E: It’s true. It has been a weird year. A year of break downs and break ups, of events and emotions too big for our buttoned up characters to handle. Even that word weird with its vast allowances seems too small to sum up the dizzying spins of this past season; the dread and shock of Outside the Bubble, the visceral thrill of Hitting the Fan, the philosophical meanderings of A Few Words, the devastating gut punch of Dramatics, Your Honor and the abject despair of A Material World. A lot’s happened in this long year, and a lot happened tonight. Over one very long, very intense, very crazy day, our characters stretch to – and in some cases past – their breaking points.
So yes. Weird doesn’t even begin to cover it. I will have a lot to say about this season and about this roller coaster episode, but because a season finale automatically takes viewers thoughts to the following season, I can’t help thinking about Season Six. Season Five definitely lived up to the electric finale of Season Four. How are we looking for the future? My biggest take away is that Alicia’s answer to Eli’s question better be to laugh in his face.
On a screen and in extreme close up, a woman presses a tissue to her nose, dabs at her raccoon eyes. “I paid you to help me with this adoption,” she squeaks. Oh. That. Finally, we’re dealing with that again. Are you okay, the Gopnik’s lawyer Carter Schmidt asks solicitously, suggesting take a minute. “No, I’m fine,” she sniffs, so brave. “I told you it was tricky,” she continues, rubbing the dirty tissue into her smeared make up, looking up to stem the flow of tears, “because the baby was half Chippewa Indian, and tribal law might apply, but you didn’t care.” Why, those unfeeling bastards. What does that even mean, you didn’t care, and who’s the ‘you’? “That’s why we’re suing you for six million dollars,” Carter declares, chin up. Because they didn’t care? “Any more questions?”
“Ms Gopnik. Who specifically did you hire to help you with this adoption?” Cary wonders. “Which firm?” Lockhart/Gardner, Mrs. Gopnik nods. “And in fact, wasn’t it Lockhart/Gardner who failed you, not…”
“Objection!” Louis Canning throws up his hands. “It’s already been established, Mrs. Florrick was the lead attorney on this adoption.” Ah, no, Alicia cuts in. “That has not been established. David Lee was the lead attorney.” Oh, come on Alicia, David Lee complains, and then Diane cuts in, and then everything descends into chaos. Unconscionable, Alicia thunders, her invective carrying through the din.
“Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen,” Carter Schmidt waves his hands, making a time out symbol. “We can’t hear everybody. The system can’t handle that much cross talk.” Ah. Deposition by video conference – that’s new. “We need to move on,” Schmidt suggests firmly, and Alicia reaches down and presses a button on a small machine in front of her, turning it from green to red so she can speak to Cary without the others hearing. “They’re not after us. They’re after the deeper pockets of Lockhart/Gardner.” Her partner agrees with this assessment; they just need to get David Lee talking.
Sitting at one end of her conference room next to David and Louis, and looking absolutely stunning in a scarlet dress, Diane seeks to establish that Alicia had day to day control of the case. Yes, gulps the teary Mrs. Gopnik. I wonder why both Gopniks aren’t there? “Alicia Florrick, when she worked at our firm?” Diane pushes. “Under the direction of David Lee?” Carter adds his own question quickly; it seems Alicia’s reading him right. “Mr. Schmidt, you’ll be allowed follow up questions afterward,” David snaps. “Thank you, Mr. Lee,” replies the wonderfully phlegmatic Schmidt.
Above all the petty sideswiping, Diane establishes that it was Alicia who broke the bad news about the failure. “Alicia was in charge of the day to day, but somehow you are suing both Florrick/Agos and Lockhart Gardner for six million dollars?” Gosh, I love the sleeves of her dress – cuffed just below the elbow, but belling out above. Stunning. Somehow Canning is not mesmerized by this fashion statement, instead craning his neck to watch Kalinda converse with Howard Lyman in the hall. “Do you have a question there, Diane?” Cary grins at his old boss. “I thought that was a question,” she replies dryly. Carter’s happy to out-deadpan her: “If you’re asking whether we’re suing both of your firms, the answer is … yes.” Ha.
With that witticism, he matches a show of whipping out his watch. It seems he’s out of time. “I suggest we resume in three hours when I land in Chicago.” “At which point I’ll be able to question Mrs. Florrick,” Canning pipes up. “Can’t wait,” Alicia does her bit to keep the conversation crackling, and with that the three-way breaks up until 1pm.
This time Canning’s watching Kalinda walk Diane back to the latter’s office. Is it about vote, David wonders, watching as well; Canning expects so. What vote?
“You ready for questioning?” Cary asks, following Alicia back to her desk. “I’ll be fine,” she replies casually; he’s practically swallowing his bottom lip, he’s so nervous. “Yeah, we should prep,” he opines. “Canning seems a bit too eager for my taste.” Indeed he does, but Alicia has to pick up the food for Zach’s graduation dinner. She’ll be back in an hour.
“How’re you handling it?” Cary wonders. “Handling?” Alicia repeats, because clearly there are so many things “it” could possibly be. “Empty nest,” Cary clarifies. Um, huh? That’s a weird way to talk about Zach’s graduation. “My mom, she – she almost broke down when I left.” Okay, I’m sure it was hard for my parents to drop me off at college, and I know they missed me, but it’s not technically an empty nest until it’s, you know, empty. What about the rest of the summer? More importantly, does Grace not count? “Thanks, Cary,” Alicia snarks, but her phone rings, which puts an end to the conversation. (Speaking of Grace, I miss the old “Mom, pick up the phone” ring tone.)
“Eli, what’s up?” she asks. “Disaster!” Eli cries melodramatically. “I’ll be there in two minutes.” Despite her protests that she won’t be there in two minutes, he persists. You can’t leave. Finn’s already on his way. She won’t budge until he explains that Castro’s “dropped a bomb” which is resulting in Finn dropping out of the race.
“You need to talk to him, he doesn’t like me,” Eli finishes, walking and talking as usual; there’s even a shot of Nora in the background. I wonder if they film several episodes worth of him walking and talking at once? I know nothing about television filming schedules, but it kind of astounds me that they can get Nora in the background nearly every time he delivers thirty seconds of dialogue over the phone. “Well, I can’t convince him if he doesn’t want to run,” Alicia shakes her head. “No, he wants to, we have to convince him not to.” What? This shocks Alicia. “This bombshell will hurt Finn, it will hurt Peter, I’m five minutes away, I’m coming to you,” he spits out rapid-fire. And, what? As he hangs up, he notices that someone’s stuck a mustache and a piratical eye patch over Peter’s official portrait. “Come on,” he barks, ripping off the mustache, “who did this?”
Ha. Somehow that makes the governor’s office seem like a high school with an incompetent principal. It’s very Ferris Buehler’s Day Off, don’t you think?
Moaning, Alicia heads back to her office, dialing. “Hi, Mom? Where are you?” At a ritzy department store, looking at handbags. “Bloomingdales’. What kind of sunglasses does Zach like?” That’s an interesting graduation gift, sunglasses. Very Veronica, though. “Ah, Mom, ” Alicia begins, “I have to ask you a favor. Can you pick up the lasagna and the cake for tonight?” Funny that Alicia was going to do those things herself, huh? I mean, can’t you have them delivered? “Why is Zach leaving tomorrow?” Veronica asks without actually replying. “Mom, did you hear my question?” She did, but she’s not going to answer it until Alicia answers hers. Leaving? “Because he has a summer job at Georgetown,” she says, and the fans all go aw, Georgetown! The job’s at Fig Catering on Blue Avenue, she adds, which weirdly turns out to be a real Chicago-based caterer. I’m confused.
Why doesn’t he take the summer off and travel to India, Veronica wonders, stars in her eyes. Why do that when you can wait tables? Cary calls out to Alicia, wondering why she’s still there, clearly ready to jump in with testimony prep if she doesn’t leave. “Mom, if you don’t want to get the food,” Alicia cuts in, trying to regain control of the conversation, so annoyed she rolls her head back instead of just her eyes, “can you just tell me that so I can find someone else?” I’ll pick up the food, Veronica grumbles, but then inspiration hits and splits Veronica’s face into a wide grin. “Why don’t I make it?”
No, Alicia stammers, shocked. “Yes! I can make a lasagna as good as any caterer.” Poor Alicia, stumbling to think of a polite (or polite-ish) way to decline. “I have to keep things … simple,” she tries, “because I’m gonna be here all day.” What’s not simple about me cooking, Veronica wonders. Gee, let me think. “Come on, let me make the food. I’m hanging up now!” Ha! Despite Alicia’s pleading, Veronica’s not to be dissuaded. “What is this, some kind of empty nest thing? Is that why you’re so tense?” Again with the empty nest! Does no one remember Grace exists? “I’m not tense!” Alicia shouts back. Great, says Veronica. I’ll make the food and see you tonight at 8. She hangs up on her seething daughter.
“Howard Lyman,” Kalinda tells Diane. “No,” says Diane, disbelieving, but the answer is yes – Howard Lyman is the last undecided partner left. After a moment of shocked silence, Diane bursts into the cleansing laughter that’s such a part of her character. That’s so fitting for this year, she gasps. After a brief amused snort, Kalinda advises Diane just offer Howard anything. “He’s easily persuadable,” she says. “It’s like a banana republic here,” Diane chokes. Yep.
And back in the conference room, Canning and Lee try to tempt Howard into their coup. Their contention: Diane can’t manage the firm without Will. “Diane needed Will to run this firm well. They were like yin and yang,” Canning suggests. “Left brain, right.” I won’t say that there’s no truth to that; not that she isn’t capable, but everything’s so unbalanced. “We need a strong managing partner,” David Lee finishes, and for all his “give me an army of women” talk, I can’t help thinking that “man” is the operative part of that sentence. Or, I don’t know, maybe that’s unfair. Maybe David (who used to be Diane’s pocket monster) has never really trusted her after the aborted judgeship drama. Maybe I’m just hearing sexism because it feels like an argument that would move Neanderthal Howard. “What about me?” Howard opens his hands, and David Lee almost has a heart attack.
“Na, you don’t wanna do that,” Louis Canning dismisses the idea, scrunching up his face, “too much of a hassle. Besides, you’re too valuable as a senior partner.” Heh. “Let Canning be the front man,” David Lee offers. “You can be the … shadow behind the scenes.” Like a puppet master, Howard suggests, excited. “Yes!” Canning points, equally enthusiastic. “We need you to vote for Canning at the partnership meeting tomorrow,” David sums up the strategy. “I’ll propose a change in management, and you second it.” As he says this, the camera pans out until we see the three men in a rectangle on a blue screen – in other words, still on the teleconference call! “We have the votes,” David adds. “What do I get, Howard wonders. As Canning notes that Howard’s been longing for an office nearer to the bathroom, Carey Zepps can’t control his snickering. A larger office, they continue, one with more room to sleep…
“What’re you doing?” Clarke Hayden asks, shocked, standing at the entrance to the teleconferencing area. “What am I doing?” Other than chewing something, you mean, as if he was snacking on popcorn at a movie theater? “Yes,” Clarke agrees – he’s gobsmacked. It’s kind of like Carey’s watching an alien invasion movie, enjoying it to the fullest, but to Clarke the footage feels real. “What is that?” “Lockhart Gardner,” Carey with an E reports around his mouthful of food, tossing a hand toward the screen. “They’re trying to bribe Howard Lyman into voting Diane out as managing partner.”
“You can’t be watching that!” Clarke cries, aghast. “What?” Carey munches. “Yes I can!” No you can’t, Clarke insists, gentle but firm. “Turn it off.” “No, Clarke,” Carey protests, “they left their camera on.” He stands, adjusting his suit jacket. “They thought they turned it off when they turned the monitor off. I’m just passively watching.” Having had enough of this justification, Clarke moves forward to turn off the call on Florrick/Agos’s end. “No,” Carey warns, blocking him. “Funny, you don’t seem passive,” the former accountant quips. (Genius!) He calls out to Canning, trying to tell on Carey, but it’s no use – the sound’s on mute. Clarke looks over at the controller for the conferencing program.
And that’s when both grown men lunge for it, both grabbing it, tussling over it. Stop it! Let go! You’re being childish! Oh, I’m being childish? Yes you are, you’re going to break it!
“Hey, guys, I’m trying to have a meeting here!” Alicia snaps, rightly stunned by their behavior. “Maybe next time get some doors on your conference room,” Eli grumbles. Ha. He’s sitting across from Alicia’s desk next to sad, shorn Finn Polmar. “How did you get this?” Finn asks. I thought there was nothing to get, Finn? “I have someone in Castro’s office,” Eli explains (impressive!). “He won’t use it now, he’ll wait until Peter’s over-committed or we start spending money on commercials.” So we put it out now, Alicia suggests.
Irritated that Alicia’s not remembering his admonishment from earlier, Eli wrinkles his nose. “No!” Well then how do we fight it, Finn asks. We know what Eli’s answer will be since he’s already given it to Alicia – you don’t. “That’s a criminal offense!” he insists, pointing to a manila envelope on Alicia’s desk. Wow, what did he do? “Well, that’s debatable,” Alicia snaps, but Eli doesn’t agree, and poor Finn just looks ashamed. “You bribed a prosecutor to drop drug charges against your sister.” Uh oh. “I didn’t bribe the prosecutor,” Finn turns to Eli, eager to defend himself. “Oh, you cut a deal to lessen charges on another case. That’s a bribe.” Damn! In the background, Carey and Clarke are full on wrestling over the teleconferencing device. You don’t realize the ramifications …
“Guys, come on!” Alicia calls out before asking Cary to intervene. For me the funniest thing about this is that no one thinks it’s worth standing up to stop them. In any place I’ve ever worked at, physical fights were not some that would be shrugged off.
What’s going on, Eli, she asks, trying to refocus the discussion. “Nothing is going on,” Eli lies. “Peter is withdrawing his support.” Well. That was a convenient excuse. “Oh come on,” Alicia complains. “He’s endorsed candidates with worse problems. At least this is sympathetic!” She gives Finn a reassuring look. “A bribe is not sympathetic!” Eli disagrees. “She was going to be eaten alive by the system. She needed time to get back on her feet, and both my parents were at the end of their tether.”
Giving Finn the hand, Eli cuts of this explanation. “Peter’s moving on,” he declares, not meeting Finn’s eyes. “We advise you to withdraw to avoid an embarrassment.” And just like that, Eli’s done.
“Eli,” Alicia calls out, chasing after the political consultant. “Is this about the photo?” She walks next to him and he shoots her a look. ‘The photo of Finn leaving my apartment,” she clarifies. “Alicia, you like Finn. Good for you. He seems like a good person. But put your political hat on,” he sneers. “This is not survivable. Finn’s heroism will be forgotten in three month’s time, and all we’ll be left with is Peter endorsing a briber.” Is that true? I’m not sure it’s as interesting as Peter dropping Finn because of the photo, but okay. “Oop, here he is,” Alicia looks at her phone as Eli presses the elevator button. “Peter,” she greets her husband.
“No,” coos Jackie Florrick from behind her son’s desk. Creepy! Ew! “It’s Jackie! Hello, Alicia,” she says, making me shiver as she swivels in his chair,” why did you think Peter?” Jackie. Even you must have heard of caller i.d..
Alicia does her best to hang up on her mother-in-law. “God, what does she want?” Eli makes me laugh as he steps onto the elevator. “No, it’s okay,” Jackie answers Alicia’s request to call her back. “I just wanna know what cake you want.”
Ha ha ha ha. Alicia has no coherent answer for this.”What?”
“What kind of cake you want me to make. Meringue, devil’s food…” (What’s a meringue cake? Is she offering to make a pavlova? I wouldn’t really consider that a cake. Weird.) I don’t need you to bake a cake, Alicia replies. “Are you sure?” Jackie wonders. “Veronica called and said you wanted me to bake a cake for Zach tonight,” Jackie answers (ha ha ha ha ha, that’s killing me) as a minion creeps up behind the governor’s desk. “It’s too hot,” Jackie informs her, touching a coffee mug. “I told her to pick up the cake,” Alicia insists. Oh, honey. Just be gracious and accept the help, huh? “I don’t mind making it,” Jackie presses. “Alicia!” a man’s voice calls out. “Where are you going?” she wonders. “I’m right here!” Jackie replies. Oh, Jackie. Alicia asks Jackie to hold and covers the phone.
What’re you going to do, she asks Finn. “I don’t know,” he replies. “I’m too angry.” Okay, she nods, but then she pleads with him. “Well don’t withdraw. Let’s talk.” And that’s when Cary calls out. “I’m sorry, Alicia, it’s time sensitive.” Sigh. “We’ll talk later, okay?” she tells Finn. “Yeah,” he mumbles, walking off, clearly upset.
On her way over to Cary, Alicia tries to convince Jackie that a store-bought cake would be best, but she’s already lost the flighty older woman.
“You can rationalize it anyway you want,” Clarke scoffs at Carey as Cary ushers Alicia in to their teleconferencing area. “I’m not rationalizing anything,” Carey replies, no scruples at all. “Whatever we do, it’s a partner decision. You’re not a partner.” Damn! That was cold. “hey, hey, one second,” Cary calms everyone down and quiets them so Alicia can listen in on Lockhart Gardner. “Diane is great,” Louis Canning lies, “but she’s still struggling.” We don’t want her gone, David Lee chimes in. “We just wanna – nudge her aside.” Lovely. “They left their camera on?” Alicia assesses immediately. Yes. “And they can’t see us?” No. “We’re trying to figure out what to do,” Cary explains.
“We know what to do,” Clarke replies, the picture of probity. Well. Thank God somebody does. “We have to turn it off.” Carey, obviously disagrees. “It’s not our mistake. It’s their mistake.” I don’t follow that logic. “We have to zealously represent our client.” They’re not even talking about your client! “Not by cheating,” Clarke lets outrage ring out in his voice. He pulls out his phone to quote the ABA as Extra E insists that this doesn’t constitute cheating. “It’s inadvertent disclosure! It’s as if someone accidentally sent you their courtroom strategy.” Exactly, says Clarke, and in that case you’d have to send it back. “No, you don’t,” Extra E barks, “you have to zealously represent your client by using it!” He gets out his own phone and starts scrolling as well. Clarke takes a dim view of this response.”People think by adding ‘zealously’ to everything it makes it all right.”
“A lawyer who receives documents not intended for them,” Clarke reads off his phone, “should refrain from examining the documents, and notify the sending lawyer. That is the equivalent of a document.” He points to the screen. Those are the 1992 rules, Carey reads off his phone. “The new rules do not say that the lawyer must refrain from using the information.” What? Really? That’s quite a change. “Where are you reading that?” Clarke wonders. “Follow the link! The new rules leave it up to the lawyers. ”
“No,” Cary frowns, looking at his own phone. Dueling smart phones, I love it. “The new rule leaves it up to the client.” Heh. Well. That’s a turn of events. “You’re the one being sued for six million dollars, Alicia. So do we leave it on or turn it off?” She’s taken aback, and watches as Canning and Lyman shake hands. “We’re counting on you,” the shorter man says. They’re not even talking about trial strategy, she points out, just internal politics. “It has nothing to do with us.” So we turn it off, Cary confirms. “Yes.”
“Oh!’ Extra E complains, tossing back his head in frustration. “This is such a mistake!” But here’s a wrinkle; they can’t actually turn the other side off. “We can only tell them they left it on,” Clarke insists. Um, that makes no sense. You can shut it off. Mute it. You’re clearly capable of doing those things. Calling Canning and confessing is going to be a disaster.
“Wait,” Cary puts out a hand. “They’ll think we were listening.” “We were listening,” Clarke frowns, appalled at them. “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?” Cary wonders. Indeed, perhaps they could turn the spying to Diane’s advantage?
Cutting through the fuss, Alicia turns the light on their controller green and sits down. “Mr. Canning, Mr. Lee, you left your camera on,” she tells them. David skulks into the frame; their heads are right in front of the camera. “You think he’ll stick with us?” Canning wonders; David Lee snarks that since Howard can’t remember what he ate for breakfast, his ability to stay bribed is hard to rely on. “They must have muted it over there,” Extra E observes. “We need to call them,” Clarke reiterates, but the other three are mesmerized. Seriously, how does the monitor not have an off switch? “Florrick/Agos is next,” Canning adds, guaranteeing him a devoted audience on the other end. “Did you talk to the wife?” David Lee asks. Yes, after the deposition. “She believed you?” Yes, Canning answers. Cary sits down.
“We just agreed that we can’t do this,” Clarke tells his spell bound colleagues. “Ssh!” Alicia hisses. “And they have no idea?” When David Lee says that, Clarke sits to watch himself. “Florrick/Agos? No, none. She feels betrayed by them. You gotta be nice to her, though.” I don’t think nice is David Lee’s strong suit. Also, this is baffling. “Mrs. Gopnik?” Extra E asks, sitting down himself. “I know,” Lee grins, “She likes me. Why don’t we just blame it on Alicia?” Blame what? The adoption? They’re already doing that! “Florrick/Agos is done,” Canning smirks. “Done and gone in 48 hours,” David agrees, before leaning in with a confidential look. “Diane’s gonna wanna save Alicia, you know.” Canning nods. “Well we’ll get Chum Hum, then we’ll get Paisley, and we’ll decide what to do with her.” Oh my God. The Florrick/Agos lawyers stare, stunned, at the screen.
Clarke shakes his head. “That doesn’t change anything,” he frowns. “We still have to tell them it’s on.” Seriously, I do not understand why they can’t just turn the monitor off or mute it. Not really caring about the mechanics or even the ethics anymore, Alicia turns to him. “They just said they were gonna destroy us in 48 hours. That changes everything.”
The Florrick/Agos team has gone absolute bat-crazy. We weren’t listening! Well now we have to tell! Well now we’re not! Finally Robyn – hey, she still works here, cool! – sticks two fingers in her mouth and whistles. “Thank you,” she says calmly, hands up. “What did they say exactly?” It’s Cary who answers. “They said they talked to Ms. Gopnik.” No, Alicia corrects him, they said they talked to the wife. I heard waif, Extra E counters; both Cary and Alicia frown at him. “Waif, what does that even mean?” Cary asks, obviously wondering about sense in context. “I don’t know,” Extra E frowns.
“No,” Alicia reiterates, precise as ever. “Canning said he talked to the wife after the deposition, and that Florrick/Agos would collapse in 48 hours.” Mrs. Gopnik feels betrayed by us, Cary assesses; Robyn wonders why, amuses me seeing that she’s already suing them. Narrowing his eyes, Extra E notes that it sounds like Canning’s lying. “Remember, David Lee said ‘do they believe you’?” It makes no sense, Robyn assesses. She’s right. It’s odd – but that’s what happens when you overhear conversations. “I mean, even if we settle,” Robyn continues, “three million dollars won’t destroy us.” And that’s worst case scenario, going with her ask.
“They said they wanted to blame me,” Alicia recalls. Well, that’s Lockhart Gardner’s strategy with the Gopnik case, right – blame Alicia, have Anthony lie? They couldn’t hear anything else so they don’t know for exactly what she’s to be blamed for. Could they have made a deal with Mrs. Gopnik to blame only Alicia, Extra E wonders. No, thinks Robyn, that (losing the full six million) still wouldn’t destroy us.
“It would if Alicia couldn’t practice law,” Cary realizes. Oh, crud. Yes. That would be bad. The group exchanges deeply unsettled looks.
“If we lose Alicia,” Cary continues, “we lose Chum Hum, Paisley, a lot of others. ” Colin Sweeney, Lemond Bishop, the list goes on. “Are they trying to disbar her?” Is there any other mistake in the adoption work, Extra E wonders, his eyes now permanently narrowed. “Something dis-barrable?” I don’t think so, Alicia shakes her head, “but David Lee was involved. So anything’s possible.” True that.
Okay, says The Real Cary. “So, we go through the discovery. We go through everything.”
“Wait!” Extra E interrupts him; there’s noise coming from the Dark Side. (Actually, at this point I’m not really sure who’s the Dark Side. Maybe they all are.) It’s David Lee, instructing a young woman in a teal blazer to clear everything out of the conference room for a meeting coming up. She sets down a platter of food on the table, and then starts violently making out with a young man as soon as David Lee leaves the room. As the Florrick/Agos team recoils in surprise, I’m dumbfounded. That room has glass walls! It’s surrounded by the busiest hallways in the firm! Are you kidding me? As if Will’s bathroom wasn’t bad enough. Happily for Alicia, her phone rings.
“Hello, Grace,” she says. Oh, it’s me, replies Veronica. “We’re looking for flour. Where do you keep your flour?” 1) Would Alicia even have flour? 2) oh lord, she said ‘we’ 3) they’re cooking in her kitchen? don’t they have their own kitchens? 4) ha ha ha ha ha! I’m at work, Alicia cries, outraged at being called for such a triviality. Oh, get off your high horse. “I found it,” Jackie calls out, emerging from beneath the kitchen island with a clatter of bowls and pans; you could probably hear me shrieking in Chicago. Oh, never mind, we found it, Veronica apologies. “Who’s there?” Alicia wonders, alarmed, and so her mother tells her.
Heh. Who knew her jaw could drop that far. “Jackie?” she repeats, stunned. “Yeah,” Veronica shrugs; we don’t see her, but you hear the shrug in her voice. “Why?”
No longer fascinated by the teleconference monitor, The Real Cary and Clarke stomp over to Cary’s desk, continuing their earlier argument. “It’s exactly like the NSA. We were outraged when they did it to us!” Huh. While it might be overstating things a little – they didn’t do this on purpose and the NSA did – Clarke has a very valid point. Which Cary’s not interested in at all. “Clarke, I’m responsible for 60 people.” Wait, wasn’t it 35 last week? (It was.) “This is a decision I made because I don’t want to see those 60 people out of work.” Well, yeah, but that’s not all, is it? By that logic you can justify any decision, Clarke points out. “Yes,” Cary agrees, annoyed, “but I won’t.” That’s what they all tell themselves, Cary. “Now,” he says, “help us look through the adoption discovery.”
“So, how did he take it?” Peter asks Eli, sipping on his coffee. “Not great,” Eli admits, looking a little regretful. “But don’t worry, he’ll back out. It’s his only play.” Sigh. “By the way,” Peter says, sitting on the edge of his desk and twisting to face it, “have you been, ah, wearing perfume back here?” Yeah, Eli answers, totally deadpan. “Why, you don’t like it?” Hee. Peter gives his second in command a wolfish grin. “Jackie?” Yes, Jackie. “She likes to sit at your desk when you’re not here,” Eli confirms. Ew. Just ew. Grinning, Peter stands and walks back to the business end of his desk. “You know, it’s odd that he wrote her as Lady Macbeth. Mother Macbeth would have made sense.” In his case for sure.
“Well, who’s our replacement gonna be?” Peter wonders. “For Jackie?” Eli asks. ” I don’t know, I could make up a list.” Oh, Eli, you are on fire this morning. Peter snorts appreciatively, but of course means for Finn. “Someone who’s already vetted,” Eli suggests. “You’re getting a reputation.” For flying by the seat of his pants? That’d be well deserved. Hmm. Who do we know who’s already been vetted?
“How about Diane?” Peter asks, and oh. As much as I really want her to join Florrick/Agos, I kind of love that idea. It’d be awesome to have a woman in charge over there, especially one with a crusading spirit. “Diane Lockhart?” Eli wonders, surprised. “She’s already been vetted,” Peter shrugs, “and I think she’d make good State’s Attorney.” “She’d make a great State’s Attorney,” Eli furthers, “I don’t know if she’d do it. We’ve stood her up at the altar already, remember?” Well, she would have understandable trust issues, though it feels a little sexist that you couched it in a romantic metaphor. Also, Diane wants to be a judge – the undisputed top of the food chain. While State’s Attorney’s a huge and terrific position, it’s also a pretty contentious and highly managerial one. Would she still feel like a gazelle on the alert for predators, just on a different savannah? I want her to be the lion she is.
“Let’s set up a meeting,” Peter decides. “Persuade her. She’d bring real stature to the office.” Indeed she would.
“So, Howard, ” Diane asks Howard Lyman, “what do I have to do to get your vote?” Oh God. Please don’t let him say something sexual or sexist, please God don’t let him do it. “What do you have to do?” Mmm hmm, she hums, smiling down at him as she pours him a glass of water. “I don’t know,” he replies, hands clasped, looking up at her like a child at Father Christmas. “What can you do?” Howard’s flanked by Kalinda and – no way! – Julius Cain, who suggests perhaps a larger office might fit the bill.
“No, no,” Howard says, hand up. “I’m good.” Clearly peeved, Diane crosses her arms. She knows he’s been gotten to. “Canning offered it to you?” Kalinda asks, clearly seeing what Diane is thinking. (Her dress today has a pretty spectacular neckline – black edged under with white in a really cool shape. Bravo to the costume department!) No, no, Howard protests, outraged, and then he raises his eyebrows, and shrugs, and admits “maybe.” Oh, Howard. Such good value for the money.
Diane gives him a measuring look. “What do you want, Howard?” she asks. “Do you know how long I’ve been a lawyer?” he asks in return, his face softening into nostalgia. “Fifty five years.” Really, Diane replies. “Really,” he nods, massaging his knuckles. “And never once in those fifty five years have I cross-examined anybody.” He raises his hands at the strangeness of this, and I can’t but agree. How is that even possible? I know he’s an idiot and a fossil, but I just assumed that he lost brain cells with age. How could he go fifty five years without doing any work? “You want to question a witness?” Julius surmises, surprised. “I was second chair on the Paisley case,” Howard smiles, giving his credentials. “And I liked it.”
“Excuse me,” an assistant begins in the background. “Not now, Bonnie,” Diane doesn’t even turn around. “The governor is on line two,” Bonnie says, and both Diane and Kalinda freeze. Ah, okay, Diane answers, I will get that in a minute. As Bonnie walks off, Diane lays her hand on Howard’s shoulder. “Howard, if you vote my way, I will let you question in court.” With that, she takes off for her desk. “Mr. Canning and David Lee will do the same,” Howard replies. “No they won’t,” Diane warns, turning around, “David Lee doesn’t think you’re up to it and I do. One sec.” She picks up the call.
“Governor Florrick,” she greets Peter, flicking her hair out of the way of the phone. “Diane, thanks for taking my call. Look, could we meet with you sometime today, Eli and myself?” You and Eli, she wonders. “Ah, Certainly,” she assents, motioning fiercely to Kalinda. But why? He’d rather say in person. They settle on five o’clock.
“The Supreme Court?” Kalinda wonders as Diane sets down the phone. “Well, I don’t know, that would be odd,” Diane frowns, because hell yeah it would; it’s her dream, though, and as Kalinda points out they haven’t filled the slot yet. (Good grief, Peter, that’s preposterous.) What a terrific solution that’d be to her problems here. “It’s probably nothing,” Diane shakes her head, trying to keep her hopes down, but you can see she doesn’t believe it, “a committee or something. Come with me.” Rutroh! Oh, Ms. Sharma does not like that idea. “Diane, I really don’t think I’m right,” she demurs, but no, Diane wants a posse, and Kalinda’s it. And that gives Diane an idea; she swans over to the men.
“Howard, how would you like to question a witness today?” she asks. HA! Julius’s eyebrows shoot down so far it’s like they’re trying to attack his nose. I love this. “I,” he stammers, popping to his feet to be closer to Diane’s ear, “I think we should…” It’s a deposition, she whispers. “Whatever he doesn’t cover, we’ll follow up.” Oh my gosh! That’s the best! “What d’you say, Howard?”
“Anything yet?” Alicia asks her crew as they pass files back and forth. “I’m being deposed in about thirty minutes.” She sounds a wee bit impatient. You have to feel like they’re on to something, but what can Canning and Lee have possibly found that could get her disbarred? And do they really go so far? I mean, not that she should rely on him, but there is no way Peter would fail to retaliate. “Nothing yet,” Robyn replies, clearly sad; knowing David Lee as they do, she and Cary speculate that he kept the problematic paperwork out of discovery. “They’re gonna sandbag me at the deposition?” Alicia worries. “Possibly,” Cary agrees. There’s the problem – now they’re paranoid because they just don’t know. Well, maybe paranoid isn’t the right word. But they just can’t figure out where to turn.
“Here’s another thing,” Extra E volunteers, and then he walks away from the conference table, forcing Alicia, Cary and Robyn to follow. “Here’s the thing. Robyn and I were talking.” Indeed. “We think you should go over there to be deposed,” she explains. Huh? “Lockhart Gardner, why?” So they don’t turn off the camera, Cary guesses; he’s right, but only partly. “Tell them you wanna discuss the discovery, what documents are missing.” They’re not going to say anything, Cary frowns. “Not in your presence,” Robyn winces.
“You’re kidding!” Alicia complains, finally figuring out what everyone’s talking about. “After you leave, we’ll see what they say,” Robyn explains. I’m not really sure how this would make a difference – if they’re snooping, why does it matter where Alicia asks the question? “It’s smart,” the investigator adds, shrugging helplessly. “It’s slimy,” Alicia replies, totally right. They’re trying to set us up, Extra E justifies the behavior. “They’re trying to set you up. It’s not slimy, it’s self-defense.” Well. Self-defense can feel pretty slimy.
It must have felt like a potent argument, though, because there she is. “Mrs. Florrick, thank you for coming to our place,” Canning greets her as they sit at the conference table, “it wasn’t necessary.” “I didn’t want any misunderstanding in the transmission,” she says, before nodding to Carter Schmidt, who’s sitting on her right. I’m surprised, frankly, that she hasn’t brought Cary along. That’s weird, right? “Mr. Canning, Diane,” she adds. “I never rate, do I?” David Lee whines. Sigh. “David,” she coos, “how are you?” Peachy keen, he snaps. “Shall we start?” They shall.
“I have no questions for Alicia,” Carter starts. What? For real? How is that even possible? Man was she right; even though she’s named in the suit, he couldn’t be making his disinterest less clear. “Diane?” he tosses the ball her way. “Howard actually has some questions,” she replies, and on cue, the venerable Mr. Lyman pops in, documents in hand. Oh, the look on David Lee’s face. “WHAT?”
“Howard’s going to examine Alicia,” Diane replies, matter of fact, as Howard takes the seat at the head of the table. Awesome. “No he isn’t,” David stammers. “Yes he is,” Diane says, turning to Howard with a bright smile. “I have the utmost confidence in Howard.” He beams back at her. So genius; they can’t possibly respond because they’d antagonize him completely if they did. “You don’t, David?” David looks like a jack o’lantern, his eyes wide, his mouth hanging open. “You, ah, want us to step outside for a minute?” Carter Schmidt asks, enjoying the little interplay very much. No, Diane smiles. “We’re good. Howard?” “I..” David gasps. Canny Canning turns to him quickly. “Shut up,” he grinds out.
“Lyman? Why Howard Lyman? He’s an idiot!” Extra E wonders back at Florrick/Agos, watching with Robyn and, surprisingly, Clarke. This is the kind of confusion you deserve when you eavesdrop.
“Is your name Alicia Florrick?” Howard asks. It is. “And did you bribe the Indian Council?” Well, I guess Alicia didn’t need a handler after all. Um, that’s Tribal Council, mister. Oh, Indian Council, Tribal Council, that’s all the same thing, right, Howard shrugs. “I don’t believe they refer to themselves with that colloquialism,” Alicia replies primly. “Will you just answer the question?” Howard snaps. She will; she leans over to say it. “I did not bribe the Tribal Counsel.”
“And you expect us to believe that?” he laughs like a wonderfully old time-y villain. “I do,” she replies. “You did everything else on the case,” he notes. Yes. “But David Lee, behind my back, attempted to bribe the Tribal Council, and that’s why this adoption fell through.” Wasn’t it looking like it was going to fall through any way? Not that it matters. When David looks ready to leap in, Canning silences him with a wave of a finger.
“Ah, what is this?” Howard asks, sliding a document over to Alicia. She flips through it. “A xerox of a take out menu.” Heee. Oh, I’m almost sorry for Howard about that. This is your big chance, Howie! Don’t mess it up. He winces, and David Lee’s forced to look away. “What is this,” Howard asks, opening up a document. Alicia closes it and looks at the title. “Um, it’s a transcript.” I’m laughing, but it still feels kinda mean. I guess that’s her job, though. “Transcript of a deposition, to be exact,” and then, because he got one sentence out without saying something wrong, he has to turn to the court reporter sitting against the wall. “It’s not offensive to say Indian Council.” Big sigh. “They don’t mind Indian.”
In his office suit, Cary leans over Robyn and Extra E. “What the hell,” he complains.
“Would you read from this here, Mrs. Florrick?” Howard asks Alicia. “Question,” she quotes, “how do you turn this thing on? Is this the new kind of smart phone? Answer: yes.” Wait a minute, wait a minute, Howard mutters, upset, and in high dudgeon David Lee stands and slams his finger down at the appropriate spot on the page. Good visual memory, David. “You mean here.”
“Question: on March 6th, 2013, did you send Chief Joshua Proudfoot of the Chippewa nation ten thousand dollars in cash to induce the tribe not to object to this adoption. Answer: I did.” Howard grins broadly. “So you did?” he pounces, triumphant. “No. I just read that. That was one of your associates being deposed.” Uuuuuugh! “But … what does it say next?” He points to the paper. “You want me to keep reading?” she asks. “I demand that you keep reading!” Oh, Howard.
She clears her throat. “Question: And at whose direction did you deliver this inducement? Answer: Alicia Florrick.” Ah, he gloats. “There it is. In black and white!” He’s lying, Alicia answers. “Is he?” Howard wonders. “Or are you lying?” It’s like he was invited to one of those Murder Mystery dinner parties and is playing detective with great cliched gusto. “He’s lying,” she repeats. This exasperates Howard. “Why would the associate lie? There’s no reason.” Heh. That’s a straight line if ever there was one; David Lee must be dying. “Because he wanted to be made a partner here,” she notes, looking at the other three lawyers, “and you made him a partner here.” That’s not a reason, Howard sneers. “Actually, that is a reason,” Alicia tells him, patronizing.
“Maybe it’s a smoke screen?” Robyn wonders. “They’re trying to lull us into a false sense of security?” The boys are just as baffled. “Okay, so … I’m lulled,” Extra E shakes his head.
“Good job, Howard,” Diane smiles, patting the senior senior partner on the back. “It was fun!” he replies. Hee. With a quick look at the camera, Alicia hangs back. “Ah, do you have a minute? I have a question to ask you two.” Robyn, Cary and Carey lean toward their monitor. “Okay, here we go,” Extra E practically rubs his hands together in anticipation. “I would … like to do it in private?” she suggests, this time with a strange look at the camera. Sure, agrees Canning, let’s go to my office. Is she backing out? Is she going to tell them the camera’s on? “Damn it, keep them there!” Cary urges her. She follows Canning just as far as the door, where she hesitates as if unable to cross the barrier. “Actually, can we do it here?” she changes her mind, her gaze unsettled. “Why?” David asks, behind her. Though he can’t see, she looks at the door to Will’s old office, her mouth open, unable to speak.
“Oh,” Canning says, picking up on her discomfort. “I didn’t wanna take Will’s office, I just … though it would be best if clients didn’t see it empty.” I have no idea how real any of this is. Not that I would expect Canning to have any particular sensitivity over Will’s death, but does he genuinely feel sorry for Alicia? And is this some sort of baroque plan on her part, or was she genuinely trying to move the conversation and couldn’t go through with it? Immediately Canning caves, and both he and Diane give Alicia pitying looks as she takes her place against the wall, beneath the camera.
“What is it?” Diane wonders, and Alicia launches into her pitch about missing documents. David, of course, says there’s nothing. “We made copies when we left Lockhart Gardner, so we’ll be able to check.” As David blasts about the ridiculousness of this assumption, Diane cuts in, sounding genuine. “I don’t understand, what are you saying?” Um, messing up the paperwork is class tactics. One you guys used extensively early on in this season, so you can’t play that innocent, Diane. “I don’t want this to get confrontational,” Alicia replies. “I just want to warn you, we’ll look askance at any late arriving evidence.” She leaves. “Okay, here we go,” Robyn says, on the edge of her seat.
“What was that about?” Diane wonders. “I have no idea,” David growls, and they both sound like they mean it. “She’s warning us,” Canning observes, because, duh. “They’re not gonna say anything with Diane there,” Cary grips his hands together, “not unless…” Then his mouth stops working. “What is it?” Robyn wonders. His eyes follow the progress of a woman in teal through the glass hallways. “Can you zoom in?” he asks. Not without them knowing, Extra E replies. “Can you record it?” Extra E’s at a loss. “No. It’s a live stream. Why?”
Standing, Cary approaches the monitor, leaning his face in close. He gets a good look at the woman’s fuzzy face. “It’s not what we thought, they don’t have the wife that we thought!” Huh? WAIT. “It’s not Mrs. Gopnik?” David Lee’s assistant opens the door at the back of the conference room, letting the woman in teal in. “Your client is here,” she tells David. “Good,” he says, “in my office.” The client? Deena Lampard. Neil Gross’s wife. “Oh, crap,” Extra E hisses. “Yeah,” Cary grunts, his face right up to the camera. “They have Mrs. Chum Hum. And we’re screwed.”
So, okay. They’re not trying to disbar Alicia, they’re lying about her to Deena – a smarter but still devastating strategy. Got it.
“That smells good!” Veronica trills, pouring herself the obligatory glass of red wine. “Well, I had to make due with what’s here,” Jackie sighs, bending over the oven in a lemon yellow sweater and white apron. “It’s not my best.” Oh, Jackie. “Why do you always do that?” Veronica wonders. “I gave you a compliment, and you made it sound like an accusation.” I’m not sure that’s exactly right; she just refused to take it. “I was just trying to….” Jackie begins (deflecting potential criticism in case it’s not up to her standards would be my guess) but to my surprise she doesn’t go on, she just sighs and stops. “Oh, you’re right. You’re daughter’s always accused me of the same thing.” What does Veronica do with this surprisingly gracious apology? Ruins it.
“Yes, she’s a lot like me,” Veronica sips her wine. I don’t know how true that is – and I know Alicia would protest it. “And your son is a lot like you.” Yeah, that’s not fair, either. Granted you do see the influence of both mothers (which really is a very cool facet of the show), but it’s far more complicated than that. “Now that sounded like an accusation,” Jackie notes, still smiling. Huh. Very mature for her. “It did, didn’t it,” Veronica snickers a little, drinking more.
“I see where Alicia’s drinking comes from,” Jackie breaks, her voice poisonous in its falsely polite veneer. “And Peter’s rudeness,” Veronica replies. Damn it, ladies, you were so close! This could have gone so much better. “No wonder they’re splitting up,” she adds.
“What?” Jackie asks, her head frozen at an odd angle, genuinely stunned. I can’t decide if I’m mad at Veronica for passing this on or not. I mean, on the one hand, it’s mean and it’s also SO not Jackie’s business, but on the other, maybe Jackie can harangue some sense into her son? No, probably not. “They’re splitting up. Or not splitting up. Or just doing the power couple thing.” Is that what all power couples do, ignore each other? “What does that mean?” Jackie asks, little girl voice in full force. “Forwarding their own careers while sleeping with anyone they want,” Veronica grins, taking malicious delight in imparting news I’m sure she’s not happy about either. Poor Jackie is literally taken aback. “They’re not doing that!” Oh yes they are, she replies as if she actually endorses it. “Where did you hear that?” “From my son,” Veronica declares triumphantly. “Alicia talks to him.”
And you wonder why she doesn’t always talk to you.
“Well that’s awful,” Jackie snaps, and I hate to sound like a fussy mean old woman but it totally is. “Oh it’s fine,” Veronica coos, which I don’t believe she thinks for one second. Sure, she’s clearly in favor of Alicia getting her groove on, but she’s wanted Alicia to leave Peter forever; you can’t convince me she wouldn’t rather see a divorce. Given the situation, she’d rather just rub her knowledge – and her allegedly liberated attitude – in Jackie’s face. Which makes me wonder why she didn’t just order the cake from a bakery. Ah well.
“They’re getting along better than when they were sleeping together,” Veronica contends, which again I don’t think is true. “Are you alright?” she asks as Jackie reaches for a wine glass. Uh oh. “I don’t like the way you’re waving this in my face,” Jackie replies, and her bitterness seems reasonable to me for once. “I’m hardly ‘waving this in your face’,” Veronica lies. And that’s Grace at the door, calling out a hello to her mother. “Hi Grace! Oh, it’s not mom,” Veronica calls back to her. “We’re making dinner.” Oh, gulps Grace as Jackie tosses back a half glass in one gulp.
“This isn’t about Mrs. Gopnik at all,” Alicia repeats, shocked, “this is about Mrs. Gross?” Yep. “It looked like her,” Cary shakes his head. The two of them are standing, staring at the empty conference room over the monitor, flanked by Robyn and Extra E. “Last time I saw her it was in their fight over their prenup. “We lose Chum Hum that would close our doors, right?” They are 75% of our operating income, Extra E observes. So, yeah. It would be a problem.
“Does she have that much sway over her husband?” Robyn wonders, disbelieving. Neil Gross, of course, is traveling in China, so they can’t reach him for comment. “They said ‘does she believe you.’ That’s what they said in the teleconference?” Yes, Robyn. “So they’re lying to her,” she finishes. “About us,” Cary nods. “So we meet with her,” Extra E suggests. “Ask her if she’s happy.” No, Alicia decides, inspired. “Cary. You meet with her. She liked you.” That she did. “Work your magic.” Good plan. “God, I am the new Will,” Cary laughs, then shoots a sheepish look at Alicia, who’s looked up from her ringing phone, surprised. “Sorry.”
“It’s me,” Peter greets his wife. “I’m sorry to bother you at work.” No, it’s fine, she says, walking out of the conference area. What do you need? “This is gonna seem like an odd question,” he says, looking back at the frenetic subordinates swarming his office. “Do you know where your casserole dish is?”
That doesn’t sound like an odd question; that IS an odd question. She blinks. “What?”
“Mother called,” he explains succinctly. What else is there to say? “She said she couldn’t call you. They’re making lasagna at your appartment.” Alicia simply cannot believe that Jackie would disturb the governor of Illinois with this question. “They sound like they’ve been drinking,” Peter whispers. Oh, honey. You have no idea. I was rough on Alicia for not letting them help, but clearly they’re not capable of doing so without causing nuclear war, so I guess she was right to be that worried. “I’m gonna kill them,” Alicia promises, sitting down at her desk. “I’m in a meeting,” Peter says, “so I really don’t know what to do…” Also, I’m sure you don’t know where the lasagna pan is. “Tell them to stop, seriously, this needs to stop. I would go there myself with a hatchet, but I’m in the middle of something here.” Ha.
“Okay,” he sighs, and then he looks around the room to make sure no one is listening. “You didn’t, ah, you didn’t say anything to mother about us, did you, about our situation?” Like she would ever. “Jackie? No. Why?” She mentioned something about wanting to talk to both of us, he says, and wow, wouldn’t that be a treat for all concerned. Breaking up the call, Cary taps on the glass partition, recalling Alicia to their debate. First, she just needs to remind Peter they’re not going to talk to Jackie about their sex lives. He knows.
“How do you feel about tomorrow?” he asks, still smiling. What’s tomorrow? “Empty nest?” he clarifies. Seriously. You’d think Peter of all people would remember he has a daughter. It’s like a conspiracy, and Alicia has no time to think about her feelings. She’s got to go. “Oh, Eli,” Peter calls out as he sets down his phone. “You busy?” Hee. Oh, that’s wonderfully evil.
“I thought we were only watching things that had to do with us,” Alicia complains. This time it’s Diane, Kalinda and Julius plotting in the conference room. “This does,” Robyn declares, mesmerized. “Alicia was open to the plan at one point, but others were reluctant,” Diane says. Well okay. That for sure has to do with you. More merger talk? How’s that going to save you, Diane? “What can we offer them,” Julius muses, “guaranteed partnerships?” “They want to merge,” Alicia realizes, and Cary adds that this doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Canning’s scheme. Gah. It has nothing to do with Canning’s scheme against you – it’s clearly a reaction to Canning’s scheme against Diane.
“Cary wants three years of segregated Chum Hum money,” Diane remembers. We can’t do that, a very surprsised Julius replies. She knows. “Can you talk to him, Kalinda? See what you can do? I know we keep asking this of you, but it’s important.” Oh God. Turning slowly, Alicia looks at Cary, who begins to boil in humiliation. Sure, she agrees, walking off to the back of the room. “What can she? I guess I don’t understand,” Julius asks, forcing Diane to spell it out. “Kalinda has a way with Cary,” she says, and Robyn turns in her seat to look up at her boss, stunned. “We’ve exploited this before.”
I feel like I’m saying that a lot this week. Stunned. Shocked. Surprised.
“So, Canning will vote against the merger,” Diane goes on. They should arrange it so that the merger question comes up after Diane wins the managing partner vote. As she says this, the camera closes in on Cary’s expression. He sucks in his lower lip. “I go to Florrick/Agos. We guarantee them an equal number of seats on managing committees.” Huh. Here Cary’s phone buzzes, and his jaw tenses at the sound. “Hello,” he puts the phone to his ears, his voice strained. On the videoconferencing feed, we see a grainy Kalinda at the back of the room, calling. “Cary, ah, what’re you doing?” Working, he says shortly. “Are we still on for six this evening?” He walks out of the teleconference area, behind the glass windows. “Um, six. I don’t know. Do you still wanna be?” “Yeah,” she says. “Don’t’ you?”
Most of the time I love Kalinda, but then there are moments like this. “Yep,” he replies, watching her as Robyn watches him. “You’re being weird,” she observes, not knowing the half of it. “Look, I’ll see you tonight at 6?” She will.
“We need to discuss this,” Alicia steps up to Cary once the call ends. “Where?” he wonders. “Can I just say, this was a stupid design choice? We need someplace with walls and doors.” Like Lockhart Gardner, he wonders. I’m glad I’m not the only one who can’t bring myself to add Canning’s name at the end.
The two meet in the middle of the street outside the office, talking over the beeping of construction equipment. “I think we should merge,” Alicia says, because of course she does. She’s always pushed for this, from that firm they almost hooked up with at the very beginning to the fiasco several weeks ago with Diane; what I don’t understand is why. Biting his lip, shaking his head, Cary inevitably disagrees. “They’re offering us equal spots on management committees,” Alicia brings up, practically crowing. “That’s where all the decisions are made. We could be the top firm in Chicago!”
“Yes,” he tilts his head toward her. “And your name will be on the letter head, and mine won’t.” You don’t know that, she replies passionately. “Alicia! Don’t try to sell me. You’re the governor’s wife, your name means something.” I kind of want to hug him right now, I feel so bad about this. “So we’ll insist that yours in on it too,” she counters. (Lockhart, Gardner, Canning, Florrick & Agos? Well, there are lots of firms with crazy long names – and you can be sure everyone would still call it Lockhart Gardner.)
“Why would we do this?” he asks, which is more to the point as far as I’m concerned. Do you really want to be in bed with Canning and David Lee? “We said we wanted to build something from the ground up, something that we could be proud of.” His hair seems short, the planes of his face cast into sharper relief as he pleads his case. “Why would we go back?”
Damn good question, Cary.
“Because we’re struggling,” she admits, “Because I’m tired.” He can’t heard the last word because she’s practically swallowed it, because the construction noises are so loud – he makes her repeat herself, and this time she yells it out. “I don’t wanna keep struggling to stay alive.” If you think for one second you’d struggle less at Lockhart Gardner you have not been paying attention. “That’s not why you’re tired,” Cary informs her. Oh, dangerous, dangerous ground. She stares back, disbelieving. What did he say?
“You are not tired because of work!” There’s stress in every line of his face and neck. It takes a moment for her to reply. “Are we talking about Will?” she asks, getting more angry with each syllable. “Is it about Will?” he wonders, not backing down, his eyes wide and edged with a wild red. “You’re angry at what Kalinda said, you take it out on her,” she snaps, and I can’t decide if that’s fair or not. This conversation does justice to neither of them. Perhaps knowing that, he walks away.
“I’ve got the votes, Cary,” she threatens him, “I’ve got the votes to get us to merge.” Oh God. She didn’t. Why would you do that? He’s your partner. They haven’t even made you an offer. This is not a bridge you want to burn, Alicia.
That threat brings him right back. “So that’s how it’ll be?” His eyes are hollow. “A fight to the death?” A vote, she insists, which is easy to pretend is egalitarian when you have the majority on your side. He nods before walking away. He knows how to take that. It’s war.
Slamming open the door to the office floor, Cary looks around the busy room, a piano thudding ominously in the background. He sees Zepps, and pulls him aside into a darkened corner, their faces in shadow, light filtering through the tips of their hair. “Can you do something for me?” he asks. “Just me. You can’t tell Alicia.” Extra E nods: he’s game. “Sound out the partners. Get a headcount on merging with Lockhart Gardner.” Her coat on, Alicia walks through the office, talking to the assistants. Extra E’s immediately on Cary’s side: “No, we can’t merge with them. They’d lay off half our staff.” They’re both right, and it pisses me off that not only does Alicia not see the stupidity of the decision in general, she doesn’t see the way it would be betraying everyone who came with them and works for them. It’s like she can’t extend her emotions that far, to cover that many people: say what you will about Will and his managerial techniques, but he felt keenly his responsibility to his employees and colleagues.
I know,” agrees Cary Agos. ‘I need a vote count in an hour.” I got it, Zepps nods, and he’s off. “Bob, hey,” Cary says without moving, and a small man steps into view. “You got a minute to talk about this merger stuff?”
“Diane,” Peter says as she and Eli stand before him. I swear, I get happy every time I see that dress. It’s maybe the most perfect thing I’ve ever seen her wear. “Thanks for coming in on such short notice.” They shake. “Of course,” she smiles, “it’s an honor.” And that’s when Eli steps back to reveal our favorite pint sized package of awesome behind him. “I hope you don’t mind if Kalinda sits in,” Diane adds; Peter looks a bit like he’s got something lodged in his throat. “She’s become an invaluable Girl Friday.”
“Kalinda, hi,” he manages to croak. “Peter,” she nods. As Peter starts to pace, Diane sits on the striped sofa behind her; both Eli and Kalinda drop back into the arm chairs behind them, forming three sides of a square. So what’s this pressing matter, Diane asks Peter, but it’s Eli who answers, as usual. “Well, we hated how it ended up last year with the supreme Court spot, and we wanted to bring this offer to you personally.” I’m glad you did, Diane replies, her voice very low. Peter picks up the ball. “Diane, how would you feel about running for State’s Attorney?” Kalinda’s head whips over to her boss. That caught them both off guard.
“Oh,” says Diane. Not quite the enthusiasm for which they had hoped. We were endorsing Finn Polmar, Eli explains, but he’s dropping out. “And, well, you’re pre-vetted.” Oh, dude. You didn’t. Your persuasive techniques leave a little to be desired “Actually,” intervenes Peter, “We think you would also make a terrific State’s Attorney.” Eli knows he’s being chastised, and nods a quiet yes.
“But not Supreme Court Justice?” she asks. Eli sends his boss a very awkward look, something akin to an ‘I told you so.’ Unfortunately we’ve already offered the position to Harvey Jenkins, Peter explains. Yes. You can see she’d gotten her hopes up.
“This is an honor, Diane,” Eli tries to convince her. “We’re willing to put all the power and prestige of the governor’s office behind you.” I wonder how usual it is for a defense attorney to be State’s Attorney? It’s a surprising choice, right? Anyway, it’s not her dream. We really do hope you will consider it, Peter adds. You can tell he knows it’s a losing cause. The two women share a telepathic look. “Ah, when do you need an answer?” Kalinda asks. Tomorrow, Eli says. “We need to play a little bit of catch up.” Choking down her outrage, Diane thanks them and politely replies that she’ll consider the offer.
Out in the hall, Diane’s on fire. I half expect flame to shoot out of her nose. “You alright?” Kalinda asks. “You mean because they offered me the State’s Attorney’s job instead of the Supreme Court and didn’t come to me first and only came to me because I was pre-vetted, am I alright with that?” Yeah. That went well: they offended her at every turn. “Yeah?” Kalinda asks. “Peachy,” Diane growls, her heels snapping down the corridor. “Kalinda, could you find out if I did run what I would be up against? Would I be conflicted out of my partnership?” I think that easy answer to that one is a hearty hell yes.
“I’m on it,” Kalinda nods, then waits a second before voicing everyone’s thought. Is Diane considering it? “I don’t know,” Diane says, already sounding like a politician. ‘the world is so confusing right now. Um, okay. “I just might quit and go live in New Zealand.”
Well. New Zealand is pretty spectacular. Plus, Kurt would probably approve of their gun laws.
Huh. Was there a minute wasted on small talk or dinner before Kalinda and Cary ended up tented beneath the sheets? He stares off into the distance – it’s a little frightening, actually, what his face looks like when he’s not present in it. “Hey Cary,” she coos, “I’m up here.” She’s smiling when he turns his head, but really, it’s scary. He looks like a corpse, like a mannequin. “What?” she asks, genuinely alarmed. She’s wearing a necklace that hangs down between them. He pulls her head down for a kiss.
“Better slow down,” she cautions him, and his anger leaks through – he reverses their positions quickly so she’s on her back. “Kalinda, just shut up,” he grunts, pushing her arms down against the bed. “Excuse me?” she questions him, irritated. “I am not one of your women,” he says, and now I’m offended. “I am not going to go slow when you want me to go slow.” That is all kinds of wrong; I am shocked by how many kinds of wrong that is. You caught her out using you, Cary! You should be confronting her, or kicking her out of your life, or something, anything but this. I know you feel humiliated, and I know you don’t want to give away your method for learning the truth, but the threat of sexual domination or even violence is not the way to win back your pride. “Get off of me, Cary,” she demands. “Why?” he growls, moving. “You don’t like it like this?” Okay, seriously. This is getting uncomfortable.
“Cary, get off of me, I swear I’ll hurt you,” she insists. After swiveling a little more, he backs off and sits up. (And while I’m mad at him, I can’t help wishing we had nicer scenes of him without his shirt on, because wow, impressive.) Apparently she’s not that mad, because she reaches out to hold his arm. “Cary, what’s wrong?” He pulls on his shirt and she frowns in concern. When his phone starts to buzz he stares at it like a zombie. “Hey, it’s Carey,” his fellow conspirator answers. “The count is close. I can’t believe it, but Alicia is up by two partners.” Zepps is back at the office. “If the merger were voted on today, we’d lose.” What’s wrong with those people, seriously? Are they doing so badly on their own? “Okay,” Cary nods. “What’re you going to do? We can’t merge with Lockhart Gardner.” No, they can’t. “I’ll talk with you,” he says, and hangs up.
“What was that?” Kalinda asks, sitting up on the bed, white silk sheets wrapped around her. He just sniffs in answer.
As the day dies, Louis Canning waits by Lake Michigan, the Chicago skyline across the water limmed in red-gold light. We’ve seen Will here too many times; it’s strange and stunning and elegiac. “This private enough for you?” Canning asks as Cary approaches him, hands in his pockets as he walks. Oh, no. Cary! I want to cry for what you and Alicia are doing to each other. It’s all scorched earth. “Mr. Canning,” he says as he leans backwards against the railing. “Mr. Agos. We haven’t had many dealings, have we?” No, Cary agrees. Neither man looks at the other. “You don’t like me, do you?” Canning asks, and Cary smiles. “No,” he agrees again.
Now Canning does turn to look at him; Cary doesn’t return the gesture. “What did you want to tell me?” Standing side by side, Canning makes Cary look like a giant. As if distancing himself from what he’s about to say, Cary looks away from Canning. “Diane wants to merge with us,” he confesses.
Oh, Cary. I get it, I do, but it doesn’t make me happy.
Now he does look down at the top of Canning’s head. “She’ll wait until she’s voted in as managing partner and then approach us about a merger.” Canning presses his lips together, pulling up his whole jaw. “How do you know this?” he wonders. Good question. Narrowing his eyes, Cary finally meets Canning’s gaze. “You don’t want a merger, and I don’t want a merger. So whatever moves you wanna make, make ’em now.”
“Nice talking to you,” Canning calls out quietly after Cary as he walks away; Cary smiles in appreciation.
“Oh, look at you. You look so adult,” Veronica pouts, looking up at Zach in his cap and gown. “Can I take it off now?” he pleads, good humored. “No,” his grandmother insists. She’s got one leg draped over the arm of an easy chair. “You have to keep it on for the next 24 hours. It’s a law.” He snorts.
“You’re all packed,” she observes ruefully, and indeed his room is full of boxes, though there’s still stuff on the walls. Not taking the “Relax” sign with you? “What a good boy.” I’m leaving tomorrow, he defends himself, smiling dryly. “So Alicia says,” Veronica sighs. “I think she’s sad,” he confides, sitting down across from his grandma. “Naw,” Veronica replies, which surprises me a little, because of course this is a bittersweet moment. “She did the same thing to me.” What? Whenever Veronica talks about Alicia as a teenager, I lose all sense of her character. I swear she’s making it up. Avid as ever to hear these strange tales of his mother, Zach sits and takes off his mortar board. “She left right after graduation. Didn’t want the tears, didn’t want the hugs.” Well. Okay. That does sound like Alicia, running away from her emotions even then. I suppose she’d already been betrayed by her need for love and was steeling herself to do without it. “She left that same night.”
Zach – say it with me – frowns. “She have a summer internship?” “No,” Veronica shrugs, “she just wanted to get started looking for an apartment. What? Okay, first of all, most people who go to college live in the dorms for at least the first year. Plus, who gets started looking for an apartment without somewhere else to stay? That’s insane. Maybe I’m trapped in my own personal experience, but this all seems very weird. “I cried like a baby. Kids are tougher. They don’t know better.” This wins her a weird smile from her grandson.
The two stares at each other for a moment before Veronica takes a deep drink of her wine. “I think I smell the cake burning. Is that the cake burning?” In the kitchen, Jackie quaffs her own glass, hilariously oblivious as smoke curls up around her. Or maybe she’s just indifferent.
Man, they have really bad smoke detectors.
There’s a knock on the door, and Eli let’s himself in. “Hello? The front door’s open. Hello!” Well. That’s bad security. He wanders into the kitchen. “Jackie! Hello. How are we?” Pushing off the island, Jackie wipes at her nose with a dish towel. “Oh, Mr. Gold. What a surprise.” He recoils, confused by her behavior. I’m just wondering where the smoke went, and why no one is rushing for the oven.
“Canning and David Lee are scheming again,” Carey calls his colleagues in to the teleconference area – Clarke’s abstaining, but the Real Slim Shady joins Extra E, Robyn and Alicia standing together in the gloom. “They’ve got Howard, he won’t switch back, the idiot!” David Lee snaps. “We got another problem,” Canning informs him. “I just heard that Diane is offering a merger with Florrick/Agos if she gets the managing partnership.” The look on Cary’s face, oh my goodness. His lips move, but we can’t hear what he says; it’s as if he’s praying. Will he be found out? Is Canning going to name him? She’ll give their people the top positions on all the management committees, Canning guesses astutely. Again, Cary’s terrified face.
“Oh what the hell,” David snarls. “How did you find out?” Canning thinks about it. “Oh, ah,” he says, “the kid on the other side.” Oh God. “What’s his name? The name partner. Oh, ah, Cary!” My stomach drops out.
Spinning around on the spot, Alicia faces her partner in shock. “What?” Slowly, Robyn and Carey turn toward him as well. “Is this true?” Zepps asks, outraged. And considering he was on Cary’s side… “Did you really go to Canning, Cary? Did you?” Alicia’s voice is quiet with the shock of it. “Yes,” he answers, with the air of a man about to ascend to the guillotine. “Why the hell?” she asks, and even Extra E narrows his eyes. “Do you know what a betrayal this is?” “I know if we join Lockhart Gardner this’ll be over.” Surely there was a less extreme solution. You knew the vote wouldn’t be held today. “Well then argue that,” Alicia pleads, following Cary into the main office. “Discuss that! But you don’t go to the other side!” Clarke looks up from the conference table. “I will argue that,” he growls. “But they should know what Diane is doing. Diane is operating in secret.”
“No no no,”Alicia catches him here, smug, and indeed, that’s a preposterous objection for him to have. “Don’t turn this into some selfless act.” Which it most certainly is not. “I’m not turning it into anything,” he replies quickly. Both of them have their blood up, you can see it. “You wanted to sabotage Diane’s efforts,” she accuses him. Damn right he did. “It will only sabotage Diane’s efforts if she doesn’t have the support.” That remains to be seen. “Oh that’s such a load of crap, Cary,” she snaps. “Well I’m sorry I don’t live up to your standards,” he tells her, his bite acid. “You wanted to take this offer right out of our hands.” Yes. He did. Exactly. “Let’s take this outside,” he asks, turning away. Please. We don’t like it when Mommy and Daddy fight.
“No! I can’t believe you,” she says. “It was so wrong.” At this, Clarke stands. “What was wrong was listening to them at all,” he reminds them. Yes. “If I did this is you would be appalled, and you would have every right to be,” she continues, but she doesn’t get the sentence half out of her mouth before he’s yelling himself. “What I can’t stand is you arguing for a merger that will benefit you!”
“Well if that’s what matters to you, Cary, argue that!” You already flaunted it in his face that you had the votes to make him do whatever you wanted, Alicia. Not to take away his agency, or the fact that he wanted to be seen spiting Lockhart Gardner after Kalinda’s interference, but if you hadn’t been so smug, it wouldn’t have happened. He loses it. What about the assistants and the paralegals, he hollers. Go to hell, Cary, she screams; that is your answer to anything you can’t deal with, he snaps back. Behind them, Clarke watches with sad, owlish eyes. “If you think so little of our partnership, we should end this right now,” she howls. “You should calm down,” he advises, putting his hands up. “No,” she points a finger right in his face, “you should take this more seriously.” Ow ow ow ow ow I don’t like this! Just in time, Alicia’s phone ring, and she answers it with a truly nasty “What?”
“Hey,” Finn Polmar replies softly, raising his eyebrows. Thank you for the tonal shift! “This a bad time?” No, she sighs, stalking over to her office, walking off the adrenaline. “There’s no good timing these days.” She sits at her desk. “How are you?” “I’m dropping out,” he confesses. Her eyes close, and her whole body sags. “Oh, Finn,” she moans, “are you sure?” Reluctantly, he is. “It’s the right thing to do,” he tells her, trying to convince himself as well, I think. “I talked to my parents, and they were really really supportive,” he says, rubbing his eyes, “but I just don’t want them to suffer anymore, so… and I heard they’re after Diane Lockhart, so…”
Alicia crunches her eyebrows together at this notion. ‘What?” “They’ve asked Diane to step in in my stead.” Gosh. I don’t know why the show would keep him around if he’s not running, but I really really love the sound of his voice. Ugh. So overwhelming, this unsettled state. I’m not alone in finding it so; Alicia doesn’t know what to do with this information either.
Chances are the most overwhelmed person is Diane, who stands in shadow behind her desk pouring herself a drink. “Well. And then there were two,” Canning observes, walking in.
She folds her arms, presses her lips together, and then smiles slightly. “I’m amazed by you, Mr. Canning,” she confesses, and while you know it’s not a compliment she’s not saying it meanly. “This is your fourth week at my firm. A firm I built from the ground up over the last nine years. And you’re already knocking at the door of managing partnership.” The city’s lights shine bright behind her. “Knocking,” he acknowledges, “but I’m afraid that door’s not going to open. You have Howard, you have the votes.” She nods in agreement. “You want some whiskey?” Sure, he says. “My meds are just kickin’ in, this could be interesting.”
After sashaying to her bar for another glass, Diane pours Canning that whiskey. “So,” she says, “what scheme do you have for me now?” He laughs. “Scheme?” he asks, disingenuous. “Yes,” she tells him, handing over the glass, “you don’t scratch your nose without some sort of plan.” We know that to be literally true. “Have you heard of the nuclear option?” he wonders. Probably in general, but who knows what that might mean in specifics? “No,” she bites, and he hands over a crisp sheet of thick paper. “This is a notice of dissolution,” he explains, setting it before her on her desk. She looks at him, stunned. God, I keep saying it, but it’s all over the place. This week all people are doing is shocking each other. “As partner I have unilateral power to dissolve the firm, with, with cause.” Holy crap. That’s a nuclear option all right.
“And what would that cause be?” she wonders. “Acquisitions were made without the full consent of the partnership. The West Coast, East coast offices were acquired…” “By Will,” Diane reminds him. “A partner who is currently dead.” That would be funny, if this were another life. “Unfortunately the courts still hold the managing partner accountable.” Wow. So this is what he made those crazy choices for, so the writers could set this up. Canning. Damn.
“Why are you doing this?” Diane asks. “I thought that was clear,” Canning counters, “I want to be managing partner.” Yeah, but why? That’s the part that makes very little sense. None of this makes sense. “You’re dying,” she says, putting it out there. His end game – it’s incredibly hard to follow. “My work is my life,” he says. “Without it, I’ll die sooner.” That still really doesn’t explain why he has to make this his work. He didn’t have enough work managing his own firm? “So if you don’t get the partnership,” Diane asks, just to be clear, “you will dissolve this firm?” No, he proclaims in true villain fashion. “You will dissolve this firm. I want this firm to be strong. I want there to be a consensus.” God. He is unimaginably low. In the face of this blithe disregard for her life’s work, Diane walks out. “Going forward,” he finishes, “blah blah blah blah blah.”
Wrapped in a camel colored coat, Diane walks through the revolving door onto the street, breathing in the night air. When she breathes out, trying to steady herself, we can see her breath puff in the (unseasonable) cold. What the hell with their seasons on this show, seriously. A black leather jacket thrown over her outfit, Kalinda rushes after her. “What’re you going to do?” she asks. Diane takes a wobbly breath, her voice raw. “Do you mean do I let Canning take the managing partnership, or fight him and watch my firm dissolve?” Those are some pretty awesome choices. Kalinda bites her lip unhappily. “He’s right about Will,” she acknowledges. “The expenditures were made without a full vote.” Ugh.
Craning her head, Kalinda gets Diane’s attention. “There’s always option number three. You could run for State’s Attorney,” she offers. Pressing her lips together in a valiant effort to avoid tears, Diane makes a difficult confession. “I don’t think I have the … the fight left in me, Kalinda.” The tears may be starting to leak out. “If Will were still here, I…” she shrugs, hopeless.
“I’m here,” Kalinda tells her, filled with confidence, and I want to cheer from the rooftop. You know, if I were watching from a rooftop. The two women smiles at each other, rueful.
But that’s when Diane has an idea; Kalinda catches her having it. “You decided?” She did. “Good,” smiles Kalinda.
“I’ll be home as soon as I can. Something just came up,” Alicia speaks into her phone. ‘What?”a man’s voice hisses, and I can’t tell if it’s Peter or Eli. “Something important,” she says. “Tell Zach I’m coming.” Hurry, the man’s voice urges, and now it’s clear that its Peter. And we see why as he hangs up the phone; Jackie’s circling the kitchen like an bat. “She’s playing you for a fool!” she chastises him. Yeah, we all know that’s not what’s happening here. Ah, there it is – she’s found a new bottle of wine.
“Mother, what does that even mean?” Peter walks toward her as she pours; she looks up at him. “It means, Alicia wants the power of your office without giving anything in return.” Oh, she’s giving alright. She’s lending him her popular presence and his best hope at a good image, for which he is very grateful. She’s just not giving him a marriage. Before Jackie can spew any more vitriol, Peter greets Veronica, who’s walked in to reheat the lasagna, tossing the tinfoil topping onto the counter. “Your daughter’s going to be late again, I’d wait,” Jackie snarks without even looking at her nemesis. “That’s what happens when you work for a living, Jackie. A concept that’s probably alien to you.” Veronica ends the sentence with a vicious smile. (Does this mean that Veronica worked? I’d love to know at what. She seems mostly to be spending ex-husband’s money these days.) Peter had to put his arm between them to prevent the situation from coming to blows.
Alicia and Cary sit down at opposite ends of their conference table (still very Mom and Dad). “Thank you for giving me a moment so late at night,” Diane says, glowing red in the middle of the table. “I, um, have a proposal for you to consider.” Oh my God oh my God oh my God. No way! Is something I want to happen actually going to happen? Unaffected by my excitement, Cary starts insisting on his famous three year window on Chum Hum profits. “Cary,” Alicia cuts him off softly, “we don’t decide until we vote.” Nothing’s decided until we get a proposal, he corrects, his face pale and haunted, “and I’m saying that a proposal would require..” No, Alicia’s not going to let him speak for the company. “You don’t have the right to require…” she begins dangerously. They’re embarrassing themselves. “Alicia,” he snaps, and poor Diane raises her eyebrows, wondering what kind of mess she’s stepped into.
“Cary,” Clarke interrupts evenly, “why don’t we let our guest talk?” It’s all I wanted, Alicia declares with prim self-righteousness. “Alicia, please,” Clarke turns his sad wise face to her, “we’re here to listen.”
Looking from one side to the other, Diane clears her throat and clasps her hands together. “I know we’ve talked a lot about a merger,” she begins, “I have my own dissenting voices at Lockhart Gardner. Many don’t want to let you back in the door.” Okay. This is what I’m hoping, isn’t it? “Great,” Cary says, and Clarke admonishes him. “But even if we were to make a deal here tonight, my concern is that it would dissolve very quickly.” She continues to look around the room, masterfully taking in each person at the table. Say it, say it, please! “A merger, I’m afraid, would make Lockhart Gardner unwieldy.” This baffles Clarke. ‘So, you’ve come here to propose not merging?” he wonders. “I don’t understand.”
“No,” she says, looking around the table. “I’ve come here to ask if you will take me.”
YES! YES YES YES YES YES!!!! Thank you thank you thank you! I am not ashamed to say I was kicking and fist pumping through this on my first viewing.
Alicia tilts her head. The color returns to Cary’s face. “Holy crap!” exclaims Robyn.
“Me,” Diane adds, smiling a little, “and my thirty eight million a year in client billing.” Cary and Alicia lock eyes across the table.
“Uh huh,” mutters Eli over the table full of empty plates and half a casserole dish of lasagna. No wonder they’re all so thin. “Are you sure, Diane?” he asks his phone regretfully. “I’ll tell Peter. Thank you for … considering it.” He looks so forlorn and defeated that I want to hug him – but I also love that he’s at the table for this intimate family celebration. I don’t even think Owen is here (which, for the record, sucks, even if I see how they might have already blown through their recurring guest star budget). Tipping his head forward, he taps the phone against his forehead. “Why is everything so difficult,” he breathes.
And wow, there’s “Pomp and Circumstance” – it’s Zach graduation! It must be ten o’clock at night by now; how weird is that? As the master of ceremonies calls first Raymond Fitzmorris and then Hannah Fitzpatrick, Alicia runs into the back of the auditorium, panting. “Zachary Florrick!” Gee, Alicia, I think you had a little time to spare there. Why don’t you negotiate with Diane a little longer? Exhaling in relief, she pastes a smile on her face and begins to clap as her first born crosses the stage and receives his diploma. Still breathing heavily, emotion leaks into her face.
“I’m sorry I was late,” she whispers into Zach’s ear, hugging him back at their apartment. He’s divested himself of the dreaded cap and gown, and instead wears a bomber type jacket and hoodie. It’s been a cold spring on the East Coast, but jeez. You don’t usually have to wear coats inside in the middle of May. It’s no big deal, he says sweetly – you just missed the boring stuff. She puts her hands on his shoulders and stares into his eyes. “I’m proud of you, Zach,” she says. “Thanks, Mom,” he smiles as she runs her hands down his arms. The emotion is too much, and she looks away so that she doesn’t cry.
“You’re all packed up,” she remarks. “Yeah,” he agrees. “Sam called. He wants to leave tonight.” What the hell? Her face falls. “What?” “Well, just so we can get the jump on the traffic,” he says. “We’ll drive through the night, and get there tomorrow morning.” She nods. “Okay with that?” he asks, and she smiles a slightly teary “yeah” because God forbid she express emotion or ask for anything in a personal relationship. “I just wish there was more time.”
“I’ll be home for Thanksgiving,” he offers, as if seeing each other in six months is some sort of consolation. I kind of want to smack him. “Love you,” he says casually. “I love you too,” she tells him, putting her heart in the husky words. “I’ll call you when I get there.” He slings his backpack over one shoulder, and she leans up to kiss his cheek, curling her hand around the back of his neck. As he leaves, an instrumental version of “O Mio Bambinno Caro” washes over the lonely mother as she surveys his box filled room, not the lush, romantic Kiri Te Kanawa version that graces the soundtrack to A Room With A View, but a spare, stark rendition that highlights the aria’s nostalgic, melancholy qualities.
In the dining room, Eli leans back in his chair, his head flung backwards. Glumly, Alicia sits next to him. “It’s been a weird day,” she admits. “Yeah,” he agrees, thinking about it. “It’s been a weird year.” You can say that again. Instead of crying, she downs some red wine.
And that’s when it hits him, hits him hard so that his eyes flash wide and his mouth drops open. She keeps drinking, unaware. He clears his head; no, it’s a stupid idea. (Listen to yourself, Eli – it is a stupid idea.) Ah, but he’s too drawn to it. He looks back at her, his face glowing in the darkness. “Alicia,” he says.
“What?,” she asks him, her face similarly cast in shadow. There’s wild hope in his eyes.
“Would you wanna run for State’s Attorney?”
Alrighty. Let’s sum this sucker up.
It wasn’t the most exciting season finale ever, more along the lines of the reflective season 3 closer than the thrill of Will’s voice mail, the sexy elevator ride or Cary appearing at Alicia’s door with his revolutionary proposal. Yes, Canning’s Machiavellian maneuvers were fun to follow, and Diane’s defection delightful, but it didn’t have quite the same emotional punch. Instead there were a lot of gloomy reflections on the changes of the past season, and some really brutal, painful moments as our characters try to find their professional footing. Really, as they try to find their personhood inside their professional lives. I suppose the difference is that tonight gave us the feeling of an ending – maybe multiple ending – with less focus on the shape of the future? But maybe I just think that because the final, would-be exciting idea is so lame.
Okay. So. The season. After a few odd story lines about dumping his girlfriend, possibly smoking pot and protecting his sister’s virtue, Zach’s leaving for college – at Georgetown, of all places. Hoya! Poor forgotten Grace thought a lot about sex and religion – and who knows, maybe even did something about one of them. She shared some of the season’s most affecting scenes with her mother including the show’s most mature discussion of Alicia’s religious views. Cary and Alicia came together to form their own firm, giving the first half of a season the sizzle of a spy thriller, but may have just destroyed what was a really wonderful working partnership. Alicia and Peter have shifted from recommitting to their relationship to an open marriage of political and professional convenience. After becoming governor, Peter managed to beat not only a voter fraud investigation, but also the NSA. After teasing out a possible liaison with the smart and librarian-sexy ethicist Marilyn, Peter goes instead for a simpering young intern. After over-extending the firm on a post-betrayal expansion bender, founding partner Will Gardner is dead, inadvertently murdered by a client but largely by actor Josh Charles not renewing his contract and also, in a way, by the Willicia fandom because the writers couldn’t think of any lesser way to shut off the epic would-be romance. Pocket-sized enemy Louis Canning is now firmly situated in Lockhart Gardner’s pocket, adding his name to the letterhead and banding together with David Lee to overthrown Diane, all despite the fact that he mysteriously only has about 10 months to live. Diane, in turn, is leaving Lockhart/Gardner, not to fulfill her life-long ambition of becoming a judge as last season promised but to join Cary and Alicia’s start up. I’m not even sure I can count all the dropped plot lines that could still leap up to bite our characters. We met Finn Polmar, who became Alicia’s new best friend and maybe love interest and maybe full cast member and maybe nothing now that he’s bowing out of the race. And Alicia might just run for political office.
Individually – and let’s start at the end of the alphabet with Zach. Georgetown is a great school, the reference is a sweet sop to fans, and I’m glad they were bold enough not to send him to Chicago Tech so he could stop by a lot, but I’m surprised he went for a liberal arts college instead of someplace like MIT. It’s just not what I was expecting. I’m sorry he won’t be able to prod his mother about her ridiculous marital choices, though. And as for tonight, I’m baffled about the late night graduation (it must have started at 10 if they could eat dinner at 8) and also by him leaving so early to have a summer job. I don’t know anyone who’s ever done that. After sophomore year, sure. But the summer before freshman year, you’d be looking forward to meeting new people who wouldn’t be at school yet, you’d have to get temporary housing, you’d be looking at a last hurrah at home with your high school friends and (if you were a kid from an average family, anyway) saving money for school. Or, if money wasn’t a problem, you could backpack the world with your friends. He could have worked at a caterer in Chicago rent free. And so odd that they have him working at school for a Chicago caterer. Just odd.
I will be curious to see how his new found freedom might impact his parents from afar, and how Grace and Alicia learn to live without him.
From Z to A, omega to alpha: I’m a little exasperated by Alicia’s inability to run her own life. I’m sorry, but she could – and should – have taken at least a half day off for her son’s graduation. A normal person would have had the meeting with Diane the following morning, super early in the morning if it had to stay secret. And Alicia could have told Zach he owed her one last family evening, and that it was insane to start a major road trip so late at night. Even at his age, she’s still his mom, and those are reasonable objections. Instead, maddeningly, she’s choosing not to even have the conversation. Which is in character, and obviously that’s the way the writers wanted to structure the drama – it would have been another story all together if Alicia’d been out of the office today – but we can see that she feels powerless, that her life is dictating her choices instead of the other way around, and there are simple, normal steps she could have taken to feel less out of control.
Of course, for all that this is ostensibly a story of female empowerment, Alicia’s passivity continues to be her defining characteristic. She breaks away from Lockhart Gardner – from Will – letting Cary do all the work of setting up the firm, and then undercutting him at every possible opportunity by pushing for mergers with more established firms. She tells Peter she’s done with him, but insists on keeping the facade of marriage alive so she doesn’t have to truly experience a personal or professional life under her own power. Frankly, it’s kind of depressing.
I will be livid if she takes Eli’s proposition seriously. Finn has too many skeletons in his closet to run, but Alicia with her open marriage doesn’t? Oh my God. That’s not even touching the nepotism of the idea. And honestly, if she’s seeking a sense of purpose, does she really think she’ll find it in the morally murky depths of the political arena? If she can’t make private practice work for herself, whatever makes her think that the grass will be greener at the State’s Attorney’s Office? It’s not as if she has a passion for ethics and ideology, like Diane, or for politics and dealing with the press. And she’s not going to make remotely comparable money in office. Plus, how could she leave when Diane’s coming over to Florrick Agos? That’s the storyline I want to see. I’m not saying that she wouldn’t make a far better State’s Attorney than Castro, but oh no. Eli’s big idea is the worst idea ever.
On the other hand, Eli comes out of this season looking like the most mature, perceptive and wise person in the cast. How did that happen? And he did get a little romance of his own, which is nice (if you can get over the insane age gap).
I am beyond overjoyed that Diane’s going to be joining up with Florrick Agos, and of course bringing Kalinda with her. That’s only right. We get a new work dynamic with our old characters. It ought to be invigorating and fun, and after the back half of this season, we could use some fun. Yes, I feel bad that she’s leaving her firm – but I love that she’s leaving on her own terms. Really, while I feel sorry that she’s not getting to fulfill her ambition to be a judge, all I’ll miss is the set. Lockhart Gardner certainly has a spectacular suite of offices. And hopefully whenever they end the series, they’ll get enough lead time to set her up with a judgeship.
While I don’t at all blame her for turning down the offer of being Peter’s second choice candidate for State’s Attorney, I think Diane could have done really well in that role. Better than Alicia, for that matter, because of her activist bent. Diane cares about justice and issues of equality (ideals which Alicia may have had originally but seems to have forgotten), and being State’s Attorney would put her in position to affect the way the law intersects with the most people. As we’ve seen with The Deep Web, she also has a rigorous integrity which would be a refreshing change for that office. Can you imagine, a State’s Attorney who cared more about convicting the right person than about simply convicting someone? It’s never been her dream, though, and Peter and Eli’s attempt at selling her on the idea were deeply underwhelming. It serves the show best for her to merge with Florrick/Agos, and I’m utterly thrilled it happened, but I can’t help being a little conflicted about the way Canning was so easily able to push her out. How is it that he’s so easily able to manipulate everyone around him? And what is his end game, anyway? I’m baffled. If he’s dying, then what’s the point of taking over a new company that he’ll barely be able to run? He needs to work, he says, or he’ll die sooner. Is he like a virus, biologically driven to take over his host, to infect everything he touches?
We’re supposed to assume that Peter’s sleeping with Lauren the intern, right? Ugh. So stupid. I’m not sure I know what to say about Peter. Marilyn would have been a far better choice – although that would have resulted in an emotional attachment, which would have been tough considering how completely she’d disappeared. While it’s hard to be sure because Alicia’s playing her emotions so close to the vest, I can’t help but think that Peter blew their relationship by not letting her grieve for Will. Of course, the fact that they postponed the trip to Hawaii shows you that neither of them put their relationship first even when it was working. Like everyone else, I loathe the idea of an open marriage. It’s a terrible solution. Though we see Alicia’s business gaining real advantages from her relationship with Peter, it really makes me sick that they would do this. It traps them both. Much as she may say she wants to live a happy life, I see no evidence of Alicia being willing to work for that happiness the way she works for her job. No wonder she’s confused about what her personal end game is.
Speaking of which, there’s Finn. I’m so conflicted about him. On the one hand, it’s too soon and I don’t want to think about him as a love interest for her. (I’m very annoyed about the married/not married fake out. Who carries a picture of their ex-wife in their wallet? That seems crazy.) On the other, I don’t want to lose him for the cast, because I really really like him and his gorgeous gravelly voice and pre-haircut hair and smart, emotionally mature, calming presence, and I can’t see what he’s going to do here if he quits the race and then is of course put on leave or fired from the State’s Attorney’s office (as Castro is certainly going to do the moment the candidacy protection lifts). Unless, I don’t know, the fact that he was a candidate in the past could save him? I don’t know how long he’d want to keep working under Castro either way.
So. I don’t want him to leave. I just don’t know what I’d like him to be to Alicia.
And yeah. I do think her romantic future matters. Like I’ve said before, we’ve seen Alicia grow in her public persona. We’ve seen her grow at work, although this week was a giant leap backwards in that regard. But there has got to be some way to see her grow as a person. Maybe part of that will be to see her become real friends with Diane and Cary and Finn and even Kalinda again, which I would love, and to see her deepen her relationships with Grace and Veronica. But I hate the idea of her just sneaking around with clandestine one night stands like Man Candy Daniel, and I hate the idea of her stuck in a soulless marriage. Be married or don’t be married, damn it! I want to see you learn how to work through the rough patches, whether it’s alone or with someone else.
And wow. This season has given us so many gorgeous, supportive Cary/Alicia moments that it made their implosion so devastating and infuriating this week. It’s clear that their visions are at odds, what with her relentless desire to partner up with a larger firm, but it’s so odd. They’re building something worthwhile. Why can’t she see that? While I hate what he did, I understand why he took that nuclear option to save his firm. I just wish they could have talked to each other. But perhaps, if they had, Diane wouldn’t have been put in a sufficiently desperate position to make her jump ship. Hopefully Alicia and Cary can repair their bond, and hopefully Cary will get more chance to use his courtroom skills. He seems to be a pretty thoughtful manager; while it’s great to know that he’s thriving, I’d be happier to see it.
I’d also be happier to see him end his fling with Kalinda, especially after this week’s deeply uncomfortable sex scene. “I’m not one of your women?” What was that? For the second season in a row, the show seems to be terribly mishandling Kalinda. Can we please get back to her working? We’re all so much better off when her sex life is only hinted at and teased about. Why can no one see this? It’s so frustrating. I love to see her scheming with and supporting Diane – I got a tear in my eye when she said “I’m here” – but I want to see her out in the field, figuring out important clues to cases, not searching for files in her lover’s boudoir or using her lady parts as a (deeply inaccurate) lie detector.
Also, Carey Zepps has ethical limits, even if they don’t include spying. Who knew? He’s been pretty okay as a character, when he’s around, and I love having Clarke and Robyn on Alicia’s team.
I don’t know how long they can stretch out this Gopnik adoption wreck. I’m not sure we’ve ever had an episode with so little case work in it, and so much workplace drama. Maybe Hitting the Fan? It’s hard to say.
Finally, there’ s Will. I wrote after Dramatics Your Honor that the show could be terribly unbalanced, even crippled, without him. So far, I’d say the writers are doing a good job nudging and adjusting relationships. Kalinda and Diane, Cary and Alicia, Alicia and Finn, Alicia and Veronica, even. The landscape shifts, earth moving to fill in the chasm. Still, after so many years of the love triangle structure, it feels unsettled. If Alicia’s end game before was to pick one of the two men and truly be happy with him, what is it now?
Though I’ve moved past the anger and, yes, betrayal I felt after Will’s death, there will always be a part of me that feels cheated. It’s such a rare thing when a show can bring you a complete vision. Shows are canceled, showrunners or writers or cast members leave. Successful shows go on too long, or the writing fails. The Good Wife will never be the show that the Kings envisioned now. We won’t ever see what they intended for Will and Alicia and Peter, and after so many years of building tension, I can’t help resenting it. Such is the lot of a serialized television fan, however. One thing I can say; while Will’s sudden death was painful, and carried on an annoying trend (the Ned Stark-like shocking death of a main character!) it was not in general a failure of writing or acting.
I said then that I wasn’t sure I wanted Season Six at the expense of Will’s death. I’ll add a caveat to that. The older I get, the more I appreciate shows that know when to end – shows that tell a finite story. Law & Order could have gone on forever, with its murders of the week and interchangeable parts, but The Good Wife isn’t a procedural in that sense. We’ve seen tremendous movement in the plot of the show, tremendous career advancement, a toughening of Alicia’s skin. But surely that’s not all there is to the education of Alicia Florrick. It was too beautiful to see Alicia curl into her mother’s shoulder and confess her confusion; what I want to see is for her to confront it. If the extreme circumstances of Will’s death can’t do that – if they merely force her further into her shell with this terrible half life marriage, and cause her to lash out at Cary and sabotage what they’ve built – then what can?
So that’s my take away. I want to love the show; there’s still so much to love. I just want to know it’s going somewhere.
What about you? How did you feel about this weird ending to a weird year? Do you think Alicia really would make a foray of her own into politics? If she’s too tired to manage a small law firm on her own, why would she want to head up a huge bureaucracy under intense press scrutiny?
Let me add that it’s been a privilege to talk Good Wife with you guys for the last five seasons. You guys are smart and interesting and it’s been genuinely wonderful to share in your insights and reactions; I can write a book and you’ll still bring ideas I’d never have thought about. I may have one or two reflection pieces on our show over the summer – and will start up with my light summer treat, So You Think You Can Dance, next week – but otherwise, see you in September!