The Good Wife: Oppo Research

E:  Well.  Sigh.  It’s hard to know what to say, isn’t it?  Except that a lot of that made me angry sick, both at the characters and at the writers.  God knows there was enough of it – even without a case of the week we just got buried with new information and lots of talk, talk, talk – but it’s all just fodder for the Ego Express.

I feel like by hoping she quits I’m encouraging Alicia to be a lesser person, caving under an avalanche of dirty tricks. – except I also feel like she is a lesser person than I thought she was.  I like politics, but I didn’t enjoy this all political episode at all.

We’ve been told over and over that Alicia retreats into domesticity when she’s unsettled, and indeed, we see her polishing her table, buffing it to a high gloss, and hear the symphony of preparation: the ringing of wine glasses being placed on stone, the snick of the refrigerator door opening, the click of platters being set on her kitchen island.  She’s wearing an apron over a deep blue-green silk blouse with a straight pin at the neck. If she’s having a party – as the amount of food would suggest – why are there only two glasses?  After giving a longing look at the wine, Alicia retreats into a different escape.

It’s our favorite television show, Darkness at Noon!  A man pants, running through a cornfield. No, two men.  One tackles the other. “On your knees, Bert,” the scruffy cop protagonist growls. “This is how the world ends,” he rasps, gun pointed at the kneeling man.  Not with a bang but a whimper? “Someone begs. And someone stands over him with a gun.”  The kneeling man winces, his hands up by his cheeks, turning his face away.  The cop shoots the unarmed man in the forehead; his body falls softly onto the leafy clearing.  The scruffy cop listens to a bird cry in the distance.

And from there, we switch immediately to an after show. “Welcome back to Talking At Noon,” a Chris Hardwicke stand in grins from a couch. “Wow!  A rough episode!  Now, we’re going to talk all things Darkness at Noon in a sec, but first – spoiler alert!”  From her perch on the couch’s arm, Alicia dives for her remote. Too late!  It’s too far to the coffee table. “Sam is dead. John was arrested.”  She shrugs in frustration; this is clearly news to her. “Linda gave birth. Miguel did look at the flowers.” Now that shocks her.  Excellent. “And… the yellow arm was moved.”  Alicia shakes her head, disbelieving; it’s so funny to see her as a fan, even if I’m ever so slightly offended by the general send up of fandoms.  “Bad ass stuff.  Your thoughts, Carmen?”  The host turns to a young woman seated on a couch next to his.  As Carmen explains how blown away she was by the episode, the doorbell rings.  “Every assumption I have was turned upside down.” Well, we know what that’s like.

Outside Alicia’s door, Eli is so twitchy and awkward you’d think this was a date. Their smiles are nervous, but his arms overflow with documents rather than flowers. “Would you like a glass of wine, red or white?” she asks hopefully, and her face falls when he declines. “Wow,” he tells her, taking in the buffet, “you’ve really been working overtime.”  Well, I didn’t know if you’d eaten, she explains. He unbends so far as to ask for red wine, which she quickly provides; his eyes widen at the much larger glass full she pours for herself.  “Nervous?” he wonders. “Well, we’re just talking,” she lies, and he agrees. “Right. You can always say no.”  They clink their glasses.

“The election’s in 8 months, the debate in 6, and the candidate announcement Monday,” he declares, straightening his papers on the gleaming dining room table.  “This Monday?” Alicia blanches from across the table, and the answer is yes — it’s the filing deadline. “Eli, that’s in four days,” she points out. “Yes, but the good news is, we’re ready to go,” he smiles.  Alicia, it must be said, is not ready to go.  (Why wouldn’t she know the filing deadline?  How has this not come up before?)  “We have a plan in place, we’ve done some initial polling…”  Her mouth is still open, so Eli’s forced to stop his pitch and address her squeamishness. “Alicia, things just move faster now,” Eli tells her, and I’m not sure if he means in 2014, or simply once she’s declared herself.  “They just do.”  She nods, pale.

“You have the polling?”  He does, and he reads her the numbers we’ve heard before: given a choice between Alicia and Castro, the public picks Alicia by 8 points. “So you think it’ll just be me and Castro?” Alicia wonders, much to Eli’s exasperation. “Alicia. You have to hear these things.  8 points. You would win by 8 points!”  Yes, she agrees delicately, “that’s good, right?”

“That’s not just good, that’s remarkable,” Eli enthuses. “That kind of gap just doesn’t exist in Cook County.”  I don’t think it lasts, she tells him, refusing to be excited. “Good news tends not to last.”  Sigh.  Like the electrifyingly awesome way this season started and then the completely awful way it’s turning out?  Smiling to himself, Eli agrees with Alicia’s assessment. “And that’s what I like about you. You’re always looking for the bad.  There are so many disasters in a campaign that you have to acknowledge the non-disasters when they happen.”  Well, sign me up!  Awesome. “Good,” she smiles, “but people don’t really know me yet.  And Castro will try to define me.” Honey, if you only knew how true that was. “Yes,” Eli agrees, “before you define yourself.”

Alicia lists off ways she thinks she’s vulnerable – her clients first among them. Eli cuts her off. “Yes. You’re a brand now; St. Alicia.”  This is not news, Eli, nor is it relevant to her clientele. “Eli, I wish you would say that with at least a hint of irony.”  Nope; irony is dead in a campaign. “J.F.K. could be funny, you can’t. There’re too many bloggers out there quoting every ironic comment as truth.”  Okay, she sighs, making a note of it on a legal pad.  “Stop joking,” she writes, which shouldn’t be all that hard because she’s so rarely given the opportunity.

The next part of her brand up for debate is the fact that she stood by Peter. “Six years ago,” she cautions. “Yes, but that image of you beside him is still bumping round the internet,” Eli notes. “You look better now,” he offers, and Alicia tilts her head as if to admonish him for his rudeness.  “People like that!” his voice rises in pitch. “You survived, you prospered, you didn’t divorce.”  Again she glares. “I know,” he agrees, less bombastic, “but people don’t need to see the messiness.”  Castro’s going to do his darnedest to make sure they do, and they should both know that. “Yes, but he has to be careful, or he’ll look like a bully.  He can’t go too far, because we have some oppo research of our own.”  There’s an ugly enjoyment in Alicia’s smile. “Such as?”  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Eli replies.  And then the doorbell rings. “Oh, yeah, right,” he declares brightly, “I invited your campaign manager over so you could meet him.”

How like Eli to spring something like that as a surprise.

“What?  No, wait, Eli, you’re my campaign manager,” she declares, panicky.  It’s dumb when you think about it – he has a rather important full time job already – and seems yet another mark to me that she just hasn’t thought this through. “No, I can’t,” she declares, immediately following that panicked statement with a another. “Who is it? I mean, if I do decide to run.”  Johnny Elfman, Eli says soothingly. “You’ll like him. He’s a top campaign consultant.  He consulted on the Obama 2012 win,” Eli beams, standing.  “He turned around Ohio.”  Wait, Eli, she pleads, flustered, and I do get it.  It’s one thing to have this conversation with someone she trusts; having it with a stranger is entirely different.

The bell rings again. Remember when I said things were going to get faster, Eli takes a tough love tone. “That’s this.  Meet him, question him, talk to him. This is his job interview.  If you don’t like him, just pull me aside after twenty minutes, say he’s not for you and we’ll keep looking.”  Twenty minutes, she replies, tightening her lips.  Yes, twenty minutes. “I have to answer the door now,” he says.  “No, I have to answer the door,” she decides.  Good.  I wish you wouldn’t take the wine, though.  As soon as she’s out of sight, Eli blows out a breath and reaches for his own glass.

The man on the other side of her door is younger than I’d have expected,  good looking and scruffy with great curly hair.  Heh.  I wonder if this is the casting director’s penance for Finn’s tragic hair cut?  Extending the hand without the wine glass, Alicia introduces herself.  Scruffy Elfman looks stunned.  He turns down her offer of wine, and asks to speak to Eli instead.  Out in the hall.  Only reacting with an arch of her eyebrows, Alicia steps back into her apartment as Eli follows Johnny into the hall.

“Eli, what the hell?” the younger man complains.  Turns out that Alicia wasn’t the only one shanghaied into this meeting; Johnny thought he was meeting at Eli’s apartment just to talk. He certainly didn’t expect to be at a job interview.  Typically high handed of Eli, this. “Well you’re here now, just listen to her.  If you don’t like her, just pull me aside in twenty minutes and say no thanks!”

Heh.  Where have we heard that before?

“I hate her,” one of the guests on Talking at Noon snipes. “The wife?  Why?  She’s just trying to protect him,”actor/comedian Carmen Lynch reacts in surprise. Why would you have a comedian talk about this show? “Because she took his guns!  She wants him not to be normal,” a bald man continues his argument, “she wants him not to be a bad ass.”  Which is so evil of her?  This sounds very Breaking Bad to me; didn’t people hate the drug dealer’s wife on that show? “She’s just so repressed, she had to do something like this,” Carmen shoots back (this is her defense?), and Alicia winces. The bald guy is one Joe Weisberg, creator  of The Americans, which sounds familiar enough to me that I look it up, and it turns out that he really is the creator of The Americans and she really is writer/comedian Carmen Lynch. Cute. “Oh, she’s definitely repressed.” Alicia heaves a sigh.

“This is so disrespectful,” Johnny Good Hair continues, “you’re trying to get me pregnant with her.”  Hee hee.  It is a little bit like a stud farm moment, isn’t it “I knew you’d just say no if you didn’t meet her,” Eli confesses, and the elevator dings. “She’s a first timer,” Elfman complains, “I’m finished with first timers.  They have lives, they have…” What this first timer has is a flood of teenage girls in prep school uniforms hopping off the elevator between the two men.  Johnny takes a horrified step back. “Eli, great!  Is my mom here?” Grace wonders. “Hi Grace,” Eli replies, his smile tight, waving her on into the apartment with a jerk of his head. I can’t help laughing as the whole gaggle – perhaps 12 girls? – flutters into the Florrick apartment.  Once they’ve finally made it through, Johnny’s gaze is all disdain. “They have kids.”  Oh, the horror!

“What’s going on?” Alicia asks Grace as the girl-river rushes by her. “I have school choir tonight, I told you” Grace replies, frowning. Why on earth would school choir not meet at, you know, school? Fine, Alicia says, but can she just stay in her room?  Of course. Is her room that big?  “I love you!” Grace finishes, heading off like the remarkable, tractable child she is.

“Everything all right, gentlemen?”  she asks. ‘Should we do this another time?”  What, because you have so much time to spare. “No,” Eli puts on a big fake smile. “Johnny just had some questions, but now they’re answered, right?”  He stares until Johnny lies and says they are.

“The plan is you speaking on the steps of the courthouse, the governor introducing you, and you speaking for five minutes introducing yourself,” Eli explains; they’ve sat with Alicia once again across from Eli, and Johnny between them. “Won’t it be a mistake to use Peter, won’t it look like I’m in his shadow?”  Well, you are in his shadow, but I agree, it seems like they’d want to throw that off?  Or does St. Alicia need her connection to Peter to bolster her saintly appeal? “No,” Eli argues, “the only way your story…”

And that’s when the choir kicks in.  They’re good.  They’re also singing gospel. “I will trust in the Lord, I will trust in the Lord, I will trust in the Lord…” Giving Johnny a reassuring looking, Eli goes on to say they need the good visual to get traction.  See, I don’t know that I buy that.  If her potential candidacy’s been all over the blogosphere and even Morning Edition, I think it’s going to get covered.  But I suppose Eli’s looking for an indelible image. “They’ll show the old shot of you standing by Peter in disgrace, and this new shot of Peter standing by you in triumph.” Oh. I can see why this appeals to him.  The very idea, however, tastes sour to Alicia. “That’s the story.”

“What do you think, Mr. Elfman?” Alicia wonders. “About?” he asks, which seems stupid. “About what Eli just said,” she explains. “Ah, I’m reserving judgement,” he declares, very un-job interview like. “It doesn’t see like there’s time to reserve judgment,” she replies, her smile getting a little dangerous. “And yet here I am, reserving it,” he holds his ground, lofty and supercilious.  Okay. They stare each other down.

“Anyway,” Eli interjects, nervous, “our first strategic move is embracing the governor. Peter brings in the big bucks and also reminds voters of your constancy.”

“Why do you want to run, Mrs. Florrick?” Johnny asks abruptly. It’s about time someone asked for that.  This time it’s Alicia asking for the stupid clarification, looking from Johnny to Eli in surprise. He repeats the question. “Because the current State’s Attorney is using the office politically,” she answers. “And how’s he doing that?” Elfman wonders, leaning his arms on the table. “He’s prosecuting people not because they’ve done anything wrong, but because he doesn’t like them. Or the people associated with them.”  Indeed. “And how would you…” he answers, but she cuts him off coolly. “I’m not finished yet. Would you like me to finish?”   Ouch.  He nods.

“There’s been more corruption int he State’s Attorney’s Office than at any point since…” and here she catches herself. “Since your husband?” Elfman points out the obvious flaw here.  Alicia blinks. Yeah, that thought was totally worth her insistence on expressing it. “Do you have an issue with me here, Mr. Elfman?” she asks, folding her arms defensively across her chest. Does he have to have an issue with her to point out flaws in her arguments?  I mean, he does have an issue, but still. “I don’t even know you, m’am,” he replies. “Do you have any issue with my running?” she rephrases imperiously. He opens his mouth, twiddles his finger; Eli and Alicia watch him closely.

“There’s always a point in the campaign where I’m not proud of myself – where I’ve lied to a reporter, or smeared an innocent bystander.”  Oh, awesome. “Or badgered a friend into giving money – but I do it willingly, Mrs. Florrick, because I believe in the candidate. So yes, or anyone else who considers running, because I’m not some dilettante,” he snaps. “Neither am I,” she interrupts, invigorated by the argument. “I built my life on winning,” he continues.  “On hating the enemy and loving my candidate.”

The phone rings, and Grace tells them she’s got it, rushing through the room; the men flex uncomfortably. “I’m not your superhero, Mr. Elfman,” Alicia snaps back, malicious and cold. “You want to go find someone to restore your faith in humanity, don’t waste my time.”  Oh.  Well. That’s nice.  What show am I watching, again?  Not that it isn’t a good line, but it sounds a lot more like How To Get Away With Murder than The Good Wife.  “Or yours.”

“Hey mom, it’s for you.  It’s work,” Grace tells her. “It was nice to meet you, Mr. Elfman,” Alicia dismisses the man, and stalks off to take her call. “Well?” Eli asks Johnny.  Was that what he was looking for, to help him love his candidate?  Disdain?

The call’s from both Diane and Cary with troublesome news.  It’s lovely to see them, but still, it’s odd; the State’s Attorney’s office has subpoenaed records from Lemond Bishop’s real estate holdings.  Though these holdings are all legitimate and will show that Bishop paid the taxes he’s accused of evading (which is why Diane sent them over), Cary worries that Castro could somehow use this as a precedent to get other records associated with Cary’s case. Like what?  No one mentions. If you’ve already sent them over, why are you consulting Alicia now?  The doorbell rings again, and Alicia opens it as Cary compares the subpoena to a “camel nose under the tent.”  Oh, whatever; it’s former tutor Jennifer at the door, dressed like a fairy godmother with a wand and tiara and a sparkly, flouncy dress. “Grace sent up the bat signal,” she greets her former employer, waving the wand. “Sure,” Alicia nods, “in her room.”

“Every housewife is the same!” Eli splutters. “That’s not what I’m saying,” Johnny cautions, his hand out, and Jennifer swans out of a Tchiakovsky ballet — there is literally music accompanying her out of nowhere — flourishing her wand and dancing in front of the television where scruffy cop points his gun in the corn field. “Who, who was that?” Johnny gasps. Eli has no idea. “It’s like a Marx brothers movie in here.” Oh, get a grip on yourself, Hair Piece. “It doesn’t matter, Cary, he’s our client,” Alicia raises her voice. “We can’t favor you over him or him over you.”  See, see, Eli enthuses. “Tough cookie.”  Which means she’d make a good public servant?  Assuming that’s part of Elfman’s criterion, and that he’s not merely searching for a hermit with no personal life.

And now Eli’s phone rings. “Hi,” he answers, leaping up from the table. “No, it’s going very well,” he lies. “Yes.  No, I haven’t shown that to her yet.” Obviously it’s Peter who prompts this immediate attention, finishing up a meeting in his office. “You haven’t shown her the opposition research?  Why not?”  Because you don’t start with the dirt, Eli snaps, you end with it. “Same thing I did with you.”  Huh. “How dirty is it?” Peter wonders, but Eli won’t say. “This is for Alicia, not you.”  Sinking into an arm chair, Peter sighs. “Anything about me in there?” Gee, I wonder. “I can’t do this, Peter!” Eli barks; Peter should talk to Alicia’s campaign manager instead.

“Who’d you get, by the way?”  Moving out of earshot, Eli prematurely whispers the name. “Johnny Elfman?” Peter considers. “I thought he was in Ohio.”  Yes, and it’s a shame their extradition laws are so strict. “He was in Ohio, but he wanted to broaden his scope.”  To a State’s Attorney’s race, Peter asks, taking a dim view of this.  True; if he was working on national races before, this seems like small potatoes. Eli walks past Grace’s room, where Jennifer is repeated leaping off the bed, her dress belling out around her; he tells Peter this race is special. Because Cook County’s the second largest prosecutor’s office in the country?  “How’s he looking these days,” Peter wonders. What?  “I heard he was in a motorcycle accident.”  Ah. Does this mean Peter thinks Head of Hair is too good-looking to work closely with his wife?  Apparently so, because he’s definitely hoping for facial disfigurement. Eli quickly ends the call rather than deny his boss this comforting fiction.  I want to be kept in the loop, Peter insists before he goes.

“Yes, I understand, but all of your rationales for running were negative,” Johnny the Hair explains to Alicia, circling around the table and the truth. It’s exactly what she said to Castro – she has no mountain to climb, no issue to campaign for.  It’s all vanity and vengeance. “They were all about what the current State’s Attorney’s doing wrong.”  As she starts to protest, Elfman cuts her off. “You have to find a positive example,” he says, motioning for everyone to sit down and calm down.  “Give me an example,” Alicia asks, and again, it’s completely stupid for someone who makes her living using rhetoric to not understand what he means, so I suppose this is meant for us.

The two men sit. “Why’d you get into law?” The Hair asks.  “I like clarity,” Alicia explains, reminding me of Cary at the SA’s office. “I like rules that tell me what’s right and wrong.”  She chops at the table decisively.  I can’t help thinking this is the most important thing she’s every said about herself, the most self-aware we’ve ever seen her. This show has always been Alicia looking outside herself for a metric to judge herself by, a rule system to adhere to. She wants to be told to how to be the good wife, the good mother, the good lawyer – still a little girl with an overly permissive mother, craving order imposed by some outside authority.

“And you wanted to help people with those rules?” The Hair asks. “No,” she answers, making Eli flinch. “I know I’m supposed to say yes, but I just wanted to be inside something that makes sense to me, I never thought about…”  People?, Elfman suggests.  Yeah, them.

God, is that really true?  Who’d have thought that of the pair, Will would turn out to be the true idealist?  I swear they reminisced together in season 1 about how they wanted to change the world back in law school.  Look, I know Alicia is rule-bound, but I’ve always got the impression that she did have ethics – that she did care about justice, about the underdog, about the law as an ideal.  That perhaps she loves her personal comfort and ambition and her family more, but within those confines, that she’s offended by the misuse of power, that she believes in the law and how it works for all people.  Part of me wants to cry.

“Maybe don’t put that in the stump speech,” Eli deadpans, and Alicia turns to glare at him.  I kind of hate her in this moment.  This isn’t Good Hair’s response, however: he gives Eli a firm nod and says okay.  As an audience surrogate you suck, buddy.  Okay, what, Alicia wonders, not understanding that she’s been deemed mysteriously worthy for, either being honest or being completely self-absorbed.  I suppose it’s a quality common to politicians, self-absorption, but it’s baffling as a hook. In the Shadow of Two Gunmen this is not.

“Okay, Johnny needs to take you through the opposition research,” Eli preens, pleased with himself. The research of Castro, Alicia assumes.  Oh, come on.  She’s not that dumb. Or at least I used to think so.  “Ah, no,” Good Hair replies, “of you.” Almost flirting, Alicia asks if these are the skeletons in her closet. “Yes,” Eli explains, dropping a thick document on the table with a resounding thump.  “That’s a lot of skeletons,” she realizes, her eyebrows shooting up.  This surprises you somehow?

“You ever seen The Matrix?” Eli asks.  She has. “Remember when they show Keanu the red pill and the blue one, and if he takes the red one he’ll keep going down the rabbit hole?”  She does. He flicks his gaze down to the document, entitled Alicia Florrick, State’s Attorney.  “That’s the red pill.”  What’s the blue pill, she wonders. “Tell us you don’t want to run,” Eli replies, and Alicia looks from one man to the other.  I can’t help thinking that she’s looking a little to impress The Hair with her nonchalance.  “Let’s go,” she says coolly, arching just one eyebrow, raising her wine glass to her lips.

It can’t be very comfortable, sitting while other people page through all your wrongs and rights and pass judgement on you. Eventually Eli’s flipped through to the page he wants: Alicia’s clients.  She knows Colin Sweeney and Lemond Bishop will be a problem: The Haircut adds the Paisley Group to that list, because Tom Paisley once mouthed off about Israel, not (somewhat surprisingly) because of the one percent thing or that time she ended up looking like a racist.  That matters in a State’s Attorney’s race, she asks, surprised. “Israel matters in every race!” Eli looks shocked right back at her. “Won’t it look opportunistic if I just drop them as clients?”  And won’t her partners have issues with her three top clients disappearing? “Yes,” The Hair agrees, “which is why you only drop Bishop.”  Well, he is the only one who might kill her for running, after all. “He’s the one that hurts you the most, and you have reason to drop him.”  Right, staying alive. “The firm’s representation of your partner means you’re conflicted out, right?”  Right, she agrees, and at Eli’s insistence this be done before Monday’s announcement, she makes a note to drop him tomorrow.  Should I take it she’s going to tell her partners by then as well?

“Okay, good,” The Haircut nods as Alicia takes notes, casually dropping a new bomb. “Now, your son, Zach.  He got his girlfriend Nisa Dalmar pregnant last year and they had an abortion.”  Are you freaking kidding me?  They have so few fresh ideas that we need a SECOND abortion plot line with Zach?  Is he incapable of using condoms?  (Fine, fine, I know Eli proved that Becca was lying about Zach being the father of the child she aborted, but holy crap. Couldn’t we go back into the pot thing?)  Stopping writing, Alicia stares at Elfman. “Now, there’s nothing much to be done about it as a campaign issue, but you should be prepared, especially since at the time of abortion happened, he was seventeen and she was sixteen.”  Right, just like they sing about.  Young love, so sweet! “And because she’s Muslim.”  Huh.  I’ve never really heard about the politics of Islam and abortion, or whether there’s a large Muslim population in Cook County to offend – or is it simply the fact that Zach had a Muslim girlfriend in the first place?  Poor Alicia isn’t thinking at all about cultural differences now, though.

“Alicia, we don’t want to bring these things up, but we’re just afraid you’re going to be sand-bagged during the campaign,” Eli adds.  Fair enough – she knows that’s why they do this – but still, they just sandbagged her.  Eli should have been the one to pass on this particularly hurtful piece of news.

“It’s the working mother question,” The Haircut continues. His shirt opens to a hairy chest. “Were your children unsupervised while you were at work?”  Yep, although I doubt that the teenage children of stay-at-home moms are all virgins.  “It’s sexist, I know, but you may get hit with that from the conservative press.”

“You’re…” she starts, then restarts. “How do you know this?  Is this a campaign smear?”  Gee, why would she think that?  Because we’ve been here before!  UGH!  “Yes,” The Hair tells her, and I will say he’s got a very pleasant voice, an even and mellow contrast to Eli’s theatrics, “but we can’t deny it, unfortunately.”  Why, she wonders. “Because it happened,” he states, unflinching. “When?” she bites, and regretfully Eli tells her last August.  Gosh, that puts some extra spin on Nisa’s despair over their break up, doesn’t it?  Which in turn makes me kind of hate Zach.  Wow, we’re doing so well with this!  She flashes to Zach, looking young and innocent in a blue t-shirt, studying in his bedroom, looking up at her to smile.  What day, she asks; Eli has the record from the abortion clinic for August 5th.

God damn it, she doesn’t have enough skeletons in her closet that we know about?  Because we know about a lot.

There’s a flash of Zach in a long sleeved blue t-shirt, waving to his mother from their front door, a knapsack thrown over his shoulder. She wonders how far along Nisa was; Eli doesn’t know.  Alicia flashes to an image of Zach and Nisa kissing, then springing apart as she walks into the room with them. “She was sixteen, she was a minor?”  Yes. “Did they have the abortion in Illinois?”  They did. She’s starting to panic. “The parents of a minor have to be notified in Illinois.”  Yes, Elfman agrees, “and they were.”  Somehow, this is the part that truly wrecks Alicia, this vision of Zach standing with Nisa’s parents in a bright clinic, talking to a nurse. “I know this is hard, Mrs. Florrick,” The Haircut tells her, “But everything you’re feeling now will be used against you later. So it’s important to inure yourself.”

Yeah.  She’s good at that.  But this is not that moment. She thinks of walking in on Zach and Nisa kissing, of her son gathering up his work off his desk. “Let me know when you’re ready to move on,” Johnny Elfman asks patiently.

“I’m sorry, I need to make a phone call,” she stammers, not knowing where to look.  You can’t, Eli advises. Are you going to call your son, Elfman questions. “That’s none of your business,” she snaps. “If you don’t get him, don’t leave a voice mail, nothing specific. It could be used against you.”  GOD.

The lines around Alicia’s mouth get tighter and tighter; she slams her bedroom door behind her and dials in a fury. “Hey, Alicia, what’s up?” Peter asks. “Our son had an abortion. Did you know that?”  As Peter walks through the halls of the governor’s office, I keep getting distracted by her language; not that this absolves him of responsibility, but the procedure was done to Nisa, right?  I mean, couples say ‘we’re pregnant’ but I’ve certainly never said that my husband had a c-section.  “What?” asks her husband, befuddled. “Did Zach tell you he had an abortion on August 5th when he was supposed to be touring colleges in Boston?” Oh, dear.  Is this what upsets her the most, that he told her such an elaborate lie?

“Wait, where are you hearing this from?” Peter wonders. “Opposition research, whadda you think?” she bellows.  He closes his eyes, knowing it must be true. “We’re cutting him off without a cent, you know that.  He can pay his own way through college – or get Nisa’s parents to do it.” Yep, it’s the fact that Nisa’s parents knew and she didn’t.  Again, not making me think well of her. “Nisa?” Peter asks, once more surprised. “Not Becca?”  Yeah, well, I guess I can see why he’s asking. “August 5th, Nisa,” Alicia barks. She’s scary. “Every time, he’s been lying to me. It’s all in your head, Mom.  I don’t smoke pot. I’m a good boy.”  Well, we never heard him say any of that was in your head – and let’s be fair, you were happy to believe his lies. “Well let’s see how he deals!”

“Alicia, listen to me,” Peter starts walking again, making calming motions with his hands. “Don’t you dare tell me to calm down,” she bites. I shouldn’t judge; it’s fair, it’s totally fair for her to be upset and even irrational now. “He lied to me.”  As with Peter, the sin isn’t the sin, but rather the concealment of it? “I know,” Peter replies regretfully, but clearly more willing to get over it, “why don’t you let me talk to him?”  No, she tells him, outraged. “This one’s mine.”  She hangs up, dials, gets Zach’s voicemail, sees him in the elevator with Nisa, sees him smiling up at her,  listens to his message; he’s either at class or “sleeping it off.”  She thinks better of yelling; she just asks him to call her back.

On Darkness at Noon, there’s a blood trail from the bullet hole in Bert’s forehead. Scruffy cop looks up at the birdsong, and see a large deer or elk in the forest, staring back at him. They stare at each other, breathing hard.  Eli and Elfman stare at the television, squinting.  “You have kids?” Eli wonders, turning of Elfman. “No, no time,” is the answer.  Hmph.  “So, what does the elk symbolize?” faux-Chris Hardwicke wonders on Talking At Noon. “Yes,” replies Carmen, “that’s easy, the soul of Michael, rising from the dead. Reincarnated.”  Er.  Okay.  I swear he called him Bert, but who knows?  Bert, Sam, Michael, it doesn’t matter.  When Eli’s phone rings, he checks the i.d. and laughs to Elfman. “His master’s voice,” he says, smiling and picking up the call.

“Governor, good evening,” he smiles cheerfully. “You told Alicia that Zach had an abortion?” Peter asks, cutting right to the juicy part. Yes. “Why?”  Eli wags his head. “Because he did.”  Sigh. “Eli, this is becoming…” Uncharacteristically, Eli has to prompt Peter to speak. “Are you going to bring up the intern?” he asks, not the question Eli was expecting. “I can’t tell you that, Mr. Governor,” Eli insists, sounding shocked that Peter would ask.  Fascinating that there are ethics Eli would be so scrupulous about observing!  I’m not sleeping with her, Peter states plainly (really?) but as Eli reminds him, oppo research isn’t just about truth but also about appearances. “You bring her up and it becomes a thing, and I cannot deal with any more things!”

Yes, God forbid people have inconvenient emotions.  So messy. That kinda makes me want to hate Peter.  Really not a good episode for me liking the characters.

“I will deal with this here,” Peter continues. “Lauren will not be an issue in Alicia’s campaign.”  I’ll talk to you later, Mr. Governor, Eli replies as Alicia walks back out into the kitchen. “Peter?” she wonders. He nods, as if there was some other governor it could have been. “Asking how you knew about Zach?”  He nods. She walks over to Good Hair Johnny, cool and queenly. “Are you sure you want to continue, Mrs. Florrick?  We can stop here,” he offers. “Why?” she wonders, as if she didn’t have a care in the world. “Let’s do it. I’m inured.”  Not so much that she doesn’t take a giant gulp of wine when she sits down; Eli rolls his eyebrows at Elfman, but sits as well.

“Okay,” Johnny the Haircut continues, “there are some issues with your brother and your mom.”  Of course there are, Alicia smiles, relaxing.  Now this she thinks she’ll enjoy, crossing her arms and settling back. What crazy things have they done now?  “Gay support, especially financial support – it matters to your campaign.” Eli nods his approval.  So?  “That’s why your brother’s actions matter.”  Again I say, so?  Alicia says it too. “Well, he’s been having an affair with a married Palestinian man who also does barebacked gay porn under the name Phil.”  BWAH!  And, nice pun. Okay.  But wait, the gays are the ones you think will have an issue with this?  Not the conservative press?  Not that I get why the conservative press would be supporting Castro, other than the fact that Alicia’s a woman; they both have to be Democrats, right?  It’s not like Peter would ever have appointed a Republican.  They have a weird grasp of the two party system on this show.  As of the last election (which, let me point out, was far more diverse than this fictional one), there was a primary in March (which ought to be where Alicia would square off against Castro) and then a full election in November, where the primary winner would face a Republican and perhaps an Independent.  November of 2016, that is – unless we’re looking at a special election?  I guess that might work.

God, why do I even care?  It’s just funny to me that this show can be so brilliant about details but so cagey about its timeline.

Anyway.  The blank look on Alicia’s face is hilarious, and Eli’s is nearly as goofy. “I don’t know how to answer that,” she tells Elfman. “The affair with the married man, that’s the most problematic,” Eli winces. “Well, that and the barebacked gay porn,” The Hair stumbles.  “Yeah, the porn, yeah,” Eli agrees.  HA.     “These issues tend to create a division within the gay community,” Eli puts on an extra serious face, but is hampered in this effort by Grace’s choir, which  sings again of their unending trust in the Lord.  Nice. They sounds wonderful, by the way.

“So, you want me to break up the affair with the Palestinian?” she asks, confused. “No,” Eli replies (I’m sure Johnny is thankful not to have to take this one), “it’s just Owen has a tendency to talk, and Castro will have video trackers.”  Righto.  Well, that’s happened before. It’s not easy for Alicia to focus on this, though. “It’s Boston College, Mom, I have to go see it.  Really, it means a lot to me,” Zach asks, his sweet pink-cheeked face shining in his mother’s memory.  Riiiiiight.  And you just let him to go Boston for the weekend alone?  That seemed normal to you? “The story could get pinned to any image, really. Pixellated gay porn… We need him to lay low. For a little while.”  Riiight.  Good luck with that.  Still, proper big sister Alicia nods at The Hair as the choir’s harmony soars. Note: talk to Zach, talk to Owen.

“Now, Mom,” she compresses her lips into something that looks like a smile but isn’t. “What about Mom?”  Again she settles back into her chair, arms crossed.  Looking very serious, Eli clears his throat. “She hit a child in a department store,” he says.  What?  “A five year old child, Greg Weymouth, Veronica took him over her knee, and, um, spanked him.”  Huh.  She never struck me as that much of a disciplinarian.  Wacky. “Why would she do that?” Alicia wonders. “I don’t know,” Eli confesses, “but there’s video tape.”  Of course there is. There’s always videotape.  “There’s videotape of her hitting a child?”  Alicia keeps repeating Eli’s words, at a loss for her own.  Elfman cuts in to explain they just want Veronica to apologize so that they don’t get sued.  “Okay,” Alicia says in a smug, pained voice that tries to sounds like she’s cool with everything, making more notes, “talk to Mom about not hitting children.  Next.  Grace.  What did she do? Turning tricks after school?”

“Well, actually,” Eli begins, looking over at Elfman, which wipes the smug look off Alicia’s face. “No, that was a joke,” he tells her, smiling. “Grace is good.”  Really?  No sex with Dead Grace’s boyfriend, or does the campaign just not care about that as long as she doesn’t get knocked up? Huh.  “Christianity three, atheism, zero,” Alicia quips, reaching for her wine.  “Yes,” Eli leaps on the topic, “talking of atheism….”  Don’t?  “I know,” Alicia sets down her wine, trying to forestall him; all he asks is that she not out and out declare herself one.  Er, hasn’t she already done that? Didn’t that ship sail long ago?  “Just say you’re struggling.  Just say you’re an agnostic, who’s struggling.”

“Right, I’ll get on that,” Alicia snarks.  “Anything else?”  Now let’s move on to you, Mr. Too Good Looking For Peter’s Comfort suggests, and oh, joy.  All Peter’s affairs and her just-for-show marriage and Will, who was her boss, her drinking and her representing Peter with the fraudulent ballot box and all the work law suits against her and the sex rumors from that planted campaign bimbo and Finn and God knows what else.  This is going to be just ducky. “Can’t wait,” she nods.

Elfman sets down a black and white photograph in front of her, and I feel a pang at the sight of a certain hooked nose.  “Yes,” Alicia nods, “this is a picture of me and my boss Will Gardner at a hotel reception desk researching a case.  A rape case.”  (We can really only see their heads; I know the case she means, and we’ve seen her threatened with photos from that before, but I couldn’t confirm it being the same one.) Can she prove that’s all it was?  And now we get the Queen Alicia stare in all its vicious glory. “Well Will’s dead,” she bites, “so not from him, but I’m sure you can from the clerk there.”  Does she remember the clerk’s name?  No, seeing as it was five years ago, but she can consult her records.  He’d appreciate it.

“And, how about this?” he asks, passing over the photograph from last season of Finn leaving her apartment.  Okay, seriously, that’s all we’re going to hear about Will?  The one time she went to a hotel reception desk and DIDN’T sleep with him?  Because this city is probably full of hotels where those two had their lengthy lunch breaks.  And plenty of people knew about the affair – some discrete people, yes, but those are just the ones we know about, Diane and Kalinda and Eli and Cary and Zach and Peter – and then Dana, and Wendy Scott-Carr, and probably the NSA, and a bajillion other people who aren’t discrete.  Including Castro who had already threatened her with this rumor. That’s seriously all we’re going to say about Will?  I have very little respect for whoever did this research, not to mention the writer’s idea that we could just tuck this issue under and make it either go away or come up at a more dramatically opportune moment.  Stupid stupid stupid poorly-conducted ridiculousness.

Ahem.  So.  Back to Finn.  Do we even need to go over this yet again?  This was Finn, coming out of her apartment after they had an early morning consultation.  “Isn’t that lovely how your whole life gets documented,” she smirks. ” I lived for thirteen years in Highland Park in complete obscurity.  Going to lunches with my tennis friends, picking up the kids from school. drinking a glass of wine at five, and no one cared. No one bothered to look in on me. It almost gives you a warm glow.”  She switches from sarcasm to contempt; how can Castro use this?  There is no scandal here, just a work meeting (albeit at a non-standard time).  Elfman is skeptical.  “Yes, well I don’t like my kids seeing who I sleep with.  How could they get out in time for their abortions?”

Snort.

The thing is, Alicia, it may be absurd, but you know this is what you’re signing up for.

“Alicia, remember what I said about irony in campaigns?” Oh, please, she’s not talking to a reporter.  You have to let her be sardonic with you, at least; how else is she going to make it through this?  We were going through his testimony for his SA disciplinary hearing that morning, Alicia explains, really annoyed. “And he’ll back you up on that?” Shouldn’t you know this, Eli, from the time Castro leaked the picture to target Finn?  “It’s the truth!” she complains, wounded. “It’s our understanding that he’s prosecuting your law partner, Mrs. Florrick, and that you have fought.”  In court, she corrects. “And that he tried to run and was forced to quit before you decided to run.”  Alicia just stares – and without another word adds Finn to her growing list of people to talk to.

“What’s that?” The Haircut finally thinks to ask. “Talk to Zach. Mom. Owen. AND Finn Polmar.  Ask if any of them plan to screw me over.”  And Lemond Bishop, Haircut points out helpfully.  “Right,” she says, her tone far too cheery for my comfort,”and fire him as a client.  Anything else?”  Yes, the indefatigable campaigner continues, the governor.  We can leave it at that, John, Eli twitches, which of course sets off Alicia’s spidey senses. “No, what is it,” she wonders.  We’d like to do a little more digging before we tell you, Eli prevaricates. I love The Hair Cut’s look, which boils down to “we? what is this we you speak of?,” and Alicia’s calm reassurance that she’s ready to deal with whatever they can throw her way.  And oddly, she does sound like this is going to bother her far less, but Eli primly puts his pen to paper and refuses to spill.

“Is it about Kalinda?” Alicia asks.  OH NO!  Slowly, Eli looks up at her. He blinks. “What?” I can’t believe that of everything she could have contributed, this is where she’s choosing to be forthcoming.  “Is it about Kalinda’s one night stand with Peter?  Because I know about that already.” Eli has been completely robbed of his words, and for loquacious Eli that’s quite something. Who’s Kalinda, Elfman asks (which really ought to tip Alicia off that this report, while thorough in some areas, is remarkably lacking in the dirt we viewers have been privy to), and Alicia explains that she’s an investigator who used to work for the SA’s office. “She slept with my husband. Now she works at my firm,” Alicia smirks.  You know, if the most important factor for this operative was that his new candidate was as Eli called a tough cookie, that really should have been the point where he said yes.   I love the slow roll of his head over to Eli, his jaw slack, a fat curl hanging just below his ear.  “Do we have that?”  We’re working on it, Eli blusters, his chin tucked into his chest, unable to look anyone in the face.

“Kalinda won’t talk,” Alicia continues, “but if you’re worried about what might complicate my campaign…”  Eli holds up a warning hand. “Let us do our job.  I’ll look into it, okay?”  I guess no one knows about that other than Andrew Wiley, who never put all the pieces together.  Still, if she’s warning them about issues, this would have been the time to come clean about Will. Especially since she knows Castro’s going to bring it up.

Instead, she closes up her notes. “Okay, well this was fun!” she declares, bright and brittle and sarcastic. The men close up their notes and stand with her. “You’ve passed basic training, Mrs. Florrick” Elfman informs her. “Are you running?”  I don’t know, she says. “I’m still contemplating.”  What, really?  “You have till Monday to decide,” Eli reminds her. She dumps the rest of the wine into her glass, her back to the two men. “If it’s any consolation, Mrs. Florrick,” The Hair Cut feels moved to say, stepping up toward her deferentially. “Alicia,” she cuts in, spinning to look at him.  “Anyone who’s pawed through my underwear draw should really call me by my first name.”  She hides her face in the capacious glass. “Alicia,” he nods, looking away,  “I’ve sat through 18 of these come-to-Jesus moments with candidates, and … you’ve handled it the best.”  The line is delivered as if it were a freshly baked pie, a delicious treat for his hostess. Thank you, she nods.

And, we’re back to formality. “It was nice to meet you, Mrs. Florrick,” he says. “And you, Mr. Elfman,” she replies solemnly, and they shake.  In the living room, Not Chris Hardwicke expounds on the number of official bad asses on Darkness at Noon, much to the horror of Joe Weisberg.  “You’ve got Sam, Michael, Gifford…” Yes, I’m sure Gifford is really bad ass.  There can be only one, Weisburg insists.  “He only thinks he’s a bad ass,” Carmen argues. “You know who the real bad ass is?”  “The bad ass is the guy with the gun,” Not Hardwicke suggests,  and in her kitchen, our own bad ass (because that’s the hit-you-over-the-head-with-it implication, right?) Alicia leans back against her island and sips her wine.

So, that was a lot of fun.  What do we have going on for an encore?  The sartorial splendor that is Lemond Bishop, of course!  He’s engaged in a twitchy staring match with Alicia, one neither is exactly trying to win. “Hello,” he chirps – and I swear, it’s almost cute, which totally messes with my brain – “what’s up?”  The subpoena is what’s up, Alicia explains, sitting across from Bishop with Cary to her right and Diane to her left, nervous ducks all in a row.  Can I just say how disappointed I am not to know how much Alicia has told them?  I feel entitled to see that conversation.  I know dramatically we don’t need it, but as relationship building it’s incredibly important to know whether Cary thinks dropping Bishop is all about protecting him, whether the firm can take the monetary hit, whether Cary and Diane are going to get an ugly surprise on Monday or not.  I suppose we’ll find out eventually, but seeing them present this united front makes me wish I knew how united they really are.  Maybe I’m too linear?  Anyway.  I just think it’s important information to have.

As a team, they take Bishop through the idea: the real estate holdings are legal, so they should comply with the subpoena.  I wish they’d decide if they’d complied already or not. At any rate, Bishop happily agrees to compliance. On his side of the table, Cary cranes his neck.

“But, um, we’ve run into a bit of a problem,” Diane begins.  “What problem?” Bishop wonders, and all at once that chipper agreeableness melts.  (Mike Coulter, it must be said, does menace like no one else; it’s so subtle and refined.  You’re skimming the sleek surface, the ice looks thick and sturdy, and then suddenly you’re underwater.)  “We can’t represent you any more,” Alicia just puts it out there.  Why, Bishop wonders, and then Cary suggests he leave the conference room so that they can discuss his case more comfortably; Bishop watches him go, his brow furrowed.

“We represent Cary,” Alicia explains, hands folded. “He’s being prosecuted being of his relationship with you, and we’re having difficulty representing both of you.”  Well, it makes sense – now that Diane is in house, she could get thrown off the case just like Alicia did. “Why is that?” Bishop wonders, and you can see from the look on Alicia’s face that she doesn’t have an answer prepared. Really?  Are you kidding?  I can think of a bunch besides the one I just listed.  “Well…” she splutters. “We believe that this real estate attack by the SA’s purely a Trojan horse to get at Cary,” Diane explains, which doesn’t make much sense to Bishop. “Well, if we comply with the SA’s subpoena, we think they will use that compliance in Cary’s case.”  Right, but for what kind of documents?  And how could that hurt either defendant?  I guess this is supposed to sound like a thin pretext. “That’s why we’re suggesting you change representation.” She sets a sheet of paper on the table and slides it in front of Bishop. “This is a list of five firms that we recommend.  And they are all willing – no, excited – take you on.”  At the word excited, Bishop gives her a skeptical look. She can set up the phone call right now, she tells him. “Mr. Bishop, it’s best that you work with another firm,” Diane concludes their sales pitch with a strong and confident tone.

Thoughtfully, Bishop reclines in his seat. He considers, nodding. “No,” he tells them.

Diane and Alicia exchange worried looks. Again, this is not going according to her (sadly inadequate) script.  “The problem is, Mr. Bishop,” Alicia restates, “the State’s Attorney is taking advantage of our conflict of interest.  We need you to consider another firm.”  Ha ha ha.  Like he cares about your comfort? “No,” he smiles pleasantly, “but thank you.  Is there anything else?”

“Mr. Bishop,” Alicia tries a new tact, her mom voice. “I’m going to have to go to the judge to remove myself.”  Do it, he suggests.  “I’ll say I need you as my attorney.  Who do you think the judge will listen to?”  What does that mean?  Does he have judges in his pocket?  Why would he assume that they’d pick in his favor? Because of his social status as a pillar of the community?  No, wait, that’s Alicia.  That makes no sense. It has her scared, though.

And if you thought that was an awkward moment, it’s nothing compared to Eli and Kalinda sitting in a diner. Eli can’t even look at Kalinda, who – amused – tries to catch his eye.  “Yes?” she asks, shining in bronze leather. “Did you wanna ask me something?”  Wringing his hands, Eli forces out the words. Did she sleep with Peter?  What, did you think Alicia was lying?  She nods in understanding. “That’s why we’re meeting here, and not in your office?”  You can hear that this has really thrown Eli; there’s no bluster or theater in his voice. “Now I see why there was always so much tension between you and Peter.”  Yes, well, that would explain it.  Seeing Eli come to terms with his ignorance is new, and I’m mesmerized by it. Kalinda nods.

“Did Alicia say…”  No, Eli lies, almost choking on the words, unable once more to meet her eyes. “Did Peter?”  No.  Then why is he asking?  “Alicia’s running for State’s Attorney, I need to know where my land mines are,” he growls.  She nods again. “Well this is not a land mine.”

His head snaps up.  His voice is so thick; if it were someone else I’d say he’d been crying. “Really?  Peter Florrick sleeps with you at the State’s Attorney’s office, and then he sleeps with prostitutes while you become Alicia’s best friend?”  I wouldn’t say best friend, Kalinda hedges, thinking about it.  Yeah, good luck telling yourself that. “Ah, out of all those things I just said, you find objectionable the best friend charge?”  To be fair that’s the only one with some wiggle room; the rest are merely statements of incontrovertible fact. She squirms uncomfortably in the booth.

“So you slept with him,” Eli assesses, his voice filling with contempt. “Eli, let me put this to you another way,” she offers placidly. “You have nothing to worry about.”  Kalinda, Eli begins. “You know I treat you with respect because you know what my job entails. There is nothing that will bite me in the ass here?”  Nothing, she confirms. “Unless you ask me again…” He throws his head to the side as if struck. “There is nothing.”  Believe me, he says, clearing his head. “This is the last lunch I wanted to have.”  In other words, he won’t be asking again.  Good, she agrees, so let’s not have it, and though it makes him even more twitchy, they leave without ordering.

“You don’t think it’s weird that she invited us both to her apartment at the same time?” Ha.  Veronica, I love you for being so perceptive.  It’s sad that these are your family relationships, but your instincts are impressive. Sitting next to his mother on Alicia’s couch, Owen makes a fantastical guess: maybe Alicia’s going to announce a pregnancy and wants Owen to be the godfather.  That is one melodramatic avenue this show has never traveled. “What a frightening thought that would be,” Veronica replies, making me laugh. “No, she wants money or something.”  Not exactly. “Why is that a frightening thought?” Owen wonders, genuinely puzzled, but Alicia’s arrived with a fruit tray, and now the game is a afoot.  “Yay!” Veronica smirks (and oh, her shiny, tight stretched cheeked make me want to cry), “here were all are!  Together. Family.”  It’s good to see you both, Owen smiles, and Alicia drinks. “Have you read The Goldfinch?” Veronica puts the small talk into hyperdrive. “It’s such beautiful writing, it’s all about Art and life…”  “So,” Alicia smiles, ignoring the conversational gambit. “You’re probably wondering why I needed to meet with you.” Because you know who the murderer is?  No, Owen answers, sarcasm laying on thick. “I’m thinking of running for State’s Attorney,” she lies, because really, we all know she’s already made her choice.  Veronica’s mouth hangs as open as her plastic surgery will allow.

“And I need to talk to you about a few dos and don’t regarding talking to the press.”  Poor Owen can’t take it in. “You’re what?” he gasps. I know, Owen, I know. “Running. For State’s Attorney,” Alicia tells him, plastering on a bright campaign smile. “Why?” he asks for all fans of this show everywhere.  “I think I could do a good job on it,” she declares, parroting Gloria Steinem. “How does this work with you being a lawyer?” Owen wonders again.  Now we finally have a satisfying audience substitute, astutely questioning this asinine decision. “Well, I’ll still have my on-going cases during my campaign,” she tells him. “But if you win, you’ll have to quit,” he presses. “Yes,” Alicia agrees, “I’ll be State’s Attorney.”  Yup.  You’ll be screwing over the people who took a risk with you, and not actually practicing law anymore. “Where did this come from, Alicia?” Veronica asks for all of us.

“So here’s what I need from you – from both of you,” Alicia replies, completely ignoring both her mother and the question into her inadequate motivation.  She sounds like a robot. “My team worries that there are some issues in both of your lives,”  she explains, clearly rehearsed. “Your team?” Owen sneers. “You’re already talking about a team?”  Why not just take a trip, Veronica offers, which frankly sounds like a much better answer to this midlife crisis than running for political office. “You’d love Bali.  This is empty nest syndrome. You know, I read this great book about it,” she turns to confide in Owen. “Mom,” Alicia cuts in. “Did you hit a kid in a department store?”

Well, that’s got their attention. Veronica denies it, but it’s immediately obvious that she lies. “Did you hit a five year old kid named Greg Weymouth in Broward’s dress department?” Still, Veronica tries to brazen it out. “That’s crazy!  Where’d you hear that?”  It was videotaped, Alicia glowers, and Owen snorts. “Wait, are you kidding?” he asks, his laughter burbling up. “This is fantastic.”

“It was a spanking,” Veronica admits reluctantly. “I didn’t hit him.”  Well, that’s a whole episode right there. Is spanking child abuse?  Not that anyone’s in favor of random strangers using corporal punishment on misbehaving kids, but still.  “Well, his parents are thinking of suing,” Alicia responds coldly. “I was doing them a favor,” she tells a still snickering Owen, “the kid was running around the store, yelling, knocking over things, it was…”  A public service, Owen snarks. “Yes!” Veronica latches on to this defense. “Even though you’re making fun of me, it was.”  Alicia’s set up an appointment with the parents so that Veronica can apologize and not get sued.  “No!  They should apologize to me, I was doing them a favor.”  Oh, Owen is enjoying this way too much.  “Mom, I need you to do this for me,” Alicia reiterates. “It will become a news item.”  Reluctantly, Veronica wags her head in what seems to be acquiescence.

“Now, Owen,” Alicia starts on her brother, who’s still fighting off the giggles; dimples pop out as he strains against the laughter. “What?  Oh, what did I do?”  Somehow, Alicia’s reticent to make this a general conversation. “Wait, why does Owen get privacy, and I didn’t?” Veronica complains.  Who’s the mom in this scenario again?  As he collects himself from the couch to follow Alicia into the kitchen, Owen turns to Veronica. “Because mine is way worse,” he jokes. “They just discovered the body.”

Oh, boy.  Looking panicked, Alicia fortifies herself with more wine. Even Owen’s serious face makes me want to laugh.  “Are you careful,” she asks, which, okay, that’s not quite how I thought this would go.  But it’s nice that she cares more about his health than about the potential scandal. “Am I careful… I tend to be? What do you mean?” Yeah, you didn’t get that across right, Alicia. “Safe sex,” she blurts out, and he sort of slumps over. “HIV rates have been steadily climbing in the past…” Her concern makes him a little emotional. I’m all good, sis, he reaches out to tell her, touching her arm. “Don’t worry your little head.”

And that’s when the judgment comes out.

“Phil’s married, did you know that?” Um, he probably knows “Phil” by his actual name rather than his porno name, Alicia. And, yep, he’s at a loss. “Who’s Phil?”  “He also performs in gay porn… without… protection,” she adds, which wins her a sour look from Owen.  It makes her apologetic. “They looked into my background, and when they did, they looked into my family’s, too.”  Because there’s nothing he could do that would make a more dramatic statement to her, Owen dumps his wine down the drain before he walks out without a word.

And really, it’s such a shame, because she could have used him to talk to right now, to process this.  She’s not exactly in a rational place about Zach.  And it would have been better for her to face the implications of running for office – that she’s going to make Owen a public figure and could expose him the way Peter exposed her.  It doesn’t even matter, not really, that Owen chose to take a married lover who also happens to be a porn star; the point is, Alicia’s making a choice that could curtail Owen’s ability to make personal choices in private.  She’s choosing for him, as Peter chose for her.

But sadly, she’s not thinking about that.  She’s thinking about her ringing phone, and her open door, and her mother bleating about Owen’s absence. It’s Zach on the phone, and she’s just not up having that discussion now, too.

Nervously, Peter fiddles with a highball glass sitting on his desk. “Eli,” he tells his chief of staff, “do you have some issue with me?”  Nope.  “Well, just so you know, I’m not trying to undercut Alicia’s campaign.”  Er, good?  I don’t think he thought you were.  Wow, I love that chair in front of Peter’s desk, an ornate wooden antique, so at least there’s that. “I didn’t say you were,” Eli smiles, but he’s so clearly troubled that it unnerves Peter, who of course doesn’t know that Eli’s fretting about his past indiscretions rather than his potential present ones. “Okay,” Peter declares.  Okay what? “Okay, fire her,” he says. “Get her a new job in Springfield.”  The intern, Eli realizes, and now his smile becomes real. Yes, Lauren Lytton the intern. “You’ve been trying to get rid of her for a month.  Get her a job in the Senate.  I think that Shaw’s looking for someone.”

A gleeful Eli bursts out of Peter’s office suit to where Nora sits bending over some paper work, and asks her about Lauren’s whereabouts. “Take her name off the security logs,” Eli commands, quivering with excitement.  “Really?” Nora asks, grinning, her eyes avid. He nods decisively, and then makes an almost military march down the hall to the reception desk where Lauren’s chatting with the receptionist.  “Lauren!” he barks.  Dude, really?  I know you’ve been waiting to do this for ages, and I know you’re happy to be able to control something, but there’s no reason to make a public spectacle out of it.  I’m sure it feels good, but the risks outweigh the benefits. “What?” she asks, grumpy. “You’re fired,” he replies, savoring the words, thrilled.

It seems that Alicia isn’t totally through with her unpleasant conversations for the evening; though she’s avoided Zach, she’s now out at a crowded bar with  Finn Polmar.  Why are they having this conversation in public?  I mean, we know they didn’t do anything wrong, but still.  “So,” Finn says, looking around, “this is a nice change for us. Not yelling at each other in court.”  It’s true. They’d developed such a nice friendship last season, and it’s so difficult for her to make friends. It’s such a bummer that they’ve taken this away. “There’s a photo of you leaving my apartment at 8:30 am on March 18th,” she tells him without preamble. “Really,” he nods. “Is it a good photo?”  Hee.  She smiles despite herself. “Depends,” she claims. “Were we up to something naughty?” he asks, understanding the issue. “Witness prep,” she says, and he blows out his lips. “Oooh, disgusting.”  Heh.  It really is nice seeing them be playful.  It’s nice seeing her laugh.

It doesn’t last, of course.  As he signals the bartender for another drink, she swallows. “If they ask you about it, Finn, you’d say it was about the disciplinary hearing?”  You mean the truth, he asks, maybe a little offended. “Sure.”  He shrugs, then takes a drink, markedly not looking at her, giving us a long look at his too short hair and deliberately trying to get her to laugh. “Unless you want me to say I stayed the night.” Her cheeks puff with the effort of holding in her laughter. “Probably not,” she agrees.

“Sorry, I’m in a funny mood, I don’t know why,” he apologizes. True, it is the most personal conversation they’ve had in a while – and also almost flirty – but she hardly seems bothered by that. “Alright, I know why,” he confesses, finally giving her the big sad eye treatment. “I thought there was some tension between us because, uh…”  “You’re trying to put my partner in prison?” she supplies.  Yes.  That. He stares at her, his lips inflated. “Kind of has a funny way of putting a crimp in a friendship.” She laughs again, and then looks up at him, nervous. “And I thought there’d be tension because… I’m thinking about running.”

“No,” he shakes his head immediately, and she tilts hers in happy surprise. “I think it’s great, honestly.”  Yay!  I’d love to know more of what his work life is like, wouldn’t you?  Is he comfortable working with Castro after all that’s happened?  Is he hoping to see him replaced?  Does he plan to stay? He raises his glass, and they click. “Come on, take a cab, drink with me, what’s wrong with you?”  There’s still a large amount of red wine in her goblet. “I better not,” she smiles, and he turns to her, melodramatic. “What, and do something you’d regret like – more witness prep?”

Huh.  The innocent flirting is nice.  It’s like with Will – there’s friendship, it’s easy – but it’s also specific to Finn.  She laughs, but she’s too self conscious, and so sets down her drink.

“Castro wants to scare you from the race by hitting you where you’re vulnerable,” Finn warns her.  Fascinating.  I figured that her possible campaign wasn’t a surprise to him – all NPR listeners in America seem to know, and you’d imagine there’s a lot of discussion in the SA’s office – but I’m definitely curious how much he would see of Castro’s plans.  Does good old Jimmy still regard him as a friend?  Also, where does Jimmy assess she’s most vulnerable?  I have a few ideas, and they weren’t broached in oppo research. “He said that?” she asks. “I heard him say it,” Finn says, which could mean that he overheard it, or could mean that Castro said it to him.  Fascinating. “Be careful.”  They stare at each other. “Don’t be vulnerable,” she smiles. “If you can help it,” he agrees, he who was made vulnerable by those he loved.

“This is Zach’s voice mail,” we hear Zach’s voice as Alicia drives home. “I’m in class right now, or sleeping it off.  Leave a message.”  Zach, she says.  “Something’s come up.  Call me tomorrow.”  And that’s when the sirens go off, right behind her. “Oh no,” she worries. “Oh no!”  She put a hand over her mouth to help smell her breath. “One glass of wine, that’s all!”  Well, assuming this is the same day, you did have at least two at home before you went out.  “Pull to the side of the road,” the cop instructs over his speaker, and she does, on what looks like a deserted commercial street. She rolls down the tinted window. “Good evening, Mrs. Florrick.  Have you been drinking?”

Uh oh.

She narrows her eyes, squinting up at him. “How did you know my name?”  From the look on his thick potato face, you can see he knows he’s made a misstep. “Please step out of the car, m’am,” he insists.

Yep.  There it is.   There’s a lot of privileges that a dirty cop or politician can wield to maintain power.  Did Castro have a tail on her?  God, is that why Finn suggested she take a cab?  Did he know?  Her drinking was a big old obvious something oppo research should have focused on.  I wouldn’t call her an alcoholic, but she does rely on it pretty obviously, and it’s an easy way to smear a saint.

“Nine steps forward m’am, turn on the line, nine steps back,” the cop instructs as Alicia walks a straight line. “I’ve already agreed to a breathalyzer test,” she reminds him with a touch of asperity.  “Yes, you said that, m’am.  I need you to turn on the line, nine steps back.”  As she turns, she sees a car pass slowly down this deserted street, its inhabitants staring at her.

“I have admitted to having one glass of wine,” she says, walking the line, “which would make my BAC well below the legal limit.”  Yeah, he’s not paying any attention to this – he wants her to take a horizontal gaze test.  Rolling her eyes, she faces him and follows his flashlight with her eyes – or at least, she does until she notices the next car driving by.  The passenger in this one has a camera or cell phone trained on her. Flash! Flash!

Answering her call from his desk, Eli asks Alicia what’s wrong before she’s said a word.  Why did he assume something’s wrong? Does she only call him when she has a problem? Rule-follwer Alicia’s definitely upset. “I was just pulled over, Eli,” she whispers throatily. “Damn it! For a DUI!”

“Oh my God,” he gasps. “Where are you?” He’s imagining her in hand cuffs, on the way to jail. “I’m in my car,” she explains, relieving his fears on that score, “I passed, I only had one glass of wine.” She takes a quick look to make sure that the cop isn’t watching, and lowers her voice. “I think it was a set up.”  Gee, ya think?  “Why?”  Oh, so many reasons. “Because I volunteered a breathalyzer, but he insisted on a roadside test.”  Um, hello!  For a smart person, Alicia, you can be a little dense. That’s your proof? How about the fact that he knew your name before he pulled you over?  Oh, and that someone showed up with a camera right afterwards?  “Okay, I’ll keep an eye on the blogs,” Eli agrees.   He hangs up without her relaying any of the real clues.  “Move into the traffic, m’am, let’s go!” the cop barks over his loud speaker, and Alicia starts her car.

On another darkened street, Kalinda’s stiletto heels strike the pavement – that is, until she sees someone leaning against a car, waiting for her in the dark.  Cause that’s not creepy or anything.  And things get more creepy when she starts walking again, and sees that she knows it’s Lemond Bishop, someone you never want waiting for you at night.  Shudder. But because this is Kalinda, she walks toward him instead of away.

“Kalinda, hello,” Lemond greets her graciously, walking out toward her. “I need a moment.”  Oh boy oh boy oh boy.  Not good. She gives him a dubious look. “It’s nothing bad,” he shrugs. “Five minutes.”  And then he walks back toward his car, opens the door, and motions for her to get in.

Oh. My. God.

She puts a hand behind her back, and he swings back from the door toward her. “I know that’s where you have your gun,” he says. “You won’t need it.”

Oh. My. God.

He settles into the backseat next to her, and introduces the goons in the front seats, Clyde and Jim.  “Hi,” she says; they don’t respond.  As is his way, Bishop does not make her wait. “Your firm tried to drop me as a client. This is my best month in five years.”  God knows how he figures that; the most legal hours he’s required (surely not), or in his own income (which shouldn’t affect them, it’s not like they get a cut), or what. “I pay on time. I pay well.” She bites at the inside of her lips. “And yet your firm wanted to drop me.”  Swiveling in his seat, he puts the full fire of his gaze on Kalinda. “Why?”

“I don’t know,” she tells him. “I didn’t even know they tried to drop you.” It’s not the subpoena, because there’s nothing there.  Is it about Cary, he wonders. “Is he in deeper trouble than I thought?”  No, she says quickly, and I can’t tell if that’s her protecting Cary or what, because Cary IS in deep trouble, and they really would be better off unconflicted on his defense. “Then I’m confused,” Bishop confesses, and Kalinda does a quick assessment of the situation. “Then you should talk to Alicia,” she decides.  And gulps, her throat pulsing in the low light.

Huh.

“Why?” he asks, and when she looks away instead of answering, he presses. “Kalinda,” Bishop admonishes her, putting a heavy threat into those few syllables. “Alicia’s considering a run for State’s Attorney,” Kalinda confesses, “I’m not sure if that’s why but it would make sense.”  I cannot believe she spilled that. Shifting back so he’s facing forward, Bishop considers this news; we see a white flash of eye and teeth.  “Huh.”

As much as her face can move, Veronica’s lips quirk from side to side, a little twitchy rabbit.  Or perhaps she’s just trying to hold back her inner Tiger Mother (who even knew she had one?) as little Greg Weymouth rhythmically kicks a chair.  Pound pound pound pound! The Haircut tries not to flinch.  It’s interesting that the mother – a tired looking woman with red hair and a bright floral print top – is not trying to make her son look like the little angel only a deranged person would want to spank; instead she seems aggressively unapologetic about his behavior. “Thank you for doing this, Mrs. Weymouth, Veronica,” Elfman begins, and both women nod.  “We just wanted to apologize for the events of last week,” he adds. “You mean when she hit my son,” Mrs. Weymouth bites out, pointing an angry finger at Veronica. Yeah, that. “Yes,” The Haircut nods, “Veronica now realizes that she was in the wrong.”  Knowing that this is her cue, Veronica attempts to smile. “Yes,” she snarks, “I was in the wrong.”  Knowing an insincere apology when she hears one,  Mrs. Weymouth’s glare intensifies.  So perhaps it a good thing that Alicia’s late, because her entrance now breaks the tension a little.

“You’re the governor’s wife?” Mrs. Weymouth asks as Alicia sits down. “Yes.  And you must be Greg.”  Little Greg turns to take the measure of Alicia, and starts kicking the chair in loud defiance as he returns her gaze, just to see what she’s going to do about it. Kick kick kick. “I’m sure my mother has expressed her deepest regrets at her overreacting last week,” Alicia tells the angry mother.  “No,” Greg’s mom complains, indignant, “I just see her smiling there.”  Well, that’s one word for that plastic expression. “I deeply regret my overreaction,” Veronica repeats, looking like the crazy doll in a horror movie.  I hate that a terrific actress and beautiful woman feels like she needs to do something like this to her face. “We hope that this apology settles the matter, Myra,” Elfman concludes. “It does,” Myra nods decisively. “That and fifty thousand dollars.”

Wow. First she’s a bad parent and now an extortionist.

“I get that you don’t want a suit,” she explains, “but Greg was scarred by this.”  Yeah, he looks pretty scarred. He’s so shy and retiring now. “He’s not scarred,” Veronica’s self control snaps. “If I had wanted to scar him…” Ha ha ha! “Mom,” Alicia cuts in as Myra rears back.  “Mrs. Weymouth. We’re not gonna just give you fifty thousand dollars.”  Okay, Mrs. Weymouth says, standing up, livid. “I’ll see you in court.”  Wow. That could have gone better. “I should have spanked you, you bitch,” Veronica growls, and that prompts Myra to thrown down her coat and purse, and, well, throw down. “You know,” she says, “let’s go.  You just try it.  You put your hands on my child…” Leaping to his feet, Elfman tries to interpose himself between the women (well, really between Myra and the table) and Alicia just leans back in her chair, cupping her hand over her face.

And as always, at home, the first thing she does is reach for a gleaming wine glass.  For once, however, she thinks better of it and sets it back, looking bitterly disappointed. “Mom is that you?” Grace hollers. “Yeah.  Did Zach call?”  And how are you, Grace?  How was your day? It’s nice to talk to you.  “No, come here,” Grace says, not caring at all that her mother didn’t even bother to say hi.  “You have to see this.”  Nervously, Alicia comes.  Jennifer’s perched on Grace’s bed with a laptop, editing the choir video, wearing a bowler hat and and sweater with striped sleeves and striped rainbow tights; it’s practically conservative. You know, I’d love to have Jennifer meet Robyn.  That’d be a fun moment. “Good luck,” she says, and Alicia doesn’t blink because she doesn’t expect anything Jennifer says to make sense. “I have a google alert on your name, and this popped up,”  Grace tells her mom.  Aw.  Grace and her google alerts!  Nice that she’s got one on both parents now; I guess this means Alicia’s made it to the big leagues?

“Alicia for State’s Attorney,” a website reads.  “It’s cool, Mrs. Florrick,” Jennifer grins, popping off the bed to peer over Grace’s shoulder with Alicia. “Like Hillary.”  Alicia’s slack jawed. “Oh no, Eli,” she whispers, horrified – but Grace is thrilled. “Look how much they raised!”  She scrolls down to a box where you can watch the donations come in.  Right now, the number’s at $83,450. Holy crap. Nope, 83,725.  Nope, 84,050.

Damn.

“It only started twenty four hours ago,” Grace gushes. “You have 83 – no, $84,000!”  But I haven’t decided to run yet, Alicia whines.  “You have to run!” Grace  presses. “People are giving money!”

“It’s a PAC, and we have nothing to do with it, I’m serious,” Eli tells Alicia; The Haircut’s sitting in front of him with a laptop. “Alicia, it would be illegal for us to have anything to do with this, and even if it weren’t, we didn’t do this.”  Well, somebody did!  All this money has Eli almost as flustered as Alicia. “Did you?” he asks Elfman in a lowered voice. “No,” Curly Q says loudly for the speaker phone, “It’s a popular expression of grass roots approval.”  That’s when Nora cuts in. “What’s wrong?” Eli asks immediately.  Man, he’s practically psychic this episode.  He seems to know what everyone’s feeling before they even speak.  It’s like he had a script or something. “The intern’s here,” she snarls.

“The intern,” he snarls right back, then tries to compose himself.  “Alicia, I have to call you back.”

And the two of them are off down the hall like a pack of coyotes scenting a rabbit.  Did Nora see Lauren in the office?  No, but she has an alert set on her calendar in case the governor signs her back in. Right there, she points on her tablet to the name Lytton in the governor’s schedule; she’s been in Peter’s office for ten minutes. “Door. Closed.,” she adds dramatically. Damn  it, Eli snaps. “It’s like a grade school around here.” Somehow, sexcapades are not what I think of when I think grade school, but okay.

When he presses his ear against Peter’s door, Eli hears a woman’s bright laughter ringing out.  Uh oh. He jerks back, which means Nora has to jump back, too. “What you gonna do?” she asks, unapologetic about her snooping.  I love snarky Nora; I’m so happy they’re expanding her role this season.  And, are you kidding?  His blood’s up. He knocks twice and then barges in. “Mr. Governor, I am seeing… uh…” Eli stops short when he sees a sophisticated (and age appropriate) blond sitting across from Peter, both of them in arm chairs.  The woman stands, elegant in black with a complicated (but not overdone) updo. “Eli, I want to introduce my old friend,  Ramona Lytton.”  Ramona beams at  Peter. “I’m trying to convince her not to become a lobbyist.”

Eli is gobsmacked. “Eli. Gold,” Ramona puts the name together. “Ramona. Lytton.  You’re Lauren’s…”  She beams. “Don’t you dare butter me up by saying sister,” she giggles.  She’s stunning, willowy, like a less chilly Rosamund Pike. “Mother.”  She laughs. “However, Ramona did have her at twelve,” Peter adds. “Oh, stop it,” Ramona blushes. “Is Eli who I have to thank?” she asks Peter, twisting toward him as he walks over to his desk. Yes, Peter says, it was all his idea.  Justly alarmed, Eli’s eyebrows knit together. What was his idea? “Getting Lauren a job at Shaw’s senate office,” she smiles – so beautiful, so good natured, so grateful.  “And tolerating her here.  She was sad to leave.”  Wow.  When was the last time we saw an adult face that sincere on this show?  Maybe Canning’s wife Simone?  “Yes, it was … sad,” Eli lies.

When Eli pops out the door, salvaging his bruised dignity, Peter follows him and walks up so he can’t be overheard. “See? That’s why I didn’t want to fire Lauren.  Her mother was going through a hard time, and she asked me to get her a job.”  True to form, Eli’s still suspicious. “How’d you know her?”  She’s a family friend, Peter explains, and then he smirks, sucking in his bottom lip. “Show a little relief, will you, Eli?  I wasn’t sleeping with Lauren.” From Eli’s compulsively raising eyebrow, and the peal of Ramona’s laughter, it’s pretty clear there’s no relief to be had in this scenario.  Lauren would have been a fling; Ramona could be a real challenge to Peter’s marriage.

And, lovely.  That’s Greg Weymouth, ripping up the pop tabs on a row of sodas set out at Florrick, Agos & Lockhart.  Alicia greets him mildly as she walks by, Good Hair Johnny totting a laptop in her wake. “Hello, Myra.  How’re you doing?”  I’m good, Myra says, sitting at the conference table with her hands locked together and her chin up. “Where are we on the money?” Not for nothing, but I’ve never met a woman in her thirties or forties named either Myra or Ramona.  Anyway. “Here we are,” The Haircut says, setting down the lap top in front of Myra, who wigs out a little. “What’s this?”  It’s a surveillance video, Alicia explains patiently- the stores cameras, Elfman adds. And indeed, there’s a swank department store, and Veronica landing three light blows on Greg’s bottom, which slow him down not even a little. “There, see?” Myra pounces. “I don’t know what you thought this would prove.  This is your mom spanking my son.”

“Yes it is,” The Haircut agrees, “and this is three minutes earlier.”  He hits a key, and another film plays.  In this one — where, like the last, the screen is separated into quadrants as surveillance videos often are — Greg knocks down two manikins, and kicks the second one in the head for good measure. “So,” Myra sneers.  My, she’s an angry person.  I mean, it’s not an invitation for someone to spank your child, but it makes it more obvious how unconcerned she is with his misbehaviors. “And this is three minutes before that,” Elfman notes, showing a video of Greg kicking the leg out from under an elderly woman with a cane.

Wow.

So, did Veronica see that happen?  I’m still not saying it was the proper response even if she did, but wow. “Now these woman is an 87 year old widow named Mrs. Streaker, and she’d like to know who’s responsible for several thousand dollars worth of hospital bills.”  Myra looks up at The Haircut, her eyes round. Another soda can clicks open in the background.

“Your move, Myra,” Veronica smirks maliciously. “I think it would be best if you accepted our apology, m’am?  I’ll make life easier,” Alicia replies with a poisonous primness. Giving her vile look from under gloomy brows,  Myra stands. “Let’s go,” she tells Greg, who’s starting to lick soda off his fingers.  She grabs his hand and starts dragging him out without a word to the adults. “Let’s go.

Because there’s no rest for the wicked, Alicia’s phone rings.  It’s Zach.  This time, she takes his call in her newly closed off office.

“Where are you?” is the first thing she says, her voice flat. “In my room at school,” he tells her, sounding excited. “Mom, I’m so sorry. Dad told me.” So much for this one being hers. In the background, Zach’s roommate bounces a soccer ball on his knees and feet. “Told you what?” she asks, deceptively calm. “That you’re upset,” Zach hesitates. “About the Nisa thing.”  The Nisa thing.  Wow.  Is that what we’re calling it? “What’s the Nisa Thing?” she asks, still playing innocent, making him say it. “I wanted to tell you, Mom, I really did,” he adds, his roommate still kicking. “I just didn’t want to get Nisa in trouble.”  I think Nisa was already in trouble.  “Were Nisa’s parents there?” Alicia asks, her tone clipped and angry; she tries to relax her lips and it works for a moment, until he asks where. She leans forward, whispering in her fury. “The abortion clinic.”  OH.  There.

He looks down before he answers. “Yes, Mom, but I didn’t know that.  I didn’t know what Nisa wanted, it all happened so fast.” Her face gets paler and tighter. “I gave you permission to go to Boston College. I saw you leave with your duffle bag.”  Each word is a guilt bomb. I know, he says. “I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.”

She nods, still livid. “Have you smoked pot, Zach?” she asks, switching up accusations on him because more than anything, this is not about the sin.  It’s about the lie.  Always for Alicia, the betrayal is in the lie.  Her tactic confuses him.  “When you said you hadn’t smoked pot were you lying?” she presses. He gapes for a second before looking down again. “Okay, Mom, here’s the thing,” he starts.

“No, Zach,” she cuts him off, icy. “Don’t embarrass yourself by saying any more.”  She puffs out her lips, but quickly her ice queen mask slips back into place. “I’m running for State’s Attorney,” she announces. “My parenting skills will be called into question. I need you to say that I am a good parent.  That I knew about your abortion.  That we talked about it. I gave you all the options. I counseled you to have the baby. I would help take care of it. You decided against that. That was your right. Do you understand?”

Today’s frown has taken over all of Zach’s face. “Why are you running for State’s Attorney?”  At this point, the frequently asked question just makes Alicia snort out a bitter little puff of a laugh.  You should listen to your nearest and dearest, Alicia!  “Have fun in college, Zach,” Alicia says, and slams down the phone.

Wow.  That — wow.

Looking up at the ceiling, there’s a set to her lips that makes me wonder if Alicia’s going to cry, but she doesn’t.  Instead, she turns to action – to Chum Hum, and to her own smiling face on her PAC website.  The count is now at $131,763.  No, $131,825.  A cheery legend beneath it read “Let’s keep up the good work!” You can see her thinking this – at least I can have this.  At least someone out there values me, believes in me, is ready to stand behind me. “Mr. Elfman,” she calls out, and here he is with his laptop. “I’m running,” she declares. “Good,” he agrees, and they exchange brief but real smiles. “Because there’s an article coming out about you going into detox for your alcohol addiction.”  What, she asks, shocked. “And there’s a photo.”  Her jaw drops even further when she sees the picture taken by the passing motorist/plant, under the headline Alicia Florrick’s Drinking Problem – Exclusive!  At this point I almost don’t know why she’s so shocked.

Tonight Bishop waits in the glowing red shadows outside Alicia’s office building instead of outside Kalinda’s apartment.  Only a flick of muscle in her cheek betrays her alarm; instead, she walks right toward him. “Mrs. Florrick,” he says, pushing off from his car. “Mr. Bishop,” she greets him, “Hi. Is everything all right?”  It is, he beams, cordial and upbeat. “I decided to take your advice and hire another firm”  She smiles her relief. “Good,” she agrees. “I think that would be for the best.”  Ah, but he’s not done. “I’m also saying you fired me as a client,” he grins.  Uh oh.  Danger danger danger, Alicia! “And I am very upset.”

This of course worries her and confuses her. “You don’t need to do that, Mr. Bishop,” she shakes her head.  Oh, he knows. “But it’s good for you.”  As she chews on this, he fishes something out of his pocket, and holds it out for her – a political button with a white A on a scarlet background: Alicia — State’s Attorney.

Oh. My. God.  Am I the only who screamed when they saw that?

“We can’t coordinate,” he adds, “but you can get to me through my associate.”

Oh. My. God.  “Get to you, um, about what?” she shakes her head to clear it. “Your PAC,” he smiles, and then corrects himself. “I mean, the PAC I set up in support of you.”  Oh my goodness. Oh holy guacamole. Oh crap. “$140,000 and counting.”  You can see the glorious vision of popular acclaim, of a grass roots groundswell, leeching from her eyes; instead, here’s a drug kingpin looking to install her as a puppet to dance to his strings. Talk about skeletons in your closet… “That’s…” she starts, not knowing where to go. “The least I can do,” he beams. “There’s more money where that came from.” Of course there is.  “We’ll be in touch,” he nods, stepping into his car.

OH MY GOD.  Oh my God, what is she thinking?

That kind of felt like the longest and most exhausting episode ever.  Maybe because there was no case. Maybe because it’s all so bloody wrongheaded.

I guess I want to talk about Zach’s abortion first, although I guess not so much the issue of abortion, the right and wrongs of it.  Sigh.  Now, the first thing I don’t like about this is that it’s the writing staff repeating themselves.  How many abortion dramas should one high school student have?  Maybe they thought it’d be a clever thing, recalling the slander with Becca when he was innocent?  Or, at least innocent of knocking her up.  It’s like that one time, only this time the slander is true!  Except it just feels reductive to me.  I wish they had found a different topic – more pot, or cheating on Nisa, or being treated for an STD, or, I don’t know, anything.  What about hookers?  Too on the nose?  That would have hit Alicia where she lived.

What was probably the toughest thing was hearing Alicia deal with it only as it related to her campaign instead of as a parent. No question about how he had felt then or how he feels now, how it might have contributed to his break up with Nisa, how she’s doing with it, no offers of support.  Just cold instructions.  I get that she felt it as a personal betrayal, but it was so ugly, watching her process it only as something disrespectful of her, inconvenient to her ambitions, rather than an enormous emotional upheaval  in her son’s life.  I know she’s never been good at talking about feelings, but damn.

Then, the oppo research in general.  I can see why a lot of things didn’t come up – details about Peter, Veronica, Owen’s past, you name it, it was certainly lengthy enough without the things we’ve all seen the show – but it’s ridiculous that she wouldn’t be more honest with her team about Will. I guess that it wouldn’t make a lot of dramatic sense for the things that they talk about to be the things that actually pop up as campaign problems, but Castro using her drinking is just so damn obvious.  It’s clever, hitting her in her sainthood, and I like that because it makes him a smart and ruthless adversary I want to see defeated, but it makes me feel like Eli and The Haircut and their investigator are stupid, which I don’t so much like. And wow, did dropping Bishop as a client backfire spectacularly!  Not like it makes me particularly prescient, but I said from the beginning that Bishop’d see her candidacy as an opportunity to use her, to claim her as his own personal State’s Attorney.  Unless he wanted to kill her for it.  And there it is.  Why does she think it will be any easier to stand up to him in office, when she’s so ineffective at doing it now?

And there’s The Haircut.  Did they cast this actor to make up for Finn’s miserably shorn locks?  I’m cautiously optimistic about him, mostly because I like the way his mild mannered style contrasts with blustery Eli’s, and the way his looks provoked a little jealousy in Peter.  What I don’t like, of course, is his presence.  Sorry.  And I’m unimpressed with his candidate choosing skills.  I don’t see how her answer — which basically amounted to a big old “efff you” — could possibly have been enough to sell him.  I’m with Owen and Zach and Veronica; what does she get out of running?  What does it mean to her, except that it’s there, it’s an option, and she’s pissed off and unhappy and mid-life crisis-ing and thinks the grass will be greener over the septic tank known as the State’s Attorney’s office.  She’s just not thinking it through.

Are we all sure that Finn had nothing to do with the timing of Alicia’s DUI?  I mean, we can rule him out, right?  Please?  The fact that he encouraged her to drink more, that he was so awkward, and the propinquity of the timing all unsettles me.  At least he did suggest that cab.  Maybe Castro is tailing both of them?  Maybe has Finn’s phone tapped?  I really don’t want to think he’d betray Alicia.  I guess we don’t know him well enough to say, but I want to think better of him.

I know that all the Darkness at Noon malarkey was supposed to suggest that Alicia’s now a thick skinned bad ass, but you know what I saw?  Someone with a thick skin, yes, but also someone still reacting to other people’s actions.  Someone playing catch up.  Someone terrified of betrayal.  Someone still looking for other people to define her, to draw the lines she can color in.  Someone who doesn’t know what she wants, or what will make her happy.  Her actions lately do seem like a mid-life crisis to me.

Who knows. Maybe I’m the one looking for her to be my superhero, and maybe that’s not fair of me.  I guess I’m feeling like after five years, I wanted her growth to be in something more significant than her ability to under-react.  Or maybe it’s that I used to really like her, and now I’m wondering if I do anymore; she’s just a shell of a human being, trying so hard to be invulnerable that she’s left with only overweening ambition and self-absorption instead of a heart. It’s not that I need her to be likable all the time; I just want the scales to tip in that direction, and they’re not.  And that I was a fool to ever think they did. What I have always felt was that this was a show about a well-intentioned person struggling to redefine herself after a personal disaster.  After her life exploded, Alicia needed to find new ways to show her worth, new ways of being good.  This week she said it herself; she wants to be part of something larger that will give her a clearly delineated role to play.  And yet after all this time, she is no closer to defining herself in a way that brings her fulfillment and satisfaction.  If anything, she stands further away, grasping for a brass ring without really thinking where she’s going to put it.

So, yeah.  That stuff.

And then there’s this depressing casting spoiler, which has nothing to do with the episode but definitely adds to my discontent. Don’t click if you don’t want to hear big (albeit now well-publicized) news; you’ve been warned.  I’m not going to talk about it, but ugh.

Sorry for all the gloom, guys!  I so badly want for this season to thrill and excite me like the first episode did.  I so badly want for Alicia to find that elusive mountain to climb.  I hope they can turn things around from here.

What about you?  I know from your comments over the last year that a lot of you have reached this place of dissatisfaction with Alicia before me.  Feeling better now?  Worse?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

23 comments on “The Good Wife: Oppo Research

  1. Kiki says:

    Hey E!!!

    Sorry you are so bummed out. I actually just hit an all time Good wife low myself with some recent news, but don’t want to spoil you.

    I think the most important paragraph you writer here, that really bothered me that really drove me crazy. Is that Alicia deals with this Zach thing only through the lenses of the campaign and not at all as a parent. Which breaks my heart. I hate it. And we seen Alicia been cold many many times but to reserve this coldness to her son, it just feel so wrong to me. Don’t ever lie to Alicia Florrick because she will make you regret it, even if you are her son.
    I just it broke me, even though I did enjoy the episode. I am of course intrigued about where this goes. Also I am as bummed out as you at Alicia not having any real desire to help people, this was my biggest issue with her running and they are just reinforcing it.

    So I don’t know. I just don’t know what to feel anymore.

    I guess there is nothing much to lose anymore. Just see how this develops.

  2. Niki says:

    I’ve been crying on and off about her leaving. Maybe because the way her character has been described/portrayed her ending will probably leave us with more gloomy questions than answers. And Cary 😦

    • Pat says:

      Cary is going to get his seasonal “short end of the stick”, in one way or another.

      • E says:

        Hopefully not more than one way. Because it’s looking like that’d be possible now, too.

        • Pat says:

          I accidentally spoiled! Please remove the post if you can, E! Sorry! I’m going to post it again without the spoiler.

        • Pat says:

          There are Cary won’t ends up being happy about “that” thing. So a big short end of the stick here. And as for the trial, well, I’m sure he won’t be convicted (well, unless Matt Czuchry is leaving ) but that thing is going to affect negatively his career anyway (it’s already happening, he lost some clients and he’s not even allowed to be in court…and I hope that thing won’t last an entire season) unless they will be able to make a big case about it suing for a lot of money the Illinois State because he was unjustly and fraudulently (who the hell did edit the recording?) accused and win it. Otherwise there’s also a good chance even in that field he’ll end up with the short end of the stick.

          • E says:

            Right, and he’s also facing – or about to be facing – the fact that his partner is essentially willing to abandon their business. And that he’s being prosecuted just as much to get at Alicia as to get at Bishop. He’s absolutely the punching bag of all these stories.

    • E says:

      I genuinely wonder what this is going to do to viewership. The storyline suddenly sucks, a beloved character – the buzziest character – gives advanced notice…

  3. Pat says:

    Can I say that suddenly I don’t like at all the show’s direction?

    • E says:

      YES! I feel like I have whiplash. How can it go from scary awesome in the first two episode to stomach churning disappointment by the fourth?

      • Pat says:

        Sincerely I hope that wasn’t a preview of the rest of the season but just an isolated case…wishful thinking?

        • E says:

          I don’t know. It might be. I mean, I’m sure the law/politics balance will sort itself out, but that wasn’t actually the problem for me.

          • Pat says:

            Well, the problem for me was that I found another reason to dislike the political aspect: I don’t like Alicia “the politician” at all. The Kings keep saying that show is about the education of Alicia but it looks like that eduction is meant to give birth to a person I don’t root for.

            • E says:

              EXACTLY. I was somehow assuming that her education would result in a person who was not simply stronger but more present, better able to trust and understand herself, on a path to happiness, more satisfied instead of less.

              Maybe we just have to wait through this really extended period of awful before she gets over Will’s death? Because I swear she used to be a much nicer person, one who worked hard and was smart and solved problems. I miss that.

  4. Alice says:

    Is it just me or does the timeline of Zach’s abortion not make sense, I mean first of all didn’t Zach break-up with Nisa during Peters campaign for Governor, and if it happened then I can’t believe it wouldn’t have come out then.
    Also, pardon my French, but there isn’t a chance in hell Eli would have gotten those records from the abortion clinic, I’m not saying he couldn’t have found out another way, but he certainly wouldn’t have gotten it from the abortion clinic.

  5. […] talk. Good point, because that all important filing deadline loomed large in Alicia’s own journey into political candidacy. “If you get 50,00 signatures you can run by petition,” Elfman explains.  You can? […]

  6. […] reverie, and hands him a file. It’s essentially a background check on Jason — oppo research, if you will. “Skeletons and such,” Ruth adds. “Show it to Alicia.”  No […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s