E: Wondering what’s newly disappointing on our favorite show? The writing staff takes the idea of the Sony email hack and throws half the guest stars in their roster at it. Eli teaches Alicia that you can catch more flies with honey than with a fly swatter. Funny that she’s suddenly dumb enough to need a basic lesson in civility, isn’t it? Ah, that’s why we watched sophisticated television, to learn valuable life skills we’d never pick up on our own. Between spit and wrestling, the glass walls of Florrick, Agos & Lockhart take more abuse that we’ve ever seen. Yep. It’s happy days in the post-election world.
When the elevator at FAL pings open, State’s Attorney Elect Alicia Florrick is greeted with applause by her employees and colleagues — most notably by a creepily smiling David Lee and — holy cow — Julius Cain! We haven’t seen him in eons. The beaming former candidate, flanked by her former body woman, gets a hug from David, and then from Julius. It turns out that the latter’s been heading up the New York office, which can now be referred to as the former New York office. Graciously, she thanks the assembled lawyers (“I’m honored. Really.”), and then heads out of reception. The insincerity of the moment makes me want to smack everyone involved. “Her office is mine,” Julius leans toward David. “Already called dibs,” David smirks. Sounds about right; first comes the sucking up and then the backstabbing and avarice.
(Also, I think it should be clear that Cary gets that office, right? Being the other name partner? Ugh. Why couldn’t this just be a nice moment? I hate myself for not being able to just feel happy for Alicia, but I hate the show more for presenting me with so many obstacles.)
“Thank you, thank you so much,” Alicia smiles as she walks a gauntlet of colleagues lining the hall to her office, making me shove my finger into my throat, the cheer is so vomit-inducingly fake. That much coveted room boasts presents, cellophane wrapped gift baskets and flower arrangements on every available surface with patriotic balloons floating above them, a sight that makes both women giddy. “I want the muffins,” Marissa decides (an easy get, since Alicia has a good ten years before she can touch another carb), “and whatever this is,” she says, picking up a bronze-patinaed statue of some sort of classical figure, most probably Justice.
“Thank you police union,” Alicia says, unwrapping the tip of a champagne bottle; much to her chagrin (especially since she popped the cork half way through the warning), it seems that she’s only allowed to open gifts under $75. Echoing last week’s enthusiasm for sticking around, Marissa’s been boning up on the Cook County Ethics rules, and somehow from the look of it, Marissa can tell that the champagne’s more expensive than the limit and so breaks the bottle. Ouch! Poor Alicia, who’s not working today (?) and so thinks a celebratory glass is definitely in order, refuses Marissa’s offer of a muffin. I bet that muffin basket is worth more than $75 — that’s a ton of muffins and a really pretty basket — but perhaps as long as Alicia doesn’t consume too much of it it’s okay? And who am I kidding. Alicia would never consume $75 in baked goods.
Am I overthinking it when I wonder why Marissa gets to keep anything? Or if, I don’t know, Alicia can decorate her new office with the statue? I think we went through this with Peter, but I’m just not sure what she’s supposed to do with all this if she can’t keep or use it.
As if the spillage of champagne wasn’t disheartening enough, look who’s lurking at Alicia’s door: outgoing S.A. James Castro. Huh. Congratulations, he says, lifting his shoulders up to his ears in a shrug as he takes in her exceedingly festive office. “Ah yes. The honeymoon period.” Ignoring his snark, Alicia begins to introduce Marissa. “She’s my…” Executive assistant, the diminutive Gold supplies. “My executive assistant,” Alicia confirms, hand on the younger woman’s shoulder. Castro could care less about underlings; he asks if he could sit, and then walks sideways through the baskets as Alicia scurries to clear room for them both on her couch. It’s not surprising to learn that Castro would prefer there to be no audience for what he’s about to say next; as she did with the lamentably missing Robyn, Alicia insists that Marissa has her full confidence and will stay. “Want a muffin?” the compulsive feeder asks. No. He does not want a muffin.
He slumps. “Alicia, we’ve had our differences,” he begins, “but I want to bury the hatchet.” Oh, that’s nice. That’s a day late and a dollar short. (I suppose he could make her transition unpleasant if he wanted, so I guess it’s something, but still.) They both agree they’d like the transfer of power to be smooth. He suggests that continuity would ensure that, and suggests she keep his second in command, Phil Lorre, as her deputy. Oh please. Like she would ever! Why would he remotely expect anyone would do that, let alone someone he’s gone out of his way to hunt down? He’s a good lawyer and perhaps a good strategist as you say, Alicia replies, seeming thoughtful. “But I am going in another direction, so thank you, but no.” She finishes her kiss off with a rather unpleasant smirk and a tilt of her head that makes her contempt abundantly clear.
He looks off in the distance, sighing. “One more thing,” he says. “I’m sure it’s not necessary to mention this, but it is customary that the incoming SA not investigate the outgoing SA, especially given our past encounters.” He jerks his head at Cary, who’s discussing something with colleagues in the hall. “You mean the prosecution of my partner?’ she asks. Yes, that egregious abuse of power is what makes him feel like he needs to remind Alicia of this rule. Unwritten rule, she stresses.
His mouth stays open a few seconds before he can decide what ought to come out of it. “When I became SA I was encouraged to look forward, not back, and there were a lot of things to look back at with your husband,” he settles on. Perhaps so, but Peter appointed you, James. She blinks at him, her eyes wide. “Yes, but if there was a gross mishandling of cases, they shouldn’t be swept under the rug, should they?” she replies with a sort of fake innocence. It’s irritatingly ballsy of him to show up and say this stuff, so I get her desire to shove her ascendancy in his face, but I don’t love it either. “If you come after me,” he starts, “I will…”
“You’ll what, James?” she asks smoothly. “You’re a lame duck.” She lingers deliciously over that last word, and on the other side of the office, Marissa smirks to herself as she inventories the gifts. Trying to control himself, Castro tucks his butt-chin into his chest and stands. “A lame duck can still tank your record before you’re started. I can overload you with loser cases so your stats will be screwed when you have to drop them.” You know what’s really vile about this? “Loser cases” sounds to me like a euphemism for people charged without sufficient evidence — which means people who’re just as likely to be innocent, dragged into the court system just to bolster his personal vendetta against Alicia. I’d forgotten how much I hated him. He stumbles out of the office, tripping over gifts on his way.
“Is there a problem?” Cary asks, stepping up to the door as Castro exits it. “Your friend, Alicia Florrick, is playing on a board where she thinks she knows the rules,” Castro huffs, unsettled. “She doesn’t.”
Cary rolls his eyes at the preposterousness of Castro complaining to him about anything. For what it’s worth, he tells his partner, you have my permission to hold a grudge. Alicia laughs. “Congratulations, Ms. State’s Attorney!” They hug warmly, and she beams. Thank you, she says, and he looks around at all her loot. It’s like King Tut’s tomb, he observes, smiling. Mmmm. Indeed. Does anyone else wonder what the present that looks like a pyramid made from three stacked pizza boxes is? Yeah, Alicia snarks glumly, in a world where King Tut didn’t have to obey the ethics rules. She makes a face at Marissa as if the existence of the ethics rules were her assistant’s fault. You’d think Alicia would have known all of that stuff on her own, after having gone through it three times with Peter, but instead we have just another reminder of her greed and entitlement.
Anyway, Kalinda calls, and Alicia invites her to come join the wine and champagne party she’s still hoping to have, assuming that any of the various bottles in the room are cheap enough for them to drink. That sounds great, Kalinda replies with a genuine smile, but then passes on the news that Lemond Bishop wants a meeting. He’d be fine on the phone, but to his go between’s shock Alicia actually wants to do things officially. That’s ominous, huh? As she hangs up, Finn walks up behind her, his eyes wide. “Alicia, did you knock over a cheese and wine store?” Her laugh ripples out in delight. “What’s the point in having power if you can’t use it?” she wonders, giving him an arch smile as she sets her coat down. And I’m back to hating her again. I’m not sure that even Finn likes that crack.
It turns out he’s there because it’s time to negotiate her exit package with her partners. Ugh again. With David Lee involved, Alicia’s pretty sure they’re going to try and low ball her, and indeed that’s so; David Lee himself delivers the offer of $350k. If she’s amenable, he smirks, they can cut the check right now. That doesn’t even come close to covering Alicia’s capital contribution, Finn complains, but Diane suggests but the partners have had to make significant improvements to the offices, which impacts their ability to pay. Wait, really? Why? Surely replacing those missing keyboard letters couldn’t have been that costly. We want this to be a dignified exit, Finn adds. “We all do,” David replies; Cary looks grim, watching a young bearded man settle into a chair in the conference room. “And yet here we are, 300k short of dignified,” Finn rebukes them. “We’re all family here, but our reserves have been depleted. Surely Alicia knows that we’ve been bruised by the loss of ChumHum,” David replies mildly.
As a sort of veiled threat, Alicia agrees that losing ChumHum was a blow, and that she’ll of course assure all her clients they should stay with the firm; the implication is clear that if they continue to lowball her, she might not be so loyal. Diane, David, Cary and Julius Cain all inhale that news in silence.
We have a deposition, Cary stops the proceedings. Let’s all think about it and meet up again later in the day, he suggests. Sure, Finn says, and he and his client rise, as long as we’re clear that Alicia needs $650k to be happy.
“We have her over a barrel,” David scoffs as the remaining partners walk out of Diane’s office together. She has to divest her interest in the firm immediately. “So we stick with the lowball,” Julius says, and man, I know it’s money but I hate that they can’t just be fair. “No,” Cary contradicts them, and I’m about to be proud of him for standing by Alicia until he argues that they don’t want to risk her turning against the firm because it might impact future criminal cases they argue. “Alicia’s no Castro,” Diane replies, which, thank you for thinking Alicia wouldn’t take their dispute out on their clients. As much as I rail against the evolution of Alicia, I can’t imagine she’s sunk that low. “She deserves the money, she built this firm,” Cary says, making me love him all over again.
“And abandoned it,” David Lee snipes. He has interesting loyalty issues, David, in that it always feels like everyone else is violating an extreme vision of loyalty that he holds up but doesn’t conform to himself. Okay, then, let’s bump it up another hundred thou, I can agree to that, Julius suggest. “God, great negotiating skills,” David sneers, “did you learn that in New York?” They start bickering, of course, and that’s when Diane’s left to play house mom, shushing them and telling them to focus on the deposition instead of fighting each other.
The unevenly bearded young man gives them the history of his peer to peer sharing website Wharfmaster; it was a beauteous labor of love that made the distribution of large files possible. So your users are entrepreneurial coders just trying to share their work, Diane wonders, which prompts our old friend Lionel Luthor — wow, we haven’t seen him in a while! — to insist she tone down the snark. Which is to say, formerly lion-maned Jared Andrews, played by John Glover, brings his acerbic tones to the deposition. No matter how short you cut your hair, Mr. Glover, you still look leonine to me — sardonic, predatory, filled with an innate confidence and dignity. Diane, interestingly, wears a loose giraffe print jacket.
Wharfmaster Master answers quite earnestly that yes, programmers are the biggest users of their site. Oh, that’s interesting, observes Cary, since 80% of your traffic actually comes from sharing copyrighted music and films. Heh: gotcha! I’m surprised that it’s taken the show this long to get to peer-to-peer sharing and copyright infringement. “Nice parsing of numbers, Mr. Agos,” Andrews holds up a slender finger. “That figure represents the number of downloads, not traffic.” Ah. Okay, not quite the gotcha Cary hoped.
But that’s when Diane leans in. “Our client’s movie was downloaded 4 million times on your site before it opened in theaters,” she says. We see their client, a pristinely groomed young man in black (Neil Hopkins, otherwise known as Charlie’s brother Liam from Lost!). 4.2 million, he corrects her, smirking wolfishly at Wharfmaster Master. So when it premiered, Diane continues, the box office was depressed. Indeed it was, but it’s hard to hold the site administrators responsible for that when they’re not the people who uploaded the movie. Wharfmaster has a different take: he saw the movie, beautifully entitled In Brain, in the theaters, and it was terrible. That’s why it tanked at the box office. “Thanks for the review, you jackass,” Director Boy snipes, and begins a nasty diatribe about illegal downloading which ends in general mayhem.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry there are illegal downloads, I really am,” Wharfmaster Master tells Director Boy in a moderately sincere voice; Director Boy does not believe him. “I’m like the post office. People pick up and drop off letters and parcels. I can’t control if some of that activity is illegal, cause I’m not looking inside of the parcels!” Reasonable analogy. So does that mean you and your employees have no knowledge of illegal downloading, Cary asks Wharfmaster Master, whose last name turns out to be Bacevich. That’s correct, he says. And that’s when Cary raises his hand for Kalinda to come in. “Uh oh, we’re in trouble now,” Andrews snarks, wry and dry as ever. What she has is Wharfmaster’s helpline on hold, and you can see by his face that Master Bacevich knows what’s coming; tech assistant Rami helps Kalinda illegally download American Sniper, currently in theaters. Oops. “So,” Julius sums things up, rubbing his hands together in glee, “shall we discuss a number?”
“Mrs. States Attorneeeeeee-yeey!” Guy Redmayne leers at Alicia through rheumy eyes. Ew. I was pleasantly surprised to see Julius and happy to see Jared and even enjoyed our bout with the skin-crawlingly loathsome James, but the guest star love stops here. Shudder. “Look at how she basks in her power, Crystal. I know that look!” Gritting her teeth, Alicia steps out from behind her desk to greet her backer, and Marissa smiles because she doesn’t know any better. “Get over here, come on, mwah, mwah,” he says, assaulting Alicia’s neck. As she tries to pull back, stiff as a board, he grabs her by the upper arms and starts muttering “yes yes yes!” like he’s part of that scene from Singing in the Rain. Ruthlessly, she throws her “personal assistant” at Guy. “Executive assistant,” Marissa corrects, shaking his hand.
“Look at all this crap,” he growls. “What did we send over, Crystal?” As ever, Crystal ignores him in favor of her phone, but he remembers on his own. “A chess board, made out of human teeth.” It’s nice to see something actually shock Marissa. He asks to sit, and Alicia points him to the same spot that Castro so recently vacated. “Is it really made of human teeth?” Marissa asks, and sadly, no one answers, because it’s by far the most interesting question that comes up in this interview. Of course the human version of Jabba the Hutt (in spirit if not in size) orders Alicia to sit nice and close so he can ooze all over her; like Castro, he arrived early in the vain hope of beating the crowd at her door with their arms outstretched, looking for a handout. Reluctantly, she agrees. I started in sales, he explains, and when you’re in sales, you have to look into the customer’s eyes to know whether you’ve made a sale or not. “Is there something you want to sell me, Mr. Redmayne?” she asks, trying to be both diplomatic and funny.
“I love women’s feet,” he replies. After all, questions are for dopes. “You can always tell a woman’s taste from her feet.” While Alicia looks alarmed, Marissa just looks weirded out. “There was this whore in Arizona,” he recalls, “What was her name, Crystal?” I’m so glad Crystal’s still ignoring him. “She had the most elegant little feet.” Ew. Just ew. “Would you like a muffin?” Marissa interrupts this reverie. “Brittany,” he remembers, acting as if Marissa doesn’t exist, “that was her name. And she could do the most amazing thing with her feet.” Oh, God. He curls his tiny hand in memory. “Your feet are like hers.”
“Is there something you need, Mr. Redmayne?” Alicia asks, offended and disgusted and baffled. “Well, yeah,” he replies baldly. “I want you to appoint Dean Lumpkin as your major deputy.” Huh. It seems everyone has an eye on that position. Why, she asks, and his reasoning is not very persuasive. He’s know Lumpkin for twenty years, he’s a hell of a guy, a hell of a lawyer, he’d be good for her office. Hmm. “Crystal, set up a meeting with Dean,” he says, and Alicia’s had enough. No, she says. Oh, fine, have your secretary do it, Redmayne nods toward Marissa, but that’s not what Alicia means. “I’m going in another direction,” she tells him, the same rote comment. Huh. He’s loathsome, but here’s where I start to worry about the idea she has that she should overtly antagonize not only her enemies but also her allies. Not that I think she should cave, and I get the desire to show him that he doesn’t own her, but surely she could be more polite about it. Promise to look into everything, and then pick the person she wants? Maybe I’m too polite?
“No, you know, I know you’re new to this office, so I’m gonna cut you some slack,” he says, annoyed. “I spent a lot of zeros helping you get elected.” Which I appreciate, she says primly, hands on her knees, back straight. “I don’t want your appreciation,” he roars. “I want you to appoint Dean as your number two man.” Sigh. Well, thank you so much for stopping by, she says, hopping up and attempting to dismiss him. And that’s not going to go well, is it? The poisonous little gnome bites. “I spent seven figures getting you elected. It won’t cost me nearly as much to get you out of office.” They stare at each other.
“Hello, Mrs. Florrick,” comes a courtly voice, and oh my God, who should have happened into this little staring contest but Lemond Bishop. Sweet lord almighty. “My my,” Guy frets. “Another suitor. I should have known. It’s always the colored guys.”
Are you kidding me? It just gets worse and worse! Some honeymoon period. Also, the little troll’s going to get himself killed. (Which, I mean, if Bishop was going to whack anyone, I guess I’d be the least upset about this guy. Stop excusing fictional murders, E!)
“Excuse me?” Bishop frowns. No, no, Redmayne mumbles. “I’m on your side, you got it? I gave enough to the Negro College Fund to give the whole friggin’ Congo a scholarship.” Oh my GOD. He has a death wish, this guy. He totally does. Bishop’s trying to kill him just with his eyebrows.
“You know, this may seem like power to you, but it isn’t,” Guy-not-Smily turns back to Alicia. “You give me twenty hours, I’ll show you power.” He blows her a kiss, and it’s almost as scary as Bishop’s frown. He walks out, and Bishop just seethes. “Who the hell was that?”
He’s looking a lot happier once Alicia’s cleared off the chair opposite her desk for him. “Shall we close the door?” he wonders, as Marissa goes back to her inventory behind him. Naw, Alicia’d rather keep in open. He insists, and Marissa closes it. “It was a close race,” he observes, smiling, before congratulating her on winning it. “I’d like to talk about my future, and yours,” he pitches, and then drops his bombshell. “I’m ready to leave the business.” You can’t see her shock so much as hear it. “You are?” she asks, and her prim, scripted politician voice has disappeared entirely. She wasn’t expecting that at all. “My son is at the age now where I want to devote more time to him,” Bishop explains with only a pale shadow of the truth. “Good,” Alicia nods, “smart.” But I’ll need your help, he says, inclining his head toward her.
“With your son?” she wonders, momentarily thick. No, he stammers, surprised she didn’t catch the ball, with my transition. Once more, he suggests privacy (this time from Marissa, who volunteers to leave) but Alicia wants witnesses. As before with Kalinda, he explains that the vacuum of power creates a dangerous moment. People of his stature, he says, either lose their power or become deceased. Is it weird that I’d far rather see Guy Redmayne kick the bucket than Bishop? Even though Bishop’s responsible for killing sympathetic characters like Silver Jim Leonard, while Redmayne’s just an ass? Because it’s totally true. I’d be really sad if they ended up killing off Bishop. “I can prevent the latter. I need your help in preventing the former.” Specifically, he wants her to have Geneva Pine call off her investigation.
Er, I hate to be all critical but it was a plot point in the last episode that Geneva was not investigating him, a small detail that they’d forgotten just after they stated it. UGH.
“I suggest this, Mr. Bishop,” Alicia says after chewing on things for a minute. She’ll quash the investigation in a heartbeat and offer him full immunity as long as he’s willing to testify against his lieutenants. No, see, Alicia, do you remember the bit where he said he wanted to stay alive? And that he knew how to do it? That’s not the way.
And the annoying thing is, she know it. She’s not making a serious offer, which seems like a mistake to me because I bet there’s some way that he could work with her and stay alive and actually be hugely helpful in the fight against drugs. But no, Alicia Florrick would rather say a big F U to the disreputable people who lifted her perfect self to her current position of power and influence, and so she’d rather just be mean than capitalize on a huge opportunity to make a difference in her new job.
Remind me why I like this show again?
“I funded your PAC,” he reminds her. “I started your PAC.” Which I didn’t ask you to do, she says, and he raises his voice ever so slightly to ask her to do him the courtesy of not interrupting. “I spent one million dollars on your campaign.” Cue Doctor Evil. “That’s a lot of money. I don’t expect to be treated like the hired help.”
Sigh. Here’s the catch 22 of it all. I see why she wants them to know straight off that they don’t own her, but this can’t be the smartest way of handling it. Surely the vacuum of power in the Chicago drug trade will be a good time for her to be working with police?
He threatens to go public with his support. She considers this, and then says that she’s confident in the shield the campaign laws offer her. She couldn’t know anything about her PAC, so it didn’t influence her. (Whatever. People suspected. She lied in interviews about it, and he can directly contradict what she said. Not good) “This was not a smart move,” he says, shaking his head and standing. “This was not a smart move at all.” I can’t but agree. On the way out he slams her door, making it shiver, and then smashes his fist into the wall.
Everyone in the conference room turns to look at this display of temper, and looks aghast before beginning their negotiations anew. Smug Director Boy was hoping for $28 million in compensation, which Andrews announces is not on offer. Wharfmaster’s case is this: In Brain was uploaded onto Wharfmaster by a staff member at Gem Stone Publicity, a PR firm hired to help promote the movie. Whoopsy daisy! Looking gloomy, Diane asks for a moment.
And that, of course, is when Eli shows up in high dungeon, ready to talk sense into Alicia in the way that only he can. “What the hell are you doing?” he hisses. (Specifically, Alicia’s thanking Pastor Jeremiah for his gift over the phone. Ah well. I guess she’s still nice about some things.) An unrepentant Alicia closes the french doors into her office. Hi, Dad, Marissa snarks as she sashays over to another basket of goodies. “Oh, don’t ‘hi Dad’ me, you’re supposed to be keeping her in line,” he snaps. What’s the subject of your discontent, she asks; Guy Redmayne, of course. “You mean the Guy Redmayne who came in here, pressed his groin against me, compared my feet to those of an Arizona prostitute, and then demanded I hired a deputy SA of his choosing?” Yes, Eli replies, unabashed, and I hate to say it, Alicia, but you can’t be surprised by much of that. You knew what he was when you took his money. “Yes, him. So?” Eli’s daring her to defend herself.
“So I told him no,” she says. “So I told him it was my choice. And yes, his money got me elected, but that didn’t make me his servant!” Oh dear God, Eli throws up his arms, of course it didn’t make you his servant. Why didn’t you prep her on this, Eli? You could have predicted she’d respond this way. She wants to show she’s different from Peter, she wants to throw off the shackles of all that disgraceful begging. I get it, I do, even if the way she’s doing it seems wasteful and dumb. “And that’s what I told him,” she says. Sigh.
“I have been your friend and confidant for a long time,” he reminds her, sitting down. “We have disagreed on many things, but I have always respected you. Always. Until now.” Eli, she says quietly, I won’t be like Peter. Then don’t be, he declares, waving his arms. “Of course you’re not going to do what Redmayne asks, but you don’t tell him that! You don’t tell him the truth!” Ha! Alicia starts to contradict him and he cuts her off. “Shut up. Listen to me,” he presses, then sighs and places his hands over his right pectoral muscle. “You know the truth, here in your heart, right?” She nods. “Good. Be a Disney Princess, but don’t tell money men like Redmayne anything but what they want to hear.” Even if it’s a lie, she asks, sounding incredibly naive. “Yes,” he insists as if she were simply the stupidest candidate ever born, “because it won’t be a lie when you tell it.” Not that again. This sounds suspiciously like the Haircut’s advice about how to lie in an interview. “Absence of yes times time equals no. That’s the law!”
If you can’t think of another way not to say no, he says, then say this. “Thank you for your advice. All options are open to me. I plan to decide in the next 48 hours.” That seems an arbitrary number, no? What happens in 48 hours, she wonders. You do what you like, he says, or you delay again, but you do anything but say no, because then who knows what might happen. “Redmayne will get just as angry if she delays,” Marissa points out. “No he won’t,” her father says. I don’t know about the delay, but he’ll get just as angry with a non-no no, won’t he? Like, when she doesn’t appoint Lumpkin? “Men like him don’t want you to say yes, they want you to say ‘I’m listening’.” Huh? Really? He sure seemed like he wanted her to say yes. And you KNOW Castro and Bishop don’t just want her to say yes, they needed her to say yes. “They want to be able to tell their friends ‘I have the ear of the SA. She listens to me.'” Yeah, but is it really listening if she doesn’t follow his recommendation? “He’s rich. He’s forgetful.” Alicia looks off in the distance – perhaps at once of the many new orchid plants festooning her office – wondering if this could possibly be true. Do you really get rich by forgetting what you want. “Alicia! Look at me,” he demands. “I know of which I speak, and you don’t. And you don’t either,” he snaps, turning around to spear his only child with an angry frown.
Both women look chastened.
“So what do I do,” Alicia wonders. I bring Redmayne back in here, Eli barks, and you kiss his ass. Tasty. “And you shut the hell up,” he tells Marissa. “Okay?” Do what you have to do, Alicia tells him sadly. The doors wobble behind him as he lets himself out.
“He’s right about unclean hands,” Diane tells her colleagues in her office, meaning Andrews, not Gold. “Our client created the problem for which he’s suing.” Cary paces in front of her desk, while Diane and Julius lean on the wall behind it. They’re screwed, and there it is. So what are we supposed to argue, Julius wonders. “The client only wanted his copyright violated a little?” He never has any ideas, but at least his phrasing’s clever. “No, we pivot,” Cary realizes, because of course Cary is the one who’s the flexible thinker.
“Trademark tarnishment?” Jared Andrews repeats, and then bursts into laughter. He thinks that they’re going to argue that the picture quality was bad, but so is ready to protest that it wasn’t. Nope, it’s something else. Diane has Kalinda start typing into a laptop, and Andrews starts his sing-song school yard teasing. “Oh, Superwoman, she’s ba-ack!” he taunts. Sigh. When she pulls up In Brain on Wharfmaster, the banner ads surrounding it are for hardcore porn. She asks the director, who turns out to be named Vince Dalton, whether he’s careful about advertising the film. He says he’s extremely picky about it. No so picky as to name his film something better, but okay. “You would never associate with a porn site like Teenagers & Hounds,” Cary adds, as Kalinda helpfully turns the monitor so they can see the egregious name clearly. “One is very careful with one’s brand.” I see, Julius jumps in. “One might even call this trademark tarnishment.”
And as Jared and Master Bacevich head out to consider this hiccup, Eli brings Guy the guy’s guy Redmayne back into Alicia’s office to try again and mend fences. “Alicia’s just a little thrown by all the changes in her circumstances, aren’t you, Alicia?” Eli insists. Yes, she says, rising out of her chair. There’s an enormous statue of a pizza chef on the edge of her desk along with what might be deep dish pizzas to cook at home? Which are hopefully self-refridgerating? I’m way more interested in speculating on food safety than I am in watching Alicia debase herself sucking to this noodle. I’m afraid I came across more boldly than I wanted to, she says. Hmph. Well, I do love her white jacket, anyway, with its lovely scalloped hem. I don’t understand, he says, and when Eli tries to explain, Redmayne stops him. I know what you think she means, he says. I want to hear what she thinks she means.
“I want to hear your advice, Mr. Redmayne,” she says, swooping in closer to him but this time wisely holding the basket of muffins between them. (So gross that she feels like she has to defend herself with food.) “All options are open to me as SA, and I will decide what to do in the next 48 hours.” Heh. At this polite repetition of his mantra, Eli nods firmly. “What do you think, Crystal,” Guy says, handing her the muffins; somehow, without looking up, she knows to take them. “Is this a bad penny?” Of course Eli starts talking Alicia up.
“You like Taylor Swift?” he asks. “Shake that thing? What is it?” “Shake It Off,” Crystal remembers. So she CAN speak! Incredible. “Shake it Off, right, “Shake it Off,” I love that song. Do you?” Do I, Alicia wonders, lost, and Eli has to nod and bug his eyes out in the international “say yes, dumb ass” signal before she gets it and claims she does. “The current SA, what’s his name?” Castro, Eli supplies, and then Redmayne starts snickering as if Eli’d said his name was Fartface or Doggie Breath. Turns out that Castro’s been investigating some real estate deals of Redmayne’s, and is using them as a shakedown. Well. That’s lovely if it’s true. It’s hard to know who to dislike more here. Obviously he wants Alicia to promise not to go after them. “Well,” she smiles, “all options are open to me. Guy.”
“I like that,” the poisonous gnome replies, a twinkle in his eye; it’s like he took it as a personal code meaning “yes of course I’ll do whatever you want, and pick the option you choose for me.” “Eli, you’re a man of great depth.” Really? That’s just… Dude. I just don’t think that would be effective in the real world, not like the kind of magic talisman they’re making it out to be. “I’ve always told you that, sir,” Eli grins. “Now I’m a believer,” he says, “praise Jesus.” He makes a sign of the cross over Eli’s Jewish head, which gives us the chance to watch Eli practice the sort of forbearance he’s been preaching. “I’ll be seeing you, Alicia,” the would be ladies man says. “Give me a hug.” She tries to substitute a handshake, and I expect him to yank her in for some body contact, but the hand we see her shake actually belongs to James “Lame Duck” Castro, his face tipped up to look her in the eye. He’s here so she can try the same trick on him, and see if it helps. It totally does. “All options are open to me,” she repeats, and he smiles smugly as she says it, “and I plan to decide in 48 hours.”
While I totally think that’s what she should have said in the first place, at least about keeping his deputy, I don’t see how he’s not going to notice when she doesn’t actually keep his deputy. Uuuuuuuugh.
Cary, on the other hand, is unhappy right now to see Alicia enthusiastically shaking hands with Castro outside her office. He’s not paying much attention when Jared Andrews quizzes Kalinda on what sort of websites she visits when she searches the web. Work stuff, she explains. “Do you surf a lot of porn?” Andrews asks, Bacevich smirking behind his hand. Ha. I see where this is going. Wharfmaster Master explains that the banner ads are targeted to the taste of the surfer on the computer in question. Might you be addicted to porn, m’am? Ha! Like Kalinda needs to watch other people getting it on — she’s too busy getting it on herself! “I’m not married,” she replies coolly. “You don’t need to address me as m’am.” Do you view a lot of porn, mademoiselle, Andrews asks specifically, and she says no. (Boy, we’re striking out all over the place with this case.) Hmm. Could it be that it’s not her laptop?
And, surprise surprise. If you weren’t grossed out enough already by randy Guy Redmayne, we bring you resident butt of jokes Howard Lyman. Obviously it’s his laptop. (Ew. Lap. I can’t even.) And the porn appeared in the banner ads on that computer because get what Howard likes to surf on it? Stop asking them to define “surf,” Howard, and stop protesting that you don’t like porn. No one believes you.
Happily for Diane, that’s when Finn and Alicia waltz in for their next negotiating session, and soon enough, Queen Diane sits at her desk with knights Cary, David and Julius arrayed behind her. They’re willing to offer up another 50 thousand, Cary says. Gee, that’s generous. “Are you serious?” Finn asks, and Alicia’s partners look at each other, because yes, they’re definitely serious. We’re ten feet apart, Finn tells them, and you’re offering an inch. (More like two feet, but I guess Matt isn’t his strong suit.) “I wish we were in a position to offer more,” Cary says, and his face is hard, and it looks like he must have taken that handshake pretty badly.
“The problem is,” Finn says after they’ve left Diane’s office, “we don’t have any leverage. They know you need to divest.” Where does that leave Alicia, then, other than pacing around her office in frustration? (I’m so distracted by that white jacket. It’s so beautiful. That hemline, I can’t even.) Correctly, she assesses that Cary’s too mad at her to be fair. And considering that she’s got to pay for two college educations, she doesn’t feel like she can make it on the SA’s salary. Wait, is Peter not contributing to that at all? How can that be? Their finances must be quite a puzzle. Can you imagine how complicated their joint tax statement must be? (Also, what does it say about the cost of a college education in America that a top state official couldn’t afford to send two kids?) Anyway, Finn heads off to think of another angle. Oh, but before he goes, she’s got a quick question. How would he feel about being her deputy at the SA’s office?
Well. I guess she did have a direction in mind after all. I totally assumed she’d ask him to come work there (otherwise, how will he stay part of the show?) but I hadn’t anticipated this. Poor Geneva Pine, passed over again. “You know the job better than I do,” she explains, since he’s too shocked to respond. “And… we work well together.” I’m flattered, he shrugs, but… But what, she wonders. He’ll have to think about it.
Back home, Alicia’s still making thank you cards, though it looks like Marissa’s inventory keeping skills (or Alicia’s memory) are a little subpar, because she thanks the Lakeshore Women’s Group for the wrong present. Oh well. And hey, it’s Grace! Grace, looking worried again. Grace sitting in front of her laptop. Grace, who google alerts everything, found something weird in the election coverage: Legal Scholar Today (the Gawker of the legal world, Grace says, as she’s apparently now an expert in the online legal community) has just posted hacked emails from Florrick Agos & Lockhart. The one on the screen is about today’s exit package negotiations, from Diane to Cary. Alicia has a full plate. String out negotiations best strategy. Let’s frustrate into accepting initial offer.
“How much of this is there?” Alicia worries. “A lot,” Grace says. “Like, a lot a lot. Somebody must have hacked your system.” I thought they went back to this office because it had a decent firewall and security infrastructure? But that’s not what’s on Alicia’s mind. “Did they get any from me?” she asks.
At first, the emails are the cause of great and uproarious hilarity. From Cary Agos to Carey Zepps, David Lee reads to Howard. Oh, this is wonderful, he trills. Fourth consecutive case Diane refuses to settle. Clearly a senior moment. Need to loosen her up.
Then it’s a more somber and doubtful Julius finishing that same email. Maybe we can ask McVeigh to do a better job in the sack. He pauses before the bedroom talk, conscious, because he’s reading it aloud to a regally infuriated Diane. Get the stick out of her ass. “David Lee?” she guesses (well may you ask), and is shocked to find the real author. So of course, she decides to crack Julius’ pleasant reserve with another from January 8th. Julius is coming back from New York. Great. More affirmative action b.s.. Sigh. Okay, I know everyone vents, and that Julius has never been the sharpest knife in the firm’s drawer, but that’s needlessly ugly. No one can say something like that and look good. It’s like the Sony hack; I just don’t get why highly educated, successful people think some of this stuff is okay to say.
Did you see what she wore, Kalinda reads to Cary. Ten bucks says she’s noisy. Also gross. Who wrote that, Cary asks; it was Carey Zepps. Thanks, Mr. Christian. “He thinks we’re sleeping with each other,” Kalinda tells her lover, who grins.
“You apparently called David Lee a racist fruitcake,” Diane tells Julius. “What?” Julius squeaks, which is probably his best delivery on the show ever, shades of his character on Spin City. “When? I mean, I know he is, but I don’t remember writing that.” Ha. Diane chuckles. “Well that’s nothing compared to Kalinda.” Wow, she’s enjoying that way too much.
So you performed oral sex on Howard Lyman in the supply closet, Cary laughs. “What?” gasps a shocked Kalinda, who is definitely not laughing. I’m kind of surprised Diane’s laughing at a sexual slander, too, but I guess that’s because it’s so ridiculous that no one would ever believe it? At least, I hope that’s why they’re laughing. “That’s what he’s saying,” Cary snorts, “he’s saying good lay, real firecracker.” Kalinda looks outright offended.
Mr. Lee has done Gilbert & Sullivan, Howard reads, laughing. The question is, has he done Gilbert or Sullivan? David Lee is not laughing at all. “Let’s try this one,” Kalinda takes a turn, perhaps trying to hurt Cary back, “Diane to David Lee. Cary, good lawyer, not great lawyer. Going to prison not total loss for us.” Yeah, I do not believe she’d say that. If for no other reason than David Lee not exactly being her friend when this was happening, considering he’d forced her out of Lockhart, Gardner & Canning. “You’re kidding,” Cary narrows his eyes.
And that leads us to Diane, trying vainly to calm the angry crowd in the conference room; she claps and hands over their attention, once she’s secured it, to Kalinda’s hacker friend Howell. He’s taken down their emails and disconnected their computers, he says, and obviously that’s going to put their entire firm’s output to a standstill. Oh, and he also needs all their cell phones. Excellent. I have something to tell everyone here, David Lee snaps, though no one’s really listening. “Shut up in back!” he screams, and they’re quiet enough for him to assume a more dignified tone. There seems to be a misapprehension here, he says, that I’m gay. “I am not gay. I am dating a woman, in fact…” gee, that’s convincing, “and I will sue anyone here who…”
“Suggests that I was hired because of affirmative action,” Julius cuts him off. “That’s what you people always say,” David snipes, which just results in chaos. I can’t even hear what they’re saying, but the faces the two are making are enough. “And I do not pick my nose during client meetings!” a pale, nondescript man in his thirties hollers. “Tell that to the disgusted clients!” a dark skinned woman with short hair bellows back. I have a deviated septum, he defends himself. (And that makes you pick your nose? Who knew.) “Things get caught up there.” Oh dear.
“Come! Now, we all said things that we didn’t mean,” Cary yells over the din. Ah, thanks for taking the high road, Cary. “Even things, Diane, that we should take back.” So much for the high road! Like removing a stick from my ass, she asks. Um, unsurprisingly, that’s not what he means. “You said I wasn’t much of a lawyer,” he says, quiet and a little sad. As the room boils over with vitriol, Marissa and Alicia watch quietly from the doorway.
“Every single partner had their email hacked except you, how is that possible?” Fortunately for Alicia, they only released emails from the last four months, when she was using her campaign email exclusively. “Wow, lucky,” Marissa smiles. Of course, this just sharpens my timeline question about David Lee and Diane. Let’s all remember that they’ve only been working together for a short time time, and certainly not while Cary was on trial.
“The recriminations stop now,” Diane tells the inner sanctum assembled in her office – Julius, David, Cary, Kalinda and Howard. “Everyone wrote things in those emails that they clearly regret.” So much for calming things down; Kalinda takes this opportunity to call Howard out on his lies. Howard, of course, barely remembers having written such things. “What? You and I were in the supply closet.” What, she yells. “What planet are you living on?” I can’t decide if this concern for her reputation is out of character (when does Kalinda care about what people think?) but perhaps the insult isn’t so much to her sexuality (or even her taste) as it is to her professionalism? I could see if it’s about the implication that she’d spend the work day sexually serving her bosses. It’s offensive all around, even for someone who’s not easily offended. Stop, Diane screams. “We need to focus on our cases or there will be a mass exodus of clients.”
In Kalinda’s professional opinion, this is likely a reaction to the suit against Wharfmaster, which is apparently very popular amongst hackers. (well, Bacevich did insist that most of his users were coders.) Diane wonders if this means that it’s Anonymous; while Kalinda’s not ready to write them off, they haven’t taken responsibility for the hack, which would be more usual for them. They’ll get back to work, Diane tells them, Kalinda will update them every thirty minutes on her progress, and pretend that everything is normal. Sure they will. David Lee deliberately smacks into Julius on the way out, and Kalinda tells Howard they’re going to have a serious chat.
“Oh, wait, I got an email,” Diane says, and they all turn back. “It’s from EE. No other name.” Well, if you had to pick any letter, that’s a good one (I wrote, smirking) whether you write it once or twice. As Diane reads the message, her fear and horror increases. This is just the first batch. Tomorrow, we will release two years of emails.
Two years, Alicia asks Cary, disbelieving, when the latter shows up in her office to fill her in. Yep. You’ve done a lot of crappy things in the last two years, including lie all over the place about your farce of a marriage and your campaign donations. Election fraud on Peter’s behalf, dirty tricks on your own… They all assume it’s because of the illegal downloading case, but Kalinda has no handle on it yet. (Heck, maybe it’s Guy Redmayne with his twenty hours; probably not, but he did promise a cheap take down.) And that’s when someone starts screaming — this kind of grunting noises that becomes higher and higher pitched — until we see one man run another into one of the few wooden walls in the office. Rather to my surprise, it’s Julius who pries them apart and sends them both packing with a howl of “what’s wrong with you?” Surprisingly forceful!
“It’s like a pirate ship here,” Cary observes, and then he steps closer, pitching his voice low. “Do you have any problems over the last two years?” Duh. Me too, Cary admits. “And, just to warn you, I probably said some things when we were arguing at the firm.” Same here, Alicia admits. “Let’s agree,” she says. “You see any emails from me about you, delete it.” Right, like that’s ever going to happen. Does anyone think they have that much will power? Yes, he says, and you too. Agreed, she nods. “What a nightmare,” he shakes his head, and leaves.
Looking alarmed, Alicia turns around. “I need you to do me a favor,” she tells Marissa. “Sure,” the younger woman says, walking toward her boss, “what, shoot you now?” Ha. Nope, nothing so simple (or criminal): Alicia wants Marissa to read her last two years worth of emails and find out what she’s said. Dang. That’s a serious project to do in a day, but that’s what she’s going to do. “Can I do a word search?” the poor woman asks, and when Alicia agrees to this methodology, she asks for the target words. In response, Alicia closes the door. “Anything with Will,” she starts, “or…” Elfman, Marissa prompts, winning herself a surprised look from her boss. “No, that wouldn’t be on my work email,” Alicia decides, oddly not asking how Marissa knew to ask. I kind of hate how coolly she’s canvassing all this. “Bishop,” Alicia adds to the list, which shocks her assistant. “Not sexual, business!” Alicia hisses. Oh. Also. Peter. Anything and everything to do with Peter.
“Tell me it’s not true,” Eli flings open her door. “It’s okay, we’re on top of it,” Alicia replies. (Um, hardly.) “On top of what?” Eli asks, proving that neither of them knows what the other is actually talking about. The email, she says, and he blows right by it. “Finn Polmar. Tell me you did not ask him to be your number two.” And that’s my cue, Marissa says, walking out, as I wonder how he could remotely have found out about that. Though she defends her choice, Alicia’s wondering the same thing. “Don’t you get it?” Eli ignores her question, because questions are for dopes, “When to say yes is just as important as when to say no.” Um, yeah, I think she knows that. “Wait, what’re you talking about, what email?” It’s nothing, something here, she says, which is preposterous because he is sure as heck going to want to know this. He worked as a crisis manager for a while, Alicia. He could help.
“Alicia, you offered Finn the job because you like him, and he’s maybe even a good lawyer, but he doesn’t do anything important for you.” Right. Because politics — or saying yes to the right people — is the only thing that’s really important? “You mean he doesn’t do anything important for you,” she bites back. (And, yes. Alicia likes Finn, and respects him, but what he would do for her in the most important way is be someone she can trust.) “Next time, say it my face, Jackass,” David Lee tells Julius, following him in the general direction of Diane’s office. The younger man spins around. “Oh I have said it to your face, Blanche, I have said it to your face!” Hello! Wow! So rude, but I bet Michael Boatman really had fun with that. “Son of a bitch,” David grumbles as he stalks off in the opposite direction.
Eli scrunches up his forehead. Is everything alright here, he asks; it’s a long story, Alicia says. Fine, then, he’ll go back to telling you that you’re going to offend every person who gets passed over for the job. (Um, won’t that happen whoever she picks? She can only have one deputy.) Every woman, he adds, and then whispers “every African-American,” and I roll my eyes. What are we watching, a Neil Simon comedy? Whatever this is, Alicia’s done with it. She takes off.
“I’m a superstar, Kalinda, but what I can’t do is track a hack back to a hacker.” Sigh. Howell, that doesn’t really bode well for your claim of being a superstar. Sure, he can identify their i.p. addresses, but those are just false fronts, bouncing back to anonymized servers. (Huh. I did not know that was a word, anonymized, but the spellcheck software isn’t making a peep.) There’s nothing we can do, she realizes. Well, they can identity the source a little – there’s a hacker chat room where a user posted that FAL needed to be punished. It’s time for some APT, someone called Wraak4leven writes — an advanced persistent threat. Dox-p, anyone, another suggests. There’s no way to know if this is just angry talk or if these are the people responsible, Howell suggests. Kalinda stares at the screen. “Or maybe there is,” she wonders.
“What they’re doing to me is a blow against internet freedom for all of us,” she reads, this time back in the deposition. “Today it’s Wharfmaster, tomorrow, who knows?” He was just complaining, not stirring anyone up, Andrews laughs. “I believe it’s called free speech.” It’s called intimidation, Diane counters, her voice throbbing. “Your client incited hackers to attack us, and make us back off.” You could settle this right now, Andrews suggests, and make this all go away.
“You have incredible hutzpah, Jared,” Diane shakes her head. And I agree. It’s really quite slimy, even for someone on this show, calling in all these hackers to wreck your opponents. It’s simple extortion. “No, Diane,” he smiles, “I have a winning case.” The thing is, I think he really does. I don’t see why they need to resort to this, other than being jerks. Well you and your case can go to hell, she barks, completely losing it. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen her far away from controlling her anger.
“You lived there for a year?” Grace asks Marissa, sitting across from her on the couch, spellbound. “Six months on a kibbutz, six months in Jerusalem.” What was Israel like, the younger girl asks, fascinated. “Hot,” Marissa snorts. “Do you think I’d like living there?” Grace asks in her little girl voice, and Marissa shakes her head as if talking to a puppy. No, she doesn’t think so. “Is it because I’m a Christian?” the teen wonders.
“No,” Marissa says, thinking it over and trying to make the other girl understand, “No, there are a ton of Christians there, all with cameras. Because it’s hot.”
“You spent a year living where it all began,” Grace rhapsodizes. “You must have felt, I don’t know, inspired!” Nope, not so much. “Just hot. ” Marissa thinks about it. “And gassy,” she adds. “You eat a lot of falafel.”
Alicia makes an appearance in her black and white tweed jacket. Nice fashion this week, Alicia. “Marissa’s trying to convince me to not live in Israel,” she says, and Alicia gives her this great look, like, wait, you want to move where? However, Alicia’s just not that concerned with her daughter’s life, and asks for a minute alone with Marissa, the better to discuss a far more fascinating subject; herself. Biddable Grace leaves, just asking that her mother remember to feed her. How bad are the emails? I went through about five thousand emails, Marissa says. And how bad are they?
“Well,” Marissa starts, “there’s one where you call a donor the worst kind of sexist pig, a pompous sexist pig. Another where you tell Cary Agos that Finn Polmarr is soft and malleable with a spine like cottage cheese.” I was trying to pep Cary up before trial, she excuses herself. “At the bottom is an email from your gynecologist; it’s the answer to your question about the reliability of pregnancy tests.” Oh my GOD. They did not just say that. So apparently she thought she was knocked up sometime in the last two years, and took a pregnancy test? Presumably by Peter, since it’s too soon to have been the Haircut? (And, man, my doctor won’t put anything in email except appointment reminders, and those don’t even include the date and time.) Does that mean she had a really early miscarriage after an early positive, or that she got a false positive, or that she was concerned the negative result could be false? Man. What the heck is THAT?
“I was late,” Alicia replies self-consciously, and Marissa puts up her hands. “Hey, I’m just the messenger,” she says, hoping not to get shot. Alicia picks up the slim packet of emails. “These aren’t good, but they aren’t overly awful,” she replies in relief, and Marissa makes a face. “Those are just the ones I marked questionable,” she eplains. “These are the ones I marked bad.” Marissa proffers another packet of emails, more than an inch thick, the bad parts highlighted in red. Oh, good golly.
“This is from Will Gardner after some New York conference,” Marissa says of the top email. Alicia hangs her head. “He talks about you two,” she adds. Er, wait. This is season 6, Alicia ended her affair with Will in the fall of season 3, so why does this fall into the two year window? I’m puzzled. And, this was something of a surprise, Marissa tells her boss, before reading another email out loud: Relax, it was just one night stand, albeit a great one. “That was from you to Elfman.” (I wager she knows, Marissa.) How did this end up with my work emails, Alicia cries in horror. I sent this from my personal account. Apparently not, Marissa says; it’s an easy mistake to make. I’m confused. Didn’t Marissa suggest Elfman as a search term? Also, not to play Timeline Nazi, but if that email was going to get released, it would have been released already, because it was sent within the last 4 months. Come on, people.
“It was quaint,” Marissa tries to buck Alicia up. “You don’t really see albeit in too many emails.” I can say with complete honesty that this is only because Marissa does not email me. Anyway, I doubt the press or her opponents would find the information contained therein quaint. “What am I gonna do,” Alicia wonders, panicking. Stop these from becoming public, Marissa says. But how?
And indeed, that is the question.
Cary thinks he’s found his answer in Braeden v. Campbell, a lawsuit involving the publishing of a diary. So we argue every email is like a diary entry, Diane guesses. That sounds promisingly analogous. No, Alicia demands, you have to settle this. “The firm’s reputation can’t handle another dump.” Firing on all cylinders, Cary immediately guesses she’s not worried about the firm as much as herself, and Julius points out that the first dump didn’t affect her, but the second would. (I actually wonder who’d be in more trouble here. On the one hand, Alicia’s clearly the most famous person and anything she does or says will embarrass her; it will also burst the creative fiction of her marriage and so damage Peter. On the other hand, the firm could lose clients, where Alicia’s already been elected. It’s not like she could lose criminals. Unless she was forced to resign — and would she ever do that, given that Castro might then stay in office? — she’d just have a rotten time weathering the storm.) And that’s when the woman with short dark hair shows up outside Diane’s office and spits on the glass. Oh. Hello. No idea who the target of that one was, but that’s so not a pretty sight. “You’re gonna clean that up!” Diane screams, really screams.
“Our interests are aligned here,” Alicia refocuses the conversation quietly. “Respectfully, Alicia, our interests have not been aligned since you used our office as a staging ground for your political career,” Diane snaps. Well. Just letting it all out today, are we? How quickly the veneer of civilization fades. Soon we’ll have a pig’s head on a stick, and David Lee running around in a loincloth.
“Have you read the last two years of emails?” she asks. “This one’s from Will to me, dated November 12th, 2013. Alicia, can you meet with Colin Sweeney tomorrow at 3. Our favorite wife killing psycho has requested your presence.” She pauses to let that sink in. “Diane, this one’s from you, Monday June 3rd, 2013. Let’s huddle about the Connelly billing. I wanna head that geriatric blimp off at the pass.” Lovely. Cary raises both eyebrows. “Yes,” Alicia agrees. “We need to settle. Now.”
No, Director Boy says. He won’t take the 500k settlement; it’s not enough of a punishment. “I want that arrogant son of a bitch out of business,” he declares, leaning forward. Well, then, we won’t be able to keep representing you, Diane tells him.”Given the damage we’ve already incurred from the hack,” Cary adds, “we can no longer represent you in an effective capacity.” Ah. If only he would agree. I’m going to complain to the judge, he insists. Not only are they obliged to help him, they’re the only ones who can; no other firm will take his case after what happened to them. Frustrated that this disaster seems to have no end, Diane sets her delicate fingertips against her temples.
“Oh my God!” Eli gasps, reading what must be a selection of the worst red-lined emails in Alicia’s office. “Oh my God!” he winces. The messages read as follows:
Alicia to Peter, 2014:
I figured it out. You know what Castro is? An arrogant, sweaty misanthrope. My God, I cannot fathom what that idiot thinks he is…
Will to Alicia, October 4th, 2013
Let me tell you how you sent me to heaven this weekend. The feel of your soft lips against mine, your inner thighs against my cheeks… My only purpose? To be a servant to your body. Thinking about kissing you… Everywhere… You leave me exhausted, baby.
Alicia to Will, May 19th, 2013
I can’t stand it. Phone sex isn’t enough. I wish I could have your tongue chained around my hips so that I could get those delicious linguistics whenever I want. Thought you should know.
Eli, I’m with you. Those are the lamest love letters ever.
“Oh my…” he says, unable to stop his disgust. “Eli, would you please stop saying that,” Alicia snaps. “Phone sex?” he asks. Do you really want her to answer that? It was two years ago, she says, because apparently stupid things stop counting the further in the past they get? [For the record, yet again, Alicia ended her relationship with Will in the episode Parenting Made Easy, which aired December 4th of 2011. In the spring of 2013, Alicia was running the hell away from Will, so much so that she agreed to start a new firm with Cary. In the fall of 2013 — at least if we roughly assume that the timeline of the show corresponds to real life, and considering various comments made by characters about the length of time that’s elapsed since Alicia originally came to work at LG&S that feels accurate — Will was feeling beyond betrayed by Alicia leaving his firm. He certainly wasn’t rhapsodizing about her thighs. Annoying.] Marissa cuts to the chase as usual: the question is, what do we do, Dad? Well might you ask. Alicia, for some crazy reason, thinks she should start preemptively apologizing to people, which gives Eli fits. Never ever apologize before the dirt comes out, he replies indignantly. You never know what’s going to happen; they might not get dumped.
“I disagree,” Marissa says, and Eli rounds on her for contradicting his years of experience. “Well bully for you! When you have more than four month’s experience, come back and we’ll listen.” In the real world, she says, where real people live, not politicians, there’s something to be said for preparing clients to hear that you called them an arrogant, sweaty misanthrope.
Indeed, but there’s the question, right? Castro’s not a client, and he already knows Alicia hates him. I’m sure he’s imagined her saying far worse, and he’d take a preemptive apology as a personal dig. Or worse, gloating. As far as the astoundingly embarrassing sex stuff, who’s she’s even going to apologize to? Voters who thought she was a faithful wife? Viewers who thought her attempt at sexy emails would be less gross? Dead lover Will, for not even trying to be romantic where he clearly was? Her kids, for lying to them? Stanley Donen, for taking another iconic (albeit commonplace) line from Singing In the Rain?
Anyway. “It’s a corollary to the “never say no” principle,” Eli tells them. “Always best to do nothing when you don’t have to do anything.” Hmm. Maybe. Plus, he adds hopefully, it might never come out. “It shows consideration,” Marissa contends, and I’d maybe agree with her if I could think of someone she needed to apologize to; Alicia frowns as she thinks about it. “It shows weakness!” Eli thunders. “Excuse me,” Alicia says, standing up. “No!” Eli barks. “Whatever you’re gonna do, NO!”
What she’s going to do is rush down to his office for to apologize to a very busy Finn for the email he might never seen in which she said he had a spine like cottage cheese. At the analogy, he finally stops typing. Cottage cheese? It was during the trial, she explains. “Did you believe it?” he wonders. No, she smiles, kind of blushing. “Alicia, if you’re looking to rescind the offer to be your chief deputy, then…” No, that’s not it at all. “Okay then,” he says, puts his glasses back on, and goes back to typing on his laptop. Does no one on this show have a monitor? Fascinating. She stares down at him. “Bygones,” he says, looking up over the rim of his glass when she doesn’t leave. “Really?” she asks, unable to believe someone in her world is that much of a grown up. “Sure,” he shrugs, his attention back on his work.
And that’s not a bad thing, because would you look at who’s just walked down the spiral staircase: Lemond Bishop.
Alicia walks over to greet him. “I think we got off on the wrong foot,” he says. Unlike with the other two visitors, Alicia’s not so eager to mend this rift; she does invite him up to her office, though.”No,” he chirps, echoing her earlier sentiment as he looks around the busy office floor, “here’s fine.”
“You’re probably right about the PAC information not hurting you,” he agrees. “Let’s go upstairs,” she pleads. No, he smiles, sure that he has the upper hand. “But I did give my captains walking around money. To get the vote out in the African American communities?” God, what does that mean, walking around money? Did that pay for taxis or for votes? So creepy. “You know, the communities where you were weak?” I didn’t ask you to do that, she sucks in a breath. “It gets a bit confusing about who asked who to do what,” he smirks. “That’s my impression, anyway. So maybe you should think about the Geneva Pine investigation.” Aside from the fact that the investigation is by your own admission not happening, this just sucks. This is why she should have withdrawn her candidacy as soon as she found out he was supporting her PAC. She was totally compromised from the start!
“Thank you for your thoughts, Mr. Bishop,” she nods. “All options are open to me, and I plan to decide in the next 48 hours.”
It never gets old, does it? “Good,” he says. “Then I’ll sit tight and wait to hear from you.” He pauses for a moment. “I appreciate your openness,” he adds, and her answering smile is wan and unencouraging, but it’s nothing to the way her face falls when he walks away.
As Kalinda walks through the halls of FAL, she’s surrounded by the sounds of rancor and misery, and that’s before Howard Lyman tells her he’s always sensed something between them and asks if she wants to grab dinner. I guess that it probably wouldn’t be satisfying to see her clock him, right? Because I sort of want that to happen; not really, because he’s so old and might get really hurt, but kind of. He follows her almost all the way into Diane’s office; she ignores him.
“Please tell me you’ve made some headway on tracking these hackers,” Diane begs. “No,” she says, “but I may have found something on Nathan Bacevich.” Oh, okay. That’s … something? It turns out that Bacevich was in Europe promoting Wharfmaster for the entire (clearly unimpressive) theatrical run of In Brain. Hello, smoking gun!
“You used your own site to download it illegally,” Cary presses in deposition. “Despite your repeated insistence that you and your website never knowingly violated copyright infringement laws.” Yep, he sure did! “Congratulations, Mr. Bacevich,” Julius continues to play comic relief, “you lied under oath, and can now be prosecuted for perjury.” Jared Andrews strokes the skin of his neck, looking at his client. We have enough to beat you, Mr. Bacevich. Is that really what you want? If we press perjury charges, you’ll go to prison. They’ll go as low as 15 million.
Andrews sucks in a breath. “Here’s the only deal we’ll agree to,” he says, “an apology from Mr. Dalton to Mr. Bacevich, for bringing such a frivolous lawsuit.” Seriously? “Are we in upside down land, “Julius wonders, his forehead still smooth. “No, sir,” Jared says, so formal, “we are very much right side up, and the view is clear.” Julius frowns, bewildered. “It’s disgusting,” Director Boy Dalton shouts. “The triumph of the anarchists!”
“No, it isn’t,” Wharfmaster Master declares, a true believer explaining his catechism to a child, “you know the next killer ap isn’t coming from corporate offices in Seattle or San Jose, its from a sixteen year old in Warsaw who gets excited by a fourteen year old’s code in Mumbai. You’re obsessing so much about copyright and drms, you missing what’s going on. You’re building fences, and we’re trying to tear them down, not because we hate you, but because we’re trying to build the next big thing.” He has Diane’s attention; Cary and Julius look down at their laps as one. “Let us do it,” he says. “Because it’s gonna happen either way.” He leaves, and Jared, smirking, follows.
“Take the deal,” Dalton says, his thin lips fluttering. “Um, excuse me? We’re winning this, sir,” Cary scoffs. “No we’re not,” the director admits bitterly, staring at the table top. “My company’s emails were just hacked too.” Everyone sighs; nostrils flare, lips compress. “Take. The. Deal.” I’m not sure I would even call it a deal — it’s more like volunteering to step under an anvil — but it’s going to make the situation go away, so even with all the damage that’s been done, that’s still something.
Walking back to her desk, Diane throws a heavy binder full of wasted work onto her glass desk and falls into her chair, leaning back, breathing in, trying to compose herself. “A hacker or hackers was trying to wreck a little havoc on us,” Cary observes, walking in. “They sure succeeded.” Wildly, Diane agrees, sitting up. Looking thoughtful, Cary unbuttons his suit jacket and sits down, balancing his elbows on his knees. “I think an apology is in order,” he says, and I’m not sure in that moment whether he’s come to apologize first or to make a demand. He waits. She stares at him. “From whom to whom?” she asks dangerously. He grins. “Take your pick,” he says, and she grins back, and then she laughs.
“I was blowing off steam,” Julius Cain tells David Lee. “Yes, you’re pig-headed, belligerent, and arrogant to the extreme,” he goes on, which sucks as an apology even if it’s true. “But,” he adds, clearing his throat, “you’re also a hell of a lawyer.” He tries to lay his hand on the smaller man’s shoulder; a fierce-looking David jerks back. “A fruitcake?” he sneers, unforgiving, and walks away.
“We settled the Wharfmaster case,” Cary tells Alicia, if you can even call this caving a settlement. Alicia nearly wilts in relief, and thanks him. We let the bad guys win, he observes. “Well,” replies tactician Alicia, “it was the only move, which means it was the smart move.” I guess? Cary’s not consoled. “It’s not a pretty picture when you see what people really think of you,” he tells her seriously.
“I don’t think it is what people really think of you, I think you sometimes just have to let off steam a little and say something nasty.” And sometimes the nasty thing is what people really think, Cary posits. (I don’t think it’s as reductive as that; the bad things we think can be true, but we don’t mean them all the time. Except maybe about David Lee. And the good things are true, too; we’re just far less likely to say those than the bad things.) Alicia inclines her head. Sometimes, she agrees.
Are you serious, Finn asks, back in exit package negotiations. “100 thousand total, that is a quarter of a million below your initial offer.” Ouch! Not the initial offer, just the most recent one, but whatever. “This hack has been a game changer,” Diane explains, the three un-Amigos nodding in a row beside her. “We have to buy a whole new computer network and email system,” she says (and what, all of that has to come out of Alicia’s exit package? Even that can’t cost that much). “Not to mention new laptops, cell phones, iPads,” Julius adds earnestly. “There’s nothing more to give.” Whatever. “Alicia,” Cary adds, regretful, shrugging, “you should take it.”
Alicia looks at them, her face a polite, predatory mask. “I’ll consider it,” she tells them, and Finn looks at her, wondering what’s up. “And I want you all to know that this offer does not in any way impact my consideration of your criminal cases when I’m S.A.” Whoa. Finn keeps his poker face on as the two walk out of the room, but Julius is already fidgeting.
“Was that a thinly veiled threat?” Diane asks Cary, who stands closest to her. “Nope,” Julius replies, bouncing on his heels, “a very clear one.” She wouldn’t dare, David Lee scoffs. “You wanna chance it?” Cary asks, and Julius shakes his head. They don’t. Diane frowns at her desk, trying to sort out whether Alicia would really sink so low.
When Alicia arrives in her office, Eli’s playing with the golf clubs some misguided supporter sent her. “Are you safe?” he asks, dropping a club back into the bag. “For the moment, yes,” she says, walking around the ceramic pizza chef to stand behind her desk. “Redmayne and Castro are satisfied?” Eli presses. For the moment, yes. “Happy days,” she says gloomily, sitting down at her desk, and Eli sits opposite her.
“So what did we learn?” the political veteran asks his student. “Hell if I know,” Alicia replies. “Go slow,” Eli drives the lesson home. “Choose carefully.” She rolls her eyes. Right. “Do you know Neil Sands?” he asks. She doesn’t. “He’s a lawyer over at Justice,” Eli explains. “African American. Dad was a cop.” Oh. I see where this is going. “He’s by all accounts a great attorney. He’d be a great number two,” Eli finishes. It bears thinking about, countering the unintended racism issue. (This is also where I throw a fit about Geneva Pine.) “What do you think?” Sure it’s not very diligent to have her make a choice on a three sentence description, even if it is far more salient and informative than anything she heard from Castro and Redmayne.
Tilting her head, Alicia gives Eli a Mona Lisa smile. “Thank you for your advice, Eli,” she replies coolly. “All options are open to me, and I plan to decide in 48 hours.” He raises his eyebrows at this use of his own dismissal against him, compressing his mouth. She raises one eyebrow as if to say, well, I’m just following the advice of the master.
So, okay. That was ugly, but as much comic as it was serious. Just more reminders that everyone sucks, and I’m just so damn tired of not liking anyone. Frank Prady, you will be sorely missed.
So. Hm. What can I say? Want to read up about copyright lawsuits? Want to whine about two hacking story lines in a single season? Want to debate whether Eli”s mantra will do anything more than delay vengeance from Castro and Redmayne? Want to puzzle over the continuity errors? Honestly, I’m feeling emptied out. And isn’t it already time for another punishing episode? Ugh. Talk to you soon — and to those who celebrate, I wish you a happy Easter and joyous Passover.