E: This week’s Good Wife brings us a brilliant treatise on identity. Where can you stand in the distance between reputation and personal honor, between what others know of you and what you know of yourself? When it’s your choice, what do you use to define yourself? And how do you respond when you’re not in charge of your own narrative? When you’re accused of a crime? When your romantic life becomes public knowledge? When your public persona requires personal sacrifice? Yeah, I’m a total sucker for those kind of questions.
I’ve made it quite clear what I think of the current direction of the show. This week’s terrifying, explosive, dizzying episode almost –almost — makes all the rest of that plotting stupidity worth it.
The episode begins with Alicia’s team literally carving out a defining vision for her, patching it together from some unlikely sources. It’s not just about our problems, no matter how much we’d like to make it about us, a man in a puffy vest declares earnestly, sitting at a table in a coffee shop and looking up at Alicia, who’s standing by the register. It’s about how the whole universe fits together. It’s about everything. What’re you going to do about, well, everything? Oh, the look of terror on Alicia’s face is just priceless. She wins big points from me for having a cogent answer; you start with the broken window theory, she says, which suggests that indeed all things (or at least crime and vandalism) are tied together. Really, it’s a very Alicia thought; letting go even a little can result in a descent into chaos. “I remember a time,” she says, much to the delight of Elfman and his film crew, “when Chicago was different. When people helped each other.” Her bright blue suit contrasts beautifully with the deep red walls of the restaurant. “I remember being a kid and playing out on the street,” she continues. “Going trick or treating. I don’t know if anyone would allow their child to do that now.”
And here we are back in the studio, where Elfman watches the raw footage and David Krumholtz of Numb3rs and Ten Things I Hate About You does his grumpy genius thing, barking at a seated man to edit portions together. With the jump cut, the man wonders, and Krumholtz tells him no, moron, the morning in America stuff.
After this reference, Editor Boy pulls up – a field full of cows? When were there ever cows in Chicago, Krumholtz fumes. (Don’t answer that.) He wants kids playing ball in the streets, firehoses. Now you’re talking! So what the kid pulls up this time is – playing ball in a grassy field? Girls in gauzy dresses on a tire swing in a meadow? Somewhat surprisingly, they layering Alicia’s voice reminiscing about a friendlier Chicago over this bucolic vision. “Then go to the hug,” Elfman suggests, waving his bottled water at the screen, and his Wunderkind Director agrees to the idea, suggesting a little guitar behind it. Yet another older woman with long gray hair grabs Alicia’s shoulders from behind – completely startling her — and hugs her, the newbie politician eventually relaxing into the embrace. The Wunderkind loves it. “Ah, everybody likes Alicia, see?”
Sure, the children playing in a sunny field don’t look anymore like they’re in a city any more than the cows did, and that seems like a mistake to me, and I think I’d edit out Alicia’s mini-freak at the start of the hug, but okay. Go back to where Cosmos guy was nodding, the Wunderkind instructs his editor. He was always nodding, he has a nervous tick, the kid says. “What’re you, his physician?” Krumholtz complains. Just pull it up. (He does. The double nod is totally fake looking.) “See, even the Cosmos Idiot agrees,” the Director waves at the screen. Now he wants a bit of Peter, still with the guitar behind it all.
“The key is caring, and Alicia cares,” Peter’s voice comes over the hug, helping to smooth over the rough edges. “I think the job of a State’s Attorney is so overwhelming,” he declares in an interview, in front of a swirly gray backdrop, “It needs a person whose heart is in the right place.” Off camera, the Haircut asks Peter for his take on Frank Prady, and Peter explains he just wants to be told what they want him to say; Ramona, scribbling fiercely on a notepad as she stands near the camera, warns that there are legal ramifications for saying too much. Ably, Peter gives Elfman what he needs.”I like Frank Prady,” the governor says, tapping his finger tips together, giving the camera a very serious look. “But if there was ever a time for a State’s Attorney with experience and compassion, it’s now.”
Good, Elfman hops to his feet in the editing suite; use that as a transition to the courthouse shooting news footage. Sigh. Mmm hmm, mmmm hmm, Krumholtz agrees. “Make it black and white, grainy,” he decides. “Go music,” Elfman adds, “go to the Irish music.” After obligingly changing the color palette to a rough black and white, Editor Boy pops on a bright, sprightly jig, much to Krumholtz’s disdain. A festive courthouse shooting, he gripes. “What’re you, an idiot? The Irish wake music.” I’m not okay with the way he’s saying it, but that was a ridiculous option. The keening music is a far better choice.
Great, now go to the Finn interview, the Haircut says. “I don’t really like going into it,” Finn hangs his head. “Well this is for Alicia,” Elfman prompts him off screen, “so anything you could tell us…” Ah. That’s interesting, him knowing to press that point. Finn wrinkles his forehead, then nods and starts, restarting after the Haircut prompts him to use Will’s full name. “I was in court across from Will Gardner, we were at side bar with the judge,” he says, as the Irish music plays and the editor selects a black and white photo of Will that somehow looks about a hundred years old. “When there was a gun shot.”
Called in to see the progress, Alicia recoils in her seat. “Will was dying,” Finn adds. That’s where the Wunderkind needs clips of Alicia talking about the courthouse to go. After the sadness, “blah blah blah,” the Wunderkind says they’ll cut back to the diner. “The murder rates are insane,” Alicia tells the assembled Chicagoans. Finn shrugs. “I tried to stop the bleeding, but I couldn’t. So I just sat there waiting for the paramedics with him. I watched the life of this man, this good man, fade away.” Alicia exchanges a eye roll with Marisa. (Yay, the return of the body woman! Excellent.) “Because he was trying to help someone,” Finn finishes.
Are you really thinking of using this, Alicia complains. We’re not thinking of using it, we’re going to use it, Krumholtz insists, pacing. He’s no longer the hyper-thin scientist of Numb3rs; he looks more natural now, black hipster glasses over a more rounded face. It feels right. “Ugh, it’s so crass, it’s awful,” Marisa complains, and he rounds on her, pointing. Who’s she again? The body woman, of course! “Then what’re you doing talking?” Gee, let’s not tolerate any dissent, huh? He’s like the Soup Nazi of the editing suite.
“Alicia, this video is meant to introduce you,” Elfman cuts in, smoothing the situation over as usual. The public doesn’t know her or her story, and the shooting is part of that story. (I love this conscious scripting of personal narrative, this question of who gets to define Alicia and for what ends. It’s so meta — they’re talking about Alicia like she’s a character with a story.) “Yes, but it’s so corny with the boo hoo hoo music,” Marisa complains. Who’s surprised that the rude Soup Director doesn’t like to be questioned? How many campaigns have you won, he snaps; since this is like every day at home with her dad, Marisa couldn’t care less.
“Okay, okay,” Alicia cuts in. “Tell them the scandal stuff. Tell them how I raised my kids.” That’s not really enough, Elfman points out. That doesn’t give her a reason to run, and the shooting does. “You were personally touched by murder.” You know, I feel like they could weave together a larger vision of fighting against injustice in law enforcement; Peter was jailed on false corruption charges, which drastically changed her life even more than the humiliation of the sex scandal. Will’s death was caused by a wrong-headed prosecution, and now Cary’s being destroyed by a power-hungry prosecutor. Again and again, her life has been shaped by men bending the law for their own ends. Even if they can’t get into the ridiculous NSA wiretap, it seems to me that she’s got quite a personally relevant story in all those elements combined.
“You think Prady’s gonna have any trouble talking about the death of his Dad?” Krumholtz wonders. “With the photos of the car accident, and him crying?” Sigh. I suppose not. He’s up by three points, they have no media budget… Er, how are they doing this if they have no media budget? “What about the music from Titanic?” Marisa snarks. “We could even cut to shots from Titanic.” Ha. “I’m losing it,” the Soup Director complains, having a diva moment and banging his hands on the table. “I’m losing it right here.” Oh, put a sock in it, drama queen. Ever the voice of pragmatism, Elfman explains that their plan is for the video to go viral, and to do that, it has to be dramatic.
Alicia’s next suggestion is to use a comparison ad they’d been planning, but apparently they don’t yet have enough opposition research collected to do it. Delicately, the Haircut asks Alicia to call Peter and set up an interview with the pair of them, in order to maintain the image (the political illusion) of their happy marriage. Right. Relieving Alicia of actually answering the question, Diane calls, but the benefit is one sided; unfortunately it’s too late for Alicia to join Diane and Cary in the meeting they’re about to have. Poor Cary, sitting in a book-lined office, wonders what could be keeping the partner who promised to do whatever she could to free him. Lame, Alicia.
Good morning, a cheery voice interrupts them, and Diane quickly hangs up. “I’m Stu Harper,” the man says, extending his hand, and oh my God. “I’m the special agent in charge of the FBI field office.” Oh my God oh my God, Joe Junior is part of the FBI? I love this universe, I love it so much! (Joe Junior, from the underrated romantic comedy classic While You Were Sleeping. I realize you can only see his butt crack in this particular trailer, but Michael Rispoli’s pretty darn wonderful in it, let alone the rest adorableness of the leads and the quibbling charm of the extended family. My family quotes this movie all the time, especially from this whopper of a scene.) “I was hoping we could have a moment to just talk before anyone shouts ‘attorney client privilege!’ or ‘grand jury indictment’ at each other.” Ah, there’s that accent, and the folksy charm. That’s good, Agent Harper, Diane gives him a rather haughty look, because I don’t shout. Heh.
Agent Harper leans on his desk – oddly placed so that the visitor chairs are facing its side instead of the front – and makes a formal pitch to turn Cary against Lemond Bishop. “Unfortunately,” Diane begins with a tone of one stating the obvious, “Mr. Agos was one of Mr. Bishop’s attorneys, so he can’t…” Harper cuts her off; he knows that. He also knows Cary’s being prosecuted by the State’s Attorney. “We sympathize,” he adds, and Cary nods, smiling one of his wryly amused smiles. “We want you to know our investigation has nothing to do with theirs.” Right. Of course not. Great, Cary replies, unexcited. “In fact,” Harper continues, “we wanna help you. Agent Delaney,” he says, and waves a rather hesitant looking Lana Delaney into the room. “Please meet Cary Agos and Diane Lockhart.” Yes, she says. They’ve had dealings before. “Hi.”
Turning his pale face up to hers, Cary returns her greeting pointedly. “Hi,” he says, “it’s nice to see you again.” Oh dear. I think pretty much no one was paying attention to the first half of Harper’s sentence, but once he’s done promoting his next action up as being unusual, he recaptures our attention, saying they’re about to play an FBI wire tap recording. Lana queues it up on a laptop on Harper’s desk. “I can’t move. I can’t do business. They’re crawling up my ass,” Lemond Bishop complains on a crackling tape. Is this one of Trey’s old tapes? We miss the response in a crackle. “Then why am I drowning here?” “You know why,” another voice cuts in. “The lawyer, Cary Agos.” Well that’s hardly fair. “We’re not saying he’d flip, Lemond. But the cops smell blood here. We’ll look weak.”
“Then what do we do here?” Bishop snaps. “He’s a white lawyer.” Crackle crackle crackle. “He can’t just disappear.” Crackle crack. “One to the back of the head,” one of the toadies says. Slowly, Diane turns to look at Cary. “Okay. I want it done. Next week. Make this end.”
Oh my God.
“You sure?” a voice asks. Cary looks up at Lana, his eyes bulging. All we hear from the tape now is isolated phrases. They need a plan — where and how. Joe Junior shuts off the recording. “That’s it,” he says, drawing himself up to his full height. “That’s an official FBI wiretap of Lemond Bishop discussing how to murder you, Cary.” Because Diane asks, Lana tells them that the conversation took place 5 days previously, Thursday the 13th, at Bishop’s house. Wait, does that mean Bishop’s house is bugged, or that they’ve got someone other than Trey wearing a wire? “The time frame they’re discussing for your murder in this week,” she turns to a fiercely frowning Cary. After refusing to share a copy of the tape, Harper renews his plea for Cary to help put Bishop away.
Why can’t you just put him away for threatening to kill me, Cary wonders. Yeah, that’s a great question. Why DO they need him? Somehow, Harper thinks that “one to the back of the head” was a cleverly disguised threat and isn’t enough to hold Bishop — but he still thinks its enough that Cary should be scared. Are you kidding me? That’s ridiculous. And perhaps that’s why Cary’s done with the conversation.
Lana stands along with him, trying to impress him with the gravity of the situation. “A little hint for the next time you do this,” Cary turns his head toward Harper. “Don’t have the woman who’s sleeping with my girlfriend break it to me.” Oh no he didn’t! There’s so much richness in that moment — Harper’s surprise, Lana’s frozen shock at being outed (she looks like she’s trying to inhale through her eyeballs), Cary’s delusional reference to Kalinda his girlfriend, his bitter lashing out. “I’m sorry, what?” Harper blinks. Cary turns and points. “Next time you try to get me to flip, don’t use her.”
In the hall, Cary stabs at the elevator buttons with his fingers. It’s faked, he tells Diane, who walks toward him with a finger over her lips. Bishop was in Florida on the 13th, he adds. “Even if you’re right,” she replies, “we need to act like you’re wrong. Bishop could threaten something like that.” Nodding, Cary agrees. What should they do?
Diane’s first order of business is to put Kalinda on Cary’s case full time; she’s to give Robyn all her other cases. I don’t suppose that would mean we’d get to see Robyn again, would it? Because that would be nice. She explains about the threat to assassinate Cary (interestingly political word choice), and asks if the FBI could have cobbled the threat together from other recordings as Cary suspects. Like her boss, Kalinda thinks the threat is credible, and together they decide to hire Cary a body guard. To get around the court mandated distance, Diane intends to give whatever support is needed.
When Alicia arrives, her progress through the office is cut short by Frank Prady calling out her name from reception. Tucking a bright blue shoebox under his arm, he walks over to her. Though she has misgivings about talking to him, Frank wins her over. “My campaign manager would kill me if he knew, but, ah, let’s live dangerously.”
He sets the blue shoebox (bound with two rows of packing tape) on her desk and taps it. Again, they’re being so sparing about filming her office; We never see her through the door as we were used to seeing Will, or even behind the desk. Instead, she’s standing in front of it; we only see the nondescript painting behind her. No, it doesn’t feel like her space yet, but because we see so little of it, it doesn’t feel like Will’s, either, and I appreciate their delicacy.
Before he left the race, Frank says, James Castro gave me this. The shoebox is full of opposition research – dirt on Alicia, Peter, the kids, everyone. “I haven’t opened it. He wanted me to use it against you. But I won’t.” Huh. Why not? “I want to do this differently,” he says simply. “I don’t want to pound you into submission, and I don’t want you to pound me.” Er, okay… “I’ve heard politicians in the past say they won’t go negative, and they always go negative, and I think I know why.” Because it works, she scoffs. (Yeah, there’s a line there, though. I either tune out negative ads or get so offended by them that it sends me in the opposite direction.) No, he counters, it’s because they don’t mean it — it’s all just a posture for the press. If they meant it, they’d go to the candidate. And that’s why he’s going to Alicia now. He won’t go negative, and he wants her to say she’ll refrain as well.
Suspecting a trap, Alicia suggests that this good will stems from the fact that Frank’s ahead in the race. Maybe he doesn’t think he needs to go negative. “Yeah, but, you must have the same projections I do,” he counters, hand to his heart. “The race will tighten. You have women, I have African Americans. You have Catholics, I have limousine liberals, that’s a flipped coin of a race.” She smiles. “I like betting, I wouldn’t bet on it. Wouldn’t you rather win without bloodying each other in the process?” I don’t have an opinion on that, she claims, and he gives her a measuring smile. It’s almost fond, even. “I doubt that,” he replies. That’s your right, she replies him, cool and dignified.
Ah well. Unable to secure the hopeful for promise, Prady’s not ready to give up. He scratches out his private number on a business card, and holds it out toward her. It’s a direct line even his campaign manager doesn’t have, he says. You shouldn’t give me that, she says, shocked. “I know,” he agrees, “but there it is.” When she won’t take it, he sets it down carefully on the shoebox, trust and mistrust on trust. “You’re not my enemy, Alicia,” he says, even though he really wouldn’t be running if he thought she was up to snuff, would he? I know, she agrees. “I’m your opponent.” Call me, he presses. Just us.
After Maddie Hayward deliberately sought out her friendship to gain intel to use against Peter, I can’t imagine it’s easy for her to trust him. But it would be nice, staying out of the gutter. Trying to do better. Choosing a better narrative. Being a better person.
When the elevator opens on Cary’s condo floor, it sounds like a giant wrenching steel plate apart. He swallows hard. The narrow hallway is a gauntlet he’s not sure he wants to cross; he looks in crevices and doorways, fearing attack, peering under his door to see if something might be blocking the light inside. Nothing is. The floor seems to waver as he bends over it. There’s more shadow than light.
His phone rings, startling him. It’s Kalinda, and she’s in his apartment.
“Okay, he’s in, come on up,” she tells someone over the phone, and this time it’s Cary reminding Kalinda that she can’t be there. She’ll only be a few minutes, she says. It’s probably safer than Cary going to her place. I’ve hired you a body guard, she explains, and despite the clear signs of panic we saw in the hall Cary protests that he’s fine. The tape is a fake. Bishop came home a day early from Florida, Kalinda tells him. And that’s when the bodyguard knocks on the door, unsettling Cary once again.
“Cary, this is Carter Greyson,” Kalinda begins, bringing an enormous burly man into Cary’s dining area. “Yeah, I know,” Cary smiles, surprised and pleased, extending his hand. “Milwaukee Bucks, Marquette University, right?” Yes. (I actually wondered for a minute if he was a real NFL player; nope.) It’s nice to meet you, Carter says blandly. He’ll stay the night and escort Cary to work in the morning. He stalks off to inspect the apartment, even though Kalinda (whose head reaches about to the middle of his chest) has already assessed it. How much is this costing, Cary wonders; Kalinda says the firm will cover it at least for a week. I worked on it, she smiles, and he smiles his thanks back. “Hey,” she says, cocking her head. “I wanna see you alive.”
Don’t we all, Kalinda, don’t we all.
At her own apartment, Alicia’s playing chicken with the shoebox of gloom. She carries it with her, eyeing it as she pours more and more wine for herself, while she’s watching TV (“His pain is your pain. His troubles are your troubles. They call him the gorilla boy, and he’ll steal your heart.”) then as she observes her nighttime rituals. Finally, once she’s rubbed lotion into her hands, she rushes to her bureau all at once and tears it open.
Bringing it back to her bed, she sits cross legged, inhales deeply, and then pulls a thick manila envelope off the top and opens it. We can see the entire box isn’t stuffed; beneath the envelope there’s at least one CD, and other things beneath. She takes another deep breath before opening the envelope, which is full of photographs marked with exhibit tags. Exhibit 011A, Finn leaving her apartment. Yeah, that’s expected. She smiles at the photo, shaking her head in a sort of relieved exasperation, and tosses it next to her on the bed, her eyes following it. The next photo, 008A, draws a sad and tender smile: Alicia and Will at the hotel bar. Though it moves her, this too is expected, and she’s able to flick it atop the shot of Finn.
The third photo, however, comes as a surprise, and it’s the first in a series. Exhibit 013P, Peter and Ramona having dinner, glasses of wine in their hands, the photo captured through a window. In 014P, the two lean toward each other. In 015P, part of the window pane makes it impossible to tell whether or not they’re kissing or if Peter’s whispering in her ear, their mouths obscured. In 016P, Peter’s reaching down toward floor, his shirt and undershirt thrown on top off a cabinet. In 017P, Ramona leaves the building. Am I projecting, or does she look guilty? Could this be anything other than what it looks like? I said it before – at first I felt sure this would happen, but then Ramona seemed too likable, too honest a friend to Alicia. Breathing hard, Alicia sets down the packet. Almost without thought, she reaches for her phone, dials the number.
“This is Peter,” her husband answers — at first I thought it was a recording, but no. “It’s me,” she breathes, her voice thick. She looks so beautiful without make up on. “Alicia,” he answers. “What’s wrong?” Nothing, she lies, and then asks him to do the interview for the commercial. “To stop any questions about our marriage,” she adds. Sure, he says, as she picks up the photograph of Ramona, staring. “I have an opening at six.”
“Who knows why it started,” a woman’s voice tells us over a scene of children playing happily in a park. “Boredom. Ego. Money.” One of many moms stands leaning against a railing, her coffee cup suddenly shaking like the famous water glass in Jurassic Park. As the woman looks around in alarm, the whole park starts to quake. “And then he was there on the horizon,” a man takes up the narrative, and we see a green t-rex body stomp onto the playground with Frank Prady’s face crudely pasted to its neck, “rearing his head.” The coffee bearing woman screams. “I do think traditional values should be part of the debate,” Prady-Rex declares earnestly, before lowering his jaw and roaring. “I think the Republicans are right on this,” he adds, and now he’s superimposed over the fleeing folks in the park, no longer attached to the dinosaur but in black and white. In the studio, Alicia rolls her eyes. “The law is unfair.”
Krumholtz the Soup Director says the end product will be grainier and darker. “And then he showed his true face,” the ad continues – he’s a DINO, Democrat in Name Only. Marisa can’t help snorting. “Great, the body woman is entertained,” Krumholtz points at her.
Sensing Alicia’s doubt, Elfman lets us all know that Frank used to be a Republican. They’re just using a, um, memorable technique to point out a genuine issue. Can you sense me rolling my eyes? You have to be noisy to attract eyes on the internet, Krumholtz contends as can no longer control her laughter. The courthouse shooting is noisy, but you said no to that. Hey, RINO, DINO, no difference, right? I’ve never heard of DINOs before, but you can bet that RINO gets tossed around a lot in reference to Massachusetts Republicans.
“And then he’s home, the DINO, hiding his true self,” the add continues, showing a man in shedding a dinosaur costume and stuffing it in his closet. Alicia’s eyes bulge. “If he hides this, what else is he hiding?” Is that suggesting what I think it’s suggesting, Alicia asks. Not in any way that can’t be denied, Krumholtz smirks. In other words, yes, they’re suggesting he’s a closeted gay man. He hasn’t gotten remarried in ten years, after all. “My God,” she says. “You really think we should show this?” Again, the Haircut has a rational. “It’s not about Frank Prady being closeted, it’s about him being inauthentic.” It’s about him really being a Republican, Elfman insists. We have two guys willing to swear to having affairs with him, Krumholtz grins. So, Alicia asks coldly. “So. Be gay, then. No one’s stopping you!” the Soup Director — or is Directing Nazi better? — tosses an arm out. “But don’t pretend to be, you know, blah blah blah, when you’re not.” Ah, he’s so articulate. Alicia looks at Marisa, who throws up her hands. “What do I know, I’m the body woman.”
I’m sorry, guys, she says, pressing her hands to her face, but we can’t do this.
When she asks to talk to the Haircut alone, the others are happy to oblige. Fire me, the Soup Director pleads. You’d be doing me a favor. Marisa, on the other hand, is going to get Alicia some milk, even if she doesn’t want it, because food solves everything. Once the others leave, Alicia outlines her conversation with Prady. “Good,” Elfman says, sitting next to Alicia but turning his chair to face her, crossing his legs. “That means he’s scared.” Alicia disagrees; despite her words to Prady’s face, she thinks he’s sincere. Naturally Eflman disagrees. “Alicia, he’s trying to get in your head.” Usually this happens through a back channel, he explains, first good and then bad information. She must really be having flashbacks to Maddie. “You look in there?” he asks, jerking his head at the shoebox; no, she lies. “Good. Because whatever they really have, they’ll use it. They always do.” Huh. At first I’m wondering why he’s suggesting it’s better not to know, but then I realize he’s suggesting that what’s in the box will not be as bad as it gets. Did you speak to the governor, he wonders; she did. “And, what about the dinosaur?” Oh, come on, she snaps. It’s stupid. “That’s on purpose,” he argues. “It makes it sticky. People remember it.” Title alert! Drink!
“I don’t want to be remembered for a closeted dinosaur,” she says, standing. She grabs the box. “Why don’t you leave that with me?” Elfman suggests. No way in hell. “Alicia, leave it with me,” he asks again. “Don’t let him get in your head.” He won’t, she says simply.
And there’s poor Cary on the elevator into Lockhart/Gardner — er, I mean Florrick, Agos & Lockhart — looking small and frail against Greyson’s towering bulk. “This feels weird,” he observes in hopes of breaking the tension. “It’s just for the first day,” Carter unbends enough to share. “Do you just stay in my office?” That’s the idea, Carter declares darkly. He steps off the elevator first — and oh, disaster. Literally the first person they meet off the elevator, drawing an intimidating glower from Carter, is Lemond Bishop. Why in God’s name is he there? His face white, Cary steps slowly into the reception area; Bishop stares at him, aghast. “Cary, hello,” he says, stepping forward. “Mr. Bishop, hello,” Cary answers. Neither man extends his hand; Bishop looks back at Carter, who continues to try to kill the drug kingpin with his eyeballs. (I once happened to walk past a couple with a body guard and found his glare so intense and alarming I genuinely didn’t even know that I’d passed two famous actors until my sister told me who they were after; it’s a very impressive skill when done properly, this kind of intimidation.) “How are you?” Cary tries to break the contact, and the question bring Bishop back. Sort of. I’m fine, he says, his eyes going from Cary to Carter.
“Hello. Nice to meet you. I’m Ian Gatins of Gatins & Bower,” Bishop’s chirpy new lawyer introduces himself. “Are you in the meeting too?” Saving Cary from making too much of an answer, Diane steps off the elevator. “Mr. Bishop,” she says. “I didn’t know you’d be here for this.” Unsettled, he looks at all their faces. “I guess I should have called first. Everyone’s surprised I’m here.” No no no, Diane laughs (God, she’s so good under pressure). Oh, hi, she says to Cary, and then Gatins introduces himself again, and then Cary takes the opportunity to slink off. Good to see you, he says, and Bishop nods. Good to see you too. Shall we talk in the conference room, Diane tries to gather them up, but Bishop can’t take his eyes off Cary and Carter as they move through the office.
Oh my GOD, I think I am just going to collapse for a minute. That was terrifying. I’ve a horrible knot in my stomach, like I get watching one of those nature shows where you know the hyena is going distract the mother enough so his pack mates can get the baby baboon.
The baby baboon is in his office, calling Kalinda. Bishop is here, he whispers. He saw Carter. It might not be a problem, she says eventually, sitting on Lana’s pretty white couch. It will be a problem, Cary insists. He thinks I flipped. “Where are you?” Oh, Cary, don’t go there. I’m working on the wiretap, she says, and we see Lana tucking her button down back into her pants in the bedroom. “Let me get back to you, okay?”
“Was that your friend?” Lana asks as she walks back into the living room. Yeah. “He confronted me in front of my boss,” she says, fastening her watch. “He said I was sleeping with you.” Well, I know it’s not your boss’s business, but you are. “It put me in a precarious position.” Standing up, Kalinda walks over to Lana. I don’t know why, but she seems so small this week; I don’t usually think of her as being this much shorter than everyone, perhaps because she projects such force of personality. “You’re talking about someone who might be murdered. That’s the real precarious position.” (Yes, but you can’t expect Lana to have any sympathy for Cary, can you, not when she was willing to use Kalinda as Bishop bait.) Assuming the tape is real, anyway. He thinks the tape is faked, Lana asks, surprised. Well, it’s pretty convenient for your aims to turn Cary, Kalinda points out. It’s not faked, Lana insists, buttoning her cuffs. “And you should tell him to watch out.” I’m honestly not sure whether she means to watch for Bishop or for her.
Fine, Kalinda says, so give me the tape, and let me get a sound guy to check it out. I’ll give you a report from one of our technicians, Lana offers (gee, that’s so generous, and so persuasive), but nope, that’s not good enough. If they want Cary to flip, it has to be the tape itself.
Music blares; there’s a jazz trio playing in the park, an apt metaphor for the improvisations going on between Frank and Alicia, who sit next to each other on a bench. Upright bass, drums, and guitar, maybe? I can’t see the smaller instrument. “You’re wondering if I can be trusted?” Prady guesses. I’m wondering about a lot of things, Alicia replies. I’ll bet. Showing that he’s either very smart or has a crack writing room behind him, Frank guesses correctly that her team wants to use their oppo research to show he can’t be trusted because he’s closeted. Yes, she admits; it’ll probably cost me five points, he admits. His team, he tells her, is planning on leaking her affair with Will if she talks about the court house shooting. “Is that a threat?”
No, he says. I won’t use it. “Your PAC will,” she notes. That’s why I gave you my number, he responds; if my PAC does something that offends you, call me. What will that do, she wonders. Maybe nothing, he admits, but maybe I can get them to pull it or at least publicly dress them down for putting it out there. “I’m not a martyr,” he adds. “I just think I can win a fair fight.” So, does that mean if you didn’t think you could win, you wouldn’t be coming to her? I get what he’s saying, but still. “So I want it to be fair.” She looks at him, trying to figure out where she stands, and then pulls a white card from her purse, setting it beside him and leaving without a word. He picks it up. The face is blue. She’s not returning his card; she’s giving him hers, a number handwritten on it.
When she arrives at the studio, Ramona’s already there, on the phone, her coat thrown over her shoulders like a cape, and her presence startles Alicia. “Alicia, hey,” Elfman says, walking in. Ramona notices her arrival and beams, giving a little wave. “The governor’s not here yet. What we want out of this is comfort and affection.” She nods. “Any physical contact between the two of you would be good.” She nods wordlessly again.
“Alicia, how are you?” the Possibly Dirty Mistress calls out, her phone still pressed between her ear and shoulder. “Ramona, hi,” Alicia exerts herself to say, and two turn a handshake into an air kiss. I’m on with the entourage, Ramona points to her phone, they’re just pulling up now. Great, Alicia smiles. Could she really seem this sweet and nice and be sleeping with Peter? The pictures implied more of a story than they actually told. Could it be circumstantial evidence? I like her, so now I don’t want it to be true. How do you like working with Peter, the wife asks. “Quite a bit,” Ramona says in her soft, baby voice. “It’s very challenging.” A lot of late nights, Alicia adds, trying to trip her up. Ramona thinks about it. Yeah, she smiles. She guesses that’s true.
“Oh, here,” she says, pulling something out of her purse. “It’s the demo you asked about?” The demo? It turns out that Ramona played drums in an all girl band, “a lifetime ago.” We thought we’d be the next Slater-Kinney, she laughs. (Interesting time reference, since that band was founded in ’95.) Oh, here he is, the drummer says, finally getting off her phone. Peter walks in at the head of his entourage. “I’m sorry I’m late,” he apologizes, but his eyes go right to Ramona, not to Alicia; even when he gives his wife a kiss on the cheek, his attention seems to be elsewhere. “Everything good?” he asks. Ramona, Alicia asks. “Everything’s good!”Peter’s personal lawyer smiles. Good, the governor says, let’s do this.
Huh. I was wanting that to go a little differently.
The Florricks sit within the frame of the camera, sharing a sofa so awkwardly; Peter’s slumped down on one side, and Alicia sits primly, her backbone straight, her head turned away from her husband. Because of his posture, she looks taller than him. He pats his tie and stomach as Elfman asks if they’re ready; before they can begin, Ramona whispers advice in his ear, her hand flat on his shoulder. “Legal advice,” Peter tells his wife. Ah, Alicia says so coolly I wonder if she wants him to call her on her tone, it’s always important to stay legal. He doesn’t.
The Haircut asks them for a level — which is to say, asks them to speak so that the sound people can make sure they’ve got the microphones properly adjusted. Ever ready with an appropriate comment, Peter says he’s glad to be there and thanks the President and First Lady for the invitation; the room (including Ramona) laughs. Alicia does not laugh; she counts, much too loudly, and so Elfman steps into the breach, trying to soothe the tension he doesn’t understand.
“Governor, Alicia, how long have you been married?” I knew that’d be your first question, Peter smiles, his charm in full force. “Twenty years,” he says. Could it really be twenty, if they got married when they were pregnant with Zach? I suppose technically (he could be 19 by this point) but it seems pushing it a little. A now-smiling Alicia reaches out for his hand. “Twenty years of married bliss,” she agrees, rubbing his knuckles with her thumb. He looks down at their hands in smirky surprise, but doesn’t respond in kind. So. How did they meet? After cutely offering to let her tell the story, Peter starts. It was at a party at Georgetown. “They were playing some kind of funny Newlywed Game,” he recalls. “Dating Game,” Alicia supplies, and he agrees. “And, um, I was a contestant. Believe it or not, she didn’t pick me.” Well, in my defense, Alicia smiles, her arms bare and toned in her sleeveless black dress, he was doing a Mickey Mouse voice. This was part of the game, Peter explains; we were supposed to do funny voices.
“I saw him afterwards,” Alicia says. “It was raining out, and he offered to take me home.” You kept my jacket, if I remember correctly, he says. No, you gave me your jacket, she corrects him. It’s very much like those couples in When Harry Met Sally, talking about their meet cutes. “Peter got all wet in the rain.” Ramona has stopped smiling, and looks down at her feet. No, Ramona! Don’t let it be true! “It was coming down so hard, we had to run under a bus stop. And… he put his arm around me.” I was a real smooth operator then, Peter laughs. Turning to her husband, Alicia shares a moment of true emotion. “I don’t think I had ever had a happier moment in my life,” she tells him. He blinks, surprised by this uncharacteristic show of emotion – and just possibly ashamed.
Thankfully, Elfman interrupts them with questions about their kids; Peter discusses Zach the Georgetown freshman and Grace the straight A high school student.
After the interview, Alicia rides an elevator, glaring at Ramona’s demo cd, aptly entitled “The Fifth Wheel.” She walks through the darkened 27th floor. Just in case you were wondering if that was Finn’s office – I know the presence of furniture (missing last week) can be confusing, and you might have missed his name on the glass — the set designers have thoughtfully included a framed portrait of him on the window next to his diplomas. That’s right. Because everyone I know includes a framed head shot in their office decor. Really? Really? Maybe it’s his official portrait from the SA’s office (there’s a name plate at the bottom) but still. It’s just odd.
Arms loaded with work, Finn startles Alicia by walking into his own office. “Hey,” he mutters, paper coffee cup clenched between his teeth. “Oh, sorry,” she says, whirling around. “Sorry, I thought you’d gone,” she says, and immediately she doesn’t sound like herself, and she’s flicking her hair off her shoulders with tiny shakes of her head. “No,” he replies, taking the cup out of his mouth and waving it to indicate the reason for his absence. “Just for a minute. First year law firm,” he sighs, setting his cup and papers on his desk. “You have to work really long hours.” When she doesn’t smile back, he stops. “Uh oh. What’s wrong?” he asks, genuinely concerned. “Nothing,” she stammers, and clearly she has no idea what to do with her face, beginning to smile, stopping and starting again. “I … just wanted to see how you were doing.” I’m good, thanks, he says. Would she like to sit down? Ummmmm, she hums until he notices that his new tufted couch is thick with files. Sorry, he says, and removes the files from – half the couch? Is he not planning on joining her?
“So I’ve been bored out of my mind,” he tells her, since that’s why she’s there, right? She sinks onto the couch, still awkward and unsettled, balancing on the edge of it. “Three DUIs, one petty theft and… mail fraud!” He drops some of the files on his desk and crosses back to the couch as she laughs. “Oh yeah,” he mocks himself, sitting down awfully closed to Alicia, leaning against the back of the couch. He kind of moans in exhaustion as he sits, and then extends his arm along the top of the couch, behind Alicia, who has turned back to face him. Oh my God oh my God. What do they think they’re doing? How is this happening? Nervous, she flicks her hair off one shoulder. She exhales.
He tips his head forward and gives her an expectant look under his eyebrows. Did you want to talk, he asks, and she stares back at him, a slight smile on her lips. “No. I don’t,” she says.
Oh My Gosh.
He looks away, nodding. “Yeah, I’m fine sitting,” he shrugs, and she laughs and then gives him this side eye and I think for a moment she’s going to just launch herself at him right there. Then she looks away, and blinks, and seems to perhaps come back to her usual self. “I,” she stammers. “You,” he prompts calmly, looking at her again. “This was stupid, it was good seeing you,” she shakes her head. “What was stupid,” he asks, taking his arm off the back of the sofa.”I don’t know,” she half-laughs at herself, “just even being.” It’s too much — she needs to flee — she tries to stand. Hey, he says, and grabs her hand. She stares down, stricken or mesmerized or both. She stays on the couch. He looks at her, and then at their hands, and at her again, and we hear a man and a woman laughing loudly.
“Hey,” Finn calls out loudly to the squirrelly man and blond woman walking by, quickly removing his hand, sounding self-conscious for the first time himself. “Workin’ late?” They are. “My cellmates,” he says, watching to see that they’ve gone out of sight. While he’s looking away, Alicia makes a run for it. “Alicia,” he calls out, but she doesn’t say good by or look back.
“Tell your friend it’s real,” Lana tells Kalinda, tossing a flash drive into a bowl on her lap. Why is Kalinda sitting on Lana’s bed with a bowl on her lap? Or was that a nightstand? That’s confusing. Thank you, Kalinda says. “Look, I want you to take this more seriously,” Lana demands from the hallway. If the tap is real, Kalinda begins to answer, thinking they’re still talking about work, but that’s not what Lana means; she wants a relationship commitment of some sort. Interesting. (And yet absolutely typical of Lana to be so demanding.) “If this is just nothing to you then don’t come by here this evening, okay?” she finishes. “There are other people that I wouldn’t mind seeing.” Oh, whatever, Lana. I mean, fine, Kalinda would be an incredibly frustrating person to fall for because she makes you feel like she sees you, and then you find out you’re just one of many. You’re someone she likes but also needs something from, like all the rest. That sucks. But, I don’t know what the worth of a forced commitment is.
A large banner about keeping the community safe lets us know we’re out on the campaign trail with Alicia and Peter, who are currently shaking hands with a line of firefighters before reaching their limo. “You look good. Not too much wind,” Ramona tells Alicia as the latter opens the car door; she smiles that she’ll see Peter back at the office. Wow, they’re suddenly everywhere together, huh? And where’s the Garbanzo Bean’s replacement, assuming she’s still out on maternity leave, speaking of people who’ve lived in Peter’s pocket? Anyway. Peter frowns in worry, staring at the back of Alicia’s head.
“You did great with the police chief,” he tells her as they drive off. “He’s in Castro’s pocket, by the way, but between you and Prady it’s gonna be a jump ball.” Alicia sits with her lips clamped together, furious. I thought the interview went well, he continues speaking into the silence.
“You need to stop sleeping with her,” Alicia declares, not looking at her husband. Holy Olympia Dukakis moment! Peter just stares at her. “I’m not saying that because I’m jealous,” she says, though there has to be a little bit of that mixed in with the betrayal from Ramona. “I’m not saying that because our agreement is void.” Not that she’s been able to let herself indulge in their agreement, yet. “I’m saying that because you’ve been seen.” Who’re we talking about, he asks, because I have no idea. Oh, come on. Didn’t you promise never to lie to her again? Hasn’t she given you permission? For an answer, Alicia hands Peter the photographs. He looks without flipping through. “You need to stop sleeping with her,” Alicia repeats.
I’m not, he replies, sounding like he’s not lying. Give me a little credit and just be honest, she asks. We just had dinner, he insists. If your photographer has stuck around, he complains, he would have seen me having dinner with lots of people. It’s what I do. Oh, dude. He really needs to look at the rest of the pictures. “Were you sleeping with her in Highland Park?” she asks, and Peter’s jaw goes tight. “I’m not sleeping with her now,” he says, and all I can think is that it sounds like an admission that he was, which had never occurred to me. Is that Alicia being bitter and hurt, or did a relationship exist before Peter hired Ramona which he was hoping to revive? “I was pregnant with Grace, were you sleeping with her then?”
You must understand, he says. I will do nothing to embarrass you. Oh my gosh. Is that an admission? “These weren’t taken by me,” she tells him, angry. “You think I give a crap enough to follow you? They were taken by another campaign!” Now he does look embarrassed. “They’re gonna use this against me. And you.” Think about that for a moment. “And I will not stand beside you.” She shakes her head, and when she speaks again, her voice roughens. “Not again, Peter. Not in a million years.”
He looks toward her, but she holds up a warning finger. “So, don’t listen to me. Keep lying to me, I don’t care. But do listen to your political instincts. You want to be reelected. You want me to be elected.” Avoiding her gaze, Peter looks out the window. “Then zip up your pants, shut your mouth and stop banging the help.”
Damn. That was just – damn.
And there she is, waltzing into the studio, stunning in a fitted red dress. Confidence blazes off her; she’s blinding. Alicia, good, we’re ready to go, the Haircut says. Tell her, the Directing Nazi says. “Yes. We need to go with the courthouse. It’s just too good. And, Josh threatened to quit if we didn’t.” Use it, she shrugs, I’m ready. Neither Josh not Jonny can believe what they’re hearing.
“I was shocked,” she tells the camera calmly but honestly. “I wasn’t used to politics, and suddenly I was forced into the middle of it. With my husband in prison, what could I do? I went back to work. I had to work harder than anybody, and then I had to go home and hold my kids.” From his perch beside the camera, Elfman nods over to Josh the former Wunderkind. “I got the call at a speech I was giving for Peter,” she says, looking straight at the camera. “My friend was dead. Will Gardner hired me when no one else would. And here was more gun violence. I felt… destroyed.” It’s a little performance-y, sure, but it works well.
There’s Kalinda’s guy working listening to the wiretap over a laptop in the FAL offices. Kalinda wrings her hands over his shoulder. “Look I’m not saying it’s real or faked,” he shouts, “but there are no edits.” Umm hmm. That’s alarming. Is it Bishop’s voice, Kalinda wonders, taking away his headphones so that he’ll be better able to modulate his voice. He could only tell by comparing that to a verified recording of Bishop. “When do you need it?” he wonders. “Now,” she says. “Kalinda,” he moans, throwing his head back against his chair. “I love you. I would do anything for you, but I can’t bend space and time.” Good one, Scottie. Try, she smiles, handing him back his headphones.
Finn shuts Alicia’s office door behind him. So as to avoid comparisons, we stay tightly focused on Finn and the upper part of the door. “That was … interesting last night,” he says. Wow. I’m kind of amazed they’re talking about it, although right there that makes Finn 50 times healthier than Alicia (or Will, or Peter, for that matter) has dreamed of being. Directness! Who knew it was possible. I know, she winces. I was in a weird mood. “And the mood is … gone?” Finn asks, a slight smile playing on his lips.
Alicia thinks about it. “The mood is … worrisome,” she finishes. “Why is that?” he wonders, and now maybe I take that compliment back, because as cool as it is that he’s willing to acknowledge that they’ve been flirting and there’s something between them, it’s immeasurably stupid to ignore the impediments. Let’s see. She’s married? And much as they have shared, she’s never talked about her marriage with him, has she? Oh, and let’s not forget she’s married to the governor of the state? And running for political office, an campaign in which he’s assisting? So, yeah. Worrisome. It’d be worrisome just with the husband bit, but add in the rest?
She starts to say that it’s worrisome because she’s married, but then interestingly, she backs away. Is she thinking of their arrangement? The one she just tore Peter to shreds because he followed? I don’t know, she finishes. I wish things were simpler. “Things could be simpler,” Finn offers, looking away. “You just have to … want them to be.” Does that mean he wants them to be? Is he putting that out there? “I don’t think that’s true,” she says. And maybe there’s the choice. You can make them simpler, by deciding what you want and just going with that, but Alicia doesn’t know how to do that. Choose to be a politician, and take what comes with it, including the sham marriage. Or choose to be happy, and go back to running your own firm, and forgo the rest. “People have expectations,” she adds, and again, there we are. Reputation versus reality. Public persona versus personal happiness. “Which people?” he wonders, and again, he looks down until he’s finished saying, and then looks up to see how she’s taken his words.
She smiles, and then looks out of the room. “I always hated that these offices were glass,” she admits, breaking the tension. He huffs a little laugh. “Okay, I’m gonna go now,” he says, understanding that she’s not going to say anymore, and she watches him go, filled up.
Elfman calls Alicia from the studio. “We have a problem,” he says. “I would expect nothing less,” she replies.
Frank Prady looks off in the distance, remembering. The screen behind him shows a black and white pictures of a father chasing a young son on the beach. It seems that Prady put out his 10 minute video. “My Dad — he was everything to me,” Prady tells us, voice thick with the promised emotion. “A musician … genius… he, um…” Frank has to clear his throat. “And then on my sixteenth birthday…” We see a black and white photo of the car (a monster with fins) wrapped around a pole. Having called this correctly, Josh gives props: nice music, not too sappy, good photos, someone in the opposition knows what they’re doing. Well, Prady is a journalist; his production team ought to know what they’re doing. Marisa arrives (her comings and goings are such a mystery; so much for that phrase, sticking to Alicia like glue), Josh grumbles about her presence, she tries to get Alicia to eat potato chips, and none of it seems panic inducing to Alicia. “I went straight from my birthday party to the hospital,” Frank tells us, and then we see a man’s hand and a child’s barely touching, the man’s hand stuck with an iv. That’s not a sixteen year old’s hand by any stretch. “I saw him. I held his hand when he was rolled in.” Frank Prady’s elderly mother shows up to give her side of the truly affecting, tragic story, and damn it if she isn’t wearing Alicia’s sexy red dress.
Yep, now it’s time to panic, Alicia.
“I know it was hard on Frank,” she says in her southern accent, “seeing someone die in front of him.” Um, his dad isn’t just someone, but okay. Not that anyone’s listening to a word the woman says. “Maybe nobody will noticed,” Idiot Editing Boy essays. “What are you, eight?” Josh sneers. “Everyone will notice! There are screen captures!” As ever, the Haircut slices through this drivel to the point: they need to redo the interview. “Can’t you guys, you know, do whatever it is you do?” Alicia asks. First thing they tried, Josh mumbles, and we see their laughable attempts (hideous flower pattern and changing the over all color to navy). “Ow, it hurts my eyes,” Marisa winces. I’ll have to do it again, Alicia agrees; it’s a shame because she nailed it the first time. Obligingly, however, she changes her dress.
And let’s just say she does not nail it this time. First she’s flailing to remember her phrases, and it’s not polished enough. Then she sounds like she doesn’t like her kids and resents being home with them. Then she talks too much with her hands, and seems inauthentic. Then she sounds like she’s trying to hard to prove she does like her kids. Then she cracks a joke about child services making her stay home because she knows how bad she is; the Haircut does not laugh. Then she puts on a Southern accent at talks about her poor little kids at home, and that does make everyone laugh. Shake it off, Josh says, giving her Taylor Swift’s sage advice; she shakes her hands. Just do what you did before, Alicia, she tells herself.
Sniffling, Ramona Lytton wipes tears off her cheeks as she rides in the limo with Peter. “I’m sorry,” he says tenderly. WOW. I think I had to see them together to absolutely believe it. “No, I am sorry,” she says, literally shaking the tears off her fingers. “I hate being the cause of this.” Not that you’re not responsible, but you’re not the married governor, either, Ramona. “You’re not the cause,” Peter mutters, shaking his head and looking out the window. “I should resign,” she decides, but he doesn’t like that idea. “Could you please pull over,” she asks the driver in a rather melodramatic reawakening of conscience. No, Peter says, gripping her arm. “Ramona, Ramona, wait.” Running his hand down on her arm, he leans in, and they kiss passionately, tenderly. She sighs, her eyes still closed after the kiss has ended. “We’re bad people,” she whispers, bowing her head so their faces nuzzle against each other. “I know,” he growls, his voice low.
And, damn. Peter’s driver’s been getting an eye and earful this week.
Sitting in his office, looking out his window, Cary Agos imagines himself sitting at an outdoor cafe, with a white middle aged assassin pointing a pistol (with silencer) at the back of his head. Unsuccessfully, he tries to shake it off. He turns around and talks to Carter, who’s standing in his doorway, large hands clasped together. “I need to stop being afraid,” he says. “Do you have an opinion on that?” Carter turns to look as his client. “People sometimes have a reason to be afraid,” he shrugs. I suppose that answer is good for business. “Do I?” Cary wonders. Why is Carter the expert on his situation? “I don’t know,” Carter admits.
“My worry is fear is creating the reason to be afraid,” Cary admits. He’s stuck in his own head. We get it. “I don’t have an opinion about that,” Carter tells him. “I need to talk to Bishop,” Cary realizes. Look, I don’t think that’s a good idea, Carter cautions, walking in the door. “Phone Kalinda first.” Cary squints. “You said ‘phone,'” he realizes. Yes. “Most people in America, they say call, did you know that?” OH MY GOD that is awesome! I’ve heard fans complain about the weirdness of this show’s fondness for the verb phone since the first season. I may even have been one of them. Love that this is an actual plot point, love love love love love it.
Ahem. Cary has had an epiphany: in reception, Bishop said “I guess I should have called,” but on the wiretap, he used ‘phone’ instead. He wanted his goons to phone him with a plan. Carter considers this very thin evidence, but Cary thinks that people would usually use one word or the other. “Are we betting your life on usually?” Carter wonders. It’s a slim clue to gamble your life on, Cary, slimmer than Frank and Alicia’s dueling demographics. “I’ve been betting my life on a lot less lately.” He tosses his pen on the desk. “I’m not a gambler, but it’s amazing how prison makes you one.” Oh dear. Cary stands. “What’re you doing?” Carter asks, apprehensive. “I’m going to see Bishop.” That’s not smart, Carter observes. Gee, understatement of the year? But Cary has a valid counterpoint; after seeing Cary with Carter, Bishop knows Cary has a reason to fear him, and he doesn’t know about the wiretap. Therefor, he probably concluded that Cary has a bodyguard because he’s flipped. Ergo, Cary’s fear will create a situation in which Bishop has to kill him. Cary tightens his tie against his thin pale throat. “I need to do this.”
“So in-citing! Colin Sweeney in her bed!” a voice sings to a famous classical tune I can’t name, and a cartoon ad shows a South Park-like cartoon with Alicia’s face on it (over a pink Jackie O style dress) pop into a cartoon bed with a collage figure bearing Colin Sweeney’s face. “So ex-citing! Bishop ends up there instead.” A Bishop-figure pops into bed with the other two, rolling around under the covers. The sexual element of this is incredibly offensive and sexist, far more than any dumb closeted dinosaur. Maybe I’m wrong, but a sexual smear feels far more poisonous to a female candidate. I know we talk all the time about politicians being in bed with industry or special interests, but to interpret the term so literally? Vile. The next line, which we don’t see, actually references her as St. Alicia.
And, goody, it’s not only online, but will also air on late night TV and has been sent to all the major press outlets. Lovely. Marisa, Josh the Directing Nazi, the Haircut and Bad Editor fume together. It’s crude but effective, Josh admits, and the tagline is meant to be repeated. “Who’s Alicia in bed with now?” It shows her with sex hair, sitting between a stretching Sweeney (with a muscled torso I’m sure he’ll appreciate) and Bishop smoking a joint. Marisa’s appalled. Is this him or his PAC, Alicia wonders. “His PAC, but you know they’re coordinating,” Josh says; he’s sitting cross legged on one of the tables. We’re not with our PAC, Alicia reminds them. “But we could,” Josh replies. “But we’re not,” she repeats.
Unsurprisingly, Elfman wants to hit back with the closeted dinosaur. Prady went negative first. “I’d do it,” Marisa says (because she’s the voice of restraint?). “He deserves it.” No, Alicia insists. It was the PAC, not him.
Laughing, Josh tries for once to be constructive instead of just spouting off invective. “Alicia. I’m starting to like you, but you’re new to this. You think you’re bringing something new campaigning, but there is nothing new under the sun. Let us help you win this. Even the nutty lady thinks you should hit back.” “Thank you for the nutty lady, but he’s right,” Marisa adds. Changing the topic, Alicia asks after her introductory ad; Josh hangs his head, and they show her the best clip from her miserable second attempt at a confessional. It’s not miserable. “We need to use the dinosaur ad or we’re gonna lose this,” the Haircut tells her. In response, she walks out of the room.
“You know, at some point,” Josh looks at Jonny, “the candidate is the candidate, and the manager is the manager. Are we at that point?” Elfman considers this advice seriously.
Out in the hall, Alicia has Frank on the phone. It’s not me, it’s my PAC, he tells her; he’s out in a park, much brighter than her dark gray studio. “At a certain point, that doesn’t matter,” Alicia tells him. “I’ve been hit.” My, the trees are so green in Chicago in November. Who knew? “I know. Let me see what I can do,” he says. I don’t know. How about you denounce the ad to the press for being misogynist? There is no try, Alicia tells him, only do or do not. (Well, in essence she does. Thanks for the paraphrase, Yoda!) Give me a day, he pleads. I don’t think there’s anything he can do but make a show of it; it’s out there already. “A day is a year in politics,” she snaps, and hangs up.
“Yeah, we saw the ad,” Elfman says on the phone, presumably with a reporter. “It’s outrageous. Alicia no longer represents Lemond Bishop, and her firm only represents Colin Sweeney’s business interests.” That’s not what makes the ad outrageous. “Is that a quote?” the reporter wonders; you’re damn right it is. Then the reporter wants to know how the team is going to hit back, and here we see Elfman’s strategy. He had a devastating ad against Frank, created by the “king of slice and dice Josh Mariner” but Alicia won’t let them run it. Clever. It’s the truth, and it makes her look principled. “Slip it to me, Jon,” the reporter begs, and the 7th grader in me snickers. No, the Haircut protests. No matter how hard you beg, no matter what level of press you promise me, this one can never get out.
Yes. Let’s see how long that lasts.
Kalinda’s little sound tech buddy wants to take her through the various technologies of his review of the tape, but she’s not interested. All she wants to know is this; was it faked? “It’s authentic. The FBI isn’t faking anything. Bishop wants your lawyer killed.” Immediately, Kalinda’s on the phone with Cary — who is already standing in Bishop’s kitchen.”What are you doing there?” she asks, and we see Bishop on the phone in his living room. “The tape is real. Get out. Bishop wants you dead.” Frowning, Cary presses a finger between his eyebrows.
I can’t really think of another time this happened within a single episode, but those lines are so important, we hear them again after the commercial, though from a different angle (Cary seen from Bishop’s perspective). The tape is real. Bishop wants him dead. Where’s Carter, Kalinda asks. “Not here,” Cary confesses. “In the car. I had him wait there.” A shadow moves between Cary’s back and the camera.
“You know rat-a-tat-cat?” a young voice asks. Cary turns to see Dylan Bishop, and promises Kalinda that he will call her back. You can hear the strain — will he ever speak to her again? — in his voice. You get four cards, Dylan says, dealing the cards onto the table. “It’s really great. It’s about memory. You wanna cut?” Cary’s hollow eyes follow Bishop as he paces around the living room, perhaps arranging Cary’s death with a subordinate. “Cary?” the innocent child asks. No, that’s okay, Cary says, and you can hear Dylan’s smile; he wanted to cut the cards himself. “Good.” My heart is pounding.
“You take two cards and you look at them and you remember,” Dylan says, and a the music slides down your nerves, and Cary gathers himself up and makes a resolution. “Actually, Dylan, that was work, I need to go.” You don’t wanna play, the child asks, his eyes wide, disappointed. It’s too late, however; Bishop is off the phone. “Well, that was pointless,” he smiles. “Dad, you wanna play too? More than two people can play.” Poor Dylan’s so thrilled at the thought. Maybe later, Bishop says. Cary and I need to talk. Oh, that’s okay, Cary says; I’m sure he’d rather play than be shot. I’ve already dealt the cards, Dylan pleads. And Cary wants to play, Bishop tells him, so maybe later.
Then Cary tries to say he’s got to go. I need a minute, Bishop insists. And I wish I had one, Cary lies, waving his phone. That background music, it’s skating along my nerve endings, as if this wasn’t hard enough to watch! “Dylan,” Bishop says, his eyes fixed on Cary, understanding that he’s trying to weasel his way out. “Cary can play rat-a-tat-cat afterwards.” Taking one look at his father’s face, Dylan leaves. “Bye Cary,” he says, and the lawyer watches him go as if the boy’s presence were the last thing preventing Bishop from murdering him with a kitchen knife. He says goodbye.
Bishop tilts his head, and sticks his hands in his pockets, and fixes Cary in a measuring stare. “Why do you have a body guard, Cary?” Oh, for work, Cary says, trying to be casual, trying to shrug it off. Diane gave me one. Bishop nods. “Why did they give you one?” Finally looking at Bishop, Cary decides to face his death like a man. He takes two steps closer to Bishop, who looks surprised by this. “The FBI played us a tape of you threatening to kill me,” he says, and Bishop keeps starting at him. Slowly, he takes his hands out of his pockets and crosses them over his chest, glowering even harder. “And I came here without a body guard to tell you I am not a threat to you.”
Bishop nods. “When did they play this?” Two days ago. “And you believed it?” God. How do you answer that question? “I thought it was faked, but I wasn’t sure.” He’s never looked so old, so thin, so strained, but he faces his fear. “Was it faked?” Bishop stares back at him. “No.”
Cary wets his lips.
Bishop unclenches his arms, relaxes. “I talk, Cary. I talk all the time.” He steps closer to his former lawyer. “I say things I don’t mean.” Breath, E, breath. “I’m sure you say things you don’t mean, too.” Breath, Cary, breath. “Sometimes,” Cary says, his eyes rimmed with red. “I want the situation gone,” Bishop offers as a hypothetical, “I want that person to shut up.” His face curves up into a smile. “That’s blowing off steam. Afterwards, I talk sensibly.” That would be reassuring if the other people you felt threatened by hadn’t just turned up dead. “So it’s all just talk,” Cary says, which is somewhat ironic considering that this is what Cary’s own defense is in his trial. “Yes,” Bishop agrees, and Cary smiles and says hmm, and sighs hmm again.
“You won’t turn on me, right?” Bishop asks. “I won’t, never,” Cary answers. “Good,” Bishop replies brightly, his smile flashing white. “Then I have no issue with you. The bodyguard had me worried.” Well, it wasn’t my idea, Cary shrugs. “Good,” Bishop says again. “Then that’s that!” Bishop will make his excuses to Dylan for the game. With a genuine smile on his face, Cary walks past his former client.
“Cary,” Bishop says. Oh God. There’s still a smile on Bishop’s lips, but Cary’s face again freezes with terror. “Don’t hurt me, and I won’t hurt you.”
Well, that couldn’t be clearer. The men nod at each other, and Cary leaves. You’re going to have to scrape me off my living room floor with a spatula; my bones have completely dissolved.
“You’re good? You mean you’re not in the house anymore?” Kalinda asks over the phone as Cary buckles himself in next to an impassive Carter. I’m in the car, he confirms. There’s rain on the window. “Bishop didn’t try anything?” Kalinda wonders. No. They talked. They’re good. Kalinda inhales. “So, he didn’t say it? The tape wasn’t him?” No, Cary tells her, and you can tell this assurance sits less well out of Bishop’s presence, even though Cary tries hard to sell it. He did say it, but he didn’t mean it. “What the hell, Cary?” Kalinda replies, baffled. “I have to go,” Cary says, and he does.
Which means that Kalinda has to leave work, and of course she goes to Lana’s love nest. I really love this room – I don’t know if it’s paint or wallpaper behind the bed, but I love the gold and the large scale pattern of it, and the way the colors contrast with the brick wall. Gorgeous. The rorschach-like print on the wall, on the other hand, is hilariously sapphic. Lana’s already lounging on the bed, and Kalinda walks in and lays down next to her, her back to the FBI agent. There’s something peculiar in it, submissive, feline. “I take you seriously,” Kalinda says, unable to say it Lana’s face. “It’s not easy, but, I take you seriously.” Lana looks down at her lover, moved. She strokes Kalinda’s hair. “Good,” she says.
“DINO,” proclaims the closet ad, now playing on ChumHum. Whoa. How did that get there, Alicia wonders, closeted with Jonny and Josh. (If it’s not E &E, it’s J&J? Such an alliterative team she has.) I don’t know, but I didn’t leak it, the Haircut promises. “Don’t look at me,” Josh giggles, “I agreed to bury it.” Don’t do that again, Alicia tells the Haircut, who won’t admit to having done it at all. “You kept telling the press it was hot stuff,” she reminds him; it was, he says. “Jon,” she takes a step back, tells him quietly, “don’t.” She’s ready to go. “And go with the first interview. I don’t care that my dress matches his mother’s.” Josh mimes shooting himself under his chin, but I still think they could change up the color without the pattern and have it be different enough not to be a huge deal. After all, it looks very different on the two women.
“So you’re getting back at me,” Frank tells Alicia on the phone; no, she says. She’s standing in the studio, acoustic tiles behind her head. They’re surprisingly cool looking as decor. He reminds her that his PAC put out the horrible commercial, while the DINO ad was from her campaign. I know, she says, but it was leaked. She guess it was someone in her campaign, but she doesn’t know who. He nods, and we can hear the jazz drums sizzle behind him as he sits on a park bench. He really likes this park, huh? He leans back. “They’re gonna drag us into the pit, Alicia,” he sighs. She knows. Then what are they going to do? “Resist,” she says, and he smiles, and hangs up, and watches the trio – upright bass, drums, and is that a ukele? Knock knock knock goes a hand on a glass door panel, perfectly synched with the music, and Lana Delaney walks into Stu Harper’s office where five other agents are waiting for her. “So, we have a complication here, Lana,” her boss says jovially, waving to one dour subordinate, who moves toward the door. “It seems the Bishop wiretap was leaked,” he says, and the goon shuts the door, and Lana’s eyes flick wide. “We just have a few questions for you.”
Oh holy cow. I mean wow, WOW, wow was that an episode. I almost had a heart attack about five times, and I’m in awe of the many different facets of truth and self-definition we moved through. Despite failing to spend a moment in the courtroom, this ranks up there to me with The Decision Tree and Marthas and Caitlins as one of the meatiest, most thought-provoking episodes in series history. And for the sense of impending doom I can only compare it to Hitting the Fan, The Line and Nine Hours. Either way, it’s magnificent. This place between public image and private reality, between reputation and self-knowledge? That’s where The Good Wife lives.
Okay, let’s break down some of the major themes and interactions of this episode. First, Alicia and Frank in a war of images and words. I’ve been thinking a lot about Castro leaving the race, and the point of having Frank enter it (other than to give the marvelous David Hyde Pierce a guest arc – nice tip of the hat to reality with the closet stuff), and all I can come up with is that it would be okay for Alicia to lose to Frank where we could never have seen her lose to Castro. This way there’s some doubt to the outcome of the election, and room for a happy ending either way. Of course, that doesn’t negate the fact that Alicia has lost her reason for running, but it’s not like it was a perfect reason in the first place.
I’m surprised and pleased that despite the foolish mess that prompted Frank to join the race, he’s still trying to run a classy campaign. And yeah, like Alicia, I buy that he is. I like that she’s also trying to run a clean race. I think Elfman is perfectly capable of leaking the DINO ad (and Prady wasn’t nearly as upset as he needed to be about the bed one), but I actually think the campaign might have been served better by waiting, and letting speculation about the ad ramp up for more than a couple of hours. That would have made Alicia look better as well. But kudos to the show for letting us see the complexity of a campaign, and the difficulty of a candidate trying to control everything done in their name.
Matt Czuchry looks thinner and more gaunt every week. I’m horrified for Cary, but I have to applaud Matt’s beautifully controlled descent into the valley of the shadow of death. He’s wrung every little piece of emotion he can from this story line, but done it with restraint and finesse. I’m so impressed. This character has gone through some pretty amazing transformations; I’m really glad the show decided to give him such a pivotal (and beefy) role this season, letting him occupy the same sort of narrative space Will used to inhabit. It’s like they’re promoting from within, and I like that. Not only does the actor deserve the chance, but he’s fully repaid the show’s faith in him. It’s so funny that treating the character this terribly turns out to be the best thing they could have done for the actor, huh? I mean, hopefully. When Cary shows up at Bishop’s house, determined to man up and be honest, to get himself out from under, only to hear that Bishop really did want him killed? Oh my God. That’s just one of those moments when your whole body just seizes up in fear. I wanted to cheer for him when he asked Bishop straight out, but almost didn’t have the breath.
I don’t know why Mike Coulter has never snagged a guest star nomination, but I hope his people bombard the Emmy committees with the terrifying work he’s produced here as well. This weirdly uneven season has provided — if nothing else — great opportunities for some underserved characters to shine.
I wish I could say that Kalinda or Lana should be put on that list, but I can’t. I am curious to see what happens with Lana now that the FBI knows she passed secrets on to Kalinda. I’m far more curious to know how the FBI got the tape with Bishop’s order (not threat) to kill Cary. Have they got another C.I.? Is the kitchen bugged? Is Bishop going to start hunting for another mole in his organization? And by the way, I don’t remotely see why they couldn’t bring Bishop in for what he said. I don’t see that his people were being so careful. I ought to ask one of my defense attorney friends about this, but it just seems like something that’s convenient for the writers to make the FBI to say.
And of course, we have Alicia’s series of odd conversations with Finn, where their flirtation finally rises to the surface, and they acknowledge it, if obliquely. I couldn’t help thinking of Heart, where Alicia shares a kiss with Will that she can’t consummate, and so seeks out Peter; in reverse, Alicia going to Finn feels like it has a lot to do with Peter, though whether she’s thinking that she’s been a fool to resist taking advantage of her marital agreement, or whether she’s hurt by Peter and Ramona, or whether she really just wants to be with Finn, I’m not sure. I am sure she couldn’t tell us, though. I love Finn’s insistence on getting her talk, though; he doesn’t press his own emotions, he doesn’t press her for anything (unlike, say, Lana), he just suggests that honesty and articulation is the way to go.
Of course, because he was vague, I don’t feel like I have a super clear iview of his heart, either. What are his feelings for Alicia? You get the feeling that he’s up for being in a relationship with her, but I kind of want to know why. Does he not care that she has a husband? In what way does he think secretly dating a political candidate would be easy? But he’s absolutely right about one thing — Alicia needs to decide whether she wants to live her life by other people’s expectations or by her own. That’s been a central conflict for her all along, this distance between honor and reputation, but her becoming a political candidate makes that relationship transactional. She’s not just looking to be seen as a good wife, to be an asset to her husband, or even to borrow a little of his reflected glory to help her business. She’s looking for votes. Other people’s opinions of her will determine whether she wins or loses; appearance, rather than merit, will decide her life’s course. Is that truly what she wants? Is doing the job worth it?
And that’s just another way of saying, over and over and over again for five and a half years, that Alicia needs to figure out what she wants — public position or personal/romantic happiness — and go after it.
And speaking of things that bring us back to the beginning, Peter is a lying cheater. Didn’t that little beat in the interview, when Alicia looks at Peter and tells him that she’d never had a happier moment, break your heart? You can see how much both of them felt both the impact of that moment and their distance from it. I feel like the writers have put me on a nice little roller coaster as far as Peter’s mistress is concerned. She’s the obvious candidate — no, she’s too nice and she’s too friendly with Alicia — no, they’re totally doing it. And she’s sorry, and she cries, and Peter can’t stop. One thing that’s nice about this is that it parallels the situation with Prady and Castro; if Peter’d been sleeping with Lauren, that’d be terrible, but Ramona is sweet and smart and you could actually see them married. In other words, Ramona is Prady, the candidate you can’t dislike. She’s a plausible alternative. It gives Alicia an out, in case she needs it, although whether the show would let her off the moral hook so easily is another matter. In fact, I guess what I mean by an out is that Alicia’s stated she could leave Peter if he were to raise another scandal — but also that Peter could pull a Mark Sanford, and leave Alicia to be with Ramona publicly. Veronica always said that Peter needed to be the one who left.
So. What else? Are we ever going to find out the rest of what was in that shoebox? Will Prady’s team really bring up the fact that Alicia was sleeping with Will, and why didn’t she warn Elfman and Josh about stepping into that mess? When’s he going to come out with the stuff about her drinking? Do you like the show without cases of the week? (I don’t love the idea in general, but oh my goodness gracious did I love this episode.) How do you think Alicia feels about Finn, and vice versa? What would have happened if they hadn’t been interrupted? Am I the only one who waffled about the nature of Peter’s relationship with Ramona? Is Lana going to get fired or taken off the case? And man. How is Cary going to find his way out of this pickle?