The Good Wife: The Deconstruction

E: “The women whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because sh*t worked out.  They got that way because sh*t went wrong, and they handled it.  They handled it a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it.  Those women are my superheroes.”

Looks like the writing team has been reading a little Elizabeth Gilbert, doesn’t it?  In this exquisitely torturous game of dominoes, everything Alicia’s built over nearly six years falls down.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let us begin at the very beginning. Let us begin with our renewal.  Not just destruction, but deconstruction; pulling our characters’ lives into their component parts.

And the echoes of that beginning are obvious, from Alicia’s tweed suit jacket to the sight of her hand softly linked with Peter’s. In a fog, they walk through the inevitable gateway to hell, a cement hallway.  We follow behind them, noting that this time, Alicia’s jacket is fitted, that she is beautiful even in defeat, her posture speaking of ballet and yoga and unbowed pride. We catch glimpses, in slow motion, of a ballroom rich with archways and architectural detail, and then she moves onto a dais, blinded by camera flashes, bleached out by the lights.

“Good morning,” she begins, her voice low as it always is when gripped by a strong emotion, but still even. She looks around the room, making eye contact with the crowd of reporters and their cameras. “An hour again, I withdrew my name from contention for the office of state’s attorney.”  Sigh.  I’ve wanted nothing more from this show for the past 8 months, and yet her humiliation still burns. “I did so with a deep regret — but also with a conviction that neither I nor anyone associated with my campaign was responsible for tampering with voting machines.” And knowing that this will make her look guilty, of course. The camera slips back to show us Peter standing, hands clasped, stage left, just where she stood to open the series.  The turn-out for this event is unfortunately quite high. “But a partial recount of select precincts has lead me to believe that it is detrimental to the democratic process for Cook County to be subjected to a long and drawn out recount.”  Her words are well-rehearsed, crafted with care. “I would like to thank…” and here she draws a difficult breath, “my supporters for their faith in me, and my husband…”

And there she chokes on tears.

“… and my husband, who has been amazing during this difficult time.” She gasps a thank you, her exit from the podium a blend of dignity and rush; blindly she reaches out for Peter, who takes hold of her hand.  After she squeezes his fingers back, they speed walk off the stage together, silent, surrounded by security guards, side by side.

Once the third of their security guards has the shut the door to the cement corridor behind them, Alicia freezes in place, her arms lifted off her sides, as if stuck in an invisible web. Concern marking his face, Peter turns and stalks back to her.  “What do I do now?” she asks him, tears in her voice rather than on her face.  She stares up at him, aghast, and we watch the shadows play off her pale, gulping throat.

“Mrs. Nolfi,” a very gentle, somber Judge Aaron Coleman (which, yay, Freddy the House of Cards bbq guy!) begins from his bench. ” I find that the state has proved their case against you, and as a result I must find you guilty.”  His deep gravelly voice is filled with rue. “I do wish I had some discretion as to a sentence,” he adds, “but the number of pills in your possession trigger what is called a mandatory minimum sentence of six to thirty years” Finally, we see the object of the marvelous Reg. E. Cathey’s pity, a tiny, trembling old white woman with her white hair swept up into a loose bun, which is pretty much exactly what I was expecting given his demeanor.  “I do not believe you deserve such a sentence,” he continues as she looks, shocked, at her fresh faced young lawyer, “but I am handcuffed.” Diane frowns in consternation from the back of the courtroom. “However, there are still 48 hours until the sentence must be imposed. If you can bring me evidence that will allow me to revisit your conviction I will gladly do so.”

“Mandatory minimum sentencing. It’s why I brought you four here together today,” Reese Dipple announces, seated at the head of Diane’s small conference table, her desk and windows behind him. “Jim, Bob, just because you’re two of the most conservative lawyers I ever met doesn’t mean you get to tease Cary and Diane here about their backwards liberal ways.”  Both older gentleman with silver hair and suits, Jim and Bob don’t reach perceptibly, but Cary and Diane smile.  Anyway, R.D. explains to the viewing audience that liberals and conservatives have overlap on this issue, which makes me wonder why it’s even an issue if even everyone agrees it’s insane. It’s definitely an issue, though. “Liberals thinks mandatory minimums are draconian and unfair, we think they’re wasteful and unfair, either way we agree; policy that’s failed.”  I thought it was conservatives who insisted on mandatory minimums, but at least on this show that hard-line has fallen out of fashion; Jim or Bob nods in thoughtful silence.  “Are we agreed on the test case?”  Diane’s about to open her mouth when Cary says yes, pulling out the file of one Steven Mercurio, a house painter who because addicted to painkillers after back surgery and then passed a few on to a friend who turned out to be a narc, and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Yikes!  As Cary slides the folder across the table, R.D. asks Jim and Bob if they’re agreed.  The two ancient dinosaurs nods provisionally. “For an extra two hundred an hour, you can actually get ’em to speak,” R.D. quips, making Cary snicker lightly.

“I think we should consider someone else,” Diane interrupts, looking sleek in a plaid jacket with zipper trim. “Well,” R.D. pricks up his ears, “a divide in the liberal caucus, what a surprise.”  Okay, that’s starting to get old. “Louise Nolfi, a 62 year old grandmother.”  62?  Um, Diane is the one who looks 62.  Mrs. Nolfi looks 90!  (I looked it up.  Actress Phyllis Somerville, currently appearing on Daredevil, is 71.  Christine Baranski will turn 63 this Saturday, May 2, so I was totally on the money.)  It turns out that Mrs. Nolfi delivered a package to a post office, which unfortunately for her was staffed with drug sniffing dogs; the packet had 26 tablets of MDMA ecstasy in it, an amount of drugs that carry the aforementioned 6 year minimum.  “Where’s the file?” Reese wonders, but Diane just found out about the case and doesn’t even have one yet.

Reese gives her a look. “We got a demo problem,” he says, exasperated, as if he shouldn’t have to explain this to her. “Jailed grandmothers?  People can pity.  Jailed white guys?  People can identify.”  He did not.  Okay, I can’t believe the show would throw away a line like that.  I don’t even understand what the problem is with pitying your test case defendant — isn’t getting the public to care about the issue part of the point? – but the notion that women or the elderly don’t qualify as “people” demographically is both offensive and wrong-headed.  There are more women than there are white men. Anyway, he wants to go with the house painter.

When the meeting ends, Diane scurries out into the hall after him to continue pleading her case.  “Meet her first,” she suggests, “so you have all the facts.”  “Meetin’s grandmothers idn’t facts.  It’s manipulative kitsch.  And you know it.”  Hmm.  Leaving aside the fact that this particular grandmother does seem to be a fact (and not just a theoretical case), does that stricture goes for the show as well, then, choosing to give us comically wrinkled grandma instead of a less pitiable painter? Is this a way of winking at the audience, admitting they’re going for the most obvious example? Without changing or apologizing for her tactics, Diane asks again if he’ll meet Mrs. Nolfi.  “You’re going to defend her either way, aren’t you?” Dipple asks shrewdly.  Of course she is.    “The soft-hearted liberal in her natural habitat,” he smirks, which, get over it already!  Thankfully, Diane’s assistant du jour calls out with word that Alicia’s arrived.

And that brings us to the woman herself, sitting nervously in reception, wearing a gorgeous dress with cut-in pieces of leather and tweed.  On the wall there’s a sign bearing the new name of the firm – Lockhart, Agos & Lee.  Bah.  It cuts. Even the gorgeous floral arrangement can’t take away the sting, and Alicia slumps back into her seat just in time to hear two employees whispers and pointing at her through the glass hall, a far cry from her triumphant parade through those same halls so recently.  Hmm.  That makes me wonder what she did with all those gifts.  Does she need to return them?

“Hello, Alicia,” Cary breaks into her reverie; when she looks up, she sees not only Cary but a (perhaps inappropriately) smiling Diane. She stands to greet them. “I’m so sorry about everything,” Diane begins, before immediately pulling her surprised former partner into a hug.  More relaxed, Alicia takes the initiative to hug Cary before they troop off to the conference room.

And, hmm, the room itself is quite busy, which I suppose makes sense or otherwise they’d just be meeting in Diane’s office. There are a few people we don’t know sitting quietly at the end of the table, a few people in the back, and Alicia’s set up on middle (her back to the glass wall) while Diane sits across from her, flanked as ever by David and Cary.  There’s something at once deliberately antagonistic, yet also comfortingly familiar, about the seating arrangements. Huh.  I think I’m going to go with alarming as a final answer, because the entire side opposite Alicia is filled in.

“Alicia and I have been talking, as you know,” Cary begins. “I called her right after her … announcement.”  That’s what we’re calling it?  How tactful. “I wish you hadn’t backed down, Alicia,” David Lee tells her, the very picture of wide eyed insincerity.  She thanks him, because what else can she say? We’ve been talking here internally, too, Cary smiles, and then lets Diane deliver the good news. “We want you to come back as name partner.”

They do?  Is this a dream sequence?  Are they kidding?  They really do?

Unable to believe it either, Alicia unfreezes in a great inhalation of breath that almost reduces her to tears.  Quickly stabilizing her voice (which again is considerably lower than usual) she asks whether they’re worried that her current situation might adversely affect the business.  “Your voter fraud scandal?  You mean after I almost went to jail for six years?” Cary adds, and Alicia laughs a watery, relieved laugh, tips her chin down and positively beams at Cary and Diane.

She hesitates before looking to her left. “What about you, David, do you agree with this?”  Good question. “I agree with anything that maintains stability,” he says.  How lawyerly of you, David.  Lest we forget that she’s not without sin either, Diane explains that she and Kalinda are trying to work out a few kinks of their own with the State’s Attorney’s office.  Do they care about her exit package, Alicia wonders, since it was already negotiated?  Have your lawyer come in and we’ll work something out, Diane grins.  (Does anyone else thinks its weird that she doesn’t say Finn’s name?)  “This is home, Alicia,” Diane finishes. “Welcome home.”  It takes a moment for Alicia to get out the words “thank you,” and when they arrive its practically in a whisper.

As Alicia walks out, she sees Cary and Diane and David all chatting with nearly impossible cordiality.  I genuinely can’t believe this isn’t a dream.  Honestly I wondered if the beginning of the episode was one, since the press conference occurred as such a misty, confusing, almost out of body experience, and now I’m really lost.  When David gives her a cheery wave, it’s clear Alicia can’t believe her luck either.

Now that’s the face of loss and strain we’re more used to seeing; pale and drawn, Cary turns his phone over and over, tapping the corners against his desk.  Finally he sigh and makes a call.  “I thought it over and I’ll do it,” he tells Geneva Pine, looking oddly unbalanced with her tightly pulled back hair and a puffy-shouldered suit jacket.  Do what, she wonders,  looking like a hunter afraid to spook a deer: inform on Bishop, but only if Geneva will drop the charges against Kalinda and Diane.  Oh, Cary.  Of course, what he doesn’t know is that his greatest fear has come to pass already — Kalinda’s sitting in Geneva’s office, ready to inform herself, shaking her head urgently at the ASA. “Give me a day to get some ducks in a row and I’ll get back to you,” the cagey prosecutor tells Cary, her eyes gleaming as she sets the phone down.

“Odd how things turn out,” she flashes her teeth at Kalinda. “A month ago no one wanted to turn on Bishop.  Now everybody does.  That was Cary,” she finishes, crossing her arms on her desk and sinking over them. She’s hated Kalinda for a long time, and it shows.

“What do you want from me?” the investigator asks.  Everything, that’s what.  Bishop’s subsidiary businesses, his books, his illegal activities of all kinds.  I won’t testify, Kalinda says (duh) and Geneva suggests that Kalinda provide independent evidence that can be used on its own.  “You can’t make a deal with Cary,” Kalinda reiterates, the supreme condition of her self-sacrifice.  I told him I needed a day, Geneva replies smugly.  So get me something I can use in a day. There’s something about her ponytails, and the way she wags her head from side to side, that makes me think of a genie — clearly one who grants evil wishes.

“I’m not going to talk about my grandson,” tiny Mrs. Nolfi insists, fishing for something in her purse, “he’s turning his life around.”  I know, Diane replies soothingly.  Where’s that grandson now?  It sounds like this whole thing is his fault, right? Which begs the question, what kind of kid lets his grandmother go to jail for him?  “The truth is the judge is sympathetic to your situation. But we need to give him a reason to overturn the verdict. Have you talked to your public defender?”  Ah.  That’s never a good sign, public defenders. And no, why would she? “Well, the judge may be angry with Mr. Bolinger for not doing a better job,” Diane offers, but Mrs. Nolfi’s sweetness applies all around, because she doesn’t want to get that lovely young man in trouble either.  She does agree to let Diane talk to him, at least.

“Now, gentlemen,” Gregory Peck tells the jury in To Kill a Mockingbird, which Grace and Alicia are snuggled up watching, “in this country, our courts are the great levelers.”  He swivels on his feet, importuning the jury with his ringing words. “In our courts, all men are created equal.”

“Is this what made you want to become a lawyer?” Grace the idealist asks her mother.  Ha.  No, Alicia admits to Grace’s surprise and disappointment,  but it motivated a lot of my classmates. “They’re all prosecutors and tax lawyers now.” Why tax law, I wonder?  (I guess I should ask my most idealist lawyer friend, since she specialized in it.)  “I like when people give speeches, and it makes other people change their minds,” Grace smiles; I know, her mom nods, me too. “Did you ever get to do that? In court?” No, Alicia thinks about it, still smiling. “It’s mostly about facts and evidence.  Most of the time, you don’t really have someone you believe in.”  We’ve been lucky enough to see Alicia spin her words for people she believes in, though, and a passionately convicted Alicia can be pretty amazing. “Maybe it’ll be different this time,” Alicia muses.  Here’s hoping…

What do you mean by this time, Grace asks, and so Alicia tells her she’s going back to her firm, and Grace is thrilled. “Name of God!” Peck waggles his checks at the screen, “do your duty!”

That’s when the phone rings, and it all falls apart: a former client, one Mr. Gallagher, wonders where Alicia’s going to land.  Happily, Alicia tells him that she’s returning to her firm, but he says he just got a call from Diane saying she wasn’t. Uh oh. The fact that the message is only an hour old, and from Diane rather than David Lee, worries Alicia to no end.  Even more worrisome, when Mr. Gallagher told Diane he didn’t know whether he was going to stay or go, Diane asked him not to call Alicia for a day or two. “That’s why I’m calling you now,” he adds. On the verge of tears yet again, Alicia asks if she can call him back.  “Damn it,” she curses quietly into her empty kitchen.

Well.  That bites.  I suppose nothing could go as easily as that did. I hate, hate the idea that Cary and Diane would do this, but after the stunt they pulled buying out her partnership, and the fact that she’s not exactly the glowing name she was before — well.

“They had no intention of bringing me back, they never did,” Alicia grouses, pacing in her kitchen, inevitable glass of wine in hand, “they’ve been playing out this charade so they can cherry pick my clients.”  But, they already had your clients! Surely they didn’t need to resort to this ruse.  I hate believing bad things about people I like.  “But even if they are, you can’t make it personal,” Peter advises coolly, leaning against the counter.    “Sure I can,” Alicia snaps.  “I started that firm.  Here. In my home.  We had so few outlets we were running cables into Grace’s room.” (I’m tempted to link in that scene from You’ve Got Mail — is it too weird that I do that every time?) Still calm and collected, Peter reminds Alicia that Florrick/Agos (“or whatever they’re calling themselves now”) isn’t the only place she could be working. “I’m officially a scandal, Peter. You should know that more than anyone.  No one wants a sullied lawyer.”  Well, maybe this week, but next week — or next month — might be a different story.

They want a good lawyer, Peter counters. “And you have enough clients to go on your own.”  Alicia bends over the island, blows out a breath. “I’m just tired, Peter,” she admits.  We’ve heard that a lot for the last year.  I get it, though.

“Answer me this,” Peter crosses the distance to the island. “If you went solo, how many of your clients would follow?”  She thinks maybe twenty (funny because she just suggested no one would want a sullied lawyer), and he thinks that seems like a damn good book of business to start with.  And he suggests she use her exit package as seed money. “Go in there, pretend nothing is wrong, be all smiles, and get them to rip up your exit package.”  Ha.  That’s devious. I like it. “You lost a lot of money on that package, right?” he asks, and she rolls her eyes.  Heck yeah she did.

Hey, check it out – Bishop lieutenant Dexter Rojas!  It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen him.  He frowns as Kalinda slips into his car, nodding coolly at him. “Did you know that Bishop’s leaving the business?” she asks.  What business, he asks, looking out his door, and her hands move quickly out of our sight. Oh, Dex.  “He’s worried about being betrayed,” she says, and he turns back to look at her, “and he’s turning evidence.”  Huh.  That’s  a risky lie. “Where’d you hear that?” Dexter asks; from Geneva Pine, she ad libs. She’s playing you, Dexter says, but when Kalinda beefs up the lie with a little truth — Bishop wants to stay out of jail so he can be around for Dylan — you can see she has Dexter hooked. “Pine says there’s only room for one person to turn evidence,” she says, and he asks her to get out of the car.

“I came to you because I want to keep my job,” she lies. “Bishop goes, you’re number one.”  You can see this tempts him, but before she’s all the way out the door, he stops her. If this is some kind of loyalty test from Bishop, he says, you can tell him to come kiss my ass. “I would never turn on him, ever.”  She smirks, making it look like she might just have been testing, and leaves.

And there’s Alicia, smiling insincerely in the conference room, bright enough to blind.  It’s alarming.  David, Diane and Cary beam back, this time without the cohort behind them. “Thank you for taking time to listen to our concerns,” she begins, and Diane is gracious in return. “And thank you for listening to our concerns,” Cary adds. “No problem, happy to accommodate,” Alicia nods.  Gah.  It’s like a fake nice-off between pissed off cheerleaders.  Finn watches them all with a finger pressed against his lips.

“So you would like to renegotiate your exit package,” David surmises. No, rescind it, Finn suggests.  Since I’m returning, Alicia explains, “it seems more sensible to just … void it.”  Cary seems to catch a flicker here of something, and his eyes track back and forth between the two speakers. “Like Alicia never left,” Finn finishes.

“The issue, of course, and it’s an unfortunate one,” David brings up, “is that Alicia’s equity is already settled out.”  On the cheap, Finn points out, which made sense at the time (no), it makes more sense to just keep the status quo rather than try to reconstruct it.  You can see Diane trying to follow their logic and parse out whether this is a good idea.  What David is trying to say is that this is a curve ball, Diane explains. “More of a slider,” Cary jumps in, losing me entirely with the baseball metaphor.  Easier to hit?  Only a change in speed rather than direction? “Give us a few swings, we can probably hit it.”  Um, okay.  No problem, she beams. Take all the time you need.

“Alicia,” Finn nearly whispers, back in his office, “I didn’t believe it before, but I think you’re right. They’re playing you.”  What leads him to this conclusion?  The idea that they would even entertain the notion of voiding her exit package.  He finds this preposterous.  They must be stalling to get her clients. “So what do I do?” she wonders. Start working the phones, he says. “Get your clients on board before they do, cause they don’t want you back.”  He shakes his head, sorry.

“We want her back, David!” Diane tells her partner, arms folded, annoyed.  Oh dear. “Yes, but if we tear up her exit package, she gets all her power back!  First year equity package, a seat on the management committee…”  What difference does it make, Cary snaps. We want her back.

Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap.  So what the heck was going on with Gallagher, then?

“Yes,” David agrees, and shoot, really, even him? “But on our terms, not hers.”  Both Cary and Diane find this appalling. “She’s a founding member of this firm.  I say we swallow the cost.”  Damn.  They’re being so nice and she has no idea — she’s lashing out in all this unnecessary pain.  It’s actually a bit surprising after the extreme low ball with the exit package and her ensuing threat.  David, of course, thinks the others are burning through money “out of a misguided sense of loyalty.”  He wants to run it by the finance committee at the very least.  “Fine,” Diane says, seeing Reese Dipple walk in through reception, “but let’s starting calling back her clients assuring them that she’s staying. I’m afraid that Alicia might get the wrong idea if she heard we were calling them before.”

Ya think?

“You’ve been a public defender for less than a year, Mr. Bollinger?” Diane asks, sitting with Reese and watching the bespectacled young man search through his bag, her tone announcing that she’s sized Bollinger up and found him lacking.  Yes, he says, ten months; his hair and his suit and his freckles all seem to be the same red-brown color.  Well, it’s not a job people tend to stay at for very long.  Lots of young idealists who soon become overworked and underpaid beasts of burden.  I saw a documentary showing passionate, desperate public defenders who couldn’t even pay back their students loans, the money was so miserable.  So how familiar are you with Illinois criminal procedure, she asks. Oh, I’m getting up to speed, he says, still rifling. “it’s complicated, though!” Reese gives Diane a significant look.

Finally, Mr. “Aw, shucks/Leave it to Beaver” Bollinger gets his hands on Louise’s file.  And, oops, sorry about the mustard stain on the folder.  You can see Diane and Dipple writing him off, and while I get their issue with the whole “the law is so complicated” thing, the mustard makes me think of crazy-like-a-fox Elspeth Tascioni.  Maybe it’s early to be writing him off. So you made the decision not to contest the charge of possession with intent to distribute, Diane asks, opening up the folder carefully, so as not to touch the mustard. Well yes, he said, she was caught on video mailing the package.  (I don’t find that persuasive. Do we know she knew what was in it? Plus, I don’t know, doesn’t distribute imply selling?  Not just handing it over to one person?  But I suppose that would have been the fictional painter’s excuse, too.)  These are good notes, Diane observes, surprised. “Thank you,” Bollinger smiles. “Yeah, that’s the way Justice Ginsberg liked ’em.”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Both Reese and  Diane look up in shock at this invocation of the Supreme Court Justice’s name. “I clerked with her for a year before joining the Justice Department,” he explains enthusiastically.  So much for that plan, Diane. “I think you’re going to have a hard time proving ineffective assistance, unfortunately,” he adds.  Caught!  “That’s what you’re going for, I’m incompetent?”  Hee.  Now I wonder if he smeared the mustard on purpose. “No hard feelings, but yeah,” Dipple admits. “I wish I could have given you something,” Bollinger sighs, “but unfortunately I did a pretty good job at trial.”  Ah, so modest, Eddie Haskell. “I mean, if she were a regular street criminal, you could get her into a probationary program like TASK,” he offers, much to Diane’s interest. “For drug addicts?” she wonders, and he explains that yes, in that case she wouldn’t serve any time. “It’s odd, her never having used drugs is actually worse.  She could get probation if you could prove she’s a drug addict.”  Well. That’s screwy. “I was going to talk to her pre-trial sentencing officer about it.”  Ah.  That explains the name I saw in the credits; I wondered.

That’s a good idea, Diane agrees. “I’ll go do that.”  Only in America, Dipple shakes his head, “You’re a grandma, go to jail. You’re a drug addict, go to rehab. And you wonder why people like me are into smaller government.”

Diane snorts. “You’re right, smaller government would have no such ironies.”  Hee. “Perhaps they’d be smaller ironies,” Reese suggest snottily.  Excellent. “Seriously, that’s your experience of life, small things are purer?”  It actually is my experience, he says. “Do you want me to step out?” Eddie Haskell asks. No one likes it when Mom and Dad argue.  “Stay put,” Dad snaps. “I find it disgusting that the Republicans will starve a society of funds, and then complain that society is dysfunctional,” Mom shoots back. “Nobody’s starving anybody of anything,” Dad replies.

“Mr. Gallagher, I wanted to get back to you first,” David enthuses over his head set, sitting in Willicia’s office.  Diane made a mistake; Alicia Florrick is returning to the fold.  “God, you people have to get your stories straight,” the straight-shooting Gallagher snaps. “I have Alicia on the other line right now, and she tells me she’s starting her own firm.”

And the bleep has now officially hit the fan.  No more Mr. Nice David.

As if the anger gave him wings,  David flies into Diane’s office, pausing to suck up to Reese Dipple.  “R.D., ” he says, shaking hands. “Simple, American.  I’m a conservative too, sir.”  Oh dear God.  “Really?” Diane asks, and you can see she’s mentally rolling her eyes at his sycophancy.  He does manage to peel her away from her new top client, however.

“Alicia’s playing us,” he hisses once he’s gotten her into the reception area between their office.  Diane’s arms hanging awkwardly as she just stares at him.  What can he mean?  “She’s on the phone as we speak trying steal James Gallagher away.  She’s starting her own firm. Again.  She’s dragging this out so we won’t pursue her clients, and meanwhile she’s locking them down,” he says, and they both look at Alicia, on the phone in the conference room. Why is she still there?  Other than to give us this shot, of course.  Once David explains that voiding the contract is all about getting seed money for her firm (he never misses an angle, it must be said), Diane calls Cary over.

And so the three head over to Willicia’s office, where David has Jim Gallagher back on speaker phone so they can suck up to him. “I appreciate that,” he says of their interest in his business, “but I just want some stability, do you know what I mean?”  God, yes.  Diane suggests that he tell Alicia he’ll get back to her, leaving them time to resolve the issue.  He provisionally agrees. “But I gotta tell you, this is getting old.”  Avidly, they crane their necks to watch Alicia say thank you and good bye and hang up the phone.

“I don’t believe it,”Cary says. “That’s because the last time she pulled this crap you were on her side,” David sneers, and Cary’s ready to dive at him, but Diane stops their verbal sparring. “Alicia’s watching,” she warns, and all is warmth and smiles again.

An alarm goes off as Dylan and Kalinda walk into the Bishop townhouse from the garage.  Dad’s not home, and so Dylan heads up the gorgeous wooden stairs, which we’ve never seen from this angle. (Honestly it doesn’t even look like the same house from this angle, but whatever.) Kalinda tells him she’s going to just wait in the car, but she doesn’t; she waits for him to get all the way upstairs, closes the door loudly behind her, and sneaks into Bishop’s office, which is beige and tastefully decorated with a smattering of traditional accessories (a vase, leather boxes, a painting on the wall).  She fires up his laptop (oh, Kalinda) and immediately starts downloading files about Westholme Trucking and its finances.  Behind her sits an awkwardly placed bank of security camera monitors, and she checks to see that Bishop isn’t approaching any of the entrances to the house.

Oh, God, Kalinda.

The investigator pulls file after file onto a drive called D.R.’s Jams, but as she’s preoccupied with noises from upstairs, Lemond Bishop himself walks up to the house.  We mark his terrifying progress – well, I mean, he’s just sauntering, but there’s real horror in his slow approach.  Will he catch her?  Will she turn around in time?  There’s so much time left on her downloads.

OH.  Okay.  He enters a sunken side door, and that’s where they are, on a basement level.  That’s why it didn’t look familiar.  Or, no?  I give up.  Unnerved by the alarm, Bishop walks through his house until he finds Kalinda in the kitchen, having just poured herself a glass of milk.  Milk!  Of course, milk. What else would Kalinda drink? “You’re here,” he observes, surprised; she didn’t want to leave Dylan alone, she lies. She’s surprised to see him, too.  Why? “Nothing, I just saw Dexter heading out, I thought you two were together,” she says, walking toward him and drinking his milk. He frowns, and the only lines that mark his perfectly smooth face are between his eyebrows. “Well I’m here now,” he replies curtly, “you can go.”  She nods and thanks him, leaving behind the milk, the red flashdrive somewhat awkwardly clutched in her fist in her leather jacket pocket.

And then it all comes apart.  Still suspicious (or I don’t know, maybe he just always walks around with that face) Lemond Bishop opens up his laptop, and finds the telltale warning that a disk has been improperly ejected. Oh, Kalinda.

“Was Dylan downloading music or something?” a formally dressed young man asks Bishop, checking out the laptop in the kitchen.  No. Somebody yanked out a flashdrive after downloading files.  The young computer expert tells Bishop they can indeed trace the flash drive, but I think what he really means is that they’ve got the name and serial number of it.

“She’s stabbing us in the back,” David Lee announces to a large gathering of partners in Diane’s office. We don’t know that yet, Cary cautions, but it turns out David does.  This isn’t just James Gallagher playing tricks; David Lee’s just called a bunch of Alicia’s clients and she’s wooing them all.  “Kalinda, you gonna just sit there?” he snaps. “Yeah,” she says from the couch, where we can see it’s a new day by her black and white dress. “Alicia would never do this.”  David has no such faith. “She’s already done this!  She did it last year, and she’s doing it again!” Fair enough.

“She had a reason to do it last year,” Cary frowns, his voice becoming heated. “Oh, how does it feel, Cary, to be betrayed…”  Diane cuts them off. What’s David suggesting? Play coy, he says. String her along in the negotiations so they can call all her clients and convince them to stay.

When Dylan gets home from school that day, his father’s waiting in the living room with his young computer expert, the latter wearing a yellow sweater layered between a white button down and a gray leather jacket. “Is Kalinda with you?” Bishop asks his son, who sets down his violin case down so he can embrace his father, first waving at the tech expert and greeting him quietly by the name Jamir. She is, following behind him.  Does she have a minute for them? Oh God. Why don’t you go upstairs for a minute, Bishop asks. “I got an A in algebra,” Dylan beams. God, that poor kid. I’d call him oblivious to his father’s mood, but I bet he’s just so used to crises and being sent to his room that he has to operate around it. “I’m proud of you,” Bishop says, and after soaking this in for a second, Dylan dutifully goes up stairs.

“When you came into my house, did you go into my study?” Bishop asks Kalinda, sitting back down in an arm chair next to Jamir. No, she replies. “Did you log into my computer?”  She blinks first, taken aback.  No, she says, like the very thought is too ridiculous to be entertained. Jamir looks over at his boss, who tents his fingers. “You saw Dexter leaving as you drove up,” Bishop recalls.  Oh dear.  I see why she’s planned a scapegoat, but that’s so cold, considering that if successful her ploy will certainly cost Dex his life. She doesn’t answer. “You said you saw Dexter leaving here when you drove Dylan home,” Bishop repeats himself, and Kalinda squirms.  Look, I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, she says. “Why would anybody get into trouble?” Bishop wonders calmly. “I don’t know,” she answers, and he stands and starts thumbing through his phone.  Does he still want her to stay?  He does.

Of course he’s calling Dexter. “Hey boss,” the not-so-bright number 2 answers, driving. “What you need?”  Some information, the boss man explains. “Someone used a flashdrive to download some information from my computer.”  Oh my God, I don’t know how she can handle standing in that room, listening to this, knowing they’d kill her right there if they knew it was her. Okay, Dexter says, not understanding. “Flashdrives leave their fingerprints behind,” Bishop lectures his subordinate. “Did you know that?”  No, Dexter says. “I didn’t either,” his boss replies quietly. “This flashdrive was given the name DR’s jams #2.”

There’s silence.  Bishop stares with Kalinda behind him.

“Boss,” Dex stammers, “I don’t know. I keep two flashdrives in my car, but they have all my music on them.”  Yes, exactly. “I didn’t … I mean, I would never… hold on.”  He sets the phone down and looks down at the single red flashdrive hooked into his car.  “Oh, no,” Kalinda and Bishop and Jamir hear hims say, “no no no no no.”  Dex, Bishop says softly as Kalinda watches, praying that Bishop will take the bait. “Um, I’ll call you back,” a panicked Rojas stammers.

Slowly Bishop lowers the phone, his face like thunder.

“Do you want anything more from me, sir?” Kalinda asks.  After a minute he turns.  No.  Maybe tomorrow there’ll be something. No problem, she says.

And that’s when she heads to Geneva’s office and drops off the flashdrive.  Why wait the day?  Strange.  At first, Geneva (who wears a white jacket over a black shirt) doesn’t know what she’s holding. “Who’s D.R.?” she asks. Dexter Rojas. “Why do you have his flashdrive?”  “I took it from his car,” Kalinda confesses. “Why?” Geneva wonders, fascinated. Why do you think?  “You have everything you need on there to take Bishop down,” Kalinda answers; there’s no need for Kalinda to testify, or for Geneva to go after Cary or Diane.

“Ah, I’m looking for the pre-trial sentence officer on duty,” Diane asks a uniform cop in a large office building.  He points, she walks to a desk in the middle of the room, and then Joy Grubick, left arm in a cast, turns around in her chair. “Oh,” she says. “May I help you?”  Joyless Joy has a broken arm; Diane just stares, momentarily frozen. Before she can plead Louise Nolfi’s case, the phone rings, and Miss Grubick holds up one finger and then grabs the phone. “Joy,” she answers it, her voice flat. “No. I told him it’s not true.”  Diane offers privacy, but Joy waves her into a seat anyway. “No, I have to go, you tell him its not true.”  This might be the best thing about Joy, these strange phone calls she makes.  What’s the situation that prompted this?  I would dearly love to hear an explanation.

“You were Cary Agos’s attorney, weren’t you?” Joy remembers as she resists Diane’s attempts to help her remember Louise. I was, Diane answers. “And Lemoned Bishop’s, too?”  I love the way she mispronounces his name, not like the French for the world — le monde — but as if being lemoned was something that could happen to you.  I was just walking home and suddenly three men lemoned me in the park. Yes, Diane admits.

Joy gets down to business. When she reads out Louise’s file, Diane pushes the drug angle. “Unfortunately for this client, that’s typical,” she says of the high number of pills Mrs. Nolfi was caught with. “She has a high tolerance.”  I don’t even see how that’s believable; after all, she wasn’t receiving the package, she was sending it away.  That doesn’t seem a likely action for a desperate addict.  Still, needs must, and it’s not as ridiculous as the law in this case.  “That why I’m talking to you and not her?” Joy wonders, spearing Diane with a dry look before flipping through the casework.  There’s no mention of a serious drug problem in the file, Joy notices. “It’s not something she advertises,” Diane ad libs. “She has children, grandchildren.”  So how soon can she get here, Joy wonders, before making it clear that she can’t make a recommendation on that subject based on Diane’s word.  She’ll need to evaluate Mrs. Nolfi herself.

And while Diane’s setting up a meeting for the following day (more time to prep grandma on her new role!) David’s on the phone, slurring Alicia to all her old clients.  Talk about burning bridges! The voting scandal, the impact on judges, the emails, he touches on everything. He’s thorough and ruthless.

“So, the payment schedule of the exit agreement was tied to Alicia taking office,” Finn tells Diane as David continues his brutal, extended assault on Alicia’s reputation in another room, “but she never actually took office; therefore the exit agreement is, unfortunately, void.”  Though he shrugs, and uses words like unfortunately, Alicia’s smile gives their glee away. Cary’s less pleased. “So, I’m sorry, where does that leave us?” Diane wonders, and we all watch Kalinda rush through the hall. “I’m still partner,” Alicia announces. I’m intrigued by her flesh tone blouse with its draped neckline. I’m not sure I like it, but I’m definitely noticing. Looking at David, and realizing that what he’s doing is only going to screw them if Alicia comes back, Diane and Cary excuse themselves to discuss the situation.

“That bitch,” David breathes, which is a little rich considering what he’s just been doing.  Not as rich as Diane’s black and gold brocade suit, maybe, but close.  “She’s right about the exit deal,” Diane smiles, far less hostile, “she never took office.  David suggests inventing a call for capital improvements, to get Alicia to pony up a quarter mil, but even he has to know that won’t work if Alicia’s planning not to actually come back.  The other partners in the room react in horror. “Oh, come on!  It’s a ploy, you idiots.”  I really, really want him to call them “eeedeeots” in an accent like Igor from Young Frankenstein.  Don’t you feel like that’s a role he was meant to play?

Anyway.

“You know, I almost admire her,” David muses, looking into the conference room where Alicia laughs with Reese. “We stall her to go after her clients, and she stalls us to go after ours.”  If you were being fair, you’d have acknowledged her as a competitor rather than a bitch, David.  Not that I would expect that of you.  Diane, however, seems to have had enough.

“How dare you,” Diane follows Alicia into her own office, seething. “Going after Reese Dipple. You don’t even know him!”  Alicia turns. I’m only calling clients to tell them I’m coming back, she covers.  She’s a much better liar than she used to be.  She’s still winning ugly.  You’re calling them to poach them, Diane huffs. “Excuse me,” Alicia turns, and her thick reserve is broken by Diane’s self-righteousness.  Did you really just accuse me of poaching?  “This whole negotiation has been a charade, you had no intention of bringing me back here,” Alicia lays out her cards, angry. “Because you betrayed us!” Diane accuses, and Alicia throws the accusation back in her face. “No, Diane, because you betrayed me.” Diane’s eyes flash. “Get out of here, Alicia.  Get out of here now.”

Alicia does.

There’s a terrible clatter, pounding on a tall white door. “Chicago P.D. Lemond Bishop, you’re under arrest,” an officer declares.  Lemond, at home, his pink shirtsleeves rolled up, laughs. “You gotta be kidding me.  With my son here?”  Why on earth would they care about that?  The police don’t arrest people at convenient times, Bishop; every time someone says that on TV, I have to wonder about them.  The uniform cops spin Bishop around and hand cuff him; though he towers over the officers (his suspender-covered shoulders tall and broad) he knows better than to resist.  “Dad,” Dylan cries, scurrying down the stairs. “I’m all right, Dylan,” Lemond says evenly, in a bright tone only a father would use.  What do you want me to do, tech adviser Jamir asks, still wearing his lemon-bright sweater. (Phew, Dylan won’t be alone.)  “Call my lawyer,” he orders, and then whispers. “And tell Dexter he’s dead.”

Reaction #1: did you really just say that in a room full of cops?

Reaction #2: Stone cold, Kalinda, stone cold.

What the heck are you doing, Geneva, what happened, Cary barks over the phone.  “Cary?” Geneva wonders; apparently he didn’t bother to start the conversation with a hello. “Yes, Cary,” he snaps, before complaining that she was supposed to give him a day and not make a deal with anyone else. “Now I hear Bishop was arrested, what did you do?”  I found another way to get him, she says, which isn’t fooling anybody. “You found another way with Kalinda,” he guesses, which is to say, Kalinda found another way. Just stay out of this, Geneva warns; it has nothing to do with you. “You’re going to get her killed,” Cary growls, ending the call.

“It started after my husband died,” Louise Nolfi tells Joy Grubick, “I got the shakes.”  Joyless listens with her fact resting on the heel of her palm, weary. “You know, my hands,” Louise adds, demonstrating their shakiness. “I needed the drugs.”  Uncertain that Joy is buying, Diane tries to push Louise into more believable territory. “Um, wasn’t money tight, Louise?”  Oh, it was.  And then a friend gave her a couple of oxycodone. “Roxy, I call them,” she continues, which is pretty funny in the way that makes you laugh on the inside. “That’s the street name.  When I was on the street.”  Mrs. Nolfi puffs out her chest, as if she was going to fight someone, which is every kind of hilarious.

And where are you getting your drugs now, Joy wonders; Diane looks at Louise in consternation. “I had my man,” the old woman answers. I love, love love the way she says “mah man” like she’s suddenly a little bit Southern. “Down the… on the street.”  It’s clear she can’t keep her euphemisms straight. “Street where I live. Where my man gets me drugs. I need the drugs.”  Horrified, knowing the ploy will fail, Diane closes her eyes.

“Do you find that taking drugs helps you avoid or relieve withdrawal symptom?” Joy asks, redirecting the conversation. Louise is so eager to go down that road. “Oh, yeah, all the time,” Louise replies earnestly, eyes wide open. “I mean, sometimes all I have is my high.”

I have graduated to laughing on the outside.  I feel guilty – it’s a very serious subject — but I can’t help it.

“Oh I get the shakes.  The, you know,” Mrs. Nolfi says, once more holding up her fingers and shaking them vigorously to demonstrate.

Thank you, Miss Nolfi, Miss Grubick replies.  It’s no big deal. “And just so you know, I wanna get this horse off my back,” Louise offers, more earnestly still. “Monkey?” Joyless suggests dryly; what, Louise wonders. “Monkey off your back?” Joy repeats sharply, doing her very best Roz.  “No, horse,” Mrs. Nolfi insists. Excellent.

When Mrs. Nolfi stands, Diane turns a pleading face to Joy. “Okay, she’s not a junky,” Joy admits to the obvious. “She doesn’t fit the cliche,” Diane tries, and Joy just cuts through all the bull. “I understand that mandatory minimums are unfair, m’am, but I cannot recommend that a non-addict be put into rehab, hmm hmm?”  Well, when you put it that way…  “Sorry.”

Bent over his knees, Cary sits in a gray room, his hands clasped, his brow furrowed, almost as if he were praying.  There’s a pounding on this door, too, but when he opens it, he finds not the police but Dexter Rojas.  “Where’s Kalinda?” he gasps when Cary rips open the door.  She’s not here, Cary says, and somewhat surprisingly Dexter believes him. “Well I need to leave a message,” he says. “Someone turned on Bishop and it was not me. She needs to tell Bishop…”  It’s not her either, Cary interrupts.  Which is kind of dumb, when you think of it, because it seems like Dexter was there to get Kalinda to vouch for him, not to accuse her. “What?”  See, the very suggestion throws Dex completely.

“Geneva Pine approached me to turn evidence,” Cary confesses, a mark of his complete desperation.  My God, what is he thinking?  “Kalinda wasn’t involved, it was me.” God, Cary, what are you doing?  Noble, but dangerous and stupid. Dexter can’t believe his ears.  “It was you? How could it be you?”  I gave Pine what I knew, Cary insists, foolhardy.  “You did?” Rojas squints.  (This is totally irrelevant, but he has the most precise hairline I think I’ve ever seen. Just boom, a row of stubble straight across his forehead.) “You….”  And then he works it out.  “She was in my car.  Kalinda?  She took it?”  Poor Cary doesn’t even know what it is; how can he plausibly defend Kalinda?  All his noble sacrifice has done is give Kalinda away.

Assuming Dexter lives long enough to explain this to Bishop, anyway.

“Took what?” Cary asks, scrambling to keep up. “I’m such an idiot,” Dexter declares, flicking his fingers off his forehead. “The flashdrive, she did this.”  I have no idea what you’re talking about, Cary wails. “Tell Kalinda I need to see her now,” Dexter wags an angry finger at Cary, and I can’t help it, he’s not very threatening.  He’s always seemed pretty puppy-like, really. She has nothing to do with this, Cary protests, far too late. “You tell her  I need to see her.”  He rushes off, leaving Cary even more pale and drawn and worried than before he arrived.

At Lockhart, Agos & Lee, Kalinda looks at Cary’s name and number on her phone, and refuses his call.  She watches David and Diane fight over Alicia’s clients, and then thumbs through her contacts until she reaches Alicia’s name. She makes the call. “Hello?”  “Alicia, ah, do you have a minute?” Kalinda asks.   We see Alicia furiously pacing her kitchen. “What, so Diane can cut my exit package again?”  On the one hand, I totally get why she’s angry and hurt but there’s something unsettling about the way she’s given in to her anger.  What’s going on, Kalinda asks. So direct!  Why don’t you tell me, Alicia snaps.  Diane and David Lee think you’re poaching clients, Kalinda explains, calm where Alicia’s not. “They’re the ones who’ve been stringing me along for days, lying to my clients.”  I think I’ve decided against that shirt she’s wearing; how is the neck creeping up that much?  It’s odd. “No, they wanted you back, but then you called James Gallagher and said you were leaving,”  Kalinda says.

“No no no no, he called me. Diane went behind my back and told him I was out.”  I have to admit, I don’t even understand why Diane would be calling Alicia’s clients and telling them that Alicia wasn’t coming back when she clearly knew Cary and Alicia were talking.  Plus it was only the same day that Alicia made her announcement, and she’d stopped being their lawyer at least two months prior.  The timing is odd, right?  I mean, why bother?  Just wanted you to know, the person who isn’t your lawyer still isn’t going to be?  Ah well. I guess they figured hearing the announcement would be confusing?  “No she didn’t,” Kalinda protests, but then she thinks better of it. “Wait.  When did Gallagher says she called?”  That Gallagher.  It’d all have been smooth sailing if not for him.  Right after our meeting, she says.

“Alicia,” Kalinda smiles her Mona Lisa smile, “Diane called before the meeting. Before she even knew you wanted to come back.  I know, I was there.”  Huh?  There wasn’t any point in that meeting where Alicia asked to come back.  Diane offered.  “She knew I was coming in!”  Alicia protests.  Yes, Kalinda replies, but not why.  Which, I’m sad to say, makes no sense with the way that scene was written.  David’s smearing me to my clients right now, Alicia presses. “Because of you, because of what you did,” Kalinda counters, and Alicia frowns at the phone as she realizes that her self-righteous anger might not be entirely justified.  “So you’re saying that this is a misunderstanding?”  She’s saying you need to call Diane, stat.

And Kalinda’s going to have to deal with Cary, who’s still sitting in her apartment, the picture of desperation and dejection.  Finally, we hear her key in the lock. “Hey,” he says, and she smiles. ‘How long have you been there?”  A few hours, he confesses, and she smiles again, and shuts the door behind her.  She’s wearing one of her wonderful leather jackets, the bright blue one that might just be my favorite.

“Did you get Bishop arrested?” he asks, and she crosses the room, puts her keys on the kitchen counter, and begins to shrug off the jacket. “Don’t worry,” she says, slipping her arms out of the sleeves, “I, uh, took care of it.”  Yeah, only if you’ve convinced Bishop to kill a (relatively) innocent man before they can actual talk.  “So you’re not in trouble?” Cary asks, standing. “No,” Kalinda says, turning her back to him so she can slip the jacket onto a chair.  She’s uncharacteristically awkward. “Dexter Rojas was here,” he says, watching her go still, “he wanted your help in figuring out who turned on Bishop.”  Ah, she says. “Well that’s good.”

“I said it wasn’t you,” Cary tells her as if he thinks he could forestall her doom. “I said I was the one who turned on Bishop.”  Why would you do that, Kalinda asks; it’s like they’re living out a twisted version of The Gift of the Magi, that young couple each giving their all to purchase a present that the other can’t use. She sells her hair to buy him a fob for his watch, he sells the watch to buy her combs for her hair.  When you claim to be the informant, Cary, you’re trying to murder the peace she’s bought you.  “I didn’t want you to get in trouble,” he says. “I wasn’t in trouble,” she counters.  Does she really believe that?  Would Dexter really have never figured it out?

“He mentioned a flashdrive,” Cary says, as Kalinda worries, her back turned him.  “He realized you were the one who took it from his car.” Her face goes still, and for a moment, I think it’s going to break. “What’s going on, Kalinda?”  Nothing, she says, but she swings the jacket back onto her body. The light reflects off of her eyes.

He walks up behind her, too close. “I know it’s something.  When you talk like that, it’s always something.”  She zips up the jacket, turns up the collar.  “No,” she says, turning toward him, “I can take care of it.”  I’m sure you can, but does it always have to be alone?  “You’re in trouble,” he presses.  No, she insists. “Can I help you?  Please?”  No, she says, and leans up to kiss him softly.  He tries to follow her down into the kiss but she quickly pulls away.  He looks at her in consternation as she goes.

(Not for nothing, but they started the noise of her opening the door way, way too fast.  She didn’t have time to cross the room.)

And there’s a very quiet Alicia, in a flat grayish trench coat over her slightly bronzed nude top, standing in Diane’s darkened doorway.   “Diane,” she calls out, her voice soft, and Diane looks up.  “I think we need to talk.” Slowly, Diane takes off her glasses. Has she been prepped by Kalinda as well, or did she figure it out herself? “Yes, I think we do,” she agrees.

There’s a knock on Alicia’s door, but of course she’s not there to get it.  Instead, poor abandoned Grace opens the door, wearing a red and black top with white sleeves.  “Hi,” she tells Kalinda, surprised. “Grace,” replies the equally surprised investigator.  Awkwardly, they decide Kalinda will wait in the apartment for Alicia to return, because she wants to talk in person.  It makes me sad, thinking of how long ago the two were friends, and how much longer they haven’t been, and how strange it is to see Kalinda show up at the apartment now. I suppose, though, that if Kalinda is going to run, and wants to explain things to someone, she probably can’t do it Diane and Cary (despite being closer to them) since each will feel responsible for her plight.  Unable to sit long, Kalinda hops back up to look at the photographs on the mantel piece, tiny notebook in hand as always and nothing else.  I wonder if she keeps her license there?  Car keys?  A credit card?  Her phone? 6 years on I’m suddenly wondering where in her sleek clothes she keeps all this stuff.  I guess the leather jacket has pockets…

Anyway, the most prominent photographs are all of Zach; one includes him holding a small dog.  Did they ever have a dog?  Can you even imagine that kind of mess in Alicia’s pristine apartment?  I wonder if they had to give the dog away once they left Highland Park and she went back to work.  Kalinda focuses in on a smiling family photograph, posed outdoors, dating from before Peter’s scandal; as she zones in on Peter’s face, I suspect Kalinda is thinking about her role in destroying the once happy family unit.  She takes a deep breath and moves away, this time smiling at a picture of Alicia from her early days back to work.  She’s standing at the end of a Stern, Lockhart & Gardner sign, holding up a folder on which she’d written “And Florrick,” as she’s positively beaming.  Laughing and smiling at the memory — as happy as we’ve ever seen her — Kalinda pops back to a vision of herself taking the picture, directing Alicia to smile.  The way that both women laugh makes me think again of the time when their friendship was unreserved, the most real part of either of their lives.  Kalinda chooses to smile at this, and not cry, but you can tell its a near thing.

And then her phone rings. It’s Diane.

“I got your email.  What’s up?”  the partner asks. “Yeah, um, I took another look at the lab report again. Louise Nolfi was caught with 26 ecstasy tablets. But the price attached to the pills was $500.”  So, Diane wonders, walking out of the office. “So, the street value would be double that.”  “Either someone was getting a great deal, or there’s a problem with the amount of drugs.”  Huh.  That’s interesting; Diane says she’ll talk to the lab the next day. “Yeah. you need to call them first thing in the morning,” Kalinda replies, almost stammering, “I won’t be in.”

Sigh.

“Are you all right?” Diane wonders. I’m fine, Kalinda lies (or at least miss-answers) before quickly changing the subject. “Did Alicia call you?” No, she came in, Diane says. “We apologized to each other.” Smiling, Kalinda relaxes.  That’s two problems fixed before she goes. Good, she says. “Life’s too short to be mad.”

“Well you’re sounding philosophical,” Diane observes as the elevator door opens for her, surprised at this uncharacteristic display of sentiment.  “Look, um,” Kalinda begins, and finds that she doesn’t have adequate words. “I’ll see you, Diane.”  Are you sure you’re all right, Diane wonders, letting the elevator leave without her rather than risk losing the call.  “I’m fine,” Kalinda repeats.  “Take care of yourself, okay?” Diane frowns at the conversation. “You too,” she says, and hangs up.  Later, she’ll look back on this conversation and know it for what it was.

“Hey,” Grace interrupts Kalinda’s fond reverie. “I’m getting a snack, you sure you don’t want anything?”  Yeah, Kalinda says. “I have to go now. Grace, would you give this to your mom, please?”  There’s a bit of a funeral in the violin music playing in the background as Kalinda scribbles Alicia’s name on a white envelope.  Sure, the girl nods, smiling her way toward the kitchen. “Just whenever would be great,” Kalinda adds.  Setting the mysterious envelope on the kitchen island, Grace looks up and waves at Kalinda just as the latter’s opening up the apartment door.  “Bye,” the girl says, for all of us.  Kalinda turns, framing herself in the off-white doorway. “Goodbye,” she says, and closes the door.

“You’re sure of this, Miss Lockhart?”  Judge Coleman asks gravely, back in court.  She certainly is: she personally inspected the evidence that morning. “And here is an affidavit from the custodian at the lab.” Custodian — you mean, from the janitor?  That can’t be what she means.  “The charge says Mrs. Nolfi was found with 26 tablets of ecstasy,” Diane explains, “but the tablets had been cut in half.  Which means that there were really only 13 tablets in the packet.” Literally cut in half, or cut and remixed?  Has to be the later, right?  Oh, whatever. “And the threshold for for the mandatory minimum to apply is…” 15, Diane supplies. Awesome. “Then it is my pleasure to inform you, Mrs. Nolfi, that I am finding you guilty of possession of only 13 tablets of ecstasy, thereby sentencing you to six months of probation which I hereby deem served.”  The two smile at each other, just a little.

“We need to bring Alicia on board,” Cary declares, bursting into Diane’s office; Diane cuts him off, explaining that she and Alicia have already talked it through. Why is Cary suddenly fired up about this?  Has Kalinda clued him in, too?  “Because we have her by the throat,” David Lee growls, but no. “I apologized too, it was all a misunderstanding,” Diane tells them.  Sigh.  That’s so nice.  Now that things are calm, should I mention Diane’s suit, because it’s crazy.  Brown with shifting geometric patterns and gold pieces plating a strip over the shoulders and down the arms; with the large chain around her throat, the ensembles makes Diane look like an armored lizard.  “Good.  Then we should bring her back,” Cary insists.

“No you shouldn’t,” Reese Dipple says, stepping out of the shadows (or at least Diane’s shadowy conference area), looking at his phone instead of his lawyers.  Smiling, Cary asks R.D. to leave so they can resolve an urgent personnel matter. “You resolve away,” he offers, looking up, “but for what it’s worth, if Alicia Florrick returns, I will be movin’ on. ”

Well.  So much for the happy ending.  He lets those words hang in the air.

“Had the conversation with Diane this morning,” he adds eventually, and Diane sighs in Cary’s general direction. “I may not see eye to eye with y’all on politics,” he says, and man but I’m sick of him going on about this.  Have a freaking conversation without slapping them in the face with it, please! “Worry not, sir,” David Lee oozes, ” you and I are on the same page.” And the audience collectively rolls its eyes.  “…but I do value integrity,” Reese continues, rightly ignoring Lee. “Yes, and no one has more than Alicia,” Cary replies seriously, and I can’t even say how much I wish I still agreed with that assessment. “Mr. Agos. I am scrutinized heavily by the press,” Dipple says. “Bloggers of every stripe. I can deal with the scandal that Diane’s involved with, but I have my limits.”  Upset, Cary walks toward his client. “Alicia did nothing wrong,” he insists.  We both know that’s irrelevant, Reese points out, although I’m not sure that’s entirely true; while the truth doesn’t matter in the so-called court of public opinion (or necessarily in the press), being reinstated would be a sign of good faith, that her colleagues and clients believed in Alicia, and also an acknowledgement that public perception can change.  I can see where Reese wouldn’t stick his neck out to rehabilitate someone’s reputation, though.

“The Florrick name?  It’s like George Ryan. Or Blagojevitch.  It’s just another in a long line of corrupt Chicago pols.  I’m sorry,” he finishes, as Cary closes his eyes in defeat, “that’s just how it is.”  Even though it’s early, Cary’s having a bad day from a lot of different angles.  Diane’s assistant from earlier (Sondra, who’s appeared a few times) calls him out of the room to let him know that Kalinda’s officially out for the day and currently unreachable by phone.  Or at least, Sondra tried Kalinda’s home phoene unsuccessfully, but not her cell, so Cary dials that as I contemplate the ridiculousness of someone like Kalinda actually having a landline. Her cell has been disconnected, and the final music begins.

Back at her apartment (Cary must have a key, fascinating), it’s blazingly clear she’s on the run.  Her drawers are empty, some strewn on the bed, their insides revealed as blood red behind a white facade.  Her mirror’s taken off the wall, and the hole that held her running money (first seen years in ago in The Dream Team) gapes in the wall.  Somebody’s not getting her security deposit back.  Still calling for Kalinda, Cary walks though the evidence of her flight as a delicately voiced young woman sings about broken windows and empty hallways. Yes, Lauren O’Connell; I think it’s gonna rain today, too.

“Who called you?” a voice asks as we say goodbye to Cary, the color leached out of him, look around Kalinda’s hollowed out apartment in full understanding.  Diane, Alicia replies glumly. “Well that’s payback for the Supreme Court justice,” Peter grumbles, cynical.  Oddly, they’re sitting at a dining room table rather than in the kitchen (did the dining room used to have windows?), and I don’t even see any wine glasses.  I don’t think so, actually, Alicia replies.  Screw them, Peter tells her, trying to make it better.  Call your clients and strike out on your own.  I did, she says, and no one wants to come. Looks like David Lee did his job too efficiently. “I mean, Colin Sweeney, but…” she sighs.  Good girl.  No money’s worth having Sweeney as your only client. “I’m damaged goods,” she finishes, dejected.

“Listen,” Peter tells her, leaning forward. When did the hair framing his face go completely white? “Give it time. Look at me: a year after jail, I was back in the S.A.’s office.”  She shakes her head; she’s wearing a short sleeves dress where the shoulders are made out of a cut out geometric fabric, black and striking.   “I’m tired, Peter,” she says, and starts breathing in deeply, rhythmically.  “That’s okay,” he says, giving her permission. “Be tired.  Rest. Read a book.  Recharge the batteries.”

And then he comes out with an unexpected proposal. “Eli was talking about getting a ghost writer.  I think you should write a book.”  Like Will tried to do during his suspension?  “About?” Alicia wonders.  “You,” Peter replies. “Your story.”  Oh please.  Her story’s only interesting if she tells the truth, and what’s the chance of that happening? Not that it wouldn’t be completely cathartic if she did. I mean, what a revolutionary concept, Alicia looking at her life and honestly figuring out how she feels about it?  “Your political philosophy.  People are interested. They’re more interested in you than me,” he says, and she smiles and rolls her eyes.  Of course they’re more interested in her right now.  They want the scoop — as if she could give it to them without being, at the very least, sued and/or blackballed by the Democratic party? It’s a terrible idea. “You can do it, Alicia.  You can come back from this.  I know it.”

Yes.  The real question is, what is she coming back to?  Who is she going to be?  With this third chance, at least, to remake her life, what is she going to do?

His eyes unseeing,  Cary sits on Kalinda’s bed, sorrow spilling out of him. “Human kindness is overflowing. I think it’s gonna rain today.”  We talked a lot about how important being the white knight, the caretaker, was to Will, but it’s clear in this moment not simply how much Cary loved Kalinda, but how heavily his inability to relieve Kalinda’s burden weighs on him.  Not for the first time, Kalinda has sacrificed herself to save him, and he’s flattened by it.

Wearing a gray hoodie, Alicia stands in her kitchen and dries her hands with a towel.  Shaking her head, she steps out from behind the counter, and I almost fall off the couch when I see she’s wearing jeans.  Jeans!  Who knew she even owned such clothing?  I seriously am going to fall over. She walks by a message center (yet another set feature I’m not sure I ever noticed) and sees the envelope Kalinda left her propped against a basket, and so she picks it up and reads. There’s only one page, one folded slip of paper, so it doesn’t take long.  Tossing the envelope and letter onto the island, Alicia moves forward again, dazed.  And then she gasps, doubles over as if stabbed, her hair making a curtain around her face as she clutches her abdomen, one hand on a chair.  Sucking in air, loud, she falls into the chair, her face in her hands, trying to still the sobs.
I’m trying to decide whether knowing about Kalinda’s exit for the last year (I do my best to avoid those kind of spoilers but this one was inescapable) made this easier to bear.  I think it did — obviously I’m not having the same level of reaction as I did to Will’s death — but I don’t like it much more.  While Kalinda’s never been able to return to the same heights of badassery and cool as in the first two seasons, where not only her cleverness but also her friendship with Alicia made her one of the most vital and interesting characters on television, she’s still an important part of what makes this show tick.  With Robyn’s mysterious disappearance (if Jess Weixler’d left to do another show, that’d be one thing), and Alicia at least temporarily exile from her former firm, perhaps there won’t be more investigating on the show?  Or perhaps Alicia will be Kalinda’s heir, getting out into the field herself?  Not that we can measure Kalinda’s contribution to the show solely by her place in the work hierarchy, or by her omnivorous sexuality, or her self-possession, or her kick-ass clothes.  Like I said, it’s been a nearly a year, and I still can’t imagine what this show is going to look like.  I’m really sorry the core cast couldn’t continue through what’s presumable the final season next year.

Okay.  Enough gloom.

So, no big clients for Alicia anymore.  My best guess is that she could join forces with Finn, hang out her shingle and work with whoever comes.  (Like I said, I really can’t see her sitting home and writing a book. What could she unbend enough to say?  It’d be so out of character, not to mention impossible.)  Might this mark the return of scrappy, clever, hard-working Alicia with her concern for the underdog?  Because I could get behind that big time. I’m grateful, I truly am.  I just wish it hadn’t taken a year of really uncomfortable crap to strip away her entitlements and her self-delusions, assuming that’s what’s going to happen.   And, I don’t know.  Aren’t you curious what the take-away is here?  What do the writers want us to feel and think?  That women can’t have it all?  That success spoils us? (I suppose I shouldn’t make generalizations — after all, that’s what writers do, punish their characters in order to provide drama — but it feels pretty mean-spirited.) Don’t let it be so reductive as to say that Alicia could only approach Peter as an equal — could only repair their marriage — if she went through exactly the same thing, because that is ridiculous.  I don’t suppose that it could be that Alicia’s been focusing on learning the wrong kind of things?  It’s hard to feel that this isn’t a chance for her to reset her wavering moral compass.

I meant to append this terrific op ed to the last recap; while I of course admire it in general, I can’t help looking at it through the lens of this show.  At first, Peter’s scandal made Alicia simultaneously tougher and more compassionate.  Reading this list, however, you can see how working on acquiring power and influence (“resume skills”) took her away from those qualities that made her both relatable and — well, I don’t want to say happy, exactly, but made her alive, made her the person we all cared about so much.  I’d like to see her do more than go through the motions and follow the scripts sets for her as a lawyer, political wife and politician.  You’re probably sick of hearing me say that, actually.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when Alicia damaged that moral compass; it’d be easy to say that it started with the political campaign, or with Will’s death, but in truth this has been coming a long time, perhaps from the beginning of her work compromises, perhaps when she decided to have a physical affair with Will but not an emotional one.  So maybe it’s good to see her hit bottom, maybe, but I still question whether it had to be this way.  That’s not the only way people can learn.

In the end, a lot of the things that bothered me about the political plot finally make sense.  How did they expect the show to function after Alicia was the S.A.?  None of that mattered, because she was never going to take office.  Why did they take away her villainous opponent and replace him with one who was likable and upstanding, who was clearly a better candidate for the job than Alicia?  Because they didn’t want us to want her to win.  They wanted us to be okay with her losing, even relieved, as we are.  Why on earth would they rehire David Lee?  To make it harder for Alicia to come back.  He wasn’t the finally straw, but he provided much of the, lets say scaffolding the writers hung the misunderstanding on.

What’s done is done, and I suppose there’s no point in bemoaning it.  It’s hard to let go of the frustration, though, because watching Alicia’s descent into the dark side wasn’t any fun.  It still feels inconsistent with her character — even as the result of a long slide — but more, it feels like a waste of the time we had left with her.  I have to admit, though; the site of her at home wearing a pair of jeans made me preposterously happy.  Simply seeing her without Diane’s armor — those enormous, chunky necklaces and fur collars — gives me hope for the woman beneath.  She’s stopped dressing like it’s casual Friday in her own home, lessening the sense that she was dressing up for an imaginary audience every moment.  Perhaps she’s a little less concerned with being the perfect badass legal icon she thinks she should be, and maybe a little more honestly herself. That’s what I hope, anyway.

While I very much enjoyed Sarah Steele, and as always David Krumholtz, it’s both telling and sad that all the campaign staff vanished in a puff of smoke.  In a way, it’s like this whole season disappeared; at least this week, she’s back to mixing with the people who matter most.

And there it is.  Did this week’s episode make you happy, knowing that Alicia quit the fight over the State’s Attorney’s office, or does seeing her so wrecked make you sad?  What did you think of the whole misunderstanding?  And where do you want Alicia to go from here?

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8 comments on “The Good Wife: The Deconstruction

  1. SusieQ says:

    Definitely not happy here. So much sadness over this whole thing. Is she really our old Alicia again? I can’t begin to imagine where she might be going from this point. Is there only one episode left of this season? Maybe she’ll do like Cheryl Strayed and go for a good long hike, get some color in her cheeks, go wild. Or maybe Ed McMahon will send me a million in the mail.

    Khalinda. Cary. Oh my God. That song. I was bawling my eyes out. The show can never be the same without her. It’s a good thing there’s only one more season, but will it be worth watching without Khalinda? Or Lemond Bishop? I’m afraid Cary will sink into a horrible depression. It has always been clear to me that Khalinda was his true love, even though he knew she was emotionally unattainable.

    I’m with you on the idea of Alicia writing a book. There’s no way she would ever write her deepest feelings, and a primer on politics, or law? Can’t see that happening either. And what about next season if she does? Will we have scene after scene of her sitting behind a computer, mentally wadding up sheets of paper and throwing them in the wastebasket? Damn, what a waste of time and emotion this whole year was. But, of course, I’ll be back to find out where they take her, and how they wrap it up.

    • E says:

      That’s the whole question, right? Can they make this worth it? Can she really, for once, look at her life and decide to live it intentionally, thinking about what she wants, about what she wants her life to be? The idea that she would be honest enough with herself to make a real book — this woman who is practically defined by her inability to decide what she wants and to articulate her emotions — and then be able to publish all those details not only of her life but of the party’s and Peter’s? No. Ridiculous. Does she even have a political philosophy? Even if she does, that’s not what people want to hear. They want to know about her marriage, about the scandals.

      No, I’d much rather watch her go Wild, like you said.

      And yes, it’s really hard to fight the feeling that this whole season has been wasted and punitive. When pretty much the entire audience could see Alicia making a huge mistake from the start, it was hard to get on board, and that makes all the ups and downs more frustrating than emotional. It’s like a pulled punch — they set up the campaign scenario not to be plausible from the start, never letting us get behind it, so when it falls apart we feel both depressed and relieved. Doesn’t seem like the ideal mindset.

      I’m going to miss Kalinda so much, I can’t even. I do wonder if it could be good for Cary in the long run, forcing him to move on. That’s what I’m going to hope, anyway, that both he and Alicia will use this situation to rise. But I can’t imagine what the show itself will do without her.

  2. Kiki says:

    The payoff was wonderful, but suffering through a whole season of this political plot was way to painful. I am excited to see Alicia rebuild, I mean she lost everything and she can’t even really blame anyone but herself, and I mean in terms of relationships in her life. I mean her attitude all season has been so dis-attached and yet those people seem to still be there for her. I am happy this political plot is over, so glad. I still hated this season but hell lets see what they do now!

    • E says:

      Yeah. It was a long time to invest in something that was only going end in disaster. I’m glad they’re righting her ship — I mean, I really hope they are! — but what a cost.

  3. Kiki says:

    Also the book idea was just to throw something out there, we all know is not really gonna happen LOL

    • E says:

      Right? I mean, how nuts would that be? I lost the election because the party cared more about the person who cheated than about my office? And then a legendary lawyer lied about me to cover up the party’s perfidy? Just to start with one example…

  4. mitchteemley says:

    Finally added Good Wife to my Netflix queue (my wife’s been watching it since it began).

    • E says:

      I hope you like it, Mitch! My husband doesn’t watch with me either – maybe he’ll change his mind like you did. You’re giving me hope. 🙂

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