E: Let’s start with the obvious stuff: please fire whoever picked that wig out for Julianna Margulies, and then burn the wig so it can never be used again. With a network television budget at your disposal, you really couldn’t do better with her hair? What a stupid distraction that was. Sadly, there’s much more stupidity to discuss, and lots of it comes from decisions made purely to cause drama (rather than coming organically from the characters’ experiences.) How’s this for a reflection on the title: my bond with this show is getting a little strained at this point, not to mention my desire to do this recap.
Season 7 begins with an almost musical montage of arrests. Up until now, you see, we’ve looked into individual cases, with their fascinating issues, complicated precedents, their occasional need for stirring oratory. After spending the first half of season six looking at the brutality of innocence caught up in the justice system, we turn back to that machine, with Alicia reluctantly agreeing to be a tiny cog in it. As dozens of men are hustled behind the Plexiglas terrarium wall we watched Cary through so often, three bored lawyers play with their phones in the last row of the gallery: meet your bar attorneys, a white man in his twenties, a short-haired black woman in her late twenties or early thirties, and a corpulent white man perhaps in his late fifties. They banter and snicker at a well dressed lawyer arriving, so they assume, to help either a DUI or the “non-nervous looking kid on the end.” Someone’s got money, they scoff.
Obviously, the room is soon brightened by the arrival of our badly coiffed heroine Alicia Florrick, who has sunk so low in her quest for new business that she’s wandering around this courtroom looking to be another brick in the wall. Well, at least she’s not working with Louis Canning! That’s a relief — although my dependence on the writing staff’s continuing good judgement on that subject is pretty thin, considering last season’s initial good sense about running for office. The three bitter bar lawyers gossip about Alicia and snicker at her trying to steal an election. Ah, it’s The Good Wife in classic mode: watch Alicia be misjudged for things that aren’t her fault! The woman leans forward and tells a hopeful and smiling Alicia that if she’s here to be a bar attorney, she needs to be in the back row. Of course, Alicia apologies and retreats to the back row, where the red-faced, silver-haired older man makes room for her. It’s my first day, she says; “really? wouldn’t have guessed,” the woman deadpans.
When Alicia introduces herself, her portly neighbor doesn’t look up from his phone. We know, he snorts. Ouch. The room doesn’t get any more friendly when the woman leans forward. “I voted for you,” she says, her words pleasant but pointed. Again Alicia apologizes.
“I have a crammed lock up today,” the judge declares, walking in, his head down, “so let’s all work together and we’ll get through this with some alacrity.” I’m torn between joy over his vocabulary, and a really visceral thrill of recognition. This judge likes to eat pieces of sh*t for breakfast! And yes, I do repeat that line every single time I see Christopher MacDonald in anything; Happy Gilmore memories live forever! (Bet you’d never have guessed that about me.) Okay, sorry, let me compose myself.
He wants to know how many bar attorneys have shown up, and Alicia stands along with the weary trio, who barely bother to stretch all the way up and don’t look up from their phones; he then announces that three bar attorneys are available to the throngs of men waiting inside the Plexiglass hamster cage. “Bar attorneys have been approved by the Chicago Bar Association to help with the non-indigents,” he explains, no doubt by rote. “That means you. Congratulations, gentlemen; you may think you’re poor, but you’re not poor enough to need a public defender.” This is a thing? Interesting, sort of. I mean, how the heck do they determine that? Do they run a credit check? “So you have the option of hiring one of these three.” Four, Alicia says, raising her hand, and the judge glares up at her, and Matan Brody (ever the witness to her humiliation) turns around as well. Did he get demoted, or is it just a reference to the pilot? I expect it’s just the latter.
Judge Don “Breakfast” Schakowsky doesn’t reflect on her presence long, but continues with his spiel about bar attorneys just being there to speed things along: the defendants don’t have to use them for their trials, but they won’t get a chance to call anyone until tonight, which means they’ll miss this session and spend another night in jail unless they do in fact use the bar attorneys. So, no pressure. “I don’t get involved with the fee, so make your arrangements with them,” the judge tells the nodding men, putting his glasses on, ready to set up shop. “Miss Quinn, you have 12 defendants,” he continues, and accordingly Miss Quinn rises to her feet, finally putting away her phone. Her compatriots Mr. Burkowitz (florid gentleman, 8 defendants) and Winegarten (young swoopy haired dude, 10 defendants) follow her to the bench and collect folders on their new clients and get to work, pressing their faces up to the holes in the giant hamster cage, taking names and launching into discussions about prior arrests and witnesses. Alicia stands frozen, staring out from under her bad hair, listening to a screaming baby and wondering what she’s done wrong.
And when Miss Quinn (wearing a very bold black and red plaid and reminding me ever so slightly of Batman’s Harly Quinn) pops back to talk to a defendants’ family member, Alicia seizes the chance to talk to the one person who hasn’t ignored her. What did I do wrong? Why did the judge act as if I wasn’t there? “Oh yeah,” Quinn snarks, without sympathy but also not unkindly,”I saw that.”
So our tenacious girl goes straight to the source: when Judge Breakfast leaves the court house, Alicia’s waiting for him on the sidewalk, full of questions and resume details, much of which he spouts back at her. It’s not that he didn’t see her or know that she’s competent but he has some concerns with her presence in his courtroom. “I have 350 cases a day to process. That’s a case every 90 seconds. And if I fall behind, I hear from the Chief Justice.” Really? The Chief Justice is actually in charge of the courts? Fascinating. Did not know that. I thought the state supreme courts were more analogous to the federal ones, and not managers of the entire system. Anyway, Alicia insists she won’t hold up the process, but the judge insists she will. She’s playacting, slumming; the other bar attorneys actually need the money. I have kids in college, she says (and sure, I suppose that prep school costs as much as a college but if Grace has graduated high school and made it to college without anyone commenting on either fact I’m going to be steamed), and I don’t share finances with my husband.
“You were a lawyer in a top firm,” Judge Breakfast snaps. “Yes, and I can’t get a job since…” she breaks away, embarrassed, “since the scandal.” I can’t help you, he insists, unapologetic. “The last thing I need in my courtroom is a Marie Antoinette.” Huh. That seems excessive, doesn’t it? “I’m not a Marie Antoinette,” she insists, but her fine emotion is undercut when a chauffeur calls for their attention, holding open the door to a limousine. Mr. Louis Canning would like the pleasure of your company, Madam, if you would come this way.
And that is what you call comically bad timing.
And no, I’m not going to forget about that sharing finances crack, but let’s save that one for later. Right now, Alicia’s busy turning down Canning’s second job offer over a posh lunch. Thank God. Work with me, not for me, he pleads. I don’t want to work with you, she insists, because you’re the devil.
He takes a second to process this. “I thought you liked me?” he asks mildly, and she smiles. She does like him, but she doesn’t like his clients like big pharma and the tobacco industry. He reminds her of what a terrible exit package she ended up with, implying that someone as poor as she shouldn’t be quibbling about selling their soul. At that point, she’s really just ready to leave, but he pleads for her to continue listening. All he meant, he says, there’s no honor in starting over. Instead of being offended, she gets this rapt look on her face. “For the first time in my life,” she tells him, “I don’t have to answer to anyone. It’s just me.” Her face beams with the joy of this.
He settles back into his seat, considering, and then tells her a parable he got out of Milan Kundera. Two people — in his vision, lawyers, a woman rushing out of court and a man rushing in — smack into each other. One reflectively apologizes (the woman, of course) and the other growls out “watch it.” You’re the apologizer, and for no good reason, he explains. Is it just because you’re a woman? Come work for me and let the devil teach you how to be surly, he says.
She grins. You just let it slip – you do want me to work for you. (She lets him off the hook on the whole glorification of rudeness nonsense; does the show really believe there’s no middle ground? Because I feel like the show wants her to be the person who growls “watch it!” but I’m not actually interested in watching yet another show about that person. This is why I don’t watch How To Get Away With Murder; because I can’t actually glorify getting away with murder.) While Alicia’s confirming that she does not, in fact, want to consider anyone else when she makes her choices, she has an epiphany, and much to his frustration, she bolts. “You look like you’re about to deliver a soliloquy on self-sufficiency,” he calls after her, confused.
And funnily enough, the epiphany had nothing to do with Alicia figuring out how to live her life on her own terms. No, she’s decided that she’s actually putting a terrible damper on Peter by telling him not to run for president. Which is really a whole other issue (called, you know, BEING MARRIED and making choices as a couple which considers both halves of the couple as well as their kids) but no, she thinks she’s been wrong. And I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that as liberated thinking for a second. To me, it’s her apologizing (in Kundera’s or Canning’s terms) for daring to have an opinion on her own lifestyle, and assuming that her convenience and comfort and emotional well being are worth another human being taking into consideration. She’s apologizing for taking up space in Peter’s life, for daring to enter into his personal calculations. It’s an absurd notion of independence, it’s demeaning, it’s nothing but an excuse for the writers to go with another stupid Peter campaign plot, and it pisses me the hell off.
Oh, dear. That sounded so negative coming from a fan of the show. Should I apologize for having that opinion?
Alicia wastes no time jumping onto the phone with a very cheery Eli. “S’up?” he asks, walking and talking. Yes. He really did. “Peter should run,” she declares, and he stops cold, his head whipping up and his hair flapping with it. In fact, he raises his eyes to the heavens and mouths an enormous but still silent “thank you.” What inspired this change, he asks. “I realized I was deciding things for Peter,” she says, “and I’m done with people deciding things for me.” See, I just don’t buy that. They’re married (or at least sort of): she told him that she didn’t want to be part of a presidential campaign, and he made a choice from there. That was her, expressing an opinion on how she wants to live and explaining to him that when he makes those kind of choices (ie, embarking on a national campaign) it involves his family. WHICH IT DOES. It was a beautiful moment 6 years in the making, and I absolutely full on hate her for taking it back.
Walking through the busy office, Eli begins to snap his fingers. “You’re snapping fingers at me,” Nora complains. “I don’t know what snapping fingers means.” I love Nora and her refusal to take Eli’s crap. “Get Ruth on the line, Ruth Eastman!” he hisses, and then quickly composing himself, asking if Grace is okay with Peter running. “Grace was always okay with it, it was me.” Yeah, but that doesn’t mean Grace wants to live in a fish bowl or that Alicia wasn’t acting in her best interest. Plus, Zach’s the one with skeletons in his closet. That we know of, anyway. You’ll be involved in the campaign, Eli asks, and she says it depends on what they need; they’ll declare with a television interview tomorrow, Eli gushes, and Alicia agrees as long as it’s after five. I’ll call you right back, he says, and then dramatically opens up Peter’s door. (Wait. Does that mean that Nora is now Peter’s secretary? Interesting.)
“You’re in,” he announces.
Peter’s lounging in one of the easy chairs, looking at a newspaper, his feet on his desk, his back to the door. How quaint. He peers over his shoulder. What, Alicia? Yes, Eli growl. We have to get moving fast. Oh, sigh. Isn’t the real presidential campaign overplayed enough? Why does this show think it has to be in endless campaign mode? It’s so fascinating that the writers here love campaigns and seems so averse to governing.
What did she say, Peter wonders, and Eli tries to reconstruct it. “Oh, something about not wanting to speak for you, um, something eloquent.” Ha. Eli’s hair fluffs up impossibly large, like a parrot ruffling its feathers. “We’ve got to make a play for Ruth Eastman. She’s the miracle worker of Iowa, and she won’t work with Hillary.” I wonder if the show is going to continue ignoring Bernie Sanders? When Nora calls out that Eastman’s leaving her office and will call Eli tomorrow, Eli won’t take it for an answer. He’ll go to Eastman, wherever she is. “She’s fielding offers, we’ve gotta get ours in quick.”
That’s when an elevator opens up to reveal Margo Martindale, guest star and character actress extraordinaire. “I haven’t decided yet, sir,” she smirks, obviously fielding another of those offers that Eli was so worried about. “No, I think you have a very good chance.” You said you wouldn’t leave, Eli sneers, and Ms. Eastman hands her phone to the flunky behind her, telling the man she’ll call back. “Who’s that, O’Malley? Sanders?” Ah, so Bernie does exist in this universe! And whoa, some remembers O’Malley? Shocking. Eli raises a skeptical eyebrow, as if he can’t imagine her stooping so low. “Webb?”
“Peter Florrick is running!” Eli declares with his usual flourish; for what, Ms. Eastman wonders, surely knowing the answer but looking to wind Eli up. I like that about her, and I like how Eli fakes a jovial laugh without actually making any noise. “He’s making a play for vice president.” No, Eastman contradicts him.”Hillary will choose a senator.” Obviously Eli disagrees. “A governor. An outsider. Someone with a good story.” Um, that’s one way of looking at Peter’s history. “A man imprisoned. A man wrongfully convicted who comes back in triumph to become governor.” Unimpressed, Eastman shoots back. “A man whose wife tried to steal an election.” Wow. “A beloved wife who was mislead by her handlers,” Eli replies, undaunted. Oh, lovely. That’s the lie of the day, is it? Poor fool Haircut. Eastman gives him a flinty flare.”Weren’t you one of those handlers?” Touche, madam, touche.
So Eli stops all his pretense and pleads instead. He’ll need to come in second in Iowa to have any chance, he insists, which I’m pretty sure is folder-all but whatever. I’m on the way to the airport, Eli, Eastman tells him. Could they talk about it later? “$5,000 a month, Ruth. 5% of the media budget. No cap.” What even is that, her proposed salary? None of that sounds like an impressive deal. (So obviously I had to look it up: 5k a month is near the average salary of a campaign manager, $54k a year, but that’s not for presidential campaign manager; Mark Rubio almost quadruples that for his, and Ben Carson may be even more generous.) “A win bonus – two months salary. You won’t get better from Sanders!” And her phone rings, and much to Eli’s dismay, she answers it. She’s really enjoying it, too; just look at the twinkle in her eye as she tells him she’s got to take it. Just don’t say no, he pleads. “Promise me you’ll meet Peter first.” I’ll meet Peter first, she shrugs in that wonderfully dry, droll voice. Can I go now? Eli nods. She can. As he beams, she travels up the escalator, snapping at the flunky to hurry behind her.
“Mrs. Florrick, hello!” Grace declares, far too brightly, as her mother unlocks their apartment door. “You’re home early from court!” A bit slow to play along, Alicia thankfully only gives her daughter a puzzled look. “I asked Miss Smulders to wait in the office for you.” Ah ha. Interesting. I love seeing Grace go all Veronica Mars here. It turns out that Zach put up a new website for Alicia, and voila, her first client has appeared! I guess they’ve decided that Jakob Richter from last season didn’t count? Anyway, the Florrick women are thrilled. I’m a little confused – does it look like Alicia’s moved her office out of Zach’s room and into the dining room? That makes more sense, probably. That way, Zach can actually spend the summer at home if he wants to. Either way, I know his room didn’t have french doors, so unless she’s had some major work done to the apartment, she must have moved the office. Through the french doors we see a young woman with long, loose curly hair wearing a pretty sweater and artistically patterned skirt.
And, this is genius. Grace gets a phone call, which she answers with a cheery “Alicia Florrick, attorney at law!” Oh, no, Your Honor, she says, she’s too busy to talk to you; poor Alicia almost expires (hoping it’s Breakfast calling to repent his mistake) until she learns that Grace is calling the home phone from her cell to boost Alicia’s importance to her client. Heh. That’s amusingly resourceful. Smiling, Alicia heads into her office.
I’m sorry I didn’t call ahead, Miss Smulders apologizes as they shake hands, but I need a lawyer now. This afternoon. She’s quite tall, Miss Smulders, and she’s too nervous to stay sitting. A too-hopeful Grace offers to take notes, but her mom (who’s not nearly as good an actor) stares at her in shock before finally dismissing her. “I’ll hold your calls,” Grace says decisively as the phone rings once more.
Miss Smulders, it turns out, has just lost her mother. (I’m sorry, Alicia says. Oh don’t be, Miss Smulders replies. “It was last week.” Right. Because realistically, how long would you really be sad about that? It’s just the woman you gave you life.) Anyway, the important stuff is the inheritance. It’s just two kids, and mom put sticky notes on everything, so it shouldn’t be too contentious. Then why does she need a lawyer? Well, “my mother doesn’t have a lot of valuable things,” she begins, but there is the small matter of a signed Chagall print (personally gifted by his widow Valentina) worth 8 million dollars. When you have one possession worth that much, how many “valuable things” do you need? Grace’s eyes bulge from the other side of the french door. “Oh,” Alicia under-reacts as her daughter jumps up and down in excitement where the client can’t see. “Who’s your brother’s lawyer?”
Oh, come on. You know who it is. David Lee.
“David, spreading your cheer far and wide,” Alicia sneers, walking toward him, a slim black mark against the bright street. He’s waiting in front of Mrs. Smulder’s black door, in what looks like a pretty brownstone. “Alicia! I thought you were working as a bond court pimp.” Sigh. I’m multitasking, she replies, light. “I heard you lost your top four clients,” she adds, making a fake sad face, which is a little funny. And would have been more so if that new wig didn’t look so bad. Just three clients, and they weren’t that big, David pretends. Whatever. I don’t want Cary and Diane to fail, although I wish to heck they weren’t aligned with David Lee. Florrick Agos was filled with such fun possibilities once… Too bad this should be an easy case, David smirks; it’d be fun to get down in the mud again. Alicia has great faith he’ll find a way to get them in that mud anyway, and I have to agree. Why have him there only to keep things clean?
The executor arrives as David’s still chuckling to himself; apparently it’s hot out, because the man has his suit jacket off, revealing a pink short sleeved shirt and bright blue bow tie, and he’s sweating, fanning himself with his straw boater. Yes. He’s been wearing a straw hat. “Well, hello Mr. Dandy!” David grins, and the executor gives him a very tired look in return. His name is apparently Handy, not Dandy, but David’s slip was obviously not an accident. Handy-Dandy tells informs them that he’s going to photograph all the sticky notes, and will be the final arbiter if there are any disagreements on who gets what; they nod their assent. The door has not been opened since Mrs. Smulders died, and he has the only key. Nice and easy, just like David expects: it’ll be my note or yours, he says.
Except when they walk in the door, it seems it’s been hot enough that all sticky notes fell off and landed on the floor.
Back at the governor’s mansion, Eli’s drinks a purply green smoothie of success, much to Norah’s confusion. “You don’t drink smoothies!” she frowns. “I know,” he replies pleasantly. “I’m changing. Like a butterfly.” Snort. I’d pay money to see that. He’s gloating over their victories to come: Ruth Eastman gives them second place in Iowa, which gives them street cred, which gives them a hearing with Hillary. Mmmm. Yeah. Whatevs. I’m sure it totally works like that. Eli and his smoothie walk right into Peter’s office to find Peter laughing it up with Ruth herself. Huh. That was a quick flight she went on, wasn’t it? “You two are meeting already?” he asks, obviously feeling very left out but trying not to show it.
“Yeah,” Peter replies, glossing over the obvious discomfort. He wants to talk to Eli first, and then suggests Eli talk to Ruth after. She thinks that’s perfect. “Good! I want every to be copacetic here. I hate contention,” she sniffs as she walks past Eli, looking down at his feet. Okay, that’s weird. (Also, like hell she does. And we know he does not play well with others, so, yuck.) Eli’s eyes roll around in his head. “Why would there be contention, Peter?”
Have a seat, Peter asks his Chief of Staff, waving him down. “No, I’m good, why contention?” Ruth has agreed to come on board, Peter announces, much to Eli’s glee. And she’s got a very exciting strategy, though Peter’s not sure if it’s quite that she believes in him or that she dislikes the Clintons. (And since the point of this is to court Hillary, that seems like something you wouldn’t want, doesn’t it? Weird.) Eli’s not thinking about that, though, or the fact that Peter has turned his back and isn’t looking at him; he’s wondering why they were meeting already, and how they could have been meeting for an hour when he was with Ruth an hour ago as she was about to get on a plane. Finally he gets it; Peter was the one on the phone offering her a job.
That’s when Peter turns around, and Eli reads it on his face: Peter offered her Eli’s job.
“Eli,” the governor cautions, “it’s a national campaign and I need a national strategist.” Oh my God, Eli gasps. You’re firing me. No I’m not, Peter counters. What ever happened to loyalty, Eli asks, shocked. “This isn’t about loyalty,” Peter states flatly, making it perfectly clear. What an easy thing to say: it’s not about loyalty.
“I got you here,” Eli snaps. “You wouldn’t be here without me.” Of course Mr. Egotist thinks that’s not true, which makes me just want to haul off and smack him. As if! “No! When you were polling nothing, when you were banging your ethics coordinator, your frigging ethics coordinator, I stuck by you!” I’m just waiting for him to throw the smoothie across the governor’s stuffy office. Peter walks off in disgust; we all know how well he does when people remind him of his mistakes. (Although, does that mean that something happened between him and Melissa George’s Mitch? Because I thought we’d sort of established that it didn’t, and now I’m confused.) “I cleaned up your mess! Prostitutes! Groupies! Alicia!” Don’t go there, Peter says, putting out his hand, though heaven knows which part of Alicia-as-mess he’s not willing to be reminded of. “I was the one friggin’ set of footprints in the sand!”
“Eli, this is not about you!” Peter thunders. “This is about me trying to reach the middle class, and I need her to do it.” Are you insane, Eli asks, and I’m starting to wonder myself. Can he really be mad at Eli for not appreciating why he’s getting fired? I mean, he could hardly have handled this worse. “Are you so narcissistic that you can’t see you’re stabbing me in the back?”
“I see a political operative who has a very inflated sense of his own worth,” Peter growls, which, holy crap. The selfish and short-sighted decision-making is Peter at his absolute lowest; it’s believable, but it’s just so fricking low. Go to hell, Peter, Eli snarls, and his boss inhales deeply, and leans on a chair for comfort. Okay, you should go home, he decides. I was going ask you to stay on as Chief of Staff… Eli cuts him off with a definitive no. “But you know what I am gonna do? I’m gonna find someone to run against you!” Oh, now that’s silly, and Peter knows it; he favors his former consigliere with a pitying look, one that isn’t going to help matters at all. Eli walks up to Peter, and you can see that like me, Peter’s wondering if Eli’s going to whip the smoothie at him or try something even worse. “You just lost your greatest asset, and made your biggest enemy,” he promises. And then he walks away.
Oh my God. That did not just happen.
If what they wanted was to make this campaign feel different from every other one, they’ve found a way. Just giving Eli a rival for the third time(yawn) wouldn’t have cut it. But still.
Over at Lockhart Agos, Cary’s in a board meeting surrounded by 4 or 5 ancient lawyers we haven’t seen before. There’s a woman staring at her wrinkled face in a compact, an elderly man choking on phlegm, and of course Howard Lyman complaining about his back. Sigh. Cary looks with longing at the main conference room, where a boatload of new associates in short skirts and brightly colored clothes yuck it up and take selfies. (Yes. I am aware that only the elderly members of that board meeting would use the phrase “yuck it up.”) It’s just stupidly overdone; where’s Carey Zepps? Where are all the other members of the associates rebellion? Hell, where’s Diane? Even in her 60s she’s still a good 20 years younger than this cabal.
After Howard yells at the associates to quiet down, Cary steps in to check on them. And then he makes a fatal mistake; he tries to set himself up as the cool dad. How’re they doing? “Yeah, sorry about the noise, Mr. Agos,” a young man squirms, his eyes popping open wide. Don’t call me Mr. Agos, Cary chortles. That’s my dad! (No, he doesn’t actually say that last bit, but it’s clearly implied.) He’s just proposing an associates social event when Howard walks in and asks them all to call him Howie. Snort. Foiled again, Cary!
Outside the conference room, Diane coaches David Lee through a phone call with Alicia. He tells her that when they get into court at 3 this afternoon, he wants to just split everything down the middle. Gee, that sounds like David Lee, doesn’t it? He’s all about the equitable division of assets. Fine with me, Alicia replies dully, walking toward Bond Court, too busy to question it; as she hangs up, a passerby smacks into her shoulder, and she automatically apologizes. And then she stops, realizing what she’s done. Oh my God, I was polite, just like Canning accused me of being! Oh no! It must mean he’s right, and I’m a pushover always apologizing for my very existence! I’m wrong twice over! (It couldn’t just mean that the other person needs to apologize as well, could it? Seriously, reasoning here makes me insane.)
A baby’s once again crying in Bond Court. Winegarten raises his eyes away from his phone, his hair even swoopier. Look who’s back, he points out. You were wrong about her, he says, and Quinn follows his gaze to where Alicia’s talking to the bailiff. Sheriff. Guard-person. Burly Burkowitz isn’t buying; if Schakowsky freezes her out one more time, she’ll go home crying, he scoffs, not looking up from his phone. I don’t know, Quinn replies. She doesn’t look like she’ll quit. “Like her SA run. She stuck that one out,” Burkowitz replies, cynical and dry as toast. Giving him a prim good morning, Alicia sits down. She’s wearing fighting red today.
Judge Breakfast surges in, complaining about his very full, full moon-influenced lock up, whipping out the word alacrity once more. When he asks for the number of bar attorneys, Alicia stands quickly to say four. Once again, however, he ignores her offer, staring at her while doling out the cases to the three weary and unconcerned warriors he’s used to. Favored child Miss Quinn (who receives 25 cases to Burkowitz’s 18 and Winegarten’s 20) steps up with her compatriots and takes her 25 cases, but then goes back. I don’t think I can do these with the speed you require, she tells the grumpy judge; I think you should give five of these cases to Mrs. Florrick. “You’ve done it before,” Schakowsky frowns, covering his microphone with his hand. “Yeah, but I don’t think I can today,” she says, staring him down.
“She slows me down, she’s your problem,” Schakowsky capitulates. “Lucca, I’m not joking. Make sure she keeps up.” Then he snags another case from the top of Quinn’s pile, and calls a depressed looking Alicia to the front of the room. “Six cases. Don’t slow me down. You hear me?” With a quick thank you, she hustles over to Lucca Quinn to give a more heart felt thank you. “I didn’t do anything,” Quinn pretends.
Alicia calls out a case number and starts interviewing a man who claims he didn’t (as alleged) punch a bus driver. Seeming very lost, the man gives her a run down on how he was traveling to meet his wife for dinner at her hospital job. As he continues to babble about the amount of time his wife gets for her break, Lucca pulls Alicia aside. Don’t ask open ended questions, she advises, only ones that require a yes or no answer, and only ones that pertain to bail. Yeah, but I need to know his story, Alicia frowns. Not in Bond Court you don’t, love. Interesting. In one minute, the judge will call her clients name; if Alicia’s not ready to argue why he deserves bail, he goes to the back of the heap.
Stepping back to her sort of client, Alicia tries to quickly focus the issue. Do you have a job? Doesn’t your family depend on your income? (Not really, and no, though he protests that none of this can be answered with a simple yes or no.) And that’s all the time they have; the client gets hauled off.
Our dear friend Matan Brody explains to Schakowsky that Josiah Banner’s being charged with assault and battery, and that twice before he’s been charged with failure to appear, which makes him both a danger to the public and a flight risk. Alicia, stumbling, tries to protest that Josiah’s family does in fact need the income he provides by sometimes working in his brother’s autobody shop, and that his children – no, child – needs him. As Alicia tries to pull up the relevant data of the previous failures to appear, Schakowsky frowns, and assigns Banner’s bail at $500,000. Is he kidding? What the hell’s that about? Punishing Alicia? That can’t possibly be normal, can it?
“Excuse me, Your Honor, that’s too much,” Alicia declares, totally shocked, but Judge Breakfast rolls over her, saying that Banner will need $50k to make bail. “I can’t afford that,” he gasps. Well, then he’ll be held until trial, which will occur on August 4th. Charmin. It occurs to me that this is a little bit like going to the emergency room on a night when the new residents arrive; they have to learn somewhere, but you don’t want to be the first person they practice something important on either. But there’s no time to reflect on her mistake; the judge calls another case (drunk and disorderly) and at Lucca’s prompting, Alicia gathers her things and stumbles off. She flips to her next case, and calls out his name: William R. Johnson, DUI. The Bond Court baby cries again in the background.
At the end of the session, Alicia leans back against the back bench, clearly exhausted. “You okay?” Lucca wonders, plopping down beside her. “I had six clients. Four are still behind bars. What do you think?” Well, Lucca explains, we’re an assembly line, not a miracle working station. And then she delivers another bomb. “Here’s the other thing. You didn’t make any money today.”
Sitting up off the bench, Alicia turns to Lucca. “Yes I did. Six cases, $135 a case.” You know, it’s ugly and emotionally unsatisfying, but $135 dollars for what, five or ten minutes work isn’t shabby at all. The thing is, Alicia had to have her clients check off a box on their forms in order for the county to pay her (since you can’t count on these “clients” to do it themselves), and she didn’t know to do that. Hmm. So I guess Lucca wasn’t that benevolent after all; perhaps she was testing Alicia, to see if she could be quick enough on her feet. You catch on, Lucca explains, it just takes a while. As Alicia reflects on this disheartening news, her phone rings, announcing that she’s late for her actual paying case. Damn. And, looking like a bumbling idiot once again, she off.
“Ah, I see we have the small court today,” Jane Curtin announces, walking into an enormous, beautifully paneled, and largely empty room. Jane Curtin! I adore Jane Curtin. After reminding the sheriff to set the temperature at 72, she ascends to the bench. “This is supposed to be a relatively east probate, what are we waiting on?” Not on us, Your Honor,” David Lee snarks, standing with Diane and his client Mr. Smulders. “Me, Your Honor, I’m sorry,” Alicia apologizes yet again as she rushes up the aisle. “I’m just coming from Bond Court. We’re ready too.” I don’t know why, but I feel like it’s weird she had to announce that it was in Bond Court, since as David Lee implied before, it’s not exactly prestigious. She could have just said court, right? Anyway.
“Due to the loss of tack-on notes, Miss Smulders has agreed to a 50/50 division of all assets,” Alicia announces, which the judge pronounces to be a wise strategy. “We would disagree that the notes are lost, Your Honor,” Diane stands to say, causing double takes from both Alicia and Judge Jane. “We would like to call a witness, Your Honor,” Diane explains.
“Dr. Ian Cain, adhesive expert at Solvent & Curables Labs,” a bespectacled man introduces himself on the stand. “You’re what?” the judge wonders. “An adhesive expert,” Dr. Cain explains. “Really? That’s a job?” Judge Jane asks, laughing. So awesome. You know, sometimes they get in these great actors as guest judges and they don’t really give them anything to do, but this incredulity is perfect for one of the pre-eminent sitcom and sketch comedy queens of the past 30 years. “Yes, it is, Your Honor,” the expert witness replies, clearly offended.
Dr. Cain trots out his science on Diane’s prompting; yes, the sticky notes fell off because of a heat wave, but that’s not the end of the story. He performed a chemical analysis on the particulates caught up in the “pressure sensitive release” — ie, the adhesive — left on the back of the notes. And he found one note, labeled Clyde and photographed stuck to the base of a Tiffany style lamp, with Dutch gold leaf on it, a substance found in the Chagall print’s frame. At the judge’s insistence, Diane hands over a document about the testing to Alicia (both of them glaring over it); Judge Jane is ready to give Alicia a break to check out this information, but our girl has a question already. She’s curious what else is on the adhesive (pictured, and very dirty). His charming answer: house dust mites, lead compounds and human hair. From the carpet, she wonders; yes, from the carpet.
She also notices that one of the desk lamps in the room is made of lead. Could the note have come from there? (I would absolutely love to know how she was able to identity the lamp’s metallic composition by sight. Is that a normal thing? I had no idea lamps were made of lead, although I kind of thought that because of lead poisoning, it wasn’t used in household items anymore. Unless you were trying to house kryptonite, anyway.) But it still had gold leaf on it, David interrupts; that means it had to have come from the Chagall frame.
Maybe, Alicia wonders. But what if she had put it on the frame and then removed it? Wouldn’t it have both compounds on it? David and Diane throw up their hands, but Dr. Ian Cain is impressed with her reasoning. “Yes it would,” he smiles. Miss Smulders is thrilled.
Here’s what’s really sad. Alicia’s on her cell phone, asking for an aerodynamics expert, and immediately I think, oh, she’s talking to Kalinda — and then I wake up. Boo. I like that she’s really relying on Grace, though, who’s going to call her Uncle Owen and ask for recommendations, because all those math and science people know each other. Could Grace also tell Eli that Alicia will be ten minutes late to the interview? Yes. Of course she can, except it won’t be unbeknownst to the Florricks, there’s no Eli to tell. Weep!
Some sort of Spidey-sense alerts Alicia to Diane’s continued presence at the back of the courtroom, and so she walks over to speak with her … God, do I have to call them frenemies? That doesn’t quite to justice to the scope of their relationship, and it also makes them sound like they’re 13. Anyway. “I don’t know why you’re coming after me so hard,” Alicia complains to her former partner. “Two name partners, expert witnesses?” Um, why is this possibly about you? They want the money, and they know you’re good. Take it as a mark of respect rather than an insult. (Also, what the hell is the name of that firm now?) Diane looks down her nose, at her supercilious best. “You think it’s just happenstance that you have a case against us?”
Hmm. That’s a lot to chew on. But so is Diane’s suit, for that matter, graphic black outlines of flowers on a white and yellow base.
“Governor! It’s so good to see you!” Mo Rocca proclaims, opening his arms wide. For a moment I’m a little scared he’s going to try and hug Peter. Whispering in his ear, Ruth Eastman delivers the journalists name to Peter (Ted Willoughby) so he can greet the man smoothly. “You too, Ted,” he says, extending his hand. “You too?” Ted asks, knitting his brow together. “Its good to see you, too,” Peter repeats himself. “Ah, they warned me about your wit,” he laughs fatuously. I genuinely have no idea what he thought Peter said (U2? YouTube?) and what he thought was witty. Oh well.
The journalist sends out a cheery hello to Alicia, whom he interviewed during her wretched campaign, and immediately Ruth rushes to introduce herself, a wide smile plastered onto her face. Looking around for Eli, Alicia apologizes for being late and explains that she tried to call Eli but couldn’t reach him. Oh, there’s been a slight change, Ruth tells her; though they’re going ahead with the interview, they’ll delay the announcement until next week. Oh, Alicia asks, surprised, why?
“It’s a smarter move,” Ruth replies as if that should be the end of the story, her voice warm and folksy and grandmotherly in a way that’s going to piss the hell out of Alicia. Lesson #1: never talk down to Alicia. Why is it the smart move, Alicia presses, grit in her voice. Ruth blinks. Alicia raises her eyebrows. We can raise more funds if Peter isn’t a candidate yet, Ruth stammers, and then slips back on track. “Now, I’ll be getting you a chief of staff to coordinate with the campaign,” she says, and Alicia blinks. Cut the fuss, lady and just tell me where Eli is! “Oh, he’s no longer with the campaign,” Ruth replies breezily.
Sigh. I have to say it; Peter set himself up for failure not passing that news on. I mean, hell, they’ve been using Eli as a political and martial go-between for years. Witness Alicia calling Eli and not Peter to say she was running late. How do you not share this information? I suppose because Peter’s a coward and because he knows exactly how Alicia will respond. Right now, it’s with her jaw on the floor. “I’m Ruth Eastman, the new campaign manager. Don’t worry,” she winks, totally misinterpreting Alicia’s distress. “Eli’s very good, but I have a more national presence.” Not to be crude, but Alicia looks like she’s going to “presence” Eastman’s ass. “And I think you’ll find we have a lot in common,” Ruth continues to gloat. MAN. If that could have gone worse, I’m not sure how. Will you excuse me, Alicia asks, out Ice Queening Frozen‘s Elsa.
“Peter, what the hell!” she hollers, the two Florricks silhouetted against the bright windows. Are they in the lobby of a downtown hotel? Where ever it’s supposed to be is reminiscent of Time Square. “It’s a national campaign, Alicia,” Peter insists in this way that makes it clear he won’t try to justify his position or the pain it’s caused. “I needed someone with a national strategy.” Well. No apologies for him, and apparently no bonds other than those that serve his ambition; it’s all “get out of my way” on this side. Is that really who we’d prefer Alicia to be? “You need someone who cares,” Alicia tells him. “Eli cares.” Caring isn’t enough, Peter counters, listing all the strategic things that Eli doesn’t know. He knows you, Alicia points out, and honestly, I don’t see why he couldn’t still be one of the main advisers who runs the campaign, even if he doesn’t play well with others. A national campaign is certainly big enough. This is just stupidity to create conflict. “He’s loyal to you.” I think Peter’s underestimating making an enemy out of someone who knows where all his bodies are buried.
Anyway. He’s adamantly refusing to apologize even a little; he tells Alicia she can’t expect to have a voice now when she’s been against the campaign from the beginning, a stance that’s patently absurd because he’s only started up the campaign since she decided it would be okay. “This is my choice. It’s a hard choice. It’s the hardest choice I’ve ever had to make.” Not sure you should be saying that to the wife you cheated on repeatedly, but okay. “But it’s my choice.” What with her new “I don’t want to be responsible to anyone else” attitude, this finally speaks to Alicia, which is absurd again because as Eli’s employer and friend, Peter was already responsible for him (and plenty of other people) so his situation isn’t analogous to Alicia’s at all. At least it’s good that he admits it was a tough choice? And I don’t need you showing up and scolding me about it, he finishes, making me frustrated with him again, considering that she’s there to support his ambition with a nice lying interview. I’d have taken my scolding self right out of there.
But of course Alicia doesn’t. The good wife stays, and does the interview; that must have been the lobby of the television station, because they’re in a studio now. Wow, Ted chortles, it’s so good seeing you two laughing and joking with each other. Peter gives his wife a richly wary glance. And of course, Ted Willoughby follows this observation up with the most obvious of questions, whipping off his glasses as he asks Alicia why people should vote for Peter if he runs. She looks at her husband over their linked hands. Apparently she’s not as quieted by his “don’t nag me, woman” rhetoric as I thought, because her answer is really a dig: “he’s loyal to his family, his friends. He sticks with people.”
Right. That’s a man famous for loyalty to his family right there. Nasty on all levels.
He squeezes her hand, heaven knows how hard .”I think Alicia’s being very kind,” he says, as Alicia shoots a nasty look at Ruth, who tilts her head back in understanding. “Obviously a candidate has to be loyal. But he has to be smart. Balance is everything.” Indeed. Yes, balance and sticking to your word, Alicia agrees — that’s what voters want most in a candidate. “Well I know that’s what I want,” Ted agrees heartily. “That and, can I have a beer with him?” Sigh.
And, will you look at that. Eli is sitting on his couch drinking beer out of a can, watching — World War 2 zombies? Military zombies? That’s hilarious. I think they must have had a special effects budget for this episode. There’s a knock on the door, which he ignores.
“Eli, it’s me, it’s Alicia,” comes a voice. He looks around the pristine suite he lives in, rolling his eyes. You’re not answering your phone, she pleads. I want to talk. She waits in the hall in front of room 4G. “Eli, I can hear your movie,” she throws up her arms, and finally he opens the door.
He doesn’t quite manage to hold her gaze, especially as her voice softens with pity. “Eli, I heard,” she says. “I’m sorry.” It’s fine, he lies, I’m okay, and then he tries to close the door.
“Eli, wait,” she pleads, and he snaps. I just need to be done with it, he yells. “I was never your friend. I was a political operative. I was the help, and I, uh, need to be done. That’s it.” Aw! You’re breaking my heart with that sad little stammer, Eli. I’m inured to his bluster, but his pain is so much more effective. They can’t possibly mean to have him leave the show, too, can they? I can’t even. He shuts the door in her face.
David and Diane are bickering about how to attack what they assume with be Alicia’s expert witness, whether to do it on rebuttal or to begin with. Howard is actually snoring on one side of Cary, while the compact lady is now obsessively wiping her nose. This is all a little too on the nose if you ask me. I mean, why are any of these people listening to Diane and David discuss their trial strategy? Why is Cary sitting here listening to this? They’ve never in the history of the show talked specific trial strategy in a board meeting. Oh, nope. Cary’s done with this and rightly so; it’s a ridiculous waste of brainpower. Instead, he follows the girl with the inappropriately short skirt (I suppose it’s a different tiny skirt) out of the office to Associate Mixer Night.
And Mixer Night bubbles over with rock music and funky lighting and laughing, dancing people — well, everyone except the 6 miserable associates who got stuck at the bar with Cary. You know, I get what they’re going for, but schmoozing has always been Cary’s deal, and he’s being super clumsy about it now. So, everyone happy at work, he asks the group; it’s the guy who called him Mr. Agos that answers with an obligatory “yeah.” “Seriously,” Cary smiles, tossing back some liquor, “if you have any complaints, I’m here, I’m listening.” A couple of the half dead-looking associates nod to Polite Associate, who turns to Cary. It seems he pitched a new mode of billing to the partners, something all the cool firms are using these days, but since Lockhart Agos is suddenly so old and stodgy, the partners wouldn’t even listen. What partners? Seriously, what the heck even happened to all the partners we know? UGH. “Well,” Cary grimaces around his drink, “tell me what the idea is.”
“Dr. Douglas Dooley,” a thickset man gives his name for the record. “Aerodynamics expert from Chicago Polytech.” That’s right, Uncle Owen’s school. Of course Alicia has him there (much to David’s disgust) to see if he can analyze how the sticky notes fell. Post it notes, in case you were wondering, flutter because they’re denser than air, and so they fall in a limited and predictable way — never more than thirty degrees from the falling point. To wit, he’s presented the court with a virtual cone in which the note from the Chagall could have fallen (although, it would really be a semi-circle, right, since the cone would be bisected by the wall? sorry, taking this much too seriously). As he shows us a picture of a cone around the Tiffany-style lamp, Alicia asks if we could take this to mean that we could at least rule out which notes couldn’t have fallen off the Chagall. Judge Jane contorts her face in disbelief, but Dr. Dooley thinks we can.
New expert witness tags in: Dr. Nigel Buggy, a suction expert from the Aims Institute. “Okay, now you’re just making these jobs up,” Judge Jane chuckles. The British Dr. Nigel (whose very name sounds like a joke) gives her an utterly woebegone and wounded look. David attempts to get the proceedings back on track, asking if Dr. Buggy has read Dr. Dooley’s testimony, but Judge Jane interrupts. Was Dooley the tape guy? No, fall pattern. “Dr. Dooley’s opinion only holds if the scene were undisturbed,” he says. And what could have disturbed the scene? In answer, Dr. Buggy holds up a Roomba.
Alicia’s on the phone with Grace, asking her to do online research on what might alter the programmable course of the robot vacuum, when her call waiting goes off. Don’t ask me how she got the number, but it’s Lucca Quinn (wearing even brighter and more confident clothes than previously, red with with a black and white polka dot collar), who has a deposition come up and is wondering if Alicia could stop by Bond Court and bail her out, as it were. “Bar attorneys stick together, Mrs. Florrick, we cover for each other.” Right. Then why aren’t you calling Weingarten or Burkowitz? Still, Alicia owes Lucca, and so she agrees to cover from 1 to 4 as long as she can get back to probate by 4:30. “Shouldn’t be a problem,” Lucca says, which sounds like famous last words.
Alicia’s not the only one who sought Eli out: Nora has pushed her way into his suite and is watching his crazy movie from a funky metal plated chair. She swivels it around to look at him in disbelief as the commander of a troop of Nazi zombies barks/moans out an order to his men. Seriously? Snow Nazis? (She’s more concerned with the snow than the flesh falling off the guy’s face? Oh, whatever. It’s all silly.) Make some calls, she urges. It’ll make you feel better. In a trance, he stands, sets down the remote, and walks out. “Where are you going?” Nora calls after him.
Why, to get a long overdue hair cut, of course. Off with the Emcee’s locks! Back in the apartment, he picks out a suit, wagging his eyebrows at his reflection as he adjusts his wine colored tie.
Grace’s brought the relevant research to Alicia at court, highlighting the significant details. “Can I stay and watch?” she asks. Of course! Alicia seems to be eating up all this mother daughter sleuthing time, and indeed it’s far and away the best thing about this episode. But hey, speaking of good things, there’s Eli’s new haircut (and obviously Eli) sitting in the gallery in Probate Court. Interesting.
Man, that wig looks particularly awful when she spins her head, noticing him. “You got a haircut! It’s sleek,” she nods, approving. If only someone had taken as much care with the mess on her head…
Even if we hadn’t seen his renewed determination, something about his tone immediately tells us he’s got a plan. I want to apologize, he says. “Obviously I was very upset, but I should never have said that to you.” It’s alright, she nods immediately, as free with her forgiveness as she is with her apologies. It’s not all right, he contradicts her. “You never made me feel like the help.” (Well. That’s a total lie. It was years before she treated him as anything but.) Sometimes, he adds, I can think of myself as almost a friend. (Okay, now that’s fair, because she does think of him as a friend now, as much as she has friends. But ooh, how masterfully he’s playing this.) “So my apologies.” Accepted, she smiles at him warmly.
“That’s why I want to be your chief of staff,” he pitches, and she starts to squirm. Cause that won’t be controversial at all. “You’re going to need a chief of staff, someone to coordinate with the main campaign, and it’s better that you work with someone you know.” Trying to let him down easy, Alicia explains she’s probably not going to be allowed to choose the person herself. “I can make this work for you,” Eli insists. “Whoever Ruth hires is going to make your life harder. And it’s not an easy job, they’re gonna wanna rehabilitate you.” Alicia frowns. “Rehabilitate me?”
“From your failed campaign last year, from your scandal…” her face ices over. “They need to make you a wife again.”
But first, it’s time for her to be a lawyer. Buggy’s demonstrated that the roomba could have pushed a Clyde note out from the flutter cone (presumably along a predictable path), but what can he tell them about why a roomba might deviate from its pre-programmed path? In her seat, Grace raises herself to her full height, barely suppressing her pride and excitement. It turns out that a low battery will cause a roomba to stop and return to its base station. Judge Jane has the sheriff bring over the roomba, unpack it from the evidence bag, and so Diane and David gather around Dr. Nigel Buggy as he tests for battery level. Before they can, however, Alicia notices a folded post it caught inside the machine; the judge has Buggy remove it with a pair of tweezers he apparently keeps in his pocket for just this kind of vacuum-related emergency. He hands it over, and Judge Jane reads it aloud. “Selena? Who the heck is Selena?” Miss Smulders inhales sharply, slapping a hand over her mouth. “Our housekeeper!” she gasps.
Alicia and Grace trot down the steps of the courthouse, going over their strategy. They both realize that what Alicia needs now is an investigator, someone who can find the housekeeper, which Grace can’t do. (Shouldn’t Miss Smulders know who she is?) Now Alicia’s off to Bond Court to fill in for Lucca (ah, Bond Court, a good place to ask for investigator recommendations) — and hey, look who just showed up to give her a ride?
“I think we got off on the wrong foot, Alicia,” Ruth Eastman sighs, settling into the back of a limo next to Alicia. “I actually have a very good bedside manner.” Yeah, that’s still on the wrong foot, Ruth. Bedside manner still implies you’re trying to manage her. “Well, Peter seems happy,” Alicia waves her hand. “That’s what’s important.” Or that’s as charitable as Alicia’s going to get about the situation; Eli would have known to count his blessings. “I want you to be happy too,” Ruth insists, but of course what she really means is that she wants Alicia compliant. “We’ll be needing to get you in front of a few key people,” she continues. “To rehabilitate me?” Alicia wonders, remembering her conversation with Eli. Yes, exactly. Well, Ruth ought to get points for honesty there. “We hopefully won’t eat up too much of your time, but we need voters to see the real you.” Oh, I don’t think they’ll like the real me, Alicia demurs. “That’s why we’ll need to mold a real you they’ll like,” Ruth says. Hmph. Alicia’s enough of a pragmatist to understand this, but still.
When Ruth brings up the chief of staff position again, Alicia and her terrible hair make a decision. “Oh, I already have one,” she claims, much to Ruth’s surprise. Of course, that’s nothing to her shock when she hears the name. “No, unfortunately that won’t work,” she replies, and Alicia goes snarky, asking why not in an aggressively innocent voice. It’s too soon; meet other options, Ruth instructs her. When Alicia refuses again, Ruth reminds her that she, Alicia, has no control over the campaign budget, and Alicia is forced to make a nuclear threat; if she can’t make this basic decision, then she won’t be involved in Peter’s campaign. Ruth seems astounded that this is even a possibility, but Alicia has her teeth out, and there they are at Bond Court already.
Judge Breakfast is giving his twice daily spiel to the afternoon’s crop of visitors, when, to his evident horror, Alicia walks in. Immediately he calls her up to interrogate her, displeased with the absence of his favorite attorney. He chews on the inside of his lips, furious. “You keep this moving, or you won’t be in here again,” he declares, setting an enormous stack of files in front of her. She promises she will.
And because she’s a quick study, she rocks it. We see her disregarding the guilt or innocence of her clients, and also making sure they pay her. And we see her get to take on the case (still fumbling with the files) over a 40 year old guy, a possible DUI whose previous conviction for a DUI had been expunged, except not, because Matan still wants a substantial bail for the guy doubling the speed limit. Even though Alicia’s not exactly smooth at delivering the information, Breakfast sets bail at $1500. I guess he really was punishing Alicia before, which makes him the piece of excrement in my book.
Next up, a guy who couldn’t even give Alicia a yes or no, he was weeping so hard; Alicia drops his file and has to hunt for it. This guy’s here for drug trafficking, second offense, and has forfeited his bond twice. Oh dear. Alicia grabs the podium to steady herself and shoots the judge a look when he asks for the mitigating circumstances. Do you need more time, he wonders, but no, she says she just wants to find the right page; as she searches for it, Matan takes the opportunity to say that weeping guy isn’t learning and should have his bail set at $750,000. What the hell? What’s with that? “He’s a single father of four, the children have no one else,” Alicia counters. “He’s a drug dealer who’s unrepentant,” Matan grandstands. “First of all,” Alicia snaps, “he didn’t do it, and second, child services will take his children away.” Bail is set at 100k, and no, Breakfast’s not going to reconsider. On to the next.
Except, first he wants to speak to Alicia. You can see that Matan’s excited as a malicious school kid who’s gotten a classmate in trouble with the teacher. “Don’t you dare slow me down again. You keep doing that, and I will tax your clients.” Understood. “Now step back.”
“Octagon is a data visualization technique,” the Polite Associate explains, an octagonal chart up on the monitor, “that communicates 8 key metrics in an octagon shaped digital and hard graphic.” Ha. The monitor says Lockhart, Agos & Lee, so I guess that settles it. Gross. “As you can see from the handout, it’s a way of finding graphical means to communicate complex multivarial data in a way that requires the user to have very little technical training.” And yet, it’s also intentionally confusing-looking. Cary nods like he understands and approves; the old fogeys, however, all glaze over. Howard puts two hand outs over his chest and (Oh my God, they didn’t) wiggles them. So that’s going well. Once PA is gone, Cary tries to sell the elderly partners on it (new! shiny!) to no avail. We need to listen to new ideas, he pleads. “And we did,” Diane shrugs.
“This firm is becoming a laughing stock,” Cary mutters, standing to leave. “Where?” Diane challenges him, unconcerned, and he favors her with a vintage Cary frown. “We’re seen as being old and out of touch. The associates don’t think we listen to them.” And you know how well that went before. “We need to change.” Well, they need to change the casting, anyway; the data visualization technique itself doesn’t really look like it’d make anyone’s life easier.
Alicia’s staring at her watch as she moves through yet another client; it’s 7 minutes of 4, almost the end. As she’s trying to get her client to distill his story, the judge calls her over. Oh so predictably, it looks like no one else is coming to relieve her and he needs her to stay. I have another case, she tells him. “I don’t care, you’re staying,” he announces. Yikes.
She slips to the back of the court and presses Lucca to come in; apparently Don (the old guy, maybe?) was supposed to show up, but he hasn’t. Lucca can’t get there in time, she says. On the other hand, she’s close enough to Probate Court.
And so, to Diane and David’s surprise, Lucca strides into Probate and slips into the seat next to Miss Smulders, but only after almost sitting with the other side. Her dress is short, and very red, with organic splotches in contrast to the precise polka dots of the collar, kind of like a cow or Dalmatian print. Who’re you, Miss Smulders asks. Lucca Quinn, she explains, here to get a continuance for Alicia, who’s stuck in court.
“Okay, where are we?” Judge Jane asks. “Are we gonna hear from a scissors expert today?” Oh my gosh, I love her. I love the way she says that, hunching over and cooing like a preschool teacher. After she’s done chuckling, Diane tells the judge that they’ve found Selena Abarca the housekeeper. “They must have made a deal with her,” Miss Smulders whispers. Why would the housekeeper possibly do that? I mean, she’s a fool if she lets them get a better deal than their worst case scenario 50/50 with the sister. And why would Clyde want to cut his sister out of the inheritance? Why would he rather it went to someone else? There’s been no indication that they hate each other.
That’s when Lucca breaks in to ask for a continuance. David suggests this is a stalling tactic, Lucca explains that Alicia’s stuck at Bond Court, and Judge Jane – well. “She finds the Bond Court more important than us?” Yeah, that doesn’t sit well, no matter how Lucca tries to explain that Alicia doesn’t have a choice. David wants to recall his adhesive expert to talk about the housekeeper’s post-it. “An expert. You know, I thought we were going to get by at least ten minutes without an expert,” Judge Jane grimaces. Then grant the continuance and your wish at the same time! Lucca presses the point (“I’m not privy to all of Mrs. Florrick’s thinking on this”) but Judge Jane tells her to sit down. Yeah, you knew that one was coming, too. “Do you know anything about this?” Miss Smulders asks Lucca, horrified.
Dr. Cain explains that he found dutch gold paint on the Selena post it, but this time there was nothing else – no hairs, no lead, no rug fibers. Who else thinks that’s incredibly unlikely? IT WAS INSIDE THE VACUUM CLEANER. Even if it was clean when it went in, the roomba would have been filled with junk. Even folded over, that pristine state feels very unlikely. However, it’s looking very dark for Alicia and her client. “You should object,” Smulders tells Quinn, who does. “Relevance?” Good guess, Judge Jane snarks. No.
With that, Diane wants a ruling right now on the painting belonging to Selena. Again, Quinn asks for a continuance. “Miss Lockhart has made a very strong argument. I am prone to award this housekeeper the inheritance unless there’s anything more.” So Lucca has an idea. And no, she’s not asking for a continuance again. “No, Your Honor, I just wanted to be clear. That lady is a housekeeper to the deceased?” Yes. “And this is about an inheritance?” Yes it is, you catch on quickly, Jane snarks. “And was the deceased an invalid?” She was in a wheelchair, why, Miss Smulders grumbles. (How did she get the post it on everything, then?) “And I’m guessing this asset, this painting is worth more than $20,000.” Yes again. Now Lucca’s confident of her ground. “The housekeeper can’t inherit it.”
“Of course she can,” David cries. “No,” Lucca insists. “According to Illinois law, a caretaker to an invalid cannot inherit more than $20,000.” For some insane reason it’s Diane who recognizes that this is true, rather than David, the expert in family law. Which kind of makes them both look like idiots in my book; it’d be one thing if David was trying to pull a fast one and hope the judge and Alicia didn’t notice (which at least the judge, who definitely should have known, didn’t), but for his strategy to be that far off? Ugh.
At any rate, that’s a win for Alicia, who walks into court in time to see Smulders and Quinn hugging. “Okay,” David snaps as he walks by, “50/50. We’ll be in touch.” She turns and watches him walk out, her face awash with wonder. She turns back around (and ugh, the lighting on her wig!) in time to see Miss Smulders throw her arms around Lucca a second time.
Cary stops by the Octagonal Associate’s office to deliver the bad news, sitting down at the edge of his desk instead of on the other side. The partners didn’t really get it, he says. “Yeah,” Octagonal guy muses, “I didn’t think they did. I could see their faces.” Cary leans forward. “But I don’t want you to give up on pitching new things, so, just come to me, and I’ll walk it in with you, okay?” Octagon starts to smile a little. “Okay, thanks.” If you ever need anything, Cary continues, I’m here. Just talk to me. Octagon nods, and leans forward, putting his hand over Cary’s clasped ones.
Ha ha ha ha.
Cary jumps back as if burned. “Hey,” Octagon says, “I’m sorry…” No, says Cary. “It’s just, the way you were talking…” No, repeats Cary, louder, a little more offended than someone of his age probably ought to be. “No. No I wasn’t. This is really about opening up to the younger associates. That’s all.” Okay, Octagon says, sitting back in his chair. “Sorry.”
Well. That was just hideously embarrassing on all sides.
“What are you doing, Eli?” Ruth demands, charging into Eli’s office and stopping by the bank of television monitors trained to news channels. “What am I doing? Packing,” he says, completely uncowed. “Nice hair cut!” Thanks, he smiles, before she refocuses him. What is he doing with Mrs. Florrick? “She doesn’t just get it into her head to keep you on as chief of staff.” He shrugs, not bothering to contain his malicious glee. “I’m pretty irresistible,” he shrugs.
So Ruth goes nuclear with a corresponding threat; she’ll make it part of her contract that she gets to appoint Alicia’s team. Good luck with that, he scoffs, and she narrows her eyes. “What do you know?” Where to even begin! He knows everything. He knows Peter and he knows Alicia and he knows how to play them both, and how they’ll play you. We don’t have time to waste on lies, he decides, so let’s not. Ah, he has a monologue prepared, I see. How predictably villainous of him. “I plan to use Alicia’s rehabilitation campaign to undercut you and eventually to destroy you.” Ruth bursts out laughing. “I may even destroy Peter in the process.” Well, I’ll say this much, it’s consistent. “I haven’t quite decided about that yet.”
Thanks for revealing your evil plan, she laughs. What if I tell Peter? He’ll deny it, of course, although Alicia and Peter know Eli. They ought to believe it. But no, Eli’s sure that Peter will think she’s being paranoid (probably) and distracted. “You planned it all out,” Ruth smiles. “Not quite all,” he chews on the words like a proper villain, “but enough.” He walks his box of possessions past her. “See you soon,” he promises. She waits for him to reach the door before offering her parting shot. “Sooner than you think, Eli.”
Just as long as we’re clear here: sabotaging Alicia’s rehabilitation campaign means actually sabotaging and smearing Alicia, the one person who stuck up for Eli, in order to get at his rival. Just saying.
Alicia’s waiting for Lucca in a bright, colorful bar, stylistically somewhere between hipster and Key West. It’s very, very different from the dark wooden dens where she used to drink with Kalinda, but it’s still nice to see. “Thanks again,” she says, sitting in front of a glass of white wine. “All I did was vamp,” Lucca shrugs. “It was good vamping,” Alicia commends, and then both smile. How do you think this’ll work? Should Alicia pay Lucca? It’s kind of tricky, right? Alicia offer to buy her a drink (beer), but I don’t see that as cutting it in a 4 million dollar case. “So how long have you been a lawyer?” Alicia asks, stodgy as Cary trying to connect with the associates. “I’m gonna go dance,” Lucca decides, an idea that’s completely new to Alicia, who stares in shock. “There’s a dance floor. I’m gonna go dance.” With who, Alicia wonders. “I don’t know. I’ll find someone,” Lucca grins, leaving Alicia alone at the bar with their drinks and her bad hair.
And that — just when she’s starting to think about leaving – is when someone bumps into her. “Excuse me,” she replies, and Louis Canning snaps into view. “Watch it,” he tells her, and she rolls her eyes. “Notice I didn’t say sorry,” she replies, defensive. He asks to sit with her, then adds that excuse me is just about as bad. Sigh. Down with polite society! It’s a blight on humanity!
Good work with the Smulders case, he says, changing the subject. “You following me?” she asks, and he eventually admits to following her to the bar, where we hear a few shrieks and some breaking glass. “She’s really good,” he says, presumably pointing out Lucca, presumably for more than her dancing skills.
“So why’d you give me the case?” Alicia asks, drinking her wine. Why does he do anything? To promote his self interest, of course. How did she know it was him? “I didn’t at first,” she confesses,” I thought Madeline found my website. Diane suggested that you were using me as a pawn against them.” Why would I do that, he smiles. “Because you’re the devil,” she bites. Sigh. And she was so good at resisting the devil last season. Are we going to follow the same tiresome arc again? Why is she such a quick study with her work and yet fails to learn anything else? He chuckles happily. “All I was doing was giving you some work. Keep you from starving.” Snort. “Till you come to your senses and decide to join my firm.” Ugh. “You’ll still be an independent. You’ll still be your own woman. You won’t even work for me.” She turns a grim expression to him under her dreadful hairline.
“Unless you want me to stop sending you cases.” She blanches. “Do you want me to stop?” Yes! I do. I really, really do. Sadly, she doesn’t agree, a decision which requires a drink of her wine. He picks up Lucca’s beer, and they clink glasses in a toast.
Ah, so much to say. First off, I was stunned to realize that Madeline Smulders with her long black curly hair was blond Bridget Regan, the actress who played Agent Carter‘s stand out Dottie Underwood. Wigs all around! At least that one looked real.
You know, I actually am not sure I have that much more to say. Love the characters, love the guest stars, hate pretty much every single plot direction. Lockhart, Agos & Lee suddenly has a ridiculous age gap? Comic relief is nice, but what the hell. It’s like the show’s being run by Mitt Romney’s campaign manager, and think that the fan base has the memory of an etch-a-sketch. If that’s an indication of the way the season’s going to, I’m appalled. I don’t see any reason to be with that firm at all other than the fact that we love Cary and Diane and the actors are still under contract, and I’m sorry to say, but that’s not enough. And, ugh. Is Alicia’s capitulation to Canning inevitable? Can she do anything to stave off that fate? The more she depends on him, the more she’ll come to, you know, depend on him.
Oh, wait. I did promise to talk about the ridiculousness of Alicia refusing to let Peter help pay for the kids schooling, though I’m not at all sure why more is necessary to say than it’s ridiculous. What the bleep is that? If you want to be financially independent from him, Alicia, then get a divorce. Otherwise, let him pay his fair share. That is just beyond insane. There’s not even the smallest piece of sense or consistency to it. I know she’s proud and stubborn, but so is he, and whatever else he is, he’s not a deadbeat dad. In other news, I don’t remember the passage Canning talked about, but Milan Kundera is great. Check out The Unbearable Lightness of Being; it’s pretty amazing, funny and deep and provocative and original. There’s a reflection in it on original sin that involves a prehensile penis. Seriously.
And Eli and Peter. Well. Of all the people I’d have expected to use Alicia as a punching bag to get back at Peter, I wouldn’t have expected Eli. I know he’s wrecked, and I’m furious at Peter for doing it, but in the end I might be even more angry with Eli. Because how can he possibly undercut Alicia’s so-called rehabilitation without damaging and humiliating her? And be honest. You totally thought he was going to whip that smoothie at Peter, didn’t you? That one thing’s so indicative of why I can’t quit the show; they set up the obvious and then refuse to go there. I watched for it the entire fight and I love that it didn’t happen. But how long will that be enough?
So. I’m depressed. I loved the guest stars, but I can’t get by on guests stars. I want better for the actual show. I want the forest more than the trees. And I want Alicia on a stable path, kicking ass and taking names. Is it really too soon for us to see her get herself together?