” he says, “and you must understand I’m speaking purely about the bottom line.” Cary nods away on his end: “We have to make decisions without Alicia,” Cary agrees without Clarke even having to say it. Yes. There’s nothing wrong with attempting to talk to her and seeing where she was coming from, though; why wouldn’t you want that information? “Yes. Clearly she’s having some … difficulties,” Clarke notes diplomatically. “You are a co-managing partner.” Ah, I wondered how that duty was spread out; this is good information to have. “In her absence, it’s within your rights.”
Back at the NSA, Dum scratches at a note pad, not nearly as interested in the power dynamics as I am. “Did they add questions to your last test?” Jeff asks his parnter in crime. Oh. Is that what’s been bothering him? Dum doesn’t get it. “Your last lie detector test,” Dell clarifies. Get out of town – is that Chummy the Chum Hum gopher on Jeff’s t-shirt? Awesome. “Did they add any other questions?” I don’t, Dum frowns, setting down the notepad. “Yeah, they always do, why?” Jay and Michael Urie/Smart Marc scoot their chairs over for a little conference. Huh. I like this; it’s sort of a shame they didn’t brings us a gang from the beginning. Jeff explains, shaking out his fingers, they usually just keep it to the same twenty questions every time. What did they add, Smart Marc wonders? “Did I take any confidential materials?” he relays, scrunching up his face.
They’re worried about the next Edward Snowden, Jay explains (duh), looming over Dell’s shoulder like the troll that he is. “Shut up, Jay,” Dum grumbles; you can tell this is something of a refrain with the group. “No, he’s right,” Unfashionable Marc whispers. “Someone in this office has been leaking information to the press.” Really! How do they know that, Dum whispers. “I.P. addresses or something,” Not Marc shrugs. ‘That’s why they doubled up on the the lie detector tests.” What? They doubled your tests and it didn’t occur to you to notice that? Man. These guys are the most peculiar combination of brilliant and stone stupid. Talk about arrested development. Are you worried, Dum asks, his sharp features turned up toward his colleague. No, just more stuff, Dell blows it off. Except it’s clear that he’s nowhere near as nonchalant as he wants his friends to think.
“You know what you gotta do?” Dum tells him. “What?” Jeff asks, his face wiped black. “You gotta fight,” thump thump, he sings “for your right,” thump thump, expecting Smart Marc and Jay to join in, which they don’t,”to maaaaaasturbate!” Everyone else glides back to their desks, leaving Jeff cringing in confusion and disgust in the aisle. (This is apparently a Nerf Herder parody of the Beastie Boys classic? Sigh.)
Still wincing, Jeff rolls back to his desk, where a call is being flagged to Alicia from Finn Polmar. It seems the ASA has another legal problem he needs her help with. “Finn?” she asks, sitting on her bed and rubbing her eyes. “Yeah, yeah, they told me you were home,” he says. Oh, I’m just getting up, she lies, although her feet are for once on the ground. She stares at the sleep sand – or maybe it’s make up – that she’s rubbed off of her eyes and onto her finger tips. “They’ve taken my computer,” he hisses, walking over to his desk at the State’s Attorney’s offices. “Who has?” she wonders, confused. “I don’t know,” he admits. “I returned from court, and I’m staring at a computer that looks like mine, but they’ve stuck the post-it notes in the wrong places.” He looks around, clearly expecting to be observed by somebody. Wow, we’re all about the workplace spying and paranoia today. I suppose they must have ordered his coworkers not to say they’d been there? None of this seems particularly legal.
What’s on it, Alicia wonders. “Everything,” Finn exhales, still peering over his shoulder. “Anything that can hurt you,” Alicia asks flatly. “I don’t think so,” he guesses, sighing, “but… it does have my notes for the Jeffrey Grant prosecution.” Alicia surveys her dark bedroom. “Okay,” she decides. “Let me talk to the State’s Attorney.” I’d rather do it, he insists immediately, but she shuts him down. “You need a lawyer. Don’t be your own lawyer.”
Tweedle Dum taps on Dee/Dell’s cubicle with a pen. “You know, they did ask me a new question,” he remembers. Jeff raises his eyebrows. Let me guess, something about goat videos? “What?” Jeff wonders, and scoots his chair around so they can talk face to face; Dum twists back in his chair, arms folded up against his torso. “On the lie detector test, they asked me a new question.” What, Jeff asks, mouth open. “Did I know any coworker who took confidential information home?”
“And what did you say?” Jeff asks, still agape. “I said no,” Dum flutters the fingers pressed to his chest. “Was that wrong?” No, Jeff blinks, and we tune back in to the conversation Dum’s been following between Diane and Cary. “I’m sorry, I was under the impression that Alicia was a name partner,” Diane responds to something Cary’s said, her back clearly up. “Yes, and there’s an Agos to her Florrick,” Cary bites.
“Who’s that?” Jeff asks, completely distracted. “Cary,” Dum replies, looking back at the screen as Diane protests she merely had a casual conversation with Alicia. “Talking about the merger.” He scoots back, fascinated.
“And why wasn’t I brought into the loop?” Cary wonders. Damn straight, Cary! Good question. (And, hmm. Because the merger is a terrible idea, perhaps? Or because Alicia always plays her hand way too close to her chest?) He sounds different, Jeff blinks. “Yeah, I know,” Dum gushes, clearly thrilled by the confrontation. “Alicia doesn’t control this firm, it’s both of ours,” he insists. Indeed it is. “Then consider the merger, Cary,” Diane pleads. “It would benefit both of us.”
“No,” Cary snaps, “it would benefit you. You’re over-extended.” Not that I like to see anyone shouting at Diane, and not that I’m not sympathetic to her plight, but I want to cheer. “We’re both over-extended,” she argues. “No, we’re a start up,” he barks. “Our natural state is to be overextended. You are mismanaged.” Damn! Wow! Stunned by his tone and frankness, Jeff stares at the floor. “Wow,” he breathes. “Yeah,” Dum spins back to smirk at his friend, “he’s kickin’ ass!” I’m not sure I would conflate unnecessary rudeness with kicking ass, but okay.
Adopting a more conciliatory tone, Cary tells a deflated Diane that all he’s asking for is a three year guarantee that Chum Hum revenues will belong only to his partners. “One year,” Diane counters. “Diane,” Cary says, “I’m not negotiating. I’m stating.” Now that is kicking ass.
And, whoa – that’s Julius Cain at Diane’s door! It’s been what, two years since we’ve seen him? (Roughly. Looks like his last appearance was in season 3’s “Blue Ribbon Panel“.) I have to go, Diane confesses, and we see that Julius’s calling her to a partner’s meeting in the large conference room. “Talk to Alicia. See what she wants.” Ugh, that was a bit patronizing. “Alicia’s out sick and I’m making the decisions in the meantime,” Cary states flatly. Damn! Good for you, Cary! I mean, not that I don’t want him to work with Alicia, but he deserves to be treated with respect and not as Alicia’s errand boy. “Good to know,” Diane answers, hanging up and slumping back into her chair in frustration. Well, so much for that escape route.
The moment Diane enters the conference room, David’s all over her. “So are we merging or what?” he scoffs, as if casually. “We need to do something,” Julius interjects from his seat. “I’ve been in the New York office. We need more Chicago support.” Huh. Well,t hat explains a little bit of his absence. “Actually,” Diane says, sitting down at the head of the table, “I’ve had a change of heart. I think we should hold off on any merger talk.” Really, David asks, surprised, leering over her. “Florrick/Agos not coming together?” I think we should take some time before we make such a big decision, she covers the mishap as best she can, waving her glasses in her hand. “I would tend to agree,” Julius concurs, because of course he does.
“Well,” David waves his hand, “when you argued so passionately about a merger, Diane, I made a couple of calls and discovered a possible suitor.” She glares at him. “Don’t you wanna know who?”
We all know who. “Hello, I’m Louis Canning,” Michael J. Fox turns in his chair. He’s wearing a mustard colored sweater under his suit jacket, which gives him a clearly calculated warm and folksy touch. “I know some of you, and some of you I want to get to know.” Does that mean that he doesn’t want to get to know the rest of them? “Diane,” he nods; when she nods back, I can see from her clothes that this is taking place on the same day. Was he already just out in the waiting room, I wonder? “First things first,” he says, “these movements that you see are part of a neural disorder I suffer from called tardive dyskinesia.” Diane drops her head into her hands, and David cuts him off. “Well, we don’t discriminate here. If people vote against our merger, I’m sure it’ll be for other reasons than your disorder.” Ha! Good for you, David.
“I want to say how much I respected Will Gardner,” he continues; Julius nods piously. “In fact I’m a bit overwhelmed just sitting in this …” Oh my God, is he pretending to cry? Somebody slap him, quick. “this far from his office,” he finishes, once he’s done screwing up his face. “I’m sure he’s smiling down on us, thinking ‘don’t make any dumb decisions!'” Canning thumps his fist on the table for effect.
“Oh dear God,” Diane snorts. “Are you really thinking of putting the Fox in charge?”
HA! That’s so great! I mean, obviously the reference is to the proverb – don’t put the fox in charge of the hen house – but HA! “Diane!” David admonishes her. “Just because he has a condition…” Oh, hush up, David. “He bankrupted us,” Diane reminds the room. “Remember? We went to bankruptcy court because of him?” Um, yeah. That’s a problem.
“Diane, I know we’ve been on opposite sides on other cases,” Canning counters. Sure, but none of their real problems with you occurred in a courtroom. “But, I’m sincere when I say, I need what you have.” Is this supposed to be encouraging? “And you need what I have.” What do you have, Julius wonders. “Infrastructure in New York and L.A.,” Canning explains. Ah. Now that is handy. David gives Diane a triumphant look.
“Don’t reveal all your crime scene photos at once,” Jimmy-James Castro lectures a few underlings in his office, standing in front of a boarded covered with bloody photographs, “or your jury will become immune.” Ugh. The board is black, so the splatter stands out vividly. “The truth must dazzle gradually, lest every man be blind,” he slightly misquotes Emily Dickinson. I’m struggling not to call him pretentious, since I’m generally a fan of literary quotations, but it’s hard considering how much I already dislike him. And that’s when he notices Alicia standing in his doorway. “Alicia,” he nods, tentative, “come on in.” She moves forward, light glinting off her glossy, straightened hair. She’s once more her glamorous self, although armored with less make up than we’ve seen since she started her own firm. She’s more Lockhart/Gardner Alicia.
“Then, deliberately hand the photos to the jury,” he continues. “You want them to touch them, feel responsible…” Poor Alicia’s eyes zoom past the people to this profusion of blood and gore – a drain swirled with red, a knife on a blood soaked carpet, a bullet casing next to a hand – clearly cast from multiple crime scenes (or one massive, confusing one). There’s a sneaker in one scene, a wheel cart (with bakery items?) in another. Castro’s words spin away. A corpse’s feet on tile. Sandals. Another victim, a single bare foot visible beneath a colorful skirt. “Go forth,” Castro dismisses his students, “and do likewise.” Huh.
Because he’s not a complete clod, Castro notices her fixation on his murder board. “A double homicide on 151st,” he explains. Oh. Her eyes don’t leave the images. He sighs. “So, am I a disappointment to your husband?” Hello, what? Alicia snaps back to attention. “What?” she blinks. “No.” “It’s just, I’m having trouble getting him on the phone,” he complains. Well, guilt-tripping his wife’s surely going to do the trick there. Smooth move, Castro. I take back my early statement. It’s not that he isn’t a total clod, it’s just that he’s not blind. “Well, he’s … busy,” she says, looking away.
When she starts swaying, Castro proves once again that he’s not blind. “Are you okay?” he asks. “Yes,” she answers quickly,”may I sit down?” She hardly waits for his permission to do so; he offers water, which she declines before straightening her back, clasping her hands together, and beginning her play. “Why did you take Finn Polmar’s computer?” she asks.
Immediately he switches into legal mode. “Why did I…” he wonders, and so she corrects herself. “His computer was taken and he works for you,” she rephrases. “Well there’s a … disciplinary panel, established by my predecessor, your husband,” he nods, “the internal standards unit. It is investigating Finn’s case.” But still, taking his computer and pretending they didn’t? That’s weird, right? Wouldn’t most places just tell you that you were under review and take your computer? When she protests that there’s already an inquiry into the Jeffrey Grant case, he says no. “All Finn’s cases.” Well. Crap. So much for him having been the best man at your wedding, huh?
Phone in hand, shirt untucked, Cary walks toward his desk. “Sondra,” he calls out, “do you have my other shirt? I spilled juice on it,” he complains, looking at his loose shirttail. “He’s just sitting at your desk,” Clarke walks up to Cary. “He won’t talk to me.” Who, Cary wonders, popping his phone back into his jacket pocket. Clarke points to a kid, perhaps 10 or 11, leaning against Cary’s desk, skateboard in hand. “This is Cary Agos, you can tell him,” Clarke says. “Hey, whadda ya need?” Cary asks. The kid pushes off the desk – and due to his height, I revise my age estimate up to 13 – hands Cary a note, and walks silently out of the office. Both men watch him go. I need to meet you outside, the note says. What kind of skullduggery is this?
And, oh my gosh, it’s vintage spy craft, because that’s Jeff the NSA agent in the elevator! Eeee! Also, that’s incredibly stupid of him (really, you need legal advice and you go to the lawyers that you and your team are listening to?) but I’m so damned excited I don’t even care. The worlds meet! I love this so much. Clarke nods politely as the two get on, Cary closing the gate; perhaps since the note says “outside” neither of them was expecting to meet their mystery client in the building. “Hello?” Cary says.
“I need a lawyer,” Jeff tells him, and both Cs turn in surprise. As the door pulls down and the elevator gears scream, Jeff tells his story.
“You work for the NSA?” Cary repeats in more than a bit of disbelief. “I’m an independent contractor,” Jeff gulps. Ha. Is everyone who works for them an independent contractor? I think I need to read up more on Edward Snowden. “For the NSA,” Clarke scrunches his eyebrows, incredulous. “Yes.” “And, that’s all you can tell us?” the diminutive former account wonders. “I think I’m in trouble,” Jeff explains. “I need legal advice.”
“What kind of trouble?” Cary asks. “I took home a flash drive from work,” Jeff confesses – no way! – “and I uploaded something to my home computer.” Okay, Cary shrugs, what was on it? “A valentine. For my sister’s kids. I drew it up while I was at work. But there were some confidential things on the flash drive, too, and they’re asking about it.” Uh oh. “They’re?” Clarke wonders. “My system admin,” he explains. “We get weekly lie detector tests?” Because who doesn’t? Also, doesn’t “system admin” sound like a computer program rather than a job title? “They’re asking if anything confidential went home.” I know it’s a cliche to say that the elevator grinds to a stop, but man, those are some serious grinding noises. The door rolls up, and Alicia walks toward the gate, slim against the bright red walls of the entryway.
“Alicia, hello,” Clarke murmurs quietly, and Jeff actually takes a step back. It’s funny to think, isn’t it, that he has literally spent years of his life listening to her, listening to all these people, hearing so many of their intimate thoughts and secrets, and now he’s finally meeting them in the flesh; it’s like he’s meeting the stars of his favorite television show, only more so. I’m sure the fact that she’s a beautiful, glamorous woman has something to do with the strength of his reaction as well; certainly he didn’t react this way to the men. He stares, mesmerized, making her quickly uncomfortable. Slowly, slowly, the gears drag them upward.
“The NSA’s no joke,” he frets, although in a way it is – I mean, the absurdity of using Nisa’s hang ups to expand their warrant? Their reasoning powers leave a lot to be desired. “You can’t email or talk on the phone or text about me or anything to do with me.” Alicia raises an eyebrow at this. “We use burners,” Cary explains, “and we change them up every three days.” Really? Why haven’t we seen that, then? I mean, do they imagine that only cell phones get tapped? It’s not like they haven’t been on their desk phones all episode. “No, you can’t use any phones, I’m serious.”
“Why, are they listening to us?” Alicia asks flatly. All three lawyers look at him expectantly. “No,” he blinks, taking a step back, and if they’re remotely awake they’ll read that for the obvious lie it was. I mean, come on! Why do they even need to ask? They know they’re being tapped! “Then what’re you worried about?” she asks.
“Every call you make, every text, every email any of us make, it’s all sucked up by the NSA and stored until it serves some sort of later purpose.” Well. Yes. That is incredibly creepy. NSA, you’re creepy! And unethical! And immoral! So there. Suck that up into your bit bucket. “There are word searches that could pop my name or my circumstances up to the top.” Okay, Cary accepts this explanation. “Give us a day to discuss strategy.”
“Actually,” Alicia steps in, “we need to discuss this.” Her look makes it clear that she wants to talk and probably turn him down. Unfortunately for her (or fortunately, as the case may be) Cary’s not in a mood to be told what to do. “No we don’t,” he shrugs as if he doesn’t care, and Alicia exhales, annoyed. Poor Clarke; he hates it when Mommy and Daddy fight.
Instead of remarking on this, Clarke asks Jeff the obvious question. “Why can’t you tell them you took the flash drive home accidentally?” Good question. “Everyone is worried about the next Snowden,” he nearly cries. “They won’t believe me. I don’t want to disappear one night.” Or have to flee the country, I get it. Cary nods. “Okay. Come by tomorrow, this time.” Then he turns and glares at Alicia, daring her to contradict him. Damn! Good for you, Cary! I mean, you know I love Alicia and I’m not all about the dissent, but she was taking him for granted.
What happened to discussing cases, she asks once they’re back in the office. “I’ve had to make decisions while you were out,” he begins, looking a little pale, which is rather weak considering she was standing right there. “We can’t take on any cases involving the US government,” she says as if repeating a mantra. “We did at Lockhart/Gardner,” he shrugs. “Yes, and when we’re as big as Lockhart/Gardner,” she argues, but he cuts her off. “You don’t need to get involved,” he interjects, and she starts, shocked. She’s wearing a – it’s sort of a cross between a sweater and a jacket, and so a cross between her pajamas and her normal structured work wear. Her phone rings, and with a final, defiant look, he stalks off. She picks up the phone, swaying again.
“Alicia Florrick,” she says. Ah, Alicia, comes the rich voice of Louis Canning. “Mr. Canning?” she blinks. Yes, he says, I’m just calling to check in. Oh God; he’s sitting at Will’s desk. “Um,” she hesitates. ‘Well, is there something you need?” ‘Well, yes, come to think of it,” he says, picking up a file off of Will’s desk. How did this happen so quickly? “I need my client back.” Your client, she echoes, confused and impatient. “Which one is your client?”
“Chum Hum,” he says cheerfully, and she pales. “What – what’s this about, Mr. Canning?” She’s exasperated by his game playing. “Oh, that’s right, you haven’t heard,” he answers. “My firm is merging with Lockhart/Gardner. We’re Lockhart Gardner Canning now. We decided to keep Will’s name. It was a nice gesture, don’t you think?” Ugh. He’s so much fun to hate. Such cheerful little eel. (Also, what happened to Myers? Not a very nice gesture to that apparently former partner of Canning’s, which ought to be a warning if one was even needed.) She lets the phone slip down into its holder.
Lockhart Gardner Canning’s a pretty loud place. There’s lots of ambient noise as Kalinda walks around, Will’s office seems pretty silent. She surveys the room and then leaves, just as Louis Canning pops up from behind one of Will’s surprisingly shabby leather chairs. Just looking for a pen, he pants. “Almost got it!,” he calls from his knees, reaching down, his chin resting on the back of the chair. “Almost… No. Would you, please?” UGH. If he were someone else – but everything with him is a game, a ploy to see how far he can push the people around him. Is there a pen there at all? Did he toss it across the room on purpose? “Sure,” she glares, sashaying toward the chair.
“Getting used to my new surroundings,” he nods. Don’t! Get out of Will’s office, you little butt-head! “You got it?” he asks, when she grabs something – but it’s a baseball, obviously one of Will’s. “No,” she says, as if to hide it from him. Once she’s found the pen and handed it over (“my hero!”), she straightens up, baseball in one hand and her orange leather notebook in the other. “Is that Will’s?” Canning asks, pointing at the ball. She glances down at it. “Why don’t I come back later,” she suggests, taking off for the door.
But of course she’s not getting away that easily. “Wait,” he says. “Look, I know he was your friend, and I know that you hate that I’m here, but I’m going to have to take over Will’s last twenty cases, and I’m gonna need everything you got.” The last twenty? What does that mean, as opposed to asking for his current cases? Finished cases too? After fixing him in her glare, Kalinda walks forward slowly, and pulls open a drawer in Will’s filing cabinet. Ha. I love the perfectly calm expression on her face.
“No no no,” he says, “the real information. The state of all investigations, total resulting costs, bad facts good facts I need everything you got.” He wipes his brow, because that was a lot to say, or at least it sounds like a lot because he’s spitting it out so quickly. She glares at him, her eyebrows raised. “Kalinda, I’m your boss now. I need your help, please.” After giving him another measuring look, she snaps the rubber band off her orange notebook. Great, he says. The last twenty cases, going back to July. July? Why July? Although I suppose I’d know for sure whether that was weird or not (because it sounds weird) if I knew when now was. “I need everything he sent out to New York and L.A.” Makes sense. Okay, she mutters, heading out.
“I know it’s your instinct to run back to Diane and tell her everything I just asked for,” he calls out to her retreating back, “and I’m guessing it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference if I told you it was confidential so it’s not.” Damn, the man talks fast. “But, you’re gonna have to learn to trust me real quick.” He straightens up his neck. “I’m the new Will.” She nods. And then she tosses the baseball just to the right of his head, smashing something made of glass. “You’re not the new Will,” she says, walking out into the shocked silence of the outer office.
Must be nice to give a damn if you get fired, huh?
“So we discussed it, and we have a plan,” Cary tells Jeff, who is huddled in the conference room, swallowed up by a brown jacket. “You need to be a whistle blower,” Clarke explains. Say what? “I…” Jeff points to himself as if to protest that he is just not that kind of guy – which we all totally believe. You’re not protected if you simply took the flash drive home accidentally, Cary explains. “You are protected if you took the flash drive home due to wrongdoing.” Um, okay. “Well, what wrongdoing?” That’s what we wanted to ask you, Cary says, and Clarke wonders aloud if Jeff has ever seen any wrongdoing at work. From the way the operative scrunches up his face, it’s clear that the question is ridiculous. What constitutes wrongdoing? He laughs. “No, seriously,” Clarke asks, deadpan.
We have a suggestion if you can’t think of anything, Cary offers. Ha. I somehow doubt that’s the problem; it’s more like he’s terrified, and the gross number of infractions to our civil liberties he’s witnessed would create a mountain if he ever cared enough to catalog them. “But you have to do exactly what we say,” Cary warns. Jeff nods, puppy-like; following orders blindly is something he can do. “You go back to work,” Cary instructs him, “and you act like it’s a normal day.”
“There’s a new one!” Smart Marc calls out over his shoulder, his computer screen filled with a video. “Russian crash video?” Yeah. “Cows?” “No. Man with machete.” I’ve seen that one, Dum complains as Jeff stares vacantly at his own screen. “Not this one,” Smart Marc promises. Heh! Jeff’s wearing an It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia t-shirt. Nice follow up. Dum laughs as the video plays on his screen, in which a man gets out of a car, a machete in each hand, and runs toward the moving camera. He laughs. So far, I don’t get it. (I get the troll song. That was funny. This? Not so much.) “It goes on like that for a mile,” Smart Marc can hardly contain himself; Dee and Dum both laugh. “God I love Russians,” Dum splutters, rubbing his head with his hands.
That’s when the lie detector tester touches Jeff on the shoulder. “You all set?” he asks. Today, he’s got on a suit jacket. “And when they tell you to take the lie detector test, you go. And you answer honestly,” Cary voices over. Huh. We see Jeff, hooked up to the machine, his posture atypically straight. “About everything?” he asks Cary. “Yes.”
“Is your first name Jeff?” asks the examiner. Jeff looks forward. “Yes.” “Did you pick the number 4?” Yes. There’s a coil or something strapped onto his chest, above the writing, squeezing the Philadelphia skyline. I didn’t notice it last time, but maybe that’s because his previous t-shit was so dark. This one is pale, and you can see copper wrapped around the tips of the coil. “Have you ever removed confidential materials from the workplace?” Yes, Jeff answers, looking straight ahead.
The examiner slowly raises his eyes off his screen. This must be the most exciting thing that’s happened to him in months. Jeff looks at him. Yes. He did say yes. Yes, this is a big deal.
Then, a return to script. “Are you currently in Illinois?” Yes. On the back wall, there’s a black square and the capital letter K.
“Then, you lay the groundwork for your defense,” Clarke’s voice tells him. Jeff tosses something down onto Dum’s lap. Dum, who’s wearing an Avenger’s t-shirt, grumbles. “Do you know what Froines is doing?” Jeff asks. Man, he’s a terrible actor. Not the actor. The character. Anyway. “Froines. Our systems admin. Do you know what he’s doing?” As Jeff peeks over the edge of his cubicle, we see that Hoodie-Addict Marc’s sitting with Dum, who wrinkles his nose in disgust. “Probably nothing,” he says, twisting a pen between his fingers like a baton. “No, he’s checking up on his ex-wife,” Jeff volunteers, “he’s pulling her calls out of the bit bucket.” Smart Marc looks over at Dum. “So?” he asks; why is Jeff making noise about something so trivial and meaningless. “I just think its wrong,” Jeff replies piously. Disbelieving, Dum looks over at Michael, who snorts. “Yeah, okay,” he replies, like agreeing with Jeff is the fastest way to make him stop being stupid and irrelevant.
Gah. And these are the people with their hands all over our business. (I mean, okay, they are fictional people. It still makes me want to shower.)
“They won’t think it’s wrongdoing,” Jeff waves his hands at Cary and Clarke, back in their conference. “That’s why you go to the office of the general counsel,” Cary says. With a sharp knock on a frosted glass door, Jeff does just that. “And this is what you say,” Clark advises, and then Clarke’s words come out of Jeff’s mouth.
“I work as an independent contractor for the NSA, and I want to report wrongdoing within the company.” There. That’s got the general counsel’s attention.
“I’m sorry?” he says, a thin man with a square face, wire framed glasses and an excess of hair. “Before I go further, this report must remain confidential, and there must be no repercussions for me,” Jeff says in Cary’s voice. Nice trick, director of the week. The general counsel still stares. “That’s true,” he agrees, so Jeff sits down, peering cautiously out into the hall as if fearing being observed. “On multiple occasions, I have observed my immediate supervisor monitoring his ex-wife’s calls and emails,” he says. “And then it will no longer be about your suspicious removal of a flash drive,” Cary finishes. Wow. Misdirection. Okay. Seems a bit Byzantine, no? “You removed it because you’re a whistle blower,” Clarke says significantly, “and that protects you.”
Jeff can’t quite believe it. “And that’s it?” Yes. Ha! Like anything involved in this show would ever be that easy. “Yes,” says Cary. “You go back to your workstation and you relax.” Obligingly, Jeff returns to his workstation, and sits his skinny jeans clad backside down, tipping back and leaning his head all the way.
“That’s odd,” someone calls out. “Cary Agos just mentioned the NSA.” Uh oh. At first I assumed it was Dum, but no, it’s Smart Marc. “In what context?” Dum asks. Poor Jeff looks like his eyes are going to start out of his head. “I don’t know, he’s in the background,” Michael replies, and the old gang all scoots over. “Clarke Hayden had his phone on speaker, Cary was passing by talking to someone, and he said something about the NSA.” Maybe they’re suing us again, Jay suggests; it’s funny since the other guys are scrawny and gangling, but Jay seems to be the only person who consistently moves without the use of his office chair. “Shut up, Jay,” Dum calls out, “let me hear it.”
First, all we hear is Clarke talking to somebody about passing off non-billable tasks. Smart Marc, you have bat ears or something. It’s not till he works a little fancy magic that we hear what he heard to begin with – “buzz buzz the NSA.” Smart Marc lifts a hand as if to say, voila! “That’s it,” he says. Huh, Dum frowns. “It’s probably nothing,” Jeff lies, panicking. “Just read something online or something.” And his day gets worse from there, because that’s when a thin man in a gray tweed suit taps him on the shoulder with a few fingers. “Jeff. Do you have a minute?” Without waiting for answer, the man – who seems to be the same height the seated Jeff – walks away. “Sure,” Jeff says, leaving his chair in the middle of the aisle, leaving Dum and Smart Marc to make explosion noises in his wake.
The short man in the tweed suit is the general counsel; he and Jeff walk down a hallway full of compressed document shelving on a library track system. (What? I’m a library geek.) “You said Mr. Froines is using facilities to follow his ex-wife, is that right?” Yep. The counsel ushers Jeff back into his office – and it’s not empty. “You’re accusing me of what?” Froines (better known to me as Middle Management Man) snaps.
Yeah. That was totally easy, Cary.
In a profound contrast to the brightly lit NSA building, and Jeff’s t-shirt and big ears and shocked expression, Diane and Louis sits at a small table in a large restaurant, formal and elegant. Thanks for meeting me, Canning says; you’re welcome, Diane replies pithily. “I don’t want to be the enemy,” he says, staring at her over his water with lemon. “You’re not the enemy,” she smirks, twisting her mouth. “Yes,” he agrees, momentarily heartened. “You’re the devil.” Ha. Spoke too soon, Louis. He looks off, amused and appreciative.
“That’s why you need me,” he says. “How can you be an angel if you don’t want me to be the devil?” Really? We’re resorting to terrible pick up lines now? Diane cannot even believe it. “That makes no sense,” she smiles.
He leans forward, elbows on the table. “Your partner Will cut some corners,” he says. Dangerous. “I’m not criticizing,” he lies. I come not to praise Caesar but to bury him? “Because he was only doing the dirty work that you don’t want to do.” OH GOD. “Mr. Canning,” she cuts him off. “You’re in his office. You’re taking his cases. What more do you want?” Hearts and minds, I guess? A legion of screaming fans? “I want your respect,” he claims, settling back into his seat, and the laughter just bursts out of her. “Martini, please,” she nods at a passing waiter, holding up her not quite empty glass. “I’m not the same as I was, Diane, I’ve changed,” he claims. Oh please. “Good for you,” she grins, tossing back the rest of her drink.
“You’re fighting me,” he notes, hand out as if to bend her to his will with a Jedi mind trick, “it’s not going to work if you’re fighting me.” Well, then it’s not going to work. You’re a lawyer, Louis. Aren’t you used to people fighting you? “Said the rapist to his prey,” Diane replies, and Canning’s jaw hangs open and his head smashes back into his neck making it all look like one thick continuous rectangle. It’s not pretty. “That’s incredibly offensive,” he huffs, dropping the lemon into his drink (except, continuity error, the lemon has become a lime).
It’s Diane’s turn to lean forward. “Mr. Canning, if you really want my respect, then stop playing games. Stop treating me like I’m one of your marks. Just talk.” Ah. Is he even capable of that? “Use words to communicate your needs and desires.” He wipes his mouth with a napkin; I don’t think I’ve ever seen Fox look so old. “I want a home,” he offers. “I’ve been drifting, and I … want a place to call my own. This is that place.” Does he ever not speak in cliches? She sighs and takes a sip of her new martini. She stares him down. After a moment she decides one sip wasn’t enough. She sets down her glass, the liquor splashing its sides. “Okay!” she declares.
It really is old home week, because first we have Julius, and now it’s Matan Brody opening a door for Alicia. “Come on in,” he says. ‘We’re ready.”
“Finn has exercised his right to have his lawyer present in this session,” Alicia says, blocking Finn’s way into the massive space, perhaps an empty courtroom. “And you’re welcome, Mrs. Florrick,” Matan smiles slyly, pulling back the door.
And man, could they have arranged the disciplinary panel hearing in a more adversarial way? There are two desks set up opposite each other, set a good fifteen or even twenty feet apart. They’re far enough apart that the people involved won’t be able to use their normal speaking voices to talk to each other – it’s like that Gilligan’s Island episode where the Howells are seated so far apart at dinner they have to use a telephone to talk to each other. Jimmy-James The Observer Castro cranes his head back to nod at his old friend. I wasn’t aware that the State’s Attorney was part of this unit, Alicia notes. “I appointed him,” Matan declares. Finn looks particularly pale. “Good to see you, Jimmy,” he says. “Finn,” Jimmy nods.
“Mr. Polmar and I have taken the liberty to explain in depth any questions you might have about his prosecutions with the Cook’s County State’s Attorney’s office,” Alicia explains, taking a file out of her bag and walking it across the length of the room to the “unit”‘s desk. “This is a summary of the evidence and how much he worked with Mr. Castro on each defense,” she finishes. “Prosecution,” Finn prompts.
Oh dear. She turns and corrects herself.
“Thank you,” Matan says, flipping through the pages. “And does this cover the detention order?” Excuse me, she asks. “Finn’s detention orders in these cases,” Matan elaborates. Finn leans forward. “We were told this was about the four prosecutions,” Alicia says. “Three prosecutions,” Finn whispers. “Yes,” she repeats, “three.” Ugh. This is her first day in court all over again, isn’t it? We’ve got Matan and everything. “This was not about Jeffrey Grant.” “Yes,” smirks Matan (because this is the state in which Matan exists) , “this is about the detentions in his cases.” Okay. This is certainly an area where the SA’s office is vulnerable to Jeffrey Grant’s suit.
Castro seems to either point to something or pass on a piece of paper. “What does this inscription here mean?” Matan asks. “Gen Den?” Finn narrows his eyes. “You know what it means,” he says. “I know what it usually means,” Matan drawls, as if somehow it means something sinister only for Finn. “General detention. Transferring a prison into the general population with other criminals.” “To encourage a defendant to accept a plea bargain,” Castro adds in professorial mode again, hands gripping each other. “That is standard operating procedure,” Finn agrees.
“Will Gardner was shot by Jeffrey Grant. Jeffrey Grant grabbed a gun because he was being intimidated and harassed in general pop,” Castro furthers; Finn looks to Alicia to see how she’s bearing this. “You put him there, Finn,” Matan accuses. Finn leans back, and looks over at Alicia, but when she finally, hesitantly glances over at him, he looks away.
Out in the hall he slumps onto a bench, shaken, his face haunted. “He’s right,” he gasps, leaning against the wall, sounding out of breath. “I did it, I transferred him to general population; that’s why he killed Will.” Finn turns to Alicia, wanting to see a confirmation – or a denial – of this epiphany in her face. When she doesn’t meet his eyes, he takes it as that confirmation. She blames him. She thinks it’s true. His eyes are wild. He lunges away, leaving Alicia to blink back her tears and disbelief in the hallway.
Looking just as lost as Finn, Alicia lowers herself to her desk. She leans forward,pressing her lips together, until a passerby snaps her out of her reverie. “Clarke,” she says, and the former accountant stops. “I need you to take a case for me,” she says quietly. “Which one?” Oh, Alicia. Don’t! “Finn Polmar,” she says. “Why?” Her eyes flicker down. “I’m not in a position to defend him anymore,” she says simply. Well, she didn’t break down – that’s a good sign, I guess. And it is surely true that the situation’s fraught with complication. Finn and the entire SA’s office are complicit in Will’s death, having falsely prosecuted his killer. Are they responsible for Jeffrey’s decisions? No. Would Will be dead if Jeffrey hadn’t been railroaded and pressed too hard for a plea bargain? No. Clarke sighs over his coffee mug – and then excuses himself, because guess who’s just wandered into his office? The other Jeff. Who hopefully will not shoot up their office for having been lead down the garden path.
“I’ve been suspended,” he tells Cary and Clarke. “You have?” Clarke draws his eyebrows down in surprise. “You can’t be!” What on earth is making you think that the NSA is overly fussed about rule following? Let’s be real here. “The system admin was in the meeting and accused me of spying on him.” They can’t be doing that, Cary says, leading Jeff toward the conference area. “They did,” Jeff whines. “They took my security pass and gave me this red badge.” Alicia checks her phone, standing up with her coat. “And you can’t say NSA anywhere, it was picked up on a speaker phone.”
“We’ve been very careful,” Cary soothes him, not getting it. Alicia’s not just listening, she’s hearing, and she stops as the words hit her. “They’ve assigned me a new office. I’m counting Styrofoam cups all day.” As opposed to the scintillating work you normally do spying on them? I’d say that he has some serious nerve, but really I think he’s just myopic and immature. “I need to get my job back!” “Okay,” Cary presses his lips together. “We’ll file a discrimination suit with the NSA.” Uh. How will that help? “I think it’s best to handle this as a common workplace issue.”
“How did you know that?” Alicia asks, stepping into the room. “How did I know what?” Cary asks, still not understanding. Alicia trains her eyes on Jeff. “How did you know that someone picked up NSA from Clarke’s speaker phone?” Yep. Thank you. That’s the old Alicia, although I’m not sure how she knows it was Clarke’s phone. Blinking, Jeff scrambles to cover his mistake. “No, I said it could be picked up on his speaker phone,” he declares, shooting a nervous look at Cary. “No, you said it was,” Alicia’s certain. Jeff sits back. “Then I made a mistake,” he declares, his little boy voice plaintive. Alicia and Cary frown at him. And then Alicia pulls up her phone and speed dials.
“Hello, it’s Alicia,” she says, and back in her apartment Grace stands, puzzled, in her school uniform. “Mom?” “I need to tell you who’s in our conference room right now.” What, Jeff gasps, starting to twitch. “Wait, you can’t!”
She tucks the phone to her shoulder. “You’re listening to us, aren’t you?” she hisses. I’m not sure covering the phone will help, not after what Smart Marc picked up off speaker phone, but okay. “Tell me or I swear to God I’ll say your name.” He stares at her dumbly. Clarke and Cary frown, wondering if her instinct is right. “Guess who’s here needing a lawyer?” she asks Grace again. “Mom, are you alright?” Grace squeaks.
And he breaks.
“Okay, okay, yes, we are, we’re listening, just hang up,” he pleads, hand out to her. “Talk to you later, Grace,” she says, and she does, leaving her daughter even more puzzled. “Tell us everything. Now.”
“He can’t break confidentiality,” Clarke barks while Cary fumes. “Is it phones, or is it emails…” Alicia just stares, livid. “Wait a minute. Wait!” she stops them. “Why us?” Poor beleaguered Jeff throws up his hands. “It’s not you. It’s not personal,” he pleads. “Of course it’s personal,” she snaps. Damn straight! “There was a FISA warrant,” he admits, and poor Clarke is aghast. “What did we do?”
“No, it’s not what you did,” Jeff frowns, “you had a client, Danny Marwat…” Not unreasonably, Alicia explodes. “Oh dear God, are you friggin’ kidding me?” “The translator at Lockhart/Gardner?” Cary seriously cannot believe it. “He is not a terrorist!” Alicia hollers. “Well, he was a terrorist sympathizer,” Jeff tries to justify the massive waste of time, resources and civil rights, “and you’re the wife of the governor…” She huffs out a disgusted puff of air; as Clarke starts to ask (presumably) why they’re listening to the entire firm, Alicia twigs to Jeff’s word choice again.
“Wait,” she says,”wait. You’re listening to Peter?” He sighs, trying to extricate himself from this storm of blame. “Not intentionally. It’s a three hop warrant…” He’s all big hands and long fingers, Jeff. “A three hop?” Alicia interrupts. “So it’s not just us? It’s anyone we talk to, and anyone they talk to?” No, Jeff says like she’s crazy. “Then what?” You can see he really, really doesn’t want to admit this. “It’s anyone you talk to – it’s three hops from you.” He cringes, apologetic.
Alicia and Cary and Clarke stare at Jeff and each other. When Alicia finally moves, she detonates a firestorm of activity. “Get everybody off their phones,” she shouts to the office at large. “Hey, get off that phone,” she tells one employee. “Get everybody off their computers!” Cary claps a laptop shut. “Don’t hit send,” he instructs another employee. “Here, use this,” Clarke hands something to a third person. “Pen and paper.” Ha. Bet that’s set the three stooges back at the NSA aflutter. In the midst of this flurry, Alicia’s phone goes off, because of course it does. And of course, of course, it’s Eli.
“Alicia, I just wanted to…” he begins, but she cuts him off. “Eli, I was just on my way to your office.” “Oh, that’s okay,” he demurs. “This’ll only take a second.” No no, she says, rushing for the door. “I’m on my way, I’ll see you in a minute.”
Puffing and out of breath, Clarke finds her as she waits for the elevator, looking for Finn Polmar’s files. “No,” she says, “I decided to stay on it.” YAY! “Can you tell Robin to find whatever she can get on the State’s Attorney’s Offices’ correspondence?” The elevator is simply not coming fast enough, so she rips open the stairway door, and Clarke’s left sputtering, alone. “Okay, sounds good,” he tells the door that’s just slammed in his face.
State workers part ways for Alicia as she charges through the hallway to Peter’s office. “Alicia, you didn’t have to, it was just a quick call,” Eli greets her, warm and smiling. He won’t be smiling for long. “You can’t use your phone anymore,” she insists.
“What?” Yes. Well may you ask. “You can’t call me on the phone anymore,” she insists, which is rather missing the point. “Why?” he asks, utterly puzzled. “Let’s go into your office,” she suggests (because yes, this is not a conversation for the hallway) but as she’s jerking her head toward his door, Peter walks out of it, hands plunged into his pockets. Hello, awkward. When he says hello, he seems pissed. “Hi,” she responds, looking at the floor. Poor Eli doesn’t know where to look.
“Alicia was just telling me we can’t call her anymore.” Okay, that sounds even worse in context. “The NSA is listening to us,” she tells them, pitching her voice low, and their heads whip back in surprise.
How do you know this, Eli wonders, and of course for confidentiality reasons she can’t say. “But I believe the information is good.” Nicely done, Alicia. “When did they start listening,” Peter asks. “Before you were elected,” Alicia tells them. “We discussed the ballot box investigation,” Eli reminds Peter, making Alicia nervous. “Eli, if you’re going to talk about this, I have to go – I don’t want to be subpoenaed.” Indeed. Peter thanks her coldly, not meeting her eyes, and she takes the dismissal without a word.
“Do you believe her?” Eli asks. What? Why would she lie? She would never sabotage Peter’s career, and didn’t they already know about the possibility of a tap? “I don’t know,” Peter answers. Really? “There’s a lot of paranoia going around these days,” Eli observes. Wow, I can’t believe he’s arguing against Alicia and against caution. “Who’s our newest intern?” Peter wonders; Eli purses his lips and asks why, baffled. When Peter nods at him, however, he gives the name. “Adam. The guy with the beard. Why?” Peter pops into the outer office, calls for Adam, and when a young man in a sweater, tie and beard turns around, he asks politely to borrow his cell phone.
“Senator! Peter Florrick!” he charms into Adam’s phone. “State or federal?” Eli whispers. Federal, Peter mouths. “Senator, the reason I’m calling, it’s about this NSA surveillance.” Ah, says the Senator, “That bastard Snowden.” Um, wrong answer. Incorrect! “The public doesn’t get why it’s necessary.” Ah, Peter nods. “Well I think I’m with the public on this one, because, ah, I’ve heard a rumor that I’ve been targeted by the NSA.” What, the Senator cries. “Yeah. My wife and her law firm also.”
“No, they don’t go after governors,” the Senator scoffs. Eli seems confused that Peter would bring Alicia into it. “Too much downside.” Ha. “Well listen, Bill,” Peter suggests. ‘I know you’re with the Senate intelligence committee, could you just look into it for me?” Sure, no problem, he says. Great. Thanks.
“You think he’ll tell the truth?” Eli wonders, standing. “No,” Peter says shortly, leaving Eli wiggling his eyebrows in confusion. “Okay,” he shrugs, willing to trust his boss’s judgement on the matter. So he switches topics. “Is there something I should know about you and Alicia?” No, Peter says, in a Father Knows Best sort of tone that promises no explanation will be forthcoming. “You’re monosyllabic these days,” Eli tries to laugh it off; Peter stares him down, implacable. “Yeah,” he offers pithily.
“And in your three years as his supervisor, have you ever given Mr. Dellinger a negative work evaluation?’ Cary asks Mr. Froines, who stares at him malevolently. “Yes,” he says, glaring. “This week.” Never before that, Cary establishes. They’re in a small room, sitting across a small table with Jeff, Cary and Clarke on one side, Froines and the general counsel on the other, and a sixth man in between. “And, was this negative evaluation this week after he reported wrongdoing to general counsel Roger Garvey?” Dryly, the general counsel objects.
“You don’t have to object,” the man in charge leans over. He looks a bit like Jim Parsons of The Big Bang Theory. “Think of this more as a workplace mediation than a court of law.” Think of it as a mediation? Does that mean it is or isn’t one? The counsel gives a dry, frustrated look over his nose, glasses pulled down low. “Okay,” he replies, his eyes flickering side to side as he figures out how to word his response. “I … disagree with the counselors question, an answer would violate the State Secrets Act.” What? Are you kidding? Good thing you’re wearing that cool yellow tie, buddy, because otherwise I’d be tempted to call you a soulless bureaucrat. “I’m not asking for details regarding any NSA programs. My question addresses the retaliation and subsequent demotion my client suffered under Mr. Froines.” Man, Garvey has a good glower. He’s the most disapproving high school vice principal you ever saw. He’s like a humorless nun. “It is the content of a meeting between Mr. Froines and myself that is protected by the State Secrets Act.” Well isn’t that convenient.
Jim Parsons nods. “I could see how that meeting should be protected. Sustained.” Wait, seriously? He turns to Cary, nodding primly. “Or, please don’t ask that question.” Are you kidding me? Ugh.
Cary frowns down at his paperwork. “Mr. Froines, have you ever asked my client to monitor specific targets?” Before Froines can speak, Garvey’s on it. “Again, State Secrets, Your Honor.” Is that guy really a judge? How is a judge that young? “Regarding NSA surveillance?” Garvey nods. “Okay,” the judge says, hands still primly coupled together. “Next question.” Clearly peeved, Cary goes super basic. “Mr. Froines, have you ever assigned my client to a task? Any task?” Froines snorts. With a grudging little nod from Garvey, he answers yes. “And was one of those tasks to monitor the calls of one Karen Froines, your ex-wife?” Garvey looks out over his glasses. “Definitely state secrets, Your Honor.” Oh, yes. That totally sounds like a state secret. Is there any doubt?
Oh my God, Cary protests. “Is this how it’s going to be the whole time?” As Garvey asserts that the defense is trying an end run around the state’s secret act, Judge Jim Parsons bangs his gavel. Huh. Who knew he had a gavel tucked away? “Find a more fruitful path, counselor,” he instructs. Is there a more fruitful path? While I’m looking for rotten fruit to throw at my television, Clarke leans in. What’s your background, he asks Jeff, who doesn’t understand at first that Clarke means his ethnic background. Ah. We’re going back to Cary’s protected class idea? “Anything else, Mr. Agos?” Judge Parsons asks. “What’re you thinking?” Cary asks Clarke, both of them leaning behind Jeff’s back. “Let me try something,” the accountant offers.
“Clarke Hayden, Your Honor,” he begins. “If the NSA refuses to be forthcoming about my client’s wrongful demotion, then we will be forced to file a civil rights claim, in federal court.” Nice. Fight bureaucratic stupidity with more stupidity. “On what grounds?” Garvey grumbles. “This was an act of discrimination against a man of a protected class.” What, Froines grumbles. “Mr. Dellinger. What nationality are you?” “Irish, Dutch, and, ah, Cherokee.” Now that is convenient. Froines can’t believe it. Because clearly it’s okay for him to hide behind legal protections that don’t apply to him, but it’s an outrage if someone else does it? “How much Cherokee?” he demands.
“This nation has discrimination laws in place to protect citizens like my client, a proud descendant of the Cherokee nation of … Oklahoma,” Clarke nods firmly. Cary smiles to himself that wonderfully secretive Cary smile. “This is absurd,” Garvey glowers through his glasses. “Their claim is an obvious pretext which Mr. Dellinger will surely lose.” Maybe so, Cary shrugs. But these cases become part of the record. “You know, the public record?” Clarke adds. “The record open to the public?” Ha ha ha ha ha! I love them. I mean, this is all a steaming pile of horse manure, but I’m glad somebody knows how to shovel it. Garvey wants a recess, and the twitchy, nervous little judge grants it in his nervous little baby voice. Clark permits himself a tiny smile of satisfaction.
What do you do if you know you’re being tapped and your phone just will not stop ringing? Alicia runs a business, after all. After hesitating, she eventually does pick up the handset. “Alicia Florrick,” she answers, extra bright and shiny.
“Mrs. Florrick! My goodness, you sound different,” Louis Canning assert. Gah. Must we go there? “I expected to get your secretary.” I didn’t think they called them secretaries any more. “Oh no, it’s just me, Mr. Canning,” she snarks. “At your command.” Heh. “I’ll command, then,” he assents. “Ah, I was surprised to learn that you’re being sued for six million dollars.” Oh gosh. The failed adoption, rearing it’s ugly head once more. I love it when they pick those plot threads back up, even though I really hate it when they build them up only to drop them for months. “Ah, malpractice suit from when you worked here.” “Going through the files, are you?” she asks, arching her eyebrows. “You’d be surprised what you can find there,” he says. “I’d like to make a peace offering. Lockhart, Gardner & Canning is willing to assume a portion of that 6 million dollar liability.” Oh, how generous. “In exchange for?” she prompts. “Lessening your firm’s Chum Hum burden?”
“Our burden,” she says, leaning back in her chair, enjoying his machinations. “I hate to say it,” he continues, “but Chum Hum needs the resources of a national firm like LG & C.” Yes, I’m sure it’s painful for you, saying that. Ah, she replies, biting her lip. “Mr. Canning. What do you think of Al Qaeda?” Oh no she didn’t! Oh my goodness, she didn’t! That is amazing. “What do I think of Al Qaeda?” Yes, she says, as if truly interested in his answer. “I think they’re a terrorist organization, why?” You can see her trying to spit out search terms. “I just wanted to know … what Louis Canning thought,” she finishes.
“Hey,” The Man Who Used To Be Marc points to his screen, shocked. “I just got five alerts on one call.” Ha ha ha ha. (How is it possible that they’re not going to figure this out? I’d feel bad for Jeff – but no. I’m not going to be lured in by his baby lamb manner. If he loses his job for leaking information to them, so be it. It’s not like he’s sorry for spying on them.)
Tweedle Dum slides his chair across the aisle in a blink. “Who is it?” he wonders. “Someone new. Louis Canning, talking to Alicia.” Ha ha ha ha ha. “What do I think of NSA?” comes his voice through the speakers. “I don’t know, I’ve always been something of a libertarian.” Why am I not surprised? Dum and Smart Marc smirk at each other. “Ah,” Alicia says. “Ayn Rand and all that.” She’s an under-appreciated writer, he suggests. Or something! One cubicle over, Jay’s got Peter on the phone with Bill the United States Senator, identified on the monitor as one William Cuff. “Thanks for calling me back, Senator.” No problem, the man laughs. “I’ve got to keep my golfing buddy happy.” Peter laughs in his darkened office.
“Tell me I’m not being tapped, and I’ll be happy,” he chuckles. I love what a contrast Peter is to Eli as a political operative; all good old boy charm instead of self-righteous indignation and sharp elbows. “Look, I have a direct line to the offices in Illinois,” he says as Eli – the man himself! – walks into Peter’s office. “And I talked to all the people out there, and they say you’re in the clear.” Motioning for Eli to take a seat on his couch, Peter pretends exaggerated relief on the phone. “Oh, good, I’m relieved. I was a little – a little worried there.”
“Hey, the new normal makes us all nervous, but you’re good. So’s your wife.” Now the question is whether he thinks this is true, or whether he’s lying. Gingerly, Eli sits on the sofa; it doesn’t seem like he’s on speakerphone, but clearly Eli’s supposed to be listening. “Well, thank you again,” Peter says, walking toward the center of the room. Then his face gets canny. “Look – about that Westgate development site we were talking about on the eighth hole,” he begins, looking up to make sure that Eli’s paying attention. He certainly is. “There are a few things I wanted to settle.”
“Settle?” Senator Cuff stammers. “Uh, um, Peter, I …” Ruthlessly, Peter presses on. “The Westgate construction site? We agreed to delay discussions on compensation. I thought we should talk about that now.” Whoa! Are we looking at a shady Clinton-esque real estate scam here? With another significant glance at Eli, Peter sits. “No no no, I don’t think… look, I’m coming out there in a few weeks, why don’t we discuss it then?” And that’s all we need to know. “No no no, now’s a better time for me,” Peter continues to torture Cuff. “I think we agreed to an equal split, unless you’ve changed your mind?” Cuff continues to stammer. “Peter, that was just between you and me,” he finally manages to spit out. “And it is between you and me,” Peter replies. “Now. On the phone.”
After last week, it’s nice to like Peter again, don’t you think?
Eli’s appreciative smiles grows and grows till it threatens to take over his face. “How is the Westgate district going for you? For me it’s …” Senator Cuff has had enough. “Peter, stop,” he demands. “You’ve made your point.”
“No,” Peter says, his voice lowering into it’s street politics register. “My point is that I want them to stop listening to me in my office. I want them to stop listening to my wife’s law office. For the next five months I’m going to call my wife’s office twice a week to discuss the Westgate construction site. So if you don’t want to be in the papers, I suggest you use your considerable influence with the NSA to take us off any lists we are on. Do you understand me?” There’s silence. Light hits Peter’s wedding ring as his fist clutches the phone. “Bill,” he prompts, a warning in his tone. “Do you understand me?”
“It’s this guy Froines,” Bill sighs. What, Froines in important enough that a U.S. Senator has to let him do whatever he wants? “Chuck Froines, out of the Illinois office. He’s the one driving this.” Eli frowns. “Get me his contact info,” Peter demands. What, you haven’t heard of Google? Although maybe a systems admin at the NSA can remove himself from the public record. Calling him won’t help, Senator Cuff sighs. “Leave that to me,” Peter growls, “just get me his contact info.” As his boss hangs up, Eli slides to the floor. Is he going to fake fainting from the stress of it all? No, he’s kneeling a la Wayne and Garth in Wayne’s World. “I am not worthy,” he declares, and Peter breaks into laughter. “I am not worthy.”
Yeah. After this whole season of this crap, that was pretty damned satisfying.
“Your Honor, my client’s home was raided last night, due to the filing of a DOJ crimes report.” Today Jeff has his arms crossed and is looking mightily aggrieved. This definitely is not going as easily as he was lead to expect. “And our search proved fruitful, Your Honor; we recovered a classified document in his desk drawer.” General counsel Garvey stares at the table. Wow. Is this entire fictional workplace peopled with sociopaths? No eye contact, no empathy, no relationship with reality or obedience to the law. Jeff whispers to Clarke. “Your Honor, I can’t be sure, because I haven’t been given a copy of this evidence…” Clarke begins (and wow, I love his court voice, it’s so, I don’t know, round). “Implicit in the word classified is the idea that it cannot be distributed,” Garvey glowers at Clarke over the top of his half-glasses. (Those can’t be full glasses, right? They’re way too far down his nose. There’s not enough of them. Also I’m starting to think that can’t possibly be his real hair.)
Clarke keeps going. ‘It’s our understanding that the document in question is a meeting schedule, that’s all.” God. These people. No wonder Jeff didn’t want to admit that he’d taken home a Valentine he drew to print out. “It was not classified when it was given to Mr. Dellinger, or when he took it home.” You know that judge is not going to care, don’t you, not when he already decided that there’s something classified about Froines harassing his ex-wife? Now it’s Cary’s turn. “The NSA retroactively classified it when the raid failed to produce the evidence they wanted.” On the contrary, Garvey claims, it produced this document – which he proceeds to wave at them. “It wasn’t classified until 12 hours ago,” Jeff pleads. “This is the exact definition of ex post facto law,” Cary contends. As Jeff extends his hands, Clarke asks that his client be allowed to testify “to the innocuous content of this document.” Obviously Garvey objects; really the best part of this charade is watching Garvey struggle to find another way to phrase his objection. (“Whatever” is the best he can do.)
Fine, Clarke says, then the judge should just review it and decide for himself. Well, about that. It seems that Clarke and Cary and, in fact, the judge all lack the necessary security clearance to read this mighty meeting schedule. Now that’s pretty hilarious; even Judge Rubberstamp is shocked to hear that he, like the defense, will have to apply for security clearance in order to move forward. And gee, I wonder what the likelihood of that would be? Of all the obstructionist blather…
Fine, says Judge Rubberstamp, “then I will apply for security clearance, and I assume you will as well, Mr. Hayden, Mr. Agos.” Oh, they will; Garvey shoots Clarke a dirty look for daring to attempt it. “When it is granted, we may proceed.” Cause that’s going to happen.
“Kalinda, can you come here for a minute?” Canning calls out to Kalinda as she talks with one of the name partner assistants. Is it pathetic that seeing him at Will’s desk makes my skin crawl a little? She complies, telling the assistant she’ll be back in a minute, and he asks her to sit. Oh, goody.
“Can I ask you a question?” he says, and then adds without waiting for answer, “Do you like working here?” Ah. “I do,” she responds, clearly wondering if she’s about to fired. “Because I was looking at your employment record and I noticed you chose not to sign a contract.” Ah. He’s got his fingers in all the pies already, doesn’t he? “You just like being a free agent, you don’t like to be tied down?” Yeah, that’s it, she shrugs. Love that leather jacket – amazing. “But you’ve been here a long time, you must be happy, certainly we pay you enough.” Okay, that’s sort of tricky. “I am happy,” she smiles. “If I were unhappy, then, I wouldn’t be here.” Gracefully, she flutters and then folds her hands. “That’s a coincidence, because if I wasn’t happy, you wouldn’t be here.”
Well. That’s put paid to the smile on her face.
“You can’t work for Diane and work for the firm,” he lays down the law. So that’s what this is really about. “Well, Diane’s a managing partner,” she scoffs. “Yes, but if you work for her exclusively, then feed her information that I discuss with you, and then let her pay you, then we’ll sue you for return of employee compensation.” She smirks. “Try me if you think I won’t. Diane doesn’t have the votes. I have the votes.” He puts a hand to his heart. “You think I’d be here if I didn’t?” Hmmm. Why is he here, again? It’s just not possible that it’s for any other reason than to suck then dry, right?
She chews on that for a second. “What do you want, Louis?” It’s weird calling him Louis, somehow, though Canning fits well enough. “I want to know what Diane wants you do to.” Of course he does. Yuck. She hesitates. “Pretend to be close to you. Find out if you’re pushing her out,” Kalinda confesses. You know, if Diane actually had such a crafty plan – and I’m certainly not putting it past her – don’t you think Kalinda would have been slightly less hostile toward Canning? He raises his eyebrows and twists a bit. “Tell her I’m not,” he says, clicking on his pen.
Wearing a light gray suit and opaque black tights, Alicia walks into another session of Finn’s disciplinary hearing. Please kick some ass, please be ready to kick some ass. (I swear, that is exactly what I was thinking as she walked demurely into the room.) It’s a long walk over to Finn’s lonely table; when she arrives, he leans over. “You, ah, seem happier,” he offers. “I had a good night’s sleep,” she smiles at him, opening up her leather folder.
“Mrs. Florrick, now that you’ve arrived we can begin,” Matan smirks, nose in the air. What an odd grin he has with those wide curving lines; he looks like a clown just waiting for his make up. Or do I just think that because he’s generally more of a lower level villain? “I assume you’ve had sufficient time to consult with Mr. Polmar?” Yes, thank you, she smiles pleasantly. Is she wearing a sweater under her suit, or just a scarf? It’s knitwear, either way, which is so different. “And I’ve a few questions for you, Mr. Castro,” she says, leaving Matan with his mouth open and Castro looking up in complete surprise.
“Me?” He really doesn’t believe it. “Yes,” she smiles, back straight, prim and composed. “By all means,” he offers, tossing out his hands, clearly certain she can’t do him any harm. What light there is the room reflects off his butt-chin. Has he ever used the term butt-chin – er, I mean “gen den” himself, particularly when in written communication with his staff? “Gen den meaning general detention?” Yes, she confirms; his answer is a quick and unequivocal no. “It’s not part of the culture of my office.” Okay, that’s interesting. Does that mean his administration? “It’s not a term or practice you yourself use,” she reiterates, and he confirms this is so. “Is this a cross examination of the State’s Attorney?” Matan wonders, tapping his fingers on his arms, but Jimmy-James waves off his concern. “Happy to answer.”
Smiling, Alicia pushes back from the table; Finn watches her, very much puzzled as to where she could be going with this. “I took the liberty of having some slides loaded,” she says, and I’m momentarily bogged own with confusion about this (who loads them? where do they do it?) and then I realize hey, if her slides wanted to magically appear so we don’t have to watch her do anything so inelegant as upload them, so be it. “Mr. Castro. You sent my client a text on March 16th of this year. It says “Is Jeffrey Grant G. D.?””; I can see that, she says. What did you mean by that, she wonders. “Perhaps you overlooked the fact that you have used the term,” she suggests politely. Or perhaps he’s being a lawyer about it and considers his of “G.D.” instead of “Gen Den” sufficient to preserve him from a perjury conviction? Matan smirks a bit at Castro, enjoying himself.
“No,” Castro blinks. “G.D. is not the term.” Ha. “I see, ” Alicia replies, still totally deadpan. “What did you mean by the term?” “Is the prosecutor sufficiently prepared to take the defendent down, to G.D. Going down.” I see, she says, thank you, and he barely has the words “you’re welcome”out of his mouth when she’s clicked on to another slide. And – awesome. Here’s a clear use of a decision tree, because Alicia has anticipated him making this substitution; she’s presenting another text from April 6th. “I can’t wait to G.D. on Batiste. What fun!”
Ha. ‘What fun?’ I’m going to snicker for a minute over how preposterous and also how mean that sounds. “You were saying ‘I can’t wait to go down on Batiste, what fun?'” Ha ha ha. It’s a good thing they’re seating at opposite ends of the table with several colleagues in between, because Matan cannot contain his smirk. No, of course that wasn’t what he was saying, Castro snaps. “What I meant was I can’t wait to take him down.” “By going down on him?” Alicia asks, deadpan again, and now Finn’s biting on his lips to prevent himself from snickering a little too. Ah, nothing like accusing a man of being gay to rattle him. “That’s not – you’re misinterpreting my words,” he grumbles.
“Sir,” Alicia answers, “You used G.D. to mean general detention, as everyone in this room well knows.” Now her voice has gone harder, no nonsense, and it makes her client smile and sit up a little straighter. “To act as if Finn Polmar’s behavior is any different from your own is simple hypocrisy.” Her voice gets louder, and her words become a denunciation. “No, you are trying to scapegoat here,” Castro asserts, but it’s too late, and the whole room knows it. “Excuse me,” she thunders, drawing a look of pleased respect from Finn,”placing defendants in general population was a tactic used by the State’s Attorney’s office to soften up defendants for a plea bargain. You know this, Matan.” He certainly does. “You’ve used it.” Matan squirms, smiling. “So it is the height of scapegoating to blame Finn Polmar for this, and it is almost criminal to blame him for Jeffrey Grant’s actions.” Castro’s blasted back in his seat by the strength of her argument and her tone. “He did what any prosecutor in this room would do.” She slams the remote down next to the slide monitor. “And you know this.”
“And you woke up, didn’t you?” Finn remarks when Alicia’s seated again. “Oh yeah,” she flashing him a toothy smile. “It’s time to kick some ass.”
“We know what you’re up to,” Diane tells Canning from his doorway. “Oh?” he replies. “And, um, we wanted to thank you,” she finishes as Kalinda walks in next to her. What? No way! You cannot be buying his crap. This has to be a plan to lull him into submission, right? If it is, Diane is playing it to the hilt. “Will was anxious to expand, and the firm purchases that he didn’t tell us about left us vulnerable.” Okay, that might be true but I cannot remotely imagine Diane saying it or Kalinda nodding along, not without an ulterior motive. “I bet that was quite a surprise,” Canning understates.
“How did you manage to undo the deals?” Kalinda asks, and there’s something unusually flattering about her tone, something deferential, offering Canning an opportunity to pat himself on the back. All my Spidey senses are tingling. “Well, the firms that Will bought both represented the third and sixth largest pharmaceuticals in the country.” Wait, what? That’s what they meant by “firm purchases”? Yikes. How could he do that without talking to the managing partner about it? Um. Anyway. Pharmaceuticals. “Luckily for us, I represent the largest.”
“So the clients conflict?” Diane guesses. “Yeah, faced with the prospect of firing their biggest clients they were surprisingly amenable to reconsidering the purchase.” I’ll bet. There are two chairs in front of Will’s desk. Are they new? “And the sports firm in L.A.?” Kalinda wonders, her voice low. “Well there’s no conflict there,” Canning tosses about in his chair. “I don’t represent anybody in sports law, do you?” No, Diane snorts. “Well you do now. Seemed like a good idea to keep them,” he says, clipping together his bag, “it’s a growing field.”
“Well it meant a lot to Will, ” Diane smiles and nods, tossing her hair. “Thank you.” Okay, this is just too much. They have to be playing him. Please tell me they’re playing him, please, please. The two women look at each other. “You know, you’re over-thinking this,” Canning suggest. “This hidden agenda you two keep looking for, there isn’t one.” Which is proof of what, exactly? I mean, that’s exactly what someone with a hidden agenda is going to say. “Well, your, um, track record is a thing that’s hard to get past,” Diane shrugs. Oh, that was before, Canning scoffs. “That was the olden days.” He launches himself from his chair, and the two women once more smirk at each other. Because right. The leopard changes his spots? Unlikely. Highly unlikely. “I’m your partner now. I may be a scumbag, but – hey.” Let’s all say it with him! “I’m your scumbag.”
Don’t listen to him, ladies! They turn as one to watch him go.
If the Middle Eastern music wasn’t enough of a tip off, we see the outside of a mosque. (Really? If you had to hammer us over the head, could you at least have taken the bright orange leaves out of the picture?) As is traditional, men leave their shoes by the door – and, what ho? That’s Adam the bearded intern (wearing a bright blue sweater today) pinning something onto a bulletin board. Ah, and here’s another mosque (brick and white minarets where the first was stone with blue trim) and another notice on a bulletin board; car for sale, low miles, $2500 obo (or best offer). The bottom of the paper bears a phone number written over a dozen times, and they’re going fast. Oh, man. Is this what I think it is? The name next to the phone number is Charles Froines. Man. Trust a Chicago politician to know all the dirty tricks.
“Froines,” Middle Management Man himself answers his desk phone. “No, you have the wrong number,” he frowns. “Yeah, how’d you get this? No, I don’t have a car for sale.” He hangs up and hunches down to watch one of his monitors, where familiar green sound waves wiggle at him.
And then his phone rings again.
“Froines,” he answers, and then abruptly begins to pay attention. “Where’d you get this number? No, I don’t have a car…” He stops, listening. “There has been some mistake,” he says, and hangs up, twisting his lower lip as he stares at his phone in confusion.
And then comes the knock on his door. His eyes widen.
“Is your first name Charles?” a lie detector examiner asks; it’s the same guy who was working with Froines’ analyst Jeff Dellinger. Full circle. “Yes.” On the wall is a capital letter M, a green square and – we can finally see it – the number 17. “Are you in Illinois?” Yes, Froines answers, practically rolling his eyes. “Are you now a member of any group that advocates the violent overthrow of the United States government?” He sighs. No. Because he’s stripped off his suit jacket, we can see a black blood pressure cuff contrasting nicely with his white button down. “Have you ever been contacted by any group that advocates the violent overthrow of the United States government?” The look he shoots at the examiner here is pure venom. One of the other notices on the second board definitely included the phrase “No God but Allah.” He might want to be careful about this.
“No,” he growls.
“Administrative leave?” he squeaks in outrage, sitting across from our old friend Garvey the general counsel. “Why, what did I do?” Garvey looks at him, his hands poised over his keyboard like a bunny. “Prrrrrob-ably nothing. It’s just administrative.” Right. Does this have anything to do with those calls, Froines asks. “What calls?” Garvey wonders, protesting a little too much. “Five calls,” Froines shouts, holding up all five fingers on one hand to illustrate his outrage. “Asking me about a car. I don’t know anything about them.”
“Weeeelll,” Garvey sighs. “Let’s talk about whatcha do know.” Nothing, Froines spits. “I’ve been pranked, that’s all.” Okay, Garvey nods. “Let’s take the calls one at a time.”
Am I a terrible person that this amuses me so much? I mean, he’s a bad man. He deserves to be punked, right? And if the only way to defeat the larger enemy is to exploit its institutional stupidity, well, then that has to be okay too. “Who is Billal Al Dalwudi?” Irritated beyond reason, Froines sighs melodramatically.
“I’ve got some good news for you, Mr. Dellinger,” Cary smiles into his phone – his phone? What? “The government’s dropped your case. You can go back to work.” And there it is on a monitor – a rectangle linking Cary Agos to Jeffrey Dellinger. “I left you a message on your cell, too – call me on either one.” Dum, Jay and Smart Marc bow their heads. “I knew it wasn’t Dell. No way,” Smart Marc protests. They all look pretty gloomy, though. I’m sure it’s weird, interacting with the characters in your favorite drama like this. Dum’s got a green ball or something pressed into his cheek; he stares thoughtfully at Dell’s empty desk.
“He’s not coming back, you know,” he declares. “How do you know?” Not Marc sneers. “What?” Jay wonders, and is immediately told to shut up by Marc. “Hans told me,” Dum volunteers. “Hans? I thought Hans was the leaker?” Michael frowns. “He went to Reykjavik,” Tweedle Dum adds sadly. “He hates the cold,” Smart Marc muses. Aw. “Iceland has the hottest women of anywhere,” Jay puts a happy spin on this odd turn of events, bobbing on his feet in the aisle. “You’re thinking of Sweden,” Dum says with a lame attempt at a Swedish accent. “No,” Jay mocks him, “Iceland. It’s a known fact.” As opposed to what, an unknown fact? Gah. “Bjork is from Iceland.” Well, you sure proved that one! How is he even old enough to remember Bjork?
“The Florrick tap is over,” the Inspector General – er, sorry, the general counsel – swoops in out of nowhere to tell them, Jay practically standing at military attention to get out of his way. And, huzzah! “Done. File your summaries and close it down.” Man. Just like that, huh? One smear campaign against the systems admin and it’s all solved? (The nit-picker in me wishes they made it clear that Diane was no longer being tapped, too; it’s reasonable to assume she was covered as well, but reason hasn’t exactly played a significant.) The general consul hands out some thick files. “You’re need on Gregorio Blenchev, 31, Dearborn, Michigan. Recently married.”
Well. There it is. The end has come. Tweedle Dum tosses his green ball at Jay’s back when the later walks off to his desk to close down the case. This is how the world ends, this is how the world ends, this is how the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.
Tentatively, Alicia walks into Peter’s office, quiet in the amber light of evening. (I’m so distracted by her lopsided collar that it’s all I can see; I like the rest of the oatmeal colored suit, but yuck.) Hello, her husband says, walking toward her with his hands deep in his pockets. “Nice work,” she tells him. How did she know? “Oh. Well. Hey. You’d think the NSA would know better than to be spying on a governor and his family, but, you know.” There’s a lot wrong with that statement (it’s okay for the NSA to spy on regular people?) but I’ll take it, because I’ve never enjoyed dirty political tactics so much as I did tonight. “Thank you,” she says – short, but sincere – and he nods. “You’re welcome.”
“Well, since you’re here, I thought we’d go over a few things,” he tells her, gesturing toward his desk. Moving behind it, he picks up a sheet of paper. “There is a fundraising dinner May 17th.” Oh. So, no attempt at further conversation? No discussion, no guidelines, nothing? Just going on from here as a sham political marriage? She sets down her bag. “And then there’s the July 4th gala,” he adds stiffly. She pulls out her date book and sits down. “Ah, what time on the 17th? Grace is cooking dinner for her class, it sounds elaborate.” It’d be 6 o’clock, Peter answers. “I’ll see if Owen can stop by,” she decides, making a note in the planner. “Then dinner with the Canadian ambassador on August 10th, and then on September 4th, I have a Democratic committee fundraiser….” The camera backs out of his office as they trade information – she has something on a Sunday in August that he can make, he’s got another item at the end of September. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.
And we’re another week closer to the end of the season.
Show of hands; who else is relieved to have the NSA threat resolved? I have no idea whether or not any of this was realistic (I truly deeply hope not!) so I don’t have any idea if this was a reasonable resolution – but it felt good enough that I’m just going to leave it at that. And it felt good. Amazing, even. Sure, we didn’t beat them straight on, but they weren’t going to allow a normal fight. I never thought I would approve of dirty tricks, but this show has a way of twisting the parameters around on me.
I am beyond thrilled, however, that the two worlds merged. I desperately wanted someone from the NSA to meet our regular players – they are audience surrogates after all – and that moment did not disappoint. Magical. And because events rarely unfold the way I hope or expect on The Good Wife, it was a delightful surprise when this did.
Quick question regarding the ending; was it smart of Peter to back off and take Alicia at her word, or would it have been better if he had tried to have a conversation with her about her issues when they weren’t both (as Shakespeare might put it) possessed of a fury? I know it’s a revolutionary notion, speaking to your spouse about your problems…
Speaking of communication problems, I love seeing Cary stand up to Alicia, although I do wish he’d actually addressed the whole merger mess. I’m really glad that the two of them didn’t have to fight it out and involve the rest of their partners, but if it’s wrong for her to talk to Diane unilaterally, then it’s wrong for him to do the same. On the other hand, he didn’t seem as opposed to the idea as I thought he’d be – he tried to argue about protecting their Chum Hum profits when I would have assumed he’d turn the idea down without a thought. It just wasn’t the reaction I expected from him, which was to protect his independence – I’m not saying that makes what she did right.
Well. Actually. I think my problem with Alicia wasn’t so much her talking to Diane in the first place (the two of them were drunk and grieving, which has to explain most of it), as her not telling Cary and then the rest of their team about it afterwards. So while it’s good that he stood up to her and reminded her that he’s there and that he’s just as in charge as she is, I’d like to see them iron out their process a little bit better.
If Louis Canning really wanted Diane and Kalinda to believe he was on their side, I feel like he should have been playing the “I’m your scumbag” angle from the start. He shouldn’t say he’s changed – who’s going to believe that? – but he could highlight the fact that the circumstances have changed. That, if he’s going to work with him, he’s going to use his considerable evil powers for their good.
Not that Diane and Kalinda should believe him, of course. If I had to bet on anything, it would be on him either stripping the firm of its assets, or building it up only to push Diane out. Which is okay with me, really, because then she can go work with Alicia and Cary, take Kalinda with her, and life will be merry again. It’s too uncomfortable to see him in Will’s chair; I’d rather they shook things up even more. And if that turns Canning into a Big Bad, so be it.
Seeing Alicia awake again is a treat. (I liked that she literally woke up at the beginning of the episode, and woke up emotionally by the end.) We’ve gotten a bit far away from her early triumphant courtroom victories, and I miss them; certainly putting Matan in charge of the internal standards unit proved an excellent way to harken back to the show’s first season, to give Alicia a small rebirth. I don’t know if I’m satisfied with the show’s dealing with Jeffrey Grant, however. It’s all well and good to say that Finn was no more culpable than any other SA – that he was only following procedure – but do we learn nothing from that? Sure, you can go mad tormenting yourself with what ifs. And yes, Finn shouldn’t be the scapegoat for what are pretty clearly institutional failings. That doesn’t mean he didn’t do wrong, however, and that the organization shouldn’t use this as a learning tool to reexamine their policies.
Much of this was Geneva’s fault – Jeffrey Grant was railroaded from the beginning. They engineered a reason to stop him, they booked him for a murder with no motive and only the most tenuous link to the victim. There was nothing but the But Finn bears his burden, too. Jeffrey was clearly unstable. And when the evidence began to turn in Jeffrey’s favor – the touch DNA, the injury that proved he couldn’t have lifted the murder weapon – Finn still tried for a plea bargain, which really bothered me. Call me an idealist, but I’d like to think our prosecutors care whether or not they convict the actual perpetrator of a crime, and that they don’t want to jail someone just to get a win or because they’ve already spent too much time on the case or need to convict someone, anyone, instead of trying to discern who actually is guilty and who isn’t.
Which is all to say, I like Finn, I do. And I think his actions in the courtroom were heroic, and I understand why Alicia has bonded with him, sort of like a gosling imprinting on the first creature it sees after birth (Will’s death taking the place of her own birth). It’s a shame that the State’s Attorney’s more interested in making heads roll to take the heat off himself than he is in actually taking the challenge of making the office a better and more just place. If that disciplinary panel were more interested in the truth, in learning about procedures rather than just dumping blame on personnel, he might have gotten somewhere.
And that’s me this week. What about you? What do you think? Are you relieved we’re not being tapped anymore? Ready to just get on with business as usual? Irritated or invigorated by Louis Canning? Sound off below, please.