E: Deliberately shocking episodes of The Good Wife aren’t really my favorites. They often feel a little forced. No, no, I’m not talking about Dramatics, Your Honor, but episodes like this one, where love-to-hate-him client Colin Sweeney spins one of his typically comic-lascivious webs around Alicia. What’s worse, I could essentially recite you the ending before it happened, a rare experience on this show. I’ve just seen that kind of twist before. There is, fortunately, less expected and more interesting stuff going on as well in this over-stuffed, middling installment of the best show on network TV.
A cab pulls up to a townhouse with glorious wrought iron detailing, windows incandescent against the night. Okay, I’m here, Alicia tells Cary over the phone, and I’ve got two hours. “An hour and fifteen minutes,” Cary contradicts her. What? “How did that happen?” she squeals, which is kind of hilarious (how do you think time passes?) but to be fair, apparently they get less time to send whatever this is in because they’re sending it digitally. After knocking, Alicia’s let into the house by a woman in a short black dress and blunt black wig. (“I’m Alicia Florrick,” she says. “I called ahead.”) In the background, a butler swipes a mirror with a white gloved finger. Relaxing because he can hear the thumping base line which confirms Alicia’s presence at her destination, Cary explains that the rules for filing have recently changed. Not so on top of things, guys. “You have to get his signature in by 8,” he confirms, flipping through documents over at the darkened yet extremely busy Florrick/Agos.
The inside of the townhouse spills over with gorgeous architectural detail; look at that curved staircase with the wrought iron bannister and wrought iron insets in the wall niches! I need to go back and watch the previous episode set in this house – were the walls always so white? It sets up this interesting binary, twisted (though entirely traditional) black iron against the pure walls. She should have plenty of time to get the necessary signatures, she says, but it won’t leave her any time to help with prep. Immediately Cary assuages her worry; there’s a lot less prep needed than they thought. The State’s Attorney’s delayed both the burglary and the mail fraud cases, so they’ve got another month.
As the girl in black silently leads her on to the second floor, Alicia stops, confused. And it’s not because we see five other women dressed in exactly the same way (black tights, black heels, black wig, black mini-dress with a a yoke neckline to suggest bondage), walking around doing nothing. It’s not series of paintings that splash the walls with bloody crimson knots. It’s that her Spidey senses are alert for signs of chicanery from the SA’s office – and she has Cary confirm her guess that Finn Polmar was supposed to prosecute both cases. Uh. Cary, I don’t think it’s as simple as you catching a break or them switching up prosecutors for no reason. “Don’t think about it,” he urges. “If we’re even one minute late, we’re out the one million dollar bonus.” For that much money, you should have been double checking this stuff long ago, guys. I’m on it, Alicia says, “but you know how he is.”
“How who is?” the rich tones of Bond-like oddball bad guy Colin Sweeney inquire, and Alicia spins, black hair flying over her camel colored coat. “Mr. Sweeney, hello,” she says before immediately getting off the phone, embarrassed; he smirks at her, garbed in a tuxedo. “You came to my engagement party, I’m honored!” Okay, I was a bit baffled by this when I saw the preview; his engagement party? Has he been planning it for the last year or two? “Actually, Mr. Sweeney, no,” Alicia gives him a pained smile, “I called you earlier. We just discovered you left your signature off a financial disclosure.” Ah, okay. It’s always business with you these days, Mrs. Florrick, he complains. “Marta! Mrs. Florrick needs a drink!” He sips from a wine goblet, something red and disturbingly thick. No, I really don’t, Alicia reclines the beverage (now that’s a first), “I just really need to get you to sign these…” He walks away as she’s talking, much to her dismay, but then curls his fingers, indicating for her to follow. She sighs, taking off her coat and preparing for one of his typical games.
“I’m getting married, Alicia – congratulations are in order!” he enthuses as they walk into his office, Alicia’s coat now folded primly over her arm. “I… thought you already were married,” she wonders, and thank you very much for bringing that up! “Yes, I was,” he admits; they both set their things down so they can sit. “But, I became disenchanted, so I had to get of her.” O-kay. “Through divorce,” he clarifies, hoping to have made her wonder. “Where’s your sense of humor?” Why wouldn’t she know that, as his lawyer? Odd. I mean, even if she wasn’t involved in handling his divorce surely it impacts his tax filings and financial holdings?
Well, I guess if she doesn’t care I won’t be overly fussed about it. “I need you to initial these here, here, and sign here,” she says, laying the documents out on his desk, crisp and no-nonsense. I heard about your old partner, Sweeney replies in stead of focusing on the documents. Let me guess what he’s going to say. “Will Gardner. I’m so sorry.” Thank you, she says, striking and quiet in a purple dress. “No,” he says seriously, almost dwarfed bu his tufted leather desk chair, “I mean it. I liked Will. He was a good guy.” It’s officially a running gag. I liked Will Gardner. As epitaphs go, it’s not a terrible one, but it seems painfully limited. Either way, Alicia can’t hear it. Can we just do this, she wonders?
“And then life goes on,” he muses. I guess? It’s hard to know where that line is – grieving too much or too little. “You have a new firm, I’m getting married.” He pulls a pair of visor-like glasses off the side of his desk. “It’s the seasons of life.” His eyes unfocus oddly as the glasses begin to beep.
“Mr. Sweeney,” she sighs. “Look at me.” Nope, looking above her head doesn’t count. (Then again, I think I might count that as a blessing.) “It’s these glasses,” he explains. “Whoever you’re staring at, it matches their body type with a porn star.” Ew. Really? Must we? Even though this line has been spoiled by the previews, it manages to retain a high level of grossness. He pushes a button on the side of the glasses, and they beep again. “Oh,” he remarks, lifting his hand off them, “well that’s surprising.”
Annoyed and appalled, Alicia lifts the glasses off his face. “Mr. Sweeney. If you don’t sign these documents right now, the merger will be off.” Well. A merger and a marriage? That’s ironic. “You know what LD50 is?” he asks, causing her to half collapse on the desk in frustration. “It’s a 50% lethal test design by Klaxon/Brandt to discover the toxicity of their pharmaceuticals. If it kills less than 50% of it’s test subjects, it’s a success!” he fake-cheers. Wait, what? He’s engineered this delay for an actual reason and not just to toy with her? “Suddenly you’re concerned with animal testing?” Alicia sneers, waiting to see what the angle is. “What, I can’t have a heart?” he wonders. (No, obviously not.) “Mr. Sweeney, what do I have to do?” she asks flat out, and he hunches over and gives her a very evil glare. “Convince Renata,” he says. “Who’s Renata?” “My fiancee,” he replies. “Do you really not follow my life? I follow yours! I’m hurt.” As he’s blathering, Eli calls, and even though it’s ridiculous of her not just to let him go to voice mail it’s almost a gag at this point that she always takes Eli’s calls.
“Eli, wait a minute,” she answers, tucking the phone into her collar bone. She leans forward and takes a deep breath. So, what you’re saying is, she summarizes, you want me to convince your fiancee that if the merger goes through Klaxon/Brandt will stop animal testing? Yes, that’s exactly it.
So she’s off looking through the party, clearly on another floor because these walls are covered with a dark patterned wall paper that conveys the impression of a forest. This is more the look I remember. And she finally gets back to Eli. Seriously, why did she even answer the phone? What is it, she asks, understating: “I’m a little busy.” It’s Zach, he grouses, which of course sends her into a tizzy, imagining a hospital or a shooting or God knows what other dreadful thing. “I’m looking at him right now!” Eli barks, “On Gawker!” What, Alicia wonders. “Zach with a bong!” Eli shouts, stiff as a ramrod, tension practically shooting through the top of his head.
What? she repeats, stunned. That is a new one. “He has a bong in his hand,” Eli continues, and we see a snippet of the headline – son of Illinois governor, living the high life. Har dee har har. As Eli rants about Peter’s message of marijuana-intolerance, Alicia finds Sweeney playing tonsil hockey with yet another improbably hot young woman in a sparkling black backless gown. We catch only a few words of Eli’s typical outrage – hypocrisy, coordination, blah blah blah.
“I have to go,” Alicia tells Eli. “I will call Zach.” No, I’ll call him, Eli snaps. “No,” Alicia uses her Voice of Authority, “I’ll call him.” She steps up with Sweeney and his fruit of the month.
“Oh, Renata,” Sweeney coos, his mouth still open against her face, “meet my second favorite person in the world, Alicia Florrick.” As black and white clad servitors pick up canape trays, Renata stops giggling and disengages herself from her fiance. She’s so familiar. Who does she remind me of? Is it Lisa Edelstein, maybe? No, wait. She’s Laura Benanti, who played the glamorous Countess from the fall’s controversial The Sound of Music Live! ! And that’s a weird connection, because now all three Broadway vets who provided the strong supporting performances to bolster up the unremarkable leads (sorry if you’re a fan, but you don’t mess with Julie Andrews unless you have serious chops) – Benanti, Christian Borle and Audra MacDonald – have had impressive guest roles on our show. Love it love it love it. Ah, the benefits of shooting in New York City!
“Bon jour,” she greets Alicia with two french style kisses on the cheek – the second of which lands rather too close to her mouth for Alicia’s comfort. “I have a theory about women with three syllable names,” she flirts. (Oh God.) You’re going to have to use your considerable powers of persuasion on this one, darling, Sweeney oozes. “She’s a saint!” Somehow, I don’t think that’s all it takes not to want a threesome with you and your soup du jour, Colin. “A saint is just a sinner looking for an opportunity,” Renata declares blithely. (Excuse me while I roll my eyes.) Colin talks about you all the time, she adds, cuddling up to her husband-to-be while Alicia compresses her lips and tries desperately not to roll her eyes. “I’m jealous!’ “Jealous, pshaw!” Sweeney nuzzles her face. Where he does find these women? Is there a 1-800 number?
“Colin told me you have some great advice on how to keep a marriage alive,” Renata coos. (She’s definitely softer than Morena Baccarin’s Isobel Swift – she seems more innocent, somehow, though clearly no less sultry. ) Colin puts her off, saying that Alicia’s here to talk about PETA issues with the merger. I like you lipstick, she tells Alicia, clearly unable to focus. “It’s very flattering.” Okay. Poor Alicia’s looking at her watch, which tells her she’s got about 55 minutes to get the email sent. Let me just get you on the phone with the CEO of Klaxon/Brandt, she says, and he can assure you that they’re phasing out animal testing.
“Have you seen the pictures?” a short women in a white dress with a mirrored neckline storms up behind Alicia, and Colin immediately starts muttering his disapproval to Renata. Yes, those people with moral compasses are so irritating. “She’s my bridesmaid,” Renata gently pouts. “People pay lip service to the three Rs, but they never follow through!” the woman in white protests. There’s a scarf tucked under her neckline, which is just weird and lumpy and looks like she’s hiding a hickey (or knowing Sweeney, worse). Actually, the fact that she’s wearing white itself is weird; is it a black and white party and we’ve just missed the other people wearing white?
“If you’re on the board,” Alicia observes, phone to her ear, “you can impact their choices.” The woman in white rounds on her. “You don’t even know what the three Rs are, do you?” she accuses Alicia. Right, because everyone knows the three Rs. As Sweeney excuses himself (he’s got a party to prepare, after all) Alicia pleads for Renata to let the CEO plead his case. “Renata, CEOs lie – that’s what they do,” Scarf Chick declares in prim disapproval, but she’s distracted by an unexpected phone call (“Hello, Demetrius. I told you not to call me!”) and Alicia manages to get her phone into Renata’s hot little hands. The come-hither look that came with the acceptance I’m sure she liked a bit less.
Instead of listening to that call, we see a phone ringing, its caller id announcing the call is coming from Colin Sweeney. “Hello?” Zach Florrick answers, picking the handset off his kitchen counter with a characteristic frown. “Zach, it’s Mom,” Alicia identifies herself. Oh hey, says her son, unclenching his brows, looking a bit beefier than the last time we saw him. “What’s up?” Well may you ask.
“There’s a picture of you on Gawker at a party with a bong,” she informs him. I can’t help but snicker at the way the word “bong” just pops out of her mouth, it’s too funny. “I, uh, Mom, ut,” he stammers, completely incoherent. “I didn’t have a bong.” Good luck with that excuse, Zachary. “There’s a picture! Eli just called me,” she fumes. Immediately, he looks it up, and there it is, Zach staring at the bright blue bong in his hand. “That’s not mine, Mom,” he relaxes. “Whose party were you at anyway?” she wonders, frowning as Renata lectures the Klaxon CEO. “Shawna Nurell,” he replies. “You said I could go.” That is so not the issue, Zach. “Yes, to the party,” she snaps; Renata’s got a hand on her hip and seems to be pointing an accusing finger at Alicia’s phone. “Not to do drugs!” Hee.
“I didn’t,” Zach protests. “I was actually taking it away from Shawna so that she wouldn’t use it.” “Oh, come on, Zach” his mother sneers. No, for real, he pleads, but Renata’s hung up the phone and Alicia needs to deal with her right now, so Zach gets a momentary pass.
“So, what did he say,” she asks in a low, uncertain voice as Renata sashays toward her, all righteous indignation and swinging arms and smug smiles. “Put me on the board,” she instructs, and by the time Alicia’s realized what this means, the tiny woman in white has rushed back over to them, make up smeared all over her face. “Oh, come on, Renata!” she calls in outrage, flinging out her hands. “Shut up, Morgan,” Renata snaps, and to my surprise Morgan does, wiping at her mascara with her thumb. “Colin hasn’t had the best luck with his wives,” Renata opines (which is one way of saying it). “I want to be more involved with his life. Put me on the board, and I’ll get Colin to sign.”
And someone else is picking up his phone now – not Colin, as the transition might lead you to expect, but Cary. “What’s goin’ on, what happened?” he asks, his voice rough with worry and his hair spiky and high. “He’s signing it now,” Alicia virtually sings.
Cary turns to face the bright faces of his employees. “We’re good!” he bellows like William Wallace leading a charge, and the room explodes into fist pumping and answering screams. Watching Colin Sweeney sign, Alicia sighs.
He looks up, noticing this, and shoots her an especially vampiric smile. “Have a sangria,” he tells her, wagging his eyebrows. Ah, it’s sangria – no wonder it looked so thick and clotted. “And I’ll sign the last one.” Sign the last line, she smiles, and I’ll have one. He chuckles as he takes the pen.
Once he’s signed, Alicia’s immediately back on the phone with Cary. “He’s signed it,” she says, “I’m sending it to you right now.” Oh, cool – she’s got a skinny wand scanner and is slowly passing it over the three pages, laid out straight on Sweeney’s ornate antique desk. “Um, not yet, probably a minute,” he says, sitting down in front of his computer to wait. She finishes scanning the last document- it’s like the hand held version of that infomercial one – and picks up a Gothic looking goblet of sangria. God, she’s not going to drink out of Sweeney’s own cup, is she? Who knows what kind of nasty stuff he’s imbibing! As she drinks, a thoughtful look spreads over her features.
“Cary, who was the prosecutor on your two cases? The ones the SA delayed?” He stares at his watch, which tells us that it’s 7:15, and wonders which prosecutor she means. The original one, of course – and of course, it’s Finn Polmar. “Why was he taken off?” she wonders, but not only does he not know, he’s too thrilled to have finally received the documents to pay lip service to the question. He wants her to wait at Sweeney’s till he gets confirmation from the filing clerk that it’s all set. She nods, watching Colin Sweeney glad hand party guests in the hallway.
And at first it seems like she’s just going to relax and sip more sangria, but no, why not try Finn first? Just to see if he knows what’s up. He answers his phone stiffly, and greets her without actually using her name. As she explains her concern over him being taken off two cases at once, and asks if it might be some plot of State’s Attorney Castro’s, the camera reveals that Castro himself has pulled up a chair to chat with Finn in person. Finally, she twigs to his odd answers. “Finn, is someone in the office with you?” That’s right, he smiles broadly into the phone. “Okay,” she says, “I’m going to call you back.” Good plan, Alicia, especially since you have a new call coming up.
Who was that, Castro smirks. “Ah, just some defense attorney, nothing important,” Finn lies.
“Alicia, we have a problem,” Cary paces, phone in hand. Damn it. Of course they do. Dealing with Colin Sweeney is never that easy. “Other expenses,” Cary grouses. Someone – the clerk? someone else at F/A? – brought it to his attention that Sweeney’s claimed all his recreational expenses as work ones. “Recreational?” Alicia wonders. Do you really want to know? “Drugs and sexual therapy,” Cary explains in disgust. What, really? Who’s dumb enough to put drugs on their business forms? How does he even know that? “Oh dear lord,” she growls.
“Yeah. It’s $145,000. He could get arrested for this, Alicia,” Cary presses. Okay, Alicia says, watching Sweeney move through the party. “Can I cross out the amount on the contract?” Alicia wonders. Yes, Cary says, as long as you get him to initial the change and send it back to us. He needs to refund the money to his business account; meanwhile, Cary will get the forms back from the courthouse, all in the next half an hour.
And, that’s Alicia’s call waiting. Cause she doesn’t have anything else going on! Life is like that sometimes. I have a reporter on the phone, Eli tells her – did she talk to Zach? I can’t talk right now, she says, flipping through the contract. “Alicia,” he declares, pacing in the governor’s office (which at least is better lit than anywhere else we’ve seen), “I promise you, this is the most important thing you are doing right now.” Well, I don’t know; Sweeney’s on a tighter time frame. “Ah, Zach wasn’t smoking pot. It wasn’t his,” she says, keeping an eye out for Sweeney who’s yucking it up with a gaggle of yoke neck girls. Good, Eli replies, I need him to say that to a reporter. “He’s not talking to a reporter, Eli,” she shuts that idea right down, scribbling out Sweeney’s fraudulent numbers at the same time. “You don’t understand,” he blows his top, “this is not a 24 hour news cycles anymore. There is a photo, everyone is linking to it, we need to put a statement out now.”
And, drat. He’s not with the look alike hookers anymore – that’s got to be what they are, right? Well, wait, now there’s one with a tray; I thought we saw the wait staff uniforms before, but who knows. Maybe I’m maligning them. Alicia’s looking for Sweeney, and I’m looking to make sense of the party, and everyone’s ignoring Eli until he explodes right there on the phone. Bah. Messy. I’ll put out a statement, she promises, “but I can’t right now.” And that, of course, is when her call waiting goes off, yet again. “Hold on, hold on,” she pleads. “Hello?”
“Alicia, hey, it’s Finn,” Finn says. Damn, he’s got a great voice. Oh, Alicia cries, as a tall bald man in a tuxedo smacks into her shoulder. “Castro was in the office,” he explains. “Ah, yeah, Finn, can you hold on a minute?” she asks, plunging through the crowd to where Sweeney seems to have relocated. She calls for his attention – but no, it’s a just another man who looks like Sweeney from the back. Black tie can be such a pain that way. She spins around, at a loss, but ha – there’s Sweeney, jacket off, burrowing into a paneled refrigerator. “Alicia, what’s wrong?” he asks around a mouthful of food.
“Mr. Sweeney, you lied on your financial disclosure,” she whines. “We have 24 minutes to refund your account and sign a new statement.” Huh. There’s a giant fork on the wall behind her head. I so do not understand the layout of this house.
“Please!” he protests, “I don’t lie!” She glares at him. “You can’t include sexual therapy as business expense!” Political correctness, he grumbles, waving a chicken wing around to emphasize his point. Hmm. Some of the yolk girls are wearing pants, and this whole area looks like a restaurant with a bar and booths. “Initial here where I made the corrections,” she demands, and he doesn’t even protest, just growls around his chicken wing and writes.
Aaaand, her phone rings again. “Finn, I am so sorry, I got distracted,” she sighs, sitting down behind the marble bar. “Mrs. Florrick?” comes voice far to hesitant and young and female to be Finn Polmar. “Yes – who is this?’ Shawna Nurell, the girl identifies herself. Oh, how are you, Alicia asks; the giant fork is right above her head. So literal, that – it seems unlike Sweeney. “Alright,” she says, “except Zach called me about the party that was at my house, where I was smoking pot?” Yes, Alicia sighs, thank you for calling, it’s such a relief – what’re you doing?” she hisses at Sweeney, who still (of course) hasn’t initialed the contract. “And, you know, I told him I couldn’t lie for him.” I don’t know any teenagers who sound like Valley Girls, but okay. It takes a minute for Shawna’s words to register.
“Excuse me?” Alicia asks, the thumping of the techno music filling our ears once more. “Smoking pot?” Shawna repeats. “I couldn’t lie for him about smoking pot? The best thing for Zach would be to face the fact that he has a problem.” As Alicia’s face falls, Sweeney signs the contract. “Now what do I do?” he asks.
And that’s when we hear a blood curdling scream. “Renata,” Sweeney gasps, and he and Alicia and everyone else at the party rushes out in time to see Renata come flying down the curved staircase, crying and gasping hysterically. “She did it! Oh my God!” she pants, throwing her arms around Sweeney’s neck. Who did what, he wonders, stroking her hair and back, but she can only answer in high pitched squeals instead of words. More people ask after the problem as Alicia slowly ascends the stairs. “I went into the bathroom because she wouldn’t come out,” Renata gasps as Alicia walks up through the wallpaper forest. “There was nothing I could do!”
And that’s when Alicia walks into the bathroom to find Morgan in her white dress, hanging from the crystal and wrought iron chandelier.
What? Are they kidding? Another dead woman at Colin Sweeney’s townhouse? Another person Alicia was just talking to who turns up suddenly dead? You have got to be kidding me.
“Thank you for speaking with us, Mrs. Florrick,” Lt. Fancy tells Alicia – I can recognize his voice before we see anything more than the house, crawling with cops, which is sort of funny given that the little I watched of NYPD Blue I saw decades ago. “No problem,” she answers, “any way I can help.”
A uniform cop whispers in Lt. Fancy’s ear. “You’re Mr. Sweeney’s lawyer, is that correct?” he asks Alicia, whom we see sitting down on a very pretty sofa with cream and coral cushions. Fancy’s in the hall with the bloody-looking paintings, which I guess makes this the second floor? Not the floor with the tree wall paper, anyway. “It is,” she says, “his civil lawyer.” “But you’ve handled his past criminal cases as well?” Yes, she agrees. “You claim you were with Mr. Sweeney the whole time?” he asks, notebook in hand. No, she doesn’t, not the entire time. “He was within my view from approximately 6:55 to 7:45.”
And you witnessed the victim Morgan Donnelly on the phone, he asks, flipping a page in the notebook. “That’s right,” she agrees, “in tears.” Who was she talking to? Someone named Demetri, Alicia recalls in a memory pop that includes sight of Morgan from the back (scarf cascading down it), using the not quite right name. Already, we’re warned not to trust her memories. She was upset, Alicia remembers correctly. “She told him to leave her alone.” That’s when you saw her crying, he prompts, and she flashes out of order through the chaotic events of the party: the phone calls, the yelling, the flirting, the weirdness. “No,” she remembers, “she was crying after the phone call, it was after that.” I see, Fancy says, blinking.
“Is everything alright,” Alicia wonders, looking at Fancy’s skeptical face. “I don’t know,” he mentions, sitting down across from her, “it’s just odd. You happen to be present at another murder in Mr. Sweeney’s home … four years ago, isn’t that correct?” Frowning, Alicia stares at Fancy. “No, that is not correct,” she counters, clearly on her guard. “There was an involuntary manslaughter in Mr. Sweeney’s home four years ago, but I was not present. I arrived afterwards.” Yeah, it’s still pretty weird. “Well,” he says, smooth and insinuating, “that makes it much less convenient.” She stares, blinking. “And it’s also not correct to call tonight’s death a murder, Detective. It’s my understanding it was a suicide.” Um, yes. Right?
So he invites her upstairs to the scene of the – crime? It’s clearly a little unnerving for her, stepping into the room, looking up at the body. “Ligature marks,” he nods at Morgan’s neck. Which would be traditional for a hanging death, no? “Legs, arms, a double set of marks on her neck.” Oh. Okay. That’s odd. (I did wonder about that scarf initially, now that you say this.) “One from this rope, and another from earlier. This woman shows all the signs of being tied up and tortured. Then, ah, strung up later to make it look like a suicide.” Wow. Is it weird that I’m wondering not only how that was possible to do during a party, but how it could have been done so fast? It couldn’t have been much more than a half an hour, right? But from the look of those bruises and cuts, probably a pretty bad half an hour.
“Normally, when I find a woman’s body in Mr. Sweeney’s home, he’d be in cuffs,” Fancy says, stepping too close to an already unsettled Alicia. “And yet, you were here to offer him an alibi?” I was here on legal business, she replies, firm but quiet. “It’s not coincidental that you’ve been with Mr. Sweeney both times a dead woman was found in this house,” he presses, and Alicia looks away self-consciously. “You were brought here to be his alibi.” Oh, yuck. That would totally explain his stupid mistakes on the merger forms, wouldn’t it? Because whatever else we can say about Sweeney, he’s not dumb.
And neither is Alicia, and she’s not going to let Fancy see her crack. “I was with Mr. Sweeney or within his sights from 6:55 to 7:45,” she repeats carefully. Fancy leaves her alone with the dead body.
“So the topic of the moment seems to be marijuana,” Peter paces around his office, conducting a press conference via speaker phone. Do real politicians do this, or just television ones with limited budgets? One voice fights through the chaos that ensues. “Sir, do you see Illinois going the way of Colorado and legalizing pot?” As Eli looks on, Peter answers. “No I do not, Ray, and here’s why. Our health care issues are extreme enough without adding potential costs on top of them.” Of course the next question, from a Chicago Ledger reporter, is about Zach; Peter fidgets with his tie as the reporter finishes her question, and Eli strums his fingers on the table. “Well, Kay,” Peter begins awkwardly, hand on his throat, “if you’re referring to the photo that was online last night, my son told me that he was actually intervening to stop someone else from taking drugs.” Eli nods judiciously.
“Really?” the reporter scoffs. “Really,” he replies. Any more questions? Of course. It’s Ray again, the question hog. “How do you square this with your brother-in-law’s statements?” Oh lord. Not again! Eli goes into cartoon wolf mode, his eyes bulging out of his head; he sprints for the outer office and loudly shoos Nora out of the way so he can run a quick search on her computer. The offending cell phone video comes up quickly when Eli runs an (inevitable) Chum Hum search, and it’s another Owen dozy.
“Oh, ah, yeah, I saw the photo of Zach,” he tells two girls and the phone-bearing person behind them as he’s locking his office door. Obviously he knows he’s being recorded, just like the last time. “That’s a rather adult sized bong, don’t you think?” Eli is not amused. “All I can say is more power to ’em.” O-wen, Eli warns, his voice low. “The President said pot’s no worse than alcohol,” he shrugs. “You should see my sister Alicia drink.” This inappropriate broadcasting of her private truth makes Alicia blanch as she watches from her desk. “I – I’m just glad he’s taken my advice and loosened up a little,” Owen declares. “Maybe it’ll force his dad to change his mind about these ridiculous laws.”
“I’m watching, Eli,” Alicia grumbles, her eyes just about exploding. “You need to get on with him, Alicia,” Eli fumes, “you need to talk to him now.” Um, she’s not a fan of being ordered around or condescended to, in case you don’t remember. I’d be hard pressed to say who she’s more annoyed with at this point, Zach or Owen or Eli. They’re all lucky that Jimmy-James Castro and Lt. Fancy (or, as this show wants us to call him, Detective Lou Johnson) have just arrived in reception. “I was planning on it, Eli,” she replies mildly. “What’s wrong, what’s happening?” he asks, immediately surprised that she’s not chewing him out for getting too far into her business. “One problem at a time,” she says before hanging up.
The two unwelcome guests stand in front of Alicia and Cary’s beautiful new signage, proudly displayed on a brick wall. “Mr. State’s Attorney, what a surprise,” Alicia greets him. “Detective.” Silently, he nods back. “Alicia, I’m in awe of your offices. Very … youthful.” Um, shut up. What is it about him that so raises my blood pressure? Is it the way he so clearly assumes you’re admiring him? “Thank you,” she smiles politely. “Makes me miss private practice. Almost.” Or perhaps his certain that he’s better than everyone else? Can I slap him? Who’s lined up behind me? Seriously, what the point of going around antagonizing people?
“So,” she says, much better at ignoring gamesmanship than I am, “what brings you here?” “A high profile case,” smirks Castro, raising his butt-chin. Gee. Let us guess which one. “In an election year?” she wonders, deadpan. Gosh, her dress is pretty. I love the boat neckline, and the dark purple color. “I have some photos to show you,” he add, smug in their anticipated impact.
The photo we see is of a bare attic space, all rafters and ropes. It’s confusing, like a ship’s hold, really. “Where’s this?” she asks calmly, flattening her hands against the conference table. “Upstairs in Sweeney’s townhouse,” Castro tells her, Fancy Johnson sitting silently beside him. Well. Sweeney Todd, apparently. “I must have missed the warrant,” Alicia looks over at Johnson. “A police officer was looking for the bathroom, and he opened this door. By accident.” Ha. (Okay, first, that’s a clear and obvious lie that I’m sure she could prove in court – but second, do you really need a warrant to investigate a crime scene? I mean, they established that a murder was committed in the house. Are they really limited as far as which rooms they look in without judicial intervention? Seems like a dumb way to mess up an investigation if that were true – but my prosecutor friend O assures me that the police would be justified in searching the house when it was clear the body had been moved, and no story about the bathroom would be required. Bah. I’m pretending this conversation didn’t happen.) “I see,” Alicia asks, eyes wide. ‘Did he ever find the bathroom?”
“That’s where we think Morgan Donnelly was tortured and murdered,” Fancy Johnson continues, which makes sense given all the rope burns. “Then her body was moved to the adjacent bathroom, to make it look like a suicide.” Wait, you’re not suggesting this room is on the same floor as that over-designed bathroom, are you? I highly doubt that, although I suppose it would make the “he wandered into it” excuse more plausible. (No, forget it. He was expecting to find a bathroom next to a bathroom? Ugh, E, stop over-thinking things!) Really, Alicia asks, her eyes flicking from one man to another. “Who are we thinking did it?” You know, aside from the obvious answer. “We were hoping to ask your client,” Castro suggests. Alicia smiles slowly. “I’m a witness now,” she explains, “I’ve had to relinquish representation of my client to my partner.” Oh, nice. “Well we would like to know why he has a torture chamber in his townhouse,” Castro lets her know, shimmying a little in his seat. Indeed. It’s a reasonable question.
“These make it look so grim,” Colin Sweeney growls; evidently he’s going to talk to the police. “It’s really quite sweet.” Of course it is. “This torture chamber’s in your townhouse?” Fancy Johnson asks. “It’s not a torture chamber!” Renata proclaims, sounding – not offended, but perhaps a bit pouty. Huh. Did the police ask for her, do you think, or did she just volunteer to come too? She did say she wanted to play a greater role in Colin’s life. “Sometimes we put flowers in there. And a vase. And pillows.” Well, if there’s a vase… I like her sly sense of humor here. “It’s shibari,” Colin explains – or rather, doesn’t explain; there’s a clear implication that Johnson and Castro should know what it is. Castro’s forced to ask what he’s talking about, and Sweeney immediately corrects the other fellow’s pronunciation, aghast that the men are still clueless. “It’s the ancient Japanese art of sexual satisfaction from the loosening and tightening of ropes.” Duh!
“You’re kidding me,” Johnson complains as Castro attempts to retain his cool, unflappable persona. “If Detective Johnson does want an explanation, we can accommodate him,” Cary declares dryly. Ha ha ha. Castro sighs. “Go on,” he says, trying to out dry-wit Cary, a game he’s clearly going to lose.
“Two subjects sit in facing harnesses,” Sweeney offers, “and… tie each other in.” What I really enjoy about Colin Sweeney is his difference from all those bureaucrats and professors and staid businessmen Dylan Baker has played for so long; the Emmy-nominated role show us anti-type casting at its best, and Baker is so clearly having the time of his life. “They control each others sensations by pulling and tightening knots, through these winches,” Renata points out on one of the photographs. Both Jimmy-James and Alicia stare in a combination of disgusted fascination and disbelief. “Auto-asphyxiation,” Castro shakes his head, attempting to assert some intellectual control over the conversation, but Renata immediately denies this classification. “No,” she says firmly, “auto-asphyxiation is porn.” Huh? “Shibari is art.” As Renata breaks into a genuine smile, Alicia rolls her eyes to the heavens. “You should try it some time, Mr. State’s Attorney,” Colin suggests, playing sincerity to the hilt. “Clears the mind.”
Again with the mental images I don’t need! Ugh. Castro shakes his head, a simpler method of clearing it.
“Did you do this ..” “Shibari,” Sweeney offers up the not so difficult word. “Did you do this with Morgan, the victim?” Renata and Colin look at each other. “Aaaah,” he replies. “On other occasions. Not last night.” Detective Fancy Johnson oozes sarcasm. “So she just killed herself on the ropes and then strung herself up in the bathroom?” He reclines in a chair, waving a hand at this preposterous theory. “I’ll ask my client not to answer that hypothetical,” Cary intervenes. “Okay, as you can see, what you call a torture chamber is actually for the private, recreational use of my client.” Well, that doesn’t mean Morgan wasn’t killed there. (I’m frankly surprised no one’s wondering whether the rope burns are old or not and if they definitely constitute cause of death; if it’s something Morgan practiced often, she could have come to the party that way. It’s worth looking into.) Cary asks that the interview end there, and Castro’s surprisingly amenable to this – perhaps because he’d like to interview Alicia now. “We don’t need her,” Fancy Johnson waves his hand again. “I think we do,” Castro glowers at his underling. Remind me what the State’s Attorney is doing at a preliminary interview again?
After a staring contest, Castro takes another large envelope away from Johnson and passes Alicia a photo from inside it. “Do you recognize this man?” he asks; the photo is a head shot of a bald young man in a bow tie and scuffed leather jacket. She flashes back to the man on his phone who bumped into her shoulder as she was looking for Sweeney to sign off on excluding the fraudulent charges. “I do,” she realizes. “Did you see him at the party?” She thinks back, and sees him on the phone, walking up the stairs. “I did,” she decides, despite the chaos of the moment.
“Where?” Castro wonders. “I passed him by the bar,” she recalls. “And that was it?” She flashes to man’s head (the one she thought was Sweeney) and then to the bald man climbing the stairs, the wall paper behind him a beautiful blue with gold leaves. No, she saw him on the stairs to the fourth floor, she recalls. When was that? “Around 7:35 p.m.”
Fancy and Castro look at each other, and whatever understanding passes between them causes Fancy to get up.
“Do you know who this is?” Castro wonders. Of course she doesn’t. “The victim’s boyfriend, Demetrius Rowe.” Ah. “You said you heard her argue with a Demetri?” She shrugs, shaking her head. “It could have been Demetrius.” She doesn’t remember it that way, but we know it was. “You’ll have to excuse Detective Johnson,” Castro says, reclaiming the photograph. (She will?) “He’s worried that you’re confusing your duties as a defense attorney with your duties as a witness.” The State’s Attorney gives her an challenging look. Smart rhetorical technique, to put his own doubts in someone else’s mouth. “You’re not, are you?”
“Good luck, Mr. State’s Attorney,” she finishes the exchange, standing; he purses his lips when she turns her back, annoyed by this imperious dismissal.
The moment he’s out of sight, Alicia lunges for her desk. At first I assume that she’s calling Finn, because we see Finn answering his phone, but then she’s talking to him from Sweeney’s glorious den of iniquity – er, townhouse – so she must have been doing research. “I had a thought, about how to keep Castro from firing you,” she grins. “You know he’s running for State’s Attorney?” He certainly does.
So, here’s the solution. “Run against him.”
Ah, she’s shocked him. What fun. He guffaws as she tells one of Sweeney’s butlers (the elderly one) to announce her. She’s entirely serious, however. “Finn. It’s a Shakman violation. He can’t fire you if you’re running against him.” Man, we haven’t see her so blindingly pleased with herself in ages – I barely recognize the look on her face. “It would be retaliation!” It’s really splendid to see her so happy. “I’m not running for State’s Attorney,” he pitches his voice low so no one else in the office hears this preposterous idea. “There are over a dozen candidates!” she trills. “Well, that doesn’t make a difference,” he grumbles. “No, all you have to do is file the campaign papers. You don’t have to actually run! He can’t retaliate against you!”
Well, that is a pretty neat solution. I suppose her dislike of Castro must have prompted this idea? Another of Sweeney’s butlers (the young one, with close cropped black hair) waves her up stairs. “Thanks for, ah, thinking creatively,” Finn finds a nice spin to put on his rejection, ” but, ah, let me think about it, okay?” Poor Finn has lost Alicia’s attention, because she’s realizing that the man who bumped into her could just as easily have been this butler. She follows him, staring at the back of his head, thinking of the man she confused for Sweeney, wondering who it was she saw. Has she made a terrible mistake? She gasps, leaning back against the wall.
“You made a mistake?” Castro asks, back at her office. Squirming, she phrases her response carefully. “To be exact, I think I might have made a mistake.” Helpfully, Fancy Johnson gives her two head shots, one of Demetrius Rowe and the other of Mr. Sweeney’s “manservant” Barry Hildem. “You confuse these two men?” Alicia can barely meet Johnson’s eyes. It is embarrassing. “I was distracted, I was dealing with a lot of things,” she defends herself – and to be completely fair, I don’t think she ever got a good look at him, and all the men at the party were dressed alike. For the record, the man she saw was clearly not Hildem (the other fellow was darker skinned and bald) – but especially without seeing how tall he is, even after multiple viewings I wouldn’t want to claim positively whether or not it was Rowe, especially not with so much riding on it. I guess it’s a good thing there are dozens of other party guests who could be asked to identify him.
“It’s a good thing I wasn’t there,” Johnson observes. “Or you might have said I was the killer.” Sigh. That’s kind of rude, but then again Hildem and Roe have little in common besides their gender and race (and age, and presumably clothing), so I guess it’s not totally unwarranted. Alicia stares at him. “You want me not to admit my mistake?” she asks. “No,” Castro agrees. “Thank you for coming forward, Alicia. It was the right thing to do.” Well, except that she’s wrong! “But now that you’ve admitted error,” Johnson complains, “is there a chance that you could be wrong about Mr. Sweeney’s alibi?”
Ah, there’s the question! She thinks back to the man she momentarily confused with Sweeney. Could Colin have murdered Morgan in those few seconds? “No,” she answers, and I’m not sure why. “Are you sure?” Johnson presses. “Just think a minute, Alicia,” Castro adds. “If you were distracted, dealing with a lot of things…” Worry plain on her face, she sinks back into that memory and Eli pops up in the middle of it. “You don’t understand. This isn’t a 24 hour news cycle anymore!” he snaps. You can see Castro getting excited the more uncomfortable she gets – and she is profoundly uncomfortable. “I’ve thought about it, Mr. State’s Attorney,” she replies finally, “Mr. Sweeney couldn’t have gone up stairs without me seeing him.” Okay. That’s not the same as saying that she saw him every single minute, but it’s plausible. I hope it’s what she believes to be true.
“Okay,” he nods, “thank you.” Sigh. Is that really the best answer? “I hope you’re right,” Johnson grouses, gathering up his photos. “Because we’re ready to make an arrest. And if you’re wrong, we’re arresting the wrong person.” What? They’re ready to arrest someone already? Can’t they confirm Rowe’s whereabouts with more people? It’s not like there’s any lack of potential witnesses – with that many guests, you could probably plot Rowe and Sweeney’s movements on a model of the house. They leave, but Alicia stays in her chair, alarmed, rooting around in her memories. The Man Who Wasn’t Sweeney. Sweeney himself, popping out of the fridge.
“Mr. Sweeney,” she wonders, interacting with her remembrances. “Why is your tux jacket off?” He turns slowly. Is that leather on the back of his vest? “I don’t know,” he replies, chewing on a chicken wing, “didn’t want to get it dirty.” Gosh, this whole season seems to be about the unreliability of memory, doesn’t it? “Dirty with Morgan’s blood?” she wonders, and he turns, closing the fridge door. “What a sense of humor you have! No, this drum stick I’m eating, you see?” Odd that he needs to go into the fridge when there’s party food all around, huh? She considers this, takes a step forward. “But why would you take your jacket off for that?” Indeed, why? “Wouldn’t you be more likely to get your shirt dirty?” “Oh,” he growls. ‘What do you think?” We see her back at the conference table, truly perplexed.
“My name is Detective Lou Johnson,” Johnson broadcasts loudly, flashing his badge as he leads a team into Sweeney’s townhouse. “And I’m here to execute an arrest warrant for the murder of Morgan Donnelly.” Wow, he meant it when he said he was ready. They charge up the stairs; Colin and Renata meet them at the edge of the second level. “Hey, hey, what’s going on?” Sweeney asks. “Mr. Sweeney, please step back,” Fancy Johnson instructs the billionaire play boy, who does. “Miss Ellard, you’re under arrest for the murder of Morgan Donnelly.”
Well. I wasn’t expecting that.
“What?” she gasps. “But I didn’t do anything!” “You have the right to remain silent,” Johnson mirandizes her as the two other offices put her in cuffs and hustle her down the stairs. “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
Again I say – I was not expecting that.
Diane Lockhart’s face comes into focus slowly as she walks toward Alicia in the courtroom hall. “So. Renata Ellard?” she asks. “She’s Colin Sweeney’s fiance. We can’t represent her, because I’m a witness and Cary’s representing Mr. Sweeney.” And there are no other lawyers at your firm; it’s such a shame. I guess it makes sense to go outside the firm. I guess? “Why me?” Diane wonders, and in Alicia’s smile, we see that their understanding and respect has survived the merger kerfuffle. “Well thank you,” Diane grins, “I think.” Naw, you know it’s a compliment.
“Diane, in regard to client poaching,” Alicia begins. “Oh please,” Diane stops her. “This one’s pay for play. You’ll owe me.” Does this mean that Diane won’t try to woo Sweeney back? Okay, Alicia agrees. She’s wearing the same tweedy jacket as earlier.
“Alicia!” our favorite new ASA calls out to her. “Finn,” she greets him. “You’re on the Renata Ellard case?” “Yeah, yeah,” he tells her, “I got it last minute. Prosecuting the preliminary hearing. Odd, huh?” How much advanced notice could he have? The whole thing feels pretty fast and flimsy. “It is,” she agrees, nodding. He gives her a goofy smile and heads in; she’s still not sure what to make of this.
In case I haven’t said this before, I’m so glad that he’s married. Otherwise, it’d be easy to latch on to him as a Will substitute, and a potential love interest for Alicia; I like that they share this profound connection with nothing else beneath it. She’s made a friend. I’m glad.
“And remember, this is a preliminary hearing, not a trial,” the judge instructs the assembled lawyers (but really us, the uneducated audience at home). Ah, it’s Broadway legend Jane Alexander’s elegant Suzanne Morris, most recently of “Battle of the Proxies.” She has to gently remind Finn to begin; he’s too busy staring at his hands. “Yes, Your Honor,” he says, clearing his throat and setting his black-framed glasses down on the desk. As he looks down to button his jacket, he sees a tendrils of dark blood spreading out around his feet, and his face snaps up, panicked. “Mr. Rowe, hello,” he manages to begin anyway. “You were the victim’s boyfriend, is that correct?” It is. “And you talked with her on the night of the murder?” A shot goes off in Finn’s head, loud enough to make me recoil at home in my living room, and the bullet blasts a hole through Finn’s hand. God. (Also, Christ figure much?)
Finn flinches, his eyes wide and terrified. “Yeah, I called Morgan,” Roe admits. “I didn’t like that she was with her.” He glares at Renata, who glares back. Is that the same outfit she was arrested in? This is all moving so fast. “You’re nodding toward the accused, Renata Ellard,” he says, and as he does, bang, a man is shot in the shoulder, blood spraying out of his back as he spins away from the camera toward the floor. Is it Finn? Is it Will? Like Alicia at the party, it’s too much of a blur to recognize anyone. “And you discussed…” Finn shudders, and Diane and Renata both takes note. “And you … discussed your girlfriend’s intention to break off her affair with Renata,” he manages to spit out slowly, haunted, eyes unfocused, but still even in tone. “Yeah,” Roe tells us with a brilliant flash of white teeth, “she was scared of her, and the way she was obsessing on Morgan…”
“Oh my God, the lies…” Sweeney mutters in the gallery. “Mr. Sweeney,” Judge Morris reproaches him sharply, and he apologizes, promising through a gesture to zip his lip. Gravely, Finn thanks Judge Morris as Kalinda scurries in, asking Diane what she might need (forensics or really, anything). Okay, nods Kalinda. “I’m on it.” First, though, she’s got a gray folder to pass on. “You might find this useful.” It’s some sort of document, and the end of title on the top says “Release from Liability.” Diane grins, pleased. Kalinda eases back onto the bench next to Colin Sweeney, giving him a little curve of her lips (too little and pleasure-less to qualify as a smile) as a greeting.
Finn still has Demetrius Rowe talking about Morgan’s fear and jealousy of Renata. Huh. This allegation puts the term bridezilla in a whole new light, don’t you think? But there he ends, and it’s Diane’s turn. “Mr. Rowe, um, were you invited to the party by Mr. Sweeney?” Nope. “In fact, isn’t it true that you attended the party uninvited, after having a heated cell phone conversation with your girlfriend?” Hmm. So it could have been him on the stairs? I wouldn’t be shocked, even though we still haven’t seen him standing to verify that he was tall enough. “It wasn’t heated,” he smiles, not particularly seeming like someone who just lost his girlfriend. “She was too afraid to break it off with Renata, and I was trying to encourage her.” You think he’d be really pissed at this point, wouldn’t you? I find it weird that he’s not at all emotional about this, barely a day after her death; I wonder why actor Owiso Odera (and the director) chose to play it this way?
“Mr. Rowe, were you aware that your lover was a practitioner of the Japanese S&M rope practice called shibari?” He doesn’t seem to want to admit it, chewing on his cheek in irritation, but of course he did. “Were you also aware that she practiced this with Renata Ellard?” He’s even less happy about that, and gives Renata a dirty look. “That was a yes, wasn’t it?” Diane asks, trying to meet his eye. It was. “Good,” she says. “And, um, do you know what this is?” She walks over to the witness box to show Rowe whatever it was in the folder.
He doesn’t, so Diane tells us – it’s a liability contract between Colin, Renata and Morgan, which insists no one be blamed if there was an accident with the shibari ropes. Unsurprisingly, Finn objects. “Is it really the defense’s claim that the victim died on the shibari ropes and then moved herself to the bathroom to cover up her shame?” Ha ha ha! Kalinda takes this in curiously; I’m surprised Finn’s crisp blue suit and tie haven’t mesmerized her. “I was under the impression that I didn’t have to contend,” Diane tells the judge. “It’s up to the prosecution to make their case.” Huh. I still don’t see how that helps; if Morgan’s death was the accidental result of a liaison with Renata or Colin or both, why stage a suicide? Popping out of her seat, Kalinda heads off to investigate as Colin snaps and make a finger gun at at very satisfied looking Diane.
As always, Zach’s at work on his homework in his bed room. “Yeah?” he calls out at his mother’s knock. “Hey Zach,” she says, sticking her head in the door. “Have a minute?” He nods yes, and so she slips inside, towing a rather abashed looking Uncle Owen behind her; Zach frowns at this unexpected addition. “What’s going on?” We wanna talk to you, Alicia tells him, her perfect posture a marked contrast to Owen’s slump. “This is an intervention,” he says, clasping his hands together just like his sister, “and we are intervening.” Hee hee hee! Oh my gosh, that’s so delicious.
“We need to discuss…” she begins, and words momentarily fail her, “…the pot,” she finishes. He looks at both of them and then (guess what?) frowns. “You gotta be kidding me! I’m literally the only person in my entire class who’s never done any drugs.” I would believe it. He’s super straight arrow, this one, Becca and the desire for an earring aside. “Oh, it that really true?” Owen asks, deeply disappointed. Ha! Alicia barks his name to snap him out of it.
“Do you want me to pee in a cup or something?” Heh! That’s probably the funniest thing Zach has ever said. Though his mother tries to protest, he cuts her off. “What? Protect the family image? Keep up this facade of perfection, like you and Dad?” Ah. I wonder if Alicia’s given any thought to how this life of dishonesty she’s committing herself to will negatively affect her children? My God, Alicia, even if you won’t think about yourself, think of the children! More seriously, I would really like to know how much the kids have figured out. “You and Dad are playing Bill and Hillary, why don’t we talk about that?” he asks, and boy is Owen listening. “Yeah, why don’t we talk about that?” he asks, turning toward his sister.
“This isn’t about me,” she panics a bit. “Or your father.” “Anything we do is a family issue,” Zach contends, and though it’s he’s completely correct I’m starting to notice that he’s being atypically defensive, which implies guilt. Interesting. “Zach, that is not – you’re changing the subject,” she realizes. Yes. “What is the subject?” Marijuana, she practically yells. “Yes,” Owen leaps in belatedly, but it’s only with the prompting of Zach’s raised eyebrows that he actually continues. “Let me tell you a story … about the abuse of drugs.” Alicia closes her eyes, horrified.
“The ligature marks on the victim’s neck do not match the position of the strap,” a coroner tells us from the witness stand, showing us a photograph of Morgan Donnelly’s body on the courtroom monitor. “Suggesting that the body was moved, right?” Finn prompts. Yes. That’s it. “Were there any other reasons that you concluded this was a not a suicide?” Finn wonders. There were, of course, or he wouldn’t have asked. “There were abrasions on the knees and elbows that were consistent with a dragging motion. It appeared as if the body were moved from the bedroom to the bathroom.” But not the shibari room? Also, I can believe that Renata is strong enough to drag little Morgan’s body from one room to another, but to hoist her up that high? I don’t know. Castro notes with disapproval when Kalinda pops in to share more research with Diane.
When Finn relinquishes the witness, Diane and Kalinda are still conferring. “Miss Lockhart,” Judge Morris calls out sharply, “Do you have anything, or are we done?” She has something all right. “Sorry, Your Honor, yes,” she says, walking over to the coroner. “How familiar are you with shibari?” “How familiar?’ the coroner asks. “I’ve made myself familiar for this hearing.” Oh, great, says Diane. “What is a canvas?” A what now? Something you paint on? The coroner’s at a bit of a loss, so Diane explains – the canvas is the submissive in the shibari ritual. “Oh yes,” the coroner remembers. “And that is the person being manipulated, right? And the dominant person is the rigger, yes?” Okay, Diane, whatever you say. “And the dominant rigger is in the controlling harness here,” Diane brings up a helpful, very artistic looking slide, featuring two athletic looking people, one curled over the floor and the other – the rigger curved backwards in the air. Isn’t the rigger’s harness more elaborate, Diane wonders, bringing up a second slide which features the rigger’s taut stomach with a series of ropes criss-crossing it. That would follow, the coroner agrees, since the rigger’s in control.
“And that harness is consistent with these bruises?” Diane asks, clicking forward to the next slide where we see three crisscrossed rope-shaped bruises on Morgan Donnelly’s dead abdomen. Rut-roh! The coroner looks over at Finn, alarmed, and he looks down at his lap in disappointment. “Doctor, do you have an answer?” the judge prompts. “I do,” she replies reluctantly, “it is consistent.” As far as you know, based on this one picture, anyway. Diane clicks ahead to a larger picture just so we see Morgan’s head attached to the bruised belly, and the judge has to forced the coroner to repeat herself; Castro storms out of the court in disgust.
“So Morgan was the rigger, the one controlling the shibati, and Renata, the canvas, the one controlled?” Yes, the coroner admits, and Kalinda nods at a very pleased Renata. As far as I’m concerned, though, this just opens up more questions than it answers. Why is Diane admitting that Renata was the bottom? Why put her at the scene of the crime at all? Did we really just admit that Renata was there when Morgan died? I know Diane doesn’t have to offer a plausible theory of the crime, but all of this information is very confusing.
A worried Castro sits at his desk doing paperwork, rubbing his face with his finger tips, as Finn pops his head in. “You wanted to see me?” Finn asks. He did, Castro says, standing. “How you doing?” His voice is more than usually concerned. Good, Finn says shortly, “how about you?” Jimmy-James pats his purple tie. I’ve never seen so many men wear purple anywhere as on this show. It’s weird that we don’t just talk anymore, Castro observes. I don’t know how strange it is after you tried to railroad him, Jimmy, but Finn doesn’t make a federal case out of that disingenuous remark. “I was watching you in court,” the SA adds, taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes in weariness. “It was just a preliminary hearing,” Finn defends himself quickly.
“I know,” Castro agrees, not looking up. He still hasn’t put his glasses back on, putting his exhaustion on display. “I’m thinking of possibly stepping in,” the SA confesses. “It’s a big case. I don’t want to lose it on the one yard line.” He’s a little apologetic as he explains this to Finn, who gives him a small smile. This would all be one thing if he were actually concerned with Finn’s obvious post traumatic stress, but if that were all he wouldn’t have sat in on the interviews with the police, would he? Or sprung this case on Finn in the first place. Oh no. I’m sure this has been planned.
Finn’s certain of that, too. “So I was the sacrificial lamb out there,” he smiles without humor. “What?” Castro pretends not to understand, knitting his brows in exaggerated confusion. “No prep, dropping the case into my lap without prep, no warning.” Well. This hearing has happened so fast, what kind of preparation could you have? “You wanted a reason to step in,” he realizes. Pretending shock, Jimmy-James leans back in his chair. “Finn, I don’t think this is going to work out,” he takes the next step in his plan, looking like he doesn’t even recognize his once close friend. “Well, what’s not working out – you took me off all my cases,” Finn presses, mild. “You’re still suffering from Jeffrey Grant. I’m not blaming you” – gee, thanks! – ” but, as your boss, take some time off.” No, I’m okay, Finn lies. Much as it’s clear Castro’s being a self-serving jerk, he’s not completely wrong. Finn’s working because he needs the distraction, but he’s perhaps not at the height of his powers.
“No, thank you,” Finn replies calmly, and Castro still looks at him in disbelief. “I’m not actually asking,” he adds. “I know you’re not,” Finn agrees with quiet dignity, “but no.” Castro sits up, his lips compressed. “Then I’m afraid I have no choice. I’m relieving you of your duties.”
In that moment, Finn decides not to go gentle into that goodnight, and grabs on to that creative lifeline he decried earlier. “Actually, you can’t,” he says. “I’m running.” Ha! I love it! “You?” Castro asks, shaking his head, unable to process the comment. “Yeah. I declare my candidacy today,” Finn replies. Fishing around for the words, Castro starts to get angry. “Against me?” he takes umbrage. “Well let’s not personalize it,” Finn replies, composed. “I’m running for State’s Attorney. But unfortunately, it is a Shakman violation if you remove me from my duty.”
And that has well and truly infuriated Castro. “You’re making a very large mistake,” he declares, voice rumbling low. Finn shrugs as if to say ‘so be it’ and stands. “I want my cases back,” he demands, and looks back over his shoulder just when he gets to the door. “All my cases.” Wonderfully, Castro inhales a breath with such intensity and fury that he nearly sucks in both nostrils.
“Hey, Alicia,” Finn calls his lawyer, clipping down the hallway, “I need to file. Now.” Hell yeah you do! “Congratulations!” she cheers. “Yeah. Screw him,” Finn spits out. Ha! Okay, that’s rather delightful. “Go down to the third floor,” she instructs him. “The Cook County Clerk. You can file the form in twenty minutes…” Awesome! Who knew it was so easy? “…but you need signatures,” she remembers. Bring ’em on? How many? “Seven thousand,” she says, a daunting number that almost halts his progress through the courthouse. But not his momentum. “Give me a minute,” she asks. “I’ll see what I can do.”
I’m shaking my head, because timid first season Alicia would never have thought of this, but today it’s as easy as breathing for her to dial Eli and ask for a favor. Is this why you’re staying married, Alicia? Would Eli not do this on his own if he no longer had a vested interest in you? “Eli. It’s Alicia. I need seven thousand signatures. How long will that take?” She looks invigorated, thrilled even. “Cook County or federal?” he asks, walking and talking. “Cook County.” He smirks at the news. “Give me an hour,” he boasts.
Yay! That’s so fun.
The State’s Attorney pops up in court, taking off his glasses in dramatic, Diane-like fashion. “Your Honor, I have one more witness,” he tells Judge Morris. “You have one more witness?” she asks, incredulous. “What happened to Mr. Polmar?” Diane and Colin Sweeney await the answer curiously. “He’s busy on another case. He asked me to step in,” Castro dimples a self-deprecating smile. “The State’s Attorney?” Morris asks again in disbelief. “He asked the State’s Attorney to step in?” Yes, Your Honor, he repeats, still smiling as if to imply that this deference and love from his subordinates show just the kind of awesome boss he is. It’s just the kind of something, anyway.
“I must warn you, Mr. State’s Attorney,” she scowls, “I have not been impressed with the people’s evidence. What witness are you calling?” Why, Alicia Florrick, of course, he says, putting his glasses back on. Awkward! Awkward awkward awkward.
“Objection!” Diane rises; her glasses are still on. “Mrs. Florrick is counsel to Mr. Sweeney.” Yes, Castro agrees, “and Mr. Sweeney is not on trial. Renata Ellard is on trial.” Mrs. Florrick represents the entire Sweeney family, Diane contends, but Castro brings up the fact that Alicia’s given statements to the police. “I see no reason why she cannot be called to the stand.” Shrugging, Judge Morris mashes up her lips. “Neither can I,” sh admits to Diane. “I will grant a subpoena for Mrs. Florrick.”
Well, we all knew it was going to happen.
“Time for a visit in the midst of all this Colin Sweeney mess,” Peter observes as Jimmy-James Castro sits across from Eli on Peter’s dueling couches. “I’m impressed.” Well, it’s really his fiancee, Castro corrects, but to be honest Peter doesn’t’ really care. “What can I do for you,” he asks, leaning against his massive wooden desk.
“Mr. Governor, I … I hate to toot my own horn,” Castro laughs, looking down at the carpet with a modest blush. Sure you do. “Oh, toot away,” Peter waves at him; if you know Peter, you know that he’s getting highly annoyed. Eli’s a little surprised that Peter is, in horse terms, giving Castro his head. “Since I took over the department, our conviction rate has gone up.” So, you think it’s smart to tell Peter you can manage his old office better than he could? Hmm. Interesting tactic. “I think that speaks to our increased scrutiny of the prosecutions.” Like Jeffrey Grant, Peter states the obvious. Yes. Laudable as that goal is, you can’t prove by anything we’ve seen that you’re being more careful about charging the right people. Still, Eli sends his boss a shocked looked for going there.
“Jeffrey Grant was a tragedy,” Castro replies coolly. “We had an ASA who was trying to make his bones.” No! Damn. Well, no doubt what his narrative is, huh? “He … overreached.” Oh my God. “You want my endorsement,” Peter surmises. “Yes I do,” Castro replies enthusiastically. Huh, Peter replies, and Eli narrows his eyes. “As you know, continuity is very important in this office, and this green ASA is planning to run against me. I have the endorsement of the DCC and I intend to do everything I can to win.” Yes, you’ve made that much abundantly clear. Talk about overreaching, though; if Finn is so green, then why is Castro so worried?
“Jim,” Peter says, pursing his lips. “You got a problem with my wife?” Whoa! Now where did that come from? Seriously, where? Considering that he’s not even talking to Alicia, where did he get that – is he following her through departmental gossip? I can’t decide if I’m touched or offended that he’s still trying to swat aside bad guys on her behalf. Maybe it’s that he’s keeping up appearances, or maybe it’s that he still loves her, or maybe it’s that rescuing her is the only way he knows how to love her. Anyway. “No, Mr. Governor, I don’t have problems with anyone,” Castro shrugs, giving Peter a cherubic smile. Poor Eli looks close to exploding; I love it when he’s caught between political consultant mode and political flunky mode. “That’s why I’m the frontrunner in this race.” Oh, yes, I’m sure that’s why. “But if you think there’s a problem with your wife, then what better way to show the fairness of your administration than by… endorsing me?” Again with the beatific smile! Eli actually considers this idea, but Peter’s not about logic or fairness before emotion; Jimmy-James keeps making all the wrong arguments. After checking to see how Peter’s received this notion, Eli stands and dismisses Castro. ‘Thank you for your time,” the State’s Attorney says, shaking hands.
The moment the door closes behind Castro, Eli’s pleasant grin disappears. “I don’t know what you’re thinking,” he rounds on Peter, who is calmly taking off his suit jacket, “but whatever it is, it’s a mistake.” Ha. I love how well Eli knows his boss. “What’s a mistake?” Peter plays dumb. “The thing. That you’re thinking. That I don’t know what it is,” Eli nods like a bobble-head. Outstanding.
“He’s gonna win.” Peter remains phlegmatic. “You want to endorse a winner, especially one you appointed to his position.” Oh, Eli. You know you can’t talk Peter out of something when he’s already decided.
“Mrs. Florrick,” Colin Sweeney greets Alicia amiably as she sits outside the courtroom waiting to testify. “Waiting to be called in, huh?” he grunts. She sits next to him, unmoving, her straight back never touching the wall. “Can I tell you something before ya enter?” I’d rather you not, she turns to him, but it’s too late. “I’m in love. Renata – she means the world to me.” Yes, you’re such a romantic. “I just want to be sure you don’t remember things incorrectly.” Ugh, is he really? “What would incorrectly be?” she wonders sharply. “I don’t know,” he huffs. “Something that might endanger my merger? I know that means a million dollar bonus to your firm.” I repeat: ugh.
“Mr. Sweeney,” she begins, “I want you to stop right now.” His eyes go wide. “I’m not asking you to lie for me,” he declares, offended. “It’s just, you were so very helpful in getting me off…” Please don’t use those words, Colin! Faced with this likely illegal interference, Alicia stands up and walks away. She stands in front of the courtroom doors where thankfully they’re just about ready for her, glaring at him until she’s been safely guided through the door by the sheriff.
“The victim objected to Renata taking a seat on the board,” she tells Jimmy-James. “From what I understand, Miss Donnelly was an animal rights activist. And she objected to the testing practices of the company Mr. Sweeney was acquiring.” In the gallery, Alicia sees Colin curled up into an exaggeratedly childish pout. “And Renata and Morgan fought over it?” Though her initial testimony sounds negative, Alicia’s not willing to go that far. “They disagreed,” she shrugs. “A heated disagreement,” slimy Castro suggests. “Spirited,” she offers instead.
“And what was the outcome of this ‘spirited’ argument?” he wonders. ‘There was no resolution,” Alicia answers. (Who else can hear Ana Gasteyer’s judge adding “in your opinion?”) Graciously – or maybe not so graciously as it turns out – Castro thanks his witness for her testimony. It must be so difficult since Sweeney’s her client and she once defended him… but here Diane objects. “Counselor is testifying,” she rises to say, and Judge Morris practically guffaws. “Yes. Cuts down on the need for witnesses.”
Now it’s Diane’s turn, and this time she takes off her glasses dramatically even before she begins, shaking out her hair and smiling at Alicia. “Mrs. Florrick,” she begins, and Alicia lifts her chin, two knights meeting on the battle field in mutual respect. “Is Colin Sweeney an important client?” He is. “And it would hurt your firm’s bottom line if he were in prison?” Um, what’s the point, Diane? Castro objects for relevance, and is sustained. ‘The police first questioned you about Mr. Sweeney’s involvement in the murder,” Diane wonders, and Alicia agrees. “And you claimed that he wasn’t involved?” An interesting strategy, to throw blame on Colin in order to free Renata. Don’t make too convincing a case, though, or maybe they’ll try him, and I doubt you want that any more than Alicia does.
“Well, I said that he was within my sight at the time of the murder,” Alicia explains. “And that’s why the police turned their attention to my client, Renata…” Again, I feel like we’re relying to heavily on Alicia’s testimony simply because she’s our main character. There were dozens of other people on that floor. Also, I doubt Alicia believes that Renata murdered Morgan over animal rights. Castro objects, and Diane withdraws the question.
Before she begins her next line of questioning, Diane bites her lip a little. “You also claimed you saw Demetrius Rowe follow the victim up stairs?” Sigh. You knew this would come back to haunt her. Giving Diane a cold hard look, Alicia agrees that this was originally so. “But you realized you were wrong,” Diane asks, making it all sound so sordid. “You realized it was Barry Hildem, Mr. Sweeney’s valet you saw?” And ironically that’s the misidentification we know of for sure. Anyway, Alicia says yes once more. “Both men are African American, which caused you some confusion?” Ouch. Well. This reminds me of that scene in tom Stoppard’s Arcadia where the two professors say they’re going to debate with full academic courtesy and then rip each other into tiny shreds. If looks could kill… “Yes, I was distracted,” Alicia replies, trying to stab Diane with her steely gaze. “I corrected the misidentification.”
And isn’t it possible you could be just as wrong about Sweeney, Diane wonders. Of course Alicia flashes back to all the moments she saw Sweeney at the party, included the one where she mistook someone else’s back for his. No, she says. Not even a little bit possible, Diane wonders, but nope, Alicia’s secure in her memories, or at least she’s saying that she is, and I would really really like to think she didn’t lie. (And honestly, he was literally only out of her view for seconds; I can’t think he’d have had time to tear up the stairs, kill Morgan in a time consuming manner and re-stage her body and then pop back to the fridge for that chicken wing.
“Isn’t it possible that you were wrong? A woman’s freedom depends on her testimony.” No, no, that’s not fair. How can Alicia’s testimony be that significant? Of course Castro objects.
So, it’s time for a new topic. “Mrs. Florrick. Did Colin Sweeney approach you before your appearance today… asking you to lie?” Well. Now we’re going from calling her a bigot to setting her up for what, taking bribes? Damn do they play dirty. I guess I should be happy Diane looks embarrassed about it. “Your Honor!” Castro protests as Alicia stares daggers at Sweeney, who manages to shrug with only his eyebrows. “No, that I’ll allow,” the judge decides. “You may answer.”
“Mrs. Florrick, did Mr. Sweeney ask you to lie?” Diane repeats. “He did,” Alicia confesses, and Castro looks down at his table in defeat. “Did he suggest his business would disappear if you didn’t lie?” Gee, Diane, how’d you know that? “He did,” Alicia snaps. “But I want to make clear that he has had no impact on my testimony.” Well, let’s be fair. The only inconsistency between this and her initial testimony is the backtrack on Rowe, and that’s something she changed to the detriment of both her client and Miss Ellard, who probably would have benefited from attention being turned to another suspect.
“Really?” Diane snarks. “So you’re defending Mr. Sweeney and damning Renata, but that has nothing to do with Mr. Sweeney trying to bribe your…” Oh boy. I’m glad Castro cut her off here. Judge Morris looks appalled, her face cold and hard. I think Alicia’s going to be in trouble if she ever has to argue another case in front of her. Honestly, I don’t even see how Alicia was damning Renata, but I suppose that’s irrelevant. At any rate, Judge Morris sustains the object to the line of questioning (too inflammatory). “Nothing further, Your Honor,” Diane says, giving Alicia a little shrug that says “sorry! whatcha gonna do?” Alicia shakes her head, totally pissed.
It looks like Alicia’s gnawing out the inside of her own cheek when she pushes the doors to the courtroom open, letting herself out. Stay out of her way, boys, or she’ll eviscerate you! (By the way, is it me or is she wearing more pantsuits? It’s been at least one an episode lately. I like them, it just seems like a change.)
“So that’s what your littler charade was about!” she barks at Sweeney, who turns around, all affability. “Alicia! Charade?” She crosses her arms, head up, fierce. “Coming to me, suggesting I lie. I thought it was a bit ham-fisted.” Yep. We’re all about the entrapment these days. “Perhaps. I felt very Lee J. Cobb threatening you.” “All so I would look biased on the stand,” Alicia asks for confirmation. “Yes,” he agrees. “Clever, wasn’t it?” Diane walks out of the courtroom and gives them a sharp nod. “Very clever, isn’t she? I think she’s channeling her old partner.” Hmm. That is more Will than Diane. “Makes her quite attractive,” he adds, staring off into space as if using those glasses of his. (And how would that work, picking porn stars for one person channeling another? Are there hermaphroditic porn stars?)
Alicia narrows her eyes. “Did Renata do it or did you?” So, wait, now she’s thinking that he did have time to get upstairs? Was she lying about that before? Did she perjure herself? He doesn’t sound particularly phased when he answers. “Now that’s just rude. Why don’t we just let the judge decide? Then we can talk.” He swans off, invigorated; she’s left looking numb and clearly feeling played.
“Are you okay?” Owen asks Alicia, sitting next to her on her sofa watching television. More Darkness at Noon, perhaps? Both Cavanaugh siblings wear soft cozy sweaters and, of course, hold glasses of red wine. Really, though, Owen’s watching Alicia. “Am I okay?” she repeats, and he gives her a soulful look. “Will?” She takes a minute to answer. “I am,” she answers, and, this is going to sound odd, but I hope she’s lying because how could she be okay that soon? She’s always minimized her feelings for Will, and she has a vested interest in not breaking down again, but still. I don’t want them wallowing in grief forever, but he deserves better than to disappear after a couple of episodes. “I’m sorry,” Owen tells her, with feeling. “I know,” she agrees, raising her drink. “Me too.”
Owen snorts. “He made me laugh,” he remembers, laughing a little, and I’m grateful that he doesn’t just say the party line. Her voice tight, Alicia looks over at her brother. “I don’t want to cry anymore, so let’s not.”
Okay. Thank you. That’s all I needed. That was actually the perfect amount of emotion.
He nods, looks away, drinks, and then his face contorts with a memory. “So, wait, you’re Bill and Hillary now?” Is Zach really old enough to make that reference? “Zach’s being melodramatic,” she replies. “What does that mean, exactly, Bill and Hillary,” Owen quavers, and after giving a surreptitious look around the room, Alicia actually tiptoes out into the hall to make sure her kids are in their rooms with the doors closed; when she’s satisfied, she scurries back and then curls back down on the sofa, this time right next to her brother.
“It means we’re married. We stay married. But that’s it.” I don’t know that I would call what you’re doing being married, but Owen understands what she means. “So – he does what he wants, you do what you want?” Alicia frowns as if this was ridiculous. “He does what he wants anyway.” Does she believe that? We’ve never known for sure, but I’ve always thought she assumed he was being faithful. God. Apparently she’s totally written him off. Remind me why she’s married again? Surprisingly nervous, Alicia watches her brother’s face for his reaction. “Interesting,” he says.
“I thought you’d be happy,” she responds, which, why? Sure, Owen has never been the world’s biggest fan of Peter, but he wants you to be happy, you idiot. In what way is prolonging – even institutionalizing – this facade of a marriage going to produce that end result?
I mean, really!
“I’m happy if you’re happy,” he says, which sounds exactly like him. “It’s a decision,” Alicia shrugs. “I like decisions.” Do you? Do you really? “And if you were, I don’t know, to meet someone else, how would that work?” Great question. Gross, but great. “It’s really not what this is about,” she evades the question (because obviously she’s neither ready for it emotionally nor thought her decision through intellectually), drinking her wine. “What is this about?” Owen wonders logically. “I don’t know,” she says (which makes me want to cry, she’s so incapable of examining her life and her choices). “Sitting here, drinking wine, making dinner, enjoying my life with my kids.”
“Oh, God,” Owen says, “It’s like Mildred Pierce. We need to get you laid.” Oh, right, because that’s the answer to everything. “This conversation is over,” she mumbles, standing. “What’s wrong? Come back!” he calls out. “Nope,” she says, clearly a little tipsy, “I’m going to the kitchen.” He calls her name, quietly so as not to alert Zach and Grace. “Peter is getting laid. You should get laid too.”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” she tells him very seriously, perched on the edge of the sofa. “Why not?” he wonders. Gee, I don’t know. Of the two men she’s slept with in the last, what, 18 years, she’s estranged from one and the other is dead. She’s barely moved past being a zombie. She’s not ready to think about the rules for covertly dating so as to preserve her very public appearances-only marriage, and I suspect that’d be a lot easier for her to think about than actually being intimate with someone.
But she can’t say all that, because Alicia would never be so open with herself or with someone else, and so she sets her wine down on the console table and tells Owen she’s going to bed. “Okay,” he gives in. “I’m sleeping on the couch.” What’s wrong with the maid’s room? She picks up a blanket and pillow from an arm chair and tosses them on his lap. Huh. I guess there is something wrong with the maid’s room? Did she turn it into a yoga studio when Peter stopped sleeping there? Owen looks up at Alicia, eyes wide. “I care about you, sis,” he tells her seriously. “I know,” she smiles, softening. “You’re my favorite person in the world.” Aw! Touched, she leans over and kisses his forehead, rubbing her lip against it and tousling his hair with her hands. Like the caretaker she is, she shuts off the light and walks to her own room – but once she’s there, she stays, pressed up against the door, lip quivering, tears threatening to overflow.
Again, just the right amount of emotion.
“I’m a fan of new blood,” Peter proclaims from a podium to a room full of reporters. Ah. I guess he does do live press conferences every once in a while. He’s standing in front of the state seal which is hung above a mantlepiece festooned with crystal and mums; the room itself is all dark paneled wood and dark flowers, flags and curtains. “And as you know, in this office, I’m the new blood.” When he puts his hand to his heart, Eli smiles, nodding at the reporters like a pageant queen. But where’s he going with this, Eli? “Now, in my old office as State’s Attorney, there are many fine candidates. And the current holder, I think, has done mostly a good job. However, my Chief of Staff has brought my attention to a new candidate.” That’s when Eli’s eyes bug. You should have been paying more attention, Eli. “In fact, he’s even collected signatures for this new candidate.” Now Eli is looking exactly as panicked as he ought to. “So, in the spirit of new blood, I would like to throw my support behind this newest candidate in the race for State’s Attorney, and his name is Finley Polmar.”
Oh, holy crap.
And it’s clear that’s exactly what Finn is thinking as he stares at his computer monitor, watching the press conference. “He has been with State’s Attorney for six months. He is from New York, and I think he brings a lifetime of experience to the job.” (That’s faint praise. He also brings a lifetime’s experience of breathing and walking upright.) Mouth agape, Finn stares at the screen.
And then his phone begins to ring. He picks up the receiver without looking down, mouth still open. “Hello?” he asks, sleepwalking. “Mr. Polmar!” comes a voice of forced and exaggerated good cheer. “This is Eli Gold, Chief of Staff to the governor. You just gained his endorsement! I’d like to arrange a time to hear your campaign plan.”
Oh crap oh crap oh crap oh crap.
“All rise!” the court sheriff calls out; Suzanne Morris thanks the assembly for standing. “During the preliminary hearing the prosecution’s evidentiary threshold is fairly low for a very good reason. Matters should be left to jury.” Diane and Renata look at each other. “But. The state has an interest in not holding the accused if the state fails to meet it’s minimal burden. I have decided that is what has happened. Sorry Mr. Castro. Therefore there is a finding of no probable cause. The defendant may be released.”
Well, and I’m sorry, but of course that’s what happened. What was their evidence? Morgan was killed in the house, in the shibari room. She sometimes used that room with Renata and/or Colin. She and Renata disagreed about something. That’s your case? Pathetic.
In the hall, Alicia walks over to Diane, Renata and Colin to congratulate them, but Mr. Sweeney in particular. I wonder if she’s just lost Colin’s business to Diane? Maybe it wasn’t that smart to set Renata up with her. “To you two,” he beams at her. Ugh? “You ladies are quite the team. We’ll expect you both at the wedding.” “Wouldn’t miss it,” Diane grins. I’m sure it will be good value for the money. “Ready, my blushing bride?” Colin asks Renata, nuzzling noses. “Yes,” she smiles up at him. “I’d just like a moment with Alicia.”Of course, Colin says, and he and Diane walk off.
“You can come by my office,” Alicia begins stiffly, “and we can draw up the paperwork regarding your board seat.” Ha. “Thank you for saving my marriage,” Renata tells her, hands clasped, eyes alight with the fire of a true believer. Um, you’re not even married yet. How could she do that? I didn’t do anything, Alicia demurs. “When Colin and I met, I wondered what we could have in common. He’s worldly in a way I could never be.” Hopefully! Dunno why you’re so enchanted with him. “He’s experienced things I’d only read about.” I’m not sure it’s possible for Alicia to be less comfortable. “Well, good luck with the wedding planning,” she smiles awkwardly, desperately trying to cut off this little tet a tet, but Renata’s lost, staring into the distance. “It made me wonder what it would feel like to watch the light drain from someone’s eyes. Just one of the things Colin had experienced and I had not.” Holy crap holy crap holy crap! Alicia pales.
“After this experience, this obstacle, Colin and I have so much more in common.” Her gratitude is pretty damn scary. “I think it’s going to make for a much stronger marriage.” She begins to smile again, her eyes filled with a weird, vacant gratitude. “Come on!’ Colin Sweeney calls to his bride from a distance. “Killer!”
“Yes dear,” she beams, turning to look at him before turning back to Alicia. “Alicia, please come to our wedding. Help us tie the knot.” She snorts with laughter. “Oh! That’s funny, huh?”
And then she walks away, taking Colin’s hand and leaning in for brief but passionate kiss. Enjoying Alicia’s realization that she’s been played from the first moment, Colin gives her a wicked smile.
Not to rain on anyone’s creepfest parade, but that’s crazy. Not only have I occasionally seen such reveals – it was clear a confession was coming when Renata asked to speak with Alicia – but I just don’t buy she was safe enough to make one. How is this case possible over? I am not a lawyer ( nor do I play one on TV) but I don’t think double jeopardy applies to a preliminary hearing. Since Renata is not actually Alicia’s client, that confession wasn’t protected by attorney/client privilege; Alicia would be free as any citizen to report that confession. And as an officer of the court, I’m pretty sure she’d be morally obliged to do so. Much as Diane demolished her on the stand, I think they would still be able to do something with this conversation. I don’t see why the SA’s office is just going to let go of the crime and assume they can never make a case against someone; they just need to do some actual police work.
I mean, holy crap! That entire party – and the merger contract – was clearly staged to provide an opportunity for Renata to get away with murder! The details still don’t make sense – why the clumsy staging as a suicide? Did they not know the coroner would know better, or … I don’t know. Why didn’t the police talk to any other witnesses? I can see why, as Alicia’s the governor’s wife and lawyer, they thought she’d be an ideal witness, and I know they don’t have a lot of testimony in a preliminary hearing, but nothing Alicia ever said to them implicated Renata directly. Really, there’s no real reason to suspect Renata except the fact that she actually did it. The idea of a using F/A and Alicia particularly to achieve the murder is interesting and thought-provoking, at least. I won’t say I totally hate it, even if it is gimmicky and doesn’t hold water, because it makes me want to figure out just what happened and how it might work, and at least that’s better than being bored. But they’ve done better in other episodes and they could have done better with this idea.
I did like Renata, though – Laura Benanti’s pretty terrific. Do I like her more than Morena Baccarin, though, that’s the question? Isobel seemed more similar to Sweeney (less emotional?) but perhaps it’s the differences that fascinate. It’s a curious thought, comparing these two. At any rate I’m not sure Isobel would have gone so far to keep his attention. I wonder if they initially planned this story line for Morena but couldn’t book her?
It was nice to have a criminal case again, though – with the exclusion of Jeffrey Grant we’ve had very few of late – and it was extra fun to see smug butt-chin James Castro try a case. Of course, that just makes me feel robbed that we never got to see Peter try one. And for the second week in a row Peter makes a questionable but really, really entertaining and satisfying choice. Finn Polmar for State’s Attorney! Are we really going to go there? Poor Finn, just wanting to get out from under his former buddy’s oppressive ambition, and trapped into a bloody campaign instead. I hope he’s going to be okay. I try not to pay too much attention to casting news (rife as it is with spoilers) but I didn’t think he was joining the cast full time? Ah well. I’m genuinely excited to see how this plays out.
Also, I love that this is a typically Peter move – instinctual, emotional, bold, protective of Alicia and made with absolutely no consideration for consequences. For all that he’s such a smooth operator you might even say that “screw the consequences” is Peter’s motto. At least he’s smooth opposed to Castro, who can’t seem to manage talking to anyone without offending them. What do you guys read into his reaction to Castro? Was he offended by Castro’s self-promotion (at Peter’s expense, which the shockingly tone deaf Castro seemed not to notice) or is the telling fact Peter’s introduction of Alicia into the equation? And just what does he think Castro has against Alicia, anyway? Do you feel like she was targeted? I don’t know that I do. I loved seeing Eli try and stop Peter from reacting, though.
While it was fabulous to see Owen (even if his response to Alicia’s sad relationship and sad emotional state was stunningly inappropriate), and while I generally laud the show for tackling so many issues at once, I feel like this episode tried to jam too many components in without fully exploring any of them. Obscure Japanese erotic arts, a swanky/skanky party, murder, wedding planning, racial misidentification, the untrustworthy nature of memory, labyrinthine plots, animal testing, the length of the contemporary news cycle, political campaigns, holy crap that was a lot going on. What the heck happened to the furor over Zach’s bong picture? The news cycle is apparently so fast that not even the episode’s writer could remember the event by the end of the episode. Really the best moment of that whole subplot was Owen’s hilarious disappointment when Zach announces he’s the only person in his class who doesn’t use recreational drugs; that totally cracked me up. I still wonder what we’re left with, though. Are we supposed to believe that Zach’s a user with a problem or not?
I heard a great interview with Alan Cumming you guys might enjoy on NPR’s Fresh Air. It’s long, and it’s mostly about his work on Cabaret (he’s starring in a revival of it for the third decade in a row), but it’s intriguing simply to hear how little he sounds like Eli. And that’s not just because of the accent, though that plays a major role. Anyway, he does give some fun insight into Eli Gold and the oddities of working on television, especially the dropped plot lines and all the different jobs Eli’s held over the last five seasons. Is he still technically a partner at Lockhart/Gardner? Your guess is as good as his.
So, there it is. I have a lot of questions, as you can see. Do you? Or do you have a lot of answers? Will Finn stay in the race? Will he stay on the show? Is Alicia really a bigot who thinks all young black men look alike, and was that brave of the show to imply about her? Isn’t it weird that she positively identified and then misidentified the two men, instead of just saying “I’m not sure, it could have been either one of them.”? Why was Owen sleeping on the couch instead of in the spare room – what crazy thing might Alicia have one with the space? And do you feel like any of Sweeney’s plotting would have been possible if Florrick/Agos was more on top of their game? Is their being an overextended start up a sufficient excuse for all the last minute glitches? Let me know!