E: A transitional era ends, and a new one begins, not with a bang, but with a whimper. Oh – there were bangs (witness the red meat of the title) but they occurred mostly off screen. Kind of like the explosions going on in my head. What does all this mean for the future? Current guest characters make their exits, at least one new one arrives.
Check out the show’s Facebook page if you’re looking for a laugh. Their social media team put up a little “who would you vote for?” question. Guess who the vast and overwhelming majority wanted to win? Hint: it’s not the main character of the show.
Sitting in the back of a hired car, stiff and upright, Alicia looks sleek and beautiful and incredibly awkward next to the Haircut; she sneaks peeks at him as he stares straight ahead, the skin around his eyes a mottled red. Oh dear. Why does she have a driver now? Has she lost not only her moral compass but her ability to drive?
However, transportation isn’t what she’s worried about. “We’re good, right?” she asks Elfman. Oh yeah, her campaign manager says, remembering himself and switching back to professional cheerleader role. “It’ll come down to turnout today,” he tells her, even though this is not what she was asking about, “that’s the thing to stress; that everyone get out and vote.” She watches him as he gives this piece of advice, a slight smile on her face. I think she’s enjoying the fact that she can fluster him, at least a little. He sucks on his bottom lip. “It’s too close to call otherwise.”
This surprises her. Is it really that close? Oh, I think we’re solid, he says, his demeanor entirely unconvincing, “Unless people don’t turn out.” Poor Alicia’s horrified as she gets abruptly delivered to her destination, parking next to Peter’s equally giant and equally black SUV so the two of them can maintain their fraudulent public image and arrive at the polls together. As they make the transfer, Peter glowers darkly at Johnny. I know he’s always thought that Elfman was too much of a pretty boy to be spending time with his (name only) wife, but wow. It’s like he knows. Elfman disappears quickly into his own SUV and drives off.
In the second chauffeur-driven vehicle, there’s even more tension and more staring straight ahead. I think the best thing I can say, really, is that they both have nice woolen scarves on.
“Racism without racists,” Peter says, chewing on his bottom lip as well. Gee, what a surprise, he’s still upset at the cheap shot she took at him. “You thought that was cheap?” she sneers, trying to sound above it all. “Not for me,” he snaps, grumbling about how she wrecked the inroads he’d been making in the black community. Sigh. It’s just another one of their poisonous bickering sessions. It’s not personal, Peter, she says, blowing him off, which is ridiculous. (What’s that line from You’ve Got Mail? “Whatever else it is, it ought to at least begin by being personal.”) “Hmm,” he follows her logic to it’s conclusion. So you don’t personally think I’m a racist, but you saw political gain in calling me a racist? I didn’t call you a racist, she lies, but somehow that doesn’t make him feel better. I can’t imagine why! She sighs and takes one last snipe: let’s just get through this, she declares. Then we can go back to you using me politically.
You know, I remember the days when Alicia stayed married to Peter because she refused to be pushed into breaking a vow. When she wanted to show her children that such a thing existed as faithfulness. Does she even remember who that person was?
When they arrive at the polls, they go into plastic politician mode for the press. “She’s finally getting to vote for her favorite Florrick,” Peter quips, and Alicia over-laughs at the acid witticism.
Meanwhile, way in the frozen north, Diane and Kurt have arrived at a stunning lodge amidst snowcapped mountains (I swear I’ve seen this place before, it’s driving me nuts); Diane somehow has the local Chicago news on the television as she models her camo snow suit in front of a full length, stand alone mirror. Oh God. She’s enjoying herself way too much. The Chicago news anchor lets us know that Alicia and Frank are in a dead heat. After smirking at herself, Diane takes a hunting rifle out of a zip up bag, and starts modeling with it, and I’m convinced she’s somehow going to shoot herself when she drops the weapon. Maybe it’s all the gun shots in the background? But nope.
“Nicely done,” Kurt laughs at her gently. “Perfect way to scare off the deer you don’t wanna hunt.” Nice. They’re cute. Kurt gives Diane a once over, then leans in to kiss her neck. Sure, she’s surprised that he’s reacting to the snowsuit as if it were lingerie, but she’s not complaining.
And look who greets them when the finally arrive at brunch (Diane rather hilariously pairing her camo ski pants with a brown cardigan): Oliver Platt, schlumpy in flannel, jovially mocking the newlyweds for being late. He’s an old friend Kurt introduces to his new wife as R.D, who hands them their hunting permits. He’ll be the one taking them out to the hunting blinds, and he could not be more delighted that it’s Diane’s first time. Eat up and we’ll see you out there, he says.
“So this is the top one percent of the top one percent of the top one percent?” Diane asks, looking around the luxuriously rustic dining room. It’s true that the men, at least, don’t look like a very glamorous lot. “We’re not gonna talk like communists here, okay? We discussed this,” Kurt tells her, and her throaty laugh answers him. “I don’t know,” she teases, “I might start soliciting for the ACLU. Your wife unpredictable that way.” He looks ready to have a heart attack. She can’t figure out how Kurt fits in (it was his friendship with R.D.), but speculates that if she set off a bomb, there’d be Democratic presidents for the next thirty years, and that’s about all the sedition he can take.
“Oh my gosh,” Diane gasps, stopping in the middle of the buffet, “is that Gil Barage?” She has to explain to her baffled husband that Gil is the Mark Zuckerberg of the Silicon Hills in Austin, Texas, pointing to a young man in a tight gray knit turtleneck, accompanied by a beautiful blond in a silk shirt. He does not look like Mark Zuckerberg, but it’s not his actor-like good looks that has Diane drooling; it’s his 25 billion dollar portfolio.
When she calls back to the office, Diane easily whips Cary and David Lee into a frenzy as well at the thought of bringing in the founder of web browser Cracker. Is it me, or do they look like they’re in Diane’s office? Why would they be in Diane’s office? Is this Cary’s mysterious new office and it just happens to look exactly like Diane’s? My God, David gasps, there must be $400 million in legal fees in that dining room. And that’s a potential good thing for them, because there was a rumor that Barage left his firm, and his presence would definitely, as Cary puts it, “fill the ChumHum hole” in their finances. After confirming the rumor, Cary and David will do research to help Diane point her pitch at whatever made the tech billionaire leave his old firm.
When she hangs up, Diane cuddles up to her husband. What’s the chance of her getting into a two person blind with Barage? Kurt glares a little. “I thought we said three days, no work, just fun.” We did, she grins, weasel-wording a little. “This is fun. Aren’t you having fun? You hunt deer, I hunt clients.” She really seems absolutely thrilled. “Which head are we going to mount over the fireplace?” Kurt wonders, dry as toast.
For election morning, Marissa’s impulse to feed Alicia has escalated from tea and cookies to frosted donuts; obviously, extreme care-taking measures are required. “They’re good. Nature’s treat,” she deadpans, and so Alicia leans over the massive box, inhaling, ever muscle in her slender body straining toward the baked treats. (Wow, are they really going to make fitness nut Julianna Margulies eat a donut? I bet she hasn’t had one in at least a decade.) Her campaign manager pops in, saying she should just rest and distract herself today (dude, do you even know her? she should go to work), but she doesn’t hear him, she’s so enchanted by the donuts. “Alicia,” Marissa breaks into her boss’s fugue, “you can have one.” As if expecting them to be taken away, Alicia snatches a chocolate glazed and quickly pops an infinitesimally small piece in her mouth. The audience hears Elfman’s information about poling data being released much later in the day, but Alicia doesn’t — she’s too busy gasping about sugar reaching her brain. Yeah, she really hasn’t eaten a donut in a decade.
As the doorbell rings, Elfman asks how the speeches are coming; as Alicia stands to get the door, her purple silk blouse floating around her, she tells him with her mouth fill that she’s written an acceptance speech. Isn’t it bad luck to write up the concession, she declares as she opens her door to find a paper bag in front of it and Finn Polmar’s back retreating down the hall. I didn’t think you’d be here, he says. Interesting. He picks up the package, and Alicia (still pulling pieces off her donut rather than inelegantly biting down on it) invites her well-wisher in. He declines a donut, and also has an odd little staring contest with the Haircut, who suddenly seems quite possessive. Also, either I never noticed how tall Finn was, or never realized that Elfman was not tall, because their height difference surprises me. Anyway. Finn brandishes his paper bag, and Elfman leaves with a promise to call once he gets some results.
Delighted, Alicia shimmies over to her island to open her present. Which is – Halo? Er, okay. “A friend of mine gave me one of those when I was waiting for a verdict. It turns out that a first person shooter game is exactly what I needed.” Huh. I guess they must be pretty absorbing. “Oh, Halo, that’s a good one,” Marissa crows, and Finn says “yeah” like “what did you think, I was an amateur?” It’s very cute and much more relaxed (not to mention enthusiastic) than people on this show normally are. It’s nice to see.
Of course, Alicia’s smile disappears soon after she takes a call on her cell. “Mrs. Florrick,” Lemond Bishop’s voice comes over the phone, “I just wanted to wish you good luck today.” She thanks him happily — that is, until she realizes who’s calling, which has her hustling off the phone in record time. At his kitchen island, Bishop packs Dylan’s lunch box, considering his abrupt dismissal with both puzzlement and annoyance. Oh dear.
“Dylan, why don’t you wait for Kalinda in the other room?” he suggests, polite as ever, and of course Dylan assents. Uh oh. “Is everything all right, Mr. Bishop?” Kalinda asks. I don’t know, he frowns, his hands on his hips. “I put a lot of money into Alicia’s campaign. I didn’t do it because I’m a nice guy.” I guarantee you no one thought that you did, Mr. Bishop. I doubt anyone has assigned you that motive in your entire adult life. “I know Alicia needs to keep me at arms length for appearance’s sake,” he observes, walking toward the tiny investigator, “but I will still need her help, when I need her help.” Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear. She’s not avoiding you because she want to still associate with you, Lemond.
I think Kalinda could get work as a diplomat if this detective business ever flags. “If she wins, Alicia will be leaving the law firm,” she notes, neutral. He does know that. And he wants Kalinda to be his go-between when Alicia’s at the SA’s office. Well, first of all, how many favors does he thinks she owes him, and second, because she’s so close to Alicia? I’m sorry, sir, she shakes her head, I don’t think I can do that. “Yes you can,” he insists pitilessly.
What on earth is R.D.’s shirt? There are layers of plaid, yes, but is that an animal print rounding over his stomach as well? Wow. Kurt claps him on the shoulder and struts back to his breakfast table to report his successful mission to Diane; they’ll be in the blind with Gil Barage. As she’s grinning and kissing him her thanks, Gil calls for attention. “It’s good to see you all again this year,” he greets his fellow one percenters in a thick southern accent. “It’s been an interesting year, we had our ups and downs. The Republican Senate,” he adds, pausing for enthusiastic applause. You almost can see Diane’s skin crawling. “Now you know what it’s like for me among your friends,” Kurt leans in to whisper. Gil has a gift for the group to celebrate this historic turn of events. “Sacrificing welfare virgins?” Diane snarks for Kurt’s ear only. (Ha!) Oh no, Diane. It’s so much better. It’s a spa day for all the wives, so they’re not left to their own devices during this self-proclaimed weekend of testosterone heavy blood-lust. Ha ha ha ha ha ha!
“Ladies, if you’d be so kind as to follow Darla through the lobby,” Gil says, waving, and a staff member appears at the back of the dining room. “Like hell I’m going,” Diane tells her husband in outrage, but R.D. thumps him on the shoulder (and okay, maybe it’s just that his camo snow pants are bib-style) and Kurt’s forced to leave her to pedicures and back massages. You can chase your quarry tonight, he promises. “Are you serious? You’re seriously thinking of leaving me alone with all these Republican women?” she asks, horrified. I love you, he says, kissing her on her cheek. “I’ll bring you home an antlered buck.” This is sexist, she hisses. Yes, but there’s no help for it. “Oh dear God,” she sighs, hesitating before joining the squealing mass of well-heeled trophy wives.
“What can I say?” Peter’s sultry voice begins the next segment, “I am a proud husband and an even prouder governor.” At what must be the governor’s mansion’s press room, Mandy Post asks if he’s looking forward to working with Alicia if she wins. This seems to be a very informal press conference – some folks are standing, some are sitting. “As long as I don’t get on her bad side,” he jokes, and as always the room laughs with him. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Alicia can be pretty tough.” Though there’s more laughter, Peter’s starting to worry Eli, who tries unsuccessfully to cut the questioning short. “You know, all those years I was out running for office, Alicia was the one who held the family together.” Yeah, let’s not forget the years you were on trial or in jail, either. “She’s committed, she’s focused, and she’s going to be an excellent State’s Attorney.”
You sound confident, Mandy observes. That’s because he is. Oh, the polls won’t close for a long time, Eli tries to reign his man in. “As far as I’m concerned, you can take it to the bank,” Peter states, and Eli stares at him in horror, and then we see a clip of this being played on ChumHum. “There’s no question in my mind, Alicia Florrick’s going to be the next State’s Attorney for Cook County.” What in bloody hell is he doing, Josh Mariner stares aghast at his laptop screen. “He just slaughtered us like blah blah blah cattle!” In the background, Elfman gets on his phone.
In Alicia’s living room, Marissa instructs her candidate on the ways of Halo. (I look good, Alicia grins, though she’s so swathed in fatigues I can’t see how she knows that; Marissa insists that being an avatar bumps up your bra size by a letter, which I’m sure is true even if I can’t see it here.) While she tries to learn how to shoot, she takes the call from Elfman explaining why Peter’s stated confidence in her is actually bad: overconfidence will suppress voter turn out. In an election that’s all about turn out, they don’t want her voters to think she doesn’t need them. “Oh,” she says, getting it.
“Yeah, ‘Oh,'” Elfman snaps. “He just screwed you. You’re five points up…” Wait, it’s five now? “…but only if they vote! Only if they come out! If they stay home, if they think you’re secure, you will lose.” Alicia looks grim. “Alicia, do you hear me?” She does. “Why is he doing this?” Says the man who pushed her to throw Peter under the bus! Gee, let’s guess. “I don’t know,” she replies, which is dumb. He’s got three more interviews to do, but Peter can’t keep saying this, Elfman warns his candidate. Can he walk it back? No, probably not. “But remember when I told you I thought we were good?” Yeah, she answers. “We’re not good,” the Haircut replies. One of the two avatars cocks her gun, and it appears that Alicia’s in its sights.
YAY!!!!!!! Stay not good, please, please, puh-leeze stay not good!
Oh, come on. Tell me you weren’t thinking the same thing.
So what’s a girl to do? Alicia gates crashes a medal ceremony where Peter’s giving plaques to the police, and with one look at her face, Eli hustles the two of them into a back room. “Well, you look unhappy, so I must have done something wrong,” Peter half jokes, playing the put upon husband. Curious that Eli didn’t mention it, isn’t it, because Eli certainly knew he did something wrong. And Peter is far too savvy not to know; he’s just playing dumb, maybe even to himself. Come on Peter, you know what you did, she says.
“Well, I know that I gave you a rave as a leader, and as a great decider,” he replies. A great decider? She’s George Bush now? “I also know that on a day I was supposed to be talking about pensions, I’m doing crime related photo ops to help you. So what else did I…” I hate him when he’s being self-righteous, and clearly so does Alicia, because she tells him just what he did, and they argue about whether Elfman’s vote suppression theory is correct or just “handler speak.” I told the truth, Peter finally declares. “The Truth. You remember that?” Hello, pot.
“You don’t want me to win,” Alicia realizes, suddenly looking as if he’d smacked her between the eyes with something hard, and Eli turns to her with alarm. “I don’t want you to win? Really?” Peter asks, giving Eli a look that says ‘can you believe her?’ Yes, she says, stunned and stricken. “I just figured it out. You want to be the only winner in the family.” Though he claims to have bent over backwards to help her win, I can’t help thinking she’s at least a little right. I can see her ascendancy being hard for him to swallow – especially now that she’s made it clear that she won’t remain his biddable creature. Of course, as soon as she had the high hand she loses it before bringing up his “banging” of Ramona. Sigh.
“If that’s what bothering you, just say it,” Peter turns on her. “I did just say it,” Alicia snaps, very self-righteous for someone who almost certainly just banged her campaign manager. “You promised me you wouldn’t see her anymore!” Does that mean he’s seeing her again, or just that he didn’t stop the first time? Why is this even the problem? I’m so tired of their bickering. He wants credit for being a fan; she wants him to acknowledge that he knows better than to ad lib his interviews. Stop coming to me with your problems if you don’t like how I handle them, he snaps, and head up, she declares she won’t, and commands that Eli cancel the remaining two interviews. She stomps away in high dungeon; that just gives me more time to serve my state, Peter calls after her, as a very embarrassed Eli grips his temples in distress.
Someone has photoshopped a sign onto the enormous luxury hunting lodge building (damn, I know I’ve seen this place before) saying Blakestone Spa. “The thing is,” one blond southerner in a spa bathrobe insists to another, “the employment statistics are misleading, because everyone’s only working part time.” Okay, maybe. “Because of Obamacare.” Okay, now you lost me. Diane rolls her eyes. The bathrobes are extremely fluffy, off white with a light gray geometric pattern that looks Native American inspired. “And that’s not even counting the people who’ve stopped looking for work,” a non-southerner adds in. “Which is why the unemployment statistics are so low,” a third agrees. Happily for Diane, that’s when her phone rings.
“It was his wife,” Cary says. Excuse me? It seems that Gil Barage’s wife convinced him that Soule & Augstine weren’t in tune to the needs of a tech prodigy. Ah. “He’s henpecked,” David Lee adds on speaker phone. It’s so weird, seeing Cary all chummy with David Lee. Where’s Other Carey, or any of the rest of the rebels? Surely he has alternatives. This is not very believable. “He does whatever she says just to shut her up.” Huh. Interesting. “She’s there, right?” Cary asks. “She’s about ten feet away from me, waiting to get her toes done,” Diane tells them, watching the blond from the dining room sip what’s probably a mimosa, a strawberry perched on top. I’ll call you back, Diane whispers, hiding her mouth with pale pink finger tips. “Get the wife, get the husband,” David calls out as she cuts off the call. And so she tucks her phone into her robe pocket, and commences the hunt.
“Hi,” she says, crossing the room, “Diane.” “Georgette,” the young woman smiles, a Georgia Peach Barbie Doll, then wags her finger at Diane. “You’re the one who wanted to go shooting’, aren’t cha?” Diane admits it with a laugh; silly me, she says, waving her own mimosa. “Yeah,” Georgette confesses, “it’s a lot of cigars and corporate loopholes talk.” In other words, totally Diane’s thing. (Well, maybe. I’ve never seen her with a cigar, though I wouldn’t put it past her.) “Why don’t you sit on down?” Georgette offers, pointing to the ottoman next to her. The spa itself boasts pink walls and lots of gauzy white drapery. “I saw you with Gil at breakfast,” Diane says, “I meant to stop over and say hello.” Georgette, who has a pale sweet face like Jessica Chastain’s character in The Help, asks if this means that Diane knows Gil. No, Diane covers smoothly, I know Jim Soule, whom they both acknowledge to be Gil’s former attorney. (Promising so far!) Probably a smart move, Diane narrows her eyes as if thinking about it. “Not a good fit for a tech firm.”
“So you’re a lawyer, too,” the Georgia Peach gathers. Is it that obvious, Diane smiles modestly. (Well, your pitch could be more subtle but it wasn’t hideous.) “Naw,” Georgette waves at her, “you’re not Jewish. Gil hates all the Jews around.” Diane nearly dies. “He’s not anti-Semitic, it’s just – I used to date a Jewish guy, and I think he gets a little jealous.” Oh my God. The way Diane’s smile is just frozen onto her face… And then she tries to find a classy way to change the subject.
“So I heard you have a lot of sway with Gil,” she tries. Yes, very subtle, Diane. Man, is this how people do things? “Really? Who said that? Darla? She’s just a bitch.” Diane’s face freezes once more into the same smile. “Aw, he’s just a man, and men really want to be manipulated,” Fifties Housewife Barbie tells her shocked audience. “Where’s your firm, anyway?” Chicago, Diane says, because obviously someone with their headquarters in Austin would do well to have their lawyers in a different time zone. “Really?” Georgette coos, hand to her slender clavicle, “I love Chicago.”
Oh dear God.
And thankfully, we’re back on a snowy downtown Chicago street now during Dylan’s drive to school. He’s chattering away about how he wanted to go to Disney World, but his Dad said maybe next year, and how he’s seen a pool with a window in the side of it, but his Dad wouldn’t let him swim up to it, and it’s all kinds of sad, how lonely and isolated he is. Kalinda’s not really paying attention, because she’s watching an SUV with greenish headlights several cars back. Still being followed, I guess? Politely, Kalinda asks Dylan to put on his headphones so she can call Lemond and report about the situation.
“It’s behind me,” she says. “Two occupants, one black, one white.” Okay. I see it, he says, I’m behind it, and she looks back and notices a car with orange-y headlines behind the SUV. “Okay, Kalinda,” he says. “Here’s what I need you to do. See the light up ahead?” She does. “Don’t move when it turns green,” Bishop instructs her. “Don’t hang up,” he adds, and she complies — leaving the phone on, stopping, not moving when the light shifts. “Now,” we can hear Bishop bellow over speakerphone when the light turns green. “Go now!” And so two of his stateliest goons stomp out of his car and pull the two men out of the black SUV.
“You can go, Kalinda,” Bishop says. “Take Dylan to school.”
Oh my God. What was that? Even Kalinda’s horrified. “Is everything alright, sir?” she asks. “It is now,” he replies.
A news report informs us that we’re three hours into voting, and the lines at the poll are getting crowded. The lines are getting crowded? Surely there was a more elegant way to say that. “Both camps express confidence as they calmly wait for exit polls.” Sadly, there is nothing calm about the way Josh and Jo(h)n are arguing. What can they do to fix this free fall? Would it make sense for Peter to walk it back? How could he? Alicia arrives home with the news that she’s canceled Peter’s other speeches, and then the two fall apart wondering if this is a good thing or not. Girl Friday Marissa tells the boys not to make it Alicia’s problem, to just figure out a plan together, but of course Alicia wants to help decide their strategy. Let’s do a robocall, Josh suggests. “You know, a blah blah!” It’ll look like a desperate move, the Haircut shakes his head; we are desperate, Josh howls.
Would you stop talking to each other and start talking to me,” Alicia complains, and so Josh takes a deep breath and starts walking into the den. “First of all,” he declares, holding up his hands, “I need to say, your apartment is beautiful.”
Huh. That’s not what I was expecting. Alicia and Jo(h)n look equally unnerved.
“I just got married,” he continues, shocking me again, “I’m hiring a contractor, so that’s where my…” As he makes swirly motions around his head, the Haircut cuts him off. They’re losing time. “We’re losing a third of our vote.” A third? Holy cow. “You know that already?” Alicia gasps. He does. I guess it’s a third in general, but her precincts are the hardest hit. Can I get a whoop whoop? Don’t vote, fictional Chicagoans! “I’m losing,” she realizes, her face slack. “Well,” Josh waves his hands, “your margin of error wasn’t so, blah blah…” Yes, Jo(h)n cuts in. She’s losing. “And if turnout is this low in the burbs, Prady will win.” YES! Keep suppressing that turn out, Peter! Are we that lucky?
“Is there anything that Alicia can do about it at this point?” Marissa asks with her characteristic bluntness. “In terms of turn out? No,” the Haircut admits. Then come with me, she says, grabbing Alicia by the hand and dragging her to the gaming console. If the campaign needs her input, they can ask for it.
Josh leans against a bookshelf, pursing his lips. Who can they get to do a robocall to bring in the after work voters? (Um, why can’t Alicia do her own robocall? There’s probably a reason but it’s odd that they don’t even discuss this possibility. I know I’ve gotten robocalls made by the candidate. I mean, I hang up on them, like I do on all robocalls, but I didn’t have the impression until now that it wasn’t done.) Elfman’s take is a little different; what can they do to depress Prady’s turn out? They’ll call Peter and see.
This time Marissa practically forces the -remote? joystick?- into Alicia’s hand. “You know, the problem isn’t even losing,” Alicia observes numbly, “it’s the wasted time.” Oh my heavens, yes. How much of the viewers’ precious time has this show wasted with this hideous storyline? “And Peter,” she muses, frustrated. “Why encourage me to run if you’re just going to…” That’s when Marissa imperiously forces Alicia back into the game. “You’re JusticeGal and I’m Badasskicka.” Heh. Alicia stares at her blankly. It’s not easy — it even involves Marissa grasping Alicia’s joystick by hand — but once the petite body woman starts firing on Alicia, the depressed candidate wakes up. “You better fight or I’ll kill you,” Marissa declares. Nice. When backed into a corner, Alicia does what she’s always done; she fights back.
A giggling Georgettte calls out with a lady like wiggle of her fingers for a stronger drink. “Bourbon,” Diane suggests. “Yeah,” Georgette moans with a wide smile. “Small batch. Bring us the private reserve, the good stuff!” That’s when Diane’s robe starts ringing again, and she excuses herself.
“So,” she growls happily, “how is hunting and gathering going?” Good, Kurt tells her, standing outside, covered with snow. “Look, I need a favor: I forgot my hunting rifle in the bedroom.” Now that’s a sentence I bet Diane never expected to hear before she met him. She’s puzzled, since she saw him leave with a rifle, but it’s not the 26 inch barrel, he says, and that’s the one he wants. She smiles. “This is you being nice to me,” she realizes. “I don’t know,” he says for the benefit of Gil and R.D., in case they’re listening, “Mr. Barage and I are here in the blind, and we need the proper weaponry.”
Diane closes her eyes. “There are no words for how much I love you,” she says. “Then I’ll see you soon?” he wonders, and she smiles. “I’m on my way.”
A frustrated look on her face, Kalinda closes her car door as a school bell rings. How can she still be dropping him off? Insane. “Mrs. Bishop? Hello!” a woman’s cheery voice asks, and she startles. Um, I’m not Mrs. Bishop, she says. (Hell yeah she’s not!) “Tabitha Grey, head of the parent committee”, a woman with short hair and a pretty scarf smirks. “I’ve never seen you at parent meetings.” Yes. That would be because she’s not Mrs. Bishop, selectively deaf lady. “I just wanted to know if everything’s all right,” she asks, and before Kalinda can say that everything’s fine, Mrs. “I’d Rather Be Snotty Than Accurate” Grey mentions that she saw the whole crazy car-chase, including that Lemond (who I thought stayed in the car?) was part of it. Shoot, were they that close to the school? I don’t know how Kalinda can explain that one away, and neither does Kalinda, because after a few attempts at a polite brush off she just drives away. Did Mrs. Nosy really think Kalinda was going to have a little juicy gossip session about it?
Not that she’s wrong to be concerned, of course. I didn’t like her attitude, but that doesn’t make the situation any less alarming. She should have just called the police.
As they get deeper into the landscape of the game, Marissa continues to prod Alicia toward a stronger commitment and fuller engagement. It’s cute. And man but it’s working as a distraction. A third figure pops into their view, and both women flail rather hilariously. “He’s shooting at me! Kill him, kill him,” Marissa demands. How much would you give to see Jackie and Veronica playing this game too? Just saying. “Well, what do we have here, a couple of virgins?” Ah, Alicia screams, who is he? “Someone’s talking in my head!” The consternation on her face, it’s priceless. “I’m your worst nightmare, lady – Keith from Idaho.” “Yeah, well watch this, Keith from Idaho,” Marissa trash-talks, holding out her controller in front of her. As luck would have it, that’s when Josh and Jo(h)n decide they need Alicia’s input about this robocall they think will energize her late day supporters and get them to the polls. She doesn’t turn around, however, until her avatar has died horrifically.
“You want me to do the robocall now?” she asks. Ah, their plan is nothing that straightforward; they want to energize people to vote on a ballot initiative, one to do with parking meters. It just happens that people who care about parking are also more likely to prefer Alicia to Frank. Unsurprisingly, Alicia’s depressed by the voters lack of enthusiasm for her, but hey, look at it from your average voters’ perspective. They probably use parking meters more than they use the justice system.
Anyway. “Didn’t Dailey sell Chicago’s soul to parking meter gods?” Marissa wonders, eyes still trained on her avatar. I love that she’s following the conversation despite her headset. Yes, agrees Elfman. “For about a billion dollars in return,” Josh adds, settling into a chair in the corner and squishing his butt around to check the comfort level. “That is about the saddest … die, scumbag!” Marissa cuts of her own reply, engaged in a firefight once more. The parking initiative is winning by 6 points; the Js want Alicia to convince Peter to convince the electorate it’s losing by 6 points. (Man, I could have spent the last however many episodes calling them Miss Jay and Mister Jay! How did I miss that opportunity? Oh well. It wouldn’t have been very nice.) He saves face and gets Alicia’s voters to the polls at the same time.
“He won’t do it,” Alicia says glumly. “He will if he knows you’re going to lose,” Elfman counters. “That’s why he won’t,” Alicia replies. Alicia, Josh tells her, all his overblown mannerisms worn away, we are at that point where you could lose the election. “I know,” Alicia repeats wearily, “and I’m the last person Peter would do it for.”
Okay, the Haircut cuts in, we need someone people implicitly trust to record the call for us. “What about what’s his name? The oatmeal guy, blah blah blah,” Josh suggests, leaping to his feet in excitement. Who knew that he ever leapt? The Quaker guy, Marissa asks. “No,” Josh says, doing this nutty thing with his arms, imitating a commercial in a quavery voice. “I eat oatmeal. I’m old, and I eat oatmeal!” Wilford Brimley, Alicia guesses. Yep, that’s the one, but as Elfman points out, he’s shuffled off this mortal coil and so is unavailable for stumping. Josh’s next suggestion is the president, and no, not Obama. Everyone stares blankly at him. “Why am I the only one thinking here?” he asks, literally tugging on two large chunks of his own hair. “Martin Sheen?” Marissa guesses. Ha! Wonderful. Of course that’s who he means. Okay, it’s scaring me that I’m on his wavelength, Marissa snarks. They’ve got two hours to record and air a call, so whoever they get, they better get cracking. Huh. Better not a “leaf peeping” style issue with recording it then, huh?
And now we come to my least favorite scene in the entire episode, which is saying something. It’s so excruciatingly embarrassing that I’m just going to sum things up. With the crackle of hand held radios announcing her arrival, Diane pulls into the blind with Kurt’s rifle and news that the deer are being flushed toward them. She too is covered in snow on every inch of her body, even her lopsided hat. Graciously, R.D. invites her to join them, much to her joy. “Is this your first time?” Gil asks, and when she says yes, she’s never shot anything live, he jokingly tells her they won’t make her drink the blood. I have to say, there’s something about him that bothers me. Or maybe it was the anti-Semitic thing? Diane laughs far too loudly and for too long long – it’s too obviously insincere, and he notices. She immediately and without subtlety or even so much as a how-do you do starts pitching Gil Barage. “Georgettte told me the way to get at your good side is to get you laughing,” she says, and it’s clear this makes him distrustful of her, if he wasn’t already for being a woman in the blinds. Just what else did Georgette tell you, he asks, his tone a little hostile.
I have no stomach for humiliation, and pretty much every nerve in my body was screaming when Diane presses and presses. Georgette said that he didn’t like his law firm, that he wanted one with more political connections, that she just loves Chicago. That’s about the point where he excuses himself and tells R.D. he wants to change blinds. Oh, perfectly normal, he claims, but it’s obvious to an otherwise tone deaf Diane that he’s leaving because of her. “Did I say something wrong?” she asks Kurt, stunned, and I’m expecting him to say that she came on way, way too strong, but he doesn’t. Instead he asks R.D. to cover it, and the coordinator, who’s just called over his radio for everyone to stand down so that Gil doesn’t get shot, considers. “Well,” he guesses, “I can think of one thing. Georgette isn’t his wife. She’s his call girl.”
Oh my God, is he kidding? Are they kidding? I mean, not that she ever actually called Georgette his wife, but man. So much for family values. Also, it’s unexpected, seeing a guy that young, handsome and rich paying for sex. I suppose when you’re that rich, maybe it’s nice to just know that someone’s only after a certain amount of your money? To have it all out on the table? I don’t know. It’s still creepy and sad.
“Kurt’s talking to Gil on the eastern blind,” R.D. tells Diane, who’s sitting in a camp chair looking out at the snowy wilderness. Why didn’t Kurt warn her? Ugh. “Everything’s fine. He might even come back.” R.D. lumbers into his own camp chair. “I didn’t know,” Diane tells him, making a sad moue. “It didn’t seem like she was … working.” That is kind of weird, right, that he bought a spa day for all these other women to spend time with his fake wife? I guess he was pretty confident that they’d all keep his secret. “We’ve been letting him get away with that for a few years now,” R.D. reveals, pouring himself something out of a thermos. “We said he could either bring a call girl or a Democrat. People voted, and said they’d rather the call girl.” That was a joke, right, Diane asks, unsure of herself. No, he says simply, and she’s surprised again. In a small voice, she asks whether there was a vote about her. She sucks in a deep breath, waiting for the answer.
“What about you,” he wonders. “Being a Democrat?” she asks, still nervous, and R.D. chuckles a very Diane-like chuckle. “Well,” he says slowly, “I suppose yer husband is conservative enough for the both of you.” That’s true enough. He offers her a paper cup full of warm liquid, and she takes it gladly. “So what should we talk about?” R.D. asks as he pours himself a cup. “Killing babies?” He gives her a challenging, happy look that’s closely related to a wink. Diane stares back, appraising the situation, before smiling. “Sure. Why the hell not? We both have rifles. Let’s see what comes of this.” She smirks at him, and he raises his paper cup in her direction.
Both Alicia and Marissa are on their feet, yelling for help getting to an ammo dump, wondering where the rest of their team is. I love that they have a team now. It’s a lot of guns for one episode, but it’s still pretty entertaining. Watch out behind you to left, Marissa actually screams, then returns to her normal cheery deliver. “Hey, we’ve got a friendly, he just rescued you!” she observes. They read his screen name, CoolBeans032. “Thanks CoolBeans,” Marissa flirts. “We got some nerds from Seattle after us, wanna run with us?” Sure, this way, a deep voice declares, and as the avatar jumps an astonishing distance I realize I know who it is. “Okay, I’ve been here before, stay to the left,” he warns as they vault through the virtual landscape.
“Finn?” Alicia asks. Yep – there he is at work. At first I wonder how he could possibly be doing this in the middle of the day, until I remember he doesn’t work for the State’s Attorney’s office anymore, he works for himself. So if business is slow, why not? “Hey JusticeGirl,” he says. “You know, you’re wracking up some pretty big kills.” She laughs in sheer delight. Man, it’s been so long since we’ve seen her this loose. “Thanks,” she grins. “Best election day gift ever.” You’re welcome, he says, and saves her again.
In the background, Johnny Elfman is on the phone with Martin Sheen. As he begs, Josh crosses into the kitchen introducing himself to Bradley Whitford. Okay, what’s not to love about all the West Wing name dropping here? Nothing. Nothing. It’s the best. (I am taking my victories any way I can. I am trying so damn hard!) Sheen suggests one of the other cast members, Elfman tells Josh, one Melissa Fitzgerald, who played one of the secretaries. “Oooh, the one who died?” Josh asks, once again proving how badly he’d fail the game “Dead or Alive.” And his lack of knowledge of actor’s names.
“I don’t know, should I call,” the Haircut wonders. “It’s not as impressive as the fictional president, the fictional dead secretary to the fictional president.” Oh, no, she’d have been cool. She had an awesome voice. “It’s 2:30, we need someone, call her,” Josh decides, and the two spin off in opposite directions.
“The Supreme Court has upheld a woman’s right to choose since 1973,” Diane argues. This does not impress R.D., who drinks. “And they’ve done so repeatedly, even with Scalia and Alito on the court.” 2 conservative Catholics does not a majority make, Madam. “They also held up Dred Scott,” the portly gentleman observes. Yep, that’s a good point; the court makes mistakes. The rest of the civilized world laughs at us about this, Diane tells him. Not to court controversy, but abortion is one issue where I genuinely think both sides are right. I don’t know what to do about it, but I think that’s why it’s such a pervasive issue.
Anyway. R.D.’s muttering Latin under his breath, and Diane laughs. “So now we drag out the Latin,” she asks, pointing out that the original hippocratic oath required doctors to swear by Apollo, something we’ve long since discarded. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the original hippocratic oath would also have been in Greek, not Latin. Just saying. Hippocrates wasn’t Roman. “A woman who knows her Latin, I’m impressed,” he says, his eyes on the forest. Anyway, if you look at this Latin to English translation of the oath, you can see the segment he’s referencing: ‘Simili autem modo neque mulieri pessumabortivum concedam,’ which means ‘Just so, I will not grant a woman an abortifacient pessary.’
Diane will take credit for knowing Latin – and also claim her right to choose. “Notice the word,” she presses. He wonders if she’s ever seen a five month old fetus (she hasn’t, while he claims he’s seen a woman dead from a botched back alley abortion), and brings up the changing line of viability, something this show has actually dealt with before. (On, come to think of it, an episode which featured one of the secretaries from The West Wing.) “But I also know that sciences gives that fetus a 20-30% survival rate at five months, all right? In other words, at the same moment any woman in America…” And the world, Diane interrupts. “And the world,” he agrees, “can get an abortion, science gives that infant a 30% chance of survival.” I don’t know where he’s getting this number. It says nothing about his cause, but 5 months is 20 weeks as medical professionals put things, and the survival rate at 20 weeks is pretty nearly zero. You have to go up to 23 weeks to get to the survival rate he quoted. (Like I’ve said before, as a woman who lived through multiple high risk pregnancies and a life-threatening one, this is a subject I’m intimately familiar with.)
“So,” Diane asks. “What? Abortion is murder?” Duh, that’s obviously what he’s saying. At six months, survival goes up to 50%, he continues. (Now that part’s right. By 24 weeks, it’s fifty percent.) “You would put women in jail?” Diane asks. “Come on, imprison them?” I’m not saying that, he says. “Yes you are,” she charges, “what is the option?” He looks even grumpier. “Admit the facts,” he demands. “Don’t look away from the aborted fetus! Look at it! Why is it not a baby?” Good question again. He frowns, thinking. “And why are we kitsch-ifying these babies,” he wonders. “Good word,” she interrupts. “Thank you,” he nods, “why are we kitschifying babies and turning them into these Raphael cherubs at the same time we’re aborting 1.2 million of them?” “Because it’s legal,” she says (yuck, what a terrible defense), “and because you still haven’t answered the question. What are the options?”
“I don’t have to have an option,” he says. “It’s not up to me to have an option.” Because you’re a man, she snaps, her voice deepening in anger. Exactamundo. “Come on, that’s beneath you,” he tells her, waving his paper cup in her direction. “No it’s not, because I just said it,” she replies. Why is that beneath her? It IS easy to say that a solution isn’t necessary when not having one can’t impact you. “And you still haven’t answered.” Yup. This is why this argument is so hard (and so fascinating). Both sides are right. Both sides are wrong. “Look, I like people,” he says finally, slumped into his camp chair, blending into the landscape like a nearby stump. “I like you! You seem smart, I think. What’s to say that next fetus wouldn’t turn into you? Or me? And what would be lost to the world if it were to be aborted?” She smiles slightly at him.
“Would you guys shush?” someone hisses over the radio, “here they come!” Both Diane and R.D. tense and lean forward, looking. “Here they come,” he says, and Diane rolls her eyes and stands. Is it too obvious to call this irony, that the pro-lifer is rushing to kill, and the pro-choice supporter is I guess fighting with herself about exercising a right to choose? Not wanting to violate the sanctity of life?
Nervously, Kalinda waits outside Dylan’s school listening to election analysis on the radio. He’s late. “Are you looking for Dylan?” Mrs. Nosy Grey asks. “He’s inside. With the headmaster.” Why, Kalinda wonders, and Nosy just shoots her a very dirty look and walks away.
And so Kalinda runs into the very beautiful school building, and finds Dylan sitting in the hallway outside the Headmaster’s office. “This is not up for discussion,” a voice says. Dylan’s not a good fit for this school. “His grades are stellar,” Lemond Bishop’s voice reaches out in outrage. “His fees are paid!” Nevertheless, they’re kicking him out to keep the rest of the school safe. Quickly, Kalinda grabs the boy’s violin case. Let’s go, she says. Your Dad will meet us at home.
There’s Melissa Fitzgerald on Skype or FaceTime, who was, huh, C.J’s assistant? Yes. Carol. And she definitely looks nothing like the dearly departed Kathryn Joosten, who played the dearly departed Mrs. Landingham. She reads out a script riddled with inaccuracies including not only her character name but even the show’s name. “We’re going to send you a blah blah,” Josh tells her, after blaming a fictional intern and having Marissa step in to say that the real script is on the way. “I know if you’re anything like me, you hate overpaying for parking.” I don’t drive, she admits ruefully, scrunching her face at the line. “I take Ubers.” Ha. Well, hey, you’re an actress, right? “Do you want me to say, ‘if you’re anything like my friends’…” Then his phone rings, and he calls her Miss Landingham and says he’ll have to get back to her. Dude, social skills. They’re really not that difficult.
“What about the morning after pill, it’s proven, it’s effective,” Diane says as both she and R.D. stand, rifles pointed into the forest. He shushes her. Why is the effectiveness of the pill the point? “Right there, you see it?” he says, and she does see it, a doe eating a tree branch. Her “yes” is high pitched and squeaky. It’s right there, he says, you got the line of sight, take the shot. “I can’t,” she answers, “not like this.”
“Come on,” he says. “It’s a pest. Deer are a hazard, they carry ticks. They’re overpopulated. If you won’t take the shot I will.” Slowly, she puts her finger on the trigger, but can’t pull it. “It’s just grazing, it’s not doing anything.” What did you expect it would do? Charge you? “Would you do it if it were charging you?” he says (bwah!), making a clicking noise that startles the deer so that it runs. “There you go,” he says. She follows the deer with her rifle sight. “It’s on the move! Take it down, take it down! If you don’t I will!” You can hear her panicked breathing. She follows the doe with her eyes and her gun, follows it, follows, squints, and bang! It almost looks like he shot too, the way his arm snapped back Did they both shoot? The deer is down. Diane looks at R.D., breathing hard, elated and confused and horrified. The deer doesn’t get up.
And back at Alicia’s apartment, her dynamic duo is watching a news report suggesting that Peter made a gaffe when he claimed that Alicia was a slam dunk. They got the first batch of exit polls, and the results have Josh seeking solace in a donut; Prady’s hitting his numbers and better, while Alicia’s turn out is, as predicted, depressed. Alicia’s staff is depressed. “So what does that mean,” she presses. “It means you such start working on your concession speech,” Elfman admits. If only! Also, mmm, donuts.
“Come on, it’s not over,” Finn tries to cheer Alicia up over another round of Halo. I’ve been around politics long enough to know, she says. “If you’re chasing robocalls, hoping to get a last minute boost at the polls, you’re doomed.” She switched to a first person pov; instead of her avatar we see the gun right in front of her face. That’s Marissa off on a phone call, which means that Alicia has graduated to playing on her own! Or, well, maybe not, because she’s still got Finn. “Not until the last vote is cast,” he say. No, really, I’m okay with it, she insists, resigned. “Alicia!” he scolds, calling her on this pessimism. I mean it, though, she says. “Most first time candidates don’t succeed.” You ran a great race, he tells her, and she thinks about it. “No. I didn’t,” she admits. Oh, there were highlights. The debate. The way your tried to be straight with Prady, not smear him. Taking money from Lemond Bishop and then lying about it, that part not so much. Taking money from Guy Redmayne, not so much. So many tests that she failed… “The right man’s winning,” she admits, quite, her mouth tight.
She can’t see Finn raise his eyebrows at this. “Well did you write a concession speech,” he asks. Turns out despite her crack about bad luck to Elfman, that was the first thing she did after declaring. Really? She’s not going give Frank the same speech she would have given to Castro, is she? And the thing is, she adds, losing is actually a relief. That’s right, because then you don’t have to do the job you don’t even know if you want. As hard as campaigning was, doing good with the job would be that much more challenging, and without all the advisors and the roadmaps. “Well then,” Finn says, “congratulations.” Indeed. What else can you say?
I just told Elfman I wouldn’t do the robocall, Peter tells Eli, crossing to straddle a wooden chair in his office. This news does not please his chief of staff; Alicia’s defeat could be a major embarrassment, he says. He can already hear pundits playing the stupid film of Peter saying you can take her candidacy to the bank over and over. Yeah, but the call’s stupid and obvious and he just won’t sully himself with it. Oh, good to know your standards are so high, Peter! Fine, snaps Eli. Then what’s your solution?
It’s a nice echo of Diane’s query to R.D. — and just in case we didn’t see the parallel, we return to the gun control advocate as a beautifully composed plate of venison, mashed potatoes and vegetables is set before her in the rustic dining room. Red meat, in all its glory. She stares at it guiltily. Oh, she startles when she notices R.D. at her elbow, garbed in another flannel shirt and vest. “Is that, um, mine?” She means the deer she shot, of course. Congratulations, he smiles. “Good shot.”
He leaves, and Kurt arrives, and Diane pushes the food around her plate with what’s no doubt solid gold flatware. She starts to cut a piece of the meat, and takes a deep breath. Oh, come on, Diane. I am not a hunting person — more of a gun control gal — but surely you dishonor what you did if you refuse to eat it. You make its sacrifice, as it were, a waste. You all right, her husband asks. Yes, she says, but it’s clear she isn’t. “It’s just meat, we eat it every day,” he reminds her. Yes, she agrees, “but someone else kills it in some God-forsaken slaughterhouse, while… I killed it,” she says, pointing to her plate with her fork and knife. “In nature.” He starts to say something, and when she shrugs as if to admit she’s being irrational, he backs off. “You don’t need to do it again,” he reminds her. “You don’t need to hunt.”
“You don’t understand,” she tells him in a quiet voice, and I know what’s coming, because we’ve heard this kind of thing from her before, wrestling with the different sides of her nature. She stares him down. “I liked it,” she admits, and the admission is painful sounding-enough that he grabs her hand and squeezes it silently.
And then her phone rings, and rolling her eyes, she takes the call.
“We’ve got good news and better news,” Cary says, standing with David in what must be his, previously unseen office. I kept thinking it was Diane’s, what with all the windows behind the desk, but it’s not. First, Gil Barage is definitely in play; he thought his previous firm had too many conflicts of interests. Thanks, she says,”but I think Gil Barage may be a non-starter.” What did you do, Diane, David snipes. “Or what didn’t you do?” Too long and complicated, she shakes her head; what’s the other news. “Well,” Cary says, “it turns out the fourth richest man in America’s at your little shindig.” I guess that might follow. But who? “Reese Dipple,” David supplies the name, “He’s right behind Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Larry Ellison.” Reese Dipple, Diane repeats (and wow, that’s an unfortunate name); you don’t know who he is because his businesses are all unsexy things like pulp and paper. “Mostly gives to anti-choice causes.”
And it’s good that Diane wasn’t drinking anything, because she totally would have sucked it down the wrong way or sprayed it all over the room. That’s a classic spit-take moment. R.D., she asks, looking at the humble-seeming man currently chatting with Georgette the Call Girl Barbie. Yeah, Cary says, did you meet him? Well, Diane hedges, not willing to make more assumptions, what does he look like. Ah, he’s notoriously camera shy. No one knows. How is that even possible in this day and age? Crazy. She’s sure as heck going to do her best to find out.
And there’s the now familiar election report theme. Kalinda and Lemond watch the coverage, with only an hour and a half left before the polls close. “I need to talk to you about something,” he says, getting out a decanter to pour for them both. When he sees her hesitating (and why is she even there this late?) he asks pointedly what else she’d prefer. No sir, that’s fine, she caves, and he pours.
“This is the third school Dylan has had to leave,” he confesses. “Look, I’m sure you’ll find a good school,” she says, so awkward. “And that school will ask him to leave,” he predicts. “My life is strangling any chance of him living his.” Wow. I mean, I’ve been saying that forever, but it still surprises me to hear him admit it. Instead of commenting on this, Kalinda drinks.
“You’re being followed, Kalinda,” Lemond tells her abruptly. What? Turns out that those guys in the SUV weren’t following Dylan. They were following Kalinda, and they were set on her by Geneva Pine. Say what????? Oh my gosh. Why isn’t Bishop in jail for dragging two cops out of their car? Holy crap. It takes a while to sink in (especially since it doesn’t all make sense), and she fights it going down, pretending she hasn’t heard, pretending it’s no big deal. Is this about her hacking into the CPD computers? Or the fact that Geneva been sick of losing to her for half a decade? Or – man. Kalinda swallows hard.
News anchor Rob Johnson gives us precinct data about low turn out in areas expected to boost Alicia’s total. Josh listens with his wrists crossed over his chest and his hands wrapped around his own throat. With only 46% of precincts reporting, Rob says, it remains too close to call; this analysis doesn’t cheer Josh, who observes that the Loop and the city districts will run Prady, and then they’ll be buried. Wow, that is the best news I’ve heard all day. Jo(h)n and Josh yell at Marissa for making herself a loud cup of cappuccino. “At least I have a skill to fall back on if this falls through,” she smirks, mincing off with her steaming mug.
Wait, if this falls through? Does that mean she intends to work at the SA’s office if Alicia gets elected? Somehow, I was not expecting that.
You know what you should do, Finn tells Alicia over her headset. Plan something fun for tomorrow, just in case. Go out to dinner with somebody. “That’s what I do when I’m waiting for a verdict to come in.” He and Alicia have the same glazed over look R.D. sported out in the blinds, looking so hard that they’re not looking at all. “Thanks,” Alicia tells Marissa after the latter sets down the mug beside her. “If I have any more coffee I’m gonna be up straight through tomorrow.” Alicia saves Finn’s life this time. “Good shot, thanks,” he says. “Don’t mention it, partner,” she coos. And hey, he’s right. Would he like to go to dinner tomorrow? And yeah, that’s when things get awkward. He already has plans. He has a date, in fact. He’s seeing someone now.
He feels like a jerk for turning her down considering that he suggested it. Would she like him to reschedule? No, of course she doesn’t. Though she doesn’t seem super thrown by this news (only moderately thrown), Finn doesn’t really know that, and so when Elfman demands her immediate presence, and she gets off the game, he takes off his own headset, frowning, clearly thinking she reacted badly. And actually, once she doesn’t have the game to distract her, Alicia seems just as thrown as Finn.
She shakes it off, however, and heads into the kitchen where Josh is happily pushing at Jo(h)n’s shoulder over and over in the manner of puppies and small boys. What’s going on, she asks. What’s going on is that Peter’s making an impromptu speech downtown, and so snarling traffic in Prady’s key districts. Oh, charming. That’s a dirty trick I’m sure no one in the press will ever figure out. It’s so subtle. Did he know this would happen, Josh wonders, that it would smother the afterwork turn out? No, decides the Haircut, not after he fought us all day. “He knew,” Alicia tells them with quiet surety.
Which means, perhaps, that he wants her to know she needed him. That he could make or break her.
As nights falls on that stunning hunting lodge, Diane continues to stare at her meat. I like the crossed lengths of mini asparagus over the potato. Pretty. “What’s the matter, don’t like our venison?” R.D. asks, plunking himself down in Kurt’s seat. “Ah, no, I’m just not hungry,” she lies, and then she leans over. “Reese.” He smirks, impressed, I think, that she figured it out. “Never really liked that name,” he tells her. He gets up, and she shrugs, and then he sits back down. “Aren’t you going to pitch me?” R.D. wonders, and after her display with Gil I certainly don’t blame him for asking. She smirks. “Is there any reason to?” she asks, incredulous. “I am looking fer a new law firm,” he offers. “Mr. Dibble, we spent two hours arguing over abortion,” she reminds him. Very enjoyable hours, he nods. “I like working with people I don’t necessarily agree with.”
This takes her aback.
She shakes her head at him. “We won’t argue any anti-choice cases,” she sets her limit, which is a completely fascinating pitch. “Pro-life cases?” he tries. No, not those either. He smiles. He can live with that. “Give me a call on Friday,” he offers. “We’ll talk.” After he leaves, she takes a small, triumphant bite of the venison.
The precincts will close in 12 – no, 11 seconds. Will they call it right at seven, Marissa wonders. (Huh – our polls close at 8. Seems more fair to all the after work voters. I guess you have to call it sometime, though.) Only if the results are trending strongly enough, Josh says, pacing. Marissa and Alicia are watching the news on the television set for the first time today. CBS is prepared to make a prediction in the race, Rob Johnson says. Josh sits on the couch, leans in between Marissa and Alicia and holds out his hands so they can clasp them together like pageant contestants ready to hear who’s crowned Miss Universe. Neither woman notices, and after an awkward moment he drops his hands down. “And we’ll have those results for you after the break.” All three collapse onto their seats in frustration.
That’s very funny, since the show itself goes to commercial, but this isn’t American Idol. That’s not how election results go. No one would use a cheap cliffhanger when viewers could — and would — just turn the channel to get the news. Or worse yet for the network news, google the results.
It’s a busy night as results continue to stream in, Rob Johnson tells us, and as promised, we can make a call in the Cook County State’s Attorney race. Yeeeees? Alicia draws in a deep breath. Josh looks like he’s praying, palms pressed together over the tip of his nose. “In a race with enough star power to fuel a dozen State Attorney battles, legal commentator Frank Prady faced attorney and wife of the governor Alicia Florrick.” They flash a picture of Frank, which revolves to become a picture of Alicia, with a big red check mark next to her name.
Oh, goody. That’s just swell.
I mean, it’s not a surprise — they have been setting this up forever – but uuuuuuuuuuuuugh. The Good Wife we know is dead: long live The Good Wife?
As Rob makes it official, and cuts to a view of the campaign office where thrilled supporters are cracking champagne, Alicia and Josh and Marissa leap to their feet, squealing and hugging each other. Soon Josh goes running off — presumably in search of the inexplicably missing campaign manager — and Alicia’s phone buzzes with a call from Peter. Beaming, she answers it, and is immediately deflated when it’s Eli who answers instead of her husband. “There’s nothing like your first win,” he smiles. I suppose, she says, flapping her hands, “it’s a bit surreal.”
And so he delivers one of his patented downers. They’ll be bursting your bubble soon enough, so savor tonight! Gee, thanks, Eli. Drink now, for tomorrow we die! Is Peter coming to the victory party, she wonders, hesitating. Of course, Eli promises. We’ll see you there. Instead of following her staff out of the room once the call is over, Alicia gets stopped by the commentators wondering what Frank will do now. He’ll be making his concession speech in an hour, his campaign has said, so at least that’s one thing; who knows whether or not he’s done with politics. Alicia picks up her phone again.
And there he is, Frank Prady, sitting in his car, looking utterly wrecked as only David Hyde Pierce can look. Maybe more so, considering how scruffy he is now. He’s watching a cross walk light, mesmerized, until Alicia slips into his car, already dressed for her party and speech in (what else) a black coat and red dress. “Thank you for meeting me like this,” she says. “No problem,” he says, rather clipped and pained. “It gives me a chance to concede in person.” It’s too awkward, and she laughs and hangs her head. “Sorry,” she apologizes quietly, but he really doesn’t mind. “So, what couldn’t wait,” he wonders, cocking his head and looking at her.
“Come work with me,” she offers, which is the sop to every fan who loathes this storyline and wanted Frank to win, and wanted him to stay on the show. What? “At the State’s Attorney’s office,” she clarifies, “be the deputy.” He has to clear his head over that one. “Be your second?” Yes, she beams. “Be my corrective.” He thinks about it for a second. “A team of rivals,” he realizes, and she grins widely. Yes.
And then he frowns, with just a little regret. “No,” he says plainly. “Why not, we’d be great together,” she pushes, genuinely surprised he’d turn her down. “One good thing came out of our campaign,” he explains, leaning his head against the seat back. “Our positions were clarified, and I essentially don’t believe in your approach.” Okay. Well, that’d be an issue. Damn it! I can’t even say how much I would have enjoyed that, and how much it would have brightened the gloomy prospect for the next season and a third. “Alicia,” he continues, as she looks away, upset, “I think it’s based on pessimism, not on optimism, and I don’t think it will work.” God. I want to cry. “But besides that,” she jokes, deadpan, making him snicker. “I better go,” he says, still smiling. “I have a concession speech to give.” Are you sure, she pleads. He’s sure.
“She won,” Kalinda notes, still standing awkwardly in Lemond Bishop’s kitchen. What gives? Seriously? Why do you not just go home, Kalinda? Mrs. Nosy would definitely think you were a couple now. Was there ever any doubt, Lemond says. “And now I’m going to need you more than ever,” he adds. Oh, I’m sure that’s exactly what she wants to hear. He turns around so he can face Kalinda, leans against his countertop. “I’m getting out,” he says.
“Excuse me?” she asks, wondering if she’s heard him right. “This is the end for me,” he explains. “I’m … giving up the trade.” It’s about time – but well done, sir. “Going straight.” He laughs over this expression. “I need you to go to Alicia and tell her I am ready to retire.” He moves forward, hands in his pockets, sharp-dressed as ever in a beige suit with the purple tie. “She needs to get Geneva Pine to drop this investigation. Retired dealers always end up in prison,” he says. Huh. I had no idea that was a thing. (Er, also, wasn’t Geneva specifically not investigating him?) “They lose their power, they lose their clout, everybody comes gunning for them,” he observes, looking rueful and exhausted already. Yet he’s willing to risk all that to give Dylan a better life. “I need to know that I’ll stay free,” he says.
And to a roar from the crowd, Alicia swans into her own party, shaking hands and smiling at her very large staff. She sloughs off her coat, and hmm, it’s a suit, not a dress. Still red, though.
“So are you staying or going,” Marissa asks the Haircut, standing beside him in the throng. “I don’t know,” he considers, beaming, his eyes trained fondly on his candidate. “There’s a job in L.A., but, I’ve grown to like Chicago. You?” He’s holding some sort of tall clear blue vessel. Is this a weird champagne flute? A rolled up plastic file? A Christmas cracker? I just don’t know. “She could use the help,” Marissa smiles. Aw. Does that mean Marissa will be her assistant, or something? That’d be nice. At least one friendly face. She can hire Finn back, that’d be two, and if Josh or Johnny stays, it’d be something. They won’t be Cary and Diane and Kalinda, but who could be? They’d be just as good as Clarke and Other Cary and Robyn, I guess. Except they’re not lawyers, so, whoops.
Alicia notices the Haircut from across the crowded room, and they exchange remarkably goofy grins. As she’s walking toward him, the crowd roars, perhaps even louder than her entrance, and Peter walks in, hugging and kissing his wife, and the Haircut’s smile crumbles off his face. It’s interesting. You have to think by this point he’s got a good idea of what a wreck their marriage is — but I guess that also enables him to see how intertwined they are, how Alicia would never be all his.
The staffers follow the State’s Attorney Elect until Elfman and Gold Jr. stand in front of the freight elevator. But then again, he says, I’ve never been one to stay in one place. “So you’re going,” she says, turning to look up at him. Yes, he’s going. Take care of her, he nods, jerking his head toward Alicia, who’s receiving champagne along with Peter in red and white plastic flutes. He steps back into the elevator, naked longing in his face, and then the gates close and the elevator descends and everything is gray concrete and sorrow.
This show, I don’t know. I love it and yet it never gives me anything completely. It always spoils anything I think is going to be a good thing. Want Alicia and Peter to work on their marriage? DENIED! Want Alicia and Kalinda to stay friends? DENIED! Want Alicia and Will together? Sure, but it’s just going to be about sex – no emotion, no romance. Want Alicia and Peter to reconcile? Yeah, that’s just going to be about sex, too, and then they’re going to break back up and treat each other like dirt and remain in a miserable limbo where they don’t get to be happy together and they don’t get to be happy apart. Good times! Want Alicia to start her own firm? Yes, but you won’t get to see her in take-no prisoners mode for more than couple of episodes. Want her to run for office? Wish granted, but it turns out that she’s a lying husk of a candidate who cheats and probably won’t do good in her job. Want to see Alicia beat Castro and rescue Cary? Turns out that Kalinda rescues Cary with unnecessary fraud, and also that villain Castro gives way to a truly great candidate. Who loses.
I mean, what the hell! How can a show be this brilliant and yet such a relentless buzz kill? I could go on and on, but let me be a little more episode specific: did the writers not want us to celebrate Alicia’s victory? Because it really felt like they didn’t, and that makes no sense at all. Did they not want us to root for her? What the hell, people! It’s a relief to lose, she said, and frankly (ugh, Frank) that makes sense because she ran just because the opportunity was there. Was that a sour grapes sort of lie? Anyway, I just find this episode baffling. On any other show, this would be a triumph, and not a dirge.
I’m ready to just heave a huge sigh about this show. Here’s the thing; the show runners have said they’ve had a plan for the end since the beginning. Obviously, however, the overall plan had to change to accommodate Will’s departure. If there had been no Florrick Agos, then I might have been cool with Alicia’s campaign for office. I might have thought, well, it’d be great to see her move on, step up. But there’s been very little as electric and amazing as Hitting the Fan during the campaign season. I can’t help feeling that the writers shoe-horned the starting-her-own-firm plot into their overall vision/political endgame, and are now trying to erase everything that went before (back to the same office, with Diane and half the firm and even – uck – David Lee), and it’s just depressing, because that plan they came up with on the fly was more interesting than their long time one. And like the team behind How I Met Your Mother, no one seems flexible enough to admit that. We didn’t get enough time to see if Alicia really could be good at running a firm.
And the thing is none of this will be worth it if she’s not a great State’s Attorney. If she’s not way better at it than we think she’s going to be. And I don’t just mean that she’s an able administrator, or good at playing the political game. We need her to do something significant and positive. Something obviously, quantifiably, unquestionably good. Or all that we’ve learned is that politics turns people into self-involved grasping assholes, and believe me, I did not need to waste what will be 7 years of my life watching (and writing about) that obvious truth. Alicia has to use the law to protect people. She doesn’t just have to be better than Peter was, she has to be inspiring. She’s got to make us feel that all this trudging through the mud to put her in a position to do good was worth it.
I almost don’t have the energy to dwell on Diane, her good and bad pitching, her good and bad Republicans, her sexy snow pants, and her horror at herself. I guess I will only say that what makes you a moral person isn’t just your feelings; it’s actions you choose (that word!) to make. If she still thinks hunting for sport is wrong, then she shouldn’t do it, even if she did enjoy it. You can apply the same principle to extra-marital sex or drugs or stealing cars or whatever. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to change who you are.
And, Lemond Bishop quitting the drug trade to make a better life for his son. I’m proud of him. I’m scared about where this goes, but that’s pretty beautiful, right?
Because I’m feeling generally grumpy, let’s review. Alicia has just won a job that she’s not actually sure she wants and that nothing we know of her would lead us to expect she’s either prepared for or will be good at. She’s in debt to her husband/boss, who first undercuts her and then saves her, and to a mobster. Her opponent — possibly the most moral character the show has ever seen — refused to work with her because she’s so unlikely to do good, and is leaving the show. This job will preclude her spending time in court, which like many people is one of the main things I loved about the show, and will take her away from all the other defense attorney characters (Diane, Cary, Kalinda) we love as well. Her marriage has reached its grossest possible point — a hollow political shell where the two hardly speak, where they lie and undercut each other. Oh, and they’re both sleeping with other people. (Hell, I feel less upset about Peter and Ramona because at least that was a relationship rather than just a little itch scratching with a safe partner.) Both of Alicia’s potential romantic partners have taken themselves off the table. She hardly sees Grace (how did Grace not show up for the election at all? I’d have like to see her playing a little Halo, too, not to mention at the party) and we’re not even sure that she’s back to speaking with Zach, whom we never get to see. And the character set up to be her great rival during her time in office? Yeah, he’s leaving the criminal world behind, so bringing him to justice will become a completely unsatisfying witch hunt. WELL DONE, WRITERS.
Did I leave anything out? Let me know. I’ll be over in the corner, moping because I’m just not sure I like the show anymore. Oh, I respect it; it’s still incredibly smart. But do I like it? Do I like Alicia? That’s a much harder question.