The Good Wife: Red Zone

E: You thought you’d just sneak that in there, did you?  All this build up this season and last turning Jimmy Castro into Alicia’s arch nemesis and what do you do?  Drop him out of the governor’s race with barely a complete sentence to mark his passing.  I mean, you’ve already pissed off essentially every fan of the show making her run, but you gave us this impetus, this overriding idea that Castro must be opposed and there was no one out there to do it and so some of us were grudgingly going along with it because well, he really did need to be opposed.

And then, poof!  Guess what we’re left with instead?  Alicia running against someone who kind of seems sincere, thoughtful and smart. That’s awesome!   Why is she doing this again?  Because she set herself on this path and she doesn’t know how to get off it?  Because her very existence depends on not quitting anything she’s started even if it’s stupid, or because she’s simply incapable of reflection and self-assessment?  Why does Eli even want her to stay in the race when his true loyalty is to Peter and Peter needs to be seen backing a winner — and Eli and the Haircut have both told Alicia she can’t beat Frank Prady?  Why are we all stumbling around in the dark, variously blind?

In other news, everyone gets into trouble. Cary breaks the conditions of his bail (presumably while wearing the tracking anklet mandated by said bail, a fact I expect to be conveniently forgotten by the writing staff). E & E conduct a focus group.  Alicia alternately pursues the reality and the appearance of good. And, surprise!  She goes for a drink with Finn. Kalinda lets her hair down, and stomps all over Cary’s already traumatized little heart so she can play house with Lana, which seems bafflingly out of character. Louis Canning adds an oxygen mask and a wheelchair to his theatrical props.  Sort of.

By the way, I’m going to try something a little different this week, largely because my son accidentally stepped on my back up drive and deleted half a show’s worth of recapping.  It’s too late in the week to simply start again – hence, something a bit new.  Or at little bit old, anyway.

We begin with Alicia grinning horribly out of an interview clip, presumably from her time with Pastor Jeremiah: “If you had asked me six years ago what I would be doing now, it would not be running for State’s Attorney.”  Campaign manager Jonny Elfman freezes the interview on this insincere smile, and asks a room full of people in tiered seats just what they think of her.  If the election for State’s Attorney were held today, how many of them would vote for Alicia Florrick?  The happy result is 7 out of 12; unfortunately for Alicia, this support doesn’t go very deep.  We don’t know much about her, the prospective voters in Elfman’s focus group complain.

I would just vote for her because I like her personally, an older woman named Rita offers.  Perhaps it’s because of her shoulder length gray hair, but I’m strongly reminded of Jackie, and I doubt it surprised anyone to hear, upon the Haircut pressing further, that Rita’s positive impression comes from Alicia’s loyalty to Peter. “See, that’s what I don’t like about her,” a well-spoken young woman in a loose fitting, contemporary jacket replies. “Why didn’t she divorce him?  He slept with all of those prostitutes and she just … grins.” She makes a gesture and mocks Alicia’s cultured, painted-on smile. “That’s what you do,” Rita counters, exasperated. “Through sickness and in health.”  She gives the Haircut a significant look, expecting him to be similarly appalled by the laxness of the young.

I don’t understand what this has to do with her candidacy, a man in his thirties with a thick beard and Southeast Asian accent complains.  “It matters if she’s a doormat,” the sleek young woman argues.  Before an argument can break out, Elfman redirects the conversation to Frank Prady, who most likely will enter the race for State’s Attorney.  The focus group considers him smart and funny, and everyone knows who he is – exactly what Elfman fears, in other words. When he asks who’d vote for Prady, Alicia loses several voters; his count sits at 8, including the Young Feminist and the Bearded Man.  Reggie, a middle aged black man who thought he might like Alicia if he found out more about her isn’t willing to commit fully to Prady, either, but he’s more excited about him.

Watching the focus group from behind a mirrored wall, Eli calls Alicia, fussing because she’s not there watching it with him. Silly Eli. She’s gone in to work, of course!  And she’s further distracted from Eli by the surprising presence of brother Owen sitting in one of two wooden chairs placed across from her desk.  Is it just me, or do they look like dining room chairs?  Just odd.

At any rate, Alicia’s thrilled to see her brother, especially after their last meeting ended so badly, and demands (and receives) a hug.  They even talk a little bit about Owen’s current boyfriend, Phil, and how he’s really a great guy and would never hurt Alicia’s campaign.  Okay, I’m glad they’re making nice, but does that mean it’s not true the boyfriend’s a porn star?  Heck, I thought Phil (Fill?) was his porno name, not his real one.  So, how’s Owen’s work? “It’s good,” he tells her, taking in a deep breath. “I have a case for you.”  Ah.  That’s why he’s here.  Not that I’m not happy to see him and his woolen coat and nattily tied scarf, but him making a personal appearance at her office is definitely unusual.  It’s such an unexpected application for help that Alicia actually laughs, though when Owen gets into the story it becomes clear there’s nothing funny about it.  One of his students was raped, and is about to go before the student judiciary committee to try and get her rapist expelled; she didn’t want to deal with the legendary horror of a police investigation, but she doesn’t want to see him in classes, either.  Wow.  That’s not easy.

“O-kay,” Alicia says, and Owen takes alarm. “That sounds like a ‘get out of my office’ okay,” he guesses, and while she protests at his term, she explains that she’s been trying to take a step back from cases because of the campaign.  Oh, Owen pleads, it’s just a few hours, and she’s got no one else who can help her — or at least, no one who can be there in an hour.  Alicia blanches at the timeline, but when her brother turns on the puppy dog eyes, there is nothing she can do to resist him.  Doesn’t your heart just fill up with affection for the two of them?  I’m so happy that he’s not mad at her anymore, and I love watching them joke about the puppy dog eyes even as he’s deploying them.

In what’s becoming a more and more routine sight, Cary frowns painfully at a laptop; Trey’s wiretap plays as a transcript rolls over the screen.  First, there’s Cary saying Trey doesn’t need to give cops identifying material if he’s not driving a car.  Cary’s sitting in the main conference room, and Diane and Alicia paces around him with Kalinda listening in on speaker phone.

A younger voice, belonging to dearly departed Silver Jim Lenard joins the conversation, wondering about scat and car searches before divulging he’s got a kilo and a half of – pot, I guess?  “Whoa!  Someone’s having a big party!  Damn!” Recording Cary enthuses, trying to be oh so cool, and present day Cary shakes his head, knowing how bad that sounds.  No, Cary adds, they have to have cause to search your car.  Over his head, Diane and Alicia exchange horrified glances, and I’m with them.  This is bad, bad bad.  For his part, Cary’s furious. “It sounds bad because you don’t hear the beginning and the end of the tape,” he justifies himself, but I don’t know.  I think it’s just bad.  Even if he’s giving them advice for fictional or hypothetical situations, it’s still accurate legal advice that they could go on to use, right?  You know, assuming they weren’t all dead… With only two weeks left before trial, the prosecution has started sending over discovery, and this copy of the tape was this morning’s present.  Outstanding.

Alicia’s still trying to find a way out.  Perhaps the judge will exclude the tape as hearsay now that Trey’s dead?  I don’t really follow that — surely a recording’s the furthest possible thing from hearsay? — but whatever. Perhaps her objection has to do with Cary’s explanation about the missing portions of the conversation.  At any rate, a gloomy Diane shoots this hope down; hearsay won’t apply because of forfeiture by wrong-doing  (which is to say, Trey was killed while trying to hide evidence).  Er, was he?  If you say so.

“How about that third voice,” Alicia then asks. “Two of them are dead, but there’s still the third one.”  Kalinda explains to us that Dante – crew member number 3 — fled after Jim and Trey were killed. I don’t blame him, and I don’t even like the idea of Kalinda going after him.  Sure, Bishop now knows that Trey was the one wearing the wire, but I wouldn’t remotely take that as security for Dante’s life.  That’s when Diane asks to talk to Alicia, who presses her hand onto Cary’s shoulder before she walks out of the room.

“God, it’s hard to be the defendant, don’t ever do it,” he tells Kalinda, frowning even more fiercely.  She snickers.  She’ll try not to, she jokes, but immediately the conversation sours; he calls her on whispering, she lies that she’s home instead of lying naked in Lana Delaney’s gorgeous bed, the federal agent naked and asleep beside her.  Man, I hate the timing of this; it’s not like he doesn’t have bigger things to worry about than the fact that he and Kalinda aren’t, and won’t ever be, exclusive.  We find out that the current solution to the 30 foot rule involves Kalinda not even coming to the office while Cary’s there (an odd change).  But at least Kalinda has an idea. “You know,” she says, “there’s one thing they got wrong about the wire.”  Ah, I’m glad we’re calling Alicia on her fuzzy math.  (Now, someone please throw a blanket over Lana.  I do not need to see that much of her butt!)  There weren’t three people on the recording, there were four.

Out in the hall, Diane and Alicia aren’t enjoying their private chat. “If this were any other client,” Diane says, worrying at her oversized chain link necklace, “we would be advising him to take a plea.”  But it’s not, Alicia pleads, real emotion in her voice.  Diane understands her partner’s fervent desire to do whatever it takes to keep Cary out of jail, but she’s afraid their affection and need for him is blinding them to his best interest. “You’re wrong,” Cary steps into the conversation, causing a moment of idea whiplash.  There weren’t just three people on the wire, there were four.  He was there too, and he needs to testify.

You can imagine how well this idea goes over. No one will believe you when you say that the tape doesn’t reflect the full conversation, Diane tells him.  Attorneys make the worst witnesses, everyone knows that, Alicia tells him — despite the fact that she’s testified effectively on multiple occasions.  I suppose it’s never been in her own defense, though.  “I know I have no other option,” Cary bites out. “I don’t want to testify, I need to testify.”  Reluctantly, the women agree to hire out another attorney and conduct a mock court to see if Cary can handle himself on the stand.  Okay, smart.

As Owen walks Alicia through a gorgeous stone building — it looks like a library with the vaulted ceiling, and those amazing curving stairs behind a welcome desk — Eli frets over the phone at her for taking another case, even if it’s just a few hours of hand-holding.  Ah, remember back in seasons 1 and 2 when Alicia held hands all the time?  I miss her emotionally interacting with clients.  “Alicia, this is so irresponsible,” Eli grumbles. “What is the case?”  A rape case, she explains. “Oh great,” he scoffs. “Because rape is never controversial.”  I’m glad it’s not stopping her, but he’s not wrong.

The Haircut has another question for his focus group. “Would it change your mind to know that Alicia Florrick’s law partner’s being prosecuted by the State’s Attorney?”  Well, sir, that would depend upon the charge.  “For telling drug dealers how to avoid arrest for the sale of $1.3 million in heroin.” He doesn’t much believe in sugar coating, does he? Also, that was impressive.  He’s managed to stump the entire room.

In Lana’s bedroom, everything glows.  Kalinda seems to be kissing her way back up to Lana’s mouth.  The latter smiles, rubbing her lover’s chin and jaw. “I like that you can’t go into work,” she says, sounding soft and happy. “It’s like I’m keeping you hostage.”  And, there it is.  Why must she say these things?  I mean, first of all, it’s not even accurate (it’s a toss up whether you’d consider Kalinda hostage to the court or to Cary) but the idea that Lana’s fantasy is that she’s responsible for confining Kalinda? Ugh. They have great chemistry — and look at that, they’re just beaming at each other — but good grief, there is no end to the games. And why, why, does Kalinda seem to really love being treated this way?

And obviously Kalinda’s phone rings.  She sits up on top of Lana to take it. “I know you’re not alone,” Lemond Bishop’s velvet tone comes through the speaker, and oh my gosh, that’s a goose bump scary moment.  “So make yourself alone.”  Yeah, that’s a tone you obey.

While in Lana’s girly, cherry blossom wallpapered bathroom, Kalinda stands in front of the mirror and fiddles with her hair. Doesn’t Diane have cherry blossom wallpaper in her house?  It’s not the same – I think Diane’s flowers are pink on a silver background, while Lana’s are white on beige, and it might be fabric on Diane’s walls – but it catches my attention. It’s so rare that we see Kalinda’s hair down; she looks strangely vulnerable, which is odd considering that she’s more covered than she’d be with her hair pulled back.  Perhaps there’s a Samurai fierceness to her normal style.  Or maybe it’s just that she’s naked, and naked people are more vulnerable.

But no, she seems pretty nonchalant, standing there, listening to Chicago’s drug kingpin fret about a federal investigation that’s now feeding the SA’s office inquiry into his business. I haven’t heard anything about the federal investigation, she tells him, checking herself out.  Perhaps sensing he doesn’t have her full attention, he argues that Cary’s defense will suffer from this symbiotic relationship, too.  Okay, she’ll look into it. As he admonishes Dylan for sneaking some candy for breakfast (man, he has this conversation in front of his kid?), he warns her it needs to be done fast. Apparently unable to stay away, Lana knocks (thank God for small mercies) and the two nuzzle in front of the mirror before the agent hops in the shower for work. They really do seem unable to leave each other, sharing tiny smiles like dewey teens in love for the first time.  Where the heck did this come from? Lana presses about the subject of the call, but accepts Kalinda evasion that it was just work.

The room where Chicago Tech’s disciplinary panel meets is oddly enormous and frankly looks more like a wedding venue than a courtroom.  There’s a raised dias in front of a massive stone fireplace, a soaring ceiling thick with dark wooden beams, and white plaster walls above wood paneling.   There are arched leaded glass windows and chandeliers that give the impression of royal crowns stuck over with candles and suspended from chains.  They’re gorgeous.  Maybe it’s more like a King’s hall, a place to hear a tale of a damsel in distress.  On the dais there’s a large wooden table, where a girl sits across from a boy, and a panel of three people (two women and an old man) look out onto the empty ballroom.  Or empty except one other table where Owen and Alicia sit. Though Alicia has come as this young girl’s knight, there’s nothing romantic about her story.

The girl, Jody, had gone to a party at the Theta house which was supposed to launch their Thanksgiving food.  Frat houses, God.  My kids are never going to colleges with frats. The boy, Troy, asked her to stick around. Troy?  Really?  There’s a name that says 1950s frat boy if ever there was one.  “Sorry, I’m not used to talking like this,” Jody says in her little girl voice.  She has thick dark hair that closes over her eyebrows in fashionable bangs, and a round face with large eyes and a pointy chin like Betty Boop, and as Alicia watches her, I can see that her heart reaching out to the girl. “I remembered all the red zone stuff they told us at orientation,” Jody says, and I’d tell you to drink because she said the title except that would be completely creepy and wrong given the actual context. “…about, you know, how many freshmen girls get assaulted in the first few months of school from drinking too much, but I was careful. I got my own drink, I didn’t put it down.”  She takes in a shuddering breath, and looks up to the ceiling, water filling her eyes. “I woke up in an upstairs bedroom.” She shudders. “Naked. I was on the floor.”  She shakes. “Troy was on the bed asleep.” She shudders again. “I couldn’t find my clothes.” The tears have started to fall without my knowing, the tracks rolling over her apple cheeks. “I couldn’t…”

Off the stage, Alicia looks as if she wishes she could walk up and hug Jody.  Perhaps it adds an extra element of sympathy to know this girl is the same age as Zach?  Would you like to stop, Jody, one of the panelists asks, a young woman with long straight golden hair, Marcia Brady hair.    Bravely, Jody shakes her head no. Better to get it over with. “When I looked down, he had ejaculated on me.”

“Jody, you’re lying,” Troy interrupts her. The boy is thin, all sharp angles and knobbly wrist bones and thick eyebrows. “That’s not what happened. This will destroy my future.” Oh, yes, I feel so sorry for you.  “You can’t just lie.”   Obviously, lying in this situation would be horrible, but somehow there’s never a moment where I don’t believe Jody.

Unable to take this repeated assault, Alicia stands.  He can’t talk to Jody like that and cut her off.   “Actually, hello Mrs. Florrick, you’re here as a silent advocate,” the old man says. “You can’t say anything.” Protecting the old boy network already, are we?  And what the heck is a silent advocate?  Seems pretty damn useless to me.  Yes, she replies, but he’s the accused. He can’t interrupt her. Actually he can, Professor Old Boy proclaims, or so the student handbook says.  “It is true. He raped me,” Jody quivers, rivers plain on both cheeks.  She starts to describe her emotions, and again Troy cuts her off.  It was consensual. Maybe she’s confused. Maybe she was too drunk.  (Grrr. Dude, if she was too drunk to know what she was doing, it wasn’t consensual.) On the ballroom floor, Alicia flips through the student handbook. Jody turns clear eyes on her attacker. “I didn’t have too much to drink, and I said no. You just didn’t want to hear it.”

“How much did you have to drink, Jody?” Judgmental Marcia Brady asks. Two to three beers.  No, asserts Troy, you were drinking tequila. “Are you used to drinking, Jody?” There is a level to which this is relevant (it goes to her perceptions, though in a just world, the panel would acknowledge that a high level of intoxication would make consensual sex impossible) but instead it feels like a criticism.  And that’s when Alicia stands (much to Old Boy’s dismay) and asks for a pee break.

Of course, she’s not really looking to use the ladies room; she wants to talk to Jody out in the hall.  How is she?  Okay, Jody says, and then realizes how absurd that polite answer is. “No. Not so good,” she shakes her head.  I know, smiles Alicia in sympathy, and then apologizes for not meeting her before. “Jody, you’re doing well. But here’s the thing.  I can’t say anything here, but you can.” Behind her head there’s a series of bulletin board flapping with meticulously arranged papers. “So I need you to tell them something.”  What? “The student handbook. It says Troy can participate, but only with questions, not with statements.”  There’s an odd detail on the bottom of Alicia’s slim-fitting charcoal suit jacket – large squares of metal stud the hem; she really is a knight in shining armor. Oh, Jody says.  She gets it. “Yes,” Alicia goes on, pleased with Jody’s quickness. “He’s making statements. He can only do that when he’s questioned. Can you say that the next time he tries?”  You can see she’s afraid of asking for too much, but no, Jody says she’ll try.  Finally, Alicia asks for her phone number.

“I didn’t have tequila, I had beer,” Jody reiterates for the panel, her voice clear. Beside Professor Old Boy and Marcia Brady, there’s a middle aged woman in pearls who takes copious notes but never speaks. As far as I can tell, she doesn’t ever look  up from her notepad. Immediately Troy leaps to contradict her, but now Jody’s armed with Alicia’s research (and an affirming glance from her lawyer). “Excuse me,” she interrupts his lengthy diatribe. “He can’t do that, he can’t interject like that.”  Unfortunately he can, Old Boy Network asserts, but Jody’s ready for him — the handbook says he can only ask questions, not make statements. Via text, Alicia provides chapter and verse (which is to say, page 38, paragraph C).  This takes the panelists by surprise — Marcia Brady looks somewhere between impressed and affronted, and Old Boy checks the paragraph to make sure — but in the end, in her primmest voice, Marcia instructs Troy to limit his remarks to questions.

Watching the focus group on a monitor, the screen divided into four separate camera angles, we hear the Haircut ask for last impressions of Alicia before the group reconvenes in a few days. They start with Sally, the Young Feminist. “I don’t know,” Sally shakes her head. “She seems entitled to me. Like the world owes her something.”  Fair enough; we’ve seen more and more of this side of her lately.  Elfman fishes for more, and gets it. “Something about her. She just seems selfish.  Everything is about my pain, my achievements.”  As Alicia walks in to the tail end of this replay, I do start feeling bad for her.  After all, what are you asked about in an interview but your pain and your achievements?  I suppose she could be pivoting to something else, but still. ‘There’s a world bigger than you, you know?”

Finally noticing his client, Elfman shuts the video off.  It’s far too late; Alicia can’t think of anything else.  Oh, they say.  Don’t worry.  It’s just one person.  One articulate, well-dressed woman, you can see Alicia thinking. Someone she’d expect to like her, want to have like her. “Stuck up bitch,” Eli dismisses her, which, way to stay classy, Eli.  God forbid a woman express an inconvenient opinion. Everyone else liked you, they lie – well, or maybe it’s not a lie in that we didn’t hear anyone else express dislike for her? No, she says, people were nodding.  (She’s making that up.  I checked.)

The real problem is Prady, the Haircut says, trying to refocus the discuss. “His brand is just as strong.”  Eli’s worried about Prady’s announcement later the same week (which is why Alicia should just leave the race), and is trying to devise some sort of competing event to minimize Prady’s effect on the news cycle.  Peter will help.  No matter what ideas they spitball, Alicia’s still locked on Sally’s frozen face. “Did you tell her I started my own firm?” she wonders.  What?  “That lady. Did you tell you I started my own firm, it wasn’t handed to me.” What, like this candidacy was handed to you?   Sorry.  Trying to get her to snap out of it, Eli reminds her that this is just one woman’s opinion.  “Don’t obsess.”  Play the tape again, she tells them.  They won’t. Grudgingly, she seems to accept their decision.

Kalinda’s just stepped out of her car and is walking toward the elevator (in either her apartment garage or, perhaps more likely, the one under FAL) when she startles.  It’s only a fraction of a second before she’s smiling, walking briskly through the garage and stepping into Bishop’s SUV; she nods at the hulking goon holding the door open for her.  “You’re sleeping with a federal agent,” Bishop announces, his jaw tight. “We followed you.  You left the apartment of Deputy Agent Delaney.”  Deputy?  What’s she deputy of?  Is that a promotion, the way that Deputy State’s Attorney is a more powerful job than just assistant State’s Attorney?  Because it sounds like she’s not a full agent, and that can’t be right.

Er. Anyway.  Kalinda does not try to deny it.  Bishop asks her why, which is kind of hilarious. She snorts, and explains that Lana came before both Cary and Bishop.  Hmm.  Was he hoping that it was a sting operation?  I think he must have been. “That does not calm me,” he says. Despite Kalinda’s assurances that Lana’s isn’t working on Bishop’s case (which I’m not sure she can truthfully give; Lana’s worked on his case before), Bishop’s alarmed by the feds and state authorities working together. How does he know that, she wonders. “Because I’m paying attention,” he says. The bottom line is, he needs proof that Lana’s working on something else. “Now get out,” he tells her, his chilly tone making his displeasure clear.

There are just two folding tables in his new office, but the spectacular view (and inner glass wall) make it clear Finn’s accepted Alicia’s offer of office space.  Well, that and her lack of a coat, and the fact that the hand she’s using to knock on his doorframe holds a liquor bottle; there are two glasses in the other.  “Fantastic,” he breathes.

They sit on the window sill, facing in to the office.  Finn slumps against the glass, his head thrown back. She wonders why he doesn’t have chairs; that’ll be tomorrow’s delivery.  She wonders how it feels, going it alone like this. “How do I feel,” he wonders. “I feel like a newly minted lawyer ready to represent DUIs and bail jumpers.”  They laugh.  You seem happier, she notes. I’m always happy, he replies, which is an interesting evasion.  I wouldn’t have picked that adjective for him (especially not given the circumstances we’ve seen him in), but I guess it might be fair to say he has a generally positive attitude, and seems grounded?  Or maybe that’s just him being a guy and glossing over his emotional ups and downs?

Making me wonder if this isn’t why she came, Alicia uses the moment to ask Finn if he thinks she’s entitled.  He totally doesn’t; he even thinks the idea’s funny. “Why, do you feel entitled?” he snarks, and she explains about Unconvinced Feminist Sally and the focus group.  Like Elfman and Eli before him, Finn doesn’t understand why she cares about a stranger’s opinion.  So that’s totally a guy thing – or a gender thing, anyway, that she’d care and that the men can easily write the criticism off.  Well, voters matter, she replies, and maybe the people who do know her are being too polite about how she comes across?  I get that he has a vested interest, but polite is not the term I’d use anywhere near Eli.  “She said I seemed obsessed with my own pain, my own achievements.”  You can see how much the accusation stings.  Yeah, Finn puffs out his lips, my ex-wife used to say the same about me.

This revelation – the only insight we’ve ever gotten into his divorce – surprises Alicia very much.  You don’t seem that way to me, she says, not at all; that’s what I thought, he replies, thanking her. Funny. Are they really bonding over being selfish?  But no, they aren’t, because Finn has a plan to drive out her doubts; she should volunteer with him at St. Paul’s soup kitchen, feeding the homeless every Wednesday. It helps you see beyond yourself, he says. Alicia can’t believe it, but he really does go every week. Wow, you’re a really good person, she says in amazement. A saint, really, he jokes. Not to disparage the commitment this takes, but I can’t help thinking that no longer having a family to go home to makes that a little easier.  (I’d love to know if his former family is back in New York.  They’d have to be, right? Could the divorce be so recent that they moved with him when he took the new job? On the other hand it makes me wonder why he’s staying in Chicago, now that he’s on the outs with old pal Castro, when he has a child somewhere else.)  Just come, he adds.  I’ll think about it, she claims, finishing her drink, but she does think about it – not about what good she might do for the homeless, but how it might influence Doubting Sally to hear that she volunteers her time.

The next witness at the disciplinary board meeting is Frank Sheti, the captain of the Chicago Polytech campus police.  Old Boy questions him, establishing that Jody came to him on Monday (he can’t mean of this week, can he?) three days after “it happened.”  Captain Frank — wearing a surprisingly fancy uniform — thinks that Jody was too collected when she asked to press charges against Troy, and also finds it suspicious that she turned down his offer of a rape kit.  Jody shakes her head at Alicia, who texts furiously as Sheti goes on to say that Jody was confused in her story and didn’t know Troy’s name.  Oh.  Well then.  If you don’t know the name of the person who attacked you, then clearly it didn’t happen!

Honestly.  Do I even need to get into the attitude here, immediately assessing to see if someone seems like a proper victim?  God forbid she try to compose herself. God forbid she admits to having had something to drink!

Ask about the rape kits, Alicia texts, and so Jody does.  They may not listen to her, but it’s clear that Jody’s been empowered through Alicia; she’s standing up for herself, and that feels good to watch.  Why don’t we let Mr. Sheti finish his statement, Jody, the Old Boy asks (because that doesn’t seem biased at all) but she reminds him politely that the rules allow her to ask questions at any time.  When Marcia Brady reluctantly allows her, she presses.  When Sheti offered her a rape kit, did he actually have one to give?  No.  He doesn’t see why that’s weird.  “Well, you know, we could probably get a rape kit. But you didn’t want one.”

At this point, Troy interjects.  Did Jody cry at all when she was talking to you, Mr. Sheti?  No, she didn’t, he said, “and I found that strange.” Again, the girl’s phone buzzes. To give a more nuanced view of her emotional state, Jody asks the panel to hear testimony from Owen.

In case you were wondering, they’ve touched very briefly here on a rippedfromtheheadlines issue – the availability of rape kits on campus.  (Obvious sexual assault itself, and the way schools handle it, has a much longer history as an issue.) It’s been all over the press in the last year, but for the likeliest inspiration for this plot, check out this New York Times article, which actually contains the phrase “red zone;” I was surprised to learn that it refers not to potentially risky behaviors (letting other people get you drinks, setting your drink down, etc…) but the time between orientation and Thanksgiving  of a girl’s first year in college, when she’s both more likely to be preyed on and also more likely to make mistakes (drinking more than she can handle, trusting strangers and so on).  I can see how this idea of a dangerous early period would apply as well to Alicia’s campaign and perhaps also Cary’s trial prep and Kalinda’s relationship honeymoon.

Speaking of Cary and trial prep, he’s answering Diane’s questions, seeing if he can hold up against a cross. In her questions, Diane allows Cary to explain that Trey had a reason to selectively “edit”  the wire tape so as to turn police attention from himself to Cary. So far, so good.  “No further questions, Your Honor,” she says, which makes Howard Lyman smile.  “You may sit,” he says graciously.  Oh, awesome.  Howard’s perfect as a judge.  He asks the prosecution if they have any questions. “I do,” comes the plummy of voice of Viola Walsh, who grins widely at Cary and introduces herself.  Yeah, he knows who she is.  Oh, that is outstanding.  She is perfect.  I just have a few questions for you, she says; shoot, he replies. “Shoot?” she laughs, miming a finger gun. “Really?  I won’t do that.” Diane rolls her eyes.

Her first area of attack: Cary’s work record.  Leading him through bit by bit, she sets up that he worked on Bishop’s defense team at Lockhart/Gardner, and then for Bishop again after he left the State’s Attorney’s office.  And he really expects us to believe he didn’t work for Bishop at all during those 18 months?  She’s so good at libeling him.  It’s scary to watch.  Diane objects that she’s testifying, and Viola makes a show of saying she was just talking out loud to herself. “Don’t worry,” Howard laughs. “I wasn’t going to sustain it anyway.”  Ha. He’s amusingly besotted.

Step two of Cary’s work record: asking why he lied to Geneva about having worked on Bishop’s cases before.  To this point Cary’s been relaxed and calm, but he starts to trip up now.  He didn’t lie.  Well, okay, he admits when faced with Geneva’s testimony, he wasn’t telling the truth, but he wasn’t lying. He wasn’t trying to put one over on Geneva; he just wanted her to stop questioning his authority, so he told her what she wanted to hear.  Isn’t that lying? We seem to have different interpretations of a lie, Viola observes, and when Diane objects, Howard overrules her, sharing another flirty moment with a giggling Viola.  It’s just getting worse and worse; she’s tying Cary in knots.  What is your definition of a lie, she asks. All I’m saying, he says, is that I didn’t say it to cover up for the fact that I was… and there he stops, realizing that he’s backed himself into a corner, essentially about to state that it was a fact that he was working for Bishop. “Go ahead Cary,” Viola smirks. “Take your time. I know that you want to tell us all the truth.”  She’s still lumped back in her chair, totally at ease. “Look, I wasn’t working for Bishop, and that’s the truth.”

Mmm hmm, she nods, and flips through some documentation.  It’s on to step three.  How much money did he make when he was an associate at LG?  $85k.  And now that he’s a partner here? $350k plus profit participation. So, how much did he make as an ASA?  $39k.  Ouch.  If that’s the case, how did he afford his $4,000 a month rent, when that actually exceeded his income?  Damn.  That looks dreadful.  From my savings, he explains, which sends Viola into fits of glee.  I wish I could save like that, she laughs.  Yeah.  That looks so unbelievably bad.

Step four: the two kilos of cocaine that he took from the evidence locker that didn’t end up in the lab.  I already explained that, he sneers, now definitely unsettled.  Also, talk about coming off as entitled.  You do realize that without that cocaine, Bishop got off scot-free, Viola reminds him.  And that’s when Diane calls for a break.  She and pale, pinched looking Cary need to talk.  I’ll say.

In the episode’s other non-courtroom, Owen recounts how Jody came to him the day after the rape, in distress but very clear on her facts.  She was not, as Marcia Brady suggests, confused.  This time when Jody’s phone buzzes it’s to say she’s almost out of charge; she flashes the screen at Alicia. So this time, Alicia sends her text to Owen, but autocorrect sinks them. “I want you to know, the campus cop was composing his erection,” he says.  Ooops.  Troy takes advantage of the lapse to say that as Jody’s “counselor” Owen has reason to lie; Jody tells him to stop talking. “The campus cop was completely wrong in his assertions,” Owen restates.  “You failed me, you don’t like me, this is unfair, I have done nothing wrong,” Troy rages, and a woman sitting next to him at the table with Alicia reaches out a calming hand. (Apparently she’s gone to the school for silent advocates.) Again, Jody reminds him that he’s not allowed to interrupt.  That’s enough, Old Boy says, holding out his arms. “The panel is ready to deliberate.”  What, really?

Unable to help herself, Alicia stands up and protests.  They have other witnesses! Old Boy does not like this lack of silence at all. “Unfortunately, Jody,” Marcia Brady steps in, “there isn’t enough evidence for an expulsion.”  Um, hello.  Old Boy wants it made clear that this doesn’t mean they think Troy is innocent, which is just super helpful for everyone involved. 1) What happened to deliberation?  2) Why are they stopping the hearing if they haven’t heard enough evidence to decide whether he is or is not innocent? 3)What would constitute enough evidence?  I’m genuine curious what the standard of proof is, and whether it’s in the handbook, or what.  In the hall, Alicia looks up at the dais, appalled.  Again, she stands.

“Excuse me, there has been a complete lack of due process here, and you have opened yourself up to a lawsuit!”  I love seeing her passionate about an injustice.  What, hisses Old Boy, doing his best David Caruso impression by whipping off his thick black glasses. “Title IX requires due process in response to campus allegations. You are subject to suit for not supplying that.”  “Are you suing us?” he asks, turning to the freshman, who stares back at him, chin up. “Is that what you’re doing, Jody?”  She looks to Alicia, who raises her eyebrows.  Is that what she’s doing?  “Yes.”

“No,” Recording Cary tells the camera. “I mean, it’s not a lie in the way that you mean it.”  He shakes his head, presses his hands together, at a loss to figure out how it all went so wrong and what he can do to avoid such a drubbing on the stand. We hear him inadvertently admit to working for Bishop. In disgust, he picks up his phone and calls Kalinda, which isn’t going to help him much; she’s drinking wine and lounging with Lana, surrounded by a soft honeymoon glow; Lana’s in a maroon silk button down pajama shirt, and Kalinda wears a gray silk robe over flowing pants.  (I may not like Lana, but her apartment, man. The tufted headboard is particularly gorgeous.)  Yours or mine, Lana sighs, looking at the phones sitting between them.  Turns out it’s both.  Kalinda decline’s Cary’s call, but Lana hides in the bathroom to take hers; perhaps remembering her orders, Kalinda listens in, and hears enough whispered conferencing to know that they’re all in trouble.  Lana is in fact working on the Bishop case.

“Alicia Florrick is bringing a law suit against Chicago Polytech on behalf of a student for rape. Does this change anybody’s mind for or against?” Elfman asks the reassembled focus group. As the focus group representative of young liberals, Doubting Sally immediately warms to the idea. “What, so she’s kind of a feminist activist now?” Bearded Asian (whose name tag designates him as Larry) wonders.  What’s feminist about bringing charges against a rapist, Sally wonders aptly, and the women in the room nod.  That’s not what he’s saying, Reggie steps in, and impolitically, Sally points out the gender disparity in the responses. And now all the men in the room feel attacked, and everything devolves into chaos.

There’s Alicia, in court, asking Judge Robert Parks (Judge Parks! Nice to see you again!) for an emergency injunction to change the make up of the disciplinary panel, although she’s fine with waiting a while to have anything more happen.  The judge is too. Huh.  So they’re not going straight to a suit, or is that just the first layer of it? Whatever.   Everything looks smooth and easy until, whoops.  With a crash and a clatter, Louis Canning drives his brand new wheelchair into the courtroom, though not before repeatedly bashing into the doors and taking out at least one unseen person.  Oh, Louis Canning.  Sorry, he says, but I’ve got to learn to drive this thing for myself.  Immediately he wins the sympathy of the judge with his tale of medication-induced kidney failure.  (Hmm.  Wonder if that makes him reconsider representing Big Pharma?)  And he, of course, wants the case expedited.  Alicia, resplendent in a white and grey jacket in a sort of ikat-like fabric, protests that Chicago Polytech is just trying to stop the bad press before it scares off prospective students, but alas, Canning’s got a more pressing cause — his own. He has an operation in a week, and just wants to make sure this is handled first.  Then he excuses himself and sticks his face into an oxygen mask, inhaling deeply.

Yeah.  There’s no fighting with that, is there? It’s an alarming picture. He explains that oxygen deprivation is another side effect of his kidney failure.  Canning lays it all on thick — I’m so sorry to inconvenience the plaintiff’s attorney and the court — and Parks shovels it in with a spoon.  “We’ll start hearing testimony on your motion to dismiss tomorrow.”

“Was any of that true in there?” Alicia asks him quietly out in the hall. “I missed you, Alicia,” Canning looks up at her and smiles. “You’re fun.”  She asks him flat out if he’s dying. Everybody’s dying, he replies. “Are you dying now?” she presses.  No, just having a kidney transplant, he says, and wheels off.  She looks thoughtful, and I feel confused. Unless he’s getting a kidney from someone he knows, how can he be planning a kidney transplant?  “He’s going in for a kidney transplant, and she thinks he’s lying,” Sally bites in Alicia’s imagination. I like that she’s Alicia’s personal public relationship barometer now, particularly since she looks a bit like a grown up Grace. “She’s not only selfish, she’s paranoid.”

And perhaps its this thought that sends her to St. Paul’s Cathedral (kind of small for a cathedral, huh?), a brick church on a busy street.  Finn — who’s serving food in a blue hoodie — laughs at her for arriving in her work clothes. “Best dressed in the soup kitchen,” he smiles.  Note to Alicia: bring appropriate clothes next time. “You dress down well,” she tells him appreciatively; oh, yeah, I have a consultant, he tells her, angling his body to give her a better view.  What does he think is going on here, I wonder? What does he understand of Alicia’s marriage? What do either of them think is going on?  She laughs.

In the back kitchen, where a cabinet bears the legend A Step Forward, Alicia (as the last volunteer to arrive) is left to clean up the pots.  Though Finn points this out with spotless latex gloves on, there are three bins full of filthy pots, all crusted over with red sauce.  Just like home, she sighs. “But less entitled,” Finn quips.  Yes, Alicia agrees snarkily. “I can see the selfishness melting away.”   She’s scrubbing fiercely at a grimy pot when Eli calls and explains that — with a hilarious helping hand from the Confetti Brothers, a pair of sibs from Wisconsin who’ve cornered the political confetti market — he’s figured out the timing of Prady’s announcement, which will be the following night. He’s going to shower himself with confetti?  Don’t  you do that when you win rather than just run for office?

Anyway, Eli’s plan is to have Peter meet Alicia at the hotel where Prady’s announcing so that they’ll be photographed leaving together.  I’m underwhelmed.  That’s going to be enough to derail Prady’s announcement bump, a photo of a married couple walking out of a hotel together?  Whatever.  A woman sneaks over to the kitchen pass through, and snaps a picture with her cell phone; Alicia raises a water-wrinkled, sauce covered hand and waves for the camera.  I can’t believe she’s not getting that gorgeous jacket splattered; she’s not even wearing an apron. The woman gets in another picture once Alicia sets down the phone and returns to scrubbing the pot.

Wringing his hands against the steering wheel, Cary watches in horror as Lana drives up to the stairwell inside the work garage.  She drives a flashy black convertible sports car, and because the top is down Cary gets a perfect look first at Lana beaming soppily at Kalinda as the investigator gets out and walks around the car, and then at their tender kiss.

And in her bedroom, a Chum Hum alert wakes Grace know with the news that there’s a new story online about her mom.  Immediately, she brings the laptop to her mom’s room, where Alicia’s putting in her earrings and charging out for the new day.  As she takes the laptop, her phone rings, and of course it’s Eli. “There’s a picture of you online scrubbing an already clean pot,” he fumes, pacing in front of the focus group window.  Somehow it’s also problematic that she’s on the phone — there’s an inset blown up of her cell beneath her chin.  “Why are you scrubbing an already clean pot?”  How can you possibly tell from the picture whether the pot is dirty or clean?  You can’t see inside it, and that’s generally where pots are the dirtiest.  She’s horrified that people are making that implication, since she really did clean the pot.  And then she has to explain that she’s not dressed for a dinner party, she came from work.  Sigh. “And I was on the phone with you! You called me!”

This is a disaster, Eli grumbles.  She can’t do photo ops on her own.  Poor Alicia; it wasn’t a photo op, she was volunteering and there was a person with a camera, who may or may not have been a tracker. You can’t just help out, Eli tells her, not when there are people out there trying to screw you.  “My God, does it say it was clean?” she asks again, scanning the article.  He wants her to come in and strategize a response, and isn’t happy at all to hear that she can’t because she wasn’t able to delay Jody’s suit. “Alicia, I take my job seriously,” he snaps. “You need to take it seriously too!”  She looks at the picture, appalled at how much the opposition is willing to make up.

“For a politician’s wife, she’s somewhat phony,” Doubting Sally tells Elfman, looking at the photo on his display screen.  Wait, because political wives generally come off as so sincere?  Reggie and Larry think that the homeless aren’t real to Alicia — they’re just animals in a cage.  Oh my gosh, that’s awful. Because she smiled?  Because we just assume the worst of politicians? She just went to that soup kitchen to show off, Sally spouts, and Eli bangs his head against the glass.

It doesn’t appear that Cary’s having a better day; his eyes are red, made redder next to his pink shirt and tie, and he watches Kalinda hungrily as she walks through the glass hallway.  Having thoroughly discredited his past, Viola’s ready to move on to the wiretap recording of his wrong doing.  Alleged wrong doing, Cary correct reflexively. Now the tape starts with you joking about women, is that right, Viola starts, and oh, God.  That’s when the CI decided to turn on the wire, Cary can’t help correcting, even though she didn’t ask when the conversation started but the recording of it. Oh, so the wire is edited?  By the CI deciding when to turn it on and off, Cary says, and wow, he’s just so angry.  Viola actually agrees, saying the tape starts half way through a joke about Beyonce.  So what was the other half?  How is this relevant, Cary asks, and he’s reprimanded by Diane. “No, seriously, how’s my joking about Beyonce relevant?” Wow, Viola pulls back. Are we taking a break from questioning?  Poor Cary loses it completely; he didn’t do anything wrong, and further, Diane’s not objecting enough, not protecting him.

I can’t object because these are softballs, she says. “And if I object it’ll look like we’re hiding something.”  Oh, does he disagree with that characterization!  He’s completely lost his grip.  There’s nothing to object to here. Cary surges out of his seat and stomps off, so Diane calls an end to today’s proceedings.  We’d still like one more session, she tells Viola, and gets some straight shooting for free because they respect each other. “I have to tell you, he’s a bad witness. If I’m on the jury, he’s going away for fifteen years.”  She knows.

“Cary,” Diane says, walking into her partner’s office as he stares out at the city, alternately flexing and shaking out his hands. “Whatever you have to do, whoever you have to talk to, get your head in the game.” He turns back to look at her. “You are fourteen days away from spending a decade in prison, do you understand?”  He grips the back of his chair hard, leans into it. “I understand that I will be fine,” he snarls. “You need to protect me more on the stand!” Oh, Cary.  Watch the tape, she growls back, and storms out.  Curling into himself, he inhales sharply through his nose, and then shoves his desk forward.

When she opens her apartment door, Kalinda immediately knows something’s wrong.  Leaving the door open, she pulls her gun out of her waistband and steps in without turning on the lights, looking into her bedroom.  Cary steps from the shadows in the other direction, telling her to close the door.  Damn, he’s luck he didn’t get shot. “Cary!” she says, exasperated, the red leather sleeves of her jacket the only bright spots in the dark apartment. This is a mistake, she says immediately; do you want to go back to jail?  Um, yeah. Didn’t the court order him to wear a monitoring device?  You know I don’t want to go back, he says, slumped into a chair. Then stop screwing around, she tells him; you cannot be here, you need the thirty feet of separation. Though he’s certain no one saw him enter, it’s not enough for Kalinda. “Castro wants you in prison, he could have cops outside,” she reminds him.

Why are you lying to me, he wonders, pained. I’m not, she says, caught off guard, and he cops to knowing she’s with Lana when she’s claiming to be at home.  Between Cary and Bishop, she’s got to be getting tired of the snooping. Giving him a saucy look, she slips out of her leather jacket.  What are you doing, he asks. “Well, you came here to bang me,” she says, “so lets get it over with.”  Ouch.  Ouch. He leaps up, struggling with his words. “Just act like you care for fourteen days.  Act like I mean something to you.”  You do, she says. “Well then show me and stop going to her,” he begs.  Oh God.  His heart is in his face, and I want to cry for him. “Cary, come on, that’s not what this is all about,” she pleads. “We don’t do that to each other!”  And here it is.  It was always going to come down to this.

“I can’t think about anything else,” he confesses. “I need to save myself, and all I can do is picture you in bed with her.”  Oh, God.  You poor foolish boy. Would you really believe her if she just lied to humor you?  “Cary, we’re not married,” she says, “we’re not even going steady.” Yes, and let’s not get into the fact that marriage didn’t really stand in the way of her dalliances with Lana, either.   “But you mean something to me,” he counters. “Yes, I know I’m supposed to be a good sport, but I don’t want to be with anyone else.”  My heart breaks waiting for her obvious, inevitable response. With sorrow and sympathy in her eyes, she looks at him and says “I do.”

“Okay, that solves that,” he says, giving her a typical, sardonic Cary grin. “Thank you and go to hell.”  He’d like to check outside before he just rushes out in case anyone’s looking, but he’d done waiting around for her.

Jody had a fair hearing, Marcia Brady explains on the stand.  Most disciplinary hearings last under an hour.  Okay, but what are we talking about here?  I mean, you can be discipline for a lot of things in college.  Surely this merits a little more time than, say, a plagiarism charge?  I can’t believe rape cases only take an hour to peel apart. Since Jody’s session ran for five hours over two days, clearly justice was done. “Sounds like due process to me,” Canning shrugs, and so of course Alicia objects that he’s testifying.  When prompted by the judge Canning admits (between puffs of oxygen) that he doesn’t really have more to say.  He’ll just rephrase his question.

It’s not actually a rephrasing at all.  He grabs the “heavy” and detailed document that sets the rules for the student judiciary hearings, the vaunted student handbook; Marcia agrees that it lays out procedures for everything in it’s massive 250 pages. And in those pages, doesn’t it say that a student’s silent advocate has to be, you know, silent?  And wasn’t Mrs. Florrick the opposite of silent? Why is this about me, Alicia wonders rightly, and Canning’s only recourse is to dive, again, for his oxygen mask.

What kind of special training did you receive to be on this committee, Alicia asks Marcia Marcia Marcia during her cross, and then snarks at the answer.  Wow, a whole weekend retreat!  Incredible!  Canning objects, smiling in appreciation of Alicia’s sarcasm, and is sustained.  Marcia then volunteers that they were also given helpful training videos.  Were any of those videos specific to sexual assault, Alicia wonders.  Nope.  Now, was Marcia – whose name appears to be Reena Booth – appointed to the panel?  Nope, she’s a volunteer, and no, she didn’t volunteered to get any training about sexual assaults. “It wasn’t required,” she adds.

In his redirect, Canning suggests that since Marcia’s served on a jury, she’s capable of serving on the judiciary panel. Alicia points out that in a trial, juries receive special instructions from trained professionals (the lawyers and the judge) about legal issues. Was there anyone to instruct Marcia?  No.  Did she listen to the testimony of expert witnesses and eye witnesses, as she would in a regular trial?  No. To my mind, Canning’s is a flawed analogy, since judiciary panelists act not only as jurors but also as lawyers and judges; hopefully Alicia made that point. Judging from his expression, Canning certainly thinks like she did.

Thankfully, Cary’s at least taking some of Diane’s advice; when he arrives back at work, he turns on the tape of his practice testimony.  Man. As he sits down to take notes, Alicia knocks on his door, and from her slim back skirt suit (as well as Cary’s purple shirt and blue tie), it’s clear this is a different day.   “How are you?” she asks, and he points at his face on the screen, saying not good.  She knows. She saw it. Lawyers make the worst witnesses, she reminds him.  How’re you, he asks in return, and she grins morbidly.  “I’m Marie Antoinette!”  Sigh.  Good for you, he says. She wants to leave, but can’t make herself.

I know you’re not asking for advice, she declares, walking into his office, but I’m offering anyway. “It’s an injustice, what’s happening to you,” she says, “but you’re lost in the indignation and the anger. You can’t see past them, and neither will a jury if you don’t get it under control.”  He stares up at her, his face pale, his eyes red. Please listen.  She’s lived in this muck of judgment and despair. “Give the jury the chance to find the injustice for themselves.”

Again, I love to see her arguing when she actually cares about something. “Coming off of you, it reads like … entitlement.”  We can see precisely how much she hates using the word, but it is the one that fits.  Sounds like maybe they both need to take her advice. He grins like a skeleton, too tight, too wide.  Thank you, he breathes. “You’ll be great,” she adds, and he nods, looking up at her, and then down, and I have the terrible feeling he’s going to cry.

I am telling you.  Emmy nomination.  That’s what this kind of acting deserves.  I hope people out there are paying attention.

“Are you finished with your good works, Mrs. Florrick?” Eli snaps from behind Alicia’s desk.  As with Sally, Alicia’s obsessed with the pot; it was dirty, she needs him to know, she’d been cleaning it for fifteen minutes. No, just sit down, Eli tells her, closing the door on her protests that she’s just been advising Cary.

Don’t ever do that again, Eli begins.  When Alicia protests that she went to the soup kitchen because she’s so desperately sick of spending all her time thinking about herself, Eli suggests she think about him instead. “Some voters think you’re entitled,” he admits. “Some voters don’t know you yet. You wanna do some good, we make a photo op.”  That’s not doing good, she tells him. “Stop acting like this is about you becoming a better person, this is about you appearing like you’re a better person, that’s what the voters respect.”  God, that’s so awful. That’s a horribly depressing thought, and Alicia crosses her arms defensively against it. Oh, you think this is counter intuitive, he asks.  She does.  “Well that’s why you’re bad at this and I’m good,” he declares.  Reporters don’t want an original story, he goes on.  They want a pre-chewed one.  They want to be roped off, they want to be fed a line.  Let me do my job, Alicia, he tells her. I’m good at it. And if you really want to be a good person, let me tell you where to send the check.

God, that’s so depressing.  This is really what you want to sign up for, Alicia?  More inane scrutiny, less authenticity? More feeling stuck in your own head?

For the third time, Cary sits down in the faux witness box, this time with a glass of water.  As calmly as the first day, he tells Viola that he’s ready. According to your account, your words on that tape are just tantamount to you hanging with the cool kids, she asks. Yes.  And he doesn’t view his actions as criminal?  No. Or so ignorant that they might as well be criminal?  Again, no. (That might be my view, though.)   Would he care to elaborate?  He thinks about it, oh yes he does, but the word that comes out of his mouth once more is no.  This time, Diane gives Viola a triumphant smile.  That’s something, Diane, but there wasn’t enough of that caution and sense to mean as much as we’d all hope it does.

As Alicia heads in to court – and I swear now she’s wearing pants with the black suit jacket from the previous scenes — she gets a call from Kalinda, who’d been looking for other girls that Troy might have attacked. I found something much better, she says, standing in front of another gorgeous open staircase, this one with a white plaster wall written over in many different colors of ink.  Instead of more of Troy’s victims, she’s found more rapists.  This is a rape wall, a place where girls write the names of men who’ve assaulted them.  There’s no time for a class action, Alicia says (and how does she mean that, time before what? the election) but Kalinda’s more interested in the fact that the university has two janitors repainting the wall.  Ha.  How’s that for timing?

Kalinda sends pictures over to Alicia, who shows them to Canning and the judge.  These are unrelated and inflammatory, Canning claims, and Judge Parks tends to agree. Yes, that’s why we’re looking to amend the complaint to a class action against the university for creating an unsafe environment, Alicia explains.  Hot dog.  Canning’s horrified, and his only response is to suck on more oxygen.

And there’s Lemond Bishop in the garage again, for once willing to conduct his business outside a vehicle.  What did you find out, he wonders pleasantly.  Am I in danger or not?  Not, she says, neatly sidestepping the fact that Lana’s on his case. Are you sure, he says, and that’s when she lies, saying that Lana’s working on white collar crime. Oh, Kalinda, this cannot end well. I don’t believe you, he says, and then he asks for a favor. “The next time you see Miss Delaney, I want you to put this is her wallet.”  This is a blank white card the size and shape of a credit card; presumably its some sort of high tech bug. Why, she wonders; because he says so.  Can she ask what it does?  No.  (Oh, come on.  Do you really need to ask?  You’re an investigator.)  I’m telling you the truth, Kalinda claims; she’s not focusing on you. Well, he smiles, then I’ll know for sure.  That’ll be great.

“I apprised the university of the progress of these proceedings,” Canning tells Alicia and a rather hostile Jody in Alicia’s office, and they gave him a statement.  Would the ladies like to read it?  Jody looks at the sheet of paper as if it were a live snake, so Alicia takes it and reads: it seems that during a random drug search, the campus police found a substantial amount of pot in his room, and so the university has expelled him. Scoffing at the alleged randomness of this search, Alicia takes off her black reading glasses and looks at Jody for her response. So you see, Canning says, there’s no reason to go forward with the lawsuit. Actually, there are 60 reasons, one for each name on the rape wall, Alicia tells him. You’re running scared, and we’re just getting started.  No, Jody says.  I thought this was what you wanted, Jody, Canning says, simply to be able to avoid Troy.  “I’m done,” Jody tells them, and stands.  On her way out, she takes the paper from the university, a strange souvenir of her ability to take back her power.

“When’s your operation?” Alicia asks Canning.  I don’t know, he says, loading his things into his wheelchair.  “I haven’t gotten a kidney.”  Ah.  I thought that was unlikely. “Can I do anything?” Alicia asks.  I’m expecting some smug reply, like what Canning gave to Diane when she expressed concern, but he surprises me. “Yes,” he says. “If I die…”  Are you going to die, Alicia interrupts him, and he chokes on an answer before concluding “… I’d like for you to visit my wife.”  Huh.  “She likes you, and this thing has been hard on her.”  I will, Alicia promises.  Another vow, another repetition of marital vows.  It’s odd, this.

“There you go,” Alicia says, dropping a tong-full of green beans onto one person’s plate, and then handing silverware to the next person in line.  This time, she’s wearing gloves and an apron and is standing in front of a set of tin foil serving pans wearing more appropriate designer clothes.  (Her brown and black top is hardly the equivalent of Finn’s blue hoodie, but I’m far less nervous that she’ll ruin it.) Cameras click and roll behind the line of diners, loud as a storm. Hi, Anne, our girl tells a woman who stops in front of her, staring, almost catatonic. If you need help filling out housing applications, I’d be happy to help later, she adds, and Anne stares at her so desperately and yet so vacantly that Eli eventually has to step in and steer her to a seat. After, the news coverage shows Alicia sharing an awkward hug with Anne. The governor’s wife was quite a hit, the reporter tells the focus group over their television. I’ll say this much, it’s a far better attention-stealer than just going to a hotel with Peter. In other news, the anchor continues, incumbent State’s Attorney Jim Castro announced he was withdrawing from the race now that news commentator Frank Prady has entered it.

What the bleepitty bleep????  Are you kidding me? Where’s that wall Eli was slamming his head against? YOU DIDN’T! Without Castro to run against, Alicia has no message, and no urgency to run, and no point in being in the race. Oh. My. God.  And we’re just going to find out in that offhand way?  Seriously?

Stopping the report, Elfman thanks the group for their patience and then asks them one last time how they feel about Alicia. “Look,” Doubting Sally admits, “I’ve been all over the place about her.  And I’m still not thrilled that she’s with her husband.  But,  I like her,” she smiles. “I think she seems to care.”  What the hell, really?  After calling her a totally phony when she was being more sincere?  In the observation room, Eli and Alicia nod happily at each other. “Not bad, huh,” he asks. “Not bad,” she agrees.

Yes it’s bad!  Maybe the electorate in general can be manipulated that easily, but Sally doesn’t seem that dumb.  I categorically reject Eli’s doctrine of predigested news and the appearance of good triumphing over the practice of it.  I don’t buy that for a second. “Now you just have to beat Prady,” Eli says. “Tell me what to do,” Alicia gives him a hungry look.  UGGGGGH!  Eli smiles in triumph.

Lying awake next to Lana, Kalinda bites her lip, wondering what to do.  (Not that it matters, but I never pegged Kalinda as someone who spent the night.  Oh well. Maybe that’s part of why all her lovers end up feeling like they’re more important to her than they actually are.)  As she sits up, Lana stirs. “You’re not leaving, are you,” she pouts, her voice girlish and vulnerable and yes, clingy. No, she’s not leaving. She placates Lana with a kiss and then steals her purse.  She takes it into the bathroom, pulls out the wallet, pulls out the whtie card, and stares into space. If she lets Bishop track Lana, he’ll know that Lana’s investigating him, and that Kalinda lied. “Damn it,” she says, her hair swinging out over her face as she snaps the card in half.

Wow.  That was an interesting one for sure!  I feel like I could have gone on about the gorgeous subtleties of the writing here for ages — Alicia listening when Jody says no (in opposition to Troy) even though precludes making an important civil rights step, or the echoes of marriage vows.  All the many ways the characters fall into a red zone.  Poor Cary, drowning in emotion, burnt and betrayed like he was always going to be.  Then there’s the weirdness of Kalinda being so soppy and sentimental with Lana; I mean, what’s that about?  Kalinda doesn’t stare into your eyes and drink wine after sex.  She leaves.  And God, if she had to be soppy about someone, why does she always pick these crazy possessive types?  I don’t think I can even start on the whole appearance of good being better than actual good.

The complete shock and weirdness of Castro pulling out of the race — and Alicia continuing anyway — makes me think a little bit that campaigns are like sex; it’s hard to stop in the middle.  What does it say about her that she doesn’t even consider ending her campaign, despite no longer having a reason to run?  I mean, she got in because there was no one else to oppose Castro, right?  And now not only is there, but there’s no more Castro!  PULL OUT, ALICIA!  You don’t have to do this to yourself. Argh.  I can’t help thinking that what she actually wants is more like what Finn was offering; self-forgetfulness.  A way out of her own morass.  Cary’s much vaunted clarity.

Oh well. Whatever.  After losing half the post and then re-writing in a more summarized manner (as opposed to all transcript) leaves me pretty exhausted; I feel like I should have something smart to say about all these fascinating parallels, but I’m all used up.  I think I need to get out of Alicia’s head for a few days now, too!

7 comments on “The Good Wife: Red Zone

  1. Pat says:

    Could Cary being over Kalinda for good? She’s not for him. He deserves better than this. I mean we all know that she is not able to stick with one lover at a time but, gosh, that was worst time ever to start a relationship with someone else. Did she really “need” to spend those 30 feet time having sex with her all the time…. now? “While” Cary’s falling deeply and deeply into that nightmare? It was too much even for her. That’s that thing which bothers me. Their relationship can be not exclusive but they’ve always said us they care about each other but that episode I didn’t find Kalinda’s attitude so caring. It was mostly the bad timing. I found extremely disturbing to wacht her being intimate with a carachter who I also despise, while Cary is losing his mind. He basically doesn’t have any strong dear one in his life so no surprise he gave up with his self-respect and begged her for that 14 days fake commitment. It was painful to watch because it was clear that it came mostly from his desperation than from anything else. Maybe we are supposed to appreciate Kalinda’s honesty. But it doesn’t mean I’ve to like it. And I honestly didn’t have any liking for her in that moment. I wanted just to hugh Cary.
    Said that, some emmy consideration for Matt Czuchry, please.

    • E says:

      Oh, Pat. That was so hard, wasn’t it? He begs her for two weeks, and she can’t even pretend. That was heart-rending. And I don’t know that it would even have helped in the end – he would have know she was faking – but ugh.

      I honestly don’t know that I buy the extent to which she’s having a moment with Lana. I won’t say that the actresses aren’t pulling it off, because they are, but it feels like the only reason for it to happen is to serve the plot (to make her smash Cary’s heart and defy Bishop), not because Kalinda really would act that way. There needed to have been more build up, more continuity after the way things ended the last time we saw Lana in Shiny Objects.

  2. Kiki says:

    Awwwwwwwwwwww E! Sorry you lost your post 😦

    Winter hiatus is coming soon, you will get an Alicia break LOL.

    I can’t believe they had Castro drop out like that, ridiculous.

    I need this Sundays episode basically. I have nothing else to add.

    Yes Alicia is entitled and selfish doesn’t mean she is necessary a bad person though. LOL

    • E says:

      The Castro thing is so ridiculous, I can’t even. And she has absolutely no reaction to it? None? Are they kidding? Same with Lemond Bishop covertly funding her campaign. No reaction at all? Such insanity. I moan, but I don’t really want a break from the show, I want the writers to start making smarter decisions.

  3. Kiki says:

    The frustrating thing about this, is that the writers have always done this drop story lines all the time when they want. Not sure why it bothers me so much more now.

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