E: As season finales go, the joys and sorrows of Wanna Partner felt pretty subtle. Of course, we’ve already had the major action of the season; Alicia won and then lost the election, reconnected with and then lost her firm, lost and then reconnected with herself. Kalinda’s gone, Bishop’s in jail, Cary’s out of jail but nursing a broken heart. It’s was all already out there. The real issue that’s left is how Alicia’s going to put her life together; how she’s going to move forward from here. What’s she going to do next? And we got some great insights into that, but did we get a direction? Far from Cary’s thrilling offer of two years ago, Louis Canning’s unexpected proposal simultaneously alarmed and bored me.
But before we get to all that, there are a few props to give out. Kalinda took care of business one last time and looked great doing it. Fascinatingly, we got a bunch of do overs. Things got said that should have been said (in some case) years ago. The State’s Attorney’s race debacle gave Alicia permission to finally, finally, take ownership of her own life. And all this begs the question: if that loss has put Alicia where I’ve always wanted her to be — fully in charge of herself, listening to the best parts of herself instead of other people or her strangling perceptions of what other people might want — then was all the crap we went through this season worth it? Let’s hope she continues to use her superpowers for good – and let’s go through this last stage of getting there.
The Season Six finale finds out intrepid heroine laughing delightedly on a phone call with a client in her new office; 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 office chair (the same platinum color as her high necked silk blouse, gorgeous), and other office equipment scattered about. The client — an adorable dad getting his young daughter ready for school — has a business partner eager to invest in medical marijuana. When Alicia cautions him to go slow, or better yet, just open a nursery, I’m intrigued: what kind of law is she practicing? Clearly this guy is on retainer, and he’s got a very nice house so I’m sure he can afford it, but giving start-up advice to the middle class isn’t necessarily what I assumed she meant by “only taking clients I believe in.” No judgement, though. It’s easy to imagine that whatever issues might arise in his defense — fine though the line between legal and illegal marijuana farming may be — they’d still be more palatable than those of, say, Colin Sweeney. Plus, she’s just so relaxed, and it is so, so pleasing to see.
And, huh. Eli escorts her from her office into her living room, where the Night’s Guard stands watch (oh, sorry, that’s just Peter’s security detail) and a server sets down a preposterously large tray of sandwiches that Alicia couldn’t eat in a month. “Oooh, catering, must be serious,” she jokes, and all I can think is the wasteful stupidity of it. I mean, what on earth? Both Eli and the freshly arrived Peter laugh plastic laughs. “Just trying to be appreciative of your time,” Peter schmoozes, sitting down in a wing chair. By wasting food? That is so odd. Couldn’t he have, just, I don’t know, brought flowers? Or said thank you?
So, what’s up, she asks, sitting primly, shoulders thrown back. With a very self-satisfied and smug look thrown to his chief of staff, a particularly gray looking Peter drops a bomb. “I’ve been asked to run for President,” he announces.
His potential First Lady lets out a high pitched squeal of laughter.
Consigliere Eli turns a look of consternation to his boss, who shrugs. “Not the response I was expecting, but okay,” Peter laughs, as if excusing her rudeness. “By whom?” she asks: the Illinois Democratic committee, he says. “Why?” she wonders, and I want to know the same thing, because isn’t that the same group that just hung Alicia out to dry and in so doing dragged Peter’s name through the mud as well? Tucking in his chin, Peter wags his eyebrows at her. “Are you kidding me?” No, she says. “I mean, the race is already happening, isn’t it? You’re late.” Oh, not so. Republican hopefuls are dropping their hats in every day, and though obviously all the Democratic focus is on Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders at least jumped into the Democratic pool last week. So he would be right on time. And we all know what happened the last time a lesser known Illinois politician took on presumed frontrunner Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
I’m not running to win, Peter cuts in. I’m running to be vice president. Oh. Okay. Running to be Hillary’s Joe Biden. Huh. “They’ve already analyzed the race,” Eli explains, his eyebrows making the hopeful journey all the way to his hairline, “and decided that the frontrunners wouldn’t accept each other as a running mate. So that means there’s room for an outsider.” Well. Leaving aside the fact that Barack Obama’s team of rivals approach is unusual and currently reviled — that most vice presidential candidates are not in fact losing presidential candidates — what this tells us is that we’re in a slightly parallel universe where Hillary Clinton actually has a challenger at this stage of the race. Good to know. At any rate, the men are practically bursting at the seams with their delight; Alicia’s blouse, all ice and shadow, contributes to the feeling that she’s frozen.
But then her phone rings, so she’s released from this very strange moment. I can’t help feeling slightly bad for Peter — you can see he’s carefully staged this announcement, that he’s thrilled, and he’s just too thick to know why his lovely proclamation has fallen flat. Alicia’s missed the call, but it affords her a moment to sit behind her bedroom door and take in her husband’s strange news. Yikes, she breathes, leaning on her knees for their moral support. (When Alicia’s perfect posture goes, you know she’s in trouble.) She’s quickly distracted a ping from her phone; the missed call, from Jakob Rickter, has gone to voice mail, and she slides the bar to listen.
“Whoa, whoa, let go of the window,” one voice says. “Get your hands offa me!” cries another. What? What on earth is this? “Take your hands offa me! No, no, – aaaaaah!” the voice breaks in pain. “Shut the cell phone off – it’s recording!” And that’s when Jakob Rickter – is that her sweet client Jakob from earlier? – screams “Alicia! Alicia, help me!”
Oh my God. Well. Poor Alicia; from the presidency to some sort of attack, that’s a head-spinning minute for sure.
She tries calling Jakob back, but of course her call goes straight to voice mail. She sighs, trying to figure out where to go from there. “Alicia, we need to head out,” Peter calls from the living room. They do? I mean I know he’s got a lot on his plate, but he budgeted a whole 3 minutes to talk to his wife about a presidential run? Are you kidding?
Waving her phone with the mention of a client, she apologizes for stepping out. Here’s the thing, Peter begins, “I’m not running unless you and the kids agree.” Peter, she smiles. I reacted too soon. Congratulations. “I know this is what you’ve always wanted.” It is pretty amazing, he grins, kissing her on the cheek, happy to be back on script. (I’ll say it’s amazing:it’s too amazing to be believed. He is freshly mired in muck. This is not his moment. And since the DNC was essentially the author of Alicia’s disgrace, I have a lot of trouble seeing my way to their current cozy relationship.) She smiles just as long as it takes to receive his kiss, and then her disguise fails. Call me, Eli mouths, waving a phone at her.
The moment he’s out the door, Alicia lunges for her office phone. She hits redial, and so we see a handset on a granite counter top next to plates dirtied with the remnants of breakfast. A pretty woman in her thirties picks it up: it’s Jakob’s wife, Nicole. I love her gauzy blue tunic top. Alicia introduces herself. She was just talking to Jakob; is he still there? Oh, silly. Of course he isn’t. Oh my gosh, he wasn’t taking his daughter to school when that happened, was he? Now I’m starting to panic. No, thankfully he was off meeting Greg, the mysterious partner who thinks medical marijuana is a smart move. Phew! When Alicia floods her with questions — where are they meeting? does she have Greg’s number? — Nicole picks up Alicia’s anxiety. I’m hopeful everything is okay, Alicia says carefully, scurrying to get her doorbell which of course has just rung, but I need you to get in touch with Greg for me. “Sure,” Nicole says, “hold on.” And the door swings open to reveal the smiling face of Wallace Shawn’s Charles Lester.
Hi, Alicia, it’s me, he greets her pleasantly. “Mr. Lester,” she blinks, utterly shocked. “I thought I’d just stop by. My wife says I’m not spontaneous enough, so…” He’s one step away from flashing jazz hands at her, and poor Alicia can’t handle the cognitive dissonance, or the games. She’s in the middle of something important. “Yes, me too,” he says. “May I come in?” “Actually, I’m in the midst, Mr. Lester,” she insists, using her whole hand to point to her phone as she blocks him from entering the apartment with her body. “Do you need the phone number for Mr. Bishop’s new lawyers?”
Does she know that Lemond is in jail awaiting trial, he wonders? She does. She’s also not Bishop’s lawyer anymore. “Can I have a glass of water?” he tries. “It’s just so hot outside!” I see. Is that why you wore a full wool coat? Over a thick suit jacket? Unable to shut the door in his pleading face even on this wafer-thin pretext, Alicia walks back into her apartment, allowing the imp to step delicately over the threshold. (Seriously, it’s like he’s expecting a magical force field to zap him.)
“So, uh, how’s your friend Kalinda,” he inquires, as if casually, with a little hesitation over the name. You know, I may complain about the plotting on this show, but no one writes character into dialogue like the Kings. They’re so economical about it, it blows my mind. “How? I don’t know,” Alicia replies, grabbing a bottle of water out of the fridge. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Bishop is very interested in Miss Sharma’s whereabouts. Would Alicia happen to have a forwarding address? Nope. “Oh, you didn’t need to bring me the whole bottle,” he laughs as she hands him the frosty container. How great are her pants, by the way? She should wear work pants more often. “I always think these things are such a waste, always ending up in a landfill somewhere.”
“I recycle,” Alicia replies, dry as a bone.
So Lester switches his plaintiff patter. Dear Kalinda is gone – her cell phone’s turned off, her apartment is empty, and no one seems to know where she’s gone! “And yet in court two days ago, you said Kalinda talked to you about your case!” Rutro. Okay, now that’s particularly damning depending on how long it’s been, something I couldn’t begin to guess. I don’t suppose it’d be very helpful for Alicia to explain that she lied to the judge, would it? “So that would make you the last person to talk to her.” Hmm. Quite possible true. Alicia stares at him, phone still pressed to her ear. “So did she happen to leave you something, a note or anything?” Why yes, yes she did — not that we would ever tell you that. “No,” Alicia tells him. “No?” Lester repeats, “a good friend like you? It would make things so much less complicated for you if you helped me.” Oh, he did not. “For you and your family.”
And here I thought he was a smart man.
“Do you know who was just here, Mr. Lester,” Alicia asks, coldly furious. Kalinda, he smirks. “No,” she says, “my husband. The governor. Maybe you’ve heard of him. He was here, with two bodyguards, and two more outside. And two more in his SUV. You may have seen them when you arrived? They gave me a panic button in the kitchen, and when I went to get your water in the kitchen, I pushed it. So if I were you, I would take your little water bottle and go. Oh, and when you see Mr. Bishop, tell him I no longer work for him.”
Abruptly, Nicole comes back to the phone, and Alicia has to ask her to wait while she tells Lester to take five steps back so she can close the door. I’m not always a fan of Imperious Alicia but sometimes rudeness is so satisfying! He glares up her; I’d call the look malevolent but it’s hard to take him that seriously. Next time you talk to Kalinda, he growls, tell her to call me. “Goodbye Mr. Lester,” Alicia repeats, and glaring, almost pouting, he turns and walks out.
Free to concentrate on Nicole, Alicia gets back to hear what her client’s wife found out from partner Greg. “He said that Jakob never showed up. What’s going on? What have you heard?” As they speak, Alicia takes Kalinda’s mysterious note out of a drawer and walks with it into the kitchen. Well, Alicia explains, it sounded like Jakob turned his phone on “so I could hear him being accosted by two men.” As poor Nicole freaks out, Alicia reaches for a can of instant coffee grinds (from someone as snobby as Alicia? really?) and stuffs the note inside it; there seems to be cash inside, too. I suppose it’s allowable as a ruse. Speaking of cash, Nicole thinks Jakob was carrying money for his business; she’s going to call the police. But before she does, she has a rather tear-inducing thought. Why did he call Alicia? Our girl is thrown by the question because it’s a good one. Why did he call Alicia and not his wife?
So Alicia starts to work through it. Maybe what she heard wasn’t an assault, but an arrest. That’d make more sense out of him calling Alicia and not Nicole. Promising to call Nicole back, Alicia sets out to discover whether her theory is correct. Quickly, our girl dials central booking, and asks not if but where her client was brought in. Smart. While on hold with them, she calls Cary, who’s happy to bow out of an argument between David and Diane. “Do you have any way of getting in touch with Kalinda?” she asks. Brow furrowing, he wonders why, and she explains that Charles Lester has just left her apartment. “Are you all right?” Cary asks, and I love that concern for her is the first thing that comes to his mind. I know he’s a killer lawyer, but there’s real sweetness to him, too. Anyway, she took care of it, but she’s looking for a way to warn Kalinda.
“Cary, do you have an opinion on this?” Diane calls out. “Diane, it’s not about opinions,” David sneers. “Of course it’s about opinions! It’s about opinions, it’s about beliefs,” Diane argues as a pretty young woman walks between her and Cary to pick up a box of case files, ” I just love that even their throw-away, meaningless, subjectless conversations have a poetic lilt to them. “No, it’s the smart move,” David argues as two more pretty, slim, well-dressed women file by with boxes. You always say that, Diane points out (so true) and after last week’s continual reminders of the first season, I’m struck here by the difference in operating philosophy between Diane and David, such a marked contrast from even her most fractious exchanges with Will. As I’m thus transported, David Lee freezes mid-sentence, so obviously that Diane actually stops arguing. “What?” He turns, stares out of the office, and then walks away. “David, what?”
He follows the three elegantly dressed women over to a less glamorous area where they’re depositing the files in a back office – I actually thought one of the men leaning over a desk was Finn, since it seems near his domain, but it isn’t. Instead he stares, standing in the middle of the office, a terrible look on his face. “Simone,” he grins, and one of the three women looks up at him on her way out. Oh. Okay. Now we all get it – it’s Simone Canning. I totally did not catch that. Yes, she asks, clearly assuming she was called by a boss with instructions for her, but when she recognizes David from his old partnering days with her husband, her smile becomes personal. “Oh, hi!” she beams.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for the contortion on David Lee’s face. “You’re the new paralegal,” he realizes. Okay, that’s weird. Yes, she agrees, before solicitously asking if he needs anything. Sure, he grins, wagging his eyebrows affably.
But it’s with thunder on his face that he opens Diane’s office door, and it’s with a fury that he presses his lips together. “Did you know Louis Canning’s wife works here?” he asks Diane and Cary, still discussing the red herring from before. “What?” they gasp in unison. Yeah. That’s definitely a puzzle.
When she rips her door open, it’s clear that Nicole Rickter is working her way to a panic. “He still hasn’t called,” she tells Alicia, who responds with the news that Central Booking says he wasn’t arrested. “My God, Alicia,” Nicole says, paces her front hall, an older daughter sitting on the stairs watching. But because all she does is think is a crisis, Alicia’s on the ball. Do you have your cell phone, she wonders?
The idea is pretty simple, but pretty great: she suspects (correctly) that Jakob might have set up the phone with a tracker app called FindiPhone, which should enable them to ping Jakob’s phone and use the GPS to determine where he is. Nice, Alicia! That’s a Kalinda-worthy trick. They use it to find the last location of Jakob’s phone – somewhere in the block of Fillmore and Homan Streets.
Unfortunately, when Alicia arrives there, it appears to be abandoned. There’s not a car in sight at the wide intersection, and there are only brick buildings, perhaps warehouses or old factories, but without any signage or pedestrians or food trucks or parked cars to indicate that they’re in use. It’s a little reminiscent of the downscale neighborhood where Florrick Agos took residence, minus even the appearance of homeless people. Eventually, a cruiser drives past and pulls into a brick archway like you’d find at a fire station. Since she’s got nothing else to do, Alicia walks across the intersection and arrives across the street quickly enough to see two cops wrestle a man in handcuffs out of the cruiser and into the building, all inside a drive way behind the brick wall, partially obscured by a garage door. Cautiously, our girl crosses the street and walks into the drive and over to the first door in the wall.
I jump a little when the door closes behind her; it echoes. She’s walked into a sort of waiting room of white washed brick and gray carpeting, something that might have been chic if it wasn’t coldly utilitarian. There’s a sign on the walls that forbids the presence of cell phones or visitors, but despite that there’s also a service window. As she steps toward it, a cheerful young police officer moves up to it to meet her. “My client, Jakob Rickter, is here. May I see him, please?” she asks pleasantly. “Right,” the young man says, the slight fullness in his face giving him an open and endearing air, “he was just signed in two hours ago. Hold on.” He disappears into a back room, and Alicia whips out her cell phone to give Nicole the good (ish) news, but of course there’s no signal. As she holds her phone up, trying for better, the young officer returns.
He clears his throat. “Hello m’am,” he begins, folding his arms in the window and nervously twiddling his fingers. “I was wrong. He’s not here.” Yeah, because that’s believable. Unable to process this, Alicia shakes her head. “I’m sorry, what?” “The man you asked about, he’s not here,” he repeats. “But you just said he was,” Alicia presses, and with great relief Young Cop turns as an old officer – possibly his supervisor — slips into the room. “Yeah, yes,” Open-faced Cop stammers. “I made a mistake.”
“You…” Alicia stammers, before smiling, “may I look at your database?” No, the older cop smirks from the back door, “he’s not here.” He’s got thinning hair, a vivid contrast to the glossy thick locks of the younger officer, now bowing his head in embarrassment and perturbation. But how could you make that kind of mistake, Alicia pushes. “He’s either here or he’s not.” Receding Hairline steps into the waiting room next to Alicia. “M’am, I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” he says. “It’s against the law to hold him without access to his lawyer, and I’m his lawyer,” she explains, stubborn and sure of her righteousness. “Mike, I need your help out here!” Receding Hairline calls to a burly colleague, who grabs Alicia’s other elbow and hustles her out onto the street, still protesting about her client’s constitutional rights to counsel. Is her car nearby? “You can let go, I’m fine,” she snaps, wrenching her arm out of R.H.’s grasp. “We’re gonna need you to drive away, m’am,” he instructs her.
“Or what?” she snaps. “Or you’ll be interfering in police matters,” he tells her with the smugness of a man who holds all the cards. “Have a nice day, m’am,” he finishes, walking in with burly Mike, and so Alicia snaps pictures of the blacked out windows as the theme music rolls.
“Yeah, it’s Homan Square,” Finn tells a disbelieving Alicia. “Excuse me?” “Homan Square,” he repeats as if she should know what this is. And heck, maybe as the almost State’s Attorney, she should. “It houses the bomb squad, undercover cops, and the police sometimes hold suspects there, too.” For a largely upstanding guy, Finn’s being pretty cool about this, occasionally looking up at us over his thick black glasses; Alicia, on the other hand, is outraged. They can’t do that! It’s illegal! Can you imagine what Frank Prady will think? “They wouldn’t let me in to see my client!” Maybe he’s not under arrest yet, he suggests calmly.
As this sinks in Alicia starts to pace. “So the police have taken him, but he wasn’t arrested?” Yep. As is often the case, this plot has been ripped from the headlines. Somewhat cheekily, however, it seems that the actual secret detention center on which the episode is based (which seems to be largely for domestic terrorism suspects, an internal black site) is actually Homan Square. Hats off to you for not even fictionalizing that a little bit, folks. “Because if he was arrested, I would be allowed to see him?” Alicia wonders. Yup, Finn agrees, tossing off his glasses and leaning back in his chair, finally admitting defeat in his attempt to keep working. “My God, this is insane,” she fumes.
“You need to file a habeus petition right away,” Finn instructs her. “The police mostly take people to Homan Square that nobody cares about. So you start caring, they’ll release him.” What? I mean, first off, nothing about Jakob looked uncared for. Second, I’ve got to rethink my comment about fictionalizing the detention center; that’s a little different from the domestic terrorism rationale. Either way, good for the show for calling attention to this appalling practice. “Got it,” Alicia says, looking shell shocked, “wow.”
But before she can sleep walk out of his office, Finn remembers something, and practically falls out of his chair to get to her. “Alicia, I thought about it,” he says. Wow, she’s just not firing on all cylinders today; what, she asks. “You and me,” he explains, which doesn’t help at all, as she continues to stare at him, her face pale. Starting our own firm, he adds, to her relief. “We should do it.”
“Oh my God,” she smiles, almost collapsing on herself in her pleased relief, “I thought you were going to say no, and I … I’ve been apologizing a lot lately, I need to stop doing that.” Ha. Was that an apology? “This is great news!” Wow, when do we ever hear her this enthusiastic? She shakes his hand. “Partner!”
So we’re off, he says, raising his eyebrows, and she agrees. “Our first client, Jakob Rickter.” Jakob Rickter, he repeats, the name like a talisman. I love the idea of them working together, and I think he’ll be incredibly handy in this particular case.
“We have a habeus matter, I believe, but we also have the matter of lunch,” a female judge’s voice says as Alicia, Finn and Matan Brody walk into a crowded courtroom. “The people are willing to delay until after lunch, Your Honor,” Matan replies, making me want to smack him in the face, both for the delaying tactics and the invocation of the People. I am not cool with law-breaking done in my name, sir. “Unfortunately this is time sensitive, Your Honor,” Alicia says, wearing a plaid jacket instead of the black one from earlier. Unless the black one was a coat? I’m confused. “We have a client being held by police and we need access to him.” He’s not being held, Matan lies.
“Okay, okay,” Judge Suzanne Morris waves them to quiet. “Can this be argued in less than five minutes?” Part of me wants to chide her for caring about her lunch more than this man’s civil rights, but I suppose when justice is your business, it all becomes a little routine. You have to stop and eat at some point. Finn and Alicia give confident yeses exactly Matan bellows a resounding no. “Well, lets live dangerously, shall we?” the judge decides, favoring the lawyers with a wry smile.
Alicia plays the rather terrifying recording of Jakob’s capture. “That’s an arrest, Your Honor,” she says, but Matan disagrees. “Mr. Brody, it’s a simple matter as far as habeus petition’s go. Why can’t you produce Mr. Rickter?” Very simply, he says, because we don’t have him. Almost paralyzed with worry, Nicole looks on from the gallery. “As was explained to Mrs. Florrick on numerous occasions, her client in not in the CPD database. We have not arrested him,” Matan parses his words. Not booked, check. Not arrested, check. But that doesn’t at all mean they don’t have him.
“He’s being held in Homan Square,” Finn cuts in, as if the judge should know what he’s talking about, and his confidence takes Matan aback. Judge Morris does in fact understand him. “Do you know that for a fact, counselor?” They explain about pinging his phone. “No, it was just turned off there. It’s not determinative.” Um, that’s a lame excuse. There’s nothing else there. Does Matan have an explanation of why he would have been there but isn’t now? “Anyway, when I hear that call,” Matan leapfrogs back, “it doesn’t sound like the police. It sounds like a person being accosted.” Fair enough; we certainly don’t hear anyone identifying themselves as police, and there’s a point where Jakob says he doesn’t have any money, like he thinks that he’s being robbed. But between the location of the phone and the slip on the part of the desk sergeant — not to mention the mere existence of the facility — the evidence seems pretty damning to me. “Alright, counselors. Call the police or bring me stronger evidence of an arrest,” the judge replies instead. “Otherwise I don’t know what to do. Lunch!”
Bah. Well, I suppose it was never going to be that easy.
“Hi, I’m Diane Lockhart,” the lady introduces herself, sitting down next to Simone Canning. Wow, the cut outs on Simone’s blouse are so pretty! The top itself is a gunmetal color, but the sleeves are black lattice work. Really neat. “Yes, I know,” the paralegal replies, smiling and picking up a pen, “do you need something?” She holds the pen up, ready to act on Diane’s whim. No, no, I just wanted to introduce myself, the partner says. “You’re Simone…” “Rauchenbusch,” Simone supplies. Do we need to talk about Diane’s white suit? I can’t decide how I feel about it, though I think it’s interesting that it’s made to be worn open. I think I like the silver collar in spite of myself. Anyway. What’s Canning’s wife doing here, incognito?
“Your maiden name,” Diane prompts, and smiling, Simone admits to it. “Is that a problem?” No, Diane pushes gently, it’s just, I think we know your husband? “Yes,” Simone smiles, a little more awkward. “I used my maiden name in the interview because I wanted to get this job on my own.” Huh. Now that’s shades of First Season Alicia, this struggle with a husband’s long shadow, but it does seem odd that with a wealthy but gravely ill husband and small kids, she’s gotten herself a demanding job. “Is that all right?” she asks in a much smaller voice. “Yes,” Diane replies kindly. “Just to be clear, we’re often in competition with your husband.”
Oh, that’s fine, Simone assures her boss. “I am completely discreet, completely, you can totally trust me.” There’s just something so lovely and innocent and truthful about Simone, isn’t there? To the point that I always feel like she’d hate her husband if she had any idea of what he was like in his job. And yet again, that’s something I probably could have said of First Season Alicia, too. (Also, not be cynical, but “you can trust me” is exactly what an untrustworthy person would say here, too.) Diane smiles and nods and tells Simone how much she enjoyed meeting her.
Her walk back to her office is a somber one, in which she’s no doubt wrestling with the inevitable need to fire a sweet, vulnerable and competent seeming employee. “Miss Lockhart!” Charles Lester appears out of thin air, stepping into Diane’s path like Rumplestilskin appearing with the demand for her first born. “It seems that every time I come up here, this place has a new name,” he smirks. “Well, we like to keep you on your toes,” she smiles back.
Cary’s eyes almost bug out of his pale face as he sees the imp walking with Diane into her office, and he rushes from his desk to get a better view, just in time to hear Lester explaining that Bishop wants to go straight. Cary walks into the office through the side door; his new office must be on the other side of Diane’s conference area/dog leg; Lester greets him with his usual affable caricature of a smile.
“Lemond Bishop is thinking of bringing his business back here,” Diane tells Cary, who doesn’t believe it for a second. “I thought he was in jail,” Cary replies. “Yes,” Lester laughs, wheezing, “thus the disappointment in his current representation.” He looks from partner to partner, wondering if he can begin his real ploy yet. “So, ah, where’s that great little investigator you have around here?” “Kalinda doesn’t work here anymore,” Cary says, a slight smile playing on his lips. “Where does she work?” We don’t know, Cary says flatly. She left. Lester looks to a very serious Diane to confirm the truth of it (perhaps waiting for one of them to add ‘and we wouldn’t tell you if we did know’).
“Well,” he says, standing, “let me leave you my number.” Certainly, Diane says, taking his card, “And if Kalinda gets in touch with you you can reach me at this number,” he adds, proffering a second card, “day or night.” And why would they do that again? Diane purses her lips in irritation, and Cary favors him only with a contemptuous flick of his eyelashes.
Once the man is gone, Diane looks up at Cary. “He’s after Kalinda,” she states the obvious, and what is it with our smart characters being so slow today? “Yes,” Cary says, before sitting down and composing an email to warn Kalinda. Of course he gets it back immediately from the mailer daemon. Well, at least it was neat to see the contents of his inbox, if briefly. (What? It’s not normal to freeze frame the dvr to look at that? They’ve invented a senior partner named Rosemary just to flesh things out; he’s also getting mail from the mysteriously missing Carey Zepps, perhaps just to prove he still exists.) He slaps his laptop closed and puts his head down, worried.
Also looking a bit nervous are Zach and Grace, together for the first time all season, sitting next to each other in silent discomfort on their living room couch. So he did come home! I wonder if he’s home for the summer, or just for a visit after finals? As neat as ever, Zach’s sporting a dark teal v-neck sweater with jeans, and Grace wears a striped red t-shirt over black pants. Peter sits down across from them, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, practically bursting with his ridiculous news. “What’s going on?” Zach wonders, because he’s not an idiot and because he actually talks. “Are we in trouble?” he adds, laughing to take the sting out of his words. “Are we moving?” Grace bursts out, genuinely apprehensive, although it intrigues me that this is her worry. No, no, Peter says, biting his bottom lip. “Mom and I just wanted to run something by you.” Why not just tell them? Ah, because Alicia wasn’t home yet; she walks in the door, reassuring Nicole that they have both a sympathetic judge and new evidence. What new evidence? She seems shocked to find her entire family in her living room, staring up her.
Alicia hustles off the phone, apologizing to both Nicole and her family and then setting her things on the floor. “Did you … have the talk already?” she wonders, sitting down on the easy chair near Peter, who’s perched on the coffee table; no, he’s just getting started. “Started with what?” Grace presses, though I can’t tell if the note in her voice is frustration or excitement.
“So,” Peter begins, biting his lip again and looking at the floor, “the Democratic Committee…” And take that, DSC, because Alicia’s phone interrupts Peter’s big announcement. Ha. He glares. She apologizes, and refuses the call.
“The Democratic Committee has asked me to run for president,” Peter finishes with a flourish. Zach’s laughter is infinitely more flattering that his mother’s, because it’s so clear that he’s thrilled. “You’re kidding! That’s great, when?” Alicia tilts her head, concerned as Peter reveals he’d have to start making trips to Iowa the following week. “The White House, wow! I’ll be one metro stop away,” Zach muses. “Actually, it’s not to win,” Peter cautions. “The logic is, I would run to make myself a viable candidate for vice president.” Zach nods as if this were perfectly normal, and Grace continues to frown at the floor. “Cool. It’s still cool,” Zach enthuses.
“Grace?” Alicia asks, startling everyone. “Would – would you run together?” the daughter asks, revealing the first of her worries. “What do you mean?” Peter wonders, continuing the episode’s trend of stupidity. “Would you go to Iowa together?” Well, I don’t know if I’d have the time, Alicia replies carefully, winning herself a shocked look from Peter, because come on, what’re her little cases compared to running for president? “Well, maybe a few times, hopefully,” Peter says, finally shutting off his shock to focus on his kids. “Look, nothing’s been decided. I’m not running unless we all agree. This is going to be a family consensus.” He makes eye contact with each of them in turn.
“Are you still going to pretend you’re married?” Grace asks next, which, God bless her honesty! Poor Zach cannot even believe she’s fractured family protocol so profoundly as to say this to her parents out loud. “We don’t have to pretend, we are married,” Peter non-replies. In the nicest possible way, Grace rolls her eyes. “You’re living in your apartment, Dad. And Mom’s here.” Well, that’s because the government’s in Springfield, he defends their ridiculous arrangement, but Alicia finally contributes. “Yes,” she says honestly, “we’d still have to pretend.” Peter shoots her a dirty look, but really, I’m just about going to fall over from the surprise of this. Who are these women again, and what have they done with the Florricks? “Peter?” Alicia asks quietly, and steps out of the room.
“Close the door, okay?” she says as he walks into her bedroom. He does, mouth slightly open, eyebrows raised, wondering what she’s going to do. “Are we going to be angry at each other?” he asks: no, she says calmly, matching her serene, hotel-like bedroom.
“Peter,” she says, “you already decided. Don’t put it on us.” He frowns, perhaps shocked at her continued truth telling. “Put what, I haven’t decided.” Oh, dude. Let’s be real here. It’s not even a choice for you. “Look,” she says, sitting down on her bed and looking up at him, still calm, “Grace will approve your decision because she knows you wanna run.” She smiles faintly. “She doesn’t want to stand in your way.” She keeps looking up at her husband. “Then they’ll rip us to shreds, because that’s what the press does.” Yup, and no one knows it better.
“They’ll look into our lives, our families, our children, and Grace will blame herself.” And heaven knows there is plenty to find. I can’t decide if Peter looks more annoyed or thoughtful. “It’s not her decision. You know it’s not her decision. It’s yours. And Eli’s.”
“You don’t think I can walk away from this?” he challenges her. No. She doesn’t think he can. I don’t think he can either (though I’d be mightily impressed if he could). “Then you don’t know me,” he boasts with a small, self-satisfied smile. Why would she ever think he could, after he’s dragged them through the mud so many times, their skin still raw after the last flaying? He won’t say no, not when this has been the end goal of it all. “Okay,” she says, watching the floor as if choosing her words from offerings on the rug, “I don’t approve.” She looks back up at him, calling his bluff. He blinks. “If it’s up to your family.”
He inhales deeply. I can’t decide, really, if he just didn’t think any of them would ever question his choice to run (no one has before, not even when Alicia was deeply unhappy with it) or if he genuinely wanted their input. “I don’t want you to run for president,” she confirms, and he looks at her, biting down on his emotion; frustration escapes a little, hostility as well, and wonderment at her refusal to go along with his dreams. Not once does either of them raise their voice or loose their cool. He simply says okay and leaves. Now it is really up to him, and I want to cheer, because I’ve been waiting for this since the first season; his family or his political ambitions. It’s fair, and it’s a choice she should have asked him to make 5 years ago, when he decided to run for State’s Attorney after being released from prison. His family is not luggage to take on his journey; they’re people who’ve been deeply hurt by their time in the public eye. It needed to be said, and now it has been. After waiting a minute to catch her breath, Alicia checks her watch and rushes out.
She checks her watch again as she waits in the shadows outside Homan Square. When Officer Babyface leaves, she rushes up to him. I know you know Jakob Rickter is in there, she pleads. “Would you just leave me alone, please?” the poor boy asks. Behind them, the cobblestones look slick, and Alicia’s hair whips into her face; it’s all noir and shadows and gloom. “His family is going crazy,” Alicia continues to plead, chasing after Open Face as he heads to his car. “They’re worried that he’s dead or kidnapped.” Even though she’s behind him, he turns his face away, jaw jutting out in tense conflict. “I don’t know that you realize how bad this is,” she insists, and I wonder where she’s going with this. “Jakob Rickter is epileptic. He’s been 12 hours without his medication. In another four hours, he could be dead.” That’s a lie, Babyface snaps, torn between his conscience and his responsibility to his (incredibly offensive) job, his various good intentions warring with each other. “And if he dies, Officer Tannerman,” Alicia twists the knife another 90 degrees, “everyone in that building has deniability except you.”
Babyface Tannerman almost wrenches his car door off its hinges as he rips it open. (Well, okay, sorry. He’s not the Hulk. This isn’t a superhero flick or film noir, for that matter, though it certainly looks like the latter. Sorry. I got pulled into the melodrama of it all.) “You’re the only one I’ve told. And I will sue you. For everything you have.”
You’re lying, he insists, and I can’t decide if pushing him this way rather than playing on his sympathies is the best path. But of course, Alicia has a plan. She shoves a card into his hand, saying it contains the number of Rickter’s doctor, who can confirm what she says, and that’s when I know she has to be lying, because that would be completely illegal.
“How long do you think we should give it?” Alicia asks, sitting with Finn in his car. Why are they on a stake out, exactly? “Another hour,” he says, and then he leans toward her a little, just a shadow in the darkness. “Alicia, can I be up front with you?” he asks. “Have you not been?” she wonders, surprised. “No, I have been,” he backtracks, lolling his head back against the seat back, “but this girl that I’m seeing is… my ex-wife.” Ha. I like him for that, but it figures. “We’re making another go of it.” I’m glad, she says, that’s great, but her eyes belie her smile. Yeah, it is great, he agrees, meeting her eyes, and then he looks away, thinking. “I don’t like failing at things, and I … feel like I failed at it, so…” Gee, that doesn’t sound like anybody else I know. She smiles. “Well that’s fantastic,” she repeats, not meaning it, and again I’m struck that she never talks about Peter to Finn. Why wouldn’t she reply in kind? Where’s the nobody understands that better than me! conversation?
“So it won’t get in the way of us working together?” he wonders. I love that he’s honest with her, I love it so much. I’m not sure we’ve ever had a character so in touch with their own uncomfortable feelings on this show. And I get that he’s waiting for her to talk about Peter – he doesn’t press, he’s only upfront about his side of things — but gah. “What? No, no,” she lies. Sorry. Lie is probably a strong word for such a submerged emotion; I’m sure she does intellectually understand this impulse and want good things for Finn, including for their partnership to work out. And she sure as heck wouldn’t know what to do with Finn if she got him (beyond the obvious). I mean, can you really imagine him as the dirty mistress? You can see she’s just not in love with the idea of closing the door. He takes her assurances at face value, however, because even someone as rigorously honest and grown up as Finn is also just wants stuff to work out.
And speaking of working out, that’s when Finn’s phone rings, and Office Babyface calls to talk about Jakob Rickter. Alicia rattles her fists in excitement.
“Nothing yet, sir,” Charles Lester admits Lemond Bishop over the phone as he pushes a grocery cart through the freezer aisle, “but I’m just getting started.” Wow. It’s so incongruous, somehow, to see this little creature of darkness in a brightly lit supermarket aisle, a riot of brilliant colors behind him. Really weird, as I’m sure the writers intended it to be. “Eh, only if I need help,” he demurs, and I’m suddenly a little weirded out because there are giant snowflakes behind his head. Why can we never get the seasons right on this show? Not that anyone ever knows what the hell season it’s supposed to be, other than six years after the start of the show six years ago, so I suppose that’s why I expect the show to generally keep pace with real world time? Anyway, enough about me — let’s talk about something really important. Like Charles Lester’s search for a good frozen pizza. At least that’s what he wants to distract Lemond with, but of course it doesn’t work, and his face falls. “Yes, sir,” he responds gloomily, rounding the enormous corner to yet another freezer aisle, “I’ll call you when they make the next move.” And that’s when he comes upon Kalinda, dressed all in black leather (knee high boots, stockings, miniskirt, jacket), standing in the next aisle with her hip tilted. “Looking for me?” she asks, and every member of the audience collectively screams.
“Hello, Kalinda,” Charles Lester greets. “I was wondering when you’d contact me.” I’ll just bet you were. “Well, you can stop wondering,” she replies flatly, arms crossed. “Maybe you can help me with a problem that I’m having,” he begins, and she swoops in, hands in his pocket, and pulls out his phone, pulling it apart. Sorry, he shrugs unapologetically, old lawyer’s trick. Yes, no doubt he was recording his phone calls back when he was knee high to a grasshopper. She squares her shoulders, staring at him. “What’s the problem,” she wonders. “Do you know a good frozen pizza?” he asks immediately.
Oh, Charles Lester. Not happy if you’re not doing your schtick, are you?
Kalinda humors him, walking along side his carriage. What’s the problem? His wife sent him for something called Pizza in the Wall, he says, but he’s never tried it and isn’t sure if listening to his wife will be worth it. Can his wife be June Squibb? Please please please? And just as bossy and foul mouthed as she was in Nebraska? I mean, okay, she couldn’t be exactly that crass on television, and they have absolutely no reason to ever show him with this oft mentioned spouse, but still, how freaking awesome would that be? I think I’m going to make that headcannon. Either he’s made up the wife to humanize himself, or he’s married to sassy June Squibb. By the way, there’s no such thing as Pizza in the Wall.
Kalinda stops this unworthy patter; her time here is limited, and he shouldn’t waste it. (It’s like, I don’t know, she’s a genie and will have to go back in her bottle soon — or this is the one day outsiders are allowed into Brigadoon.) Does he have a question for her? Yes, he says, willing to comply. Did she betray Mr. Bishop? No, she says, puzzling me a little. But you ran! “I didn’t run,” she counters. “You moved out of your apartment! Canceled your cell phone plan. In Mr. Bishop’s world, those are very suspicious act,” he suggests. That’s true in anyone’s world, Lester. “I read the writing on the wall,” she tells him. “Really, what writing was that?” Gee, I wonder.
“Dexter was blaming me for Bishop’s arrest,” she offers. Okay, so I get why she’s come back — to protect Cary and Alicia and Diane — but not why she’s lying. Isn’t the best protect for her friends the truth? I guess we can just assume she knew she needed to come back because she’s Kalinda, right, with all the pseudo-magical powers associated with the title. The two stop to discuss the question. “I will admit,” Lester admits, leaning on the handle bar of his cart, “my suspicions fall between you and him, but Dexter has the advantage because he’s actually here, talking to Mr. Bishop and you’re not.” It’s funny, the way he argues this, like he really wants her to understand what a tactical error she’s made. “Hey,” he laughs, “Pizza in the Wall it is!” As he pulls his bounty out of the freezer case, Kalinda silently blows out a breath and scratches her head. She’s perfectly composed and back in her role when he turns around and tosses the pizza in the cart.
“I’ll make a deal with you, Mr. Lester,” she offers, no longer cool and distant, but supplicating. “You leave my work and my friends alone, and I will come see Mr. Bishop.” Now, that’d be interesting, wouldn’t it? I mean, what’s he going to do to her at the prison? “And who do we define as your friends?” Lester asks, testy. “You know who,” she reminds him sharply. Well. It’s already to his benefit not to harass the governor’s wife. “Look, I will make my case to Mr. Bishop, but you need to butt out of my life.” When could you meet with him, Lester asks, pleasant but implacable, promising nothing. “Wednesday. 8 o’clock. In the visiting room.” With the candlestick? “Earlier would be better,” he pushes his luck, and she snorts and walks away.
“Wait, what about my phone?” he calls out after her. She turns, walking backwards. “Buy a new one,” she smirks, and he huffs away, abandoning cart and pizza both, his face (normally bent strangely to appear pleasant) for the first time a mask of frustration and rage.
The Honorable Suzanne Morris’s court is in session. “What’s going on, Matan? Do you have him or not?” she demandss, her culture voice cracking a little with irritation. This is all news to me, Your Honor, Matan lies smoothly. “I do not approve of Mrs. Florrick and Mr. Polmar’s little ploy,” the judge continues. As the three approach the bench, Alicia at least looks sheepish. “Apparently the police were tricked into calling this nonexistent doctor – however, they admitted to having their client.” I’ve talked to Homan Square, Matan says, and they insist they didn’t have Rickter at the time of the hearing. “That is b.s., Your Honor,” Alicia hisses, and Judge Morris tells her to relax and be gracious since she’s won. “This is my ruling,” she announces, bending over low and sticking her face into Matan’s so he gets the point, “I want Homan Square to open the doors to Mr. Rickter’s lawyers now.”
Good, Alicia grins quietly at Finn as they head out, “our first win.” Finn, even after his short time with the State’s Attorney’s office, knows better than to exhale; don’t count your chickens, he tells her. And that’s when a small voice calls out her name. “Mr. Kingsley-Weaver, wow,” she says awkwardly as the prim bearded writer pops up unexpectedly yet again. Dang! Why did I let myself believe we were rid of him? “Did we have a meeting? Finn, this is my …. ghost writer,” Alicia explains, carrying such a heavy load of awkwardness that she almost compresses under it. “Oh really, wow, that’s… impressive,” Finn mocks her, no help at all. Go ahead and leave, Finn. You’re not making this any better.
I heard you were going to be in court and I wanted to see you in action, the Ghostwriter says. Actually, I’m just a bit busy today, Alicia tells him. “Perfect,” he replies, following her out of the court room, passive-aggression in full swing, “I’ll just stay out of your way.”
In Diane’s office, what I assume is the managing committee is in tumult. “We have to fire her,” David Lee howls, “we don’t know if Canning put her here as a spy.” Oh come on, she’s not a spy, Diane counters, wearing a kimono-like red dress in a very stiff fabric. So what if she used her maiden name? She did it to hide, David insists. Is it plausible to think that she was afraid of nepotism? There are someplace that might hire her to try and either win influence with Canning or to plant false information with him, maybe, but I feel like she’d have been less likely to be hired using the Canning name rather than more. What is that, reverse-nepotism? Diane doesn’t think firing the woman is fair, especially since Simone’s doing good work as a paralegal. Ah, but what if she leaks information? Even accidentally? Can you trust her promise to keep her work confidential? “I know Canning,” David Lee growls. “He’ll use anything.”
“I agree,” Cary says, sitting quietly at the table, “we have to let her go.” The whole room goes silent. David Lee draws himself up proudly at this help from an unexpected corner. “We just had a cyber attack on our email system that almost destroyed us.” So? “We can’t keep dropping our guard.”
Sigh. I really really like Simone, and I really hate to agree with David, but it doesn’t make sense to keep her on staff. Canning is such baggage. And it’s just weird, considering their years of enmity. “Good,” David almost lunges forward, “so I’ll fire her!” No, Diane screams. “Two name partners against one, Diane,” David trumpets. “No,” she repeats, “I’ll do it.”
“I don’t… I …” Simone gasps, her face draining of all color, her heart clearly breaking. “We’re just economizing,” Diane lies. “Please don’t fire…” Simone whispers, and then sucks down her sorrow into her pride. “I can do more, you know, I can work harder.” It’s not that, Diane replies quietly. “You were doing great, and we’ll give you a good reference.” Diane offers, trying vainly to maintain eye contact. “There are no jobs out there,” Simone turns her head, bitter, and again, while I imagine the kind of bizarro world comparison where Diane has fired a first season Alicia because of Peter, but without the pathos from Alicia’s desperation for the money, which Simone can’t have. I get the need for a space of one’s own, I really do, but the inevitable comparison of the situation is what I see every time, Alicia instead of Simone.
“Well,” Diane offers tentatively, “maybe with your husband?” Simone huffs, and Diane winces, knowing she’s made a misstep. “I did this on my own,” Simone cries, which is true enough. “This was me.” I know, Diane agrees huskily, moved, “I’m so very sorry.”
A victorious Alicia arrives at Homan Square, where Officer Babyface leaps up to meet her at the service window. “I have a court order for you…” she begins, but stops as Receding Hairline taps in, waiting until he’s replaced the junior officer at the window before giving him her entire speech. “I have a court order for you to allow me to see my client,” she expands. “Yes,” he agrees, “we received the news from the court, and good news, Mrs. Florrick – he’s already meeting with his lawyer.” R.H., the festering turd, has a great big malicious smile on his face as he says this. I suppose they’re humiliated because she tricked them, and are taking it out on her now? Or maybe they just suck. That could be it too.
Cold and angry, she stares. “Excuse me?” she asks, her voice far more pleasant than her expression. “Mr. Rickter is already meeting with his lawyer,” he repeats. “I’m his lawyer,” she says. “Not according to Mr. Rickter,” R.H. smirks. “He’s already talking with his lawyer.” I’m sorry, Mrs. Florrick, Receding Hairline tells her without a trace of sorrow, “but he is in a meeting with his lawyer.” In his tiny office, Babyface stares at the floor. “I know you’re desperate for his business,” R.H. mocks Alicia for caring, and probably for the State’s Attorney’s race as well. For her part, Alicia looks ready to spit in his eye. “The judge is gonna crucify you,” she promises. “Have a nice day,” R.H. calls out after she leaves.
“Meet me in court,” she tells Finn over the phone the second she’s out of the building, “they’re screwing with us.” And like a bad penny, Mr. Kingsley-Weaver pops up behind her shoulder, walking quickly in her wake. What is it going to take to rid yourself of this cling-on, Alicia? Good grief!
In a sidebar, the lawyers buzz at Judge Morris, who eventually stops them both hands up. “Okay,” she says, “notice how calm I am?” She stares them all down. “Let me speak this clearly and simply, Mr. Brody.” Oh, yes. Here it comes. “I want Mr. Rickter here, in my court, today. If he is not here in two hours, I will hold you personally in contempt.” Excellent! In the gallery, Mr. Kingsley-Weaver cranes his neck, trying to follow the proceedings. “And I will begin assigning fines. Are my words clear?” They are, and it’s kind of worth the delay to see Matan so completely discomfited. “He will be here in two hours,” the judge insists. Bang goes the gavel!
“So, this is a standard case for your new firm?” Word-Weaver asks Alicia, out in the hall. Well, this is our second case, she says, so it’s a little hard to say. “Why are you doing this,” he asks. “Is it about injustice?” He needed help, she says, not really understanding what he’s asking. “It’s like a puzzle. How do you get the law to help someone?” Right. At its most appealing, you make the law do good. “You care?” Kingsley-Weaver presses, which is weird. Does she care about what? About winning? About justice? About Jakob Rickter? About his rights? That’s when Alicia catches a glimpse of a handwritten note scrawled on something of Word-Weavers’: too tough, soften. She stares hard at the words, written in red.
“Do I care? Um, yes,” stammering. “What is that, a rough draft?” Yes he says; man, that was fast! “I like to give my notes some shape, but it’s not really a narrative yet.” Oh. Okay. So that’s just a lot of notes. Not quite so fast. “May I see it?” she asks, but he draws back – he wants it in better shape. Interesting, this drawing back, because she’s always so willing to go by her lead. “Whose notes are those?” Alicia asks, smiling. “Oh, just… feedback,” Word-Weaver attempts to prevaricate. From whom, she wonders. “Eli?”
“I’m not really supposed to say anything,” he winces, and she picks up the edge of the manuscript. “It’s my memoir, right?” she asks permission after a fashion, and she keeps tugging on that manuscript until he lets go. “I’ll be right back,” she tells him, after giving a quick once over to the text.
And then we see Eli, scurrying up the courthouse steps. We’re so rarely out here, which frankly I like; it’s such a cliche, the courthouse steps. He smirks at Alicia, who sits at the base of a giant stone column. “You rang, First Lady,” Eli greets her, sounding like the Victorian butler he often reminds me of. Or maybe valet? Hmm. Also, if he’s making a reference to the presidency here, stop it. Not only is it not helpful, it’s not even what she would be if their best laid plans came true. “Sit down, Eli,” she instructs, which is a little weird given that she’s gesturing at the step beneath her feet. That’d be a power dynamic made visual for you. Amusingly enough, Eli’s unsettled by a different thought; “I don’t like sitting on steps. I always think, dogs urinate there.” Wow. That was unexpectedly prissy.
“Whose idea was the memoir?” she asks, looking up at a still standing Eli. “Whose idea? Mine,” he says. “And what was the point?” To introduce you to the public, he claims. Hmm. “To rehabilitate me,” she suggests. He wouldn’t have put it that way himself, Eli claims; rather he’d say it was a great way to put the State’s Attorney’s race behind her. To redefine her.
And that’s when she starts reading his notes out loud.
“Too much ball busting.” He sucks in a great breath through his nose, his express typically operatic. “Needs softer words. Emphasis on work versus home. Rethink.” Where’d you get that, he asks. Where do you think, Eli? “Are these your edits?” He’d like to deny it, but with the evidence in front of him, he really can’t.
“So you’re remaking me as a homemaker?” she asks. “No,” he scoffs immediately. “But the ghost writer wanted to drive it towards courtroom and action, and I just wanted a bit more balance.” Nice edit there, Eli. “So you want me to play the wife, with the cookie recipes?” Alicia, no, he denies to the hills, and so she flips through the manuscript. “Ask A for possible recipes here,” she reads, and again, there’s nothing he can do but look embarrassed, caught with his literary pants down. “Okay, that was a bad idea,” he admits. Ya think?
“Don’t patronize me, Eli!” she demands, and he flinches. “I read your notes.” It’s a good story, he counters. “It’s a story with a lesson.” Um, okay. “But it’s not true,” she says. “What’s true?” he asks; thanks, Pontius Pilate. “Okay,” she tells him, standing up, “no to this.” She slaps the inch thick manuscript against his stomach. “No to being First Lady, no to everything.” After she leaves, Eli silently curses.
“Jakob, thank God, are you okay?” Alicia cries, rushing to see her client in Judge Morris’s courtroom. He’s good, he says quietly, sounding dazed. “I really should have taken your advice.” With, she wonders. “The business. Going slow.” Why, what’s wrong, she asks, and I sort of want to smack her around, because if he’s talking about it — if it’s the first thing he chose to tell her, when she doesn’t know why he was detained — doesn’t it make it obvious why? “Mr. Rickter, finally! There was a Godot-like quality to our experiences here,” the judge begins. Matan, slug that he is, doesn’t even want to let her finish her sentence, and I can’t help thinking that’s not going to do him any favors. It wouldn’t with me. “Your Honor, if I may interject, Mr. Rickter has confessed to an intent to acquire 25 marijuana plants.” What, Alicia squeals, spinning around; Jakob shoots her a helpless look. Legal drugs? This is what this has all been about? “A class three felony with a minimum sentence of two to three years.”
He had no representation, Alicia gasps, we had no access to him. “He did not ask for a lawyer so no lawyer was provided for him.” Oh, right. After what’s happened here, Judge Morris is a fool if she gives that fabrication even one shred of credence. “He was held in Homan Square,” Finn repeats like a mantra that contains all the necessary wisdom (as indeed it does). You know, if Matan were smart, he’d pick up on the fact that Alicia has another ASA feeding her secrets, and start looking at Finn for the IAD investigation leak, but the show might not want to take them there. Yes, Judge Morris agrees, but this is another question. (No, not really.) Do Alicia and Finn want the confession thrown out? Um, yes. Why yes they do. She’s hear that question tomorrow. “Mr. Rickter, you will remain in our custody until them. Have a good evening.”
Finn and Alicia stare glassily at the wall behind a bar, too dazed (and apparently idea-free) to even drink, their eyes wide and weary. “He never asked for an attorney,” Finn muses, swishing the liquor around in his glass. “Yes, but did they mirandize him? The confession is illegal if they never read him his miranda rights.” That’s not enough, Finn fears. “They’ll just argue that he was never under arrest.”
“So we refute that,” she suggests. “Put Jakob on the stand,” Finn follows that idea through, and Alicia likes it. “Okay, good,” he says, popping a snack in his mouth and standing up. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” Have a good night, she says, gazing after him longingly. Finally she looks forward, not seeing anything, rubbing the stem of her wine glass.
And that’s when Kalinda sits down next to her.
Alicia jerks back in surprise, staring at Kalinda, before glancing around the room apprehensively. “I thought you were gone,” Alicia says, worried. “I was,” Kalinda replies, smiling her Mona Lisa smile. “Charles Lester is asking about you,” Alicia whispers, “I don’t think its safe here.” It is for five minutes, Kalinda believes, and asks the bartender for two tequila shots. “You sure?” Alicia asks; she is. “For the road,” she says, and Alicia can’t help the grin that breaks out at the thought.
“I left you a note, Alicia,” Kalinda begins, “you didn’t give it to Lester?” What, the note wasn’t a personal goodbye? Huh. “I didn’t want to,” Alicia replies, provoking a smile. “It’s a confession. I left it in case anyone came after me.” Came after Alicia to get you, you mean. “It gets you off the hook, Alicia, you need to give him the note.” In answer, Alicia shrugs. And then she throws back the tequila shot. “I’m serious, Alicia. You need to give him the note.”
Alicia blows out a hard breath. “A great thing happened after I lost the election,” she says. “I gave up. Anger, jealousy. What people thought. I just threw them overboard.” She thinks on it, smiling to herself, facing forward, starting at nothing. “It’s nice not to care.” I love hearing that she gave herself this permission. This, right there, is half of what she’s been missing. Stop letting other people make her choices; check. Actually making them for herself; that’s the next piece we need to see. “It made me miss just sitting in a bar, drinking.” She turns back to Kalinda, emotionally bare. “With you.”
(I cannot stop the happy sighs. In fact, I almost feel sniffly about that. Not to sound like a teenager or anything, but all the feels, for real.)
Kalinda just stares. Eventually she jerks her head toward the bartender. “One more?” she asks, and Alicia smiles and nods her agreement. “Alicia, I … I don’t really… I’m not very good at talking.” Now there’s the understatement of the year. “I never have been, but … I do need to say this.” The pause in the middle seemed to go on for weeks. “My time with you, as your friend, was the best I ever had. And I’m sorry — I’m really sorry — that things got messed up.”
Really, really in danger of crying now.
Nodding, Alicia holds out her shot glass for a toast. “I wish we … had the chance to do it over again,” she agrees (sniff!), and they clink, and they drink, and they stare at each other.
“I have to go,” Kalinda nods, smiling a little. “I’ll never see you again?” Alicia guesses. “I don’t think so,” Kalinda agrees sadly, and the two women nod at each other. “That’s too bad,” Alicia says, looking away. “I, um,” Kalinda starts, and then rather loses her nerve, or decides whatever it is isn’t necessary when Alicia won’t look at her. “Goodbye,” she says, and goes. “Goodbye,” Alicia whispers.
Augh! Where are my tissues!
Louis Canning walks into the LAL offices, furious intent rolling off of him in waves. When he reaches Diane’s offices, he smashes both doors open at once, his face shockingly similar to Jack Nicholson breaking through that hotel door with an axe, his eyes wide to the whites. “Damn you!” he screams as the doors bang against the wall. “Damn you three!” As ever, Diane sits flanked by Cary and David. “Mr. Canning!” Diane gasps, shocked at his behavior. “You hurt the one person I love more than anything on this planet,” he declares. Well. From a certain point of view, he’s really the one who caused her this grief; they can’t trust her because they can’t trust him. “Your wife was working here as…” Cary starts, but Canning cuts him off. “She’s sobbing at home! She’s inconsolable! You know, in all our years of struggle, I have never gone after any of your family members.” We have no family members, David drawls, though that’s not true at all. I mean, maybe Cary wouldn’t care if you went after his deadbeat parents, and he’s already lost Kalinda, but going after husband Kurt or, say, precious niece Caitlin might hurt Diane and even David.
“It’s always been business first, but no more. I’m gonna, I’m gonna burn this place to the ground.” Well. Okay. (Also, we’ve already had a season finale of him threatening them. Yawn.) “I’d watch your words, Mr. Canning,” David suggests. “I’m gonna be methodical about this, I’m gonna take my time. Just know this. I will tear you three apart until there’s nothing left.” He glares, and then is gone.
“What can he do?” Cary wonders. Nothing, David shrugs it off. “He’s a wounded beast, crying out. Best just to turn away.” Diane, in her black and white jacket and her red lipstick, just stares and stares after Canning, completely silent.
“I was handcuffed in a small room,” Jakob Rickter says on the stand, sounding bitter but in control. With bars, Finn asks; yes. “Was there anyone else in this room?” Yes. “Now and then they’d bring someone else in, cuff him beside me, then bring him out.” Okay. “Were you fed?” He was given a bologna sandwich once. “Did anyone tell you you could have an attorney?” No. “Why did you confess?” Rickter send a sad look out in the gallery. “Because they said they’d let me go,” he explains.
“Your Honor,” Finn steps away from the witness, “Homan Square has been called Chicago’s black site.” Come on, Matan whines. “Oh, what else would you call it?” Finn spins to ask, then really lets go with the oratory. “A place where citizens are taken without warrant. Without warning. Without rights. And then questioned until they confess,” he thunders, directly at Matan, who ducks his head and looks away. “Now, Your Honor,” he barks, “I am staggered that we still have to stand here and argue about the legality of this!” You said it, Finn! “The confession should be thrown out, Your Honor,” Alicia stands to add, even though Finn seems to be doing just fine on his own, “it was coerced.”
“He was a danger to himself, that’s why we cuffed him,” Receding Hairline tells Matan on the stand. “Police policy.” From the tag on his uniform sweater, I take it his name is Collins. “Why did you not read him his rights?” Because he wasn’t under arrest, R.H. explains. How convenient. With this, Matan ends his questioning, and both Alicia and Finn stand. After a second, Finn sits back down.
“When the judge ordered you to grant me access to Mr. Rickter, did you deny it to me?” I’m embarrassed to say that I did, R.H. replies, a smooth, practiced liar. “I made a mistake. I thought it was Mr. Rickter who had a lawyer, but it was another person.” What was the name of the other person, Alicia presses. “You know I don’t remember,” he claims. “Really. How surprising,” Alicia replies, causing Matan to object to her snark. “The simple truth, m’am, is that we did nothing wrong.” Alicia raises her eyebrows at this justification; I’m sure it’s something Collins believes, but it’s part of the whole rotten arrangement. “Your client confessed while he was in our care and not under arrest. You should be more upset about your client’s crimes than our mistakes.” In other words, the ends justify the means? You can see Finn fears that Collins has set up too plausible a scenario in opposition to their truth.
And that night at their bar, he tries to come up with a strategy to save the case. They need someone on the inside to substantiate Rickter’s account, he says, and obviously Officer Babyface is the first person that springs to mind. But will he talk, that’s the question. It’s our best bet, anyway, Alicia says, and that it is.
Alicia smiles at Finn while he looks away.
“You sounded good in court today,” she praises him. “Yeah,” Finn snorts at himself, “the speech? I don’t give many of those. I was angry.” He raises a tequila shot to his lips, and after a second’s contemplation, tosses it back. “And look how effective that was.” They both laugh. “Well,” Alicia declares ruefully. “It looks good on you. Anger.” Finn gives her a warning look – disbelief or warning – which she ignores. Oh, don’t go there, Alicia. He doesn’t want to go there. She looks away, he looks away, and then he looks back at her, appraising. After a second, she looks back, vulnerable. “I gotta go,” he says, lips sneaking up on the sides. “I know,” she says. “Gettin’ late,” he jokes. “9 o’clock,” she agrees, mocking. “Well,” he says, “slipping into his coat, “if I stay I’ll just get sloppy, and … something or other, and then I don’t know what will happen.”
“Something bad?” she wonders with a quick flash of her eyebrows, no longer joking. How can you even ask that when you’re working together and still married? And he’s in a relationship he very badly wants to work? “Very bad,” he tells her seriously, and she crinkles her eyes at him, and he leaves. After a moment, she looks to the other side of the bar, and I get a little nervous she might try to pick up the guy drinking there because she’s so desperately lonely, but instead, she’s startled to see a short black ponytail that looks like it belongs on the back of Kalinda’s head. I swear, when she finally turns her head, it’s the same girl that Cary saw last week.
She’s still lost in thought when the elevator brings her to her floor at home, but the reverie is quickly interrupted by Charles Lester, walking toward the elevator. Oh, fabulous. Because today has already been so richly satisfying. “Mrs. Florrick! It’s kismet! I was just knocking at your door!” Does she have a minute? What the hell.
I love that Lester stops again at the threshold again, as if fearing magical wardings. “Do you want me to wait here?” he asks, bandy little legs frozen in place. No, come on in, she says, her back turned to him. He follows her into the kitchen. “I hate to return to old subjects,” he returns to the old subject, “but, ah, Kalinda promised to meet with Mr. Bishop yesterday and she never showed up.” As Lester rehearses his complaint, Alicia unscrews the container of coffee grinds and takes out Kalinda’s note. (I’m still stunned she doesn’t roast her own, to be honest, but maybe that’s too time consuming for her old life?) “Do you know what happened?” No, she drawls.
“Well, has Kalinda been in touch with you?” he asks as she unfurls the note, walks over to her stove and turns it on. “One moment, Mr. Lester,” she says, poking the paper into the gas fire on one burner and then walking the burning note over to her sink. “What is that?” he asks, shocked and fascinated. “It’s Kalinda’s letter to me,” she taunts him, and he turns his watery little eyes on her. “Why did you do that?” he wonders. “I didn’t want you to have it,” she explains; not that a drug kingpin’s henchman deserves better treatment, but she’s taking real delight in her meanness. “What did it say?” he asks, plaintively; it said goodbye, she tells him. “Goodbye, Mr. Lester,” she adds, in case the hint didn’t come through.
And boy, the not caring about what other people think? Really easy to see.
“Now, your fellow officer stated that Mr. Rickter was a danger to himself and others,” Finn asks Officer Babyface, who’s breathing hard, trying to compose himself. This is a tough situation, no doubt, and one that Tannerman is clearly ill equipped to handle. Just confess and leave the job, Babyface; you’ll feel so much better not taking part in immoral and illegal police practices. Not that we’re not happy you were there to start with, or maybe Jakob would never have made it out. “Was that your observation too?” Alicia watches Babyface look into the gallery at R.H.. The judge has to prompt Babyface to speak. “Um, I was not in a position to make any observations,” he claims, a neat avoidance of the topic.
“But you saw Mr. Rickter being brought into Homan Square,” Finn presses; nope. “You didn’t,” Finn asks, surprised. “But you told Mrs. Florrick you saw her client being brought in.” Yes, he acknowledges, I made a mistake. “Oh, you made a mistake,” Finn grandstands, more like his normal sardonic self than yesterday’s rhetorical outburst, when you said you saw Mr. Rickter. “Yes, he continues, “I only heard on the radio when they said they were bringing in a 1026, that’s all.” Finn’s head snaps up. “1026, you’re sure, that’s Jakob Rickter?” That’s right; he didn’t actually see Rickter come in.
“1026, 1026, what is a 1026, Officer?” Finn squints, pretending not to know. “Chicago police code for a detained arrestee,” Babyface explains. Ah ha! Excellent! And Jakob Rickter was that person, Finn asks, and so of course Matan jumps up with the objection that Finn’s putting words in Tannerman’s mouth, but the charge doesn’t stick, particularly since Tannerman has already testified to exactly that and Finn’s just asking him to repeat himself. This proves, Finn says, that Jakob was already under arrest and should have been mirandized and offered the services of a lawyer.
“This was a slip on the radio, that’s all,” Matan smirks, and so Judge Morris asks Babyface to repeat himself a third time. “Did you clearly hear Mr. Rickter referred to by the 1026 designation?” He did. “Then I have no choice but to throw out the confession of Mr. Rickter,” Judge Morris decides, and Jakob leaps to his feet, pounding his fists on the table. “Yes!” he cries, and spins around, looking for his wife. “Good job, partner,” Alicia grins at Finn as the two beam.
“So, this phone here, could you tell me something about …” Charles Lester asks a young salesman at a cell phone store, who walks right by the older man as he leans against an island displaying sleek new phones. Huh. That’s never been my experience at a cell phone store; usually you have to beat the eager salesfolk off with your purse. “Hello!” he complains, and snorts to himself in frustration. And that’s when Kalinda sets his old phone in front of him.
Quickly he snatches it up and slips it into his pocket. ‘Oh thank you, Kalinda,” he sighs, “I hate getting new phones. So you didn’t show up for your talk with Bishop, he was disappointed.” I’ll bet he was. “I was planning to see him,” she pretends, “but then I realized, Bishop’s leaving the business. He’s giving it all to Dexter, so what’s the point in meeting him?” Why Bishop has such a weak second, I’ve never been sure, but Kalinda at least is firing on all cylinders now. “He has no power.” I don’t think it’s a good idea to test Mr. Bishop’s power, Lester smiles, and fair enough. “Why not?” she asks, and he beckons her over to what he thinks is a more secure spot three feet away, where at least they don’t have to speak across the display.
“Because he has people like me working for him,” he says, and Kalinda nods, taking his meaning. “You know,” she says, “I downloaded a flashdrive of information off Bishop’s computer. It had receipts and, ah, notes on your employment.” The smile she shoots him is knowing and malicious. “But I didn’t see a reason to give it to the State’s Attorney’s office. You could always give me a reason,” she finishes, jerking her chin at him, challenging him. “That’s a bluff,” he snaps dismissively. No, she replies in a quiet little peep.
“What is it with all these tough talking women?” he grouses to himself. “You know a word you don’t hear very much anymore? Demure.” Snort. I guess June Squibb is out, then. Also, yell that all you want, Lester, and good luck to you, but it won’t do anything more than raise your blood pressure. “How about bringing that one back!” Sounds like you’re stalling, she observes with some amusement.
“Alright,” he grumbles, looking away. “I tried to find you, I looked and looked but you were gone. Now, don’t make me a liar by coming back, okay?” It’s that easy? It doesn’t seem like it could be that easy. Won’t Bishop just find other people to look? Don’t worry, she smiles, and heads off, but he has a thought and lunges forward, grabbing her arm. Hands off the leather, old man! I love that jacket. “Wait. Are you sure you wouldn’t want to start up something together?” Ew, he’s not propositioning her, is he? “A business? We could dominate.” Heh. No, she smiles, looking ever so slightly flattered, slipping on her sunglasses. “I’m good.” We’re left with an extended walk out the door and down the sidewalk, the music playing behind her kick ass and even a little triumphant.
“Oh, good,” Alicia sighs when she sees Finn at her door. “It’s you.” She almost looks like she’s in pajamas in that soft white shirt. “I was just thinking about the other night.” Yeah, me too, he says, stepping in, but she doesn’t hear him. “And I was thinking that we can really make this work. I was looking online at office spaces,” she continues as he shuts the door, smiling, “and if we don’t want too much space it’s really pretty cheap.” Yeah, I could appreciate that she wouldn’t want to go back to her old building. When she turns around for his reaction, the look on his face stops her. “Alicia,”he begins, but can’t go further. “That doesn’t sound good,” she questions, head tilted, still smiling. He smiles back. “I can’t be doing this.”
Oh, sigh. I love him and hate him for this, both.
“Doing what?” she asks, but she can’t even do it without flirting, and he turns away, flushing. “There’s, um, something between us,” he acknowledges, and she crosses her arms a little like a teenager caught in the wrong. “And we push it, and we say we won’t, and then we push it again, and, I can’t live that way, I can’t.” Gah, I love him and hate him even more for that blasted honesty! “We don’t have to push it,” she suggests, dipping her shoulder and raising her eyebrows. “I know,” he agrees, “but it’s not always do or don’t.” Wow. What a thing for a television scribe to write! He looks at her, blue eyes wide, and she shakes her head, sighing. She gets it.
“I don’t wanna work alone,” she admits, sighing again. “I know,” he agrees, squirmy. “I’m sorry. But I have to go.” And so he does. She watches him walk down the hall from her doorway, and when he turns and says goodbye she doesn’t answer.
She closes the door, looks at her home office, walks around her apartment, leans against a decorative table and castigates herself, looking like she might break down. “Stupid,” she spits out, cursing herself, “stupid.” And then there’s a knock on the door, and she blows out a breath, smiling, hoping that he’s come back, that he’s changed his mind, and rushes to answer. And when she does, she takes an involuntary step back, because the man at her door is a red faced Louis Canning, his head swiveling. She’s too shocked even to say hello.
“Wanna partner?” he asks, and again, she’s too shocked to answer.
And that’s the way season six ends, not with a bang but a job offer. Oh. Not to be crass or anything. I genuinely didn’t mean that way. Let me start again.
Well. Okay. This wasn’t one of the most successful season finales the show has ever had. Oh, sure, the case was fine (typically short on detail, but fine) but as far as advancing the plot or thrilling us? We’ve already done Canning’s revenge, and we’ve already done a partnership offer at her door, and so those things annoy me. Am I supposed to be excited by the self-referential nature? Sorry. Also, like last year’s stupid question about the State’s Attorney’s race, I just cannot imagine how New Alicia — even vulnerable and lonely as she is at this moment — could do anything but laugh in his face. If we leave aside the structural issues of partnering with Canning (how would she practice the kind of law she wants with the lap dog/pitbull of big Pharma?), and the fact that she doesn’t trust him, and the fact that he has a vendetta against her friends, I still would rather see her fight her way through this on her own. Hire Simone to work for her! Let Grace answer the phones! Don’t let a man ride in and save you or tell you what to do or wrap you up in his schemes, Alicia! Not Cary or Will or Finn or Peter. Do what you want to do. Resist the lure of the easy answer, please. Tell Prince Charming no thanks.
Also, I cannot take watching another season of you making dumb choices, Alicia. I just can’t. But first, let’s talk this episode, and then we can talk this season.
And first of all, I have to give a huge cheer to Alicia for laying down an ultimatum for Peter — or, I should say, setting her cards on the table, since she didn’t actually tell him not to run, or even that they wouldn’t support him if he did. In fact, she said they would – but made it clear that being dragged into the national spotlight wasn’t their preference. She let him make his own choice, but took a stand of her own, one I was desperate for her to make back in season 1. (I wish I could remember which episode they have the argument in, because I know I wrote about it at the time.) And oh my goodness, she was beyond right about Grace blaming herself if he made it her choice.
So now we’re left to see what Peter will really do. How much does he want his marriage? Does he want what’s best for his family or his dearest ambition more? And if he chooses his family, then he and Alicia will finally get to move on together. I mean, can you imagine? Talk about a grand gesture. If he chooses his ambition, then they’ll move on apart. And at this point, I can’t imagine there’s anyone in the audience who doesn’t just want them to get bloody on with it. I guess this is a cliffhanger of sorts for us to stew over all summer (a will he or won’t he) but it feels a lot more minor than it should, somehow. Perhaps because it came in the middle of the episode?
Oh, and while I can see that a Midwestern governor is certainly a plausible presidential candidate (I remember when Mitt Romney started circling his first run, he was fond of saying that all fifty governors and all 100 senators were considering a run, because that’s what people in those jobs do), I cannot see the Democratic party asking Peter to run. Nope, not even a little. Not even for a second. Not when his even more popular wife was just tarnished so horrifically in a voting fraud scandal. I can’t see them coming near him without hazardous waste gloves on and a clothes pin clipped over their noses. And I’m highly dubious about the vice presidency as both a campaign end game and a stepping stone to the presidency. Why don’t you ask Walter Mondale and Al Gore how that worked out for them?
I know a lot of people really frustrated with the aching tension between Finn and Alicia. Why didn’t she just jump him? Well. Looking back on it, and thinking about the characters words about will they/won’t they plots, I find myself admitting that Will’s death freed the show from quite a brutal dilemma. It was a frustrating way to break the stalemate, yes, but now we don’t know what Alicia’s future could hold. Will it be Peter? Finn? Will Johnny Elfman make a reappearance and sweep her off her feet? Will she end up alone? We genuinely have no idea because its no longer just a choice between two options, and the expanding landscape feels like mostly a good thing. There’s tremendous chemistry between Alicia and Finn, but I so admire both his willingness to be forthright and his unwillingness to step over the line with her. (Again, it makes me like her a little less, but that’s par for the course this season.) I just wish she could be more open with him both about her feelings and about the complications presented by her marriage. Hell, I wish she’d be more open with herself on the subject. What is she possibly thinking, flirting with him? How does she think that will end? Stop giving us this half life, Alicia! We don’t want another affair like you had with Will.
Also, Kalinda’s redemption was pretty simple, but it was something to see her work her magic on Wallace Shawn (even if it wasn’t a particularly complex spell) and nice, so nice, so much nicer than nice, to see her with Alicia, drinking shots and telling truths in a bar. In some ways, I think the true love story of The Good Wife isn’t Team Will or Team Peter or Team Finn but from Alicia’s friendship with Kalinda.
I can’t decide if I respect Alicia more for not calling Peter about Homan Square, or if I’m angrier at him for likely knowing about its existence and never warning her (or, which would have been better yet, shutting it down). Much as I care about the individual case of Mr. Rickter and his mysterious arrest, I care a lot more about the existence of such a place, and the attitude of a police force that plays so fast and loose with civil rights. Of course, the case was really more about the idea of Homan Square than it was about Jakob, since we never get particulars of what happened to him; we can guess that he was caught in an undercover sting, but we don’t really know if Greg set him up with a lure of medical plants, or someone else, or what. He’s only important as a conduit for the complexities of the case.
It occurs to me that New Alicia, in a way, is kind of like Kalinda. She’s got the skills of a predator, and she’s not afraid to use them, but she’s got a strong sense of justice and a good judgement about how she can best use those skills for good. So, to sum up, that’s what we’ve been waiting for: to see Alicia turn into Kalinda, with a law degree instead of boots and bisexuality.
And now we come to the season itself. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I haven’t really enjoyed the overarching plot, and I will be hella pissed off if they take this point of hard won clarity and muck it up with Louis Canning and his machinations because Alicia’s too afraid to stand on her own.
The first half of the season was far more palatable to me than the second. I found the insider’s view of the judicial process urgent, moving and wholly engrossing; Cary’s ordeal provided the drama for the first half of the season. The introduction of Frank Prady provided another wonderful boost.
We Bostonians have been fond of saying lately that this spring feels particularly beautiful because we’ve earned it after such an unusually brutal winter. There’s a level to which this is true: the air tastes sweeter, the flowers and the tender leaves more heart-stoppingly fresh and beautiful. And so you could argue that seeing Alicia achieve the peace that she spoke of to Kalinda was worth the fire she had to walk through to get there. She’s earned it. She owns herself now.
You could argue that, but I’m not sure it’s entirely true. I’m not sure it’s the whole story. Spring comes whether the winter was difficult or easy. It’s not the product of suffering, though we have suffered. It’s a miracle, it’s grace, it’s a gift; it’s not our right, but it is always beautiful. Not everyone who suffers is ennobled by it; not all who sin are redeemed. Before I beat the metaphor to death, my question here is whether we need Alicia wrecked so thoroughly for her to come out the other side less beholden to her demons, whether she needed a third terrible destruction to learn how to be in the world. Why was Will’s death not enough? Did she really need her pride broken so badly? If she had to fail at something, why couldn’t it have been the new business she’d just started? Is it only because they needed to spin an extra season or two off for the network, or because they wanted a too precise parallel with Peter’s descent to reinvigorate the Florrick marriage? I’m frustrated by the waste of it all.
And why give Alicia something stupid to do so far out of character? Oh, sure. She’s ambitious. As Diane liked to observed, she’s kind of entitled. And she was wrecked and looking for a way out of her unsatisfying life. But politics? No. Abandoning her business and her partners, prostrating herself before donors (some of them astoundingly vile), lying to reporters and the public, drawing Grace into her lies by claiming to be in the process of discovering her faith, spending at least what, 6 months not speaking to her son, having casual sex with her (utterly besotted) campaign manager, allow Peter to do dirty tricks on her behalf? Hell. To. The. No. It was never believable, not while she wasted hour upon our of our time doing it, and there’s no adequate way to express the disappointment of that, or the overwhelming frustration and annoyance I feel for the writers for putting such a brilliant show into this kind of unsatisfying tailspin. Our vision of her as a good person, a woman with integrity, simply disappeared. I can’t remember why we thought that, almost — and its not even because she did despicable things, but because she didn’t know why she was doing them. It wasn’t to promote justice. It wasn’t to stop injustice. She was looking to flatter her vanity, and to do something new. Ugly.
It’s funny to me how many critics loved this plotline. Everywhere you go, you hear what a tremendous and fascinating season the show has had, and I’m certainly glad for everyone involved that this is so. I can’t help feeling that the fan experience has been different; mine has, certainly. My tendency is always to figure out the why’s behind a show, to make everything come together in a plausible whole. And as much as I always want to see Alicia’s side, this never made sense to me. Maybe critics keep a more dispassionate distance than I’ve managed to, which I’m sure helped them wade through our heroine’s misdeeds with less distress.
Now, sometimes even the smartest and best intentioned people do stupid things. In fact, let’s face it, we do stupid things all the time. Uncharacteristically stupid things, things against our self-interest, thing that hurt us and the people we love. We’re predisposed to do stupid things But Alicia didn’t make these choices — the writing staff did. And so I’m not sure it’s enough to say “even smart people do stupid things” to justify her catastrophic run for office, not the least because the staff pulled their punches all season. The State’s Attorney’s office never felt like an achievable future for the show, never felt like a real option, much less one a desirable one. Where would Diane and Cary have gone? The season lacked the visceral thrill of the far superior rebellion plot from the fifth season. If the writers had wanted us to want her in office, the writing staff could have made us root for her, but they not only didn’t, they undercut her desirability as a candidate over and over (making her venal, cruel, self-interested, and giving her an almost preposterously moral opponent), and instead of a gut-wrenching misery, her inevitable destruction came as an unhappy relief. No, they wanted us to see it as a bad choice for her, a little too much, so much that I spent the entire season screaming at the television and begging her to just call it off already. This technique prevented us from feeling either the high or the low to the fullest, and how dumb is that? Instead, we just got to suffer in two different ways; in seeing Alicia sink so low, and then watching her be wrecked. And the suffering went on the whole bloody season.
So while there were elements I loved — Cary’s plot, the experiments with first person presentation, and David Hyde Pierce’s character and the dance of trust he and Alicia performed — in sum this season was a painful miss for me, but because of the subject matter, but also because of the presentation and crafting of the over-arcing story.
Though there’s been no official confirmation of it, I think I mentioned at the start of the season that the structure of the episode titles points to season seven being the last season of the show. (Season 1, one word titles. Season 2, two words, 3, three words, 4, four words – then 3 word titles in season five, 2 words in season 6, and presumably back to one word titles in Season 7 which would seem to complete the pattern.) Honestly the original word was that there was a five season plan, and we’re already seeing two vital characters leave in the last two seasons. We know the show can’t last forever, and this seems to be a clue that the end is near. If that’s the case, I expect we’ll hear very soon. I think the show will benefit from an end date; it will allow Alicia to grow, to choose a path for herself, to finally commit. As Finn put it, it’s hard to live with all the dithering. I’m ready for her to settle into herself, please. And while I would be sorry to see the show end, I’m more concerned with the show ending right. With Alicia finding a steady path to happiness and productivity both, the two intertwined. Making real choices to guide her own life and determine her own future.
And with all that said, I bid you adieu for the summer, fellow Good Wife fans. I always say I’m going to write something over the summer, and I’ve only managed to do that after the first season, so this year, I’m not promising anything. I’ve enjoyed nattering with you guys over picky details and big emotional themes; I am so grateful for my new readers and old, and I’ll miss our conversations. Let’s hope we’ll have less to rant about next year!