E: It’s a funny thing. Based on last week’s brilliantly appalling episode, and the preview for this week’s, I really expected to hate Open Source; I’m not entirely sure how this happened, but I don’t think I did. I don’t know that I liked it, exactly, but I’m grateful for a few things, which I’m going to tell you up front.
First of all, there was actually interesting courtroom time, which was so very welcome. I missed caring about the case of the week! Next, this election plot is blessedly coming to an end. Whichever way the election lands, I’m going to be glad to be done hating Alicia in this way, even if I have to move on to new ways of being disappointed in her. Also, the ending was managed a bit better than I thought it would be. And that’s good? But there’s a lot of ground to cover before we get to that debate. So, no more waiting. Welcome to Open Source: Less Vomit-Inducing Than Expected!
Quick flashes show us a story in wordless images. A man in a coat sits in front of a computer monitor, uploading a confusing-looking three dimensional design to something called RipBuildUse.com; something about the way he’s sunk down into the coat, with the collar above his ears, makes him look a little futuristic. The graphics, on the other hand, remind me of Tron. It’s all just a little odd. We see that the idea is welcomed all around the world, by the use of a shiny world map that shows lines pinging out all over the globe, and a profusion of people in various situations using their computers – an teenage girl on an iPad, a hipster father with his son balanced on his lap, a woman on a laptop in a coffee shop. And then we see one of them zero in on the strange design in question, downloading it. A bearded man — of course he’s bearded — clicks print, and, cool! It’s a three-D printer. I guess that’s why the design made no sense on a screen? Smoothing the pieces, the man assembles them into – huh. A gun. Holy shades of In the Line of Fire, Batman! A plastic gun, that fires real metal bullets!
But as it happens, the bearded man does not take his gun out into the wilderness to shoot ducks and duck hunters, or to a presidential fundraiser to assassinate a fictional president. Or, thankfully, to take out Alicia. Nope, he just goes to a shooting range, surrounded by a bevy of fascinated and admiring flannel-clad friends, where he takes aim at a paper target and … shoots the guy next to him? Through the (obviously inadequate) wood partition between their lanes? Oh dear. Man, that’s a lot of blood. That shot looks pretty near his kidney. Oh, crap.
“I don’t understand, ” a man’s voice says, and it must be the Editorial Board from last week because there Alicia is in her blue suit in front of that corner bookcase, “you’re suing the gun manufacturer?” No, Alicia explains, smiling; they’re suing the designer of the malfunctioning 3-D gun, on behalf of the now-crippled man in the next lane. And what does this have to do with her fitness as a candidate? “Actions speak louder than words,” she says. “I’ve been actively pursing cases like this on gun control for years.” Fair enough, although they’d be unlikely to know that’s down to Diane more than Alicia. In his small but busy campaign office, Frank Prady watches the interview via ChumHum, bending over a desk with his campaign manager.
“You’ve also defended some really bad people, too,” the Editor points out, and that’s also fair. “For example, Lemond Bishop.” He’s no longer a client, she non-answers. (I’m so glad she didn’t use that stupid phrase, I fired him as a client. That can’t be the best way to say that. I get that it’s more dramatic that saying you dropped him as a client, but you can’t fire your employer. Ugh!) I don’t think I’d know she had laryngitis if I hadn’t seen last week’s episode.
“On her PAC,” a title card proclaims, and then they ask the question at the center of last week’s episode. To your knowledge, did Lemond Bishop contribute to your campaign or PAC? No, she says, and the well-rehearsed and long considered lie slips out easily.
“She’s lying!” Prady’s campaign manager barks. I like that he’s a regular looking guy (a little pudgy, a little soft, nice straight nose, thick hair with a receding hairline), especially in contrast to the too-pretty Haircut, and it cracks me up that he was Glenn Childs’ campaign manager back in season 2, something I didn’t pick up on at first. That’s pretty great world building, right? How do you know that, Prady wonders, coffee in hand. Apparently, just knowing that Bishop was Alicia’s client is enough. “And you’re giving her a free ride with this saint crap.” Prady holds up his coffee to forestall his manager’s words. “Martin, I benefit just as much as she does…”
It’s not enough. “She got the endorsement,” he bursts in. “She lied, and she got the newspaper’s endorsement. That’s a three point bump days before the election.” Oh. That’s too bad. So set up more events, Prady offers; I’m here and ready to work. Use me, he pleads, and his manager hangs his head in frustration, and drags Prady to a presumably more quiet spot in the small bustling room. I have no idea why this more private, because they’re still out in the open. “Is this another Come to Jesus Moment?,” Prady asks wearily, his typically polite tone showing a little wear, “because I don’t know how many more of these I can take.”
“Look,” Martin declares as Frank starts drinking his coffee. “I like you, Frank. You’re a good man, possibly a great one, and I will do everything I can to help you win. But you are too nice.” Nodding, swallowing, steeling himself, Frank lowers his cup. “She’s a liar.” Frank starts to contradict Martin’s evidence-less intuition, but the campaign manager’s on a roll. “She gave them exactly what they wanted to hear, and I’ll bet you every dollar I have that they knew she was lying. They wanted her to lie, because people respect someone who’s willing to lie for what they believe in.”
What the bleepitty bleep kind of logic is that? That’s not just deranged, it’s awful. If that were true? Oh my Lord. If you want to say that people respect conviction, and that they don’t always look for proof if you’re convincing enough then I’ll agree with you. We often continue to like public figures even when their public persona is proved a lie (witness the sexual allegations against Al Gore and Bill Cosby). But craving and respecting the lie for its own sake? No.
Manager Martin’s close-set eyes are crazed, fanatical. “It shows strength,” he continues. Dude, this isn’t Game of Thrones. “They don’t respect the truth. Every time you said something self-deprecatingly true to that editorial board they patted you on the back and snickered about it behind their hands.”
Pained, Prady turns to him. “I won’t smear her,” he insists. “That’s always what this comes down to, I won’t go against my principles.” Damn, I like him so much. I like him more and more each time we see him. “You disagree with her?” Martin asks. “Yes,” Prady admits, but not wanting to give an inch, “on policy.” Martin stays in his face, eyebrows raised. “You disagree with her husband?” Duh. “There,” Martin pounces, and I swear I can hear a very subtle “boo ya!” in his tone. “Don’t go after her, go after him.” I’m not running against her husband, Frank frowns. “Exactly,” Martin agrees, still way too close, still alarmingly intense. “So there’s no problem going after him.” Er, okay? What’s the point of this? “He was corrupt!” Crazy-eye Martin adds. Okay?
“What will going after her husband do?” Prady wonders, open to this new twist. Damage the brand, I guess, and damn Alicia by association? I guess if you did it in the right way… No, I still don’t see it. “Show what you’re against,” Martin opines. “Campaigns aren’t just about what you’re for. They’re about what you’re against.” Okay. This is interesting advice; it’s kind of fair, and kind of true, but it also seems cheap and obvious and desperate. It’d be one thing if Peter wasn’t the sitting governor, but he is; don’t they want a cordial relationship with him in case they win? And, I hate to say it, but the public knows Peter’s corrupt and they elected him anyway. I’ll be interested to see if this is a fruitful fictional strategy. “So go after the husband.”
“For the, ah, blah blah,” Half-Articulate Josh Mariner argues with Johnny Elfman at the much nicer and much more spacious Florrick campaign headquarters. “Will you stop saying that? Please?” the Haircut asks. Yes, please stop with the blah blah blahs! Alicia and Marissa interrupt this lovely little fight, and of course its Marissa who want to know what’s going on. “Nothing,” Elfman says, his stock answer, then sighs. “We’ve got a problem.” We can see that, Marissa snarks. “Tell her the problem, Jo(h)n,” Josh demands in a long suffering tone. Without meeting Alicia’s gaze, Elfman hits play on a video.
Of course this shows Prady, surrounded by reporters with microphone while walking out of a building; we can see a television camera in one of their hands. (I’m pretty sure even gubernatorial candidates in Massachusetts aren’t mobbed like this when they’re just walking around. In fact, the sitting governor can just walk out of a building with being mobbed by the news media like paparazzi on a Kardashian.) He says he wants to root out corruption, taking a look at hiring from as far back as the “Florrick administration.” Oh, really? A whole year ago? That far back? “Our tracker just picked this up outside the hotel,” Josh waves his hand at the screen. So, Alicia wonders. In answer, he presses play again. “Peter Florrick brought a new level of cronyism to the office, and that’s what I’ll need to root out.” This is really especially terrible video. He thinks the office needs a thoroughly cleaning (shades of Wendy Scott Carr), not the “partial” efforts of Mr. Florrick. Partial measures seems like a clear connection to Alicia, no?
“Okay, so he mentions Peter 8 times in, whatever, a short period of time.” Hee. Josh cracks me up. “He’s coming after you through your husband,” Elfman breaks it down for Alicia, just in case she can’t tell. “That’s his way of getting around your, you know, your little… thing,” Josh jerks his head, and again Elfman unnecessarily explains that this means their agreement to not smear each other.
So that took a long time for them to discypher, Martin.
“So what do I do, defend Peter?” Alicia wonders. No, that’s exactly what they want, Elfman contends. The time has come for her to separate herself from Peter’s brand. “You need your ‘Sista Souljah moment,'” Josh suggests, and huh. I had forgotten about that completely, that this was a name for taking pot shots at one’s allies; that idea (minus the cultural reference) is the subject of an excellent West Wing episode. I’m not sure about this advice, though. I very much doubt that everyone needs a Sista Souljah moment.
“So I should criticize Peter?” Alicia asks, clearly confused. Yes, his issues. “What issues?” Alicia wonders. “Doesn’t matter, pick one,” Josh answers, which makes Marissa roll her eyes. “God, this is like high school.” Yes. We just want you to put a little distance between you and your husband, the Haircut contends, so none of Prady’s charges will impact her, and I don’t know. That seems risky. Hasn’t she gotten to this point by sticking with Peter? Campaigning together? Would she even have a candidacy if she wasn’t his wife? Didn’t they even make a point last week of emphasizing her closeness to Peter for the “conservative Democratic” editorial board, which may have helped her win their endorsement? Do they think that Peter had to automatically forgive Alicia anything, so she can trash him whenever expedient? I mean, gosh, the whole point of staying officially married is to benefit both of their careers!
“And what’s the con?” Alicia wonders. Neither man owns up. “The con. Why wouldn’t I do this? The two of you were arguing before, who’s against it?” she reminds them. They do seem pretty in sync on this topic, which seems blind to me: Josh shakes his head, pained, and says they were arguing about something else. Go ahead and tell her, big man, he demands of Elfman, who looks self-conscious.
Elfman makes a noise kind of like a snort but not quite. “I’ve been asked to join a campaign in Sacramento,” he says, and it takes him most of the sentence to meet Alicia’s eyes. “On the seventh.” “The seventh of?” Alicia wonders. “This month,” he admits (which is what? March? April?) “But don’t worry. You are in great shape. There is not really anything to do no the campaign at this point.” Say what? Granted that there’s no campaigning allowed near polling stations on election, you don’t care about the get-out the vote effort? That seems pretty important, coordinating all those calls and signs and last minute appearances. And obviously you think she still needs you or you wouldn’t be having her change up her entire election strategy three days before the election.
Anyway. I just can’t imagine what would be so vital that the local California peeps wouldn’t let him stay for that one day.
You know Chicago, Josh shrugs. “There’s never any fraud at the polls.” Oh, no, never! That’s not fair, Elfman complains. “We got lawyers for exactly that kind of thing.” Hey, you’ve got Alicia. She’s been there before! Before they can have a private conversation, Alicia gets a phone call; she gives Jo(h)n a dirty look before taking it.
“How’s he doing on the stand?” she asks Cary, back at their office. “What?” Cary wonders. “McVeigh. On the stand. How’s he doing?” Yay! I didn’t know he was going to be back on the show, but of course it makes sense for the show’s resident gun expert (and Diane’s husband) to be there for a gun safety case. That is not, however, why Cary is calling; as previously noted, he’s not at court. It seems that Louis Canning called her from ICU; Diane and Cary think it’s a good idea for her to go see him. (Canning has her cell number, so why the go-between? Is Simone calling for him again? ) Unsurprisingly, Alicia finds the suggestion of pressuring a man in the ICU about settling his lawsuit distasteful — but that doesn’t mean she won’t do it. “You want me to pull an Ashcroft, get him to sign something while he’s weak in the hospital?” That’s ill-phrased (Ashcroft is Canning in this situation, not Alicia) but I’m enjoying all the political references. If you’re going to the hospital anyway, Cary reasons, there’s not point in not talking up our reasonable offer. Unfortunately for him, Alicia’s more interested in who Jo(h)n’s talking to on his cell and what Kurt says on the stand. Could Cary just call her back when he knows how court went?
“The firearm was devised through additive manufacturing,” Kurt explains, a picture of a large cubed object labeled Block Stock on the screen, “or, as it’s more popularly known, 3-D printing.” Hey Kurt! So nice to see you. “And,” comes the lawyers voice, and we don’t even need to see him to know Finn is back. It’s nice to see him in the courtroom again – except, wait. What is he doing there. “And, it works from software?” Finn asks. Behind him, I can see the always delightful Nancy Crozier. Yay! Oh, these are always fun episodes. “Yes, open source files,” Kurt agrees.
“So if I type in the words ‘3-D printer gun’ it would come up with a file, just like that?” the very wonderful Judge Charles Abernathy asks. Aw! If it wasn’t for the damn stupid election crap, I’d be loving any storyline that brought together Nancy, Abernathy and Kurt. I mean, come on. That’s a trio of our very best, and for the chance of a showdown between dippy hippy Abernathy and gun-loving separatist McVeigh I would pay actual money. Yes, Kurt nods. “Mr. Fife’s design is still currently on his website.” Mr. Fife, who sits next to Nancy, is young and brawny with 90s boy hand hair (it’s so Color Me Bad); I thought before that his coat collar gave the impression that he had no neck, but he looks the same in a suit, so either he’s got his shoulders hunched up or he really does have no neck. The whole effect makes him seem untrustworthy. Abernathy shakes his head, aghast.
“So once you’ve downloaded the schematics for the gun, how difficult is it to print one?” You put a spool of plastic into the printer and press print, Kurt explains. That’s it. “Dear God, that’s appalling,” the judge proclaims, and gun control advocate Diane nods in agreement from her bench. “How long does it take to print?” the shocked judge wonders. 4 hours for a gun, McVeigh tells Abernathy. I’d love to know how common these printers are. I’m fascinated by them, but I hadn’t ever thought of them as something a regular guy might have in his garage.
“So on January the 17th,” Finn continues his cross, but the judge simply is to astounded to let him. “And this gun, it fires actual bullets,” he asks. It does. “And it’s plastic, so you could get it through a metal detector?” Yes. Though not the actual metal bullets. “Woof! Well, thank God for the Second Amendment,” Abernathy snarks, and Diane’s eyes bulge. Oh uh. How’s her gun-loving husband going to take that? “Well, Your Honor, this technology has more to do with the First Amendment than the Second,” he answers the non-question, and Finn winces. “No,” replies Abernathy, “not if the software can kill you.” Ah, but it’s not the software that’s killing, Kurt McVeigh replies with that old chestnut, and Diane stands. “Your Honor, if we could show you what happened next?” she prompts. Of course, he apologizes, before turning to Nancy and Mr. Fife. “And I promise I won’t let my bias impact my decision.”
“Thank you, Your Honor, you’ve always been very fair,” Nancy stands to say. “We’re counting on that.” She smirks at Diane. Sounds like she’s counting on it for an appeal to me.
“So, Mr. McVeigh, this is the gun that was taken to the Contada Vega Shooting Range, is that correct?” Finn asks, putting up what looks like a drawing of the gun on the monitor. It is. So what did happen next? “The gun misfired. And sent shrapnel through an alley partition and into the spine of Mr. Somerfeldt,” Kurt says, gesturing at a youngish man in an olive green sweater, sitting next to Diane. “So the misfire that paralyzed my client was foreseeable?” Finn wonders. His client? Did he start working for Alicia and I missed it? Kurt thinks that the misfire was definitely foreseeable, by anyone with experience in printing and testing 3-D guns. “And the shooter, Carsten Pope, did he have that experience?” Finn gestures to the printer, sitting in the gallery looking deeply ashamed of himself. Nope. He’d never printed or even shot a plastic gun.
“So who should have known?” Finn wonders. “The gun designer here, Mr. Fife,” Kurt opines. “He is the expert, he made the gun readily available to the public, the responsibility is his.” In her seat, Diane smiles, enormously pleased with her husband. I notice that her lapel pin today shows two stylized geese in flight, joined at the wing. How fitting. That’s all Finn has, and when he sits down, he tells Diane what a good witness her husband is.
“Mr. McVeigh,” Nancy smiles, ducking her head down, greeting him. “Thank you very much for taking us all through this … technology.” Mmmm. She crosses her arms, playing dumb. “It just seems to get more and more complicated, doesn’t it?” He nods his agreement. It does. “And culpability gets more and more complicated,” she opines, “because it goes through so many hands.”
“Objection, Your Honor,” Finn stands, “Miss Crozier seems to be confused about who is on the witness stand.” Nice patronizing, Finn. “No,” Nancy replies, making a face, “I’m just plain confused. It’s not like there’s one manufacturer, or one…” Yeah, sustained, Abernathy waves at them, but he’s barely listening. He leans forward, crossing his arms over his desk, unable to get over the whole premise of a downloadable gun. “Is anyone else really disturbed by …” and of course the courtroom explodes into chaos. “Okay, okay, thank you, that was rhetorical,” he says, holding up his hands, and they sit back down again. “No more editorial content from me. Miss Crozier?” Thank you, she says, and starts again.
“So, Mr. McVeigh, the shooter, sitting right there, Mr. Pope, you’re not suing him.” Poor hapless Pope winces in the audience as McVeigh of course corrects Nancy’s phrasing. Kurt McVeigh is not suing anyone. “You’re just an expert witness who happens to be married to one of the plaintiff’s attorney’s,” she cringes. Nice try impeaching him, dear. Well, we all knew this would come up some time. Or every time that Diane hires her husband, actually. Diane tries to suppress a smile as Finn objects. “Let me rephrase that. The shooter Mr. Pope, the one that your wife is not suing, he built the gun that injured Eddie Summerfeldt.” I swear they’re saying Sommerville, but that’s not how the IMDB spells it, so whatever.
“No,” Kurt shakes his head. “No?” frowns Nancy. “No,” says Kurt. “He didn’t build it?” she asks. “He didn’t build it. He printed it.” I agree that this is a valid distinction. In her seat, Diane glows with pride. “But you said he didn’t have any training in 3-D printing,” Nancy presses, and yes, that’s right. “Do you know where he made — or, ‘printed’ — the gun?” Judge Abernathy shakes his head. It was in his garage. “And he spent $25?” she adds; the judge physically recoils in horror. “$22.50 in materials, and $1,795 for the printer.” Damn, that’s a lot of money for someone to pay for a toy in their garage. On the other hand, that’s probably a lot less than I’d have guessed a 3-D printer would cost.
“Well, I don’t know much about guns,” Nancy says. “You’re still the expert there.” Nancy’s largess slays Diane. “But I’m still trying to figure out why it is that you’re suing my client, who’s merely responsible for the design of the thing, and not the shooter, who actually printed and fired the gun.” Again, m’am, Kurt says, I’m not suing anybody.”Well, maybe you could just convince your wife,” she rolls her eyes. Finn objects, and Abernathy of course sustains his objection, but he really needs to talk all this over.
“I just can’t believe it,” he says. “Twenty five dollars!”
This is going to be slow going.
In an underground garage, Diane slips into the driver’s seat of her car, wrapped in a coat so thick and luxurious that it gives the suggestion of fur; Kurt waits in the passenger seat. Her hand wraps around his thigh. He jumps a little in surprise, and then they kiss, her hand curving around the back of his neck. Tilting her head back, she looks up at him, enraptured; he slides her hand down in front of him, holding it tenderly. “How is it that you make me feel like I’m twenty two?” In answer, he kisses her fingers, then brings their joined hands down below our view. He shifts his weight, and she closes her eyes, her mouth falling open and then closing; he watches avidly as her breath catches in her throat.
Fitfully, Louis Canning tosses his head back and forth in his hospital bed. Looming over him, Alicia gives him a very formal hello. Do lawyers really not use each other’s first names? I can’t believe I’m saying this after that last scene, but there’s always been something strangely Victorian about this show. “I’m alive,” he croaks. “But you got a new kidney,” she smiles. Yes, yes, he says, awkwardly pointing for her to sit.
“So were you elected?” he wonders, and she laughs. “No.” Oh, you lost, he frets before she belatedly explains that the election is three days away. “Oh,” he says. “I voted absentee.” Good forethought, I guess? “Oh, thank you,” she beams, before he says he voted against her, and she rolls her eyes and smiles. Who the heck knows if any of that is true. I’m glad he’s not dead, at least.
She sees her purse on the floor, and is drawn to it like filaments to a current. She pulls out the settlement offer. But before she can begin her pitch — which he seems to notice, despite his eyes looking closed — he begins to mutter about a fifteen year old girl. “Went to hit a soccer ball at a junior league game, and her head hit another girl’s head, and she died. ” Oh, awful. Organ donation stories are so hard; Alicia’s moved, and shoves the document down. “She just dropped to the field dead. And I don’t even know her name,” he says, slamming his head from side to side on the hospital pillow. “But she gave me her kidney. Do you believe that?” After thinking about it a second, Alicia decides that she can. (Not to be all Kurt McVeigh on you, but it’s not like the donor choose him.)
“So I swore to myself before I went into surgery that I’d do something for her,” he continues, and Alicia pushes the settlement offer all the way back into her bag and closes it. “If it worked out, if it went well, and I lived, that I would do something good.” He has Alicia’s attention in a big way. “For her family?” Alicia guesses. Yes. He’d like to liquidate his stocks, he adds, tossing on the bed. It’s fascinating to me that he isn’t still lying down. “18 million dollars.” Alicia’s jaw drops. “Given to her family. Will you do this for me?” Alicia’s horrified by the responsibility. “Have you called your estate lawyer?” she asks. Of course he has, but the lawyer won’t return his calls. So where’s Simone? Shouldn’t she be in on this decision too? “I think he wants to wait until I’m dead, and keep all the money in house.” He pushes his shoulders against the mattress, his belly straining against the sheet. “Who is your estate attorney?” Alicia asks, against her better judgement. “David Lee,” he says, because of course it is. How could it could be anyone else?
“I didn’t put the file up to hurt people, I put it up to protect them,” Color Me Bad testifies on the stand as Diane displays the black and white drawing of his plastic gun. “That you’ll have to explain, Mr. Fife,” Diane insists. “You wanted to protect my client by posting schematics for guns that are undetectable, untraceable, and unregulated?” He leans in to the microphone as Judge Abernathy shakes his head in disgust. “And untraceable,” Fife points out earnestly. “So this is all about the First Amendment to you?” the judges asks. “Yes. Yes, Your Honor,” Fife declares, his demeanor all respectful youth to his elders; Abernathy nods. “I have the right to put out as much information as I want no matter how many laws are passed to limit my right under the Second…”
Diane cuts him off. “Did you consider posting a warning …” she starts, but it turns out the judge isn’t done. Fife wasn’t worried about a crazy person using his design, the judge asks? “Sure I do,” Color Me Bad replies, “but I worry more about what crazy person will become the next dictator.” Ah. Arm the population against the Hitlers and the Saddam Hussein’s of the world, is that it? I like that argument more than “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”, anyway. “And what do dictators confiscate even before the printing presses? The guns.” So what’s to say that they won’t confiscate the 3-D printers? But I take your point. Diane attempts to cut this off, but Nancy begs permission for Color Me Bad to continue pleading one of Abernathy’s cherished rights against another, and the judge lets it happen.
“3-D technology has made it impossible for dictators to control firearms. I can email a gun to any person in the world in seconds.” Well, that’s comforting. As long as any person in the world has email, internet service, a 3-D printer, $22.50 in plastic and 4 hours to wait before the goon squad shows up at his or her door. “A rebel soldier in Syria. A dissident in China. A freedom fighter in Pakistan. This machine has made democracy possible world wide.” Oh. Because there’s democracy in Syria, China and Pakistan? Right. Nice examples. Also, what a relief that there aren’t any evil people in those “democracies” that might also download the guns to help impose tyranny. Phew! Dodged that bullet. “It is the modern version of the printing press.” To Diane’s dismay, Abernathy seems entranced by this specious reasoning.
And so of course she slams out of the courtroom in a huff, all Kurt’s excellent work of the morning undone. “I was watching him, okay, Diane? He’s still on our side,” Finn pleads, running after her. “I don’t know,” she shakes her head. “Judge Abernathy ends up feeling so guilty about his bias he sometimes rules against it,” she observes. True — we have seen their confidence in his political leanings fail before. “Well, that’s harder to do when the defendant is crazy,” Finn suggests, and Diane goes still. “We didn’t make him crazy enough?” Nope. Not by a mile. “Let me,” Finn begs, and the two practically lunge for the courtroom door.
“You’re not returning Canning’s calls,” Alicia tells David Lee, seated across from him in her office. Ah, David Lee. Our favorite little gargoyle. Actually, I am, he says. “I just came from him,” she says. “He gave me power of attorney to liquidate all his stocks and give all $18 million to the family of the donor.” No way! Power of attorney! That’s huge. Also, that’s just weird. I can’t believe she’s not going to talk to Simone about it. What if he’s loopy on drugs? What if he changes his mind? What if he dies? Okay, David tips his head from side to side and stands up. “David!” she cries. “He wants it done now.”
That’s when David Lee sits down and lets us know that it’s all a little more complicated than a simple wish. It’s like pulling teeth, but Alicia gets to the bottom of the story eventually. It turns out that the donor’s parents (Izat and Helga Fastoon) want to give the money to a charity, the Strong Arm of Liberty, which is a pro-Palestinian group. We won’t even get into how he found the donors that fast. Isn’t there some sort of protocol involved there? “You can’t let your political biases impact your service,” Alicia argues, “it’s Canning’s choice.” Huh. Can we assume David Lee told Canning that this was his objection? Also, did we know that David Lee was Jewish? At any rate, Lee doesn’t want to hand over the money until he’s sure the ground isn’t connected to Hamas (“until I get a letter from the State Department saying that this group is kosher,” — he rolls his eyes at himself — “appropriate”), and the State Department isn’t willing to say yet because the group itself is too new. Huh. That’s quite a wrinkle.
Seeing that she’s come up against a real wall, Alicia waves David out off her office. She’ll talk to Canning about perhaps doing other good works. Yes, says David Lee in a martyred tone, perhaps finding a charity that doesn’t finance the killing of Jews.
Yeah, that’s not so good work-like. Plus, I don’t know. Don’t you feel like the parents ought to be using the money to memorialize their daughter in some way? Not that she couldn’t care about the oppression of Palestinians; that might have been a really important issue to her. It still doesn’t feel exactly personal, does it? To help you over the loss of your daughter, I’m going to give you … the satisfaction that you gave away a lot of money? Oh, whatever. Maybe it’s normal.
“Hello again, Mr. Fife,” Finn begins. “Hello back at you,” Fife replies pleasantly, but Finn’s done with all that. “Now you named your firearms software Open Source for a very good reason, didn’t you, Mr. Fife?” he asks, moving to stand in front of Judge Abernathy. “You wanted to make it available to, well, everyone?” Everyone with a 3-D printer, Fife replies nervously. (Thanks for the caveat, so much more reasonable than your earlier assertions, but I’m not sure it helps you.) “Even felons?” Finn asks with a quick look to the judge, one hand on the judge’s bench in front of him. Yes, he answers, and Nancy cuts off the rest with an objection; Diane stands just as quickly to oppose it. The defense opened the door when they made the constitutional argument about free speech shielding them from culpability, she says. “We merely want to explore that right.” Seems fair, nods the judge, and so Nancy flashes him a fake smile and makes a frantic, covert gesture to Fife, pushing her hand down.
“You were saying, Mr. Fife,” Finn begins, and then stares at Nancy. “I just saw Miss Crozier making a signal toward you, what did it mean?” No I didn’t, Nancy lies, sitting primly in her seat. “She was making to be what I would judge to be a ‘go easy’ gesture,” Finn turns to speak directly to Abernathy, who smirks back at him. I would have read it as “tone it down” but it all amounts to the same thing. “No, Your Honor, I was feeling heat coming from under… I don’t know if there’s a vent,” Nancy ad libs, looking under her desk. Excellent. Judge Abernathy doesn’t buy it for a minute. “Let’s all stop gesturing,” he says. “Mr. Fife seems perfectly capable of taking care of himself. Mr. Fife?”
“Ah, yes, if a felon could afford a 3-D printer, then he could have access to my software.” Finn nods, crossing back to stand in front of the witness. So it’s not difficult for Syrian freedom fighters to afford them, but it is for felons? “And children? Would you make it available to children?” It is available to children, Fife states. “As is porn, and Kim Kardashian’s ass, as long as parents don’t put parental controls on their computer.” Sigh. Ah, but Finn’s not nearly done in his quest for your crazy, Color Me Bad. “In fact, weren’t you quoted as saying ‘I can’t wait for the first school shooting with a 3-D gun’?” Abernathy’s eyebrows take flight up to his forehead. Nancy thinks this is argumentative; Finn does see how that could be true when he’s just using Fife’s own words. For his part, Abernathy needs answers. How could anyone say such a thing? “Mr. Fife, are these your own words?” he asks, so very pained and disappointed. If they’re taken from an interview on Noisy, yes, but it’s always taken out of context, Fife complains. Oh, really? What’s the right context for that sentiment? “I’m sorry,” Finn steps up, all sly, dry humor. (Why will they not leave his hair alone? Someone needs to make him understand how much better it looks with just a little more length.) “Supply the context.”
Fife huffs. “I said I couldn’t wait to see the first shooting with a 3-D gun because then we’d see how the government tries to suppress the printing press,” he tries to explain himself to Judge Abernathy. “It was an intellectual argument,” he adds, annoyed, pointing to his head to indicate the cerebral nature of it. “Yeah, except you said school shooting,” Finn practically leaps at the defendant, and it’s not lost on me that it wouldn’t be merely an intellectual argument for someone who’d been shot and watched a colleague bleed out in front of him in a court room, where a lawyer’s job is largely to make intellectual arguments. Staring down at her knees, Nancy make a face like sour milk.
I was just being provocative, Fife sighs, a lame retreat. “I was trying to draw attention to the issues. I would phrase it differently now, Your Honor,” he adds through clenched teeth, trying to win the judge’s good opinion. I’ll just bet you would; nothing teaches caution like getting sued. “Good to know,” Abernathy snaps, unconvinced and unmoved.
“Two hundred thousand,” Nancy offers over in the large conference room. While Diane scoffs loudly, Finn says he’ll take it to his client, and so Nancy guffaws. “If he’s good cop, and she’s the bad one, what’s that make you two?” she wonders, pointing to Alicia and Cary, who’re sitting in further down the table. They’ll take it to their client, Alicia replies, attempting to smoothe things over. “Be honest,” Nancy pushes, sneering. “The only reason you’re not suing the shooter is because he’s broke.” And it wasn’t his fault, Diane pushes right back, and this time Cary shuts down the argument: they’ll take the offer to Summerfeldt.
As soon as Nancy has flounced off, Alicia stands, a hand on Cary’s chair and another on Finn’s. Well? What do they think? Finn’s in favor of taking it; it’s more money than he expected. “That would be a mistake,” Diane argues. “Crozier is on the ropes! She has a jackass for a client and Abernathy on the bench.” Sure, says Finn, but my client only expected to win 100k. “Our client,” Cary frowns. “The client I brought you,” Finn reminds them, and, hmm, I guess that explains them working together, even though I’m a little surprised to see Finn thinking he needed help. “For our judgement,” Diane replies. “Yeah, your judgement, yeah, but not your politics,” Finn sneers.
Ah ha. There we are. That’s the issue.
“What’s that mean?” Diane asks, as if it isn’t obvious that she has a passion for gun control. (And we’ve already seen Alicia use the suit as campaign propaganda.) “This case is about a young father confined to a wheel chair for the rest of his life, it’s not about gun control.” Oh snap. Finn, be careful. “It’s also not about the quick fees you can make from 200k,” Cary snaps. Oh Lord, now they’re all in it. “No hard feelings there, Cary?” Finn replies, pushing. Oh dear. You mean am I holding a grudge because you tried to send me to jail for 15 years? No, not all, Cary shoots back, which of course is to say yes, very hard feelings there. Damn. Did Alicia never clear the air? You’d think it’d come up, especially considering that Finn quit his job when he found out Cary was innocent, so insistent was he that an innocent man not be railroaded. I’m not sure that exactly calls for gratitude of Cary’s behalf (it didn’t help him, after all), but it ought to count for something. He must not know, then, but how is that possible?
Anyway. Alicia tells them to cool it and find out what the client actually wants.
Ah, family. Families must get along so much better than work colleagues, right? Eli and Marissa look over Alicia’s schedule together, and with a crinkle of crisp paper, we see him puzzle over Alicia switching a speaking engagement from the Rotary Club to the Black Businessman’s Leadership Lunch. When her Dad isn’t looking, Marissa reeks of guilt, but she’s able to feign ignorance when he asks her directly about the change. It got moved an hour ago, she doesn’t know why, and we can all see Eli’s wheels a’turning. Why there, he muses. That’s where Prady’s speaking.
And then the shoe drops. It’s about Prady criticizing Peter. Wow, that’s freakishly intuitive. “I’m thinking of getting a tramp stamp, what do you think?” Marissa asks casually (bwah!), trying to distract her father to no avail; he’s doing a crazy ESP thing, his eyes wide, his face shocked. “She’s not defending him, is she? She’s throwing Peter under the bus. It’s about his black hiring practices.” Yeah, right here’s where the whole thing feels like an even worse idea. I wonder if it would have been any better if they coordinated this? If the Haircut has come to Eli and said, hey, this is what Prady’s trying, and we think that we need to separate ourselves from Peter… Maybe if she’d done an interview with Pastor Jeremiah, say, where she could be more nuanced and intimate and personal. If it really is the only plan, Eli would have seen that and found a way to make it palatable. Maybe? “I have to go now, Dad. Take care!” Marissa scurries away from her dad as fast as she can. “Marissa! Come back here!” he barks once he wakes up to her impending absence.
“Rebecca Smercornish,” a young witness introduces herself cheerily; she flashes brilliant white teeth and tosses long blonde curls. “I’m a ballistics and modern trajectory expert with the SAA.” If I were being rude, I’d probably call her Ballistics Expert Barbie. As she speaks, Finn checks once more with his client to make sure he really does want to keep going. Diane rubs Summerfeldt’s back, and Finn takes his silence for assent.
After she finishes explaining that she’s on an ATF committee looking into the regulation of 3-D guns, Rebecca reveals that she’s yet another of Kurt’s gorgeous former students. Of course she is. Diane’s immediately alarmed, her spine stiffening. Touche, Nancy Crozier, touché. “And do you have an opinion about the testimony he’s given this afternoon?” I’ll just bet she does. She thinks that Mr. McVeigh is an excellent ballistics expert, but “a bit old school,” a term that makes Kurt smile. I will say this for him, he has never been afraid of strong women who disagree with him; in fact their company seems to be his preferred habit. His specialty is conventional guns, she continues, and anything produced in the last 100 years, but not wikiweapons. For a second it looks like Abernathy is literally going to choke on the word “wikiweapons” and I’m fully expecting another complaint bemoaning the state of humanity.
Once more we go to the schematics, despite poor Judge Abernathy’s reservations. Could the transcript be used as a clinic on gun-making? At least you can rest easy knowing that trial transcripts are prohibitively expensive, judge! I’m sure google already has it covered.
Anyway. Ms. Smercornish starts typing away at the keyboard beneath the courtroom monitor, and shows us piece by piece the sections of the gun. It turns out that Fife’s specs can be customized by the downloaders. “Imagine you have small hands like I do,” she says by way of an example, “You just make an adjustment to the program, and, voila! custom grip. And you can do that to any part of the gun easily.” Ah. Diane and Finn look alarmed by this, and I’m curious, frankly why Nancy was so quick to settle. Did the shooter, Mr. Pope, make any adjustments to his gun, she wonders. Why ever do you ask? Of course he did. He shortened the barrel by less than 2/16ths of an inch. (What a random and specific change for someone who knows nothing about guns, wouldn’t you say? Why would you do that? Did he even do it on purpose?) It’s super tiny. “I’m sure that’s why Mr. McVeigh didn’t catch it,” she beams, clasping her tiny hands together.
“And could such a tweak have contributed to the gun misfiring?” Nancy wonders to the great consternation of Finn and Diane. Oh yes indeed it could, Nancy, and Fife cannot be held responsible for those changes. “The gun Mr. Pope brought to the gun range was one he made,” Rebecca smiles whitely, as poor devastated looking Pope raises his eyes to heaven, “with his own tweaks for which he is responsible. Mr. Pope is really the person who should be sued here.” Again, Finn and Diane look at each other in alarm.
“But you can also change the way a printer prints, is that right?” Kurt asks Rebecca out in the hall, clearly more interesting in talking shop and finding the truth than he is in holding a grudge. Why would Nancy have offered to settle with this in her pocket? She’s wrecked their whole case. You can, Rebecca agrees. “The quality of plastic you use makes a big difference too,” she tells him earnestly as Diane stands in the courtroom door, watching them for a fraction of a second before swooping in and claiming her man. “May I borrow Mr. McVeigh for a moment?” she says, barging into the middle of their conversation, and Rebecca gives her a huge nervous grin. Of course she can. “Congratulations, by the way! I heard you tied the knot.” We did, thanks, Diane beams. (And here I thought that Alicia was being formal with Canning when being in the ICU gave her an occasion to use his first name for once, while Diane won’t even call her husband by his first name in a professional setting. Talk about Victorian!) “This is not an intellectual exercise,” she tells him. “We’re here to win, dear.”
What, does he have to remind you that he’s not the one doing the suing? He’s never been there to win. He’s always been there to find the truth, irrespective of the cost. “Actually, you’re here to win. I’m here to testify,” he clarifies. For us, she says, but really, does anyone think this argument is about the case? It’s about Diane being jealous of girls who probably think of Kurt as their surrogate father. “If they know you have doubts,” she warns him, “they’ll put you back on the stand and exploit them.” Silent, he walks away. “Where are you going?” Diane asks. “To assuage my doubts,” he says.
Meanwhile, Eli, Jo(h)n and Josh are having a Come To Jesus moment of their own. The Black Business Leaders Association, huh, Eli snarks. It’s a nice venue, the Haircut says, like he can still get out of the tongue-lashing coming his way. A nice venue to trash Peter in, you mean, Eli thunders. Hee. Do I need to be here for this, Josh complains. Yes, you do, Eli says, and this interests me — “you’re supposed to be the adult here. When he goes off on one of his crusades, you steer!” What’s this attempt to recast the Haircut as an idealist? He’s not a crusader at all. He’s pretty much pragmatic to a flaw. “I am steering,” Josh snaps, “this is the smart move, and if you were here, instead of off doing, ah, ah…” Running the state of Illinois? Putting out fires in the governor’s mansion?
Though he takes his tone down, Eli steps closer to Josh. “Peter is finally making traction with black voters, and you’re gonna screw it up,” he declares. “That’s not our problem,” Elfman says softly; Eli of course disagrees, as do I. I’m really not sure why he thinks Alicia doesn’t need Peter. “There are three days in the campaign. We needed the governor. We don’t now.” Uh, yeah, I’m not buying that; even if you think that’s accurate in terms of the campaign, what about after it? We’re up by three, Josh smirks, somehow challenging Eli, and again, I don’t get it. If you’re up by three, then you don’t need a radical shift in directions, do you? And you certainly didn’t get the editorial board bump by trashing Peter.
If you don’t want Peter as a friend now, Eli growls, you sure don’t want him as an enemy. Wait, what? Whose enemy is he going to be? His wife’s, after you guys begged her to run? And all these years of saying that his career depending on keeping his marriage alive? No, that makes no sense. So I guess that means he’d blacklist Josh and Jo(h)n? “Whoa, what’s what mean?” Josh laughs. “Doesn’t mean anything,” the Haircut assesses, having made the same calculations I just did, or mostly. “The governor’s not going to come out against his wife.” Eli just raises his eyebrows at Elfman, and then asks for a minute alone with him, which he’s quickly granted.
“I got you that job in California,” Eli tells Elfman with a very calculating look. You did not, the Haircut answers — you made a phone call. “And I can withdraw that call,” Eli threatens. The men look at each other for a moment. “It’s the kind of job that could make someone’s reputation!” Eli says, dangling the plum career move in front of Jo(h)n. Are you threatening to blackball me, Elfman wonders, unless I pull back on the Black Business Leaders? (Duh.) Yes, Eli replies baldly, surprising his colleague with his directness. “It’s your choice, Jo(h)n,” he adds pleasantly. “You want that job, you tell Alicia its a bad idea to trash Peter, because it is a bad idea to trash Peter this late in the game. You know it is.”
Now, it’s a little hard to assess that because Eli would obviously lie to protect Peter’s interests, but I can’t help agreeing with him.
“Now this is an exact replica of the 3-D gun Carsten Pope fired,” Kurt McVeigh tells his wife, “including the tweak.” The couple puts on safety gear in Kurt’s office barn. So this gun should match my client’s, Diane asks, apparently not aware of what the words “exact replica” mean. Yes, McVeigh says, nicely not calling her on her lapse of understanding. “It’s also printed on Pope’s printer.” Okay, that’s got to be helpful. He hands her something and asks if she’d like to do the honors, which freaks me out a little at first, because what if it blows up? But of course McVeigh is an expert and just has her pull on a cord to trigger the gun inside a sort of firing room. As in the firing range, the bullet blows the sidewall of the plastic gun out.
They rush into the room to investigate. “Kurt, is that good?” Diane wonders, but laconic Kurt’s not ready to say. “I believe that we’re getting catastrophic failure from these guns because the printer was false-feeding.” Which means, exactly? “I noticed that the printer was stuttering sometimes when it pulled the plastic filament off the spool.” Oh. Okay. That makes sense. “It resulted in some layers being skipped, making the barrel too weak in some places to contain the explosion when a bullet’s fault.” Is that Fife’s fault? He doesn’t think so. He’ll have to check it against a different printer for properly scientific results, but it’ll take some time to know for sure.
Of course Diane wants to know what all this means. “In my expert opinion,” Kurt says, blowing debris off the blasted gun. “the printer’s to blame.” You think I have the wrong defendant, Diane blanches. Yes, he nods.
“My husband was a good State’s Attorney,” Alicia says, practicing her speech in front of her mirror. “But he made some mistakes. Some were front page news.” She really doesn’t look comfortable with this; it touches too closely on events she’s never been good at talking about. Not that she’s ever been good at talking about personal things in public. “Others weren’t. There’s this saying,” she says, and her flow is interrupted by the door bell. Unsettled, she repeats the phrases to herself (“there’s a saying”) on the way to the door.
And at her door is Johnny Elfman, much to her surprise. Wasn’t he supposed to be there at 1, she asks? True, he says, but he’s been thinking about the Black Business Leader’s speech. Uh oh. “I’m having second thoughts,” he mumbles, charging past her into her apartment. “I think it’s a mistake to throw Peter under the bus.” Oh ho! He’s reversing himself in order to keep that other job! It must be a really good one; Alicia’s already a national figure, thanks to Peter and his scandals. If he gets her elected, that’s going to get him noticed without going to Sacramento, right? “You do?” Alicia asks in surprise, shutting her door behind her. I find it so fascinating that Alicia has absolutely no opinion on this subject; she just accepted the recommendations for and against without question. She’s curious about the reversal now, though, and he claims many reasonable motivations for it. What if she loses more voters because of it, old time supporters and Christians who like her for standing by her man? “We hitched our wagon to Peter in the beginning and I’m worried that we might look like opportunists,” he finishes. Yes. Hello! These are actually arguments I would have expected Alicia to make in the start. (And it doesn’t even touch on the fact that, you know, she IS still married to Peter, and might not want to trash him in public.)
“But what about countering Prady’s attack?,” Alicia wonders, deeply confused. “I looked at the overnights,” the Haircut shrugs, “the attack didn’t seem to leave much of a mark.” Good! Then you’re making the right decision, if for the wrong reason. I mean, I suppose if anyone can criticize Peter with impunity, Alicia can do it, but still, I loathe late campaign about-faces. It seems weak and desperate, and she’s got no reason to go there. I think we should stick with our base, the Haircut suggests. “For better or worse, you guys are a brand. You’re the Florricks. Package deal.” Yes. Yes they are. He hands her back the original speech before the Sista Souljah drop in, saying it’ll be on the teleprompter. Fancy! Okay, she says, weirdly not caring one way or the other, and he smiles awkwardly and heads off.
“Why are you leaving … on election day?” she asks as he puts his hand on the doorknob. “This job in Sacramento,” he says, slowly turning to face her. “It’s a special election. They’re in trouble.” I thought he had this whole process, without which he couldn’t pick a client? Did he have time to suss out whether he respects the person in question? “It’s not because of me?” she asks, and you can see she’s uncomfortable bringing it up in even this limited way. “Of us?” No, he says quietly. Again he makes a terrible awkward face. “Okay,” she says. “Okay,” he says back, and practically launches himself out the door, only stopping to breathe once he’s alone in the hall.
Well. That was just a weird little ball of subtext, right there.
“What’s this?” Kurt McVeigh asks his wife, waving a paper at her from her office door. I don’t know, she answers mildly, you’re too far away. “You amended the suit,” he complains, waspish. Sure, she says, based on your recommendation. “But you’re still suing Chris Fife,” he declares, “even though his design isn’t the problem?” Diane respectfully disagrees with this conclusion: Fife’s website links to and recommends the faulty printer. “So we’re able to back door,” she explains. “You don’t believe that he’s criminally negligent,” Kurt tells her angrily, “you just think he’s politically offensive.” She stands up, taking off her glasses, but her voice is still calm. “I think he’s both,” she replies. “He made it possible for anyone to make an untraceable, untraceable gun! Who do you think will use it?” He doesn’t back down. “That’s not a question for lawyers, that’s one for politicians. You wanna run, run,” he says angrily, taking a step toward her desk.
And his anger draws a pragmatic response from her. “We need you to testify here, Kurt. I need you to testify,” she reminds him, worried. No, he says. “Not for a crusade.”
And like the lonely Marlborough Man, he walks out.
In contrast, Louis Canning isn’t walking anywhere; he’s lying with his head tipped back in his hospital bed, still in his johnny, still hook to a flotilla of machines. There’s not much that’s dignified about that kind of position, but what there is comes from the fact that he’s sleeping and still. A pretty young nurse with a long black ponytail looks back at Alicia after checking his vitals. “You can talk to him, you know,” she offers. Oh, no, thanks. Alicia is just fine. “It helps,” she presses, and then turns back to her patient, adjusting his IV. I thought that was coma patients? Isn’t he just sleeping? And if he is, wouldn’t they tell her to go? “Squeeze his hand and talk to him,” she commands and, ponytail swinging, she slips out through the door.
Hands crossed over her coat, which is folded on the back of a chair, Alicia just stares at her sometimes nemesis, unsure of what to do. “Hi,” she begins awkwardly. She smiles. She’s got a nice view of the nasal canula up his nose; like I said, there’s not much dignity in a hospital. She looks around, patting her fingers, before finally sitting down. I think her zip front jacket might be plum-colored? It’s dark enough to be nearly black, but maybe not quite.
“So,” she says, looking around, just so unnerved. “I’m here because I need to know what you want me to do with your money, Mr. Canning,” she says, and you can see she’s hoping he’s pretending to be asleep. She’s hoping he’ll just wake up as she talks, not an unreasonable expectation. “This family, they want to give it to a Palestinian charity, but it might have illegal ties,” she says, her voice trailing off as she realizes he is not, in fact, going to wake up at the sound of her voice. This is weird, right? I mean, I have no problem talking to people who are unconscious (or inanimate objects, or myself) but why is she there if he’s just sleeping? I don’t understand the situation. If I were him and I was trying to rest, I wouldn’t be touched, I’d be peeved.
Rolling her eyes, smiling awkwardly, Alicia makes a realization. “She probably means talk about something personal,” she guesses and rolls her eyes again, like she and Canning are in it together against the sentimental absurdities of the hospital world. She looks around the room for inspiration, and does eventually find it. “My daughter’s praying for you, so that’s good!” she says, looking into his face. “I’m not.” Ha! “Because that would be hypocritical.” Then you can see her thinking oops, was that rude of me to disparage the idea of faith to someone who might be dying? That’s an awkward fight to have. She looks at his forearm, twitching slightly on the bed next to his body, and she leans forward decisively.
“I don’t want you to die, Mr. Canning, okay? ” she says, her voice open. “I know you’re a bad man, but, I sort of miss you.” She shrugs. “I know that’s weird. I don’t know why.” She thinks about it, tipping her head back and forth. “I seem to have some bad boy issues.” Oh, Alicia. “Get well, Mr. Canning,” she says, and then she reaches out to take his hand, showing off a very strange ring on her ring finger, large, cuff-like and gold with a rounded stone. “Alright,” she says. “I am gonna get your money to that charity.” She nods, sad but decisive, and leaves; I half expect him to open his eyes after she’s gone, but if he was pretending, we see no proof of it.
Instead we see the Haircut, brooding, a finger curved up against his lips. “You’re a real dirtbag, you know that?” Marissa declares, charging into his office. No I didn’t, he says, calm as usual. “You’re letting my Dad bully you,” she says. Um, okay. She’s got so much invested in Alicia throwing Peter under the bus that she’s going to yell at Elfman for not doing it? I mean, okay, I get her being mad if she thinks that Elfman’s selling Alicia out and not protecting her interests properly, but why is everyone so convinced that this is the right thing to do? Or maybe it doesn’t matter if it’s a smart call, it only matters that Elfman thought it was the right call and let himself get bought out of making it. And Marissa knows this is exactly what happened.
Peter and Alicia are better off staying together, Elfman argues. “They’re a package deal,” he says, and Marissa recites the words right along with him. I’ve heard my father say that already, she tells him angrily. “Alright, why don’t you leave me alone, Marissa?” the Haircut asks, standing. “Your job is to bring her chapstick and breath mints, not bust my balls!” Wow. Did that phrase sound strange to anyone else? He’s usually too buttoned up to be talking about his own balls at work. Shaking her head, she gives him a look of utter contempt. “God, handsome men are so weak,” she spits at him, and stalks off, leaving him to that unflattering reflection. His head drooping, he fiddles with something on his desk — a pen, I think — before whipping it at the wall in an entirely uncharacteristic show of temper.
And I guess things are rough all over, because that skinny process server kid’s waiting at Kurt’s Bangin’ Barn O’ Ballistics. The Marlborough Man can’t quite believe it, but he just got served by his wife.
“So, you used the same Block Stock printer to make your 3-D gun as Carsten Pope did?” Diane asks, looking out from over her glasses, not bothering to stand. She looks a little apprehensive, and we see why; Kurt, dressed in a black jacket and button down, just glares at his wife, his head tilting down toward her. Judge Abernathy watches with his chin balanced on his clasped hands, his gaze flicking from husband to wife. It must be great entertainment; he’s clearly enjoying himself The silence between them lengthens. “Yes,” the ballistics expert finally says.
“And would you characterize it as a smooth process?” Diane asks, using all her words since he’s apparently going to use as few of his own as possible. He thinks about shaking his head. “I have nothing to compare it to,” he says, and she nearly rolls her eyes at this subterfuge. Grinning hugely, Abernathy steps in. “I think your witness would appreciate some specificity,” he suggests, and Diane stands, ready to rephrase. “Did you find that when you were making the gun, the printer stuttered?” The tension between them truly is a wonderful thing; she’s daring him to contradict his own words. “Yes,” he admits. Does he know why? “There was too much friction in the feed tube,” he says slowly, kind of as if she was a complete idiot who couldn’t speak English. At the plaintiff’s table, Nancy looks around, lost.
Diane elicits that what happens when the feed tube is clogged is that the layers of plastic aren’t applied evenly, as Kurt had told her before, and that this is why the gun failed. And that he would consider Block Stock at fault for this.
Nancy stands. Her red and black color blocked dress is so cute. She wants to know how any of this is relevant to her client Color Me Bad, and the judge agrees, it’s a real question. Of course Diane brings up the link on Fife’s website, which Nancy finds a ridiculously tenuous connection. No, Finn argues, they were both negligent, and we should be able to recover damages from both. It makes sense to the judge, so they’re allowed to move forward. “Mr. Fife should make himself comfortable.” Mr. Fife rolls his eyes like a petulant teenager whose mom insists he clean his room, like it’s just too outrageous a claim on his precious time.
Her back against the wall, Diane waits outside the courtroom, waiting for her husband, apprehensive. How far did she push him? Pretty far, apparently, because when he exits the courtroom, he walks right past her as if she doesn’t exist.
And when next we see him in his workshop with a Block Stock printer, it’s Finn talking to him instead of Diane. Wouldn’t you rather have Diane here and not me, Finn asks, fiddling with the printer’s electronic components. No, the brusk and laconic McVeigh answers. Then he hands Finn the feed tube from Carsten Pope’s printer (about six inches long and a quarter of an inch wide) and asks him to look through it; he can’t. It’s clogged from Pope printing the gun and then — no doubt chastened — some coffee mugs. “Well, that’s oddly innocuous,” Finn remarks. Does Kurt think that the clogged tube caused the misfire? Nope, there’s not enough evidence of anything yet. “That’s why we test!” He fires another round in the chamber of steel, and this time, nothing explodes.
“Well, it’s intact, so that’s bad?” Finn guesses. Maybe, Kurt shrugs. With a clean tube and fresh printer, the gun works perfectly, clearing both the printer makers and the gun designer. Yeah, that sounds pretty bad for our side. Kurt wants to figure out why the gun failed at all. And he also wants Diane to drop the printer company from the suit, since he feels secure now in exonerating them of blame. I don’t think Finn’s taking that too well, and I doubt Diane will either. I can’t help thinking that it’s Kurt’s own fault for making pronouncements about guilt ahead of his data, but perhaps that’s why he’s upset.
There’s a beautiful old hotel with a large blue banner over it’s doors, promoting the 17th Black Business Leaders of Chicago in attractive script. “You want anything for your hair?” a make up artist asks Frank Prady. He doesn’t, thank you. (I love that he’s polite, and just as polite to random service people as he is to potential donors.) He and Alicia sit in front of mirrors in a dressing room, waiting silently. “Do you think our campaign managers know we’re alone in here?” she wonders. He looks around them as if worried about being overheard: “I think our campaign managers are worried about us running off together,” he jokes, and she laughs. “We could do worse,” she observes (um, yeah) although obviously she doesn’t think of him that way or else he would have ended up in that crazy fantasy last week.
That’s when her phone starts ringing. It’s Eli. That’s going to be fun. “Go ahead, take that, I don’t mind,” Frank tells her, but she sighs and ignores it. “No,” she says. “I’m sick of phones. It’s always bad news.”
“Not for you these days,” he says with a sort of forced cheer that poorly covers disappointment. “Not that I’m following the polls,” he says, which means he obviously is; it sounds like he’s given up. “Oh, it’s too close to call,” Alicia demurs, and her doubt is genuine. “Oh, I think it is,” Frank says. Wide enough apart to call, that is. Aw! No, Frank, don’t give up! Alicia looks at him. “Whenever I think I’m sure of something,” she tells him, “I’m always surprised.” Heh. That’s just how I feel about this show, actually. Heartened, he leans back in his seat. “It’s a bad process, isn’t it?” he notes. “Horrible,” she agrees.
“What do you think you’d do differently?” he wonders as she fluffs her hair, one finger catching at the ends. “I’d be more honest,” she says, the words coming quickly, and I can’t help it, my suspicious mind worries he might use that bit of honesty against her. “How about you?” The debate, he sighs. Oh, right. “And the closeted charge. I would answer it.” “You still can,” she suggests. “No one thinks its wrong to be gay.” Oh, honey, would that that were so. You do remember creepy Guy Redmayne, right? More people probably don’t care than do, but there are still plenty of vocal voters who would care. Not that I think he should stay closeted, I’m just less optimistic about the general population than she is. He kind of chews on the inside of his cheeks for a moment.
“Can I tell you a secret?” he asks, leaning in, ingratiating. “Who else but your opponent?” she smiles. “I’m not gay,” he tells her, “I’m a Jesuit.” What the hey? Did he just say he’s secretly a priest? Seriously? Talk about this show going to places you don’t expect… “I never got remarried, because you only marry once. To remarry is commit adultery,” he says in that way he has of being sort of grave and regretful and sad and charming all at the same time. So, wait, by Jesuit does he just mean that he’s a serious Catholic? It’s just – small j jesuit doesn’t actually mean that. Alicia’s shocked. “It’s the God’s honest truth,” he says. I believe it. I have friends in that same position, and it just seems like another way that he lives out his life in true accordance with his principles. Clearly the writers really, really want me to like him.
Poor St. Alicia cannot fathom why he didn’t explain this. “Well, we didn’t want to lose the gay vote,” Frank explains (awesome), “but more than that, it just makes you look weird.” Oh, interesting that he can take such hard edged, personally painful stands and yet also care so much about what people think, isn’t it? That must make the prospect of losing a campaign (i.e., being rejected by voters) really brutal for him. Alicia smiles. “What person in this day and age takes Jesus Christ seriously when he says you can’t divorce?” I can point you to a few. And while she’s not taking her instruction from Jesus, Alicia’d be one of them. What a fascinating conversation this is turning out to be. “Not someone you wanna get a beer with,” he shakes his head sadly.
And oh, Alicia cannot believe this. Saint Alicia with her sham marriage and her determination to have an affair somehow, she just cannot believe it. “You are … better than I am,” she nods, and he laughs, his “no” rippling out of his throat. “Yeah,” she presses, and she’s so right. “Unfortunately.” She looks chastened, and he watches her with such true compassion and understanding and sorrow for her pain that I just want to smack the person who knocks on the dressing room door and interrupts them.
“Well,” Frank says, picking up his notecards off the vanity and tucking them into his jacket pocket before extending his hand, “it’s been nice fighting you.” She smiles warmly at him. “Good luck on your speech,” she says. He nods before looking back at his reflection. “Do you think I should put something in my hair?” he asks, looking at his receding hairline in the mirror. “No,” she tells him, “you’re perfect.”
Aw! This show. It drives me crazy to the point where I wish I could quit it, and then it tosses in a conversation like that.
Left by herself, Alicia can’t think of anything better to do than return Eli’s call. Really? Oh, honey. Get ready for an earful about throwing Peter under that damned bus. “Hello, Eli, how are you?” she asks politely. “Well I don’t know,” he says, riding in the back of a limo, “are you giving money to the Palestinians?” Ha! What a transition that is. Alicia can’t even process what he’s saying, and so simply blinks for a few seconds. “I hate these silences, Alicia,” Eli snaps. “Where are you hearing this?” she wonders. He got a call from a friend in the Justice Department wonder if Alicia’s funding a Detroit based pro-Palestinian group. “It’s Dearborn,” she tells him, “and no, I’m not.”
It’s like he stuck his finger in an electric socket. He’s so shocked he starts whispering. “Alicia, what the hell? You’re sending money to Hamas?” Calmly and rationally, Alicia explains the circumstances. “It’s Louis Canning, he’s sick, and he wanted to do something nice…” “What,” Eli snaps, “send money to Hamas?” Yeah, this one requires a lot of explaining, which comes down to the fact that she was checking on where the charity’s money goes. “Why were you checking?” Eli hisses, still quiet. Is he afraid his driver will hear him? “Because he asked me to, and David Lee wouldn’t, and I did.” Eli’s eyes ping back and forth for a second, and then he exhales, slumping back into his seat. “Oh, Alicia,” he says, “you’re being set up.”
What, really? No! “This guy is suing you, right, and David Lee is no friend, and they both found a way to get you to check on giving money to Hamas.” Huh. Damn, is it possible for Canning to be quite that Machiavellian after major, life-threatening surgery? While already sick from a life threatening disease? Does he have the energy to plot like that from the ICU? I don’t know whether to be more appalled or impressed.
“He’s on his deathbed. His deathbed, Eli. Canning’s not gonna prank me from his deathbed.” Yeah, that really does seem like a stretch. Not to mention one set into motion with blinding speed. “Why not?” Eli asks, and Alicia can’t actually find an answer. “I don’t know,” she says, “I’m giving up. Goodbye.” Wearily, she clicks off the phone.
Looking atypically sweaty, Johnny Elfman leans his head back against the cinderblock wall; he’s jittery, bouncing on his heels. When Alicia finds him, she immediately asks what’s wrong. “Nothing,” he protests, “what do you mean?” She means you look wrecked, silly. He puts a hand on her back and walks her down the hall. “You look like something’s wrong,” she insists. No, no, he claims, “but there’s been a change. You look great,” he says, changing topics, and she does, and she smiles happily at the compliment. “Thanks,” she says. “What changed?” “Go after Peter,” he tells her.
Oh ho! Interesting.
Alicia stops and rounds on him. “Go after him?” Yep. “For racial disparities when he was the SA, I gave the new speech to the teleprompter.” Okay, that can’t be fun, practicing one speech, trying to learn another and ending up with a third. Maybe that’s the politician’s lot in life? “What changed?” she asks again. “Nothing,” he lies. “I was wrong. This is the smart thing to do.” How funny a reversal is this? Can we attribute this to Marissa’s dig at him? Does he fear being a lightweight pretty boy?
A huge cheer comes from the ballroom, not far away now. “Oh, that’s Prady,” Alicia says. “He’s doing well.” From the sound of it, he definitely is. “You’re next,” Elfman says, getting right up into Alicia’s personal space. “Go after Peter. Kill him. Show him no mercy.” There’s something quite intimate about their proximity. “Okay,” she smiles, surprised but ready to enjoy herself, and she swings on ahead with a little extra zip in her step. He watches her go with a pretty sappy look on his face.
“Oh ho ho yeah!” a voice calls out in a video; we get this crowing while we’re still watching the Haircut watch Alicia. Very, very interesting. Once the video comes up, we see it’s called 3 Dimensional Democracy, with a Block Stock banner just beneath the name. “Welcome to the freedom factory!” Color Me Bad enthuses in front of a camera. “Just signed the lease and got a copy of the keys right here.” Kalinda’s watching Fife dangle his news keys in front of the camera as he walks around what sort of looks like a warehouse. Odd, right, because he’s only producing code. Maybe the boxes on those shelving units are full of plastic, to make and test his designs? “I have all this elbow room, and the heater works. I think about all the time and money we wasted trying to print my parents garage. We’re not gonna miss that damn ice box.” While I’m wondering who the “we” is in this scenario, Kalinda stops the video, meditating on a different point; she calls Kurt to see if he’s tried printing the gun in a cold environment, to see if temperature affects the printing process. Stunned, he stops staring at a schematic, and asks who on earth is calling him. “Kalinda,” the investigator says before explaining that cold or even temperature fluctuations can prevent the laser plastic from adhering correctly. Ah ha! And the video is the smoking gun that proves Color Me Bad knew all about those challenges. Gobsmacked, Kurt McVeigh stands with his mouth open before closing his lips with a sigh and the tiniest ghost of a smile.
And there’s Alicia on a grainy monitor, receiving polite applause at the Black Businessman’s Leadership luncheon. “Every politician struggles with the eleventh commandment,” she recites smoothly. “Speak no ill of your fellow party member.” Eli watches from what might be a press room, eating a cup of yogurt. “But when that party member is not just a fellow traveler, but in my case a spouse, it gets even more complicated,” she says, and Eli chokes on his yogurt. It’s nice when we can surprise Eli. Maybe Marissa told him that the Haircut caved; either way, he was sure enough of his threat’s effectiveness that he didn’t even lobby Alicia directly when he had her on the phone, which might be a rather large mistake. “… because the most insidious form of racism is unconscious, and it exists in our legal system.” Very very true, Alicia, even though I feel like you kind of argued against that as an issue in The Debate. Frantically, Eli dials his phone.
“My husband was a good State’s Attorney, but he made some mistakes.” I would have put even money on Eli calling either Elfman or Peter at this point; it’s Elfman. “Consider yourself out of a job, you son of a bitch,” he snaps. The Haircut is back in the cement block hotel corridor while Alicia’s speaking (interesting, is the feed live? Who would they televise this kind of thing?); he tells Eli to do what he has to. “I’m running a campaign,” he shrugs. “It’s already done,” Eli lies. “Enjoy the speech,” Elfman replies coolly, and hangs up. “There’s a saying racism without racists. I think this perfectly describes Cook County, and the SA’s office.” The Haircut crosses his arms, and I don’t think we’ve ever seen him smile so widely or with such pride.
I’m sure Diane is feeling nearly as vindicated when she plays the clip of Color Me Bad denigrating his parent’s garage in court. “You knew that printing in cold temperatures warps the plastic and weakens the structure of the gun, didn’t you?” she charges the wanna-be 90s pop star, as Nancy and her co-counsel cringe. (There’s an older middle aged man and a woman represents Block Stock, and we never have any idea if they’re both lawyers, or executives, or which might be which.) As Nancy sinks down in her seat, Fife tries to dig himself out of the hole. “This is a new field with a lot of variables,” he tries, and though surely he’s right, it doesn’t matter: Diane forces him to answer the question simply, and so he does. Yes. He knew. “And did you offer any warning as to the effect of cold temperatures on the printing process?” Nope, obviously he didn’t, or you would have known where to look for the cause of the explosion. “No, but buyer needs to beware.” That bit of calloused thinking makes both Finn and Judge Abernathy startle, and Nancy close her eyes in defeat.
“Five million,” she offers back at the office, and now it’s Diane’s turn to startle. What? No one was remotely expecting that kind of money. Summerfeldt blinks, his mouth hanging open. “Excuse me?” he asks, leaning forward. “You’ll have to drop the suit, and sign this non-disclosure agreement,” she says, and there’s such defeat in her voice. She knows she has a lost cause and she’s even going to bother with her usual passive-aggression. “Fife doesn’t have that of insurance,” Finn notes, rubbing his fingers against his pen. So where’s the money coming from? An interested third party who’s been following the case, Nancy informs them. “The NRA?” Cary guesses. No, she says. Private individuals who are concerned about the issue and will underwrite what she refers to as “Fife’s defense.” Is it his defense if he’s no longer defending himself against it? Curious.
We have a right to know who’s providing the money, Diane says, because of course she cares about the issue more than she cares about Summerfeldt or the award. (I don’t say that to be mean, because I’m sure she does care about those things, but we all know how much gun control matters to her.) “No, actually, you don’t,” Nancy snaps with some of her old flare, “but you have the right to take it, Mr. Summerfeldt, and drop this suit, or you don’t.” Summerfeldt almost gags on the amount of money; he still can’t wrap his brain around it. “And then my mysterious benefactor uses his bounty of treasure to destroy you,” Nancy threatens. Though Finn and Diane exchange apprehensive glances, Summerfeldt still looks like he won the lottery. “So what do you say, Mr. Summerfeldt?” Nancy Crozier tosses the agreement onto the table between them.
Can we imagine that they stipulate that a warning goes onto the sites about printing in cold or fluctuating temperatures? I mean, I know she stipulated a non-disclosure agreement, but that still seems like smart practices on the part of both Fife and Block Stock, right, so that they don’t get sued again? Because if I were Diane, I would want to make sure other consumers were protected from Summerfeldt’s fate, and that would mean more than anything.
Awake again, Louis Canning wishes Alicia a cheery good morning. He looks better, but there’s still something very vulnerable about his naked neck and the hospital gown pushed up around his shoulders. I’m good, she says, and, noting the lack of an IV and supplemental oxygen, suggests that he is too. Yeah, I’m getting stronger, he says, and makes me smile by actually flexing his arm in the traditional strong man pose. Nice. “Good,” she says coldly, “so, you setting me up?”
And there go all the pleasantries.
He shakes his head a little, blinks. Am I setting you up, he repeats. “The 18 million you wanted donated,” she reminds his, hands plunged into the pockets of her black coat, “was that a scheme with David Lee?”
He sits up, scooting his body on the hospital bed; he must be doing better. “I really have no idea what you’re talking about,” he says, continuing to gape up at her like a fish. “You wanted your stocks liquidated and given to a Palestinian charity?” she reminds him. I what, he gasps. “The donor’s family, you wanted 18 million given to them, you wanted to do good!” “No I didn’t,” he replies, horrified, struggling to sit up further, “when have you ever known me to want to do good?” Ha. Awesome. Now there’s the Louis Canning we know.
“You don’t remember the conversation we had yesterday? You gave me power of attorney.” Oh, honey. This was pretty predictable. “Alicia, what the hell, where’s my money?” he squeals. Well, she admits, there were some complications. That’s why I’m here. “Anesthesia, plus tremor meds, I was, I was, I was in a fugue state,” he says, pressing the heel of his palm to his forehead, “Where’s my, where’s my money?” He seems pretty upset for someone who just pulled a successful prank; I think it’s at least possible it could have been an actual misunderstanding. She smiles a rueful smile. “Right where it belongs … with David Lee,” she sighs. Oh thank God, he flops his head all the way back against the pillow.
“Okay,” she declares, clearly feeling played, “I’m going now. This was great. Always great talking to you.” “Alicia, wait,” he says, and I’m thinking that perhaps he wants to thank her for being there or comforting his wife or even just twit her about not praying for him, admitting he was awake when she came in before. Instead he struggles to reach forward, without moving his back. “Can you hand me my phone?” he asks, as if he’d suddenly forgotten how to sit up. Oh, dude. You should not have pushed it. Damn, if he really did set her up, that’s stone cold. Slowly she walks to the moveable tray at the foot of his bed, takes a hand out of her pocket, and picks up the black rectangle in question. “This phone, right here?” she asks, and suddenly I’m convinced she’s going to drop it into the water pitcher on the end of the tray. Yes, yes, he says, please just give it to me. “No,” she says, dropping it back on the tray. “I think it looks good right there,” she adds, flicking it further and further down the tray until it ends up behind the pitcher. Snort. It’s petty, and it’s a little mean, but it’s kind of funny too. And she’s not as rotten as I would have been tempted to be. “Good seeing you, Mr. Canning,” she says, and of course the phone starts ringing, and he yells for the nurse, whining.
I hope it’s the end of the day, because Diane just downed a pretty generous drink. Kurt steps into her office and looks over at her, hesitating. She’s got her feet up on her couch, her shoes off, and she makes me think about that scene in An Affair to Remember where Cary Grant doesn’t notice (as Rita Wilson so memorably reminds us) Deborah Kerr’s ‘shriveled little legs’ on the sofa, partly because of Daine’s position on the couch but mostly because her evident happiness at seeing him is tempered by her obvious fear he hasn’t forgiven her.
“Just came to see how you’re doing,” he says, hands in his pockets. She smiles. “I’ll be fine,” she says. Why isn’t she fine now? Did she get injured without us knowing? “But I think I owe you an apology,” she says, uncrossing her legs, swinging them off the sofa and re-crossing them, her feet on the ground. “I let my political passions drive a wedge between us, and that’s never been how we do things.” True, he nods after a moment’s consideration. I find it very impressive that they can maintain that kind of emotional distance; I can’t compartmentalize like that. Smiling up at him, Diane waits for elucidation that never comes. “O ye of few words,” she says, extending her glass. He may not be able to talk, but he’ll drink. He sits down next to her, walking very slowly, and then lays back against the couch, his head resting on it. “I think we need to go away together,” he says, and the idea delights her. “Good! What do you think about a week in Italy this May? The Amalfi coast?” Yes! I say yes! He drinks. “Actually, I was thinking more like tomorrow,” he admits, and she smiles. That again. He knows her business is different, and she can’t just pick up and leave at a moment’s notice. (Although, I know his consultancy makes his schedule more flexible, but doesn’t he have a schedule with his students?)
She laughs. I can’t get away for a week now, she laughs. “I know,” he smiles. “I was thinking three days deer hunting in Wyoming with the richest men in America.” Um, wow. That’s pretty specific. She takes back her glass, which still has a little liquor in it, still smiling at him. “Sure, let’s go,” she grins, and she keeps grinning with her eyes as she drains the rest of the drink.
Alicia rides the wood-paneled elevator up to her condo looking disgusted with herself. Taken in again! But before she can throw herself a pity party, the doors open on the Haircut. “Hey, I thought you were out,” he says, and I think it’s safe to say he’s a little flustered. “I was out,” she remarks (gee, brilliant deductions here), “I’m just getting back.” I didn’t get to congratulate you on the speech, he says, moving around her into the elevator. “It went very well.” Why did he come if he doesn’t want to talk to her? “It did, thanks,” she smiles as they reverse positions completely. “Another 48 hours,” she sighs, still smiling. “Yeah,” he says, hand on the elevator frame, and then he thinks of something. “There’s a story out that you’re supporting Hamas, I don’t need to worry about that, do I?” This sigh is exasperated. “No,” she tells him, irritated again. Good.
He goes to step into the elevator, but can’t. “Look, I,” he starts, looking up at her and then down at his feet, and then into the elevator and back again. “I’m not …” he clears his throat, “Um, I’m not very good at expressing my feelings,” he says, reminding me for all the world of Richard Armitage in North & South, which is a very, very good thing. It couldn’t be better, in fact. “So I wanted to, ah…” He clears his throat again, and she raises her eyebrows. Does he want to come inside? No, no, he says, and I wonder if she thinks he’s trying to say goodbye. He steps out of the way of the elevator, and the door starts to close, and he says that doesn’t know, and then spins back toward the elevator. “I don’t know. You know what? Whatever,” he decides, and he spins back, and slips a hand behind Alicia’s head, and kisses her.
I so much wish there was a clip of that scene from North & South on youtube (looks like you have to watch the entire episode of the mini-series to get to it) because it is just amazing, dazzling and swoon-worthy, and somehow that link in my mind made me much more okay with this scene than I thought I was going to be while I was brooding about it all last week. The preview made her “do you want to come inside” into a come on, in a way I don’t think it was, and made the whole thing feel more slimy, like she was just using her employee for sex. Instead the episode made it more about Elfman’s feelings for Alicia, and his professional struggles around that, and I liked that. It’s less reductive and more interesting. (I mean, okay, I get why she was tempted last week – he’s smart and handsome and trustworthy and he’s besotted with her, and it’s really hard not to be swayed by that kind of sure thing. Knowing someone wants you is like having a loose tooth and trying not to play with it. But still.) I like that he’s encouraging her to break away from Peter throughout the episode; you have to think there’s a little bit of personal bias leeching into that professional recommendation, right? But it was all subtle. You don’t really know what he was thinking, just that he was struggling with the job offer versus this campaign. Was the issue personal? Professional? Yeah, it’s all really interesting, the way it came together.
Not to be smutty, but should we assume that they do the deed? I can’t help thinking from his whole “I thought you weren’t home” comment that someone was home to tell him so, either Marissa or Grace. And clearly they’re not going to boink with either of those two in the apartment. So, what then? I’m curious. I really dislike the idea of her having a sanctioned affair as part of her agreement, just looking for satisfaction with a safe partner she respects. I really, really dislike it, especially after her rage over Ramona; per their agreement, the only thing Peter did wrong was get caught, and how is she going to be certain she won’t? And I don’t love the fact that, despite his levels of expertise, she’s Elfman’s employer. That feels slightly squicky, and certainly an interesting reversal of her situation with Will. But, eh. I can’t imagine her leaving Peter for Jo(h)n, can you?
And man. What the heck was with switching strategies at the very end? I do not like the Peter-trashing, I do not like it one bit. And I am absolutely dumbfounded that she was just willing to do it – kind of longing to do it, even. Not one word of dissent, not one question, no phone call to her husband to talk it over, nothing. Dumbfounded.
I know this is going to sound disloyal, but I want Frank Prady to win so badly I’d put a sign on my lawn if there were any fictional Cook County voters here to see it. In the beginning, of course, Alicia had my automatic loyalty, for herself and also in opposition to Castro’s outrageous evil. I didn’t want her to run, but I guess I didn’t want her to lose, either. The fact that she’s a woman had me at least partially in her favor, and in The Debate she showed some promise as a candidate. But, nope, not anymore. Her moral fiber has broken down like strawberries in a blender. The weird thing is that I almost feel like the show wants me to want Prady to win, that a win for Alicia will say things so appalling about American politics (about dynasties, nepotism, corruption and campaigning) that we won’t be able to stomach it. Not that the show has ever shied away from making me feel rotten about our country, but some of what’s gone on felt pretty over-the-top manipulative.
That doesn’t mean I think she’ll lose; I can’t imagine they’d spend all this time on an election that she doesn’t win. Heck, Peter won both of his elections with less in his favor. She probably won’t lose; in fact the ridiculous 6 month time period between the election and the taking of office seems to me designed exclusively to give Alicia time to stay with the law firm for the rest of this season and a chunk of the next before taking office. But I cannot imagine the show runners think they are making choices that will have audience rooting for her.
Oh. It’s something of a surprise that Prady’s not gay, right? It feels like they did an sort of fun play on our expectations there; David Hyde Pierce is gay, so we do we assume his character is? Now that I think about it, many well known gay actors play straight on this show (Alan Cumming, Denis O’Hare, Nathan Lane and now Pierce); funny how that used to be a controversial thing before Neil Patrick Harris did it so well on How I Met Your Mother. The conversation Alicia and Frank have is the best thing that’s happened to this show in several episodes.
Other major elements. I’ve already said I liked this case; what’s not to love about a technology plot, colorful defendant, Nancy Crozier in the opposition and Charles Abernathy on the bench? It’s such a different role from what I normally imagine Denis O’Hare playing, and I love that too. Hell, I’m pretty happy any time I see Mamie Gummer on screen. It’s all good! Then you add in the amazing back and forth with Diane and Kurt (yay, a Kurt episode!) and it’s all good stuff. I love that those two crazy kids made up, and I love seeing them work out their professional and political issues together. Even the addition of Finn, and those mini-beats involving the sharing of their client, made for a richer picture, much as it bit into screen time for Kalinda and Cary. I suppose Cary used up all his screen time last fall?
And maybe that’s it? What about you? Did I miss anything? Did the episode go as badly as you expected? There’s not anyone out there who actually likes this plot, right, or is looking forward to her becoming the State’s Attorney? I would love to hear from you if there is, but I think that viewer’s a unicorn. They don’t exist.