E: You know who comes out of this edit feeling like a loser, right? Me. Because I spent the entire episode hoping that my beloved main character would be scandalized and humiliated and have to resign from the State’s Attorney’s Office, and I hate that it’s come to this. I don’t like hoping to see her wrecked, and yet I can’t help feeling like that’d be a far better thing — both for the show and for her — than what’s happening now. At what point is there going to be a pay off to this benighted story line? I genuinely don’t know what that might even be, or how they can wring something enjoyable out of the territory we’re headed toward. Every time Politician Alicia blanches, declares “I can’t possibly do that,” and then turns around, smiles, and commits that same soul-destroying act, more of my love for this show dies.
I usually avoid reading press about the episodes before I’ve finished writing about them myself, but I found this quote from Robert King instructive: “We’ve been with Alicia throughout the show and she’s done some questionable things, but you often forgive her as a character. But now we see how the public might react to her. There are things that we know and love, but the viewing public in Alicia’s world may view it a completely different way.” What I wonder if the writing staff has considered is the possibility that while the real world audience generally continues to care about Alicia despite her questionable and/or immoral choices, this doesn’t mean we have a rose-colored view of her as a candidate. I think as viewers we’re all pretty clear that Alicia’s been perpetrating a kind of fraud against the voting public, and we’re not all rooting for her to get away with it simply because she’s the main character of the show.
Also: the show remembers it’s own history! Yay, a continuity re-write. And then, both detail and emotional continuity fail. Sigh. At least there’s more fun, smart debate between Diane and new found conservative foil R.J. Dipple, as well as more guest stars and more dang content than you can shake at stick at.
Wearing a pretty blue long sleeve dress, Alicia sits for an interview, the smooth subject we’ve seen her grow to become. “Happy, that’s the word,” she decides, glowing. An equally false voice prompts her for more detail. “Happy that you won the election?” She nods. Happy and also proud that enough people shared her vision to make it a shared victory, she explains as soft music swells behind her. There’s a still shot of Alicia in her red suit, laughing on election night. “A victory that becomes less improbable when you see Alicia Florrick in action,” the female reporters voice narrates, young but already raspy. “What do I love the most about coming to my law firm? That’s easy. The camaraderie,” she declares over pictures of what’s apparently her office building, a shining, stuttering tower of glass and steel. Could that statement be any more ironic after last week? No, I don’t think so. “If Alicia Florrick is a legal powerhouse, it’s because she commands the respect of her colleagues.” Aw, that’s nice, as is seeing Alicia in a meeting, laughing over charts with Cary and Diane. “But it wasn’t always so,” the woman’s voice continues, shifting to the picture of Alicia being hugged by the older woman in the coffee shop, and then to an oddly open-mouthed shot of her during the debate. “Saint Alicia came by way of an arduous journey.”
“Can we do better than that one?” the woman asks in a normal tone of voice. (Which, absolutely!) Sure, replies the young man who’s her video editor. “Tell me when,” he says, and he clicks through a series of photographs including staged shots as well as images from work and one of her next to Peter in a church. “That one,” reporter Petra Moritz decides (wow, it’s been a long time!), settling on a shot of Alicia looking up at Peter during an interview. They reset the vocal track and slowly close in on the image. “Saint Alicia came by way of an arduous journey, one that took her from stay-at-home mom,” (here, a photo of Alicia between Grace and Zach), “to scandal,” (the old press conference photo of her in the boxy tweed jacket), “to lowly associate.” Last we see her sitting on a bench outside the courtroom, holding a cup of coffee over her bare legs, and I can’t help but remember how much I love this show even while I’m hating on it, because no one talks about work process the way this show can, bringing such depth to what might have been a throw-away moment.
“Can we go back to the scandal photo,” Petra asks, “can we make her in color and everything else in black and white?” Nodding, the young man in black tosses up a quick outline around Alicia’s body, and makes it so. “Yeah, great. Now back to the interview.” This takes us to a more formal, business oriented picture of Alicia in another tweed jacket, looking very much in charge. “…to founding partner of one of Chicago’s largest firms.”
“How will my administration differ from that of my husband’s?” Video Package Alicia repeats. Mmm, says Petra. “It’s not…” Alicia dithers, “I can’t…” Petra has her editor excise Alicia’s search for the proper wording and shoots us right to it: “The better question?” We see Interview-Petra looking receptive and interested in her question being dope-slapped. “How will my administration be different from my predecessor’s. We will be accountable to victims! Worthy of the public’s trust!” And we retreat into the interview itself, where Eli pops in, asking if he can steal the subject, as he has the governor on the phone for Alicia. “Sure, Eli, anything for you,” Petra coos, and Josh Mariner walks over to say he’s pleased with how everything’s going.
He merely swings by, however, and is soon out in the halls of Florrick Agos & Lockhart, where Eli hands Alicia a phone so she can pretend to talk to Peter while they talk to her. Snort. Rumor has it, they say, that the emails might still get out. Yep, there it is. The internet is forever. Hearing from whom, Alicia wonders. “I heard Diane and Cary talking about it,” Marissa walks by as if casually, her head averted. “Want some crackers?” No. No she doesn’t. It turns out that the hackers want an apology (are you kidding me?) and the team wants Alicia to make sure they get it.
“We can’t publicly condone piracy,” Alicia complains, so Josh suggests weasel-wording it. “We regret any implications that the blah blah blah legitimate… you know.” Thanks, Josh. Thankfully they know how to lie on their own. She says she’ll talk to the partners, and Eli presses the issue, because the emails will sink her if they’re released, as threatened, by the end of the week.
Petra’s Video Slave loves the way a smiling Alicia returns to her seat after this conversation, and wants to use it for the official “sit down,” an idea that horrifies Petra because then we wouldn’t get to see her and Alicia cordially shaking hands. As they speak, Petra gets a ping on her iPad, which she’s left on a nearby chair. “Dirt on your girl Alicia!” an email from TJC advertises. Distracted, she slides to view it, and is immediately rewarded with a picture of a flaming skull saying “Enjoy!,” the image a fusion of Anonymous’s mask, J.K. Rowling’s Dark Mark, and Scream‘s Ghostface. Has it been a week already? How could they let this happen? Petra clicks to download 1.3 MB of emails. “And we will be transparent,” Alicia proclaims on camera as the emails load, “accountable to victims! Worthy of the public’s trust!” Slowly, Petra tilts her head.
“Where’d you get these?” Petra’s editor asks her – which, aw, it’s Captain Montgomery from Castle! I love him. Immediately you get a sense of authority but also decency whenever he shows up. “An anonymous source,” Petra admits, following the Captain (and her tablet) around a busy news room. From a hack, he assumes. “Yes, Alicia Florrick’s hacked emails from the last five years.” Ah ha! So, from the ACTUAL time period where she wanted to chain Will’s tongue to her hips. (I still can’t believe she’d write something like that — not even getting into the stupidity of committing such words to work email. It’s just so cheesy. Very Prince Charles/Anthony Weiner.)
“You have to read them,” she whispers. “I thought this was a puff piece,” Captain Montgomery frowns. “It was,” Petra replies with barely controlled excitement. “People don’t like it when you tear down their heroes,” Montgomery insists, an utterly baffling comment from a news editor. “Are you kidding? It’s what they live for,” Petra turns to look at him. Okay, he says, but we’ll need independent corrobortion, so talk to her firm. No sooner said than done; Diane tells Petra yes, we’ve been hacked as Kalinda drops off a report and heads out of her boss’s office. And runs into — no way! — the wonderful yet life-destroying Andrew Wiley, his two children (whom we saw so often in their double stroller) now tethered to him by a lead rope. What’re you up to today, she asks after he greets her formally. “Oh, you know, the usual,” he says, on his way to Diane’s office, “making trouble.”
Oh yes. Chickens, coming home to roost, and heaven knows Kalinda’s got enough loose chickens to open a pie factory. She actually steps on to the elevator, so we get to stare at the closed metal doors for a moment before she pops back out, slapping her phone against her hand and frowning. She reaches Diane in the area just outside the name partner offices. Is everything all right? Yes, Diane says, she’s just on the way to meet R.D. — but of course that’s not what Kalinda means, and eventually Diane spills. Andrew’s talking to Cary in Diane’s office; he’s working with internal affairs on Detective Prima’s Brady violation. I feel like Jared Andrews last week, except in reverse; Superman’s in the building. Must be trouble for us villains.
Anyway, Internal Affairs is finding it harder to prove entrapment (sad, since that’s the part that’s true) and so want to know how FAL found out about the deleted email. Diane’s hoping to see Prima prosecuted, and I’m sure Cary’s just as enthusiastic about it, so of course we’re cooperating fully. Kalinda smiles brightly as the noose tightens around her neck.
“Hi,” Kalinda says, popping into Finn’s office. The latter looks up at her over his glasses. Unlike last week, he’s working on a desk in his actual office, and not just out on the floor. To his surprise, she’s here for legal advice; he accepts this odd plea easily, taking off his glasses. “Hypothetically,” she begins, “someone is going to prison for something he didn’t do. Someone else did it. But there’s a lawyer who made misrepresentations based on, um… based on…” He smiles, seeing where she’s tied herself in a loop. Just don’t use names and I’m fine, he says, smiling. “Look,” she says, trying to extricate herself. “Someone is guilty of faking evidence. But a lawyer who did not fake that evidence and thought it to be true presented it in court. Now, is that lawyer in trouble?” What, for using faked evidence even without knowing it was faked? Yes.
“Ignorance is irrelevant,” Finn explains. “The lawyer could be disbarred or even go to prison.” Whoa. Yikes. That seems unfair. Kalinda presses her lips together (which makes me notice that her lipstick matches her maroon dress) and swallows hard. “And, uh, what if that person who faked the evidence swore to the lawyer’s innocence?” It doesn’t matter, Finn says. It’s strict liability.
Okay, replies Kalinda, not knowing what to do with this information. Anything else, Finn asks in his typically quiet way, open but not pressing. I love this about him. No, she lies, there’s nothing else.
In sharp contrast to Kalinda’s panic, R.D. Dipple’s standing in a sort of men’s club room with wood paneling and book shelves and ceilings easily 15 feet high, and the men surrounding him are clapping. “Diane!” R.D. bellows. “You brave soul. Welcome to the Plenary Institute!” Dressed in a simple red jacket over a black skirt (much more typical of Alicia), Diane walks in, looking very pleased with herself. Why brave, she wonders. “Liberal lawyer in this conservative lion’s den,” he dimples, and the men around him smile smugly. “A lion’s den is perfectly safe when you have God on your side,” Diane smiles, and R.D.’s assembled den of sycophants all laugh because the liberal is quoting the Bible at them; she stands out in red (everyone else wears black or gray) though I notice on the second viewing that there is one other woman. Host R.D. introduces tall, stuffy looking Max Gaul of Cole Harbridge Grayson and short, floppy haired Justin Partridge of Simkins Wile, and then asks her to sit opposite the two men on the other side of an enormous, six foot fire place. What am I doing here, she wonders, taking her seat. “Aside from picking up your retainer check?” R.D. jokes. “I need a liberal viewpoint.” On? “Gay marriage,” he says, sitting down for the show. “You’re the devil’s advocate.” Snort.
At any rate, it turns out that the Plenary Institute might fund a case about gay marriage and religious accommodation. Super timely, guys, given the Indiana law that dominated national headlines last week! In May of 2014, a California baker named Jane Armisen refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, and refused due to religious objections. Amusingly we see a pair of gentlemen, arm in arm, pop into a bakery, a palm tree and blue sky in the background, the colors bright and cartoonish right down to one gentleman’s red fedora. A disapproving Armisen crosses her arms and shakes her head, dashing their adorable dreams. The adorably coiffed couple sue, they win, and now the Plenary Institute wants to support her appeal.
No, Diane says, which Dipple is ready to write off to her politics. “It’s not because I’m a liberal,” she laughs, “it’s because you won’t win.” This was just a plain wedding cake, she clarifies, nothing about the cake itself was offensive? “That’s correct,” Partridge pipes up, “it’s the fact that it would be used in a ceremony that dishonors her religious creed.” Some might say that refusing service to customers because you disapprove of their lifestyle dishonors that religious creed, but okay. “This baker advertises to the public that she makes these wedding cakes,” Diane glares at her opposing counsel, and they both grimace, because they know she’s got them. “And she will sell these wedding cakes to anyone, just not gay people.” She raises her eyebrows at the men. “I’m sorry, but that’s not a strong case.”
The Constitution guarantees the baker’s religious freedom, Partridge argues. “And the California civil rights act forbids discrimination against LGBT people,” Diane counters. “So we have two competing freedoms,” R.D. points out (duh). “Businesses are allowed to refuse service to anyone.” Not just anyone, Diane corrects him. “It cannot be based on race, color, religion or sexual preference,” she says, and I assume gender is in there too? In some states, he adds. In many states, she corrects him again. “Well there are exceptions to the exceptions,” he muses. “What was it Thomas Jefferson said?” He searches his memory for the right words. “‘Among the most inestimable of our blessing is that of liberty to worship our creator in a way that we think would be agreeable to Him.'” This is Thomas Jefferson the noted questioner of religion we’re talking about, right? But no one brings that up. It would have been a perfect time for Diane to pull out this Jefferson quote, in which he speaks of curtailing religious freedoms: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.”
Boom! E drops the mic.
Ahem. Sorry. Perhaps it’s not as plausible that Diane would be able to quote a Founding Father with the same ease that she rattles off the Latin translation of the Hippocratic oath, but either way, let us return to the argument already in progress. Thing #2 (which is to say, Max Gaul) adds that this is exactly the same as conscientious objectors to a war.
“I’m sorry to be blunt,” Diane says with a tolerant smile, “I know you come to your opinions honestly.” It’s not an opinion, Gaul argues. The Religious Freedoms Restoration Act allows exemptions in anti-discrimination laws. (In case you were wondering if all conservative Christians are monolithic about RFRA, this act drives some of my friends crazy. Who says that the best thing we can do in Jesus’s name is marginalize people and discriminate against them? Yeah, that’s totally the way to honor him.) Not in California, Diane shakes her head. California does not have one.
Let’s say we’re not in California, then, R.D. postulates. Say we’re in Colorado. And when Diane agrees to the hypothetical change in venue, we see another peppy little vision of the same charming bakery (old fashioned cash register, white tiered cakes) with snowcapped mountains outside its windows, and when the engaged couple walks in the door, ringing the cheery bell, they’re now wearing parkas and knitted hats instead of bowling shirts. “Well we’re not in Colorado,” Diane replies as Thing 1 smirks, “but if we were RFRA would not be your friend there either.” So let’s say it’s in New Mexico, Thing 2 suggests, and the cheery bell rings again, and the mountains are a desert, and the hat-favoring gay partner wears a stetson while the other has a preppy sweater over a polo shirt and patterned pants (possibly in a Native American motif). “It doesn’t matter,” Diane replies, a bit exasperated. “A baker is refusing to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple for who they are. That is the heart of discrimination.”
“What if our baker won’t sell a wedding cake to a gay couple,” R.D. tries, “but he will sell them… bear claws. Cupcakes.” The baker (still female) holds out a tempting tray of puffed treats. “That’s right,” Thing 2 adds in his deep cowboy voice. “She’s not refusing to serve homosexuals. She’s just refusing to do the one thing her religion says is a sin.” And here I thought that only the actual gay people having actual gay sex were the ones sinning. “Okay,” Diane smiles, that’s a good point, and R.D. shakes his head in shock and calls for a recess.
“Where’s Diane Lockhart?” R.D. wonders. “‘That’s a good point?’” It was a good point, she answers. “No it waddn’t. You know it waddn’t.” Well, you wanted me to help, she answers, not getting it. “No, I wanted you to fight,” he declares. “I want you to convince me this is a loser case. If you’re worried about offending me, don’t. I have a gay nephew, okay,” he adds, and she raises her eyebrows. “Love my gay nephew. I just don’t happen to believe in gay marriage.” You just happen to want to deny your nephew one of the most basic pursuits of happiness we know. Okay. Sounds like love to me. “You do. Convince me I’m wrong.” It’s clear Diane takes this as evidence that he can be convinced, that he truly wants a real effort from her, and she smiles at the challenge. “Go for the jugular?” she asks, and he chuckles, turning his cheek so he can point out the vulnerable spot under his jaw. “Right there, m’am.”
“That’s insane!” Diane barks, back in her advocate’s chair. “Selling someone something they don’t want is the same thing as refusing them service altogether.” I don’t think I exactly agree with that, but Thing 1 and Thing 2 smirk at each other, astounded by the change in her demeanor. “No, it isn’t,” Thing 1 argues, but she cuts him off. “A vegetarian couple walks into a market,” she posits, “and you refuse to sell them vegetables. In fact, you’ll sell them anything but vegetables. You’re effectively denying them service.” Well said. Now Dipple is really enjoying himself, smiling behind his hand. “A gay couple wants to buy a wedding cake, and you refuse to sell them a wedding cake.”
The screen burbles as Editorial Cabana Boy rewinds Alicia. “The camaraderie,” she says. “The relationships I’ve built here. Its what makes coming to work here a joy.” Petra leans in. “Relationships that have been built with some difficulty, apparently,” she adds into her soon to be ex-puff piece. God, I can only imagine what horrible things she can take from that hate-fest we saw last week. “Now cut to the email,” she tells Cute Editor Boy, “float it in, Star Wars style.” Dutifully he turns the white page of text and sends it flying toward the reader over a black backdrop. “Alicia Florrick to a coworker,” Petra reads, and the only name we can see is Cary Agos: “It’s all about money to them.” The next piece of text actually flies off the page. “The partners don’t give a damn about us.” Huh. Well. The nascent rebellion; no wonder she went Star Wars style. Less damaging email than I’d have gone for, though. Float in the next email, she instructs. “Two of her workers write: Alicia is a perfect example of someone sleeping her way to the top.” Oh dear. That one’s from Cary, much further back in the day. “Now change the music,” Petra commands her slave, and in what has to be an oversimplification, he toggles from Positive Music to Negative Music. TV editing can’t be quite that reductive, can it? The video image of the email crumples as we hear Petra read them again, and then other words swim toward us: …one night stand and … still feel your touch, and the words continue to float over the credit sequence. Too dangerous, they say. Meet me…
Her hair fluffed around her shoulders, Petra Moritz looks like a lioness in tawny tweed, watching her cubs eviscerate the gazelle she brought down; clearly she’s taking a vicious enjoyment in the fact Alicia doesn’t know she’s dead yet. “Mrs. Florrick, I wanna thank you for agreeing to sit down for a second interview,” she purrs, seated across from the new SA in her old office, and while Alicia gives the polite reply, Eli and Josh glower suspiciously from the corner.
“Mrs. Florrick,” she begins, “you returned to the practice of law after 12 years…” 13, Alicia corrects. “Thirteen years, sorry,” Petra repeats as if impressed, “and you walk into this law firm full of old bulls and young tigers — were you nervous?” Alicia smiles to herself. Very. “And the only person you knew at all was Will Gardner?” At the mention of Will’s name, Eli’s Spidey senses start tingling. “And the two of you wound up becoming … quite close, didn’t you?” Alicia blinks, her face freezing into a polite mask. The question hits Eli like electricity; Josh starts to sway. “Will was a terrific lawyer,” Alicia replies, because questions are for dopes, “He was smart, creative … zealous, in the best sense of the word.” More importantly, Petra pushes, a trusted friend? Alicia spears her with a hard look before finally saying yes. “And, after May 2010, perhaps even more so?”
And with that supremely strange phrasing Eli breaks in and, all apology, drags Alicia out into the hall for a time sensitive discussion.
(And not to be stuck in my role of timeline Nazi, but we’re actually talking about May 2011. I mean, yes, there were overtures in 2010 but she didn’t know about them. How is it that a show full of brilliant writers can’t keep such mundane details as HOW LONG THEIR FRICKING SHOW HAS BEEN ON THE AIR in their heads? The affair started at the end of the second season, not the first. Come ON. Snap out of it, people.)
“She has the emails,” Alicia tells Eli, breathless. Or the photos, Eli suggests, but no, she’s sure it has to be the emails. “She said May 2010, that’s the emails.” What emails, what’re we talking about, how bad is it, Josh asks. “Give her your phone,” Eli barks, and Josh obeys. “I’m calling this off.” Yes, that’s a good idea, because yes, it’s bad. So incredibly, terribly bad.
Let’s say a Hindu or a Muslim enter a bakeshop, Diane posits; no, Thing 2 says, shaking his head, that isn’t comparable. “Yes it is,” Diane insists. They’re both protected classes.” So we see a Hindu with his head wrap — played, I believe, by the hat-wearing gay partner — entering the bakeshop, which this time sits in a city amidst towering skyscrapers. “A Hindu can enter any bakeshop and be denied a wedding cake.” No, it’s not the same thing, Thing 2 continues to insist, because that’s denial of a class of people. “Exactly,” Diane agrees. “Like gays.” No no no — it’s a denial of the activity, marriage, rather than the people. Eh. Denying them the cake doesn’t stop the marriage. That’s just a pretext for discrimination, Diane argues.
“What about a black wedding cake?” Dipple asks, and I’m not sure whether he means a cake for African Americans, or a Goth wedding cake colored black. That’s not what happened, Diane replies, which makes me wonder if I’m hearing him right at all, but no matter how many times I listen, it sounds like the same thing. “I know,” Dipple agrees. ‘I’m trying to determine where religious freedom ends, and anti-discrimination law begins.” Well, if you trust Thomas Jefferson, your freedom to do whatever you want ends when what you want would hurt another person; burning a witch, say, or refusing to bake a wedding cake. “What if Jane were asked to attached a figurine of two men holding hands.” The Hypothetical New Mexico gays hand over such a cake topping figurine. “Can she deny that service?” Diane thinks about it. “If she’s in the business of supplying those figurines, then no, she cannot do it.”
“What if she’s asked to write on the cake, congratulations Roger and Carl?” Thing 1 asks, which makes me wonder if he’s ever been to a wedding. (Also, it’s just offensively reductive. You have to agree with a sentiment to copy it out in frosting? You have to really wish someone a speedy recovery or a happy divorce to write that on a cake? Honestly? Does Google have to approve everything that gets written in a gmail account, or on google documents? Does a florist have to approve of one night stands to copy out the note some playboy sends to his latest paramour along with flowers?) “Can she deny that because it’s speech she doesn’t agree with?”
“Well now we come round to the free speech argument,” Diane says; well you knew we were going to end up there, R.D. agrees. “Well, here’s the thing,” she says, bringing up the point I’ve already grumbled about, “it’s not her speech. It’s the speech of the person purchasing the service.” That’s right. The artisan is the vessel in this case, just fulfilling someone else’s design, in the way a typist might, or a contractor with architectural plans. “I mean, imagine if she’s a printer, and a gay person comes in needing flyers.” Dour Jane stands in her print shop, and New Mexican Roger and Carl pop in with a page to copy. “She cannot reject his business, even though the flyer might be advertising an LGBT meeting.” We see that it is, and we see her try to wave them away. “Because to reject him is to discriminate based on sexual preference.” Just as one can’t discriminate based on religion, Thing 2 suggests. Competing freedoms. Yes.
“So, if a Christian walks into the bakeshop, and orders a cake that says “God Sends Gays To Hell,” does the baker have to write that on the wedding cake, even if she doesn’t approve of it?” Now that is a good question, because that fits with our theory that the speech on the cake is not her speech. “No,” snarls Diane. “Because you find it offensive?” Thing 1 wonders. “No,” Diane posits, “because the baker is not objecting to a religion, but to a point of view.” Oh, nice distinction. This is a dozy, it really is. How do we distinguish where the baker can take a stand? “A hateful one at that.”
What if the purchaser believes this to be part of their religious doctrine? “I mean, isn’t the Christian a protected class, with the same protections as gays?” Diane considers this. She’s stumped, which delights R.D., who twiddles his fingers happily.
He’s not as happy as Andrew Wiley’s two little kids, though, who’re spinning each other around the conference room in a large white chair. I’m sorry, Andrew apologizes once he gets around the spinning chair and the leash, there’s just been a little hiccup in the investigation; as he hangs up, he waves his phone at Cary and Kalinda to explain. What hiccup, Cary wonders, but it looks to me like Wiley’s not exactly upset; in fact, he’s practically panting with excitement. “Detective Prima deleted the email from the Canadian authorities at 3:11 pm on August 28th. That’s the great thing about technology, you’re never wondering when this or that happened, it’s all there in black and white.” Good, so what’s the problem, Cary asks as Kalinda flinches. “Timmy, Dora, less noise,” he calls out to his giggling off-spring before springing his own surprise: Detective Prima was on the stand testifying in a burglary case from 2:38 to 5:30pm. Oh, crap. With the way he’s closely watching the two for reactions, I don’t doubt Wiley sees Kalinda gulp. “So, I mean, unless there’s a mistake in the public record or in the email metadata, there is no possible way … Dora, let go of Timmy’s hair … There is no possible way that Prima could have deleted the email.”
And there they are. The chickens. They have come home, my friends.
“So what’s your theory?” Cary asks, unconcerned, and Andrew sighs, looking over at Kalinda. “Well, unfortunately, my theory involves ASA Geneva Pine, who was having an affair with Detective Prima at the time.” Ew! I can’t believe he shared that! That is so unprofessional. Cary looks taken aback, as well he might; that’s not a pairing I’d have ever pictured. “You’re kidding,” he frowns, just as the young Wiley’s start screaming “stop!” at each other and Kalinda dares to breath again. She didn’t tell anybody for obvious reasons, Wiley adds, searching his pockets for snacks in ziplock bags. “You think she deleted the email?” Cary asks, holding the contents of Wiley’s capacious pockets so the beleaguered dad can feed his kids Cheerios, the better to calm them with. Well, she was the only one in the department with access to his accounts, Wiley offers as he turns back to them. “I was wondering if you guys had any other thoughts,” he says, looking Kalinda right in the face.
And all the fear I don’t feel for Alicia, I feel for Kalinda in this moment. I mean, I’ve known this was coming — we saw the noose knotted months ago — but still, feeling that noose tighten is no fun.
“Ah,” Kalinda coughs, “why would we have thoughts?” I have no idea, Wiley lies. But do they? They don’t. His kids have ideas, though, on how to kill each other. “Don’t make me count to five,” he turns his head toward them.
Is it wrong that I really want to see them with Patti Nyholm’s children? I’d love to see a glimpse of Baby Bite Me out and about.
Back in her editing suite, Petra plays the clip of Alicia praising Will, and the screen turns black and white, and Petra reads an email from June 2010, and I want to smack the writers because for the love of God, you mean 2011! Will, sometimes I think this is wrong, you being my boss. I refuse to believe that Alicia ever committed that worry to email. She could barely say that out loud. Will to Alicia, Petra continues. I know, but I can’t get you out of my head. The touch of you, the taste.
Well. Petra sighs, and Editor Boy twists the top off a bottle of soda. “That’s a long time to be on one image,” he suggests, and she agrees, calling up the image of the scandal and reversing the directions from before, so that she’s in black and white and the rest is color. Alicia to Will: You were away at depos this week. All I could think about was your hands on me. You know, I don’t like that with the scandal picture; I get that Petra’s going for contrast and shame, but Alicia looks too beaten down, too sympathetic. If I was trying to damn her, I’d have picked a sexier photo. Sometimes this feels too dangerous. The phone rings, and just after he picks it up, Editor Cabana Boy warns Petra that she needs to be out in the newsroom.
And that, of course, is because Eli’s in the newsroom raising hell with Captain Montgomery about Petra using illegally obtained emails in a report. “Not just used, broadcast!” Josh adds. “It’s so far beyond the pale I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation!” Eli thunders. “I didn’t hack her emails,” Petra clarifies, her beautiful hair floating down from a run as she joins their conversation. A distinction without a difference, Eli growls, but the Captain disagrees and Petra backs him up; according to the Supreme Court, they have the right to publish the information as long as they weren’t the ones who stole it. Well, that’s convenient! Not that I don’t want them to publish — I do actually agree that the public has a right to know that Alicia’s deliberately crafted an image based on lies — but still.
So the next legal element of the debate is whether Alicia being a public official makes her email a public concern, and whether she has a right to privacy. If you use these private emails, Josh suggests, you and Petra are, you know, blah blah… Co-conspirators, Eli snaps. “No, I’m sorry,” the Captain says. “You’re wrong on the law. You can go after the hackers here, not us.” Is this true? Interesting. There’s a tort for the disclosure of private facts, Eli responds; well then sue us after it airs, Montgomery says. Oh, that’s super appealing. I’m sure they’re going to run right after that option. “Oh, come on, Charles,” Eli blusters. “You made a speech to the International Press Commission about the ethics of journalism!” Charles looks a little sour at that reminder. “And now you’re looking for cover to air this kind of, you know…” Where Josh stumbles, Eli’s quick with the snappy phrasing. “… scurrilous sexually charge innuendo, which, until today, was the stuff of tabloids and blogs.” He points an accusing finger at Petra. “Which, it should be noted, is where you came from!”
“Your righteous indignation is sweet, Eli,” Petra smiles mildly, “but you started this.” Ah, she’s shocked him. “You created the myth of Saint Alicia.” He shakes his head, and Josh temporarily drowns Petra out as he laughs over the presses propensity to build people up to only drag them down. “…the truth, which comes out in these emails. It puts the lie to all that. And the public has a right to know.” She may be a true believer, Petra, but she also enjoys the tearing down. “It’s gross, you’re gross,” Josh Who-Lives-In-Glass-Houses Mariner tells Petra, and Captain Charles Montgomery calls the entire argument to a halt. He’ll hold the story while he considers all sides, “ethically and otherwise.” How does Petra feel about being the “otherwise,” I wonder?
Anyway, I love this conversation. More competing freedoms; I dig it.
“What’re you gonna do?” Video Editor Boy asks Petra as she sits back down next to him. She shakes her head and grabs a hand full of something — nuts? m & ms? something crunchy — to munch on is dissatisfaction. Who’d be interested in this, she wonders. TMZ or Gawker? Um, I’d say both, and Editor Boy agrees. This story has bottom feeders all over it.
“What about, say, a wedding planner?” R.D. asks as if off the top of his head. Thing #2 likes it — “it’s first amendment, it’s personal service, it’s religious freedom all rolled into one, isn’t it?” Thing #1 nods his agreement, and even Diane’s willing to grant that they’d arguably have a better case there. “Because of the burden on her,” she explains. “Her time commitment, her creativity, the list of her personal contacts… yes, that would be a harder case for me to win.” Great, R.D. says, and with that the exercise is over.
“Well that was exhausting,” Diane smiles, standing and walking to the center of the room to meet R.D..”But effective,” he declares. “I have decided not to fund the baker’s appeal.” Good, she smiles, shaking his hand. “I think that’s smart. Not just ideologically, but practically. I think you’d lose.”
And there’s Dora Wiley, blowing raspberries on the glass wall in — wait, is that Finn’s office? Why are they possibly there? Why are they here at all? Are we offering preschool classes? Seriously, this is ridiculous. Also, those poor walls. Or the poor cleaning ladies, I don’t know. And the germs…. the way Timmy is wiggling his tongue against the glass, I can’t even think about it.
“Do you know what metadata is?” Andrew Wiley asks Finn as Kalinda lurks outside in her keyhole dress. He does know. “Did you know it’s possible to fake metadata?” He did not. As Andrew details how difficult such a thing might be (you’d have to be able to hack a system and change code) Finn yawns pointedly. Why does he need to know this? What is it that Wiley wants? As a former SA, Wiley suggests that Finn might have some insight into who could have done such a thing. I suspect Finn knows he’s looking at the culprit just outside his office, who senses she shouldn’t be seen and flees. Finn says nothing.
“Eli couldn’t make it,”Josh tells Captain Charles Montgomery. “He’s got some blah blah with the governor.” Snort. Charles thinks this is great, because then he doesn’t have to get an Eli tongue-lashing when he says he’s going to let Petra run the piece; Josh can’t believe it. “Look, Gawker is sniffing around,” Captain Charles admits, “it’s only a matter of time before they dump everything online.” So ethics go out the window when you’re going to be scooped to an unethical story? You might as well be the ones to air it first if it’s going to get out anyway? Don’t do this, Josh says. “Can’t afford to be scooped,” Charles shakes his head. Dude. That’s sad. “But you can afford to be a tool,” Josh says as he gets out his phone, presumably to call Eli. “That’s good to know the next time I need a, you know, tool.”
And as he walks away, I see I was wrong about the call. “Hi, Alicia,” he says. “Bit of a problem…”
And then we hear the All Things Considered theme (yay!) ; Diane’s driving either home or back to work (surprisingly early if it’s home, considering the show ends at 6:30pm) listening to Lakshmi Singh in Washington D.C., reporting on another salvo in the same sex marriage wars. “This time involving a gay couple in Idaho who were turned down by a wedding planner.” She frowns and turns the radio up, and her eyes flick open wide as she listens. “Gay marriage is legal in Idaho, and the couple sued and won. But now prominent conservative activist Reese Dipple has agreed to fund the wedding planner’s appeal.” Outraged, Diane slams on the brakes with her killer black heels.
“Do you have a dollar?” Finn asks Kalinda, having sought her out. She does. She gives it to him. “So I’m your lawyer now, Kalinda,” he says, “and this dollar represents attorney/client privilege.” Finn has a such light touch, he’s delicately making it clear that he knows she’s in a jam and that he’s here for her. She nods, unable to open up on her own. “Sure,” she says. “You faked metadata, and Diane used it in court to get Cary released, yes?” He sits. “Yeah,” she admits. “But Diane didn’t know it was faked,” he guesses, based on their previous hypothetical discussion. “Yeah,” she admits. “Anything else?” he wonders. Because if it’s going to get worse than that, he should know, right?
“Look,” she says. “After I faked the data, I had second thoughts about using it. But Diane took it from my computer without my knowledge.” Biting his lip, Finn looks down at his desk. “I didn’t realize until I got to court and saw her present it to the judge.” We see at once what an empathetic person Finn can be — you can see his worry, and how he’s trying to think his way through this. “Okay,” he whispers, and then looks up, his voice a little more firm. “Okay. You don’t talk to anyone about this. Not Diane, not Cary, and not Wiley. You just talk to me. Okay?” She nods yes.
“Do you… have any ideas?” she asks, hesitating. “No,” he admits, and he leaves.
“You used me,” Diane announces, stepping into the Plenary Institute library, wearing a lounge jacket made out of someone’s red and gold curtains. Frankly, I’m shocked she waited the whole day. Also, come on. She’s his employee. I think the issue isn’t so much that he used her as that he lied to her — that he used her as a scientific test subject who doesn’t know the real parameters of the experiment she was taking part in. Like, she went in thinking she was getting tested about her taste in fish and it turns out that it’s really trying to prove she’s in love with her father, or something. “What?” Reese asks, turning around. “That wasn’t a think tank,” she pouts, “you were trying to find a wedge issue against gay marriage.” Of course I was, he laughs. “And I found it. And you helped me.” Goody, she says. “I was your liberal guinea pig.” Why is that a bad thing, he wonders. “If you think that gay marriage can withstand any legal assaults, then you should rejoice in any chance to defend it.”
“So you’re funding this wedding planner’s appeal now?” she asks, coldly angry. He is. As she observed, it’s a stronger case. “And you can help me.” As if! “I won’t defend her,” Diane says, straightening her back. “And I wouldn’t ask you to. I wouldn’t ask you to be someone you’re not,” he says. Instead, he wants her to represent the plaintiff in a mock trial that very afternoon with the real wedding planner. How about Diane comes in as the plaintiff’s attorney and destroys her? “So you can improve your case?” she asks. “Yeah,” he admits. “But also, so you can destroy it.” Does that mean he won’t go forward if she’s persuasive enough? Ah, she can’t resist the challenge. She’d be working with a stand in plaintiff, an actor. “Who’s the judge,” she wonders, narrowing her eyes.
“Geoffrey Solomon,” an tall, broad man with a prodigious white beard grins, holding out his hand. “So nice to meet you.” “It’s such an honor, sir,” Diane sighs, and introduces herself. “I know,” he says, and she actually blushes, star-struck, before making this admission: “I think I read your Harvard book three times.” R.D. beams. “Really, that’s more than all my ex-wives put together,” Solomon chuckles. Oh Lord. The judge is named Solomon? Seriously? Trust that R.D. and his Bible. Solomon slaps R.D. on the back, leaving him alone with a positively glowing Diane. “You gotta admit I’m stacking the deck against myself here,” he tells her. “Liberal judge, tough plaintiff’s attorney. You lose, all your fault!” Hee. “Thanks,” she squawks as he leaves her alone with that heartening thought.
“Okay,” Eli declares, dramatically swinging Alicia’s office door open, “Strategy session. Two pronged attack!” As he throws both hands out, on a roll, Alicia, Josh and Marissa look up. “Oh, I love the two prongs,” his daughter declares, excited. “Even as a kid, we had two pronged attacks…” Oh my lord. Don’t you just love the idea of that? Can you imagine what her childhood looked like?
“Marissa, sssh! We have to delay Petra, even if only by 24 hours.” Maybe we tell her that all options are open to Alicia and she’s going to decide in 48 hours? Surely that magic mantra will work on her too! I mean, I can’t imagine she or anyone else would remember something they passionately wanted or needed a full 24 hours later… “How do we do that?” Alicia wonders.
First, apparently, by calling Petra, who’s off in the editing suite again. Eli’s going to offer her an irresistible lure – an onscreen interview with Peter to flesh out her piece. She makes her Video Cabana Boy leave before calling him on his b.s.; she knows it’s a delaying tactic, and yet she can’t help but fall for it. It’s too good a carrot, especially when he promises no restrictions on any question she might want to ask. He’ll get back to her with a time, but it’s probably going to happen that night, he says. Except it won’t.
Now, prong number two, Josh brings up. “We pre-spin the emails.” When Eli nods, you can see that he and Josh are on the same page. What does that mean, Alicia wonders innocently. “We go to a friendly reporter,” Eli explains. “And reporters that hate Petra,” Josh adds. Snort. “Give them a chance to scoop her. If you don’t want a story to be told, it’s better to tell it yourself.” So pretty in a thick flecked tweed, Alicia stands, horrified. “How do we tell it ourselves?” Alicia nearly gasps. She can’t conceive of it.
“What’s the worst revelation and the worst email?” Josh wonders. Alicia, I can’t get you out of my head. The touch of you, the taste… Marissa reads before Alicia, faint, waves her off. Okay, we know that Petra’s focused on that one, but seriously? What happened to the one night stand with Elfman? Or chaining Will’s tongue to her hips? I’m going to barf when I think about that one, seriously. But I’m lost. Did they not read last week’s episode — in which Marissa shares a stack of terrible emails — before they made this one? Because those two I just mentioned are way worse, as is the one where Will talks about Alicia’s thighs.
“It was just flirtation,” Eli spins. “There was no affair, these are just flirtatious emails.” Oh. That’s why they’re conveniently forgetting those other emails existed. Because this spin doesn’t work with something that explicit. Why put that cheesy language out there to gag your viewers, then? It’s all so unnecessary! Consistency, people! If the writers room can’t keep it straight from week to week, hire a fricking fan.
“Eli,” Alicia hesitates, walking toward him. “I think you and I should talk alone.” “Alicia,” he says, “I know this is embarrassing to you, but we don’t need to explain your life. All we need to explain are these emails, and these emails merely suggest an obsession.” No one’s going to believe that, especially if you mean that Will was obsessed with Alicia rather than it being a mutual thing. “A flirtation.” That’s going to be embarrassing enough, Josh adds, and Alicia rolls her eyes.
“Are there any emails that suggest an actual affair?” Instead of reading the clever linguistics email, Marissa comes up with another of Petra’s favorites: Will, you were away at depos this week. All I could think about was your hands on me. Sometimes this feels too dangerous.
Josh gulps. Eli gives Alicia a questioning look. “Okay, it’s still pretty embarrassing,” he agrees, but then looks on the bright side. “But still merely suggestive of an act. You didn’t act on it. This was just sexting.” Right. That’s super believable. “And this was all happening while your husband was screwing around,” Marissa suggests, which is not exactly accurate, as far as we know, and also not at all something Eli wants to bring up. It did actually happen when the two were separated, however, which is something that Peter admitted to under oath, which means it’s part of the public record, right?
“Why not?” Josh asks, pushing, much to Eli’s irritation. “Alicia was merely tempted because he husband moved out on her, and, blah blah.” I can’t help feeling a moment of affection for Josh. He’s kind of defending Alicia, and committing himself to her interests, which is nice. Okay, Eli’s hands spasm. “I don’t think we need to tear down Peter to build up Alicia,” he snaps, and while that’s usually the kind of advice I’d give to kids on a playground (or the internet), I agree that in this case it’s necessary context.
“It was an affair,” Alicia calls out, her voice breaking. She’s blinking back tears. “I can’t just stay this stuff about Will because it wasn’t true.” Aw. Eli looks at her in shock for a moment, and when he does speak, his voice is soft. “No one would appreciate it more if you do than Will. He always knew what needed to be said.” You know, this offended me the first time he said it — I love her impulse to be honest and to honor Will’s memory — but he’s right. Not only did Will always say the smooth and plausible thing, he would always, always have rated his ego as less important than what Alicia needed. He was selfless to fault in his dealings with her. “I can’t, I’m sorry,” she says, and rushes out of the room before the tears fall.
“Now what?” Josh wonders. “Get Peter to talk to her,” Marissa says, unhappy, as if making the suggestion costs her, and Eli whips his head around. Huh. Chip off the old block had a good idea.
“I’m not prejudiced against gay people,” the wedding planner says on the mock stand, like every other bigot out there. Seriously, isn’t that the way everyone starts their sentence when they’re going to make a bigoted remark? “I’m not prejudiced against anyone. But I believe the Bible is the word of God, period, and it’s not mine to ignore or change if I wish. Honestly, it would be easier to do that. I don’t want to be in the position of turning down business. I’m a wedding planner, sir, I need your business.” The man they’ve chosen to play the plaintiff is bearded, and not at all like the flamboyant fellows of the mental constructs. The wedding planner, Judith Dahl, is athletically thin with sleek blond hair, a sleek zip up jacket/top, and a low voice, and when the plaintiff looks down at his lap, she doubts herself.
“I’m supposed to treat him like the actual guy who’s suing me, right?” she turns to the fake judge, who sits in a large wooden chair next to her. That’s right, he says. Treat this just like court, and me just like a judge. “Look, I certainly don’t want to be sued for sticking to my beliefs,” she says, going back into mock trial mode, “but they are what they are.” It’s an interesting question. Many of us would laud civil disobedience. Does that stop when it becomes mean? Things 1 & 2 have nothing more to add to this, and turn their witness over to Diane for her scourging, who establishes that Miss Dahl has had a 12 year career planning weddings. “And in all that time you have never been approached about doing a gay wedding before?” Nope. “Of course there’s a homosexual community in Pocatello,” she adds, “and my very favorite florist is gay.” The latter phrase Dahl voices directly to the plaintiff as if offering him a gift (look, I really do love gay people!) . She definitely needs coaching as a witness.
“But you are aware that gay marriage has been legal in Idaho since 2014?” Diane asks. That recently? How did that give them time to adjudicate this case? At any rate, Miss Dahl is aware of this. “Abortion is legal too. It doesn’t mean I have to agree with it.” (Funnily enough, I’m in the middle of a similar debate myself right now on Facebook with two conservative lawyer friends about the death penalty phase of the Boston Marathon bombing case.) You have to follow the law, Diane says, and Miss Dahl agrees. I’m not stopping them from getting married, she says; I just don’t want to be a part of it. “I’m helping two people seal their commitment to each before the world and before God,” she says earnestly. “I can’t do that if I don’t believe in it.” I agree that this is a more difficult wedge issue than the wedding cake one, especially considering the time commitment. I’m all about seeing the two sides when I can, and this is a far richer example.
Diane blinks. “Miss Dahl,” she asks, “how many times did Jesus condemn homosexuality?” Ha. In general there’s far less mention of sex in the New Testament, particularly in the gospels, than you’d guess from the emphasis placed on it. Of course Thing 1 objects immediately on grounds of relevance (he gets squirmy at Diane’s very mention of Jesus’s name), which is a little hilarious. “She’s claiming religion as the basis of her refusal, counselor. I fail to see how the specifics of that religion could not be relevant,” Judge Solomon tells him with a rather pitying look. “Um, Jesus never condemned homosexuality,” she admits. “And how many times did Jesus condemn divorce?” 3 times, Miss Dahl says, or 4 if you count gospel writers Matthew and Mark’s accounts of the same incident (I wouldn’t).
Diane smiles. “So you’ve never planned a wedding for a couple that had previously been married?” Thing 2 looks down at his lap. Boo yah! “Um, I haven’t asked,” Miss Dahl admits, and R.D. nods, knowing Diane’s hit a vein here. “Well, in fact,” Diane tells her, “you have planned two weddings in the last year where one or both of the couple had previously been married.” Admitting to this, Miss Dahl looks down. “So your religious objection is selective at best,” Diane surmises over Thing 1’s objection. Solomon sustains the objection (argumentative) but it’s okay. Diane’s already done her work.
Who’s that knock knock knocking on Alicia’s door? Still dressed for the day, Alicia opens the door to Peter, his guards positioned in the hallway. “Let’s talk,” he says.
“You have no choice,” he calls out, grabbing a bottle of red wine and a glass in the kitchen, his tie hanging, loosened, a few inches below his throat. “I’m not going to lie, especially to a reporter,” she responds from another room. What’s this sudden issue with lying to the press? It’s a little late for that scruple, isn’t it? Also I guess Grace is conveniently absent, yet again. How’s she getting places now that Zach and his car are gone, I wonder. “You have to control the narrative,” Peter insists, and Alicia emerges in a pristine maroon and gray zip up cardigan and dressy-casual pants, of course already holding her own glass of wine. I am astounded as always at how formal her home clothes are. Is this all aspirational, or are there people who really live like this? She sits at the kitchen island and accepts a glass one wine. “So I don’t look like the slutty wife?” Peter glares at her, incredulous. “Yeah,” he says, “it’ll kill you.” Indeed. She is Saint Alicia, after all.
Which would make you the cuckhold, she grumbles, which I’m sure he’d like even less. “If you don’t control the narrative,” he repeats. In an odd continuity glitch, we first see him pouring himself a refill, and then, when the camera changes angles, refilling her glass, all a little too quickly to be real. She caresses the wine glass, running her fingers along the bowl and stem as she thinks. “It’s kind of odd that we’re discussing this so calmly,” she observes, turning to squint at him. “I’m hoping it’s maturity,” he replies, tart, and she laughs into her wine. Is that what that looks like, she wonders. I’d like to pretend it’s not inconsistent that you’d mature that fast given the level of vitriol in the election day fight.
“Talking calmly,” he offers, starting to pace. “Not yelling. Making sense. Yeah.” He sits across from her, and she turns her body to face him, narrowing her eyes. He rests his case. “Have we come through the other side?” she wonders. “What other side?” he asks, and well might he ask, because there’s nothing to suggest this truce isn’t a temporary phenomenon. “Of anger. Jealousy. Disgust.” Did I disgust you, he wonders, which has to be a joke, right? For a while, she nods, serious. (How can he not know that? She made that pretty clear. Like, two weeks ago, even.)
A smile starts to play on her lips. “Actually, it’s kind of nice,” she says, “sitting here drinking together. It’s like watching two other people drink.” He downs a hearty mouthful, then swirls the remaining wine around his glass. “And what do those people do?” he asks, a twinkle in his eye. “They used to be married,” she says, which, wow, makes it sound like she considers them not married anymore. “They like each other. They forgot that they’re supposed to hate each other.” Mmm, he says, looking down at his wine and then intensely up at his wife. She tilts her head. She stares at him, incredulous.
“Oh it’s not gonna happen,” she says. “What?” he wonders innocently, drinking again, like he doesn’t know the magnitude of the smolder he just turned on her. “Sex,” she says. Hilarious. Wow, it’s almost like I don’t hate you anymore! I’m not overwhelmed with disgust! Bomp chica bow wow… I didn’t say a word, he says. “You don’t have to!” she cries. “I can see the look on your face…” she can’t stay serious, and starts to snicker. “I’ve known you a long time.” His lips quirk up. “A long, long time,” he tells her, waggling his eyebrows, and she explodes with laughter. “Oh my God, you’re like an 18 year old, everything’s about where you can stick it.”
“No,” he says, before putting on a more serious face. “I know you think I’ve been a dog, Alicia, and I know you think I’ve been a bad husband, but … I’ve never been as bad as you’ve wanted me to be.” She considers the accuracy of this indictment, wiping at her lips. “That’s probably true,” she admits. “And I loved you,” he says, pointing at her after gulping more wine. “I still love you.” She considers this as well. “I don’t know, Peter,” she says, blinking, “love is a word that is so exhausted. I wish it meant something to me.” God, that’s so sad. That’s so terribly, terribly sad. “Can I just leave it tonight that I like sitting, drinking with you here?” Though he seems regretful — man, did he really come here to reconcile? what the heck is this? — he says sure, and tops off her glass.
“Mr. Anderson,” Diane says to the smiling face of chorus boy Bobby from Smash. “May I call you Nils?” He nods his approval. “You’re my client’s husband, is that correct?” Diane and the faux-plaintiff smile at each other. Why is only one of them suing? Shouldn’t they both be the plaintiffs? Anyway. “For the purposes of these proceedings, I am,” Nils Anderson grins. Kind of like Neo Anderson, huh, for a brave new Matrix-y world? “We understand that you’re playing a part here, Mr…?” Solomon asks. “My real name is Todd,” Bobby says carefully, and Diane casts a sneaky little look toward R.D. to see how he’s responding to this. He’s not in his tufted, leather-backed seat. “Just answer Ms. Lockhart’s questions as if you were Mr. Nils Anderson.” He can do that, going forward.
“You’re Mr. Taylor’s husband?” I am, Todd-Bobby-Nils says. “We were married in January.” The two beam at each other, and Diane (wearing an earth colored jacket with a strange woven stripe in it) asks him to talk about the day Miss Dahl turned them away for being gay. “Objection,” calls out eager beaver Thing 1. “Misstates facts. Miss Dahl did not turn them away for being gay.” How do you figure that? “She simply did not want to participate in their wedding.” Mmm. How is that not turning them away exactly? Mysteriously, however, Faux-Judge Solomon agrees, though barely. “Mr. Anderson,” Diane restates, and I doubt that saying this twice hurts her case. “Tell us how it felt to be turned away.”
“It felt like crap, frankly,” he admits, smiling ruefully. “And was this the first time you’d been turned away from a business because of someone’s religious objections?’ He’s shaking his head before the sentence is half out of her mouth. No, he says quietly. “Happens a lot.” Then why sue Miss Dahl, Diane wonders, and not anyone else? “I guess it was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he admits. “Sometimes that’s what it feels like, you know? Feel like a second class citizen. Especially in a town like Pocatello, you know, because it’s so small.” Hmm. Either he’s been well briefed, is deeply empathetic, an actor, or he’s speaking from personal small town experience. In a town that small, was it easy to find another wedding planner, Diane wonders. Heck no! Of the 3 wedding planners in town, the others were booked, as were the others in surrounding towns. “And if Miss Dahl had simply told you she was booked?” I would have understood, he says as R.D. takes his seat, texting with his head down. “I guess that would have been a lie, but it would have hurt less.” The billionaire raises an incredulous face to the camera at the sound of Todd’s voice. “It would have been better than the truth.”
“Do you feel like you’ve suffered economic harm due to Miss Dahl’s turning you away?” R.D. watches Diane as she asks the question, stunned. Bobby-Todd-Nils does believe that, because they had to engage a wedding planner from Boise, which meant a 200 mile drive each of the four times they met with her. It’s on the heels of this comment that R.D. asks for a brief recess before cross examination.
There’s a pregnant pause as various members of the trial recess before R.D. sits next to Diane. “How dare you,” he asks, voice low. “Excuse me?” she wonders calmly. “You cast my nephew as the lover?” Yes I did, she says, and he visibly recoils in shock when she admits it. “You said go for the jugular,” she reminds him. “Hey Uncle Reese,” Todd calls out, wiggling his eyebrows and nodding at his uncle before going back to chatting with King Solomon. “Hey buddy,” Uncle Reese replies before asking Diane to follow him out of the room so he can yell at her outside his nephew’s hearing.
Instead of seeing that, however, we find Finn approaching Kalinda at – some sort of internal coffee bar? Employee break room? Does such a thing exist there? When he reaches her, he does mince words. How did she know how to fake the metadata? “I had a friend show me,” she explains. “But you did it alone?” Yes, she did it alone, though the friend — and only that friend, whom she does not name — knew it was happening. Her tiny necklace hangs off center over her right clavicle. “Do I need to contain this?” she wonders. “That’s an understatement,” Finn says, and so she runs up into the main floor in her fierce black leather dress, where Cary stops her, surprised at her speed. She’s looking for Howell; once Cary realizes he actually knows someone with that name, he tells her that Howell, of course, is in the conference room with Wiley. I can’t believe Cary doesn’t twig to the importance of that, but he remains in clod-like ignorance as Kalinda watches Howell spin tales for wily Andrew and his young children.
“Did you not believe me when I told you I love my nephew?” R.D. asks Diane, so far resisting the urge to yell. “No, I did,” she answers. ‘That’s why I approached him.” And you staged a family therapy session, he sneers. “I’m not paying you to use my relatives,” he adds, his voice getting more and more quiet. Well, that’s how some people yell. It’s very effective. I didn’t use him, Diane replies, a little hot under the collar; he wanted to help. You told me to get personal, she defends herself. “This waddn’t personal,” he replies. “This was an insult.” Well, that’s not how she meant it, she responds politely. “But if you wanna decide on gay marriage, you have to see who you’re impacting and it can’t be an actor.” He shakes his head and stalks off, still infuriated. “So finish what you started,” he huffs.
So, good sign? On the one hand, I think he makes a fair point — he wanted an intellectual exercise to tell him whether or not the case was winnable. He wasn’t looking for her to actually change his mind. On the other, well, he did ask her to change his mind.
“Me Mi Mo Mae,” Mo Rocca says into a handheld mirror, on camera. What the heck? “Mae, there we go, mae!” I bet by this time Alicia’s coworkers must be used to seeing her office turned into a temporary television studio. We’ve found another reporter, Josh tells Alcia, who stares at Mo in horrified fascination. “Dumb as an ox,” the media expert giggles, overjoyed that a beast so foolish exists in nature. “Just keep your answers to single syllables and you should be just fine.” Alicia walks over to introduce herself, the peplum of her red suit jacket fluffing as she moves. “Mr. Willoughby, I was so pleased when Josh told me you said yes,” she beams. “And I was, too. I voted for you, m’am. Unless I shouldn’t say that,” he finishes, fretting. Oh, I won’t tell anyone, she replies, and he stares a moment before laughing. “Good. I like secrets and things of that elk.” Her face falls, because boy, when Josh said dumb as an ox, he actually meant it. “You mean ilk,” she corrects. No, he replies blithely, elk. Things of that elk. (You know, that elk over there, the one with the big antlers. Awesome.) Well, Josh coughs over a snicker, shall we get started?
For his part, Eli’s got an interview going with a brunette, off camera in the governor’s press room. “Were Alicia and Mr. Gardner close? Absolutely.” Still scribbling fiercely, the woman notes his uneven phrasing; is he trying to manufacture distance between then with the use of Will’s formal title? Eli smirks in an irritated way that suggest she’s exactly right. “No, Kim,” he says, “I’m trying to give you a sense of the reality.” Yeah, right he is. Kim has a news anchor’s plasticized haircut and too much make up piling up in the creases around her eyes, and she’s very skeptical.
“Ah,”the far dimmer television reporter declares, whipping off his glasses, “so you did have a relationship with Mr. Gardner!” It depends on how you define relationship, Alicia laughs, and poor Mo Willoughby looks boggled. “As in, relating to other people,” he stammers. Lovely.
“This is about Petra Moritz, seriously?” Helmet Head Kim asks. No, it’s not about Petra per se, Eli replies, as if considering it. “It’s about a journalistic culture that increasingly kicks sand over ethical boundaries.” Petra has these hacked emails, Kim wonders. she does. “Of course Petra wants to go with the story tomorrow,” he adds shrewdly, “so if you wanted to scoop her, you’d have to get something out tonight.” I’m sure she sees right through this, but it probably doesn’t matter. Obviously she’ll want the scoop.
“So,” Mo Willoughby says, pressing his hands together as if in an attitude of prayer. “if there was nothing going on between you and your boss, how do you explain these emails?” She can’t, not to anyone who’s actually seen the emails, but she goes with her prong of the attack. “I’m embarrassed to admit it,” she blushes,”but it was a flirtation.” I hate you, writing staff. I get it, but I hate you. “An innocent one, but a wrong one.” Uuuuuuugh. No one who reads the emails is going to be fooled by that, guys. How dumb do you think people are? You’re not living in a whole world of oxen. That city is not called ChiCOWgo. “I was having difficulties with my husband at that point, and I was carried away. I wish that I hadn’t, and I’m deeply embarrassed.”
Mo Willoughby stares at her. “Where you having difficulties with your husband at that point?” he wonders, because there are apparently a few oxen out there. She shoots Josh a look of disbelief, and he rolls his eyes. “Yes, that’s right, I was,” she says, turning back to Mo. “Having difficulties.” And were you embarrassed, he wonders. Well, she’s embarrassed now. “Let’s talk about your relationship with Mr. Gardner,” he circles back once more.
And there’s Howell, the elevator doors closing in front of him — but not before Kalinda gets an arm in. That sounds very zombie like, doesn’t it? “What’s going on?” he wonders as Kalinda tumbles through, asking what Wiley asked him. “He asked about the metadata,” Howell admits, “but …. I lied for you.” Howell, she says, I told you to tell the truth. (I don’t know. Can’t he be called in as an accessory?) “Don’t worry,” he says, and we all still do, “he believed me. I told him we stumbled on the metadata while I was fixing speeding tickets for you in the Chicago P.D. traffic system.” Wait, what the hell? How is that supposed to help her, saying that he was hacking the police system so he could break the law? She’s so screwed. Fixing speeding tickets, he explains uncomfortably to a very confused investigator, it’s something he actually does. He’ll fix a couple tickets, not everything someone has, but some. But I don’t have any parking tickets, she complains. I guess he’s going to have to fix that… Don’t worry so much, he urges her, and she stops the elevator, pleading with him to just tell her everything he said.
“Mr. Anderson,” Thing 1 says, “Aren’t you and your husband just picking a fight here?” Diane objects to this pitiful salvo as badgering, and is sustained. “Did you have an ulterior motive in bringing this suit against Miss Dahl?” Thing 1 asks instead. What the heck does that mean? “I guess what I’m asking is, were you really so offended by what she did, or did you see this as a test case?” Should that even matter? Diane objects, but King Solomon thinks it’s fair. “A case that would allow you to change the law in your favor,” Thing 1 suggests. Isn’t that why he brought the case? “No,” Todd says. “I’m in love. That’s the only reason I’m doing any of this, by the way,” he says, craning up in his seat to try and make eye contact with his doting uncle, clearly speaking to his own life rather than the case. “I’m in love.” Thing 1 looks over at Thing 2, obviously thinking the set up is unfair. “Nothing further,” he decides, not trying any more.
“I have something further,” Bobby-Todd-Nils offers, raising his hand. Diane’s eyes fly open. “Why doesn’t anyone ever ask me what I believe? You take it for granted that I’m not a Christian, but I am.” He smiles slightly. “I believe in God, too.” R.D. looks like he’s pouting.
“Am I proud of my wife?” Peter repeats a question just put to him. “More than you can imagine, Petra. Winning an election is Chicago is.. difficult. But winning an election in Chicago with your integrity still intact? Well that’s practically a miracle,” he smiles. Indeed. That’s presumably why it didn’t happen this time. “And Alicia Florrick has kept hers?” Petra asks, her voice poisonous and soft, her gorgeous hair in lazy golden curls around her face. Always, Peter swears, and Petra’s smile is almost imperceptible as you see her mental elation.
“Governor, was your wife sleeping with her boss, Will Gardner?” I can’t answer that question, he says, because I can’t confirm what you’re asking. (Interesting line to walk here. Peter’s so sharp.) “Just like I can’t confirm she was ever at a Neil Young concert.” Despite herself, Petra smiles, a prim little circling of her lips; her technical staff laugh. This is Peter’s great gift. “I can only confirm what my wife has told me, which is that she did not have an affair with Mr. Gardner.” Big fat lying liar UGH. “Mr. Governor, we have copies of emails between your wife and Mr. Gardner,” Petra presses. “Which I’m sure you’d love to take as evidence of a scandalous office romance, but as my wife told the reporter Ted Willoughby they’re simply an artifact of a flirtation, not of an affair.” Oh, the look on her face, the shock and then the puzzlement. No, they couldn’t have just given away her story!
Excuse me, what, she says, clearing her head. Obviously I heard that wrong. So Peter looks her full in the face and with great appreciation for the task, tells her this: “She told the reporter Ted Willoughby of channel 8 just a few hours ago, those emails are part of an unfortunate flirtation that said…” Petra looks over at a gloomy looking Charles Montgomery before cutting Peter off. “Surely the, the, the language in these emails is not, uh, the, ah, everyday talk between a superior and a, ah, subordinate.” tipping his head, Peter smiles. “Well that’s a picture you seem intent on painting. I guess what my chief of staff Eli Gold said to reporter Kim Masters in an interview is true: you’re out to get her.” No I am not, Petra snaps. “I, I am just trying to reveal the truth, Governor, and …” She looks toward her boss for a helping hand. “Look, Petra, you’ve been trying to nail Alicia for the last three years.” Then why did they agree to the puff piece interview? “You have grudge against her. You do! I mean, if you look at any of your interviews….” And that’s when the Captain steps in and stops the train from continuing to slam into the station. “I think we have everything we need.” Oh, sure, Peter says, and he stands, and they shake hands as if nothing untoward had happened, as if he hadn’t just eviscerated her after she tried to disembowel him. “I think that went well,” he smiles.
“Speeding tickets, how many?” Andrew Wiley asks Kalinda, still wearing the rumpled olive coat that matches his altogether rumpled appearance. Ah, four, she says. “There were four, he only fixed two for me, I paid for the other two.” Right. Just to keep it kosher, he says, and she agrees. Little Timmy and Dora sit quietly at the end of the table next to her, and Wiley stands over them all. Where’d you get him, he asks, meaning the tickets. (Two in the Loop, one on the way back from Springfield, and the other the South Side.) That’s exactly what Howell said, Wiley observes, almost word for word, as if this were damning evidence of a conspiracy. I know the conspiracy exists, but that’s the gotcha? I don’t see it. Ah well, he sighs, it’s time for me to go. There’s a puppet show at the library.
Oh, one more thing, he adds, fancying himself Colombo. “You’re caught. You faked the metadata.” He stares at her while stuffing bags of cheerios and pretzels back into his coat pockets. “The longer it takes for you to admit it, the worse it’ll be for you and Diane.” Oh God. We know he never gives up. Somehow he manages to make zipping up a backpack sound ominous. “It hurts me to say this because I like you, but if I were you I’d come clean.” Kalinda’s face remains impassive as he gathers up his wee ones and goes.
“Well, you’ve given this old Con Law professor a lot to think about,” Wise King Solomon nods, producing murmurs of laughter throughout the Plenary Institute. “On the one hand, people have the right to their religious views, and they cannot and should not be barred from the marketplace because of them.” Judith Dahl smiles wanly. “On the other hand, every citizen has the right not to be discriminated against based on their race, their color, their nationality, and yes, their sexual orientation.” Bobby-Todd-Nils and his fake husband smile. “Well, given all that, my task is difficult but clear. I must weigh whether a religious accommodation would frustrate the purpose of anti discrimination law. And in this case, I find that it would.” Go, Diane! “Accordingly, I must rule for the plaintiffs, Mr. Taylor and Mr. Anderson.” Team Gay Marriage rises to its feet, elated; R. D. puckers up his lips as he watches Diane embrace his nephew.
And then he’s following her through the massive wrought iron gates of the institute. “Diane, can I ask you something?” She stops to listen. “What do you think would happen if every case were adjudicated by someone with a family member or a loved one who’d be affected by the decision?” Leaving aside the fact that the case wasn’t decided by someone with a family member who’d be affected by the decision, it’s an interesting question. Shouldn’t justice be blind? Or does love make us truly see the consequences of the law? “Ultimately perhaps every case is,” she says. Nice one. That’s a real Ravenclaw answer. “But idn’t the law suppose to be impersonal, in that it should be the same for everyone? Whereas in China, the law is determined by who you know?” Don’t kid yourself that the law in America achieves that Platonic ideal of disinterestedness; we’ve seen the law become a wheel to crush the unwary. “The law is supposed to be fair, not impersonal,” Diane counters. “In fact, I would argue that the law is always personal, it has to see the human side, too, or else it’s meaningless.” Thank you, Diane. It’s nice to know that someone here remembers retains a sense of compassion, even if it’s not Alicia. He nods, scrunches up his lips, and heads off to think things over.
“You’re gonna fund this defense anyway, aren’t you? The wedding planner?” she asks, resigned. He cocks his head. “Yes,” he agrees, not breaking eye contact. Why, she wonders, a little frustrated. “Three years ago, Barack Obama was against gay marriage. So was Bill Clinton. So was Hillary.” Only in the sense that it was impolitic to say they were for it — but still, the speed of this cultural turnaround has been astonishing once we passed the tipping point. It’s heady stuff. “Basically every Democratic icon lined up against gay marriage.” Yep. Sad but true. “Now they’re not, because it’s politically expedient for them not to be.” And it was politically expedient for them to be against it four years ago. Diane raises her eyebrows. What’s his point? “Who knows what they’ll be for or against in the next few years?” Oh come on. What’s your point? First off, they’re politicians. And second, none of that has any relevance to whether gay marriage ought to be legal or not. “I like people who stand by their opinions, I like people who stand by their beliefs.” You must not like many politicians, then. “And I think religious accommodation must be made for people to do that, you know?” He shrugs, and at least this part of his contention feels understandable to me. “It’s the right thing to do.”
Oh well. I guess he’ll just have to work harder to try and win, then. Or hope he goes up against a less fierce lawyer and a more friendly judge.
“And as we’ve discussed, you’re a highly educated, very confident woman, but you walk into this law firm full of old bulls and young tigers, were you nervous?” Interview Alicia smiles to herself, and then laughs a little. “Very,” she admits. Actual Alicia sits at her desk with Josh and Eli behind her, and they watch Petra’s piece finally air, and they love it. It’s very humanizing, Eli nods approvingly: just wait, Alicia tells him. They’re awfully confident this is going to go well. I don’t think I’d be so certain that she wasn’t going to air those emails anyway, because I just can’t believe anyone reading those emails would reasonably believe there’s no affair. And that’s not even touching the whole Haircut fiasco.
“During our time together, Mrs. Florrick talked about what she had learned as an attorney, about the importance of being smart, creative, zealous.” We see them walking down the hall together, Alicia resplendent in the bright blue dress, and then suddenly we get the glimpse of her and Peter. “But the question surfacing in recent days is this.” There’s a photo of a building with a handmade sign saying “Polling Place” on it. “Was Alicia Florrick the candidate too creative, too zealous in her pursuit of the State’s Attorney’s office?” The negative music kicks in as we see a picture of Alicia at the ballot box. “What?” Josh wonders, as puzzled as Alicia is. “What is she talking about?” I have no idea, Alicia replies, leaning forward to squint at the screen. “I recently spoke with a Chicago election monitor,” and now the picture switches to Petra herself, standing with a side ponytail in front of a 60 Minutes style photo tableaux of Alicia celebrating on election night, flanked by a picture of the Chicago skyline on the left and a This Minute show logo on the right, “and serious accusations are being made that the voting machines in some wards registered votes for Frank Prady as votes for Alicia Florrick.”
“Mother of …” Josh gasps, and Eli spins in place, his mouth flapping. “And that might have been the difference between…” “OH,” Eli finally forces out as Petra continues to dig Alicia’s grave. “We are all in trouble now.”
One can only wish, Eli, one can only wish.
Well that was unexpected. What does that even mean? Is this just Petra defying her softy and pretty exterior to show the hag inside, wreaking vengeance and fabricating evidence out of innuendo? Or was there actual tampering with the polling machines? Obviously the first task is to deny the report as scurrilous and unsubstantiated — but is it remotely possible that its true? It’s not Alicia’s doing, this we know, and I’d rather doubt it would be Elfman or Mariner’s because they were so obsessed with voter turn out and their ridiculous robocall on election day; they didn’t remotely seem like people with an ace in the hole. Eli, too, seemed very concerned about Peter first tanking and eventually saving Alicia’s prospects with his impromptu speech; if any dirty tricks were going to surface, I assumed it would be that. How strange it is that with all the legitimate worries we had about her candidacy, all my fears about her lying to the public about her campaign donors and the fraudulent sham of her marriage, and all the things we know came out in those emails , she could be sunk by a kind of fraud we’d never considered.
Which all means that I’m trying not to get my hopes up about Alicia potentially being drummed out of office. We’re not that lucky, are we? It looks like the show is solidly committed to this folly and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. (I get the impression, actually, that the critics by and large are enjoying the shake up. Sadly the same can’t be said for any fan I know.)
Otherwise, let’s see. Things that I like about Loser Edit: the editing suite. I love behind the scenes anything, really, so both as a writer and as a fan of television I enjoyed seeing the way Petra and her editor put the story together. It’s smart and fun. I love examining the idea that we’re constantly editing reality to fit our needs, and that the media is constantly constructing and destroying and reconstructing stories out of the news, selecting the details, framing them, telling the public how those details should make them feel. Also, the mock trial at the Plenary Institute: not only is it a fun way to use Diane’s newest client, but I like any excuse for a nice civil debate.
And it’s a really good issue, in some ways a continuation of the abortion debate. Where does one set of rights end and another begin? This is a whole kettle of worms, it really is. I’ve had a very similar conversation with friends about Catholic hospitals being forced to offer birth control as part of their health plans. How do you weigh competing rights? Even when the arguments are smart and respectful, however, nobody’s mind gets changed. I like to see substantive public debate, and I love that this show can pack in so much argument with it seeming shoehorned into the plot, or like political screed.
Though the plot thread itself comes as no surprise, I enjoy having Tim Guinney step in as Kalinda’s executioner. Who else could have done it? Who else is so tenacious and so pitiless? Who else is so immune to her wiles? I can’t imagine how that plot is going to work itself out (well, okay, some idea of the result, anyway) and I’m intrigued to see it even if I’m also dreading it.
But, oh, the continuity errors. What can I say about it that I haven’t said already, or that you guys haven’t said in the comments from last week? This show is a serialized drama. If you want the audience to follow that drama (one which you take into complex forms and layers) then surely the minimum that you owe them is a basic consistency from week to week. You can’t set up a drama about emails you’re afraid will get out, quote the emails, and then quote an entirely different set the following week and pretend the first set doesn’t exist. And it’s just preposterous that you can’t remember when your own major plot lines happened. I got kind of excited when they said it was five years worth of email, because I thought ah, they’d corrected last week’s ridiculousness, but no, instead they went back a year too far. And it’s just so unnecessary. All this stuff is so easily verifiable. It literally takes less than a minute on the Internet Movie Database or Wikipedia to look up episode titles and synopses to check what happened when, and so it is beyond conceiving that people so smart, so thoughtful, so capable — people who wrote the fricking story in the first place — can’t hold on to their memories a little better.
I mean, I know we all have brain freezes. I call my own children by the wrong names at least once a day. BUT. I don’t have a staff editing this or hanging around to prevent my public mistakes. When you have a collaborative crew of, what, at least a hundred people working on a show, I don’t see where you have an excuse for these kind of mistakes — and when you have an audience of millions, surely you owe it to yourself and to them to do better than this.
Speaking of baffling elements of the show, how about Alicia and Peter moving from nasty enmity to an almost reconciliation? Speaking of a lack of continuity. Seriously, what the hell was that about? Maybe, maybe it’s believable that Peter is always ready for sex at the slightest provocation, and their history’s certainly complicated enough, but man. It seems like a nearly impossible leap. Is it even possible for these two to go back to that well? Perhaps since they’ve left each other no alternative for consistent affection and companionship (and yes, sex).
As usual, I liked this episode better on the second viewing, but eh. I can’t feel worked up about the big reveal at the end. I’ll be excited if they somehow get Alicia out of the State’s Attorney’s office, and not before. Even with a season long spoiler gumming up the works, can the next episode bring real surprise — and what’s more, will it be an exciting and invigorating one, or is it going to leave me with more “meh”? What’s the possible outcome here that’s not simply depressing? Show me The Good Wife can still get there, please, pretty please.