The Good Wife: Shiny Objects

E: What a difference a week makes!  Last week, I was seriously doubting this season, which had started off with such promise and then seemed to be veering down a deliberately wrong-headed course.  After last week’s logic flaws, inconstancies and extravagant character assassination (not to mention overwhelmingly negative tone), this week’s episode got right everything I love in this show.  Drama, humor, emotion, sizzle, the law, politics, topical references, complicated relationships, and brilliant guest stars.  And we got two seminal moments 5 years in the making.

Really, I can almost forgive the whole stupidity of making her run for politics without any desire to do good just for those final images.  They left me rather giddy.

Sprightly music plinks over the opening as Elsbeth Tascioni, wearing headphones and a velvety raspberry tracksuit, walks briskly on a treadmill in a fusty, 1980s-decorated bedroom.   Elsbeth!  Oh, Elsbeth.  How welcome you and your pathologically short span of attend are.  Incapable of simply walking the treadmill, Elspeth turns back to a stack of documents on her bed, the top slip of paper bearing the words J-Serve and Andrea Tanniston on them.  As Elsbeth squints over her shoulder, the letters in the name Andrea Tanniston shift.  Oh my God, is she having a stroke?

Her forehead furrowed slightly, she turns back to the wall in front of the treadmill, which is papered with columns of tiny clowns and tiny presents and ice cream cones, which is Holy Mother of God the weirdest creepiest wall paper ever!  We see in her mind a young girl licking pink ice cream from a cone, and then we weaves in between a line of traffic cones as if were driving on a test tract – but the cones are so close together it’s more like we’re riding a bike or even — given the very low perspective — a big wheel.  From ice cream cones to orange traffic cones to an orange pumpkin being carved into a jack-0-lantern to the silhouette of a crooked-nosed witch riding a broom stick across a full moon, we watch Elspeth free associate from one image to another.  It’s not a stroke, it’s just what it’s like living inside her head.

A thickly accented voice tells us we’ve been listening to a song on the xylophone.  “Xylophones and pan flutes are healing instruments best played as a detox to the intensity of a day,” it informs us, and immediately we see the image of a white haired man in a tuxedo playing a large xylophone with mallets. “Shut up!” Elspeth growls, before hopping off the treadmill, pulling out her earbuds in disgust, and bouncing around the room.

Finally, she squats down and blows out a breath, and a new soundtrack emerges from her mind — a rolling, muffled drum beat. Behind her, a bed is covered with a rose patterned duvet.  We see the witch again, then trick-or-treaters grabbing candy from a basket, then kids eating candy.  “No,” she tells herself, shaking her head, but it’s no use.  Traffic cone, this time in actual traffic.  Pannini sandwich.  A live action witch with green skin, pawing her arms through the air against a white backdrop. Xylophone mallets.  The old xylophonist in front of the moon.  Elsbeth stands, as if grasping something.  Then she reaches out her hands as if to literally grab something, crouching and tip-toeing forward, her hands outstretched.  The Old Xylophonist holds out  a cracked smart phone.

She smiles.  She laughs.

“Elsbeth, I’m going into court, it’s too late to change trial strategy,” Rayna Hecht declares, her hand on her partner’s shoulder.  YES!  Ooooh, I cannot wait to see these two working together!  Eee, this is so exciting I’m ready to dance a little witchy jig. (I guess she’s not the only one free associating.) Elsbeth, in an excellent quilted black jacket with a right red flowered bag slung over her shoulder, turns on her partner. “You can’t win with sexism,” she declares, totally convinced, and so Rayna stops and looks her right in the face. “The charge is sexism. Are you saying I can’t refute it?” Right.  That’s problematic, although it certainly sounds like Elsbeth’s out of the box thinking. “No.  Yes!  I mean the plaintiff has a broken iPhone.”  Her eyes go wide to demonstrate the significance of this.  I couldn’t love more the look on Jill Hennessy’s face as her jaw drops, head tilted away from the complicated scarf bow over her left shoulder. “Okay, and why is that important,” she unbends so far as to ask.

“Because her office sent over files with five different bug slips.  Five different assistants.”  Bug slips? Buck slips?  Either way, it’s enough have Rayna leaning back on her heels.

“Mr. Napier, hello,” Rayna greets her client later inside the courtroom, introducing Elsbeth as her partner and second chair. In turn, Napier introduces his in-house counsel (a shorter man in cute black glasses, standing silently behind his boss), who wants them to settle. “Oh, no,” Elsbeth cries. “You can’t!”

“Our worry is the make up of the plaintiff’s team.  We’ve looked at their wins and losses,” he continues. Ha.  Let’s just guess. “That just makes them overconfident,” Elsbeth volunteers, and Rayna pleads for one day to prove they can do more for him. “I have business with the governor’s office,” Napier adds, and yep, you could see this coming, “and their lead attorney is the governor’s wife.”  “WHAAAAAAT?” Elsbeth squeals, starting out of her skin. She spins around just in time to see Alicia and Dean arrive a their table. “Alicia!” she screams, throwing her arms up over her head.

Oh my lord, I love this woman.

Friendship and awkwardness war in Alicia’s expression. “I didn’t know you were on this,” she smiles, trying to stay professional in from of Rayna and Mr. Napier. “I didn’t know either!” Elsbeth beams. “But I guess I am.”  And, yes, that’s when the ball drops, and her smile gets really awkward, too. “Hi.”  Hi, Alicia smiles back.  “Who’s that?” Dean wonders as the two sit down together, so Alicia gives her name. “She any good?”  Yep.

A thin woman who’s perhaps in her fifties takes the stand; she looks a bit like a blonde Bebe Newirth. “Well, I like the talent pool at J-Serve,” she deigns to tell Dean, who frowns back at her, arms folded across his chest. “And I think there aren’t enough women CEOs in the tech industries.” You can say that again. “So when they approached me, I said yes.”  Together, the witness and Dean let us know that she served 3 years as CEO of J-Serve, during which time the company’s stock price doubled.  Good on you, Blonde Bebe!  “So despite this unprecedented success and a mere two weeks before your options vested, you were unceremoniously terminated?” As Alicia sneaks a look back at Elsbeth, Rayna objects: “Unprecedented success calls for a conclusion.”  That it does, the judge declares — and if I’m looking for celebrity look-a-likes, his is definitely Jimmy Kimmel.  “Sustained.”

Why were you fired, Dean wonders. “Mr. Napier told me that my brash management style was inconsistent with the company’s culture,” she sneers, nose in the air.  She’s wearing a gold and amber broach on a black ballet necked dress. “So you’re suing them?” Dean wonders. “Yes,” Blonde Bebe smirks, “they fired me because I’m a woman.”  She turns to stare down Napier before hitting him with a dramatic admonishment. “And they can’t do that.”   Elspeth whispers frenetically in Rayna’s ear.

“Miss Vargas,” Rayna begins her cross, “how would you describe your relationship with your subordinates?”  Bebe Vargas doesn’t understand the question. What is the relationship you speak of?  “I don’t know, um, effective.”    And how she wants to know how many aids Blonde Bebe’s had within the last two months, which has Alicia worried and Dean objecting for relevance.  It goes to her management style, Hecht argues, an clear and winning argument; Elsbeth gives Alicia a cute little apologetic shrug.  As Elsbeth had figured out, Miss Vargas had five aids in the last two months.  “It’s very hard to find good help,” she defends herself, haughty, a comment with prompts Elsbeth to laugh-snort through her nose; Alicia asks the judge to remind Elsbeth to be quiet, and he does.

“Miss Vargas, have you thrown your cell phone at your assistants?” Rayna asks, which gets Alicia on her feet for a second time in the last thirty seconds, but again, it goes to her management style, and the objection is again overruled. “Look, women are called bitches when they have a tough management style,” Blonde Bebe explains, which could not be more true. “I admit, I have a tough management style, but I am fair.”  Okay.  I dunno in what world hurling objects at your subordinates is fair, but okay.  Unflinching, she looks right into Rayna’s eyes.

“It was a good pivot on their part,” Dean frowns, walking into Florrick, Agos & Lockhart.  I’ve got to say, it’s looking awfully pretty these days. Perhaps it’s Diane’s touch.  I love all the new art on the walls, the lush carpets, and the flowers. “Yep,” Alicia agrees. “It’s no longer about sexism, it’s about our client being a bitch.” Well, yeah, the good help comment damaged her cause for sure, but I’m sure there are plenty of bastard CEOs out there, too. “So we make it about the CEO before her,” Dean suggests, and Alicia lights up. “Compare their behavior.”  He nods. “He’s the same, and they didn’t fire him.”  Sing it, Dean.

“Diane, you knew the CEO before Camilla, what was his name?” Alicia calls out to her colleague across the office. “Everett Tatum,” she supplies. “Wasn’t there a sexual harassment suit against him?” Alicia remembers.  There was, Diane agrees. “I’ll email it to you.”  She looks down at her laptop, which suddenly goes blank.  A box opens up with caution tape stripes. “Your files have been encrypted,” it proclaims, “Please click here to unencrypt.”  Oh God.  She zeroes in on a red button that says Access files.

OH MY GOD.  Don’t click the button, Diane!  Don’t click it!  Do. Not. Click! Her deliberation is agonizing.

Obviously she clicked the button. And that’s when every single screen in the entire offices goes black.

“Argh,” Carey Zepps snarls, slamming the desk in front of his with his own palm,”the computers are down, who did it?” Diane’s screen fills with red, and a countdown clock under a logo for TrojanLock (a Greek horse outline) and a page of text; she calls for Dean and Alicia as she scans. 71:59:54, the clock reads, and at the bottom, a row of blocks.

“Wire a payment of $50,000 to the following account number within 72 hours or the encryption key will be destroyed and your files permanently lost,” she paraphrases the writing on the screen.  Ransomeware, Dean growls. “It was an email from Alicia, I just clicked on it,” Diane shakes her head.  Yes, dear. “I didn’t send you anything,” Alicia replies, puzzled.  Dean looks out over the room, listening to cries of “I need my deposition!” and “a little help here!”  “This isn’t good,” he understates.

“It’s everything,” Carey Zepps tells the assembled partners. “All our back up files, all our accounts, everything’s lost.”  Not good. “We’re due in court in an hour and we can’t get our trial notes,” Dean states glumly.  Alicia wonders what happens if they don’t pay; Carey states the obvious, that everything gets deleted in 72 hours. “71 hours,” Dean grumbles. “It’s on our laptops, too?” Alicia asks in shock, as if she didn’t see it first on Diane’s laptop. “It’s absurd, it’s like modern day piracy,” Diane cries in outrage.  Yep.  Yep it is.

“Where’s Cary?” Diane wonders. “Here,” Carey replies, slightly wounded. Snort. “No, Agos Cary,” Diane explains.  He’s at lunch; they decide to call and put him on speaker phone, which turns out to be more than a little reminiscent of Season 3, because he’s having a sweaty mid-day tryst with Kalinda. “It’s your phone,” she observes., perched on his lap.  He’s not so much interested in answering it — how shocking — but she dives out of a kiss anyway.  “They know I’m at lunch, it can’t be good news,” Cary explains, hoping to get her to stop, wrestling for it.  “Maybe they’re dropping the charges against you,” she suggests, and lets him have the phone.  He grins. “It’s Cary,” he says, fending off Kalinda who’s ready to investigate his neck.

“Cary, we’ve had a malware attack,” Alicia explains, all the partners sitting in. “All our computers are down.  They’re asking for $50,000 or we lose all our files in 71 hours.”

“What?” Cary hisses, ducking Kalinda’s attempts to kiss him.  Her hands go south. “Wait, we need to loop Kalinda in,” Diane declares, and her phone starts ringing. Of course they are. “They, they’re calling you, they’re calling you, your phone!” he whispers, hand over his phone.  “Where is it?” she wonders, sliding off; he has no idea. She pulls it out of her jacket as he stands, a purple button down gaping over his naked chest. “What about the backup files,” he wonders as Kalinda joins in. “Oh yeah, we can restore from backup,” Dean sighs in relief. “Hi, Kalinda, it’s me,” Diane joins in. “I inadvertently downloaded a virus that’s instructions say we need to make a payment of 50,000.”  And we don’t have a back up, Zepps adds bitterly. What do you mean, Dean snaps, outraged. “We were contracting for an outside IT redesign, but we had to use the money for… something else,” Carey shrugs.  I thought you used an unexpected advance/bonus from Dana Lampert?  Argh.

“For my bail,” Cary scowls, buttoning up his shirt. Slipping into one of her many leather jackets, Kalinda declares her intention to look into it. “We don’t have time,” Alicia almost wails.  They’re due in court, they need their files now. “We have to pay!”  “$50,000, seriously?” Carey asks, aghast, and I am right there with you, but Dean aptly points out that they can’t function without their files.  Damn, do they not back anything up with paper? What about reporting it to the authorities, Carey asks, but in addition to the time crunch, Alicia fears that a leak would make them completely vulnerable to attack from all their competitors – and, as Dean points out, prompt their clients to leave.  “Camilla could even sue us if she thinks this could impact her representation.”  Which it might, Alicia agrees. “I’m with Alicia,” Dean declares, clamping his lips together. “We need to pay up.”

“Kalinda, is there anything we can do,” Diane pleads into the speaker phone unit. “I don’t like funding a criminal operation,” Kalinda not quite answers the question, pulling her jacket on the other arm and giving Cary an affectionate punch in the arm.  Yes.  And if they were at Lockhart/Garder, they’d have other options, Diane says (like what, other than having backup?) , but she doesn’t see any here.

Crossing his arms defensively, Other Carey wonders where the money will come from; Diane suggests each part contributes 5k.  Interesting.  Does that tally? Ten partners, including Cary, Alicia, Diane, Dean and Carey, doesn’t leave enough room for either the 6 department heads from Lockhart/Gardner, or the group of third year rebels.  Whatever, but there it is. They’ve got two hours to gather the dough.

Saved from the rest of this chatter by her cell phone, Alicia walks off through the office to talk to Finn. “Wow, you sound anxious,” he observes, pushing open a courtroom door. Why must you keep cutting your hair so short, Finn?  Are you doing a war movie on the side?  Because it’s just so sad.  I keep thinking of shorn sheep.  She sighs.  Office politics, she lies.  It’s a shame she can’t confide this — wouldn’t you like to think that law enforcement might actually be helpful at some point? — but I get it.  “So, I considered it carefully,” he says, “and I would honored to say a few words on your belahf when you announce your candidacy.”  Oh ho!  That’s interesting.  “Are you sure?” she wonders, impossibly slim in a shiny cream suit. “Ah – that won’t hurt you there?”  I don’t know, he replies. “I’m not sure of anything these days.”  There’s a little bit of swagger in his next words. “I like living on the edge.”

Her laughter ripples out. “Me too,” she proclaims, delighted. “If I fall, you’ll catch me?”  No, he laughs along with her. “I’ll be plummeting too.”

Damn, that’s so flirty!  They’re just flirty, flirty friends.  It’s a little unsettling, because I can’t help feeling at some point all this falling is going to hit her like a wall.

“Who was your chief executive officer before Camilla?” Alicia asks Mr. Napier, a middle aged man with an unusually square face. “Everett Tatum, a very capable executive,” he announces.  And no, he didn’t fire Mr. Tatum.  “There was no need to.”  So why’d he leave, then? “Because his brash management style didn’t clash with the company culture?” Alicia snarks. Well, he didn’t make us vulnerable to a law suit, Napier complains stupidly, and Elsbeth twigs immediately to Alicia’s strategy, breathing her new understanding in deep. “They’re going after equivalency,” she whispers to Rayna.

“This is an employee complaint filed against Mr. Tatum for sexual harassment,” Alicia tells Napier while handing over the document. “Have you seen this?”  No, he lies, and so she leans in quietly and points out the place where he’s been cc’d.  Blonde Bebe looks down, smirking. “Mr. Tatum wasn’t fired, was he?”  Nope. “In fact, two months after this incident, you offered him a 25% raise, didn’t you?”  Oh, boy.  “So,” Alicia continues, “a white male is rewarded for the same behavior that…”  I’m not sure I’d equate throwing a phone at an assistant to pressuring them for sex, so the equivalency argument bothers me a little.  Rayna stands and objects. “What is she objecting to, I haven’t even finished what I was saying yet.”  Oh snap!  Harsh!

Nodding graciously, the judge allows Alicia to complete her thought.  “A man is rewarded for the same behavior that leads to a women’s firing.”  Rayna objects again, and this time she’s sustained. She withdraws the question.  As she sits back down, Elspeth whispers frantically to Rayna. “Uck,” Dean grumbles, “now what?”

“I can’t even begin to guess,” Alicia answers.

Of course you can’t.

It’s Elsbeth, instead of Rayna, who stands to cross. “Mr. Napier,” she begins. “Isn’t it true that Mr. Everett’s … ‘scuse me.  What was his name?”  Dry Napier gives her a very testy look. “The previous CEO? Mr. Tatum.”  Right, she enthuses, pointing. “Isn’t it true,” she suggests, “that whatever he did, you became concerned about the next CEO repeating that behavior?”  You can see her willing him to say yes, to pick up the cue, with her wide eyes and her wildly waving eyebrows. “Alicia narrows her eyes. “I’m sorry, what?” Napier complains, utterly baffled.

“Well, the defense is trying to suggest that there was sexism in your firing of Camilla,” Elsbeth goes on to say, turning to look back at Alicia. And then she gets distracted by a shiny object. “I like that broach,” she grins, pointing at Camila, causing the latter to look down at her pin in some confusion. Interesting.  Reorienting herself, Elsbeth returns to her cross-examination. “They’re suggesting there was sexism in firing her and not firing the male CEO for exact same actions.”  Well. I don’t think I would ever call sexual harassment the same thing as having an abusive temper, but okay.  “Didn’t the behavior of Mr. Other CEO Guy just sensitize you to Camilla doing the same thing, and encourage you to say ‘never again’?”

Ah, Alicia, you should have been objecting since the beginning. “That is the definition of leading,” she proclaims. “Yes,” replies Judge Jimmy Kimmel in his best announcer’s voice.  “So,” she prompts him, “why did you fire Camilla?”  He thinks it over. “Well, because we said never again,” he claims (slow on the uptake, but he got there), and Alicia tilts back in her chair. “We have to take her out,” Dean realizes, and Alicia couldn’t agree more.

And just like that, we turn 50,000 into zeros and ones. Carey Zepps declares with regrets, standing over Diane’s desk with Cary.  “Who knew bitcoin would come in so handy?” Diane quips.  Here’s the plan – she types in the 9 digit code, and they email her the encryption key.  “How long do we wait?” Zepps wonder, when really all we see is that spinning watch face. I don’t know, says Diane. “It says simultaneously.”  It most certainly does not. “Something’s wrong,” Cary Agos frets. “So what do we do?” Diane wonders. That’s when Carey Zepps notices the goofiest thing ever; there’s a helpline number at the bottom of the screen.

I mean, get out of town, that’s awesome sauce.

“A helpline for ransomeware?” Diane huffs. “That’s helpful of the criminals,” Kalinda snarks from outside Diane’s office, making Cary laugh his trademark silent laugh, and then throw her a smothering looking. WOW. She ducks her head. The ever industrious Zepps dials. “Thank you for calling the TrojanLock help desk,” a man’s voice in a mid-Atlantic accent announces. “We are currently busy helping other customers. Please have your routing number ready, and you will be assisted in the order you called.”  Of the four colleagues, I’m somewhat surprised it’s Kalinda who breaks and laughs first.  Clearly feeling helpless, Diane sets Kalinda on the problem to see if there’s something, anything that can be done.

“Okay,” says Dean, and you know it’s serious because he’s taken off his impeccable jacket.  He has not, however, rolled up his crisp shirtsleeves; I can’t imagine what would ever prompt such informality in him, but it’d be intriguing to see it. “I re-tabbed the depo testimony for the rest of our cross exams,” Alicia announces, tossing a bound document in front of him.  “Well,” he says, opening it up, “must have been what it was like practicing law before computers.”  Yep, she agrees.  Is he supposed to be younger than Alicia?  The actors are roughly the same age, and would have begun practicing law in the mid-90s, when I’d guess there would still have been a mix of computerized storage with hard copy.  I’ll have to ask my lawyer friends.  Heh – the document/deposition binder says Vargas v. J-Flow. Maybe that’s where Andrea Tanniston works.

“So,” Dean begins. “Camilla. She really fired five assistants of her assistants?” It’s clear he can’t imagine this. “I can say this because I’m a woman,” Alicia tells him confidentially, “but she’s probably a bitch on wheels. But her behavior wouldn’t even be a talking point if she were a man.”  Sad but true. “You really want to compare experiences of bias?” Dean gives her a sly, shy grin.  Gosh, I like it when he unbends just that little bit; Alicia busts up.

He leans back in his chair and crosses his arms. Everyone’s so defensive this episode. “Tascioni, what’re we gonna do about her?”  Damn good question. He rubs his ear. “She’s killin’ us.”  Yes, that she in.  Thinking hard, Alicia’s eyes glaze over – until suddenly, her gaze lands on a pile of magazines, including Synth, which features a brightly colored cubist work on the cover. She picks it up, as well as the travel magazine next to it, and smiles at them both.  Sweet.  Shiny objects.

“Alicia!” Eli calls out, snapping her out of her reverie. “Why aren’t you answering your emails?”  Ugh.  You don’t even want to know. “Eli, I’m working, can we do this another time?” she sighs. “Thank you so much, Peter, for that warm introduction,” he reads off a sheet of paper. “I hope you don’t think I’ll go easy on your administration now!

“It was a joke, Eli, that’s all,” she grins, ignoring his obvious irritation. “I would also like to thank ASA Polmar for saying such nice words,” he adds, looking positively livid, and her face wipes clean of all levity. “Yes,” she replies, puzzled, and Eli glares. “What?”  “He’s introducing you,” Eli asks. “Finn is?” Yes, she replies, confused. “No. He isn’t.”  Yes, Alicia repeats, he said he would. “Well of course he said he would,” Eli huffs, “it puts him on the world stage.” What?

“Eli,” Alicia composes herself, putting her hands together calmly, “obviously this matters to you because you’re here, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what your problem is.”  I suspect he’s about to let us know. “You have the governor of the great state of Illinois introducing you.  Then you an ASA from a tiny little division of the State’s Attorney’s office introducing you too?”  Okay, that makes a measure of sense, except isn’t it good to show that the office isn’t resolutely behind Castro?  Doesn’t that back up Peter, who appointed Castro, also switching sides?  Oh well. “Eli, he’s a hero, he was injured in the line of duty,” Alicia replies. Right, and there’s that. “And he works under Castro, my opponent. Elfman thinks it looks good that he endorses me.” See, that’s what I thought too! Eli screws up his lips.  “Then tell Finn he can endorse you at an inner city event with 20 people at some stinky high school gym, not in front of the national press!”

Frankly, I’m shocked that Alicia’s remaining this calm.  I feel like normally she’d have nipped this little tantrum up earlier.  “What national press?” she asks, mildly confused. Or, confused and mild. “This is an event, Alicia,” he shakes his head at her. “Maybe you’re not reading your own press. People like this story. They’re paying attention.” She looks down at the ground, clearly debating how she feels about this. “You’re the new power couple…” Now, this she’s sure of — it annoys her.  “… from Obama’s home state.  It’s broken through to the MSM.”  She plunks down into her seats and rolls her eyes at his use of the slang for mainstream media. “Oh, don’t say MSM, please.”

“Tell Finn he has been disinvited,” Eli insists, but without the high dungeon of his earlier, more bombastic statements. “I can’t do that,” Alicia refuses. “Yes you can,” he patters, “you’re running for office, you can do whatever you like.” That’s worlds away from true.  Finally he notes his surroundings, the TrojanLock clocks at 62 hours and change. “Why are all the computers here counting down, I feel like I’m in a Bruckheimer movie.”  Ha!  (But, wait. Eli goes to the movies?  To schlock action movies?  Man, I would pay to see that.)

Somehow, Alicia’s focused on more than Eli’s sudden and unexpected familiarity with pop culture. “Wait,” she realizes, putting out a hand to quiet him, “if I don’t disinvite Finn Peter won’t come?”  Yeah, that’s quite the ridiculous overreaction; Eli and Peter pushed Alicia into running, after all.  She’s Peter’s handpicked candidate.  “Peter has the governor’s conference.  He has allotted time to endorse you — he wants to endorse you!  He does not want to share the stage with an ASA.” This high handedness stuns Alicia. “So he won’t come?” she asks, shocked.  “Seriously?”

Eli nods his head.

“Tell Finn he can endorse you at a later event,” Eli repeats, gentler this time.  Wow.  Why is this so important to Peter?  Not more of his jealousy because of that photograph, is it? “You need Peter,” he finishes, “You do not need Finn.”  When Eli walks away, Alicia’s left with her mouth hanging open.

Huh.  Dressed in black and blue leather, Kalinda leans on a wall under the FBI seal — and sure enough, there’s one of the most interesting messes in the show’s stable of characters, Agent Lana Delaney coming to find her. Oh, Cary. “Hi,” Lana says, as if she had to see Kalinda there to really believe it was her.  “Thanks for seeing me,” Kalinda smiles as the two walk through the layered lobby of the FBI building.  Sure, says Lana crisply. “Looks like you’re moving up in the world,” Kalinda begins to butter her up, and Lana cuts her off. “What do you want, Kalinda?”  Ah, just to say hello, Kalinda shrugs, but Lana knows better, and so Kalinda spits it out. Trojanlock.  Ransomeware.  The countdown continues even after payment. I thought they weren’t going to the authorities in case of a leak? “Tough break,” Lana replies dismissively.  Could Lana trace the number they wired the money to, Kalinda asks, stopping.  With a warrant, Lana answers.

We only have 48 hours, Kalinda explains. “That’s too bad, it’ll take 48 hours to get a warrant,” Lana shrugs, crossing her arms and giving Kalinda an aggressive stare. Sigh.  Kalinda won’t rise to the bait. “Okay, thanks,” she says, and walks off. “I don’t like that I only see you when you need something,” Lana follows.  I thought she didn’t like having these personal conversations in public?  Kalinda walks back up the lobby stairs. “Look, I don’t like it either,” Kalinda confesses, pitching her voice low.  Really?  Or is she just playing Lana?  “Then stop it,” Lana commands, and Kalinda smiles a flirty Mona Lisa smile.

“How’ve you been?” she asks. Lana almost laughs at this. “I’ll call you,” she says. “Am I being dismissed?” Kalinda asks, her voice still pitched low. Lana gives her the once over. “You’re being dismissed.”

Can I just reflect for a moment how completely reprehensible we would find her behavior if she were a man?  You know we would.  So why are lesbians on this show played as sexy when they treat Kalinda like a playtoy?  Not that I’m saying everyone has to be perfect and that all lesbians are emotional and sweet – just that neither Kalinda nor the writers would let a man treat her like that, and Lana’s gender can’t make it okay.

No one quite purses their lips like Diane Lockhart.  They’re bunched up and twitching from one side of her face to the other as she waits on hold with the ransomeware helpline, listening to perky seventies muzak and the plop plop plop of water leaking onto her chair.  Oh, come on, Diane. Just move your damn chair!  Do you know how long it’s going to take to dry that seat?  You won’t be able to sit in it for days, judging from the size of that puddle. After glaring at the dripping pipe above her, Diane swipes at the surface of the seat, and all I can think is that it shows you how often Diane cleans anything, since we’ve literally watched the water being absorbed into the cushion.  I don’t know if its intended to be illustrative of character, but’s a weirdly nice moment. She flings the tissue across the room in disgust.

“Hello, my name is Bruce, thank you for holding. How can I help you?” the helpline suddenly goes live. “Ah, yes,” Diane says, regal in every syllable. “I made a $50,000 payment, and I’m still awaiting an email with the decryption key.”  Even the way she stands, one hand on the back of her chair, exudes her confidence and dignity. “Let me check on your order status,” he says, which he couldn’t do without her identifying herself somehow; I suppose we don’t need to hear her give him the necessary claim number, even though that would have been really funny. “Your encryption key was emailed to d.lockhart@lockhartandgardner.com.”  Diane winces. Not another stupid mistake. “Oh no,” she cries. “I think when I filled in the form, it autofilled with my old email address.”  Why would a new computer do that?  Not that autofill doesn’t happen to all of us, but why would her Florrick/Agos machine … well.  Whatever.  She motions Cary over, and he comes in duplicate. At least this is easily fixed.

Or, maybe not.  When she asks for it to send to her new address, they refuse; sending the emails only to the one address is the only way to safeguard security, Bruce informs her.

“You’re kidding,” she replies in disbelief, “you’re ransoming my business and this is where you draw the line?”  I suppose it would make sense if they wanted to establish a professional pirate code?  That said, she looks a little piratical today – gorgeous in that almost glowing white silk button down, and a belt with large metal rings over a beige pencil skirt.  It’s a look for a corporate pirate. “Will there be anything else, m’am,” Bruce asks.  Damn straight; she wants to speak to his supervisor. She cover the phone with her hand; “It went to Lockhart Gardner,” she tells Cary and Carey, both of whom deflate. “Dear God, this is like a nightmare,” says Cary, who would know.  “You have to call them,” Carey shakes his hanging head.  “Are you serious?” Diane hisses, and he just shrugs.  They’re helpless.  What other option do they have?

And ugh, biting that bullet is going to break her teeth, because there’s David Lee with his feet on her desk.  Yuck yuck yuck.  She scrunches up her face as he answers the phone, but quickly shakes herself out of it. “Hello David, it’s Diane.”  A minion sets a cup of tea on his desk as he perks up. “Ah, Diane,” he oozes, “forget something on the way out, like the silverware?”  Oh, that’s rich.  You forced her out of her own firm.  You were a fool she would go out so easy.  Diane exhales, calming herself. “David, I am awaiting an important email that was inadvertently sent to my LG email address.” Cary and Carey watch, a mixture of apprehension and hope. “I need you to do me the curtesy of forwarding that email.”

“Sure,” he smiles drily, “just as soon as monkeys fly out of my butt.”

So that went about as well as you’d expect.

“Well that was fairly crass,” she notes. “I’ve been holding it back all these years,” he drawls. “Goodbye, Diane!”  No no no, she rushes as he lowers the phone to the receiver, “David, what’d you want?”  What do I want, he repeats, derisive. “Two clients.”  No, she bites right back. “I tell you what.  Why don’t you come over and prostrate yourself, and we’ll work something out.”  Slowly Diane lowers the phone to her chest, watching the drip drip of water into her chair. “Can we at least get a bucket in here?” she calls out.

Sigh.

“Dana Lee Boykin,” a well-groomed young woman with a sleek red side ponytail introduces herself on the stand. “I was a flight attendant on Aso Charter.” Beginning his cross, Dean explains that this is Mr. Napier’s private jet.  “And did you ever hear a conversation between the plaintiff and Mr. Napier?” Rayna of course objects to this as hearsay. “This isn’t being offered for the truth of the matter,” Dean contradicts her. “This goes to impeachment.”  Say what?  “This is true,” Judge Jimmy Kimmel nods wisely, but totally sounds like he’s faking it.  What the heck does that even mean?  At any rate, yes, Dana overheard a phone call.

“And what did Mr. Napier say at the end of this phone call?”  She leans forward, light shining on her gorgeous bangs. “He said, ‘I get enough of this at home.’” Well that’s nice. His wife has a tough management style, too? “‘The bitch is driving me crazy.’”  Rayna, Elsbeth and Mr. Napier all have the grace to look embarrassed. “And one week later, Camilla Vargas was fired,” Dean reminds us.  “No further questions, Your Honor.”

I got this, Elsbeth whispers to Rayna, her eyes fixed on Dana. “We’ll just call a recess,” Rayna catches at her arm, but no, Elspeth says, I got this.

“Miss Boykin, do you still work for Aso charter?” And that’s when Alicia peels back her notes, revealing an magazine ad for a cruise ship, facing toward Elsbeth instead of a Alicia.   Elspeth can’t look away. “No I don’t,” Dana replies, and Elspeth waves a finger at her. “So!  You were…” and she’s stuck, looking at the ship. Looking at Alicia’s quizzical expression, and her large chandelier earrings. “I was?” Dana prompts, and Elspeth turns back toward her. “You…” Elsbeth begins, but has to turn back to look at the photo again, her mouth forming a perfect circle as a cartoon cruise ship sails through her imagination, smoke stacks blurting out notes like the pipes on an old fashioned calliope.

“Do you have a question, Miss Tascioni?” Judge Kimmel asks.  (The character’s name is Greg Brouchard.  This is probably the only time you’ll see me write it.)  Do I, she wonders, frozen. “Yes, I do,” she realizes with some excited, but it’s derailed once more when Dean casually sets forward a page with penguins on it.  Ha.  “Wanna ask it?” he snarks, but while she nods yes, she’s draw into a fantasy with a penguin scuttling across an iceberg, a jaunty top hat perched on its head.  “I don’t even like penguins!” she complains to the complete confusion of the court; Dean discreetly covers up the page.

“Excuse me?” Jimmy Kimmel asks, and Alicia turns a quizzical face up toward her adversary, as if it were all in Elsbeth’s mind.  It’s kind of mean, but also hilariously awesome.  “Penguins,” Elsbeth declares, hands out (and ugh, those cuffs, heinous). “They have nothing to do with this.”   That’s when Rayna asks for a recess.

“Let’s talk,” the more conventional partner says to Dean and Alicia out in the hall, her smile rueful. “Settlement?” Alicia asks. “As long as it’s seven figures.”  Rayna tilts her head. “I’ll call you,” she sighs; Dean and Alicia exchange triumphant smiles.

Ah, but don’t get too complacent, Alicia; here’s Johnny Good Hair to wag his eyebrows at you.  She crosses the hall to speak with him. “Mr. Elfman,” she nods. “Mrs. Florrick,” he nods back.  The formality suits her, don’t you think?  She likes it when roles and expectations are clearly defined, and their use of titles instead of first names seems like a sign of that (as well, of course, as the more obvious fact that they’re new and tentative with each other).  Eli talked to you, she guesses, and of course she’s right.  He says nothing more — another thing I like about him, that he lets her get there on her own — but she again guesses correctly that he thinks Finn for Peter is a bad trade.  He does.

“Finn went out on a limb for me,”  Alicia whispers, and The Haircut has the same answer as Eli; let him introduce you at some less significant event.  She looks down, pained. “I don’t like it,” she admits, shaking her head.  Gosh, those earrings are stunning, and her hair is fantastic. “And I don’t like asking you,” Elfman replies patiently, and then shrugs. “But, unfortunately this is the first of a long line of distasteful acts, every single one of them a step towards maturity.”  While that’s certainly one way of looking at maturity — the ability to do what we don’t want in order to achieve a desired goal — there still needs to be discernment all along the way, or we can completely lose our best selves. That’s my fear for her; we’ve already seen so much of it. “Maturity of what?” she wonders. Despite everything she said last week about her disinterest in “people,”  I’m glad to see that loyalty is still one of her defining characteristics.  It revives my fading respect for her, even if it’s obvious she’s just fighting going down.  “Being a good State’s Attorney,” he says, but the answer clearly hasn’t sweetened the bitter pill.

It becomes very clear why Kalinda haunts the elevator at Florrick/Agos once Lana Delaney steps off it; can you imagine if Cary and Lana ran into each other?  I shudder to think. “Do you always just wait here?” Lana asks, taken aback. “I just saw your car pull up,” Kalinda explains. “What’s up?”  After establishing the timeline — it’s now down to 43 hours — Lana hands over a folded piece of paper with the i.p. address for the computer that received their wire transfer, owned by one Mr. Kellner.  After expressing her thanks, Kalinda opens up the folded paper, and Lana boards the elevator. “The next time you come visit me,” Lana tells her sometime lover, “come visit me.  Okay?”

Stepping forward and reaching up a hand, Kalinda stops the elevator door from going all the way down.  “When?” she asks.

Back in the office, Cary notices the oddly charged moment out in reception.  He backs up in time to see Kalinda step into the elevator, and the door slip all the way down.

I’ll be honest; considering their history in elevators (and in general) I did not expect that the next thing we’d see would be the two women hunting down that i.p. address, but there they are in full hero formation out on a sunny street. After stopping at a thickly painted black door in a brick building, Lana smirks happily to see that she and Kalinda have both raised a fist to knock at the same moment.  Kalinda lets her win, and Lana knocks. “You wanna me to talk, or you?” Kalinda asks. “You,” Lana smirks.  “Use me if it gets violent.” Ha. It’s kind of kick to see them working together — though no one else is getting the same level of charge out of it as they are.

Impatient as ever, Lana huffs at the door’s stony silence and knocks again.  “Mr.Kellner, open the door,” she calls out, “it’s a Federal Agent.”  So much for Kalinda doing the talking!  The door is opened by a bleary eyed old bald man with strongly peaked eyebrows. “What did I do?” he asks, “I didn’t do anything.”

Well.  That’s not so helpful.

“I got an email,” he tells the women, who’ve arrived at his paper-covered dining room table, his voice nasal and high pitched.  He hands a folder to Lana,  pushing himself forward with a walker. “They said I could earn money from home.”  Right. “Who said this?” Lana wonders.  One Mr. Black with a cosmetics firm, he rasps; his payment is ten percent of the money wired into his account. As Kellner explains this, Kalinda sends Mr. Black an instant message: I have your money.  Can we meet?  “$1,500 a week,” he continues, and Lana jerks a little in surprise. That means they target – or at least successfully ransom – 3 firms a week. “And the rest goes into another account. ” You wire it, Kalinda wonders. “I don’t do anything,” Kellner explains, waving his hand at his laptop. “It’s all automated.”

“They’re using you as a money mule,” Lana tells him.  “A what?”  Just say money laundering, Lana, everyone knows what that is. “A middle man for a ransomware operation.”  Yeah, I don’t know if that’s going to help a 90 year old guy, Lana.  I’d never even heard of ransomware before this episode. (Let alone that perpetrators have been ballsy enough to target the police.)  “Eh?” he grunts. “You’re laundering money, sir,” she finally explains, and the poor old fool who thought he was getting something for nothing staggers back to his couch.  “God!” he exclaims, rubbing his head.

“I’m going to have to take your computer,” Kalinda announces; go ahead, he waves at her. “Take it, take everything, I don’t care.” Kalinda’s distracted from this offer by a ping letting her know Mr. Black is responding to her invitation. “Nice try,” he writes. “Time to go bye bye.”

And Mr. Kellner’s computer goes black in a poof.

It’s not easy for Diane to step off that elevator into her old domain but she does it, taking tentative steps through reception and the halls. Something about her tweed coat says Mad Men to me, and not in a good way. Lockhart/Gardner looks fussy now, less exciting, sleek and character-less; it’s almost crazy to think that, because I loved that set for so long for its clear, drama-producing sight-lines, but it already seems like part of a past that’s too stodgy for our new team.  Only the occasional worker even acknowledges Diane’s presence with a look; she slips through, largely unnoticed.  Biting the inside of her bottom lip, she glances into Will’s office, and then looks away.  It’s not till she sees David Lee sprawled at her desk that a fire shoots through her, and she walks with her usual vigor and determination to confront him, arms swinging jauntily.

“Diane,” David opens his arms, tossing away a document. “Sorry if I don’t get up.  Sciatica.”  He smiles. “I made a few changes to the decor,” he announces rather pointlessly; indeed, the colors are darker, everything’s centered lower against the walls, there are round fan-like lamps behind his head, and two far less comfortable chairs set out for visitors. “Your chair squeaked horribly, by the way.”  She takes a good look around. “I’m surprised you didn’t tear down a wall or two,” she half laughs. “Oh, I still might, we’re having quite a quarter,” he brags cordially.  Sure you are.  She sits.

“About this email,” he says, pulling a folder out of a drawer behind him.  “You opened it?” she asks, shocked.  Why would that shock her? “No,” he says, looking them over, “but it is the property of Lockhart/Gardner, so it wouldn’t be strange for me to open it and read it.”  I honestly can’t believe he hasn’t.

“It’s nothing, David,” she says evenly. “It matters to me, not to Lockhart/Gardner.”  Really, he smirks. “Then I have a proposal.” He leans forward, folding his fingers together. “Of course you do,” she says, watching him closely, unmoving. “It’s to your benefit, too,” he tells her, waving a hand. “The lease.”  What lease?  This lease?  “Yes, these offices,” David confirms.  “The 27th and 28th floor, it’s still under your name.” Oh my gosh, no wonder he’s actually seeing her.  Ha ha ha ha ha! No wonder he didn’t – no, sorry, I’m still shocked he didn’t read the email. “It was in Will’s, but on his passing it reverted to you.”  Leverage!  Sweet. “And, as you can see, you no longer work here, so … we ask that you pass the lease to Mr. Canning and myself.”

Ha ha ha ha ha.  Oh my gosh, that’s rich.

“Really?” she asks, smiling, and starts to laugh with her lips still pressed together. Not quite going as you’d hoped, it is, David? “I don’t see what’s so funny,” he brazens out, trying to remain calm, “it makes no sense for you to act as sub-lessor.” And that’s your best case scenario, David. “It makes no sense for you to hold on to my email,” she nods briefly at the paper, “but here we are.”  There is the cat-that-ate-the-canary smile I love so much.  Awkwardly, he laughs, mistrustful but still attempting to bulldoze her. “Exactly.  Let’s trade. Give us the lease and here you go.”  He holds out the email.

She takes a moment to relish her answer. “No.”

In that instance, his carefully smiling jack o’lantern face turns skeletal with rage.  “Diane,” he glowers, “I’ll rip it up.”

“Do it,” she calls his bluff.  “But you’ll never get the lease. I might even kick you out.”  Don’t call my bluff, he warns, openings a folder, pulling out the paper and slowly tearing through the center of it.  After a few rageful inches, he looks up at her as if daring her to make him go further, clearly expecting her to cave.

Instead, she’s delightfully dismissive of his theatrics. “David, it’s a copy of an email,” she drawls, and he deflates. “The paper doesn’t matter.”  Oh my gosh, I can’t stop snickering, it’s too delicious.  He shoves the torn paper under the folder and leans back in his new chair, livid at being outfoxed. “Give me the email,” she replies coolly, “and I will discuss the transfer of the lease.”  She lets this sink in. “That is my best offer.”

“B46JQ,” Cary reads off, back at the Florrick/Agos industrial loft. “79.”  Other Carey paces around Diane’s desk as she types in the decryption code. “David Lee really gave you back your email?”  he wonders. “I was surprised, too,” she replies. “Here goes.”  She hits enter, submitting the code.

Nothing happens.

“Hit enter again,” Cary suggests. She does.  Nothing.  She shakes her head, as if he needed confirmation. “You have a better idea?” he wonders.  “Nothing’s happening,” she grumbles, slapping her desk, but Cary leans in, troubled. “Something is,” he says, and oh, is he right; instead of restoring their data, the countdown clock (set at about 62 hours, which makes no sense given that it was at 43 earlier today) is accelerating. “It’s counting down almost twice as fast,” Other Carey gasps. “Imagine that,” Diane growls, “there’s no honor among thieves.  When you’re at a loss, who you gonna call?

Duh.  Do you even need to ask?  Kalinda.  As Cary fills her in, we find out that she’s – of course – naked.  Sigh. We’re getting on with the helpline, Cary tells her. “No,” Kalinda replies immediately, as slender fingers touch the back of her neck, “they’ll ask for more money.”  Could be.  You had a lead, he wonders. “Your money was sent by a money mule to somewhere in Russia,” she explains. He frowns. “How do you know?”  Don’t you know better than to ask Kalinda that, Cary?  “I’ve a friend who contacted the Russian service provider,” she admits.

And that’s when Lana Delaney smacks her loudly on the ass.

Covering the phone with her hand, Kalinda shoots Lana a pissed off look. The two women are lying on a bed under gray-blue sheets, Kalinda’s laptop balanced at the foot of it. “A friend?” Lana grouches, “thanks a lot.”  Oh please.  After all this time, you don’t know how this works?  I am torn between approving Lana for calling Kalinda on her ridiculous fictions, and irritation at her relentless pressing.  You sure can pick ’em, Kalinda.

“How did he do that, your friend?” Cary squints. “It’s a federal agent,” she prevaricates. “TrojanLock is working through a proxy, but we have the money mules laptop so we’re coordinating access times.”  Huh.  Interesting that there’s still something to get off Kellner’s computer. “Good,” Cary says, sounding impressed. “Great.”  Then he looks around the office. “Where are you, Kalinda?”  Ah, home, she says.  Uh oh. “Want me to come over?”  Uh oh. “Ah, maybe later,” she tells him, remaining cool in front of Lana, “I’m working for a while.”  He nods.  I get the feeling he knows exactly how he’s put her on the spot. “Sure,” he says, “sounds good.”  He stares thoughtfully at his phone after hanging up.

For her part, Kalinda seems to be studiously ignoring Lana in favor of her computer, perhaps hoping the latter will get the hint and leave. Instead, she seems to be in a confessional mood. “I told my mom I was gay,” Lana volunteers, leaving Kalinda looking even more like she wished Lana would go. “It was hard,” Lana nods.  I can never tell with Lana if she’s attempting to be emotionally intimate, or if it’s all about gamesmanship; I suppose for her those two things are the same. “She doesn’t like all that stuff.”  What stuff is that?  Lesbian stuff?  Emotions?  Sex? “She thinks I’ll end up on a float with a transvestite nun.”  Ah, Pride stuff.  When Kalinda blows out a little laugh, you can see it’s more because she’s trying to get out of the conversation without being rude than because she finds this amusing. “And then, a month later, she dies.”  Oh.  Lana plays with Kalinda’s hair; their skin glows in the dimly lit room. “She lived just long enough to be disappointed in me.”

At this self-pitying note, Kalinda finally looks up from her laptop, looking annoyed. “Do you have the, um, access times in Russia,” she asks carefully as Lana continues to stroke her back.  She refuses to make eye contact. “Are you listening to anything that I’m saying at all?” Lana snaps, withdrawing her hand.  She reaches for a folder and passes it over.  Yes, Kalinda says; sounds more like she wishes she could un-hear it. As Kalinda looks through it, Lana tries again. “Did you tell your parents you were gay?”  Gah.  There’s so much wrong with that I can’t even.  First, she knows Kalinda’s trying to avoid the subject.  Second, she knows Kalinda doesn’t consider herself gay because she finds labels too constricting.  Third, parents?  Who can even imagine Kalinda with parents?  She’s much more likely to have sprung fully formed from the head of Zeus than she is to have a normal, domestic childhood and parents she’d discuss her sex life with.  And finally, come on.  If she won’t even discuss her sex life with her sexual partners, how likely is she to call up her parents in England or Canada or where ever and fill them in?

Kalinda closes her mouth and sighs. “Lana,” she says slowly, “I can’t do this.”  How many times have we seen her have this conversation? “Do what?  Talk?” You know what she means, Lana.  Kalinda spells it out anything. “No.  Talk about this.”  Lana nods and smiles and says sure, and then throws herself backward on the bed, sighing; Kalinda couldn’t look more like she wanted her to leave.  When Lana sits, her naked back facing the camera, you can see Kalinda worrying just how much she’s antagonized this valuable “friend.”

“Five million dollars, and her options are back-dated to the date of her hire,” Alicia offers as Elsbeth tries to grab on to some elusive idea. Man, this is a long day – she’s still wearing the cherry blossom blouse of the failed cross examination, and she’s still got dancing penguins with top hats and a smoke-chugging cruise ship puffing through her imagination.  Somewhat to my surprise, Rayna wants the options dated to the firing (I guess I don’t understand options, because I’d have thought the post-huge improvement numbers would be more profitable, but I guess more time is best) and can’t go higher than 3.  Really?  They’ve already proved sexism. And will raise their offer by 3 million over night. Okay, 4, Rayna quickly authorizes. “And I’ll split the calendar difference on the options. Best I can do,” she says.

“No,” interrupts Elsbeth, to the consternation of Dean and Alicia. “We don’t wanna settle.”Leaning over, Rayna suggests that they don’t want another big hit at trial like they one they got today. “We won’t take another hit,” she says, smiling adorably, and Rayna leans back. “I won’t be distracted again.”

We’ll see you in court tomorrow, Rayna smiles.  She doesn’t get whatever Elsbeth’s epiphany was, but clearly she’s had enough experience with her partner to trusts her instincts.

You know, this is a tricky case, because I want us to win – and I think Napier’s a slime – but I don’t want Elsbeth to loose, either.

In her creepy bedroom, Elsbeth walks the treadmill, ear buds in, listening to more bright xylophone music. Tonight she’s wearing a leopard print track suit. “How long did you negotiate this…” she begins rehearsing, only to fall victim to those traffic cones again. The witch waves her green arm, and children in skeleton costumes cavort for Halloween candy. “No,” she insists firmly. “How long did you negotiate with J-Serve this …” and ah, here it comes again from the wall paper; there’s a clown dancing in the courtroom. “Here I am, a clown in your mind,” he sings, popping his legs up in the air. Awesome. “Stop it!” she instructs him, and he does, giving her a little submissive nod. “This joint venture!” she grabs the phrase she likes. “How long were you in negotiations?”  The clown sits on a bench in the courtroom, glowering. “Good,” she smiles as he fans his fingers against his shoulder. “Stay there!”

“Context,” she says, a smile overtaking her face. “I am supplying context for the sexism.”  The clown stands behind Judge Jimmy Kimmel, looking grim. Happily, Elspeth hops back off the treadmill and pulls the earbuds out of her ears. “Ready,” she grins.

“Mr. Shin,” she asks the next morning, wearing a black turtleneck to court. “How long did Wong Tae Industries negotiate it’s joint venture with J-Serve?”  6 months, the young and handsome Mr. Shin replies from the stand, “but the deal did not close.”  Really, she wonders. And why is that? “We ended our … discussions after meeting with Miss Vargas in Bejing.”  I see, Elspeth nods. “And why did you…”

That’s when Alicia uncovers her next dirty trick – a magazine ad photo of an adorable kitten.

Elspeth closes her eyes,   finding her happy place inside.  Or her not calm quiet happy place?  Either way, the broad, calm grin on her face tell us it’s working. “Let’s try that again,” she says. “Why did you end your interest in a joint venture after meeting with Camilla?”  This can’t be good for us.  Alicia turns to Dean, alarmed as she covers the kitten back up.  “She was very loud,” Mr. Shin declares, to Camilla’s great disgust. “She interrupted our chairman often.  Refused to pour tea. And she drank too much.”  In other words, she acted like a man, Elsbeth decides, which I’m not sure is an inference you can draw from this.  I mean, a man wouldn’t have been asked to pour tea, so that’s sexist, but I’m curious whether the interrupting and the drinking would have been trouble either way?  I wouldn’t have said man, I’d have said rude, but I guess that’s not the case. Alicia objects for relevance.

“Context, Your Honor,” Elsbeth steps toward the bench, very excited. “J-Serve worked with sexist companies in China. That doesn’t mean they’re sexist for requiring Miss Vargas to work with them.”  Huh.  That’s actually an interesting question.  I have a friend who does business in the Middle East, and has to wear an abaya over her business suit when she’s there.  How much accommodation is reasonable?  I think this is an end run around the real issue, but it’s still thought-provoking. “Come on, Your Honor,” Alicia thunders. “Is the defense really saying, ‘hey, we’re sexist, but the Chinese made us do it?’”  Watching his cochair, Dean rubs his lips.

“No,” Elsbeth denies the charge. “We’re saying that our client made a decision based on the sexism of an outside business partner,” Elsbeth beams. “That’s all!”  Yeah, that’s exactly what Alicia said. “Hm. Novel,” Judge Jimmy Kimmel considers. “I will allow.”  Of course he will. Is it me, or is he the most bland, personality-less judge we’ve ever had?  Alicia sits down in defeat.

But don’t worry, there’s more fun left for you in this day. It’s time to confront Finn!  As usual, Alicia chooses to do it in a bar. Because of course she does. “Hey, next State’s Attorney,” he greets her, walking around to sit by her side. There’s something really loose and sexy about his bearing; he’s a little more devil may care than usual. Maybe it’s been a long day – or maybe this is just how he is in bars? “The office said you’d be here,” she smiles ruefully. “Oh, so you’re here to see me,” he swaggers. “It is an ASA bar, and they, ah, they don’t like defense attorneys here.” She guffaws and asks for a shot of tequila.   “Yay, you’re not driving,” he guesses, horrifying her. “Why would you say that?”  Last time you wouldn’t drink with me, he reminds her, looking down at the bar rather than making eye contact.  Does this mean he didn’t see the press about her being an alcoholic and getting pulled over? Didn’t know about Castro’s dirty tricks?  “Oh, yes,” she recovers, and shoves the glass toward her face.  Before it makes it all the way, he raises his in a toast, and she mirrors his action before throwing hers back, wincing as it goes down.

“So,” she begins, fortified by liquid courage, “I have given it a lot of thought. And I can’t ask you to endorse me.”  He stares back at her, a slight smile on his lips. “Alicia, I already decided,” he says. “No,” she shakes her head firmly, “it hurts you with Castro.”  She looks deeply into his eyes. “And I’m fine with that,” he smiles back. “No. No. Maybe I’ll ask you later, but I’m canceling you on Monday.”  Oh, funny.  The timeline insanity.  These have been a pretty long four days, huh?  And how fascinating that the courts are open on the weekend.  Bah. Not that adding extra days to the week is worth quibbling over when she’s watching him so breathlessly, caring so much about how this goes over.

“What’s going on, Alicia?” he demands, staring down at the bar. “I just,” she starts huskily, “I’m asking too much of you.”  “No you’re not,” he counters, and now he is looking at her, and asking her plainly. “Do you not want me to endorse you?”   Oh my GOD it’s nice to have someone this show communicate effectively. “No, I do,” she confesses, and then just gets lost trying to figure out how to talk to him.  She doesn’t want to expose Peter’s pettiness, I’m sure, and weird jealousy, or that she’s not being honest in explaining why she doesn’t want him to speak, so how else to account for this change?  Because he’s not blind, Finn can see that’s something’s off. “But?” he prompts.  Is she worried about the photo of them?  The question surprises her (perhaps because there’s no photo of them together?).  No, she says, that’s easily explained. “We were at my apartment doing witness prep.”  Right, he says, his voice a rough growly velvet “then, ah… your husband?”  She twiddles her thumbs.

No, she lies easily. “Well okay, then here’s the thing,” he leans in. “I am endorsing you because I am inherently selfish and I think that you’ll make a great State’s Attorney.” A better boss, in other words?  Interesting, interesting.  Love the potential reverse parallel between this situation and her work dynamic with Will.  If I only I were so confident of her capacity to be a good State’s Attorney — and my interest in watching what would be an entirely different show. “So don’t think that I’m sacrificing anything,” he finishes, and she’s moved.  “I wanna endorse you.”  She blows out a laugh through her nose.  Okay, she smiles. “Are you sure?” he wonders. “I am now,” she nods firmly.

“Mr Fung,” Elsbeth addresses yet another handsome young Chinese man on the witness stand, “Could you please explain your consulting business?” New day, new witness, new periwinkle blazer. Sure; he helps American companies navigate the “cultural intricacies of doing business in mainland China.”  Did he advise J-Serve after their failed partnership with Wong Tae Gaming? “Yes,” he says, “I advised them that China was a patriarchal society, and having a brash, ‘bitchy’ female CEO was problematic.” Alicia rears back at his air quotes around the word bitchy.  Elsbeth actually has a smoking gun, I’m shocked; I thought this was a convenient fiction, but she does actually have evidence to back it up. “In your opinion, the decision to fire Miss Vargas, though facially sexist, could be justified as a business necessity.”

“You Honor,” Alicia stands, piqued, “the plaintiff asks for a directed verdict.”  On what grounds, he wonders, looking confused; Alicia contends that Elsbeth just admitted to gender bias in firing Camilla. When Elsbeth turns to confront Alicia, she’s immediately unsettled to see Kyle MccLachlan’s federal prosecutor Josh Perotti.  Now that was unexpected!  She’s completely thrown, and when the judge asks repeatedly what she has to say on the topic, she can’t think of anything, just turns back and forth, so Rayna steps in.  “This case isn’t about J-Serve’s sexism, it’s about China’s!”

Yeah, but we can’t enforce our laws on China. We can on American companies, though, and we can say that American values are more important than profits.  It’d be nice to think someone out there was saying that and meaning it.

Not that this is what the case is actually about. Anyway.

“Mr. Perotti’s motion – ah, I mean, Mrs. Florrick’s motion,” she blushes. “Sorry, Your Honor,” she stammers as Alicia and Rayna looks on in surprise. “I’m visualizing stillness over here.”

She’s not very still once they’ve called a recess, though, bursting through the courtroom doors, wild eyed and frantic.  She locates Josh over by a window and draws a sharp, cutting breath at the sight of him leaning against a wall, smirking at her.  She charges right up to him. “What’re you doing here, Mr. Perotti,” she demands. “Josh,” he coos, and oh my gosh, I’d forgotten how hilariously creepy he is in this role. “Gosh.  Watching you work,” he breathes in, advancing on her and opening up his arms. ‘”I’m tingling.”

“No,” she points a finger at him, “Don’t tingle. No tingling.”  Ha!  “You’re here to rattle me, aren’t you?”  I can see why she’d think so, but no, he’s here on business. “But … am I rattling you?” he wonders with comic glee.  No, she replies immediately, and then gives him the fish eye. “What business,” she squints suspiciously. “Have dinner with me tonight and I’ll tell you,” he offers. “No,” she hisses, “stop it!”  Why not, he wonders, aggrieved. “I don’t like that you’re corrupt,” she admits, and I’m in love with her honesty here. “I’m an AUSA,” he says, drawing himself up tall.  Is he implying all AUSA’s are corrupt? “I have the full faith of the US government behind.”  So?  He moves in toward her and lowers his voice. “And I think you are so sexy in your red hair.”  She draws in a hissing breath as he sticks his neck out and sort of waves his head around like a lizard.  What on earth is he doing?  Smelling her?  Inhaling her through his mouth?  What a completely gonzo nut bar he is. Awesome. Unsurprisingly, she backs off and heads to the courtroom, their eyes locked.  She turns away, but can’t sustain it, turning back and comically fiddling with her hair, not breaking eye contact as she yanks open the door and walks through it.

“Not too much time to spare,” a voice sighs.  Is that six and a half minutes left?  That seems to be six minutes left.  Holy crap.  “How do you know Russian?” Kalinda asks Other Carey, who explains that his mother insisted he and sibs either play the piano or learn a foreign language.  Huh. “You chose Russian?” she asks, dubious, sitting in front of a laptop. “Yeah, I know,” he rolls his eyes at his younger self. “Thought it sounded cool.”

“Okay,” she says, as we see a screen full of scrolling text. “I’m going to be ratting his computer, so this could get angry.”  Ratting, Carey wonders. “Yeah,” she says, typing. “Remotely administering his webcam.”  We’ve seen that already on the show with Grace’s computer, right?  “Ready,” she asks, and he sits just as we get a view of a darkened room. “Hey you,” Kalinda calls out, and in the murk we see a man turn to look at the computer. “Yeah, you! Scmuck!” Snort.  I don’t know that I want to try and transliterate Carey’s stilted Russian; suffice it to say he sounds like Bib Fortuna from Return of the Jedi.

Captain TrojanLock points at the screen, his mouth full of food. “How are you…” Carey translates, “What are you doing?”  Surely a hacker this sophisticated knows what a ratt is. “I’m Kalinda,” she says, which doesn’t seem very safe. I suppose he already knows who they are, though. “And you, Boris Ivankoff, are a cyberterrorist.”  Cyber pirate, anyway. “No,” he smirks, “I’m an entrepreneur.”  He’s got on a thick gold necklace.  Of course he does. “You’re not a very good entrepreneur, cause I just ratted your computer,” she tells him. “How very exciting for you,” Carey translates, voice low. “You held our law files for ransom. We paid you, and you’re still threatening to erase them.”  He considers this.  He kind of looks like a young(er) Sean Connery, this guy, if Connery were Russian. “Now return our money,” she demands, “and unlock our computers immediately, or I’m gonna delete your hard drive.”  He’s annoyed.

“I decline,” Boris drawls, lounging in his seat. “Perhaps you didn’t hear me,” Kalinda raises her voice, but he cuts her off, utterly smug. “Destroy my network, I will just go on to another one,” he insists. “Go to the police, they will not care.”

And that’s when a protest sign saying “Free Pussy Riot” appears on his screen. NICE.  I love it.  “Ah, what are you doing?” Boris asks without Carey’s aid. “Oh, you speak English,” Kalinda observes, totally deadpan. “It’s a Pussy Riot protest.”  I know what this is, he growls in growing horror. “This is not mine!”  As he starts investigating the source of the photo, another pops up ofmasked women holding a sign saying “Go to hell, Putin.” Yep.  Totally safe stuff to say in Russia, that.  “No no no no no,” he cries. ‘This is wrong.”  Cue the tiny violins.

“It’s true the politzia doesn’t care about our little law firm in Chicago,” Kalinda smiles. “But they do care about anti-Putin propaganda.”  No one translates the invective Boris hurls at  the screen, but it isn’t particularly necessary.

Bing!  Everyone’s computers pop on, inspiring cheers, hugs and celebrations around the office. “We’re back online,” the Real Slim Shady pops his head into the conference area to confirm with Kalinda, who has somehow been operating on her own, completely secure personal network.  She smiles in return, rolling her chair over to her laptop – still linked to Russia – and tells Boris goodbye.  That’s one of the few words in Russian I know.  Still grumpy, he raises a glass to her.

“This is a question of first impressions,” Judge Jimmy Kimmel explains, even though he’s totally wrong. “Is cultural relativism a bar to charges of sexism?”As the judge speaks, Elsbeth shades her face, slim fingers under her hair, as she turns to look in the gallery for Josh Perotti. “Or is it tantamount to an admission, that should end these…” He catches Elsbeth waving Josh out of the room with bent fingers, and sighs an exaggerated sigh. “Proceedings.”  HE clears his throat. “Miss Tascioni,” he bellows, and she spins back, sits up straighter. “Is there a problem?”  What, she asks, confused. “What?  No, judge.”  she thinks for a minute before confessing it. “I’m being stalked.”

“What?” the judge asks, and Alicia lowers her head, embarrassed.  “That man over there, in the gallery, Josh Perotti, he’s a stalker.”  If you don’t have any business here, could you just leave, the judges suggests.  “Actually,” Josh says, standing, “I do,” and his admission causes Alicia and Camilla and Rayna (but not the ever cool Dean) to whip their heads around. “I am AUSA Perotti, and I have a federal warrant to stop these proceedings.”  For what charge, Jimmy Kimmel wonders. “Pending the disposition of federal criminal charges against J-Serve for theft of trade secrets – the company’s assets have been frozen.”  Napier raises his eyebrows; no one can quite believe this is happening.

“Theft of trade secrets?  You’re accusing this company of a felony?” the judge wonders. He is. “J-Serve has stolen millions of dollars in intellectual property, judge,” Josh bites with somewhat surprising venom. “The civil suit can’t proceed until the criminal case has been resolved. ”  Rayna drops her head into her hand.

And hey,  look, it’s Peter, chatting on the phone in a hotel ballroom! “Peter’s introductory remarks will last approximately five minutes, and he won’t stay on stage during Alciia’s speech,” Eli tells The Haircut, nonchalantly flipping through his phone.   Say what? I thought having him on stage – in front of the State House – was the whole point! “He won’t? Where will he stay?” The Haircut wonders calmly.  Over there off stage, Eli points, sounding very imperious and much more interested in his phone.  What’s with him this episode?  He seems offended all the time, and weirdly hostile to Alicia’s candidacy in general, which is odd considering just how hard he worked to make it happen. The ballroom is covered with enormous formal rugs; the stage has the American flag and Illinois state flag flanking a podium.  “You’re afraid of repeating the scandal photo,” Elfman realizes. “We don’t want Peter to be seen in a weaker spousal position,” Eli minces.

Seriously?  I could smack you, Eli. “Mr. Governor, we won’t garner the press coverage we want without you staying on stage, sir,” Johnny Good Hair tells Peter respectfully.  And that’s another one I want to smack – Peter makes the most weaselly face imaginable. “I don’t think you have to worry, there’ll be enough attention,” he smiles; Eli beams at him like a proud parent.  Like a fatuous proud parent.  Like Jackie.

“Is this about the Sun Times polling?” Elfman guesses. “This is about us wanting to appear strong,” Eli enthuses, making the attempt to pump his arms. “No one’s taking that poll seriously, sir,” The Haircut protests whatever it is Eli isn’t saying. Interesting, interesting.  “Alicia’s not in competition with you.” Oh, how fascinating that he uses her first name with other people!  Also, it sounds like this is the root of all of Eli’s weirdness.  Alicia enters the room and walks over to them in time to catch the tail end of The Haircut’s speech. “Her favorables are only higher because she just started running.”

“Sorry,” she apologizes, smiling pleasantly, “court ran long.” Perfect timing, Peter smiles back, we’re just staging the endorsement. “You don’t mind if I introduce you and watch the rest of your speech from the wings, do you?”  He’s leaning forward, and totally taking her compliance for granted. “No,” she smiles, looking shark-like in tweed. “If you don’t mind if Finn introduces me too.”

Oh snap!

The Florricks stare at each other.  Elfman and Eli – huh, sounds like a musical group – quickly and incoherently excuse themselves. Moments later they’re watching through a set of doors, peaking in the windows.  “How much is the governor really gonna help, Eli?” The Haircut wants to know.    “I dunno,” Eli says, staring at his phone, “let’s see.”

Alicia and Peter are standing in another back hallway – a cement hallway, cinder blocks painted cream.  I’m having heavy flashbacks to the scene of the slap from the pilot, and also to the backstage moment with Will’s phone calls in Running.  The floor is red, and a man in a chef’s coat and puffy hat carries a pallet of goods into what’s presumably the hotel kitchen; Alicia and Peter lean against opposite walls, glaring at each other.

“Why are you insisting on this?” Peter asks, leaning slightly forward. “I’m not insisting on anything,” she says reasonably. “I asked Finn to introduce me when we all thought it was a good idea. He said yes, despite his standing in the State’s Attorney’s office.”  What standing, Peter sneers. Um, let’s see.  Castro tried to use him as a scapegoat?  Then tried to fire him?  Then he ran against Castro and really wrecked their relationship?  “But I am not now going to tell him sorry, it’s inconvenient for me.”  Bravo, Alicia! “Even if he’s  the only one introducing you?” Peter asks, and damn it, I can’t believe he’d be so petty.

“Seriously, Peter?” she asks. “I stand beside you at every political event,” she grouses, and he looks furtively down the hallway, making sure no one hears them. “And you go off banging prostitutes two at a time,” she hollers, the tone of the argument dropping pretty quickly. “You don’t wanna go there,” he warns loudly, putting out a hand as if to stuff her down. “And I stood beside you like a grinning fool,” she yells. “Let it go,” he thunders, “for God’s sake, let it go. ” She tightens her perfectly painted lips, looking anywhere but at him.  “Even if you don’t believe it,” he continues, “just for the fact that I’m the governor, and you’re asking me for a favor. Let it go.”

Oh, he didn’t.

She stares at him, her voice more for having sucked her anger back down. “Is that what I’m doing, I’m asking you for a favor?”  Yes, Peter  snaps, which is pretty rich considering how hard Eli worked to manipulate her into running. “You want something. That’s a favor.”

“No,” she smiles, reminding me strongly of Diane’s confidence with David Lee. She takes a step toward him. “And you know why it’s not?  If you don’t show up to endorse me, if you go off to some governor’s conference instead, your favorables will plummet through the floor!”  Now she’s yelling again, but there’s control behind it, and complete conviction. “On the day that you wanna be talking about pensions,” she tells her chastened husband, “every question will be about the state of your marriage.”

He tries to sneer, but can’t manage it; with every twitch of his face, it’s more clear that he knows she’s right. “I may need you, Peter,” she finishes, “but you sure as hell need me too.”  And now he can’t help himself; Peter starts to smile, because he can’t help respecting, even craving the fire in her.  He likes it when she’s strong. It takes him a few tries to straighten out the smile on his lips.

After looking at the floor, Peter recovers a little of his righteous anger. “I need you,” he agrees, “but I don’t need Finn Polmar.” Wrong answer.  “Well suck it up,” she snaps, “because he’s part of the deal.” Really, he says, and that old monster comes out. “Who’s the one sucking it up?”  Oh, she cries in frustration at the aspersion, leaning her head back against the wall.  She can’t believe it. “Endorse me or not, Peter, I don’t really care,” she declares. “I’m out of here.”  There’s shame in his face as he watches her go.  When she bursts out the double doors past Elfman and Eli, she tells them to do what they want, and leaves them gaping in her wake.

Okay, that was ridiculously thrilling. Like Katniss Everdeen, Alicia Florrick is the game piece who learned how to play herself.

We need you to join up to defeat the federal charges, Rayna Hecht asks in the conference room at Florrick/Agos.  As Alicia and Dean bluster, Camilla Vargas stands, laughing, only to stop and stare. “You’re serious,” she realizes. Yes. “The alleged theft of trade secrets happened under your watch, m’am,” Elsbeth points out, sitting next to her partner and across from Camilla and her team. “Your cooperation with J-Serve’s defense is crucial!”  To you, Alicia observes. “If our client goes bankrupt on this case, you collect pennies on the dollar,” Rayna points out.  Yep.  Crazy as it sounds – and unlikely as it is for them to ask – it kind of is in their best interest to work together if Camilla would like to have money.  And stay out of jail.  And, woohoo, that means getting to work with Rayna and Elsbeth, which is awesome. “But if you help us beat the feds, we can pick up where we left off.”

That’s a lot of ifs, Dean notes. “Yes,” Elsbeth agrees, “but, what choice do you have?”  None that I can think of, really.

A pot light flickers out above Diane’s head.  So apparently the remodeling was really shoddy work (no wonder, when it was done so fast) but it’s so pretty!  Look at that cabinetry behind her!  The molding details are gorgeous, and the light color against the brick? I love the huge red flower arrangement, too.  I love this set.  I love her white dress with a sort of lacy black pattern over it and a little black cardigan, too.  I’m all about this visual. And, that’s when she pulls open a drawer to find a giant, two inch cockroach sitting on top of her books, and yeah.  I’m less about that visual.  The high powered attorney screams like a teen in a horror movie.

“Oh no, that’s it,” she declares, ” That’s it”

“Is everything alright?” Alicia pokes in, hesitating.  It isn’t, Diane declares, and as we see her from another angle I get a better look at the dress, which is an hombre pattern, graduating to black at the hem.  Gorgeous!  Stunning!  “We can’t stay here, Alicia,” she says. “Diane, we signed the lease,” Alicia replies, shocked. “Um, breach of contract, lessor fraud,” Diane lists off.  It’s really kind of funny to see her so unsettled by a bug, albeit a large and gross one.  I wish this had been a problem throughout, though, instead of just piled on in this episode, if it’s going to cause them to move. “We’ll find something. But I mean  look around.  It’s a roach infested wreck, Alicia!”  Boo!  It’s so pretty now with the carpets and woodwork and windows against the brick! “The infrastructure’s rotten, we’re in a lousy neighborhood…”

Alicia shrugs. “Isn’t that part of the romance of a start up?” No, Diane shakes her head, her voice husky. “Cockroaches are not romantic.”  Okay, I’ll give her that.  I think this is all exaggerated, but I’ll give her that.

“Where would we go?” Alicia wonders. Gee.  Let’s think. “Even if we could get the lease annulled.”  Wait, you annul leases?  That’s fascinating.  Diane leans forward, hands on her desk. “What if I controlled a prime space I could get my hands on on a sub-market rate?”  Why, what is this magical space of which you speak, Diane?  Without a word, she hands over a crisp sheet of paper; Alicia looks up from it, shocked. “Lockhart/Gardner?” It’s an agreement to deed over her interest in the lease to David Lee, the devious defector explains. “I’m not going to,” Diane smirks.

And I have a lot of thoughts about this – I am virtually bubbling over with reactions – but they will have to wait because Kalinda just hauled Lana up against a wall and yanked her tight dress up.  Um, hello.  That was unexpected. They kiss. “Someone’s turned on,” Lana purrs. “You’re bad,” Kalinda tells her, and she smiles again. “How am I bad?”  J-Serve, Kalinda whispers against Lana’s mouth. Oh.  That kind of bad. Lana squirms a little, opening her eyes. “What is that?” she lies, and tries to deepen the kiss.  Instead, Kalinda pulls back. “You spend the night …” She let her spend the night?  “…and after that, the feds sweep in with an indictment for J-Serve?”

Now Lana’s icy, and barely returning Kalinda’s kisses. “Are you suggesting I got it from you?” she asks, waspish.  “No,” Kalinda replies, intent on capturing her’s lover’s lips, “the files on my desk.”  Damn.  Is this payback for Kalinda refusing emotional intimacy? Twisted.  “Wow,” Lana says, turning away completely. “Just because you would do it, Kalinda, doesn’t mean I would.”

“No,” Kalinda replies, nuzzling Lana with her nose and smiling brightly, “but you did.”  The federal agent could not be more uncomfortable. “Okay,” she says, extracting herself from Kalinda’s embrace, “I’ll see you.” Only when she leaves do we see that Kalinda had her pinned against a mirror. Playing the game, Kalinda pretends surprise; we watch her reflection as she watches Lana go without trying to stop her. “What?  I’m fine.”

“I’m going to be brutally honest with you,” Finn tells a crowd clicking flashbulbs at him; he’s standing on the podium, and it’s time. “I was not looking for another candidate to endorse.”  Because he’s already endorsed so many? “And I was not looking to get into politics.” Er, okay.  You did get into politics. “But then I met Alicia Florrick.” None of that makes any sense in context of their relationship, but okay, whatever.  Alicia watches Finn from backstage; she’s changed from the textured, tweedy brown to a slim fitted red jacket over a black pencil skirt, rather Sarah Palin.  Her hair’s sleek and curled; it’s an amazing hair episode, from the trial witnesses to this almost marceled look.  “Do I say something about Peter,” she ask The Haircut.  About his absence, he guesses correctly.  “No, I’ll talk to them after. Spin it.”

She can’t help craning her neck, looking out into the ballroom. “You all right?” he asks, perhaps because she’s starting to hyperventilate. “I’m nervous,” she confesses. “Why are there so few people?” It’s a big room; there’d have to be hundreds of people to make it feel full, and I gather there aren’t. “That’s a lot,” he counters, looking out. “that’s two national crews, three local, and twenty of my people.”  Only TV crews, no print or internet media?  Interesting. And wait.  Twenty of his people?  Where did he get twenty people? So, does that mean she has twenty people? “They’ll clap loud.  It’ll seem bigger when its broadcast. All the viewers see is the front row.”  Oh, what an interesting tip.

You know, he’s good for her, The Haircut.  Calming, even, reasonable, honest, informative. She nods. “Keep your eyes toward the rear of the room.  It’ll make it seem like there’s thousands.”  Inhaling deeply through her nose, she tries to slow her breathing, worrying at the papers of her speech.   One hand presses into her abdomen. “Oh God. My stomach, I feel sick. ”  Just like being in court, he soothes her.  “Opening arguments,” he says, and she lets out one slow breath of air.

And then there’s enough applause to let us know Finn has finished.  Time to go, Elfman prompts her. “He’s wrapping up”  And so he is. “Ladies and gentlemen. The next State’s Attorney for Cook County, Alicia Florrick!” On the dais, Finn turns toward Alicia in the side tunnel, clapping.  Taking a deep breath, attempting a smile, Alicia steps out into the ballroom.

And suddenly, at her elbow, there’s Peter. “Sorry I’m late,” he whispers, curving a hand around her waist, “how’re you doing?”  Good, she answers, holding herself slightly stiff as he scoops her up and propels her forward. “This is a surprise,” she says as they ascend the steps to the stage. “Ah, just being a supportive spouse,” Peter tells her, and then she’s shaking hands with Finn and thanking him and he’s thanking her back and it’s all a blur. The governor goes straight for the podium. “Thank you all,” Peter tells the assembled journalists. “Forgive me for stealing the limelight for a second from Alicia,” he smiles, rubbing his chin, “I just needed to add to Mr. Polmar’s very fine remarks.”  Standing next to her husband, Alicia begins to smile.  She blinks as the flashbulbs go off.  “Let me just say that I have not met a more fair and honest person than my wife, Alicia Florrick.”  She gives him another very pleased smile, her confidence expanding.  Triumphant orchestral music begins to play.  “There are those who know justice in their bones,” he continues, but the rest of his words are drowned in the music as Alicia takes in the moment, so remarkably different from that iconic moment on a similar stage. She can’t stop looking at her husband, drinking him in. When he finishes, they embrace, and she whispers a soft thank you in his ear.

And then Alicia takes the podium.  She looks to Peter as if for approval, and he nods encouragingly toward the room, and she turns with the music singing through her.  We see her speak confidently through the television cameras on two different networks, in front of a blue sign for her campaign which reads “Defending Our Values!”   The legend on the screen proclaims “she’s running!” and they pull up a photo of a downtrodden Alicia, standing by Peter so long ago.  This is on a 24 hour news channel – then there’s a second one, which shows two more screen grabs of her today and her on that fateful day in the pilot. It’s like watching newspaper headlines appear in an old movie.  Four websites throw up similar stories of her new candidacy; a fifth bears the two bookend photos and the headline Alicia Florrick’s Journey From Scandal to Spotlight, 2009-2014, and the music crescendos in a triumph of brass as the screen fades to white.

Eeeeeeeee!

Oh my gosh.  That almost made me approve of the stupid State’s Attorney’s race, just for the chance to get those beautiful parallels.  I adore that.  I mean, how can you not appreciate her triumph?

A word – or two or three – about switching offices.  I am actually quite happy that we’re in a new space.  Not only do I find it warm and inviting and beautiful – even more so now that Diane has arrived, bringing with her an artists eye and a designer’s touch – but it fits with the feeling that this is a whole new show with new challenges and new dynamics.  Going back to Lockhart/Gardner will be painful.  I don’t want to look at Will’s office and see his ghost. I don’t want to see Cary and Alicia fight over who gets to use it.  I don’t like any of that.  It’s an amazing set, don’t get me wrong, but I like the intimacy of these crowded quarters, and I don’t want to go back to formality or to old patterns.  I don’t want to go back to the contentious politics of Lockhart/Gardner, or to the fishbowl atmosphere where you feel constantly judged, watched, exposed.

So if I had to pick a word about switching offices back to the old set, that word would be no.

Not that anyone asked.  I’m just saying.

I got quite a charge out of Alicia and Finn’s flirty dynamic. When I call it flirting, I don’t mean that they’re actively trying to date each other, or that it’s intentionally romantic, or any important thing.  It’s just an enjoyable lightness, an ease that comes from a deep connection.  It’s nice that there’s a delicious little shivery edge to their interactions without it being something that sets off Alicia’s fears.  On the other hand, she and Peter certainly seemed to be vibing off of each other this episode, didn’t they? I was so happy to see him step up (even if he was being so ridiculously contentious early on as to verge on irrationally out of character), and you could see a lot of that came not only from her refusal to be cowed by him, but the fact that she was right. Granted they were slightly moony over each other at different times, and with a lot of crap in between and around it, it seems that on this show old sparks never die.  Given that, I wonder if Peter has moved on with Ramona Lytton?  Will he?  Is it really possible to revive the romance between the Florricks?  Could it ever be sustainable?

I’m going to say something weird, and I hope you will bear with me, and I’m super curious to know what you all think on this subject.  Now, Peter has been telling Alicia to get over the hookers since the pilot, and I’ve hated his callous indifference to the damage he’s done.  But I’m kind of ready – well, I won’t say for her to get over it, exactly, but for her to stop throwing it in his face every time he does something stupid or offensive.  She really does bring it up every time they fight, and I wish she’d stop. It feels like fighting dirty, and its never been productive at chastening him.  It doesn’t feel useful. Is that weird of me?

That said, I really wish Peter would get over his crazy jealousy.  It’s so incredibly ugly.  Like Castro, his extreme overreaction could push Alicia to the outcome he desires least.  Or maybe, hmm.  I say crazy because nothing is going on with Finn, just like nothing was going on Will when Peter first started hassling Alicia about it.  Or at least, nothing overt is going on, no emotion that Alicia would admit to.  But maybe Peter’s good at sensing when her allegiances are shifting?  Not that he’s right to make accusations, and not that it’s his business, given their arrangement. He’s super nasty about it, though.  Either way, I think that jealousy in the way of the Florricks having any sort of relationship, romantic or otherwise.

And, sparks.  I’ve probably said enough about Lana and Kalinda, but I’m curious to hear what you guys think.  They really do have serious sizzle, but I hate that Lana’s always trying to box Kalinda in.  She’s so possessive and aggressive and such a demanding game player; Kalinda doesn’t get to just be Kalinda with her.  But maybe that’s partly because she wants a normal relationship with Kalinda, who doesn’t really do relationships; which one of them do we fault for that?  Then of course there’s Cary, with whom Kalinda does seem to have developed some sort of long stand standing relationship, if not a monogamous one. I suppose he knows her well enough – and is too clever – to give her an ultimatum about other people, but he can’t enjoy it.  Given that Lana spent the night, I must have misunderstood that “come by later” comment.  Perhaps he meant some other time, rather than later that same night?  I’d love to know whether you guys agree that he twigged to Kalinda being with someone else, or not.  Either way, I am utterly baffled by the timeline in this episode as well as the last one, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that a seemingly simple comment about timing from him didn’t mean what I thought it meant.

I got to watch the show this week with my Aunt and Cousin visiting from California, and the three of us screamed “I love her!” the second Miss Elsbeth Tascioni appeared on screen.  It was awesome. That woman, I tell you.  I enjoyed getting a view inside of her very original perceptions; I feel like she’s talked about visualizations on multiple occasions, and I so much enjoyed getting to see what she sees, the other side of what’s been there all along. It’s rather ADHD, no?  It reminds me a bit of that dog in Up.

Anything else?  Did you guys like this episode as much as I did?  Between this week and last week I’m going to get the bends, the highs and lows are coming so fast!   I suppose I could be reconciled to the stupid political plot if it continues like this; maybe Alicia will fake it until she makes it. Maybe she’ll (re?)discover a great passion for justice. Maybe she really can be a great State’s Attorney, despite her willingness to make terribly moral compromises, her increasingly lack of a moral center, and her overweening ambition.  Oh, and the secret backing of the city’s biggest, most dangerous drug lord.  Who knows?

 

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6 comments on “The Good Wife: Shiny Objects

  1. Kiki says:

    LMAO! OMG E!

    Last week almost everyone loved the episode, you hated it. This week lots of people hated the episode, you loved it LMAO!

    I personally think is the weakest episode of the season. An episode filled of contrived plot. Diane knows not to click the link? Why does she click? Makes no sense. Alicia knows the media, she knows politics but she is fighting this Finn issue? Why? You say why E/P are fighting so hard against Finn, but honestly the better question is WHY IS ALICIA fighting so hard for Finn? Can you give me one good reason? Obviously the Governor endorsement is more important so why is she hung up on this? I thought it was poor writer for her to act like she didn’t get this importance. So I felt both Alicia and Diane were done a disservice this episode.

    Elsbeth was fun but really should we be worried that Elsbeth actually might have a mental issue? They went too over the top. And why was ALicia so ice cold to Elsbeth? I know it was played for laugh but felt like a low blow.
    Not even Lana could save this episode for me sadly.

    Also Alicia is not going to see down with Diane and Cary about her running? Again poor writing.
    Also Alicia gets a DUI last week, yet this week she is taking tequila shots IN AN SA BAR!! oh lord
    Also why are we talking about going back to L&G? There is so much character to F/A office, I would hate to lose it.

    Obviously the last shot was wonderful and I love the fall back to the pilot. And OF course the fight was good, and I loved the parallel to Running in the hallway. All of that was lovely. But not even the A/P scenes can save this episode, when the other plots felt so contrived. Boy.
    But honestly what has Finn ever done for Alicia for her to be fighting this so hard? Until this makes sense to me, the whole Alicia and Finn plot was awfully written. It feels like they want Finn in everyone plot to continue the flirtation for another triangle I assume. But honestly they are pushing this Alicia/Finn issue way to hard. Finn is a no name ASA, the national press isn’t going to care at all about him. So why are we pressing this so hard? Why is this fight even an issue? I hate it when Alicia gets written like she doesn’t understand the MEDIA WHEN SHE HAS BEEN IN IT FOR 6 YEARS FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. It might not be fair, but the Governor of the freaking state holds a lot more clout in an announcement. So if she cares about it, why doesn’t she just tell Finn another time? I know why because the writers needed a contrived plot to get A/P to fight.

    The parallels though, that was fucking amazing.

    • E says:

      Okay, that’s too funny. Pretty much everyone I talked to was as sick about last week as I was – not that I’m dialed in to the fan community the way you are, I just mean people I know. I would have guessed you’d like this episode, though, given not only the parallels but the surprisingly renewed vibe between Peter and Alicia.

      So, sure. This show does a lot of crazy bouncing around, tucking away threads for a later date. No reaction to the press about a DUI? Really annoying inconsistency, but par for the course. And, hello, that we don’t get to see her tell Diane and Cary she’s screwing them over to run, and they seem to have no reaction to this? And that she has no reaction to Lemond Bishop secretly funding her campaign? Did she tell anyone? Did it give her even a moment’s pause? I mean, what the hell! And talk about lazy/confused writing – the fact that Eli tells Alicia she has to announce on Monday, in four days, and we get at least a week’s worth of days in between, none of which seem to be over a weekend? Makes even less sense. Finn’s speech? Completely nonsensical. He met Alicia after deciding he wasn’t going to be involved in politics any more? WHAT?

      That said, I did still love the episode for what it did give us. I mean, I hate that she’s running, so I suppose that I can find anything to like at all is a miracle in itself. Maybe I’m just delusional. 😉

      I think the Finn thing for Alicia is more about loyalty than it is about Finn; she’s just that way. She thinks it’s smart because he works for Castro and because he’s a hero, and the reasons he’s a hero are so complicated and fraught, they definitely suggest that Castro needs to be replaced. Is he move valuable than Peter? No. But that’s a big part of Alicia – put her into a corner, and she’ll always fight you whether it’s logical or not. Tell her she shouldn’t be in someone’s corner – turn them into an underdog – and she’ll always pick their side against her own self interest.

      How much she should and should not rely on Peter in the campaign is going to be an interesting debate, huh? I’m so curious to see what’s next.

  2. Kiki says:

    LOL Ok at least you see the same inconsistencies as me, because I excuse timeline issues. But plot stuff like not talking to Diane and Cary? (and it won’t happen) And Finn coming out of nowhere? The flirting coming out of nowhere? We can go on and on? And don’t get me started at Alicia acting naive about the media. Just drives me up a wall.

    But yes I get it, if you don’t like the running plot, this episode is good. But I am trying to get on board without the running plot, I don’t want her making amateur mistakes that make no sense.

    Sure maybe is loyalty but why? Sure she is that way, but she also is practical,Alicia is very strategic as well. She knows Finn can endorse her on another time? So why doesn’t she just do that? Like ok maybe is loyalty. But she went to disinvite him and she couldn’t? Why not? Is not like her closeness to Finn runs that deep? Again my problem is why is Finn even in this conversation in the first place? It makes little sense. Is almost like she is self-sabotaging her own campaign over Finn? And for what? Like sure when she is fighting with Pete it makes sense why she is pushing so hard. But WHY is this even an issue to begin with? Sigh, I felt that bringing Finn into this plot was contrived, so so contrived. (It was like plot in front of character)

    And yes how A/P dance around this issue is going to interesting for sure and yes that last scene was like way to put a dagger in my heart.

    • E says:

      Gosh, that’s so interesting. I think I took my cues from Alicia – it was Peter and Eli who felt weird to me, because Alicia said that they had decided together that having Finn help with the introductions was a good idea, and E& P then changing their minds, presumably somehow because of this poll. I mean, certainly in the last episode, Eli told her his intention of having Peter on stage to produce exactly the image they produced at the end of this episode – and then this week, he thinks that’s a bad idea and is mad at Alicia and Elfman for trying to stick to it? That was the bit that seemed unnecessary – they’re too savvy to be blow around by one poll – and seemed like drama created just to produce that amazing scene with Alicia and Peter in the corridor. So we agree that the disagreement seemed manufactured and unearned, we just blame different people for it.

      I’ll even say that I’m surprised that they decided to have Finn introduce Alicia. It’s just that given that set up, I like her insistence on standing up against Peter and Eli, both for a friend (even if it doesn’t matter in the scheme of things) and in general. Maybe the other all point is that she won’t be controlled as a candidate and potential office holder? If so, that makes me feel better about her candidacy, not worse. (Even if the person I’m most worried about her coming up against is Bishop, not Peter or Eli.) They could have found a better issue for her to declare her independence with for sure.

      • Kiki says:

        Well precisely that is my point. Why was Finn introducing her in the first place? Why is Alicia fighting so hard for this? And why are Eli/Peter fighting so hard for this? Like I said and you said yourself it was a set up to have A/P in the corridor, it felt unnecessary. And it happened because they need to give Finn something to do, along with this triangle they are going to play with, we are not entering another triangle, Alicia/Peter/Finn, I can smell it from a mile away.

        And maybe she might not be controlled but this is such a nothing issue, is like makes no sense to fight so hard for THAT. So many other important things. I think however politics might shallow Alicia whole, and I am not saying is a bad thing, but we wont’ see many “OMG Alicia rocks”. But the reality is Alicia Florrick is not our super hero, we aren’t meant to just gush about her. So I am ok with this plot, I am really getting excited about it.

  3. […] Decision Tree.  Then, we pinged around the inside of Elspeth Tascioni’s bouncy brain in Shiny Objects.  Finally, our series of head trips takes us on a visit to Alicia Florrick’s mind.  What we […]

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