The Good Wife: Don’t Fail

E: We thought we saw Alicia start from nothing before.  First, with Will helping her to a job at his firm, swimming her way out of Peter’s scandal.  Later, stealing Will’s clients with Cary, trading on her husband’s reputation for money and prestige.  This time, there’s only Alicia and her experiences and her wit to save her; and if she fails, there’s no back up. There is no try, Alicia Florrick.  There is only do.  Or do not.

“Ummmmm,” Alicia stammers, as a youngish man stares at her expectantly. “Take your time,” he says mildly. Is she seeing a therapist? That seems incredibly unlikely. The phone rings, and he can see it unsettles her, not answering, so he asks if she needs to get it. “It might be my campaign office,” she replies, which is a puzzle because what’s left of the campaign now?  At any rate she gets the phone; it’s the land line in the little office area in her kitchen, and I want to cry a little when the excited expression falls once it’s clear it’s a telemarketer.  She ends the call as politely as she can, and plunks back into the arm chair in her living room.

Which I belated realize means she’s not at a therapists office. “What was the question?” she asks.  The man — who at second glance isn’t as  young as I thought, either, but is at least in his thirties —  wants to talk to her friends to get a more complete picture.  Friends?  What friends?  Let me have a think on that, she covers the embarrassing lack of names, which man, is just the saddest thing.  Fine, he replies politely, and flips through a notepad.  “Will Gardner,” he resumes the conversation as her face pales. “I was thinking it would be a nice place to start your memoirs.  A brush with violence, you know?”  Oh, yes, asshat, that’s very nice.  Is he kidding?  I was slow on the uptake here, because I didn’t realize until he said that that this has to be the ghost writer that Peter mentioned last week; maybe it’s because I can’t believe that she agreed to this disaster of an idea.  “And then we go back to when you got started in the law?”  The narrative device is sound — start in the middle and then go back — but he can’t be very experienced at this or he’d understand that he was mucking in muddy waters.   Or maybe he’s just not very empathetic.  “I’m just trying to find a structure,” he explains, and she tries to answer, but never really gets there.  The next thing we see is her showing him the door.

I mean, come on.  How could anyone who knows her expect better?

I’m not sure if those are jeans she’s wearing (they’re very dark) but they’re fitted to her slim frame, as is the plain black v-neck sweater.  She looks like a person instead of like gilded statue, and it’s really nice.  Once again the phone rings, and she surges into the kitchen for it.  Once more, it’s a telemarketer.  Oh, Alicia.  This is why you have caller i.d., love.  This really does happen if you’re home during the day, sometimes.  Or at night, for that matter.  Really the only thing they’re getting wrong is that it’s machine calling more often than a live human being.  She blows out a breath, almost weepy at the lack of things to do.

But quickly, she finds something, scraping paint off an old door, listening to some hippyish choral music.  (This would have been a great moment for Matthew Ashbaugh’s box to make an appearance, huh?) Um, also. There are lots of projects you can do with old doors (headboards, desks) but in her kitchen?  Granted that she has no outside space, but won’t she be sending tiny paint chips all over her cooking surfaces?  She seems to know what she’s doing, bending industriously over the door in a gray sweatshirt, and the whole image is trippy fun because it’s just so far outside of where we’ve seen her. She checks her fridge (all she has in it are pickles), sighs at the clock, heads out to a hardware store wearing a preposterous trucker hat so as not to be recognized.  From the dubious look the clerk gives her, the ploy either didn’t work or drew attention to her with its ridiculousness. He shakes his head at her, rolling his eyes, but he doesn’t comment.  Back home, she waits for the stroke of five to pour herself a soppily eager glass of wine.

And hurrah, a savior!  Grace arrives at the apartment, finally giving her mother a focus for her energy.  Unsurprisingly, Grace is puzzled by the door and the paint shavings in her kitchen.  (Seriously, I don’t think there’s even put a tarp on the floor.)  I thought we’d grab some pizza tonight, Alicia tells her daughter, but no, Grace is on the way to college prep and is just dropping off her books.  I’ll be back by 11, Grace says, reminding me of her mother back in the first season. (I don’t know why of all the lines for the last six years this one sticks in my head, but I remember her telling Jackie that she wasn’t going to be late at work, she’d be back around 11.) Oh, and there’s a package by the door, Grace adds, pledging her love and rushing away from her mother in the same moment.

Wow, and the package by the door gives me flashbacks to the first season, too.  This time instead of being from Glenn Childs the package is from Eli, and instead of horrible fabricated photographs it’s full of printouts of donors that Alicia should call and personally thank for donating to her campaign.  It’s a pretty thick packet, even though there aren’t that many names on each page.  Do politicians really do this?  I mean, maybe the major donors, but for $100 donations?  That seems unlikely.

Well.  Whatever.  Like the dutiful housewife, Alicia makes the calls.  Though I fear she’ll be in for harsh criticism from supporters, we don’t hear much, only someone who says they’re angry and hangs up.  (My favorite moment, of course, is hearing her stumble over the name Turgensontomkinlin, because duh.)  She’s very mild about it all.

She flips to a new page, where weirdly there’s a purple ring from a cup (or, I suppose more likely, her wineglass) blurring a name in the middle of the page. She skips right down to that name and calls it, asking for a Mr. Tatro, which seems like guessing because it’s hard to know the gender of a smudge.  It could have been his wife who donated — but at any rate, its Mr. Tatro who answers. Alicia introduces herself, but before she can get to her practiced thank you, he starts what sounds like fanboying. “Oh my God, it’s her.  Babe, it’s Alicia!”  I wanted to call and thank you, sir, she tries again. “I almost gave up!  I musta called like 30 times.  Can you do it, Alicia?” he asks, and poor Alicia has no idea whatsoever what he might mean.   I’m sorry for the confusion, she says before sipping some wine, but I’m just calling to thank you for your donation.

“I didn’t make a donation, Alicia,” he says, which is weird because why else would he be on the list?  “I kept leaving messages because I couldn’t get you at work,” he adds, and she stares down at the smudged name, trying to decipher it. “Brett Tatro?” she asks. Yes, he says, with simple conviction. “Attempted murder?”  Yes, he repeats.  “You got me off six years ago, I was a bouncer at the strip joint?”  Now she remembers, but just looking at the list, she’d had no idea. And she’s even more clueless about what’s going to happen next.

“I was arrested four months ago,” he explains, on murder charges.  How awful, she says. On the same case, he adds, which sounds crazy.  That’s double jeopardy!  He was already acquitted!  “Jeff died,” he says, “the man that they said I punched in 2009, he just died.”  She looks thoughtful. “It doesn’t matter that you got me off for attempted murder, I can now be tried for murder.”

She silent.

“Alicia, I need your help, ” he speaks into that silence.  Uncomfortable, she tells him she get him the name of a good lawyer.  “You’re a good lawyer,” he contends. “No,” she answers, then has to back track. “I mean, yes, but I’m not practicing law anymore.”  What a sad statement.  I’m going to court tomorrow, he pleads.  ” Just come and observe?”  I have a good lawyer for you, she pushes.  Just let me call him, and I’ll call you back.  She hangs up, kind of astounded by the whole conversation.

When poor Finn Polmar looks around the bar, he doesn’t see anyone he knows.  This is chiefly because he’s expecting Alicia to be sitting at the bar as usual, but instead our girl is hiding in a high-backed booth wearing her ridiculous trucker hat again.  She’s also been wearing Ked-like sneakers, and so seems much shorter than usual, and even though she’s got a quilted jacket on over the hooded heather-gray sweatshirt, she looks tiny, even fragile.   Smirking, Finn walks over to her. “Are we incognito?” he asks, silently laughing at her ridiculousness.  She peers around the edges of the tall booth.  “We are.  Laying low.  Thanks for coming,” she ducks her head, and so he sits down graciously.  Doesn’t she realize that she draws far more attention dressed like that in that bar, talking to a man in a suit?  She screams Bad Disguise, and that’s going to make anyone curious.

“So this case, it’s an old client, it’s really unjust, after six years they’re going after him for murder,” she tells Finn earnestly, shaking her clasped hands. “I don’t know if I can take the work, Alicia, I’m deep in two mail fraud trials right now.”  And what’s more fun than mail fraud? “But you should do it,” he adds. “Oh, no,” she blinks, raising up her inevitable glass of red wine, “I’d do more harm than good.”  Why, Finn asks, making her state the obvious. “Um, because I’m busy with this memoir,” she lies, making him smirk at her.  Like Cary, I always get the sense that Finn is laughing on the inside. “And,” he presses.  “Well, I’m having … a crisis of confidence,” she admits, “and its taking up all my time.”  She gives him a rueful smile. Thanks for being honest, Alicia. Her face, only lightly made up, is open and vulnerable, as much as we’ve ever seen it.  So I guess it wouldn’t help to tell you to get back on the horse, he smiles.

“It’s just,” she begins, “different when you’re embarrassed, and everyone’s staring at you.”  For what, he wonders, and I can’t decide if I want to smack him or hug him.  She tilts her head, shocked that he’s being so thick. “The election,” she points out, and he looks down at the table, a smile on his lips. “Well, here’s the good news,” he tells her. “You’re not that important.”

The thought makes her smile to herself. “People aren’t staring at you, they’re way too busy getting on with their lives, okay, so … do it.  Help this guy.  He needs your help, so, stop thinking about yourself,” he says, wiggling his hand at her face. “Think about him.”  In other words, suck it up, cupcake.  She stares up at him, fearful. “I can’t take another failure,” she admits, pale, so and he plays Yoda, with the obvious Yoda-like response. “Hmmm,” he begins as if considering it and coming to a revelation. “Oh, well then, don’t fail.”  Smiling, he drinks.

And the doors of the court swing open to allow Alicia access, and we hear an argument immediately about the transcript of the earlier trial. “Your Honor, if I could finish, this is a travesty,” a young woman’s high pitched voice calls out, with conviction but without authority. Alicia sits unobtrusively at the back. “The defense attorney’s arguing double jeopardy,” the smug tones of the delightfully loathsome Matan Brody reach us before we see his face, “but Mr. Tatro is not being accused of the same crime.”  That seems like its splitting hairs to me.  How can he be guilty of killing someone when he was found innocent of trying to kill him?  Also, gosh, they’re really going for it in the first season parallels by trotting Matan out, aren’t they?   The young defense attorney, who wears a pale aqua suit under her long red hair, complains to the judge that Brody’s not letting her speak.  “In 2009, we had to prove that Mr. Tatro had a specific intent to kill Mr. Jeffrey Garrix.”  And they didn’t, Defender Girl pipes up. “But now that the charge is first degree murder, we don’t need to prove an intent.”  Really?  That’s fascinating.  I don’t see how that affects double jeopardy, though.  (Also, have we moved on from the first season to the second?  Being that the second episode of season 2 was called actually Double Jeopardy?  It’s a nice parallel to have the second to last episode of season 6 about the same thing.  And then there’s the whole issue of Defender Girl being reminiscent of season three’s Martha and Caitlin — both of them — while having the same first name as Peter’s paramour Amber Madison.)

Brett turns in his seats and beams when he sees Alicia smiling back at him in the gallery, and you can see why when his stammering young attorney calls him her father instead of her client; Judge Dunaway glowers his disapproval.   Oh, my.  We haven’t see Judge Dunaway since last season’s brilliant The Decision Tree, interactions which didn’t exactly paint Alicia in a good light. “My client is a father of three! He’s not a criminal!”  I can’t see what that has to do with the charge, Matan drawls. “In 2009, Mr. Tatro viciously punched and kicked a young man, repeatedly, putting him into a coma.”  A coma he recovered from, Defender Girl announces, perkily. “And now that young man has died, due to those injuries in 2009.”  Okay, Dunaway interjects, stopping both sides before asking kindly if this is Miss Audrey’s first criminal trial. “It is, Your Honor,” she says with a self conscious, nervous little laugh, “but it doesn’t have to be if you rule against the prosecution.”  Very cute, Miss Audrey, very cute; Dunaway laughs. “Unfortunately ASA Brody is right on the law, so we will commence pre-trial motions tomorrow.”  He bangs his gavel, ending the session.

Released momentarily, tall Brett advances on Alicia and stoops over to hug her. “I’m just here to check it out, that’s all,” she warns the too-excited former client. “You remember my wife Josie,” he says, as the curly haired woman beside him reaches out her hand for Alicia.  Oh yes, Alicia smiles. “I didn’t know you got married.”  Five years ago, Brett says, holding out a photo of their three little girls. “Adorable,” Alicia notes, quite right. “They wouldn’t even exist if you hadn’t gotten me off,” he says.  Wow.  Now that’s both praise and guilt for you, right there. “Can you believe I’d be half way through my sentence right now?” he muses.

“What did you think about Amber?” Josie cuts off her husband’s meandering about the 12 year sentence he’d faced. “Your lawyer?” Alicia asked as Brett’s face falls.  I think he wanted to do this more subtly. “Good. A little nervous,” Alicia assesses. “She couldn’t get a word in edgewise,” Josie complains. “Matan can be rough with new lawyers. He was that way with me,” Alicia explains, remembering. “I was just as nervous.”  But you won, Brett reminds her.  Who knows – maybe Amber Defender Girl Audrey will too.

“Alicia,” Matan Brody calls out, giving a little jerk of his head, beckoning Alicia to him. Excusing herself, Alicia walks over to her first nemesis, tossing her hair. “I didn’t know you were on this, Alicia,” Matan says by way of hello. I’m just here observing, she declares non-commitally. “It should be more interesting this time, not too easy to win,” he promises, smirking. “Really”” she wonders. “Why is that?” He keeps spinning his head around, waggling it. “There’s a hole in your case,” Matan explans.  A hole, she says, really.  What hole?  He laughs.

“Hey,” he adds, “I’m sorry about the election. People can be mean at first but they forget soon enough. In a few months, it’ll be like it never happened.”  Huh.  Is this some sort of trick, or is he actually being nice, offering the same advice that Finn did?  “Just like Peter.”  Yeah, she didn’t like that comparison at all.  She narrows her eyes, then walks over to Josie and Brett, her choice made (as ever) by her stubborn contrariness.  “Okay,” she tells them, “let’s get started.”

At Lockhart, Agos & Lee, Cary’s standing behind his desk as if waiting for Alicia’s call. “Hi, how are you,” he frowns, his face a study of worry. “This is a business call,” she begins. “Do you remember Brett Tatro?” Perhaps surprisingly, he does. “Attempted murder, we fought it in our first year,” he recalls perfectly, “He called here a few times, but we don’t take those kind of cases any more.”  What kind of case is that? Interesting. Alicia nods quietly. “Well, I need the file on the case. I don’t want to go through David Lee and deal with the usual hassle.”  Who knew it was possible for Cary to frown harder?  “Are you representing him, Alicia?” he asks, and it takes her a moment and a little straightening of her spine to admit that she is.  Cary’s eyebrows reach for the sky. “Well, that’s… great.  Sure,” he stammers. “I’ll get the files over. Where?”  Oh, just to my apartment, she replies, trying to sound casual and not embarrassed that she has no lux new premises to claim. Not her apartment, taking a case where she won’t make any money!  She’s sunk so low! This is not either of their ideas of her landing on her feet.  “Oh.  Right.  Your apartment,” he squeaks.

“And, Cary, do you remember if there was a hole in that case, anything we missed in the defense?”  No, he says, but it was a long time ago. Why? “Matan seems to think there’s a hole he can exploit,” she explains. “Well, my guess is you’ll find it in the files. We were completists back them; we took notes on everything.”  They both smile at the memory.

And a more electronic version of “Failsafe” starts to play as Alicia drags her door into the dining room and sets it up as an impromptu desk. When the doorbell rings, she pulls in the four boxes of files from Stern, Lockhart & Gardner (sigh), and spreads everything out on the desk. She pins up crime scene photos on her array of botanical prints, using them as what the Castle crew refers to as their Murder Board, then dumps a container of mini-cassette tapes on her new desk, all labeled in black marker with names like B.T. and Dakota. She slips one such cassette into a mini-cassette recorder and hits play. “Sorry, do you mind if I record this, I just don’t want to miss anything,” her own voice crackles through as Alicia in the present prepares to take notes on a legal pad, a gold watch flashing on her right wrist.

“Ah, naw, sure, sure.  How’s this work again?”  Brett’s voice is rougher than in the present, tougher. “Well, ” past Alicia tells Brett from her old office, her voice still crackling and over-loud. “Stern Lockhart & Gardner offer certain number of associate hours to pro bono cases like yours.  Free of charge.”  Well I didn’t do it, a leather jacket clad Brett shakes his head, less believable than in his present domesticated state.  (And aha, that’s what Cary meant; Lockhart, Agos & Lee doesn’t do pro bono cases.) “I didn’t beat that guy up.”  Jeff Garrix, Alicia prompts; yes, him.  They set the scene: not merely a bouncer at the club, Brett was also a traveling body guard, and had gone to a Sheraton with Dakota, one of the club’s strippers, to make sure nothing got out of hand at a bachelor party.  “Yes m’am. He thought they had paid for topless and bottoms, so I had to explain to him the rules.”

He got angry, tape-Alicia says, while her contemporary self looks at photos of Jeff both beaten and whole. “Yeah, silly college kid,”  Brett shakes his head. “Then he followed you back to the Pink Sapphire?” she asks, and we see a picture of the shady-looking establishment in question.  Yes, Jeff did follow them, because Dakota had left behind business cards.  (How industrious of her.)  “And that’s where you got into the fight with him, in the parking lot?” We see various evidence markers in that parking lot. “Nah, nah, I wasn’t in the parking lot,” Brett contradicts her; the police arrested him for the fight, but he claims to have been with someone named Lexie instead.

So Alicia switches to a tape labeled Lexie.

“The tape recorder is just to aid me in my note-taking,” Alicia’s voice comes through, along with ambient sound from the Pink Sapphire. “Sure,” says Lexie, a pretty blond slathered in make up, “anything you need.”  She’s got this 80s teen look to me – the dark roots, the blending of sweetness and defiant rebellion.  So, um, you were with Brett that night, Alicia asks, and Lexie flounces her hair to indicate her agreement, colleagues practicing their pole dancing moves behind her. “So, you’re that lady, with the husband, right?” Lexie asks, suddenly excited, and in the present, Alicia rolls her eyes. “That’s kind of vague,” Past Alicia snarks. I’d have thought, considering the terrible jealousies of those days, that she’d be spending her time at the Pink Sapphire wondering if Peter had been here and who he’d slept with, but she seems pretty collected. “Yeah,” Lexie acknowledges, “I mean the guy in jail.  For the prostitutes.”  I am, Alicia replies crisply. “I thought that was pretty cool. You standing by him.”  Huh.  She does?  Really, really eager to get off the subject, Alicia asks if there’s anything else she remembers.  “Just that he’s innocent,” she says.  And she’ll definitely testify to it.  Mid-sentence, Alicia shuts off the tape; nothing new here.

“Now, Brett, if you weren’t in the parking lot fight, how did you get these bruises on your face?” tape-Alicia wonders, back in that initial interview, holding up a photograph of Brett’s face to refresh his memory.  From Jeff, he admits, but back at the Sheraton over the bottom-less issue.  To Current-Alicia’s surprise, Diane interrupts the conversation and asks for a moment of Alicia’s time.

“You’ve probably noticed a  lot of this firm is about cooperation,” Diane explains, standing behind her desk in a pinstriped pantsuit.  Wow.  When was the last time we saw Diane rocking a pantsuit?  I can’t even think.  “We’re a family here, and like to work together.” Alicia, looking resplendent in a raspberry colored wool suit, sits down next to Cary, across from Diane’s desk. “Now, I know you two are in competition, and competition is always a healthy thing.  I want you two to work on this pro bono thing together.”

The Brett Tatro case, Alicia gasps, clearly feeling undercut. “I’m already deep into it, Miss Lockhart.”  Diane knows that, but she doesn’t so much care. “And Cary will be your second chair,” she says, as Cary nods. “Use him as your stalking horse. That’s how we improve. Okay?” Neither looks pleased until Diane asks if they have anything to say on the subject, at which point they both realize that they need to suck up their disappointment if they’re going to properly suck up to their boss.  It’s a little fun remembering their days as underlings, isn’t it?  Okay, they both say.  Fine by us.

In the conference room, Alicia draws a line down the middle of legal pad, dividing up her list of tasks, and shoves it toward Cary. “You take the other bouncer, Daniel,” she says.  Was she this confident back then?  I don’t think so.  She stalks off to her own work; she’s got black pants on with the jacket.  It’s fascinating to see her in a bright color.  I’ll take Jeff Garrix, too, Cary decides, staring at a grinning picture of the now dead  young man. He won’t talk to the defense, Alicia warns. “He might,” Cary suggests, frowning at the photograph, “if it’s the right defense.”

And that’s when present-Alicia pops in a tape of Jeff Garrix’s interview.  Ha.  Trust Cary to have sweet talked his way into a conversation; I kind of miss the kind with that sunny, unshakable faith in himself.

“My lawyer told me not to talk to you,” a voice from the grave begins, “said you’d just try to distort what I say in court.” Yep. That’s the plan.   “Well,” Kalinda flirts, causing Alicia to frown in surprise, “do I look like someone that would do that?”  Ha!  Cary didn’t mean himself, he meant Kalinda.  So smart. Bottomless Jeff laughs a revolting frat boy guffaw. “So, Kalinda continues, “how’re your legs?”  It’s my spine, Jeff huffs, and we see that Kalinda’s interviewing him in a rehab where he’s doing exercises on parallel bars. “Your client kicked me in the back, almost crippled me for life.”  He grins at Kalinda, his nose still bloody.  “What’s your name?” Ew.  Not that she can’t handle herself (and not that it isn’t nice to see her) but ew. “Kalinda,” she offers, surprising me. “Kalinda what?” he snickers, Beavis-like. “Kalinda None-of-your-business,” she replies, and both Alicia and I smile.  That’s our girl.

Immediately she redirects the conversation to Brett’s alibi and claim that they’d only fought earlier in the night. How convenient for him, Jeff says, reversing his direction and hopping toward the window; he insists he wasn’t in the same room in the Sheraton suite as Brett at all.  (Well, I’m sure there must be plenty of witness to that fight, that one couldn’t be hard to look into.) “We were watching football in the bedroom.”  Oh, right.  Like that guy would ignore a stripper?  I don’t think so.

But Alicia is thinking of something else – the layout of the suite.  First she consults a drawing she made on a legal pad, and then her memory of the trip she and Cary made to Suite 219.  Someone – a desk clerk or manager – tells them that they don’t allow bachelor parties anymore, because its not worth the trouble; this was one of the last ones, and it exemplifies why. “And all the noise. Other guests complained. We had to come down here and throw them out, told them to go to their strip joint if that’s really what they wanted to do.”  Where’s the TV, Alicia wonders, pointing at the blank wall opposite the bed.  The hotel is in the process of switching over to flatscreen, so there isn’t one, and wasn’t the night of the party.

Immediately Alicia’s on her phone: “Garrix couldn’t have been watching football on TV because there was no TV,” she tells Kalinda in tones of triumph. That’s good, Kalinda agrees; now get the stripper who went to the party, Dakota, to confirm Brett’s version of events. What’s going on with Alicia’s hairline here?  It almost looks like she’s wearing a headband.  Did they really need to put her in a wig to take her hair back in time?  “Oh, and Alicia, write this down,” Kalinda adds. “1219 Berkoff.”  Okay, got it, Alicia says, and we see Real Time Alicia looking at that very note scrawled on the legal pad. “Why?” It’s where I’m buying you drinks tonight, Kalinda says, and Alicia blushes with pleasure. “You don’t have to do that, I was just doing my job,” she says, glowing.  Oh my gosh, they’re killing me with the first season feels here. “8pm, 1219 Berkoff,” Kalinda confirms, and Alicia nods in the past and smiles faintly in the present.

And then I think they’re really trying to murder me, because we see Alicia and Kalinda sitting at a bar actually fighting over Alicia’s phone, which Kalinda is trying to pull out of her friend’s grasp.  With a look of mock seriousness, Alicia manages to hold onto it long enough for the two to collapse into drunken laughter.  I’m going to cry.  Actually, Real Time Alicia looks like she wants to cry, too; instead of wallowing in the memory, however, she grabs one of the tapes labeled Dakota.

The first thing we hear is loud, screaming tires on, probably from a highway. “Yeah, the bachelor party started out okay, but it got kind of touch and go,” Dakota says.  Her hair is enormous, blond and brown, and she’s both more cagey and more weathered looking than Lexie, hard and squinting rather than open and confiding.  She confirms that Jeff was in the hotel suite bedroom, and that there was no TV there; in a sign of their old enmity, Cary talks over Alicia’s phrasing of the question, and she glares at him for it.  Despite Alicia’s glower, Cary confirms that there was a fight in the parking lot after the party followed Dakota to the Pink Sapphire.  (The camera backs away, and we see her super tight pants under the maroon leather jacket, and stripper heels. “Brett wasn’t there because he was taking care of a sick Lexie, right?” Cary asks.

Dakota squints at him.

“Well,” she answers after a few seconds pause, “I know that’s what Brett said.”  Alicia and Cary look at each other. “Are you saying that’s not true?” Dakota sticks her tongue out, touching her thick lipstick. “Well, I don’t want to hurt Brett,” she says, voice crackling over the tape.

“Let me stop you right there, Dakota,” Cary forestalls her, holding out his hand and instructing Alicia to turn off the tape. She does, and so in a nice bit of editing, the sound becomes clearer as we delve back solely in Alicia’s memory. “Now, I don’t know what you’re going to say, Dakota,” Cary the weasel announces, “but I want to tell you, Brett’s whole defense is his alibi. You of course should testify to the truth, but just know that if you contradict Brett’s alibi, it might hurt him.” First Season Alicia bites her tongue as Dakota replies with some contempt. “You want me to say Brett’s telling the truth?”  No, Cary counters, I want you to be careful in your understanding of what you might say.”  At home, Real Time Alicia considers this advice.  Meanwhile, I just want to know the truth.  What was she going to say?  Was he in the parking lot after all? Is he really guilty?

“Cary you can’t do that,” Alicia tells her future partner as they walk away. “Do what?” he wonders.  “Tell her to lie,” she says, huddled in a camel colored coat with a wine red scarf spilling forward from her throat, her gloves hands clasped together. “I didn’t tell her to lie, I told her about the consequences of her actions, that’s all,” he prevaricates. “Oh, come on, are you serious? She was about to contradict Brett’s alibi,” Alicia pleads. “We don’t know that,” Cary responds calmly. “Well, that’s not the way I want to practice the law,” she tells him.  Well.  I think these feels might be even worse than the Kalinda ones, because it shows us just how far the kind and well intentioned have fallen.  Of course, Cary scoffs at this thinking; “what, you mean successfully?”  Suppose the prosecution gets to her, Alicia counters.  They won’t, Cary replies with perhaps misplaced confidence. “We have an alibi witness, that’s all we need!”

And First Season Alicia freezes, because Real Time Alicia has figured out the hole in her case.

“It’s not Dakota anymore, it’s Danni,” an unrecognizable woman says, with a posh, nearly English accent and a sleek poof of hair pulled back and up off her forehead.  Right. Because curls are so unruly and lower class.  Anyway, something about her reminds me of Rosamund Pike’s Amy Elliot Dunne in Gone Girl, which feels like a good comparison since that character’s all about reinvention.  Clad in a black dress, Dankota is clearly embarrassed to be asked about her past.  “Not pink,” she stops an underling (dressed in white like all the other minions) carrying a bolt of fuschia fabric.  “What is she, a wedding cake?”  Um, okay. Because all wedding cakes are pink?  Right, that’s such a stereotype.  You’ve done well for yourself, Alicia observes, smiling.

“Yeah,” Dan-kota says, tugging at her shirt dress, “I saved up my money from those two years dancing.  By the way, no one here knows that I used to do that, so let’s keep it quiet.  What do you need?”  She folds her arms, almost aggressively uncomfortable.  “You know Brett’s being prosecuted, again,” Alicia begins.  She does.  She’s sorry.  “Has the prosecution approached you about that night?”  They haven’t, but the idea fills Dankota with alarm. “Why, will they?” she wonders, trying to appear collected. “They might. They know there was a hole in our last defense, and I know there was a … hesitation about Brett’s alibi.” You don’t want me to contradict his alibi,  Dankota surmises, looking around the room for any signs of another pink-like misstep by her employees. “No,” Alicia replies soothingly, “I just want to lay out the consequences for contradicting Brett and Lexie’s alibi.”

And that’s when Alicia realizes she’s become Old Cary, and winces in self-loathing.

“Don’t worry about it,” the fashion designer says, “I see no upside in dredging up my past in any shape or form.”  Although, hmm, there’s another black clad woman in the back of the room so maybe she’s not in complete control of the show?  She’s very expressive within a certain frame work, Dankota.  It’s good acting. Well done, Lucy Owen! “Give me a minute, will you,” she asks, tilting her head on a swan-like neck. “Of course, Dako… I mean, Danni,” Alicia agrees.  After conferring with another minion, Dankota turns back to Alicia with a devastating bit of news. “Here’s the thing,” she says, stepping up to Alicia, a pen cocked in her hand, “I may not be a problem, but did you hear about Lexie?”  She didn’t. “She died. Four years ago. Drug overdose. Really sad. Maybe that’s the hole in the defense.”  Nodding, Alicia closes her eyes.

Gracious as ever, Matan offers to bump the charge down to second degree murder if Brett will plead out. Ha. “Come on. The victim could have died for any one of thirty million reasons.”  Indeed, they’d have to have pretty specific and pretty incontrovertible evidence linking the old injuries, and then prove that Brett caused them, for which they seem to only have Jeff’s word. “32 years old, he died from a brain aneurysm doctors can tie directly to that fight in 2009.”  Hmm.  Can they?  I don’t know.  It’s an awful prospect.

“Matan, you lost six years ago. Get over it,” she scoffs.  Why are you even at this conference, then, Alicia?  “I have a stronger case this time,” he insists.  “Because Lexie’s dead?” she asks, and he smiles a little, ducking his head to indicate that he’s impressed she found the hole; she nods. “I don’t need Lexie; I have her testimony from 2009.”  Then reject my deal, Matan replies. She stares at him, narrowing her eyes.

“What do you have, Matan?” she wonders, knowing he’ll never answer. “What I have is some advice for you,” he replies, because of course he does, smug Mr. Bleepbleepbleep. “You go to trial, you’ll lose.  That’s first degree murder, twenty years minimum, serving every single day.”  She smiles at him, all confidence in return. “I’ll see you in court,” she says, and stands, and turns, and walks out of his light filled office, and when she turns we see that that her blazing show of confidence was a total front.

When Alicia walks into court the next day, she turns heads.  I’m sure it’s not a phenomenon she enjoys.  For his part, Matan gives her a steadying, decisive nod, which makes me like him more than I ever have in the entire series.  Although, I ought to rephrase that, because that’s hardly a high bar; it makes me like him for the first time in the entire series. She nods back, and really isn’t looking when she’s accosted by Defender Girl. “Mrs. Florrick, hi! I’m such a huge fan,” Amber Audrey gushes.  Wow.  Um, that’s weird, but on the other hand I guess it’s nice that after the scandal, there’s someone out there who held onto her public image.  Unless that makes her dumb… “I’m so glad you’ll be joining me.”  The two women shake.  You know, Alicia was a terrific mentor; maybe she can do that for Amber.  It’d be nice to watch.

“I told my mom I’d be working with you, she wanted me to get a picture, do you mind?” Umm, says Alicia as Amber (wearing a pink tweed suit; I can hear Anne Shirley bemoaning the way pink clashes with red hair) positions herself on her right side. “She loved the way you stood by your husband!” And does she still, knowing that Alicia cheated too?  But Amber glosses right over that. “She wants to meet you.”  Yes, I’m sure you’ll all be the best of friends from here on out.  Amber snaps the selfie, beaming.

“Okay, lets talk strategy for a minute, Brett, Amber,” Alicia says, sitting down.  Yes, just a minute, Amber says as she sends the photo to her mother; Alicia rolls her eyes.  (And yes, it’s unprofessional, but so is meeting 2 minutes before the judge shows up to discuss strategy for the first time.)  “Okay, the whole point is to win in pretrial motions. If this goes to trial, the jury can do anything, even if you are innocent.” Amber nods as these pearls of wisdom fall from Alicia’s lips, while poor Brett just looks terrified. “Judge Dunaway isn’t my biggest fan,” she admits, “so I’m gonna need you, Amber, to take some of the motions.”  Well, we know he is sympathetic to Amber’s inexperience.  I’m ready, the girl grins, leaning forward to demonstrate her zeal.  “Excited, really. How do you want to attack this?”  Too late!  Judge Dunaway has arrived.

Judge Dunaway comes in smiling. “You can all sit,” he says, “Mr. Brody, Miss Audrey.”  Then he catches sight of Alicia, and mentions that there’s someone new, his smile faltering a little. “Yes, Your Honor, Alicia Florrick, asking leave to join as co-counsel,” she stands to say. Any objections from the prosecution?  “None, Your Honor,” Matan rises to say. “We do not hold the recent election scandal against Alicia Florrick at all.”  And I’m back to hating him. “Of course you don’t,” Judge Dunaway replies tartly, “that’s why you brought it up, so it won’t be held against her.”  No flies on you, Dunaway.  “Yes, Mrs. Florrick, you are more than welcome to join the party. Take a seat.”  Brett looks relieved.

“Now, pretrial motions,” the judge begins, and Alicia whispers to Amber: “inclusion of the transcript now.” She hops up at the same time the much louder Matan does, and his voice overpowers hers. “Your Honor, we ask that the records of the earlier trial be excluded from the record as prejudicial,” Matan spits out, leaving Amber sputtering in his wake. “The prosecution wants to exclude this transcript…” she starts. “Yes, we do,” Matan smirks, cutting her off again. Her frustration is evident. “The jurors should have a clean  hearing of the evidence.”  We’re not arguing, she starts, and he bulldozes over her yet again. “They should not be tainted by the knowledge of an earlier trial.”

“Hold on,” Dunaway instructs Brody, reaching out his hand like a super-villain with the power to absorb sound (or perhaps immobilize his prey).  Let the defense speak, he says; thank you, Amber replies brightly.  Hmmm.  Interesting.  Maybe the way Matan is slapping her around like a hockey puck has actually helped her. “I … I’m not…”

aaaaaand she chokes.

“Take your time,” Dunaway tells her kindly; in the gallery, Josie closes her eyes in frustration. “Thank you,” Amber repeats, blowing out her lips to settle herself. “The prosecution is trying to prevent the jury from hearing Brett’s alibi,” she finally explains, and she’s at once incredibly sincere and sympathetic. “One of the witnesses has died, and the only record of her testimony is in this previous trial.”

Matan owns it.  “That’s exactly right,  Your Honor. That’s exactly why we want to exclude this transcript. Cause this witness, a stripper named Lexie Bromwich, perjured herself on the stand.”  Infuriated, Alicia stands up.  I notice that Brett looks queasy. “Do you have proof of this?” Alicia asks. “Why I do,” Matan replies coolly. “Thank you Mrs. Florrick!”  The defense looks alarmed and more than a little disheartened.

“Daniel Cain,” drawls R.J. from One Life to Live, introducing himself on the stand.  Whoa, that’s so weird. I have to fight hating him from the start. “My occupation now is … not much,” he laughs.  Yeah, the show isn’t helping me find him credible. “Beer drinker!” As he giggles, Judge Dunaway tries to pin him to the witness stand with the laser-like focus of his disapproval.   Back in the day, however, he was a bouncer at the Pink Sapphire, working with Brett. “Hey Brett!” he grins — Cain is all teeth, and all name-appropriate betrayal. “Do you remember Lexie Bromwich?” Matan asks; unsurprisingly, he does. “I went to her funeral.  Poor kid.”  Does he have reason to think that her testimony in the first trial was a lie?  “Yeah,” Daniel answers, “she was high!”

Objection, Amber calls out, adorably raising her hand. “On what grounds?” Dunaway asks, clearly dubious. Just a second, she asks, and turns to Alicia — what are the grounds?  Poor Alicia shakes her head, because you can’t necessarily object to something just on the grounds that it’s damaging to your client. “Hearsay?” Amber guesses, and Dunaway buys the idea enough to ask whether Daniel has first hand knowledge of this alleged drug use.

“Yes I do,” he says, alarming Alicia,”I saw her. Not only that, she testified for Brett cause he was her dealer.” Just in case the first bit information wasn’t ugly enough, Cain starts snickering over it.

In her dining room/office, Alicia sits in front of the murder board (peppered with the bruised and bloody images of Jeff and Brett) and searches through her tapes for Daniel’s interview, conducted by Cary inside the Pink Sapphire. A dread-locked, disco-shirted Daniel explains that he hadn’t been at the hotel, just around when a college kid (26 year old Jeff?) arrived screaming. I genuinely don’t know where to look between Daniel’s hair and Cary’s. “So I went out to see what was going on,” Daniel drawls, laconic to the point that I wonder about his sobriety.

And that’s the crucial moment when the recording changes. “Your Mom wouldn’t mind if we use this,” Jackie’s voice declares, using Cary’s mouth.  Super creepy, that. “I don’t know, she uses it for work,” Zach replies. Zach!  “But we have to hear what you sound like! Are you ready? Now I’m going to stand right here, and remember: enunciate.”  Clearing his throat, Zach begins. “Aung San Suu was born in 1945 in Rangoon.”  Who’s that, Jackie wonders as Alicia rolls her eyes in frustration. It’s who my speech is on, Zach explains patiently. “What is she, Persian?”  Oh lord; Alicia bites her lip in annoyance and clicks off the tape.

And of course her next move is to call Cary and see what he might remember.  Poor Cary, for his part, is seeing ghosts: there’s a petite woman in leather and a short black ponytail walking confidently through the hall, and he rushes to reception, oblivious of Alicia until he sees that it’s not Kalinda. “I’m sorry,” he says, shaking his head, “what’s the problem?”

“Remember when we co-chaired the trial? We had an argument over trial strategy.”  He doesn’t. “You thought that the jury would want to blame someone,” and speaking as a member of the audience, yes, we do, “and I wanted to put all the emphasis on the alibi.”  Now he remembers, and approves her choice in hindsight, since it got them the win.  Ah, but it turns out that his suspect of choice was Daniel.  Interesting.  Alicia hopes he might have some evidence or files squirreled away; he’ll look, just in case.  At loose ends, Alicia sits down to listen to the recording.  Maybe, if she’s lucky, there’s information left at the end of it.  She fast forwards.

“At this moment, Aung San Suu Kyi is still under house arrest,” he finishes his speech, and Jackie claps for him. Real Time Alicia smiles. ‘That was very good,” Jackie says. “You have a very good speaking voice!”  Thanks, Grandma, he blushes. “What was her name again?” Jackie wonders, fascinated, and so Zach repeats it. “You know your Dad was interested in people like that. You know, Arabs and Russians and people like that.”  Poor Zach almost has a heart attack; the audience collectively rolls our eyes. “Can you remember who?”  Some Russian guy, she says. “Vakel….”  “Vaclav Havel?”  he guesses correctly, so eager to find this connection with his jailed father, so eager to re-envision him as someone with heroic aspirations. “Yes. When he was your age, he wanted to be like him.”  Well, that’s not a shabby role model, and it gives a very sweet (perhaps bittersweet) view of the young Peter. “Why, can you remember why?” Zach asks, tremulous. “Oh, you know, justice,” Jackie explains. “Things like that. You’re a lot like your Dad. He wants to make things better for people.”  I know, Zach says, quietly, quickly, and Alicia’s face is fond, moved.

“Give me a hug,” Jackie demands, and Zach does, and I can almost totally forget the fact that he’s nearly a foot too tall now to be playing his thirteen year old self. “Your Dad loves you, you know,” she says after releasing him, though still gripping his elbows. He knows. “You’re a good boy. You’re gonna change the world, just like your Dad.”  Alicia sits, the figures of Past Zach and Past Jackie behind her, and picks up her phone to call her son.

You know, when I first saw this, all I could think was how sweet and fraught the moment was; now on a second viewing, it just makes me sad that Jackie would never have this kind of conversation with Grace.

Anyway.  I’m glad Alicia’s back in touch with Zach, but of course he’s not home. “We haven’t talked in a while,” she tells his voice mail, and hangs up.

The doorbell interrupts her reverie.  To her surprise and mine, it’s Cary with two boxes of files. “Cary,” she greets him, “you could have sent someone!”  Yes I could have, he says, and it chokes me up a little.

“You had all this stuff and you never showed it to me?” she asks after he deposits the boxes on her kitchen island. “I did try to show it to you,” he says, “but you wanted to take the case in another direction.”  You didn’t try to show me, she laughs, suspecting his younger, game-playing self of a trick. “I did!” he protests; they both have wine glasses in hand. “You always thought I was more competitive than I was.”  She, and I, laugh at this. “You were competitive!”  What I can’t believe is that he was willing to let her do it her way, although I suppose Diane did say she was officially first chair.  At any rate, I can imagine why she’d think he was storing up evidence so that when she lost, he could promote his own idea for the defense. “Yeah I was,” he admits, and laughs, a quick staccato burst, before taking a drink. It’s so strange to hear him laugh out loud — usually, like I said before, he laughs on the inside — but there it is. The two drink and laugh together before Cary gets drawn in by the murder board.

“Wow,” he observes, walking into the dining room, “that’s a lot of work.”  Not really, she demurs. “So how’s it going?” Considering that Matan’s trying to throw out the alibi, she doesn’t know.  “You know what?” she asks, leaning on the table, “we’re better lawyers now.”  I should hope so, but it was easier to root for your wins then. “Makes sense, we were young,” he nods. “Yeah, but there’s still something I miss about it,” she muses. What, Cary wonders, and Alicia turns to face him. “Looking at the law as something good,” she remembers, and raises her eyebrows, challenging him with the idea.

Do you think it’s not good, Cary asks, and there’s nothing perfunctory about the way he does it.  “Ah, I think it’s neutral,” she shrugs, taking a sip of her wine.   He blinks and tries to smile. “Kalinda’s gone,” he confesses, his voice low. She looks at him for a minute, assessing, before saying that she knows. “Did you see her?” he asks. “No,” she says, not adding the surely painful detail that Kalinda waited for her and left a note.  He looks down at his feet, shaking his head. “She’s not really one for good byes,” he observes. “I know,” she says, reaching out to rub his arm, “I’m sorry.”  He nods, and tries to blink his way to a smile. “Me too.”

After setting down his wine glass, he picks up a file. “I hope you get to use this stuff against Daniel,” he says. “It’s like a director’s cut.”  Cute. “Wouldn’t mind finally seeing it shown,” he adds with a sardonic little grin. “Then let’s show it,” she says, nodding decisively.

“Mr. Cain,” she begins her cross examination, “In a news report from 2009 you claimed you were never in the parking lot where the fight took place, is that still true?”  Uh huh, he nods; we can see multiple silver studs chasing up one ear. “Uh huh meaning yes?” she presses. “Uh huh.  Correct.  Affirmative,” he responds, pointing to her and laughing at his own attempted joke. “And yet,” she says, dropping something off in front of Matan, “in this crime scene photo, the front of your clothing seems to be covered in blood.”

Rut ro!

“So?” he asks, unconcerned. “So how did the blood get there?”  I cradled his head in my lap, Daniel claims. “After you hit him?” Alicia wonders, and as Daniel insists that this was after Brett hit Jeff, Cary meanders in to get a view of his director’s cut on the big screen, as it were.  “Or someone.”  Heh. “So, you were in the parking lot,” Alicia adds, not in an accusatory way, but as if things were just a little confusing. Afterward, he says. “After the fight!”  Okay, nods Alicia, turning around and flashing her eyebrows at Matan for that small victory.

Did you make a 911 call after the fight, Alicia asks next. “Did I?  No,” Daniel frowns. Was he in possession of his cell phone?  When he answers affirmatively, she explains that a 911 call was made from his cell phone. “But the call was terminated before you said anything.”  Oooh.  Cary must be loving this moment.  Matan and even Amber and Brett look stunned.  “Would you like to revise your testimony, Mr. Cain?” Judge Dunaway suggests, and so Cain stammers an excuse.  The guy was bleeding. I saw a lot of other people calling. He looks around the court and at the judge, pleading. “I’m not lying!”

This must have been fun for the production staff: the Pink Sapphire is now, guess what, the Sembrooke Charter School, its gray exterior painted purple and covered with bright, swirling murals.  Awesome.  Alicia has Brett and Amber outside in the parking lot, standing next to a school bus, and she asks Brett for every coworkers’ name he can remember.  Of course Brett wonders why; Alicia’s hoping to find another way to establish his alibi in case Judge Dunaway throws out the old transcript.  We’ll try to locate them, Alicia adds, and Brett gives her a very squirrely look.

“What’s wrong, Brett, what’s going on?” Amber asks.  Well, at least she’s intuitive.  Or not blind. He keeps shaking his head, keeps twitching. Tell them, his wife instructs.

Them turns out to be Alicia — the two of them walk off next to the stairs together. ‘Just so you know, I’m innocent.  I did not touch that kid in that parking lot,” he says by way of a preamble. Where’s the but, Brett?  “But…”  There it is. “But?” she prompts him. “But I was in the parking lot.”  She closes her eyes, clearly upset. “I didn’t do this, Alicia,” he pleads. “I was headed back to the car to get something for Dakota, that’s all.”  To get what, she wonders, and again he can’t meet her eyes. “To get what?” Then the shoe drops. “You were her dealer?”  He gapes for a minute. “I was a different person.  I’ve changed.”  He does seem like a pretty different person, actually, just going by his clothes and his demeanor. “You got Dakota to lie for you?”  You need to help me, please, he begs as a very exasperated Alicia looks everywhere but at him. “Please, I’m innocent!”

“But we know it’s perjury now,” Amber argues with Alicia in court; the older lawyer hushes her, and so Miss Enthusiasm lowers her squeaky voice further. “We know the alibi is false!”  Looking around, Amber moves one seat closer to Alicia, taking the place of Brett, who isn’t in the courtroom. “We know that Brett was in that parking lot.”  Patiently, Alicia explains to her young and naive colleague that since they didn’t know it was a lie when they made the argument, they’re on the right side of the law; it feels like the moral thing to do is to explain the truth to the judge, but that’s not in Brett’s best interest.  And they do all still believe in him and his innocence.  “That doesn’t seem right,” Amber replies, the confusion and disgust on her innocent face making me think, frankly, of Dakota Johnson in the commercials for 50 Shades of Gray.  She’s got a very similar look, really.  “But it is legal,” Alicia assures her. The young lawyer turns away. “I think I have a lot to learn,” she realizes.

Everyone rises and sits for the Honorable Judge Peter Dunaway. “I’m allowing the whole 2009 transcript into evidence,” he announces without preamble.  Predictably, Matan stands to protest this decision. “Matan,” Dunaway forestalls him, “you’re welcome to call your witness if we do go to trial, and Mrs. Florrick, you’re welcome to impeach him, just like you both did here.”  Now it’s Alicia’s turn to stand. “Your Honor, you mentioned if we do go to trial.  Will you rule on our motion to dismiss?”  She looks down at Brett. “Our client was already found not guilty.”  We have one more witness, Matan interrupts, because of course he does.

“Evan Houston,” the witness introduces himself, a heavy set man probably in his forties with bruised-looking, deep set brown eyes and a hang dog exppression. “You wanna know what I do now or what I did then?”  Try then, Matan suggests as Finn quietly slips in a side door and sits in the back of the gallery.  He worked at a gas station across from the Pink Sapphire.  Do we know anything about this guy, Amber wonders; we don’t.

“And did you see that guy over there on the night in question?” Matan asks.  Wow, kudos to him for finding the guy who worked at the gas station six years ago; gas stations have a lot of employee turn over. It’s hard to think that seeing cops at a strip club would be unusual enough that someone would remember the events of the night six years later, though. Anyway, Houston does remember Brett beating up Jeff in the parking lot.  For someone who’s so boldly protested his innocence, Brett’s taken on a very guilty expression here.

If that’s so, Alicia asks, why didn’t you come forward six years ago?  “I did come forward six years ago,” Houston testifies, “I told the police the exact same thing I’m telling you.”  What policeman, Alicia asks, leaping to her feet. “A detective named Hardy,” he says, and in the gallery, Finn sighs. “You did?” Alicia asks. “Were you too sick to testify? Were you out of town, sir?”  No, Houston says.  “But the prosecution didn’t want you to testify?”  Loudly Matan protests that this is argumentative, but Dunaway wants to hear the answer. “He said they didn’t need me,” Houston shrugs. Okay, that is crazy talk. And the information didn’t get turned over in discovery, either.  Interesting. “How did you i.d. my client, Mr. Houston?” Alicia asks; in a line up, he says, and Brett emphatically frowns and shakes his head.  “I wasn’t aware my client was in a line up,” she responds, her voice dangerous. “Photo line up,” Houston shrugs again, and Finn walks out, looking like there’s something big on his mind.

This time when they meet at what I think is the same establishment, Alicia’s given up on her preposterous disguise and is quietly eating dinner next to her friend at the bar.  You looked good in there, he says, and it’s true, she responded really well to a very bad break in the case; all she can see, however, is the fact that the judge is going to send the case to trial and they’ll be screwed.  It’s interesting that this hasn’t shaken her faith at all in Brett, isn’t it?  I mean, he admitted to her that he lied about being in the parking lot, and even presuming a line up mix up, how would a witness confuse Daniel and his enormous flowing dread locks with short-haired Brett?   The judge seemed convinced by the new witness, she adds, and that’s when Finn turns the look on her that he showed the camera in court.

He turns away from her, tucking his chin into his chest. “You know when I was an ASA,” he confesses, “I was told to check cases coming through certain a detective’s hands.”  He looks back at her, eyebrows raised, trying to convey his mistrust of the situation without going too far.  “Why is that?” she asks, alert as a rabbit in a field with a fox. “Cause he was old school. If he didn’t get photo array results he liked, he reshuffled the photos and asked the witness to try again.  Or he placed a finger on the suspect’s photo.”  Again, he gives her a significant look. “How do you know that?” she asks, and he turns away again, the muscles in his cheek working.

“There was an IAD investigation,” he admits. “Inconclusive.  They dropped it about a year ago.”  Both friends startle as a woman walks behind them.  Alicia crosses her arms, putting them on the bar, and leans in toward him. “Who was the detective?” she asks.  Seriously?  Finn gives the name she ought to have guessed: Hardy.

She shakes her head, figuring it all out. “That’s why Matan didn’t put Evan on the stand in 2009. He was worried about the photo array.”  Maybe so, but why now?  I mean, why isn’t he worried anymore? “That’d be my guess,” Finn agrees, swallowing his dinner. “Thank you,” she replies, turning to him. “I didn’t say anything,” he whispers, and she nods.

“Thank you for coming in,” Alicia tells the florid face of Detective Hardy, now on the witness stand.  He’s trussed up in a suit and looks ill at ease with the situation.  Or maybe he’s just got a perpetually angry face? “No problem,” he replies, “it’s my job.”  Setting him up to take the fall, she asks about Houston’s i.d. of Brett: was it in a line up or photo array?  He gives the answer we expect. Did he pick Brett out right away?  Yes, Hardy replies crisply. You didn’t have to take him through the paces repeatedly?  No, says Hardy, and Matan, who’s been watching nervously, objects. Asked and answered, he points out, yet Judge Dunaway thinks its worth repeating. “No, I did not take him through a second time,” Hardy says, holding his goatee covered chin up in the air.

“Isn’t there a slang for this in the department? The act of running a witness through a photo array a second time?”  Ah, here she’s making inroads, because he pretends not to know such a term exists.  That’s immediately suspicious. “P.O.E.?” she says. “Process of Elimination?”  Nope, still not familiar.  “Fascinating,” he claims.

“Detective, wasn’t there an Internal Affairs investigation into your use of these photo array…”  “Objection!” Matan explodes. I haven’t even gotten the question out, Alicia replies mildly. “This is disgusting – IAD investigations are confidential!”  Are they?  No wonder Finn was hesitant about attaching his name to the revelation. Yes, Alicia agrees, but I’m asking about a specific and relevant practice.  Then ask him the question, Matan barks. I am, Alicia snaps back. “Did IAD ever investigate you for faulty photo arrays, and is that the only reason why Evan Houston was not included in the first trial?”

“Excuse me, Your Honor,” Matan Brody interrupts, “I want a ruling!” But the judge lets Alicia continue. “‘Was it because Evan Houston selected my clients photo after being shown his photo in two separate photo arrays?”  “Objection.  Objection!  Objection!” Matan screams.

Alright, Judge Dunaway stops them, making calming motions with his hands. Mrs. Florrick got in her question, which is what she wanted; Matan, you registered your disgust, which is what you wanted. (Ha.  Excellent.)  “Why don’t you all come up here now?”  Unsure at first, Amber scoots adorably to join them in sidebar, arms out, her hands daintily pointing up, with a very Elle Woods-like bounce.

“Where did you hear of this IAD report, m’am?” the judge asks.  Matan suggests that if an IAD investigation hasn’t been made public, it means that the officer was cleared. “Or there was lack of evidence,” Amber adds, and the two start debating this point.  Good for you for piping up about this, Amber. “Matan, you might be right, but I’m not sure I trust this detective,” Dunaway confides in them. “That is unfair,” Matan complains, “it’s based on rumor-mongering.”  Dunaway agrees, and says that’s why he needs to know how Alicia knows this. “The way she’s always known it,” Matan snipes, “through her husband, or her law partner, Cary Agos.”  Huh.  Still holding a grudge against Cary, are we?  That tone… “How do you know this?” Dunaway asks again, ignoring the prosecution because he’s not interested in Matan’s rumor mongering either.

And that leaves Alicia in a bind. I hope she has some sort of back up plain for getting that information in; Matan points out that whoever talked to her about the investigation broke the law and could be disbarred or even imprisoned.  Ouch!  No wonder Finn was nervous.

“Mrs. Florrick, it’s a simple question,” Judge Dunaway reiterates after hushing Matan again. “How do you know about the IAD report?”  I can’t say, she says. Why not?  “Because I am bound,” she says, although I’m not sure in what sense.  Finn has been her client, but I don’t think this is the sort of thing covered by attorney/client privilege. “Well that is unfortunate, because you’re gonna have to unbound yourself pretty quick,” snaps the judge, annoyed for the first time in the trial, “or you’ll find yourself in contempt.”  He calls over the sheriff, and so to stall she pleads for time to consult with her lawyer.  Don’t test me, Mrs. Florrick, Dunaway replies.  I’m not, she promises. He nods. “You take the night to consult with counsel, and come in prepared to answer,” he insists, red-faced and angry, smashing down his gavel.

Arriving, Alicia finds her would-be ghost writer staring at her murder board. “Mr. Kingsley-Weaver, I’m so sorry, did we have a meeting today?” she asks, concerned.  Apparently they did.  Oops!  (I love his ostentatiously hyphenated name – it fits his fastidious appearance. Should we take it literally?  Is he the weaver of words for would-be kings?) “I thought we did, unless we got our wires crossed,” he tells her, and okay, I admit, the open button down without a tie is more English professor than business-fastidious.  So I guess it’s not his clothes per se as something about him that comes off as prim. No, no, I’ve been distracted, Alicia confesses.

“Your daughter let me in,” Mr. Kingsley-Weaver continues.  “She’s very sweet.”  Indeed she is; Alicia thanks him for the compliment.  “She showed me your pictures in there,” he adds with a jerk of his head, “the murder photos? It’s quite grizzly.”  His voice is delicate and precise, and there’s an implied criticism to his words.  “Can you explain them to me?  It might help me with the structure.”  Oh, right, the structure.  Well, if it’s for the structure… While it’s clear she’s embarrassed, she hems and haws over the request for a moment.  And the next time we see her, it’s closing the door on Mr. Kingsley-Weaver, I hope forever, and taking down murder board.

One catches her eye, a shot of Kalinda and Cary talking outside the old Pink Sapphire, and she’s spun into a memory of her more naive self talking to Kalinda at a bar. “It’s wrong, isn’t it? Cary basically told a witness to lie if she was going to contradict Brett’s alibi?”  Did you tell her to lie, Kalinda asks.  Of course not.  “Do you believe in the client?”  What do you mean, Alicia blinks, which is a little odd. “Do you believe your client’s telling the truth?”  I don’t know if he’s telling the full truth, Alicia confesses, good instincts now that we know he wasn’t. “Nobody ever tells the full truth,” Kalinda grins, and Alicia smiles back a wide, trusting smile. “God, you’re such a cynic!”  I feel like I need to go back and watch the early episodes to see if Alicia truly was quite this innocent. Probably.  “No, just … experienced,” she says, sipping something clear out of a martini glass with a lemon slice floating in it. I’m trying not to snort over her word choice as Alicia sips from her own matching drink.  “Look, Alicia, do you think that your client beat this guy up?” Well, that’s putting it plainly. Alicia doesn’t. “Then it’s alright for you to do everything within the law to defend him,” Kalinda pronounces. “Not even alright, it’s your duty.”  But is it alright to lie, Alicia presses. Laughing, Kalinda says it’s not okay to lie under oath, and Alicia laughs back, having gotten the hint. “Well,” she says, raising her glass, “here’s to experience!” Snort. “Experience,” Kalinda repeats, raising her glass and pursing her lips into a weirdly girly smile.  In the present, Alicia gloomily finishes putting away her files.

And then, chastened, she’s knocking on Grace’s door. Just behind her smiling daughter’s head there’s a very cute piece of decorative art that says simply LOVE.  It’s fitting.  Of course Alicia has come to apologize for the plastering the walls with bloody photographs, but she can’t just come out and say it, she just calls it “the mess I left in the dining room,” as if the offense were in being untidy, rather than thoughtless. Grace, of course, forgives her, grateful as usual for these small grains of attention. “You on a case?” she guesses. Yes. “Good. You’re happier when you’re on a case.”  Really, Alicia wonders, leaning against the wall with her arms crossed over her chest, out of her court attire and wearing actually casual (though still probably expensive) casual clothes. “Yeah. I worry about you when you just sit at home.”  Not that this can have happened often, but sure.

“I’m thinking about starting my own firm,” Alicia smiles, nervous but excited, “what do you think about that?”  You already tried that, didn’t you, Grace replies. “Yeah, but this would be different,” Alicia answers. “This would be to help people I wanted to help.” Ah.  Interesting.  So we’re not going to worry about keeping up the trust fund and the million dollar condo and the rest of the appearances that have been so important to you?  It’s about time. “Can you make money doing that?” Grace wonders along with me, and Alicia laughs.  “I don’t know.  I guess I’ll have to see.”

“I’ll have to work out of the apartment,” she realizes.  In the dining room, Grace wonders, which sets Alicia to wondering, too.  Why not the tiny maid’s room Peter used to occupy?  That would make perfect sense.  I’m honestly surprised she hasn’t turned it into an office already; how often does she have overnight guests?  I’m sure someone this tidy would appreciate having a dedicated work space at home.

But, nope.  Apparently Zach not spending last summer at home was a mistake, because Alicia decides to make his bedroom into her new office.  Does she seriously think he’s never coming back? With Grace’s help, she removes all trace of her son’s presence from the room, peeling posters off the wall, and placing her door on top of his much smaller desk. “Not bad, Mom,” Grace declares as the two of them look at the now empty room, empty with only the desk against the long wall. “Yep,” Alicia agrees decisively, “back to basics.”  It’s a mark of the aspirational nature of television that there is no trace in Alicia’s immaculate museum-like apartment of Zach’s bed, dresser, lamp, and what must be boxes of possessions; they’ve all simply vanished into the ether.

“Hey, I could be your secretary,” Grace offers, truly excited, who giggles. “I could answer your phone calls, bring you coffee…” Aw! “Graduate from school,” Alicia adds tartly, and considering that this came from the daughter who was out until 11 earlier in the week, it seems a warranted reply, as much as I’m enticed by Grace’s Veronica Mars style vision.  I need to have an internship, Grace explains, thrilled. “This could be it!”  We’ll see, Alicia smiles.  Really, it’s a lovely thought.

But these kind of moments never last, and soon Alicia’s pulling her ringing cell out of her back pocket.  It makes the tell-tale clicking noises (and silence) of a telemarketing machine switching her to a live operator and she loses it.  You better not be selling something, she snaps.  “I am a lawyer and I will rip you a new one.” Giggling Grace slaps her hand over her mouth. “It will be my first case,” Alicia grouses. “Go Mom!” Grace whispers before running off.

“Hello, Mom?  It’s me,” Zach answers, amused, and she greets him with the same level of enthusiasm she just used to threaten perceived telemarketers. How is he?  Good, he says, sitting on his dorm bed in his immaculate room and tying his sneakers.  “I got your call, is everything okay?”  He stands, wearing a navy button down and jeans; his skin stands out dark red against the monochromatic blue. Yes, she says. “Great, in fact, really great.”  Good, he says. “I was thinking of coming home tomorrow night,” he adds, and her face goes blank.  That’s kind of hilarious, but so improbable.  Who just comes home from D.C. to Illinois for the weekend, on a whim?  Unless the flight money is no obstacle, normal people wait for vacations. “Oh,” she says, staring around her at his empty room.

Oh well. I suppose he can stay in the maid’s room…

And now for another fraught conversation; back at the Cook County Courthouse, Alicia sits nervously at the defense’s table, reviewing her options. “Do you know what you’re going to do?” Amber Audrey asks apprehensively. “Maybe,” Alicia tells her. “If he jails me, I need you to call Cary Agos,” Alicia says, and Amber rears back. “Sure. Do you think it’ll come to that?”  Not enough to give you his phone number, apparently. “No idea,” the more experienced lawyer says, which surely must terrify young Miss Audrey.

Judge Dunaway practically bursts into the courtroom and stalks over to the bench. “Mrs. Florrick, Mr. Brody, up here.” Defender Girl joins them with her signature mincing walk. “Okay,” he says, not looking to waste a moment, “have you consulted with counsel?”  I have, Alicia says, and I’m so curious to know if that’s true. Are you ready to spill, the judge asks. “Well first of all, Your Honor,” she says, and he cuts her off: there’s to be no ‘first of alls,’ no qualifiers.  She needs to tell him now.

“Someone tried to help me, Your Honor,” she says, and he winces. “Someone who knew that Detective Hardy…”  This is outrageous, Matan interrupts, and the judge agrees. “Mrs. Florrick, answer the question!”  I will, she says. “But I want to explain to you why they did it. Because justice matters to them.”  Yikes.  Poor Finn!  “They saw an injustice at the heart of this case. And I think you’ve seen it too, Your Honor,” she explains carefully.

“Mrs. Florrick,” the judge replies, just as carefully, “who told you?”

She swallows. “Kalinda Sharma,” she says.

Oh, smart!  Plausible, and between the police and Lemond Bishop it can’t get Kalinda into any more trouble than she’s already in. Of course Matan calls it b.s.; “Mrs. Florrick has mentioned the only person no longer in our jurisdiction.”  Well.  Not that you remotely know where Kalinda is, Matan, but I think Lexie Bromwich isn’t in your jurisdiction either, just to pick one name out of a billion.  Anyway.  I did what you asked, Alicia tells the judge. “We can’t arrest her,” Matan fumes, “She did not do this.  It’s either Cary Agos or her husband!”  He’s wrong about the informant, right about Alicia’s lie, and wrong in his persuasive technique; just because they can’t arrest her doesn’t mean Kalinda couldn’t have given Alicia the information. I answered the question, Alicia repeats; she and Judge Dunaway exchange a long look. Thank you, the magistrate says finally, having somehow seen what he wanted, and then barks to the court reporter that they’re back on the record, and so she sets her hands above the keys.

“On your motion to dismiss, I’ll sustain that,” he decides, and quickly cuts off Matan’s protests. “No, Matan. You had your shot in 2009. Let it go.” Wow!  I knew he was generally in their corner about Hardy but I wasn’t really expecting this, certainly not right now. “Mr. Tatro, your case has been dismissed with prejudice.”  Unable to believe this sudden reversal of fortune, Brett seems almost to sway on his feet, before turning back to beam at Josie and then back again to hug Alicia. “Thank you, thank you,” he gushes. “I’m so glad this worked out, Brett,” she says, hugging him back.  Perky Amber pops up and shakes Alicia’s hand. “I wanna learn from you,” she says, starry-eyed and worshipful, and Alicia snorts decisively. “No.  You don’t.”

And there she is in her gray suit, sitting at a bar.  It’s interesting that her clothes and jewelry are subdued now, and she’s stopped putting on the make up with a trowel. It’s back to basics all around.  She plays with the rim of her highball glass, which contains clear liquid and a wedge of lime; she drinks and thinks until Finn Polmar sits down next to her. “So,” he asks, “how’s your crisis of confidence going?” Heh. “Better,” she grins. “I’m so glad,” he answers, his delivery smooth and sardonic over real sincerity. “I’m thinking of starting my own firm,” she says, “and only taking cases I believe in.  And I want to know if you’ll join me.”  He strokes his chin, smiling back at her.

 

Could that have been a more back to basics episode?  It’s all right on the surface.  How many times have they ever had the name of the episode be a piece of dialogue?  And then there’s the theme, which Alicia says out loud, too.

So, okay.  Is that a good idea, partnering with Finn?  Will he go for it?  He already has a business of his own, after all – unambitious but sufficiently lucrative. Would we rather see her stand on her own? Does a vote for a Flormar law firm reopen the (seemingly closed) love triangle?  I still don’t know how they’re going to make a living, but I’d like to see her use her education and her dirty tricks for good.

Here’s a question.  How much does that matter to you, the innocence of clients?  Here we had a client who seemed sympathetic.  Alicia and Cary and Kalinda all seemed to believe in him, but they never managed to prove his innocence.  While I understand that the law is like that, it’s at once bracing and unsatisfying not to know, especially when the show doesn’t so much cast doubt on Brett’s alibi as shred it.  Do we need his innocence proved for us?  Does actor Dorian Missick prove it with his manner, his pleading, his big eyes, his insistence?

I guess my biggest question here is whether Alicia’s transformation here — her refocusing — makes sense.  Why now?  Why not after Will’s death?  Did she have too many options back then?  Is that what it took?  Maybe what I’m trying to assess is whether she really needed to hit that kind of a bottom, whether she needed to cover herself quite so thoroughly in mud, before coming back to herself.  I can’t help but be almost pathetically grateful to see her trying to rebuild herself.  How many times have I said this over the last six years?  I want her to be the judge of what makes her happy; I want her to be unafraid to go after those things.  I want her to stop focusing on other people’s definitions of what she should want and who she should be. I want her to set her life course according to the code we saw in her at the beginning: her empathy, her loyalty, her bravery and her cleverness.  I want her to realize that tough and tender aren’t mutually exclusive characteristics.  Maybe that’s what we’re seeing, a true self-determination — and after what we’ve gone through up to this point (especially this season), I can’t quite believe we’ve arrived.

Once I was out with friends having Thai food on a warm July evening when a woman walked in to pick up take off, wrapped in a trench coat with the collar turned up and a fedora slung over her eyes.  She looked for all the world like Carmen Sandiego (like a spy, if that reference doesn’t work for you) and it was hard to look away from her.  Which made it all the more clear that she was a local entertainment reporter.  If she’d just walked into the restaurant, I don’t know that I’d even have noticed her, but the laughable attempt at a disguise made her impossible to miss.  That was all I could think of when Alicia put on that trucker hat.  I get it, I really do, but I’m sure it had the opposite effect.

So, is your heart breaking for Cary, or are you happy he’s going to be forced to move on?  I really loved this trip down memory lane, and no where more than with Cary.  It’s fascinating to think how far he’s come — but also how Alicia’s come to be like him in a way that she (and we) may wish she hadn’t.  It’s also fascinating to see Jackie’s insight into Peter’s youthful hero-worship.  Peter’s always seemed so pragmatic; I love imagining him as a school boy, longing to do good.

Well, okay.  I did have other favorite bits.  The sight of Alicia and Kalinda drinking together was pretty wonderful too.  It’s so sad, thinking of her with a real friend, knowing what a truly unusual thing that was for both of them. With Alicia, there’s a question of time, and of her reserve, and also the fact that she just doesn’t click with everyone. On the other hand, Kalinda doesn’t have friends.  There’s no one else she doesn’t cross the line with, not even Cary.  It was only Alicia where the line existed.  She told Alicia that, but after their friendship ended and we saw more of Kalinda’s various dalliances, it became even more abundantly clear.

I have a delightful goody to share with you guys – driving my daughter to her yearly check up I just heard this NPR interview with Robert and Michelle King.  It covers some pretty great topics. Why is broadcast more responsive than cable?  What is it that they’re writing toward?  The most fascinating part, to me, was learning that it always been part of the plan to have a terrible death reset Alicia’s priorities – so if Josh Charles hadn’t wanted out of his contract, it would have been Peter or one of the kids who perished tragically.  I’m not sure if I believe them about Peter; maybe that’s just them keeping the end game open. Either way, it’s a terrific bit of inside information.  My next favorite insight from interviewer/critic David Bianculi is certainly where he compliments the Kings for writing for both sides — making you sympathize with both sides of an argument (specifically in the context of Will firing Alicia when he finds out she’s starting her own firm).  It’s certainly what I love about the show! But perhaps, like Robert King, that’s because I’m from a family that loves to argue and debate.  I only wish the interview was longer.

Finally, congratulations to the cast and crew on their Critics Choice nominations!  Though once again I’m frustrated that Matt Czurchry was passed over, I am very pleased to see the show continue its role as broadcast television’s lone contender for the dramatic prizes.  I’m pleased, of course, for Julianna Margulies, Christine Baransky and Linda Lavin (short-listed for her truly memorable work as Joy Grubick) with their acting nominations.  Even when I have serious issues with the plotting, I still love TGW; on a bad day, they’re still fathoms deeper than the competition.  And, woohoo – the dearly missed Josh Charles picked up a guest nod for his hilarious turns on Inside Amy Schumer, as did TGW alum Becky Ann Baker for her work on Girls!  Wishing everyone great good cheer leading up to what I hope is a memorable and meaningful season finale.

 

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3 comments on “The Good Wife: Don’t Fail

  1. JustMeMike says:

    Thanks for your hard work. I’e done full recaps before, crossing the narrative with quotes, opinions, and with asides. It is really labor intensive.

    I presume you were listening to Fresh Air with Terry Gross and/or David Bianculi (and I just checked) it was Fresh Air. I missed yesterdays show. But I will listen now.

    Again thanks for efforts and the positive results.

    • E says:

      Thanks Mike! It is rather labor intensive. I’m glad you liked.

      And yes, it was Fresh Air, this segment being with David Bianculi. It’s worth a listen for sure.

  2. […] Zach’s definitely not getting his room back, and its bones aren’t quite so bare as formerly, because there’s a modestly pretty round rug under her chair, a beautiful velvet covered […]

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