E: This show spoils me for everything else and even, ironically, itself; the bar has been set ridiculously high. When there’s an episode that’s just good instead of amazing, it’s hard to remember that we still get the usual tight plotting and investigation of Alicia’s nuanced moral world. This week the problem is two-fold: first, it’s not a game-changing episode like Hail Mary, and second, it’s just really depressing to see Alicia so compromised and so unhappy. Let’s all hope it’s building to something better.
Fun bits of the episode? A kind of meta-conundrum in which our team sues a television show with ripped-from-the-headlines plots for defamation. Ultimately, however, it’s not in TGW‘s best interest to actually prove the plausibility of defamation, is it? Because then who knows – Aaron Sorkin or Mark Zuckerberg or Ryan Murphy might send a few lawyers their way.
It feels like a little bit of a cheat when we start, because what we’re watching — a tremendously slim woman in her underwear being strangled to death by her lover — does not reach either the calibre of acting we expect on this show, or the situational complexity. This is pure, cartoony evil. Plus, it’s icky, her initial compliance, his oily voice, her bulging eyes, the man’s thick brocade dressing gown, and the way he lets her limp body flop, neatly, onto the four poster bed. I keep thinking he’s let go early enough that she ought to be okay, and am frustrated that she doesn’t move. I’m relieved when Diane freezes the image, and asks a young bearded man if he wrote the scene we’ve just seen. (He did.) Mr. Tierney, I wouldn’t be so puffed up about your authorship if I were you. It wasn’t very impressive. He’s the proud writer/producer of a show, Call It Murder, and he denies that the male character is supposed to be Colin Sweeney. His name is Bernard Loomis, Tierney tells us. “You’re aware that my client was found not guilty of murdering his wife?” Diane asks, Colin Sweeney leering from the bench beside her. I’m aware, Tierney says, “but again, this character is not based on him.”
I see, Diane says, arching her eyebrows at him. “But you cast an actor who looks just like Colin Sweeney.” She advances the scene a few frames, so that we can see Bernard looking down at his victim, and, ha, we don’t need the side by side comparison photo to know that it’s not merely a look-alike – Dylan Baker himself is playing Bernard. Excellent. That’s a coincidence, Tierney claims lamely. “Even though he has the same occupation? Dresses the identically, met his wife in a similar fashion….” Sweeney rolls his eyes at Cary, who’s sitting second chair. “And even though Mr. Sweeney’s wife, like the wife in your show, was strangled, and found buried in an orchard, and her decapitated head was discovered in Mr. Sweeney’s yard.” Here Tierney’s tiny lawyer sighs and puts her chin in her hand. “Despite all these similarities, you still insist that Mr. Loomis was not based on Mr. Sweeney?” I do, he says. Isn’t the only difference here that Colin didn’t kill his wife?
Well, a lot of people disagree with that verdict, Tierney suggests, playing right into Diane’s hand. “Oh, so there’s no difference between the two,” Diane jumps on his response. “He didn’t say that,” the other lawyer objects. “Argumentative, You Honor, this is galling.” Judge Parks does not appear galled. “I will rephrase,” Diane offers. “I don’t wish to gall Miss Cross.” Ha. Also, a lawyer named Cross? Cute. Diane then quotes Tierney at the Television Critics Association saying “all our episodes are ripped straight from the headlines.” So, she wonders, which headline was this episode ripped from?
“I was exaggerating,” he backpedals. Some are, some aren’t, and this one isn’t. Right. (Technically, that bouncing back and forth’s true of a lot of shows, Law & Order and The Good Wife among them, but it’s a terrible defense.) Diane calls him on this — “the one episode where your studio is being sued for defamation? — and Miss Cross objects. “Again,” she grumbles, “argumentative. Your Honor, I wish you would admonish plaintiff’s attorney.”
“I wish you would stop overdramatizing your objections, counselor,” the judge replies, testy. Oh. Ouch. “I get it. Sustained.” Growling quietly, Colin tries to insist Diane talk about how Tierney’s ruining his reputation. What? Didn’t he give a whole speech once about how he loved his infamy? How his bad boy rep helped him get tables in all the best restaurants? Rightly, Diane tells him to hush up and let her do her job. As Diane starts quizzing Tierney on the casting process, the ever petulant and dissatisfied Sweeney texts Alicia that he needs her.
Our girl (and wow, it has been so long! how nice to see your face, Alicia!) sits on a pretty bed and stares unseeing at the modern floral wallpaper around her. There’s a knock, and after inhaling apprehensively, she gets up to open the door of suite 1022. “Hi,” she tells Frank Prady. Huh. That’s not going to look good if they get caught. “Thanks for seeing me,” he says, slipping in the opened door. “No problem,” she smiles.
“You’re doing well,” he says, settling down at the small conference table in the suite. “So are you,” she replies pleasantly, sitting down across from him. “No,” he disagrees. “I shouldn’t have walked out on that debate. Listened to my handlers,” he adds regretfully. “Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong,” she nods, understanding.
And now we’ve come to the reason he’s here. “I wanna play something for you,” he says, setting his cell phone down on the round table. “Are we back channeling?” she wonders. Um, why else would you be meeting in secret, Alicia? Why else did you have to rent a hotel room? That seems pretty silly, actually; if they get caught at it, it’s going to make everything so much worse than if he just showed up her office. No wonder campaigns are ridiculously expensive. “We are,” he whispers, waggling his eyebrows to show they’re conspiring, which is cute, and then he plays the recording.
“Hello,” a man’s voice chirps, “This is Brian Rogers. I’m a Rainbow Brigade activist who just loooooves Frank Prady!” Frank shoots Alicia a wry look. “He’s a great supporter of our cause, and I just want to remind you to support him, and not Alicia Florrick.” What is that, Alicia asks, as Frank shuts Brian’s voice off. “Ah, that’s a robocall put out by your campaign.” No, she blinks; yes, he insists. “That doesn’t make sense,” she shakes her head, “gays are your coalition, not ours.” I wonder why? I mean, I know people like to think they know what Frank’s sexuality is, but Alicia’s the one with the loud and proud brother, and we’ve seen often how tight Eli is with gay activists. Either way, the point of the call is less obvious – they’ve only been sent to conservative households in Evanston, and constitute what Frank calls a “false flag,” something intended to alienate conservatives and inspire them to donate money to Alicia’s campaign. Huh. That makes me wonder whether some of the uniformly annoying robocalls I’ve gotten over the years were intended to manipulate me in a similar way; just another reason to ignore and erase them.
“I had no knowledge of this,” Alicia tells him. “I didn’t think you did,” he says, but now that you do, could you stop them? (What, like you stopped those classy pac ads that showed Alicia sleeping with Colin Sweeney and Lemond Bishop?) “Frank Prady is a great supporter of gay marriage, Brian Rogers (ugh, the pun) continues. “He wants to focus resources on Boys Town in Lakeview and not in Evanston,” he says, and Alicia shakes her head. See, says Prady. “Plays off all the worst stereotypes.” Maybe not quite so much as the sexual attack against Alicia, but it’s still gross. As Brian asks like minded voters to come to a rally, Prady gets a call from Redmayne, and obviously after spending the last three months immersed in the Oscar campaign I immediately think, oh my gosh, he’s getting a phone call from Eddie Redmayne? AWESOME. Oh, which is sort of appropriate to this conversation since Eddie was back in the news this week when this photograph, from his next prestige role, surfaced. Er. Sorry. So easily distracted. Frank stands to take the call, huddling with his phone in the far corner of the hotel suite.
“No, we haven’t released any robocalls,” Johnny the Haircut tells Alicia back at her campaign headquarters. “Josh!” he hollers. “It was disgusting,” she complains, “The worst kind of politics. A lisping voice coming after conservatives.” I don’t think he lisped, but other than that I agree. “We didn’t do it,” her campaign manager cuts her off, then sees Josh shuffling toward them, his head in his phone. “Josh, did we release any robocalls?” “Three weeks before the election, are you kidding me?” he asks, finally looking up. “We’d wait until three days before.” Alicia is unamused. “Maybe,” he stammers.
“Alicia, do you want anything?” Marissa asks. “Cookies….” As ever, Josh is unhappy about seeing her. “Adults talking here, can you give us a minute?” (If they date, I’m going to be really upset. And that’s what usually happens on TV when a couple loudly treats each other badly, right?) Both Josh and Johnny want Marissa gone, but perhaps because of this, Alicia insists on her staying and participating. Somehow this reminds me of Alicia insisting on Robyn’s presence and it makes me sad that the investigator has left without a trace. Anyway.
“Are you in touch with the pac, John?” Alicia asks; why no, he replies, because that would be illegal. “When I wanted the pac to stop their attack ads, I told you, and they did,” she presses. Yes, he says, because they knew it was wrong. “Right Josh?” Yes, Josh says, removing his hands from his mouth for a moment. “What’s @TobyZeigler44?” she asks. GET OUT OF TOWN! Love love love love love Toby Zeigler. Josh denies any knowledge of this, and Alicia repeats herself. “It’s a campaign Twitter account,” John confesses. “How do you know about it?” Josh demands; he’s not very surprised when Marissa raises her hand. “Of course. The chatty body woman.”
“It’s a dormant Twitter account, we rarely use it. ” And yes we used it last night, Alicia notes, reading off her phone. “4th: 40-43 soft, 3rd: 44/44.” Oh, yeah, I can totally see how Marissa stumbled on that. It’s so fascinating.
“Can I interrupt here?” Josh asks, smiling weirdly. “The candidate should not be talking about this.” It’s our polling data, isn’t it, Alicia asks. “It’s a code, isn’t it? 4th ward. We’re soft there. 40% to Prady’s 43? It’s a message to the pac telling them where to focus soft money.” It seems like a stupidly, unnecessarily public and traceable way to do that, no? Also, their response was really that quick? Neither Josh nor John will meet Alicia’s gaze. “Awkward silence,” Marissa observes.
“It is a public Twitter account,” John admits. “We release random data, anyone can access it.” It’s not illegal, Josh pipes up, it’s a loophole in the campaign laws. Oh, thank you. That’s so good to know. “Okay, here’s what I need,” Alicia cuts him off. “Use your little decoder ring and your West Wing tweets to tell the pac to stop these homophobic robocalls!” Yes, he says quietly. Josh fumes, his arms crossed, as Alicia sails out of the room. “That’s all I ask,” she says, and Marissa hops up to follow her.
“You do realize we’re behind,” Josh grumbles. “No,” she retorts. “Polling has me within the margin of error.” That probably still counts as behind, Alicia, but it turns out that wasn’t what he meant; Frank Prady’s gotten an influx of late campaign donations, probably from out of state, though they don’t know who from or where. “He’s popular in California,” Johnny shrugs.
That makes Alicia stop and think. “Who’s Redmayne?” she asks, walking back into the office. “Redmayne?” Johnny wonders; yes, Redmayne. “I recognize the name, but I don’t know who it is.” Guy Redmayne, Josh guesses, “the Democratic mega donor out of Phoenix. Why?” “I can’t tell you how I know this, but I know this. Redmayne’s in touch with Prady.” How do you know this, Josh asks immediately. “I just said I can’t tell you,” she rolls her eyes. “Do you know this or do you suspect it?” Johnny asks for the distinction. She knows it. The men start to pace. “We’re screwed,” John pouts. “I’ll get cookies,” Marissa decides.
“Gerald Morris,” Dylan Baker introduces himself to the court, wearing spray tan, glasses, and a God-awful toupee. “Actor, raconteur, teacher.” His Australian accent is an abomination, and that goatee, along with the black turtleneck and the leather jacket, and the way he’s braced himself pretentiously against the stand? Deliciously bad. “And you played Bernard Loomis in Call It Murder?” Cary stands to ask. “Ah-wy did,” Gerald (or is it Gerard, I can’t be sure) agrees. “Ah-wy like the small screen, is… so many more challenges.” Pale and hairless, Colin Sweeney leans in toward Diane. When he does, he sort of recedes his chin into his neck in this rather grotesque way. “He is a cartoon!” he grouses. Yup.
Happily, this is when Kalinda shows up like the life-saver she is with a disk containing the casting recording. Her phone buzzing, Kalinda and her lizard green dress slink out of the courtroom. It’s Lemond Bishop, who – gulp – wants to call in his favor. I can only imagine what this is going to be. Will she have to plant a bug at work? Reconnect with her great love, the mysteriously missing Lana, and then kill her? Bury a body? He declines to say.
“And in inhabiting Mr. Loomis,” Cary asks the actor, “were you ever directed to base your part on Mr. Sweeney?” “Nahw,” Morris drawls. “Ahw base my performance on life,” he insists, cupping one hand and showing off his thumb ring. “On in heah-yah,” he adds, gesturing toward his orange skull. “Let the record reflect I was pointing to my eah-ya,” he asks, winning a dubious look from the court reporter. “Actually, that’s my job, Mr. Morris,” Judge Parks cuts in. “Apologies, Your Honor,” the great actor says, jerking his thumb toward the judge before claiming a sort of kinship. “Ah-wy did Inherit the Wind.” Bwah!
You must admit, Cary asks, that you bear a striking resemblance to Mr. Sweeney. Gerald snorts. “He’s what, ten years mah-wy senior?” Baker must really have enjoyed insulting himself, huh? “We share a certain je ne say quoi,” he admits, and Cary stops him from going further; doesn’t he think his casting makes a specific suggestion and connection for the audience? No, no, he created an entirely original character, he insists. “Your inflections in this episode are identical to Mr. Sweeney, I mean…” Cary stops, as if in awe, guaranteeing himself a dose of Miss Cross’s attention. “It was masterful, the way that you copied him.”
“Excuse me, Your Honor,” she says, standing. I’m loving the disapproving school m’arm bun and glasses. “Counsel is attempting to trick the witness with flattery!” Cary turns to her, feigning innocence. “I was just complimenting the performance!” Say the same thing without the compliment, Parks instructs him. “Mr Morris, were you ever directed to play the part like Mr. Sweeney?” Cary reverts to his earlier form of the question. “No,” Morris says, “nevah!”
“I am nothing like him, he’s like my retarded brother,” Sweeney says, although which him he means (Morris or Loomis) I’m not entirely sure. Either way, nice use of language, sleazeball. Diane shushes him.
“Let me play you a tape, Mr. Morris,” Cary says, and cues up the disc Kalinda’s brought in, which shows Morris auditioning, and a voice off screen specifically asking him to play the role like Colin Sweeney. Smoking gun, baby! The judge shakes his head, and Miss Cross turns a disapproving look at Mr. Tierney in the gallery. When Cary offers Morris a chance to revise his testimony, the latter seems unable to even understand that he’s been caught. That was just the audition, he claims; nothing’s very serious at an audition. At this lame excuse, Cary sits, and so it’s Miss Cross’s turn to cross-examine the witness.
And what she’d like to know is if he was told to base his performance on anyone else. What do you mean, Morris wonders. Like Claus Von Bulow, she starts, and Cary objects to this as leading. Judge Parks sustains the objection, and so she re-delivers the first half of the sentence. Was he asked to base his performance on anyone else. “Yes I was,” Morris claims, outraged. “That one,” he adds, flapping a hand at Miss Cross. “That one. Von Balow…” Diane rolls her eyes, and Colin checks his phone. “For example.”
You have to be at the Shriner’s in an hour, Marissa tells Alicia as they speed through the Florrick/Agos offices so Alicia can quickly pick a few things up from her office. The reception staff must have fallen asleep, though, because no one’s warned her that Sweeney has now taken up residence in her office. It’s clear she’s not happy to see him — not that she’s every made much effort to hide her disdain.
“You haven’t been returning my texts,” he complains, peering over the edge of Chicago Lawyer magazine. “I’m a bit busy, Mr. Sweeney,” she snaps, moving across the room. “I told you she’s busy!” Renata perks up, also reading a magazine on the couch beneath the window, slightly jealous and peevish sounding. “She doesn’t have time.”
“I’m unhappy,” he says, standing, tossing his magazine on her coffee table. “Doesn’t it matter to you that I’m unhappy?” Ah, always the petulant child. Behind her desk, Alicia won’t even look at him. “Does it matter to me that you’re unhappy, um, not so much,” she declares dispassionately. “You prepped for this trial, Alicia, ten months ago. You swore to me that you could win it.” No, she contradicts him; oh yes you did when you care about keeping me as a client, he claims. “No, in fact I told you to drop it, that defamation was hard to win, but if you wanted to pursue it, that we would do our best. And we did. And we are.” Having found the papers she was looking for, she tries to leave. “No, you said you would do your best, and you are not,” he notes. Fair enough.
Then he sees Marissa in Alicia’s shadow. “Hello,” he says, and she pops forward to shake his hand. “I’m Marissa, the body woman.” Oh God. “Really,” the killer asks, intrigued. “The whole body, or just parts?” EW. I can just imagine Eli spitting nails at this point. Just wait outside, Alicia leans over, but before Marissa can even respond, Renata steps in, cleavage first. “Just ignore him,” she says, throwing off her fur wrap, “he likes unsettling people.” Oh God. Marissa swings over and shakes the proffered hand. “Don’t worry, I don’t unsettle easily,” Marissa replies wryly. “Don’t tell him that,” Renata replies with a waspish glance at her husband, “it’s a challenge.” He smiles awkwardly as Renata pulls Marissa into her web.
“We take your case seriously, Mr. Sweeney,” Alicia tells him, suddenly interested in speaking to him. “We have two name partners fighting for you in court.” Yes, which is a little ridiculous, isn’t it? Yes, he allows, but Diane and Cary don’t like me. “I don’t like you either,” Alicia frowns, confused. “Don’t be silly,” he says. “This TV show makes me out to be a killer.” Yeah, so? Renata and Marissa chat easily. “Herald Equity stock has plunged 68%.” Ah, now we’re getting down to it. That is kind of weird that the impact of it would be so strong Ten months at least after bringing suit, and at least that long since the show aired? He thinks the board will fire him if he can’t clear his name, but I think that he deserves it if he can’t make a fickle audience forget a television show after nearly a year. I mean, good grief. It’s not like people didn’t already assume he killed his wife.
“Israel? I was in the IDF,” Marissa tells Renata, who’s practically drooling. For two years, even. “So you carried a gun,” Renata asks, rapt, flirting shamelessly. “What kind?” Tar 21 assault riffle, Marissa says. It’s kind of hard to picture; she’s so tiny and droll. “My God! Did you kill anyone?” No, Marissa says, and Renata makes the most hilariously disappointed face. “But you wanted to?” Can I say it again? EW. “I wanted action,” Marissa confesses, “just so I could write about it. Frustrated novelist,” she finishes. “Me too! ” Renata coos. Oh, Lord, can you even imagine what her novel would look like? Excellent.
“I will leave here,” Sweeney tries to bully Alicia. “I will leave your firm.” “I don’t care,” Alicia says. “You’re heartless,” he complains, shocked. “No, Mr. Sweeney, I just know that you won’t. I know when you’re bluffing.” Okay, he says, embarrassed. “Try this bluff. I know who finances your pac.”
Alicia goes very, very quiet. How could he know that?
“Ah, that brought you up short. How would that sound? Me, telling the press who’s laundering his money through your pac?” Oh, he’s enjoying this. He smiles, and she chews on the inside of her cheek a little.
“Okay, Mr. Sweeney,” she decides. “I will consult with Diane and Cary. I will look through the evidence. But I won’t be in court. I won’t be seen with you.” He looks a bit offended. “That’s the best I can offer, and you don’t wanna take it, go ahead. Go to the press. Come on Marissa!”
Just for maximum creepy effect, Kalinda meets Lemond outside in the pouring rain next to a hulking goon. Somehow they look like they’re standing over a body. “You’re late,” he barks, before turning to the goon. “Tell Marcus to wait on the delivery,” he instructs him, and the heavy goes. Once his car door is shut, Bishop takes a note out of his pocket. “I need you at this address at three tomorrow,” he tells Kalinda, handing her the note. “And every day this week and next week. You’ll be picking someone up.” The goon drives away, and Kalinda, somewhat dry under her umbrella, watches him go. “Look, I’m not really a body guard, sir, but I can hire somebody,” she offers, to his very emphatic no. He wants someone who doesn’t look like a body guard, see? Why not, she wonders, and he sighs, loath to explain himself. “Dylan’s school doesn’t like people who look like bodyguards,” he confesses. And yes, that means she’ll be picking Dylan up and driving him home after school for the next two weeks. Wow. That’s weird. That’s getting off so easily I don’t even know how to trust that’s all he really wants.
“I don’t mean to offend you, sir,” she starts, looking for the right words. “Then don’t,” he cuts her off. “My son means everything to me. I’m trusting you with the most valuable thing in my life.” Gulp. Is Dylan being threatened in someway? What’s going on? “Do you understand?” She indicates that she does.
“What is this?” Judge Parks ask as the three lawyers gather in front of him. “It’s the original casting break down,” Cary says, proffering a piece of paper to the judge. I don’t even know what that is, Parks responds, so Cary breaks the break down down for him: it’s a sheet that gets sent to casting directors, explaining what sort of actors they’re looking for for the episode. “How’d you get that?” Miss Cross wonders crossly. “These are the original names for the characters, before the school’s legal department advised them to change them.” Ha.
“Your Honor,” Miss Cross whispers, “clearly the plaintiff has been diving into dumpsters for this proprietary information!” Or something – but don’t you feel like it’s the kind of information that the studio should be compelled to give up for a lawsuit? “Why is this bad, counselors, instruct me,” the judge asks as Cary snickers to himself. Judge Parks is usually quicker on the uptake: the characters all have the same names as the “real life” people: Colin, Caroline (wife), Rick Crowell (detective). Miss Cross bites down on her lip sourly. “I am outraged, Your Honor,” she begins (because of course she is), and he cuts her off once more. ‘Well, you’re welcome to your outrage, Miss Cross,” he lets his annoyance show, “but I am inclined to decide that the plaintiff has proved likeness.” Cary and Diane look at each other in triumph. “I believe that this episode, though fictionalized, does defame Mr. Sweeney.” In his seat, Sweeney straightens his tie and his spine. “Unless you have something else?”
Just to prove that she’s serious, Miss Cross takes off her glasses with an air of regret. “I do, Your Honor, I do have something more. The episode does not defame Colin Sweeney because it is in fact true. Colin Sweeney killed his wife.” Say what now? I mean, okay, we know that he really did kill his wife, but what now? This is crazy, Diane cries; in his seat, Colin looks hurt and offended. “The episode depicts something that actually happened.” Um, can you change strategies like that in the middle of the trial? I mean, Tierney just perjured the heck out of himself if that’s the case.
Colin Sweeney was found not guilty by a jury of his peers, Cary reminds Judge Parks. Yes, Miss Cross agrees, pointing at Judge Parks with her glasses in hand, “but the threshold for truth is higher in a criminal court.” Are you ready to prove that Colin Sweeney killed his wife, Judge Parks demands. She is. Well I won’t stop you, he says, and with that piece of complete off-the-walls insanity, we’re off until the afternoon session.
First, however, Josh Mariner and Johnny Elfman brings us Guy Redmayne’s vitals: born in Dallas, 1942, real estate magnet, pro-Israel Democrat, runs a pac that got 72 Democrats elected last year (or do you mean last cycle, Josh?), and likes to tote his much younger daughter around as arm candy. I guess that’s better than the statuesque blond being, as Marissa originally guessed, his wife, but it still seems a little weird. Either way, Alicia will be meeting them both at “the club” later that afternoon, so Josh and John are giving her a crash course in asking for things first. Ha! It’s not something that comes naturally to her, that’s been well and truly acknowledged.
“My name’s Alicia Florrick, thank you for meeting me,” she begins, as Johnny sits across his desk from her and Josh smirks from behind the campaign manager’s shoulder. “I hope you’ll…” No, Johnny cuts her off. “No qualifiers. You don’t hope that someone will consider.” Yes, why would you do that while asking for something? “I’d like your…” she falters. No, Josh insists, own it. “I want your support. I believe together we can influence…” Wrong! “Nope, not influence,” John stops her. “You’re a doer, so do.” “Gimme your money, now!” Marissa demands, using her pen as if she were stabbing downward with a knife. “That’s closer but it’s not funny,” Josh tells her, pained. You know, I take it back. I’d way, WAY rather she get together with Josh than with Renata. Josh may be an ass, but in comparison to a murderous sociopath he looks like an ideal boyfriend.
“Think of how Bill Clinton does it,” Johnny suggests, showing again why he was an inspired choice to lead Alicia’s campaign. “Do you want to be a part of my movement? Then give. You’ll be joining something bigger than yourself, you’ll be helping the world. It’s to their benefit, not to yours.” Okay. “The money’s weighing them down,” Josh adds, smirking, and I get where he’s coming from but gosh, he’s just so odious. “So relieve them of it.”
Bernard Loomis doesn’t seem particularly weighed down by his money as he turns up the classical music and cavorts around his bedroom, running his gloved hands over his dead wife’s mostly naked body. “Oh!” Sweeney huffs, “this is ghastly!” When Diane shushes him, I can’t help wondering if his objection was the level of storytelling skill or the implication of necrophilia; I’m pretty sure it’s the former. “Yes,” he says into his phone. “911. My name is Bernard Loomis.” He kneels down next to the body, which he’s moved from the bed to the floor. “And I think something has happened to my wife.” He folds a beautiful rug around her. How idiotic is this? Why would he ever make a call like that, especially doing what he’s doing? Then he notices the silken belt still around her neck. “Oh dear,” he says. “I’m going to have to call you back.” Now with both hands free, he pulls the silk out from under her body. Next, we see him roll the wrapped up rug into a hole and cover it with a powder that’s presumably lye. It’s all very operatic, what with the rain and the blue light, as he stands there in his dressing gown.
“Detective Crowell, how accurate would you say that sequence is?” Um, excuse me. He’s alone in those scenes. Just because he’s a detective with knowledge of the case doesn’t mean he can speak accurately about whether or not Sweeney was disposing of the body while calling 911. That is, as they say, rank speculation. “I worked the case, and I’m a technical advisor on the show, that’s exactly how Mr. Sweeney covered up the murder.” Not to keep poking holes in everyone’s cases, but if this guy was the technical adviser on the show, how did we not subpoena him when we were trying to prove that the case was based on Sweeney’s? Why break into their email for the break down when you can just bring this guy in? “There was a rug missing from Sweeney’s house, Mr. Sweeney had a receipt for a gallon jug of lye in his shed, his lawyer convinced the judge the warrant didn’t cover detached dwellings.” In making this last point, Crowell shoots a venomous look at the plaintiff’s table.
“Did, did the actual Colin Sweeney make a 911 call when he buried his wife?” Cross wonders; obviously Diane objects. “Sorry. When he discovered his wife was missing.” Yes, he did, Crowell explains, and so we get to hear it. “Uh oh,” Sweeney says, because it has exactly the same classical music playing and the same completely bizarre transcript. Really, it could be the same track. Of course, there’s still absolutely no proof in there of what Sweeney was doing while he made the call, although the thud after he says “my goodness!” is mildly suggestive; I guess we’re supposed to find it damning that he made the call in the first place, but that only speaks to the power of television. We saw the scene acted out, we know the soundtrack is true, so therefore, we’re open to believing in the rest is true, too. Of course we all know Colin’s guilty, which also lends credence to the Call It Murder version, but I find this whole bizzarro world thing, well, bizarre. First we’re trying to prove that the show was about Colin, and now the defense is? I can’t see how they can do this without laying themselves open to perjury charges, I just don’t. Meh.
“My goodness,” Cross says. “That’s very similar to the 911 call on the show.” It’s identical, the very intense Mr. Crowell answers intensely. And that’s all she’s got.
“Detective,” Diane rises, standing. “How many times have you testified against Mr. Sweeney?” Four, he says. And each time he was cleared of all charges? “We call him the luckiest murderer on the planet,” he replies. “I see,” she replies succinctly. “And given this attitude, don’t you have an axe to grind?” Though Crowell denies it, Diane’s about to prove he’s admitted to something (presumably his undying enmity) when Cross calls for a sidebar. The plaintiffs are about to produce emails, she says, in which the detective essentially vows to get Sweeney if it’s the last thing he does. So? Somehow Kalinda got caught hacking into Crowell’s account and taking the emails illegally. I don’t suppose they could ask for a warrant or disclosure at this point?
“Damn,” Diane curses on her way out of court and whips out her phone. “How did she find out?” David Lee, Cary suggests. That’s right. We can trust that fink as far as we can throw him, and he might be small but I’m sure he’d fight dirty before getting tossed. He’d bite, you know he would. “No,” Diane dismisses the idea out of hand, “he wouldn’t do that.” Or so you’d like to think. “Would he?” Over the phone, she asks Kalinda who else would have known about the emails. Only you and Cary, she says. She’ll call back.
And that’s, of course, because she’s got Dylan Bishop in the car with her.
Sidebar: how old is Dylan? Because you can’t sit in the front seat of a car in Illinois until you’re twelve, and I can’t believe he’s twelve already! Maybe he is, but man. This has been bugging the heck out of me since the first time we saw him riding in his head’s front seat earlier this season. I even looked it up — duh — because that’s the law in my state, and I wondered, well, maybe the age is younger in Illinois, but it’s not. And of all the laws that Lemond Bishop routinely breaks, I cannot imagine him flouting even the most trifling child safety recommendation. Dylan first appeared on the show in a little less than 4 years ago in Ham Sandwich; I’d have guessed him at 5 back then, 6 tops. Definitely not 8. The actor might be twelve, but he doesn’t look it; child actors frequently look young for their age, but that’s an advantage so they can play younger and still be mature enough to behave on set and read their lines. Either way, I’m not sure the actor’s age dictates the characters’.
Just saying! As a parent of kids in that age range, it just freaks me out every time.
“It’s illegal to drive and talk on the phone,” Dylan remarks, looking out the window. “$75 fine. But, it’s more with a child in the car.” Some friends of mine call their son Captain Safety because he’s always spouting facts like this. I love it. Kalinda, not so much. “Should we just try silence for a moment, Dylan, huh?” He shrugs and goes back to looking out the window; meanwhile, Kalinda gives a focused glance at a SUV that might be following them. She turns the car, and Dylan frowns. “Where’re you going?” A different way, she says, watching for — yes, the car’s still with them. Is there a kidnapping plot against Dylan? Clearly she’s thinking that’s why she’s needed. “This is the way to Brian’s house,” the boy observes. “He’s my best friend. But he moved. To Las Vegas.” Kalinda’s completely focused on the road behind her. “He’s the only one whose parents let him come over to my house.”
This poor kid. This poor, poor kid.
“Dylan, I need you to do me a favor,” she says. “Scoot down in your seat.” Oh dear. “Why?” he asks. “Just do it,” she says, and he scrunches down, pushing the backpack resting on his lap up over his face. She slows down and pulls to the side of the city street, letting the car go past her, and then makes a phone call, asking to run the car’s plate. Is she impersonating a cop? Was that a cruiser number she just gave, or a badge number? I think it might be. As she’s on hold, waiting for the number, Dylan’s eyes flick around nervously.
“All American Mike says my dad killed my mom,” he says, and poor Kalinda, the look on her face. She clearly was not expecting a confidence of that sort. “What?”
“This kid in my school, All American Mike, he, uh, says my dad killed my mom.” Do we know anything about Dylan’s mom? “Why would he say that?” Kalinda prevaricates. “I don’t know,” Dylan confesses. “He said it was true.” As she waits for the number, Kalinda looks over at Dylan, aghast.
Someone is leaking to the defense, Colin Sweeney insists to Alicia, tipping his head back and giving her the hairy eyeball. “I don’t like being undercut by my own firm.” Yeah, she replies dryly, “that’s too bad.” She’s clearly not paying attention.
“Do you trust Cary Agos?” he asks, and now that’s made her sit up in her chair. “What?” she asks. No, she doesn’t think Cary’s leaking. So who is it? She leans back in her chair, considering, as she does, she sees Marissa in the conference room, once again laughing it up with Renata. Oh dear. I really wish Eli was in this episode, just to see him freak the heck out. It turns out that Alicia’s not thinking about the potential threat to her friend’s daughter. If Sweeney loses his seat on the board of his company, will his wife still keep hers? “Renata?” he asks, as if he’d never heard her name before. “I guess. What are you saying?” In the conference room, Renata laughs up at Marissa. “You’ve been married going on …?” 8 months, Sweeney supplies, why? Dude, you’re not usually this slow on the uptake.
Lemond Bishop warmly hugs his son before sending him to his room to do homework. “No video games!” he calls out after the boy, who tells Kalinda goodbye as he heads up the stairs. He’s such a sweet, sheltered, polite kid, Dylan. “You got a plate?” Lemond asks; she did, but the name – Raymond White of Darien – isn’t one Bishop knows. “That might not mean anything,” he cautions, and I can see that. Keep track if it’s the same car tomorrow, he instructs her; she considers herself dismissed, but she isn’t. “What did Dylan say?” he asks, which pulls her back into his clean and beautiful kitchen. “About the SUV? Nothing.”
“No,” Bishop says, looking into his fridge. “About anything.” Oh God. Is she supposed to be spying on him? Is that why she’s really there? “Ah, he said I shouldn’t be on my cell when I drive.” The proud father shakes his head, smiling as he pour himself a mineral water. Yep, that’s his boy. Still, he’s not done. He didn’t say anything else, about the kids at school? Kalinda picks a safe route; instead of the murder allegations, she brings up best friend Brian.
“Did he say anything about Mike Zyler?” All-American Mike, she guesses. Yes. Does “All-American” strike anyone else as an odd nickname for kids to give each other? Maybe it’s a video game reference? “Yes,” Bishop says, and turns the full force of his creepy Jedi-like mind powers on Kalinda. “What did he says?” He just mentioned him, Kalinda lies, and Bishop recoils. He knows.
“Part of your job, Kalinda,” he tells her, coming around the island that takes up half his kitchen, “a big part, is to tell me what Dylan says. You understand?” I expect her to agree, but she tries to circumvent the order. “I’m not really a kid person, sir,” she prevaricates. Oh, whatever. You’re an observant person; what else do you need? He’s clearly willing to talk to you; you’re just not interested in breaking his confidences. “…but maybe there’s somebody who…” No, he cuts her off. There’s nobody. Just you.
Just to highlight the ridiculousness of these kind of clubs, we find Alicia waiting for Guy Redmayne staring at a stuffed fox on a mantel piece; the fire place is flanked by faux ivory tusks covered in a diamond pattern. WEIRD. I’m surprised they allow women in here at all. Redmayne arrives with his daughter on his arm, looking like she stepped out of the 1940s in a dark red dress. With a firm handshake and a bit of a growl, Ed Asner introduces himself, and then “his daughter and aide-de-camp, Crystal.” Thank you both so much for meeting me, she says, and is a little thrown when he urges her to sit, settles her into a leather arm chair catty-corner to his, and orders a double vodka from the hovering waiter. She declines a drink, but asks him to call her Alicia; Crystal ruins her 1940s image by sitting off on a nearby couch, thoroughly ignoring them while checking her phone.
“Alicia! Yeah,” he growls, scooting forward in his seat. “I only have a few moments, so let’s cut to the chase. You want my money, eh?” he asks, a twinkle in his eye. Oh, Ed Asner. You’re so cute. Alicia laughs awkwardly. “Yes,” she smiles. “And let me tell you why I deserve it.” Yeah, he gurgles, and she starts a pitch about reducing the murder rate and gun crimes. “Good,” he says, grabbing her hand, “it’s a big problem.” Disentangling her hand, she reaches for a folder to give him and promises to double the speed of prosecutions. Double? What? Is she going to double her staff and budget, too? I mean, that’s not exactly a modest proposal. “Yeah,” he grunts, and lays a hand on her knee. “You’re good on substance,” he stops her, “but family values is critical to a guy like me.” Um, then move your hand, grandpa. “How long you been married?” Oh, ah, 21 years, she says, crossing her legs to make him move his hand without being overt in asking him to do so.
“Thirty eight for me,” he smiles, “till Sylvia died of ovarian cancer.” Immediately she looks stricken. “I’m so sorry,” she says. “We went through a lot,” he remembers, “but we stayed together. Like you and your husband! It speaks volumes.” Again, he puts his hand on hers. Right in front of his daughter. So weird. This isn’t a normal requirement for a Democratic donor, either, the family values stuff. (Also, I don’t know, but sham political marriages don’t speak to any kind of family values I understand.) Disconcerted, she stands. Does he always require complete isolation for his meetings, or is this unusual, she asks, straightening her suit and pacing. Oh yes, he roars. “I hate people. I love mankind but I hate people. ” He thinks about it for a minute. “Especially when they eat. Why don’t you sit back down, Alicia, let me see those pretty legs of yours?”
She looks down at her chair as if expecting to find fire ants in the leather cushions, and plasters a big fake smile on her face. “You are, ah, pretty fresh, aren’t you?” she replies, wagging a finger at him and reluctantly sitting. “It’s my best feature,” he replies impishly. Wow. I can’t begin to express how rotten the rest of him must be if that’s the case. “I got the testicles of a twenty year old,” he declares proudly. ICK. “Where?” Alicia asks, deadpan. “In your briefcase?” There’s a fraction of a moment where I think she’s totally crossed the line (which I would desperately like her to do) until he bursts into uproarious laughter. Damn. That man needs to be offended. He slaps his hands on his knees. “Isn’t she great, Crystal?” His daughter smiles tolerantly over at him, proving that she has in fact been listening. Ew. Just, ew.
Attempting to regain control of the conversation, Alicia folds her hands over her knees and asks him what he thinks of her stance. “Oh, I’m going to support you, Alicia,” he says as the waiter shows up with his vodka. “One million in dark money.” Dark money? I know it’s the title of the episode, but otherwise this was a term I was not familiar with. TGW, you’re such an education. Why is he not disclosing that he’s giving her the money? What’s the point of that? At any rate, she’s thrilled, and thanks him with real warmth. “It’s not because of your pretty face,” he declares, “or because you have the best eyes on a lawyer I’ve ever seen.” Still basking in the glow of the promised donation, almost able to pretend that his compliments are flattering ones, she asks him why, clearly expecting a compliment to her experience or her fidelity or her brains.
“Cause I don’t like fags,” he says, and her face falls.
“I heard the calls your campaign is making to the suburbs. It’s a smart way to use it.” Alicia’s mouth falls open. “Um,” she splutters, “well that’s not actually us, that’s our pac. And I’m not even sure it is our pac.” She can’t look him in the face. Did you hear the one about the two fags on safari, he asks, and nope, she still can’t look at him. “No,” she says, “and just so you know, Mr. Redmayne’s married. I mean, Mr. Prady’s married. Or, he was.” She’s just so disconcerted that she can’t even speak, and I get it. No, I haven’t had a conversation worth a million dollars, but in other ways I’ve been there. Trying to be polite and respectful — to be that good girl — and yet still call someone on bullish*t so unexpected that you don’t have words for it. It’s not easy to have the words right there when you need them, not for everyone. So I totally get it, and yet I really want her to ask him if he’s researched her enough to know that her brother is actually gay. And out. And proud. And that she’s proud of him.
“It’s good meeting ya, honey,” he says, totally ignoring her. “Keep up the good work.” She doesn’t look like she feels like she’s doing good work. “Kick that fruitcake when he’s down.” Now she does look up, completely astounded that he’d say that. “I like people who share my values.”
Which is the perfect opportunity for her to say she doesn’t, to mention Owen, to let go of his dark, dirty money.
And she doesn’t.
When Sweeney’s defamation suit takes up again, the defense drops a bit of a bombshell; Miss Cross calls Renata Ellard Sweeney to the stand. Looks like Alicia was barking up the right tree after all. Of course, Diane stands to object; marital communications can’t be forced in a court of law. As Renata prances, literally prances to the stand, Miss Cross explains she’s interested in what Mr. Sweeney told Renata before their marriage. Lamely, Colin tries to get his wife’s attention; she doesn’t meet his gaze until she’s settled in her seat, finally favoring him with a smug, searing look. “Oh dear,” he recoils, whispering to Diane. “I think she’s mad at me.”
Miss Cross plays a little more of the filmed burial scene for Renata to comment on; in it, Bernard pulls a pair of gloves from his smoking jacket pocket, presumably the ones he wore while touching his wife’s body. He bunches them up into a gallon ziplock bag, and tosses them in with the body. What? That seems stupid. What if there are epithelial cells inside the gloves that could link him to the crime? Why wrap them in plastic and preserve them? Why not just cover them in lye as well? Or put them someplace different? At any rate, Miss Cross wants to know if Mr. Sweeney told Renata that he buried the gloves he used when he killed Caroline. And when Diane objects, Miss Cross establishes that the conversation took place before the wedding.
Unsurprisingly, this was pillow talk on a vacation weekend in Calistoga. “We were having sex in a supply closet,” she explains, with that wide-eyed innocent provocation she does so well. Miss Cross nods yes, trying to act as if hearing this is the most normal thing in her world. “I told him he was bad, he said I didn’t know how bad, so I asked him to tell me.” Of course she did. It turns out that Renata told Detective Crowell about the gloves, which is how they ended up in the episode. Sweeney looks at his lap in disgust. “Guess I should move those gloves,” he whispers to Diane drolly, his chin almost entirely merged with his neck. Then he recoils at her outraged look.
I don’t understand what the problem is, he whines, walking into Diane’s office after that stellar day in court. “The problem is, you need to tell us you were joking, Mr. Sweeney.” He doesn’t see why. “Because if we know you killed Caroline, we can’t elicit testimony from you that you didn’t,” Cary huffs, clearly irritated with Sweeney’s childish indifference to self-interest. Here’s this whole episode in a nutshell: smart people who should have known better. How do they not know better? “Which means that your wife’s accusations go unchallenged,” Diane adds. So, Cary finishes, were you joking? Sweeney assures them that he was. “But I do need to talk to Alicia about something,” he says, and charges out the door.
“Your colleagues worry that I might perjure myself on the stand,” he says, leaning on the back of a chair in Alicia’s office, attempting to look regal. About what, Alicia asks. “Whether I murdered dear Caroline,” he explains, and Alicia inhales sharply, because unlike Cary and Diane, he’s already confessed to her. “Now, speaking hypothetically, if I did perjure myself, could I be prosecuted for it?” Why can’t you talk about this with Cary or Diane, she complains. “Because your ethical compunctions are much more pronounced,” he claims, although after the shameful display we just saw, I think that might be flattering her. “Which means I’ll get a more considered answer. One more likely to keep me out of trouble.” Um, I think Cary’s probable incredibly scrupulous right now about treading fine lines with clients, but whatever. She sucks in a deep breath. “Perjury prosecutions in civil cases are exceedingly rare,” she spits out. Right, or else they’d be going after Tierney; I mean, heck, his whole defense now is basically that he perjured himself.
Then she cautions him not to let this make him cocky. Well, without using that word, because God know what he’d say if she did. “But given your profile, I think the SA would jump at the chance to nail you.” So much for keeping sexual innuendo out of her word choices. “So you need to give yourself cover.” Okay, show me, he asks, sitting.
She sighs. “Mr. Sweeney, did you kill your wife?” Absolutely not, he says. In a weird fun reversal of the campaign scene, she tells him no. “Try this: as I’ve said on numerous occasions, I did not kill my wife.” Okay. Tricky tricky, he grins. “Go on!” “Sometimes you can’t sidestep,” she continues, “so you evade completely. Did you take drugs the day Caroline disappeared?” A sleeping pill, he confesses. After reminding him that sleeping pills impact memory, and therefore he should confess to being under the influence of prescription drugs. “And I don’t remember anything that happened that day,” he adds, overdoing it. She gives him a very dim look. “Yes.” Smiling in wonder, he shakes his head. “Mrs. Florrick. Whatever would I do without you?”
Lose his lawsuit? Go to jail?
A school bell rings just as Kalinda pulls up outside Dylan’s no doubt posh private school. After she parks her SUV right in front of the door (what jokers these writers are), she starts to check her phone, looking up occasionally to see if he’s arrived. A moment later she’s immediately alarmed to see him arguing with a much larger, much heavier kid, a chubby brown haired boy in a yellow shirt and tie. The big kid (who could very easily be twelve) muscles in on Dylan, pushing him. Tearing her door open and then slamming it shut, Kalinda charges out of the car and runs toward Dylan and the other boy too late to prevent the large kid from flooring Dylan with a punch. He’s so consumed with taunting “little baby” Dylan that he doesn’t see the tiny, leather-clad woman until she’s got him pinned to the side of the school, her hands wrapped around his lapels. “Hey,” she says. “Lower your fist, or I’m gonna break your arm.” The boy, several inches taller than Kalinda and a good 40 pounds heavier at least, has a lollypop stick protruding from his mouth. Kalinda could probably kill him with it.
“We were just…” he starts, sucking the entire stick into his mouth, “we’re friends, right Dylan?” Good grief. Why do kids think adults will believe that? Like, it’d be okay to punch your friend in the face and taunt him? Dylan stands slowly, one hand over his bruised cheekbone. Kalinda’s nobody’s sweet mommy. “You touch him again, and I’ll be back,” Kalinda insists, dragging the boy back as he tries to go. “Tell me you understand,” she reiterates. “I understand,” he says, and she tosses him away from her. She turns around, panting, to see Dylan slipping into the passenger seat of her car. Before joining him, she sees a black SUV drive slowly past. We never get to see the license plate.
Once they’re on the road, Kalinda reflexively checks her rearview mirror for Ray White’s SUV. “Don’t tell my Dad,” Dylan asks her, breaking their silence. Oh, good luck with that, little man. “What?” Kalinda asks, caught off guard, and so he repeats himself. “Don’t tell my Dad.” Oh, good luck keeping that secret. “About that kid?” she wonders. “All-American Mike,” he tells her, and I don’t know about you, but that nickname had me expecting someone more like the Omega Theta Pi guys in Animal House, preppy and posh and perfect-looking, someone aloof and James Spader-like in his arrogance. “Don’t tell him. He’ll just get angry.” It’s hard to argue with that – his father’s anger is a thing to be feared, even when leveled against a thug like Mike — and yet, she can’t just pretend it didn’t happen. “You have a black eye,” Kalinda notes. I fell, Dylan says, the cliché excuse of so many humiliated abuse victims before him. “Please, he’ll do something, he’ll scare them.” Yeah, that’s really, really difficult logic to argue with.
And that’s when she sees those green-tinged headlights again.
I’m going to go a little bit faster, she says. “But don’t worry, I know what I’m doing.” He’s cool with the chase scene; heaven knows what the poor kid is used to. ” You promise?” he asks.
When they reach the house, Kalinda’s off the hook — Lemond is in the midst of a frustrating phone call and simply waves her out. That’s a relief! All’s well until he gets a look at that black eye, anyway.
“Call it Murder depicts your character engaged in the sexual practice called breath play,” Miss Cross notes back at trial. Did he and Caroline engage in that practice? “Not as often as I would have like,” he complains, in his usual sotto vocce tone that assumes his listeners will automatically agree with him. He has SO got to get over that habit, because no one ever does. “So you would have liked to strangle Caroline more?” Miss Cross wonders, as Diane and Cary wince. “What a crass way to put it,” Sweeney replies, outraged. “I meant I miss my wife.” Yeah, nice try, buddy, but I don’t know who’d believe that. “Okay,” Cross, clearly unimpressed, moves on, “as depicted in the show, you’re also a practitioner of Shibari, S&M, and piquerism, all of which you engaged in with other partners?” In the gallery, Renata looks invigorated by the line of questioning. Judge Parks asks Sweeney for a definition of piquerism and winces when he gets it; Diane objects to this as irrelevant to Sweeney’s guilt or innocence. “It’s not about whether he killed his wife,” Cross insists. It’s about whether the overall portrayal is accurate. “Details of his sexual practices…” Diane begins, but is cut off by Judge Parks. “Are disgusting. But in this case salient. Overruled.”
“I won’t apologize for my sexual proclivities, Miss Cross,” Sweeney says, chin up. No, of course you wouldn’t. “I like to experiment. The unexamined life, after all…” He tucks his chin into his neck and gives Cross a saucy look. Somehow, I’m just not sure that’s what Socrates meant you should examine, Colin.
These practices all expose a tendency toward violence, wouldn’t you agree, Miss Cross asks him. “The genetic fact is that women respond to male domination.” Um, riiiiight. Still with his head high, Sweeney looks into the gallery at his wife. “And the role of the male is to dominate his mate, and to discipline her when she steps out of line.” Well. You can see that Renata, at least, quite enjoys this little speech. “It’s Biblical. Saint Paul: wives, submit to your husbands.” His eyes go wide, and Renata’s head actually lolls back. Ew! She starts running the tip of her tongue over her lips. “That’s all I’m here to do,” he says. “Dominate.” As Cary and Miss Cross argue over the relevance of it all, Diane turns to give Renata an incredulous look.
Once again, Kalinda gotten a urgent phone call while driving around. It’s Lemond Bishop; she sighs before picking up. And when she does, he’s in a mood. He needs to see her right now, and he’ll say about what when she gets there. As he hangs up, he turns around to reveal Dylan, sitting at the kitchen island and looking every way but at his dad.
With the similar air of a child caught out by an authority figure, Frank Prady sits nervously alone in Guy Redmayne’s enormous and empty club sitting room, his back to a large framed picture of a lion near the massive wooden doors. It’s all so very 19th century English explorer. As before, Redmayne sails in on his daughter’s arm; this time, she’s already skimming through her phone before she gets in the door. Maybe her nodding at Alicia was a sign of respect? “Guy Redmayne,” the old man barks, and Prady leaps to his feat, introducing himself and thanking the donor for meeting with him. Gruff Redmayne walks right past the candidate’s proffered hand and commands Prady to sit as if he were a dog. Damn. Wouldn’t we be all be so lucky if there were people like this buying candidates and elections for us? Frank sits, attempting to include Crystal in the pleasantries, but she walks right by him in complete silence.
“I, ah, know you don’t have much time,” he begins, “so let me just say, your support, and the support of your pac, would mean a lot to my campaign. Together, we could…” Ah, it’s always fun to see him receive the same coaching as Alicia. With a wave of his hand, however, the crusty old bigot cuts him off. Full disclosure, he says — I’ve already met with Alicia Florrick. Frank stares at him for a moment, bearded jaw dropped, perhaps wondering (as I am) why the Grumpy Old Lion is even meeting with him at all. (You know, mane, lion, hunting lodge-like club? No?) “Okay,” he recovers, “ah, well that makes sense. It’s important to meet both candidates, and hear our visions for the office.” That’s a good bright face on it, Frank, but sadly, Redmayne is more interested in humiliating you.
I’m thinking more about my vision, he growls. “Did you see the ass on that broad?” Um, hello. Do I need to start calling him Horny instead of Grumpy? Gross. He starts to laugh. “I’m telling you, my eyes were popping out.” Well. Frank Prady’s eyes are popping out at this incredibly offensive language. He looks over to Crystal — assuming that as a young woman, she should clearly share his shock at her father’s vile reduction of a fellow female into a piece of meat – but she’s resolutely, deafly flipping through her phone. I bet she has a lot of practice at it.
Well, he stammers, I think the key difference in our approaches is… Oh, you thought you were going to be able to talk politics? Think again. “I bet she’s a tigress in the sack, right? Those buttoned up types almost always are.” Poor Prady’s about to have a heart attack, and I love him for it. “Let me start again,” he tries, but the Lewd Lion leans in. “Give me an hour with her,” he says, “and she wouldn’t be walking straight for a week.” Give you an hour alone with her, buddy, and you’d be dead. Because she’d kill you. “I’d split that little missy in half,” he finishes brightly.
Well. They did quite an excellent job of making him revolting. I don’t know how this reputation didn’t precede him, but okay. Perhaps the people who take his money are too ashamed to reveal it, and the rest are still hoping to get some? This show makes me so despairing of humanity.
“What’s wrong, Mr. Prady?” Redmayne the Ridiculously Rude asks. “You got an issue?” Damn right he has an issue, you Neanderthal. I wouldn’t exactly say an issue, he flubs, more like a request. “Mrs. Florrick may be my opponent, but I don’t really need to denigrate her.”
YES! I’ve changed my mind. I want Frank to win. Sure, she needs the money more than he does, and she’s socially conditioned to be nice in a way he isn’t, but that was still really really impressive.
Of course, the Lewd and Rude Lion doesn’t think he’s denigrating Alicia. He just thinks this is the way real men talk about women, in front of their daughters and God and everyone. “I’m not talking about denigrating. I’m talking about banging that bitch until she screams like a $5,000 a night whore.” Well, that’s just the most pro-family values statement I’ve ever heard. Frank can’t take any more of that, and he stands up. “You leaving?” the Lion roars.
Dignified, Frank turns to look down at the beady eyed old man. “Mr. Redmayne,” he says, “I don’t know if this was some sort of test, but my issues with Mrs. Florrick are all intellectual, not personal. ” Oh, Redmayne says, completely bound up in his own logic, “just as I thought. Just as I thought, Crystal!” he crows, looking over at his daughter. How I’d love to think this was some kind of meaningful test – offend them both and see who stands up to him — instead of a petty assumption about sexual orientation. Prady raises his hands, and looks from father to daughter and back, questioning the whole situation. “Get the hell out of here,” the Cartoon insists.
“You’re disgusting,” Frank spits out. “Yes,” the Rotten Old Lion laughs up at him, unrepentant, “but I’m rich, so it really doesn’t matter, does it?” At least we can say that Frank walks out with his head held high. “Like I told you,” Guy the Guy’s Guy tells his daughter. “Fag. Big fag.”
I’m sure Guy would be very happy to be Colin Sweeney right now, sitting in the FAL conference room with Renata on his lap. “I hope I’m not interrupting,” Alicia says, walking in on their make out session. No, Sweeney replies; I guess he’s never minded an audience. “We were just basking in the musk of each other’s pheromones.” Lovely. “Renata,” Alicia ignores her client, “could we have a moment?” A moment, she agrees, before lingering over another kiss, “but then I need more.” Oh, true love. Ain’t it grand? They take their time for sure, and Alicia’s none too gracious about it.
“So I see you’ve made up,” she observes. “Yes,” Sweeney gloats. “With an additional 2 million holding deal on her board seat.” Ha ha ha ha ha. Way to dominate, Sweeney. Ah, I can’t stop laughing. Amazing, isn’t it, that after everything this murder could still remain more likable than round and ancient little Ed Asner? “I was genuinely moved by the depths to which she would go to prove I was neglecting her!” Pulling his pocket square out of his jacket, Sweeney sniffles into it. “Do you think you could be moved again in court?” Alicia wonders deviously.
“What?” he asks, dabbing delicately at his eyes. “I hear you’ve lost the judge,” Alicia explains. “Maybe it’s time to show him another side. A sensitive side.”
“We were married for seven wonderful years,” Sweeney says on the stand, looking up at Diane with teary eyes. Wow, I’m kind of shocked he was married to anyone for that long. And how would you describe your marriage at the point she disappeared, Diane wonders? “We were deeply in love,” he replies softly, and Miss Cross rolls her eyes. “Can you explain why seven years after her death a show like Call It Murder would choose to portray you as a killer?” Gee, let’s guess, Diane. “I’m notorious,” Colin admits. “The white O.J.” I think it’s just a little gross that he looks up at Judge Parks just then; the judge looks down at his bench, saddened. “People will believe the worst. It’s a good story.” Here he starts to get sniffly and maybe a little outraged, albeit in a sad, piteous way. “I was acquitted! I prevailed in a wrongful death suit. There’s someone now in prison for Caroline’s murder — her daughter — and no one will allow me to be vindicated.” Nodding, Cary appreciates the nuances of Sweeney’s testimony. Caroline’s daughter is in prison; note that he carefully did not say “the real killer was brought to justice” or any such refutable thing. “No one seems to consider how much I … how much I miss her.” Seeing her husband on the edge of breaking down, Renata beams her approval and pride. “How much pain I still feel! I know I’m not a, a perfect man, but I loved Caroline. And they shouldn’t be allowed to tell fifteen million people that I did this!”
Well. I’m not a perfect man? Seriously? I doubt anyone in the audience bought that little performance — even Diane seems to find it a bit much — but the tender-hearted judge sure seemed to.
Silently, Lemond Bishop slides a water glass across his kitchen island to Kalinda. The room is so tense you almost feel like he could have moved the glass with the intensity of his disapproval instead of his hand. She looks small and very, very nervous.
“Dylan has a black eye,” he begins, hands in his pockets. His contained stillness is making me so nervous I need to concentrate on something else, like his striking clothes — striped beige jacket, white and brown striped shirt, patterned teal tie — and how they sort of shouldn’t work but really really do. “I saw,” she says. Yes. She saw it, and she also saw him get it. “How did he get it?” he asks, slowly but impatiently. “Well, what did he tell you?” Kalinda prevaricates; he tripped leaving school, Bishop repeats. “Yeah, that’s what he told me too,” Kalinda nods. “You know how hard it is to fall on your face?” he informs her, and she starts to look worried again. “It’s very hard, because your arms instinctively shoot out to protect your head. It’s how you can tell that someone’s a drunk.” Huh. Observant. He steps back and leans against the kitchen counter. “But my son doesn’t drink. What happened to my son?”
Kalinda presses her lips together. “A bully hit him,” she says.
“And you didn’t think I needed to be made aware of this?” Bishop snaps, but Kalinda holds up a warning hand. “I took care of it, sir, I scared the kid off.” I swear, even the president on the West Wing didn’t get treated as deferentially and politely as Bishop does on this show. “And what would this … kid... look like?” He leans onto the island, and Kalinda involuntarily leans a little bit away from him. She blinks. You know she just does not want to throw this kid, no matter how odious, into Bishop’s crosshairs. “Mr. Bishop, I really don’t think…”
And then he explodes.
“How hard is it to answer one simple question?” She doesn’t flinch. As he continues speaking, his voice returns to its normal, carefully neutral level. “On the heavy side? Maybe half a foot taller than my son? Dark hair? Could use a comb? Mike Zyler?” Reluctantly, she gives the smallest of nods, and he breathes the knowledge in deep, almost shuddering. “What’re you going to do?” she asks. After all, this is the man who had poor Silver Jim shot because he tried too hard to show he wasn’t the guy wearing the wire — and he’s already said this is more important to him. He turns his face away from her. “You can go now,” he says, and when she tries to caution him against being too hasty, he barks. “I said you can go!”
And so she goes.
And she gets as far as the front of his brownstone before she can’t go any further, and turns around and, hesitating, knocks on the door. Almost immediately, Bishop is there, phone to his ear, silently letting her in. She follows him back to the kitchen. “Mr. Zyler,” he says on the phone. “It’s Dylan’s dad. Do you have a minute?” He’s calm, pleasant. He nods. “Your son’s been bullying my son,” he says. “Yes. Hitting him.” Hearing this, Dylan (who’s been eavesdropping) stands up and silently walks the rest of the way back up the stairs. “I’m sure you didn’t,” he says. “But you will speak to him?” Clearly Mr. Zyler answers affirmatively, because Lemond is pleased. “Good. That’s all I ask. Okay. Good evening.” Kalinda smiles to herself as Bishop, his back to her, hangs up the phone.
He half turns toward her, shaking his head. “Hardest thing I’ve ever had to do — be a parent.” I can’t speak for him, but yes. And mostly he seems to be very good at it, even though it conflicts with the other things he’s really good at. “Do you want me to go, sir?” Kalinda asks, and Bishop turns to look at her as if he’d forgotten she was there. Without answering, he grabs a decanter off the counter, brings it over to the island and sets it down with two glasses. “My dad didn’t give a rat’s ass about me,” he says, pouring for Kalinda first. “He ran off when I was six.” Shaking his head at this perfidy, he pours the amber liquid into his own glass. “I told myself I’d never do that to Dylan.” Now he finally looks her in the face. “Never. He’s the only thing I’m proud of. The only thing.” Bishop drinks, and Kalinda follows suit, averting her eyes.
“And then this little nothing of a kid makes his life hell.” He sniffs at the irony of it all. “Not a mule from Columbia, or a Guatemalan assassin, just a little kid with his day trader parents.” He sniffs again, smiling at how far outside his scope the problem is. “What do I do with that?”
“You did it,” Kalinda tells him, and he stares at her, unsettled by her emphatic praise. She drains her drink. “I have to go,” she says, unable to meet his intensely personal gaze. “Yeah,” he says, as if remembering he shouldn’t turn that look on people, and refocuses his attention on his drink.
Poor Judge Parks has to bang his gavel and yell to get the attention of his cacophonous courtroom. “One at a time!” he snaps. The plaintiff’s team seeks a directed verdict: they don’t think the defense has either portrayed the crime perfectly or proved that Sweeney committed it. “We don’t have to establish that all the particulars are true, only that they’re substantially true.” Interesting, Miss Cross. Good to know. “A circumstantial case with no witnesses, Judge – even the show can’t manufacture that!” Diane complains.
“Yes,” he agrees, “and if the standard were beyond a reasonable doubt, then I’d be unconvinced. But the standard is the preponderance of the evidence, a low bar which the defendant has met.” Have they? Really? I guess, if solely through Renata’s hearsay testimony. Diane and Cary exchange unhappy looks above Colin Sweeney’s head.
“He denied your motion?” Alicia responds over her home phone, incredulous. Yep. They have to put on a rebuttal tomorrow, and right now, they’ve got no strategy. I’ve been re-watching the episode all afternoon, she says, and indeed she’s sitting in front of her laptop now. She’ll call Diane if she can come up with anything.
“Damn it,” Bernard seethes from Alicia’s laptop screen, “you’re my lawyer. You have an obligation to zealously defend me.” He looks unhinged, sweaty in a plaid suit and cravat, and his eyes bulge like his dying wife’s. “Which I will do by making the prosecution prove its case, not by cheating or falsifying evidence.” Ha! That’s Alicia, only younger, in a sleeveless dress with a not exactly work-appropriate neckline. Our girl would never wear a neckline like that — too overt — but you’d think she’d occasionally show off those toned arms. “Good two shoes,” Bernard complains nominally, clearly turned on by her ethics. “I tell you, Debbie,” he says, sliding his fingers under the hand she’s placed on her desk, “when this is over I might just fire you.” He says it like it’s a treat, and raises her hand to his lips in an attempt to kiss it. “No sir,” she declares in a ringing tone, rising to her feet. It’s very Alicia. “I’m firing you. Because Debbie Conlin is not for sale.” Alicia rolls her eyes; is it terrible of me to think that this portrayal is probably good for her campaign?
Bernard pants, watching Debbie sashay triumphantly out of the office; she walks into an outer room lined with legal texts to a table where her colleagues sit, working on terminals. And that’s when Alicia gets excited, because that’s Chummy the ChumHum gopher on that screen. Immediately, she gets on her phone. “Diane, it’s Alicia. I think we have a way to force them to settle.”
I don’t get it, but its super satisfying to see her Perry Masoning again!
And when the entire team (minus Alicia) is lined up on one side of the FAL conference table against lonely Miss Cross, she doesn’t understand either. (It’s so odd that there’s no actual defendant here, and also no huge studio team of lawyers like the ones that Viola Walsh and Burl Preston have led in the past.) Well, Cary explains, Chummy the Chum Hum gopher appears on monitors 5 times in the episode, for nearly 4 minutes of air time. So, she shrugs. “Chummy is the trademark of our billionaire client ChumHum. You’ve infringed on their trademark.” God, I’m so confused. They fired us! I know the show hasn’t been on in a while, but I’m not making that up, right? Are they lying to intimidate her, or did someone mess up on the continuity? I suppose it’s most likely that they’re lying to intimidate her, but it seems an easy lie to be caught in. “Fair use,” Miss Cross suggests, straightening up in her seat.
“Nice try,” Cary replies. “Since when is disparagement fair use?” Please, we didn’t disparage anything, she half-laughs, clearly unsettled, fearing her near-certain win is about to be up-ended. Hmm, Diane says, clicking to the absurd image of a laptop open to the ChumHum homepage on a bedside table right next to Mrs. Loomis’s dead body. “You think a jury will believe that Chummy being in multiple scenes with a psychotic killer doesn’t disparage Mr. Gross’s brand?” Miss Cross looks down at the table, horrified.
“Look, here’s the thing,” Cary moves in for the kill. He and Diane have a wonderful rhythm together. “This lawsuit is worth $50 million, and we’ll come after every penny.” “Or,” Diane jumps in smoothly, “you can give Mr. Sweeney the apology he deserves, by taking out ads in certain papers of record. Your choice.” At the end of the table, Renata beams on Miss Cross’s frustration and disappointment.
For some reason, despite the case being over, Alicia sits in her office and watches Bernard Loomis strangle his wife. Even if it’s hammy, it’s still not very pleasant, and watching it again seems like some sort of penance, some self-flagellation on her part. I wonder if she’s thinking about her role in freeing Sweeney? While I’m trying to decide how I feel about her black and white dress, and what I think she might need to atone for, Frank Prady lets himself into her office. What, no hotel tryst this time?
“I understand Guy Redmayne’s pac has decided to support you,” he says, looking sad and defeated, something I think of as David Hyde Pierce’s natural state. Is this a backchannel meeting, Alicia wonders dryly, assaying a smile. “That’s a big get,” he continues, shuffling over to sit in front of her. “A lot of money. That could make the difference in your campaign.” You’ve raised a lot of money, too, she says, and indeed. Is it fair of him to come to her about this? Yes, he admits he’s raised a lot as well.
“He’s quite a character, isn’t he, Redmayne?” he probes gently. I don’t think I’m comfortable with him coming there — I understand that he wants to think better of her, but is it fair to guilt her about taking the money? Maybe I just don’t like talking about money. Or maybe I just don’t want to examine her choice to take the money, because Redmayne’s just so vile. “He is,” she agrees quietly. “A bit provocative?” he presses. I wonder what he thinks went on between the two of them? “I guess,” Alicia replies, simply not knowing what to say.
“My campaign manager’s angry,” he says, looking off into the distance. Why? “He thinks Redmayne was in my column. And then he wasn’t. After he spoke to you.” Oh, honey. He never would have been, but can she says that? (Although, how can the evil troll do enough research to know there were rumors about Prady’s sexuality and not know that Alicia has a gay brother? I guess he’s just not that smart or thorough?) “That happens,” Alicia says, not committing herself. “It does,” Prady agrees, looking terribly sad. “One argument’s better than another, right?” They stare at each other for a moment, and then she looks away, smiles slightly to herself, leans forward. “Do you think this backchannel has outlived its usefulness?” she wonders.
“I don’t know,” he replies, and they both look like tears. I don’t mean that they’re actually crying, but it’s a miserable conversation, and they both just look so limp and deflated. “I think campaigning is a lonely profession, and the only one who shares that loneliness … is you.”
Again, we see Mrs. Loomis’s nearly naked body fall onto her bed. Soft guitar begins to play in the background. Frank Prady stands to leave.
“We took down the robocall. The pac did,” Alicia offers, the only gift she can give him. “I know,” he says gently, “thank you.” He walks out, and she drops her head into her hand.
At home in her living room, she seeks comfort in her thick white cardigan and a glass of red wine. “Don’t let us get sick, don’t let us get old,” Warren Zevon sings plaintively in the background. “Don’t let us get stupid, alright? Just make us be brave, and let us play nice.” A cheerful Grace interrupts her mother’s brooding, and Alicia startles, setting down her glass, perhaps remembering her ambition not to seek comfort there. “You okay? You look unhappy,” her daughter rightly observes. “No,” Alicia tries to compose herself. “Just… nothing.” What, Grace asks, walking toward the couch, both small hands wrapped around a glass of water. Again, Alicia pretends ineffectually to be well, and Grace sits cross-legged beside her. “I don’t like when people do bad things,” she admits. Grace puts a hand on her leg. “What people?” she asks. “Clients,” Alicia answers shortly, even though this has got to be as much about Redmayne and Prady and Alicia herself as it is about Sweeney. “You know everybody’s bad in some way,” Grace replies.
“I was bad today,” Alicia admits. “No, Mom, you weren’t,” Grace counters. “You can’t be.” Her eyes wet, Alicia turns to look at her daughter. “Why?” she wonders, hollowed out. “Why can’t I be?” “Because you’re the best person I know,” Grace smiles encouragingly, not glib but terribly sincere. Unable to look into that innocent face of love and confidence, Alicia bursts into tears, pressing a hand against her mouth, dropping her head down, shaking. “Shhhh, Mom,” Grace says, wrapping her arms around her mother, holding her and stroking her back as she cries. “Just make us be brave, and let us play nice. Let us be together tonight.”
And what’s more fun than ending an episode of your favorite show with your beloved lead character sobbing because she’s so ashamed of herself? Oh, yeah, that’s high on my list of (as they put it in the Lego Movie) Awesome Things. Misery! Despair! Self-loathing! Ah, joy of joys. Two months away, and it feels so good to be back.
So here’s the question, and in some ways its the central question of the series. Does it make you feel better about the crappy decisions Alicia’s been making that she knows they’re crappy? Is her remorse — while not enough to change her actions — enough to allow the audience to keep liking her? I’m sure the answer to that question varies widely. I don’t think I can entirely answer the question myself, though I suppose I should give it a shot : her remorse matters, but I don’t think it matters enough. Though The Debate gave me some hope, this episode frustrated me again with the on-going political plot; here’s Alicia being the good candidate, doing what her handlers tell her she’s supposed to do. I loved that Frank wouldn’t disrespect her, and I’m sorry that Alicia couldn’t stand up for her beliefs when they might cost her money. And not just her beliefs, but the people she holds most dear, and to her family has always been more important than principle. Perhaps she’ll be able to at a later date — I can handle them having her do unlikable things if she’s eventually going to learn from them or grow past them — but being morally compromised can’t be her end game.
Someday, someday, will we ever get to see Alicia redefine the terms of her life? Come on. We know she’s smart – we’ve always known that. we know she can adapt from being the “good wife” and “good mother” into the good lawyer and good politician. It’s just, and I apologize for sounding like a broken record, I really want to see her life be less about a label, less about fitting into a role, and more about what it is that she wants. We know that she likes those label, that she likes having a defined role to play, that she likes the law because it imposes boundaries. But God, isn’t she ever going to grow up? Maybe this show is really about educating the public in just what it takes to be a power player in America, the ugliness involved in playing the game, but I’d so much rather see it be about Alicia figuring out what she wants and being that.
I suppose that the King’s end game — this political turn — was disrupted by Will’s departure in a structural sense. I’d have felt more satisfied with Alicia’s foray into politics if she hadn’t first started her own firm, probably. Unfortunately now the show seems to be trying to ignore the fact that there’s anything different between Florrick, Agos & Lockhart and Lockhart/Gardner. I’m sorry, I’m just kind of ranting. It’s hard to see the character miserable, and yet feel at the same time that she’s not actually sorry enough.
In other news, the excellent Laura Benanti’s got a guest arc right now on Nashville; it’s a pleasure to see good actors and actresses appear on different shows you like, because the variety they’re able to play really highlights their talent. Benanti’s kicking butt everywhere she goes! Last year it was Michiel Huisman in Nashville, Orphan Black and Game of Thrones, who’s costarring with Blake Lively and Harrison Ford in The Age of Adeline next month. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Benanti end up as a television or film lead in the next year or two, following in the footsteps of TGW guest stars like Martha Plimpton, Michael J. Fox, Mamie Gummer and Nicole Behari.
And, let’s see. There’s been a lawsuit about ripped from the headlines shows before, unsurprisingly. Dylan Baker must have gotten a kick out of his many roles this week, all of which were completely but differently gross. The final moment between Alicia and Grace was actually lovely, and an interesting role reversal. It’s super-nasty to see Ed Asner in this role, and they really went out of their way to make him vile.
My favorite part of the episode was, without a doubt, Lemond Bishop and his dilemma. It’s like he’s attempting to push Dylan through a wormhole (if you’ll pardon the science fiction metaphor) into an alternate universe. He wants to protect him, but in the alternate universe, all the things that make him a ruler in his own land don’t apply. He can’t use force. He can’t just solve the problem. In that sense, it’s an apt metaphor for parenting in general — we can’t solve our children’s problems for them or protect them in the way that we’d like — but it’s amazing to see him struggle to keep the two worlds so separate. It makes me think of the Godfather films, actually, and the way bright young Michael Corleone with his Ivy League education and faith in humanity has been preserved from the mob lifestyle and yet cannot, in the end transcend it. What will happen to Dylan as he grows? Will he be able to stay close to his father and yet make his own way in the world? Can he receive the benefits of his father’s money without the shame and the isolation of his father’s profession? I ache for him, and yet if I knew him in real life, I don’t think I’d let my son go over his house, either. How could you?
Okay, there it is. Was it worth that very lengthy wait? How’re you guys feeling about Alicia’s campaign and her dubious ethics, about Frank and Dylan and Colin Sweeney? Please let me know!