E: Well, okay. I actually found this case really interesting. There were only a few moments that reminded me how painfully disappointing the new, morally compromised Alicia is, so I’m going to count this episode as a general win.
Innocents begins with a montage of men’s faces, different ages, hairstyles and ethnic backgrounds. Alicia and Lucca explain to them the purpose of a bond attorney. The judge – one Gary Reardon — calls for a case, and Lucca Quinn leaps quickly to do his bidding. (Judge Reardon is played by Stuart Zagnits, a voice-over actor who totally reminds me of Michael Tucker, lawyer Stuart Markowitz on L.A. Law. Anyone else?) She tosses off her next case to Alicia, who hustles over to a clean-cut white kid in a short sleeved plaid button-down shirt who, smiling, holds up a fist with his prisoner number written on it in red marker, and answers Alicia’s barrage of questions. No, no one would be adversely impacted if the judge doesn’t grant bail, other than his dog. And no, she doesn’t want to know if he did it, but she does need know how much bail he could afford. “We don’t need to argue that you didn’t do it, we just need to get you out on the lowest possible bail.”
“But I did do it,” he grins, stopping Alicia short, looking a bit like a sociopath. “I did do it, and I’d do it again.”
She stares at him a moment before leaning in. “Okay,” she replies calmly. “Let’s not share that with anyone just yet, okay?” I should say not.
The judge calls the case and Alicia scuffles quickly to her podium. No Matan this week, and obviously also no Judge Breakfast. Judge Reardon, unlike his colleague, isn’t above showing himself interested in the particulars of a case even if it might cost him a few precious seconds, and when Impish Button-Down Boy arrives, he looks in wonder. This guy took a hammer to one of the works of art in the Chicago Museum of Fine Arts? The judge is surprised out of his routine. Since making sure the Imp’s pug gets fed probably wouldn’t motivate the judge, Alicia highlights Mr. Barsetto’s ties to the community and lack of a criminal record. The prosecutor grandstands that Barsetto has done irreparable damage to a work of art, with costs in the tens of thousands of dollars, as the criminal bounces on his feet. “He broke some glass, that’s all,” Alicia contends. “It’s a scuffed photo,” the judge decides, agreeing with Alicia, “I’m sure the defendant won’t do it again.” Actually, Barsetto begins, raising his hand, but Alicia grabs it and shushes him in time for the judge to set bail at $1,500 without hearing the merry prankster’s intentions. I don’t know if the show is intentionally getting at racial bias here, but with some of the bail amounts we saw last week, it’s quite a contrast.
Not letting go of his arm, Alicia tells her client she’ll get a hold of the videotape the prosecution will use against him. “It’s me,” he tells her as the sheriffs hustle him off. I know the video will show you, she says. “No, the photo. The one that I attacked? It’s me.”
“I’m hear to apologize,” Eli declares, his voice rumbling low and grave, his eyes cast down. There’s just that right amount of nerves as he finally looks up, as if he doesn’t believe he can be forgiven. “Okay,” Peter frowns suspiciously, playing with his pen. Seriously? What does Eli have to apologize for? Peter has become a bloated narcissistic turd if he can’t take that little bit of invective Eli spewed at him for ineptly severing their six year relationship. “I said some things, I was out of line,” he shakes his head, hands clasped behind his back, “and I am asking for your forgiveness.” Oh please. What was it he said, go to hell? Oh, my stars and garters! When did Peter become such a delicate flower he can’t handle that? I suppose more likely it was the cardinal sin of implying that Peter needed Eli to win, that Peter hadn’t done it all on his own because he’s such a supremely wonderful man and candidate. Apology accepted, Peter says, looking old and droopy, before waving his hand and saying that there’s no place for Eli now in his campaign. Oh, of course he knows that. “I understand, I just didn’t want to leave things the way they were.”
Okay, Peter says, standing, “then I guess that’s it.” He extends his hand. The moment makes me hate Peter. No, I wasn’t expecting him to hire Eli back, but acting offended, as if he’s some sort of perfect candidate, as if Eli hadn’t cleaned up his messes, hadn’t risked prison multiple times, wasn’t the only true friend he had? As if he’s being the bigger man? Oh no.
They shake over the governor’s desk. “That’s it,” Eli says. “Goodbye sir.”
He doesn’t make it far down the hall, however, before Ruth Eastman notices him and comes out to taunt and threaten. If you come near my candidate again, she says, I will destroy you and everything you hold dear. You know, you sort of already did that, Ruth. Unless you go after his family you really can’t sink him any lower. He laughs. Have you seen the movie “It Follows,” he asks her. No. She’s never heard of it, but I have, and I start to snicker. He leaves her puzzling over the reference. I just thought you’d like it, he smirks.
So of course she runs into Peter’s office to complain about Eli horning in on her territory, a fear which Peter immediately refutes. “Respectfully, governor, you could hear the gears turning in his head.” Well, that’s true enough, but Peter really doesn’t want to dwell on it. All happy families, that’s how he likes it, with no one reminding him he ever did anything wrong.
In Bond Court, Alicia watches the security video of Impish Plaid Guy smashing at the photograph in the museum, hammer to the wall. It’s going to be hard to argue that he didn’t do it, that’s for sure. Why are they sitting in the second to last row? Maybe so Alicia can lean back around a guy absorbed in his phone to ask Lucca if she knows any good investigators. No, she says. Well, maybe Marty Pintorello if you get him in the first half of the day. Jason Crouse and Amanda Marcassin fill out her list. But now it’s showtime again — the men who’ve made bail walk out of lock up, including a sleeping looking Barsetto/Plaid Guy.
And of course the first thing Alicia wants to know is what he means about the photo. “Vacation, 2002. My mom took it of me. I was 8.” Hmm. I would buy this guy as 31, but not 21. Anyway. (No, seriously. This guy’s a good actor, but cast someone who’s not 29 or date the book differently. It’s such a silly mistake. Why does no one think of these things?) “It’s from a cycle of photos my mom took of my sister and I. Us at the beach, us at a nudist camp. They’re, uh… she’s selling them to the Chicago Museum of Fine Arts for their permanent collection”
Lucca jerks her head, motioning for Alicia to get moving. She’ll look into it, but considering this she doesn’t think the museum will want to press charges. “They will if they know I’ll try again,” he nods sadly. He’s not looking nearly so madcap as he was in the beginning. The high of being in jail wearing off, perhaps? “Well let’s not tell them that, okay?” Alicia asks, her phone ringing, the new session about to begin.
It’s Cary on the phone. How’s life in the bar attorney trenches, he asks. “Same as there, only without the fees, resources, or muffins,” she laughs. Cute. Of course, I’m less fond of the conversation they have after. She wants names of possible investigators; he does too. So she gives him the names she’s got, so that he can look into them for her. Seriously? That seems dumb. Why wouldn’t he steal them for himself?
Thankfully, however, we don’t have to dwell on that now. Cary’s Would-Be-Boyfriend has arrived with a couple of other associates to complain about Howard Lyman, who does no work, offends the clients, and takes 70% of the billable hours. That’s being an associate, Cary tells them; you do the work and the partner swoops in for the glory. “He didn’t swoop,” a dark haired girl complains. He didn’t come to any meetings, and couldn’t even remember the client’s name the one time they met. I’ll get into it, Cary promises.
And that’s when Boyfriend hangs back. About the other day, he starts to apologize, but Cary really, really doesn’t want to talk about it. “I want you to know I’m not gay,” Would-Be insists, which seems infinitely worse to me. If I were Cary, there’s nothing more unpleasant he could have said. I wouldn’t care remotely if he were gay (though maybe Cary does), but it’s far more flattering to think that Gay Boyfriend was misinterpreting Cary’s signals than to think the guy was willing to pimp himself out despite his personal leanings just to get ahead. Awful! Either way, a predator’s definitely not the boss he wants to be; Cary can’t run fast enough.
Also awful: Cary runs into Diane’s office and says he’s got a lead on some investigators. Charming. Because Alicia can really compete with their ability to pay, right? Not to sound pettish, but I’m waiting for the show to justify why we’re even watching these people anymore. Not that I don’t love them, but in the past, we saw Cary when he was prosecuting a case against Alicia. We saw Will when he was fighting Alicia and Cary in court. We know these characters are under contract, we know Julianna can’t be in every scene, but they’ve got to do better at figuring out how to integrate everyone.
Anyway. Cary really wants to talk about Howard; in fact, he wants a name partner meeting to discuss what a useless money drain he is.
I charge $75 an hour, and you’ll find you can’t do better, a thin man with a thick Chicago accent tells Alicia. He won’t work weekends, but he won’t inflate his hours either. “And I understand you’re an ex-cop?” she asks. Grey’s Anatomy‘s Jeffrey Dean Morgan, at his most stubbly and disreputable, nods an enigmatic no. Ah, so we have an interview montage going on. Morgan’s got that Jordan Catalano sexy bad boy thing going on, only turned up to 11, and it flusters Alicia, who stammers about being badly informed. How much do you charge, she wonders, changing the topic. “How much you got?” he drawls. She laughs. “How’d you do that?” she gestures at his bandaged wrist, changing the topic again. “I killed a man,” he flirts. Oh, she smiles. On the job? No, he banters back. In traffic. He moved too slow.
Now on to Amanda Marcassin, who wears a leather vest and thick black eyeliner. She’ll work weekends. And though she’s been an investigator for five years, she plays on her youthful appearance to win people over. “I get results,” the first guy drills sharply. “From shoeleather. Beating the bushes. Having the contacts.” Do you know Kalinda Sharma, Alicia asks Amanda. She doesn’t. “You remind me of her,” Alicia smiles. “I hope that’s a good thing,” Amanda answers. Yeah, it ought to be. Jeffrey Dean Morgan tells Alicia he can start at 9 the following morning, and so she asks if he has questions for her. Sure, he says. Do you have a dress code? Again, the question – or his warm yet piercing eye contact — flusters her. “What, no. Do a lot of people have dress codes?” No, he smiles, more friendly than the full on sex-eye we’ve been getting up to now. “I just like to ask, makes it seem like I’m not too easy.”
She laughs, looks down. “You’re not going to tell me how you did that, are you?” she diverts the topic, pointing again to his bandaged hand and wrist. 20 stitches from grappling with an old fashioned metal ice tray, he claims. Ow! “Yeah, ow, I cried like a baby. I don’t like pain.” When are you hiring, Amanda wonders. In an hour, she says, and they stand. Huh. It’s not just a vest, it’s actually a leather dress with a white blouse under it. No wonder she’s reminded of Kalinda. I hope this works out, Amanda says, and they shake hands. Me too, says Alicia. Maybe I’m being picky, but why is she hiring one person? I mean, how can she afford one all to herself? Shouldn’t she be looking for a pool of people she can use when they’re available, per diem? And aren’t these people all freelancers?
As he’s being let out her door, Jason/Denny Duquette turns on the full wattage charm. They shake awkwardly, awkwardly avoiding his hurt right hand. When she closes the door and turns around, she sees Grace leaning against the wall. “I want him,” her daughter says, swooning into the wall, and Alicia clears her throat. Ha! It kills me that she said it that way to her mom. “He’s more expensive,” Alicia counters. “Than the cop? The cop is terrible,” Grace grimaces, and indeed, the first guy really does scream cop, which might be a problem in a P.I., but no, Alicia means that he costs five dollars an hour more than Amanda. “We can afford that! He’s great. He’s funny!” Well, indeed. “It’s not about who’s funny, it’s about who’s better,” Alicia replies primly. “He’s better,” Grace insists. How do either of you really know? I’m just chuckling. If Peter was annoyed by the presence of The Haircut on Alicia’s staff, how on earth will he feel about the raw, unbridled charm and sexuality of Jeffrey Dean Morgan? Perhaps it’s because his over the top flirting unsettles her, but immediately Alicia calls him and says she’s going in another direction. “Me too,” Jason smirks. “You seem like you’d be a mean boss.” And I would be, Alicia smiles cutely. Grace throws up her hands in disgust.
“Call us old fashioned,” a trimly bearded man tells Alicia, “but we don’t like it when people take hammers to our artwork.” Ha. I thought they were in court, but this columned building must be the CMFA. Surely you can understand how uncomfortable this would be, seeing naked pictures of his childhood self in a museum, Alicia suggests. Trying his best to look like the scared 8 year old boy, client Eric is sitting on his hands, his arms largely exposed by his short sleeve shirt. Amanda, standing behind the other two, smartly suggests that pressing charges would create bad publicity for the museum. That might just, Alicia adds, cause us to take the case “further.”
“I’m so sorry that I’m late,” Nancy Crozier enters the room gingerly, her head down, arms crossed over her chest, hugging files to her body, “but I made the mistake of passing through the Wyeth exhibit, and oh my gosh, it’s beautiful.” Yes, yes, Nancy. She’s such a teacher’s pet and I love her so much. She, Patti and Elspeth are the holy trinity of guest stars for me on this show. They’re almost Shakespearean in their specificity; Nancy is a fully realized human being. “I know you, don’t I?” she tilts her head and points at Alicia. Yes, Nancy, Alicia replies, her irritation showing ; we’ve been on the opposite side of 12 cases. (Amazing what an indelible impression a character can make in so few episodes.) “What is your name, again?” Alicia laughs.
“As I’m sure Mr. O’Neill suggested, we are willing to forgive and forget this horrible vandalism,” Nancy begins, and Alicia cuts her off, reminding everyone that it’s a naked picture of the vandal. “Of a priceless piece of art,” Nancy continues. Unsurprisingly, the kindly museum does want something in exchange; namely, for Eric to do publicity in support of the exhibit, including submitting to a photoshoot of him next to the pictures in question. No way in hell, he says.
Those photos are important works of art, Eric, Museum administrator O’Neill adds in his snootiest most professorial tone. “My mother’s photos ruined my life,” Eric responds. Well. Let’s not be melodramatic, Nancy cautions, giving him the hand. Melodramatic, he sneers. You want melodrama? Anywhere I go, anyone I meet, if I want to date someone or apply for a job, they google me and find this. “You’re in a work of art,” Nancy half laughs, half frowns at his intransigence, the American flag waving behind her. “I think a lot of people would love to be in a work of art.” That’s when he walks out.
Once Alicia and Amanda have caught up with him on the sidewalk out side the museum, he apologizes. I know I should have just sucked it up in order to get probation, he begins, but Alicia’s not upset at him. Do you want to fight this, she grins. How, he wonders; an emergency injunction to stop the exhibit from opening, she says. They’ve already put the show up, they’ll panic.
What about the first amendment, he worries. No, Alicia says. We go after consent. We prove that your mother never got your consent to take those pictures. She can’t sell them without it. The same goes for his sister, Wendy, but weirdly it turns out that he has no idea where she is. I’m on it, Amanda says; if she’s gettable, I’ll get her. “Oh,” Alicia leans in as her new Kalinda takes off, “Check Eric’s social media; I don’t want any surprises in court.” Don’t worry, I’m on it, Amanda replies. Alrighty.
And Impish Plaid Guy – who has definitely lost the mischievous twinkle of his first scenes — disappears, leaving Alicia to field a phone call from Eli, a good thing because Eli has a sorry tale of woe. Mean Peter won’t allow him to work for Alicia, so he’s drawn up a list of names. “I’ll do my best to find you someone good, but I’m sure Ruth with have some ideas.” Alicia smiles. “Okay, I get it,” she says. Get what, Eli asks, all innocence. “You’re using me.” What? No, he says, and what I love about Eli is that he puts his entire face into the lie, even though he’s on the phone and she can’t see him. It’s like he lives his lies with his whole being. It’s only after she’s hung up that he gives the camera a look of Machiavellian glee.
Which is far more fun than the very stiff, catered meeting Alicia’s having with Peter. They sit in his little seating area with a platter of sandwiches on the coffee table in front of them. Gah. Why does he insist on having tons of food whenever she’s around? It’s wasteful and awkward every time, and she never eats. It’s such a Jackie move.
Politely, she inquires after his campaign. It’s going really well, he says; they’ve 6 million in hard money and 11 in soft already. Huh. That’s very impressive. And frankly really weird for a politician who’s more nefarious than famous, but whatever. He politely inquires about her job. It’s good too, she says — like being right out of law school. “Ah, freedom,” he says, “the best thing that could happen to anyone.” Somehow, the observation seems to leave a sour taste in her mouth. With these civil nothings out of the way, he explains that Ruth wants to have a camera crew follow Alicia at Bond Court to make her seem like the champion of the common man. Bond Court’s not really like that, she tries to explain, but Peter trusts Ruth toss enough sparkle dust on it to give that impression anyway. (I suppose they think seeing her pictured next to African American men will be enough.)
“In fact, I wanna talk to you about something,” she begins. “No,” he says flatly, knowing what she’s going to say. No what? No to Eli, of course. She bites the inside of her lip. “Well, then we have a problem,” she replies lightly, uncowed.
“Look,” Peter growls. “I need Ruth. And Ruth won’t stand for Eli.” What, and you will? I don’t believe it, not after your ridiculous acceptance of his apology. “And you need me,” Alicia replies firmly, “and I won’t stand without him.” Oh, come on, Peter yowls, throwing back his head. “No, Peter, you wanna be Hillary’s Vice President. The way to do that is showing you have a happy family.” That’s so fascinating. Is the implication that Hillary Clinton needs the lie of a happy family more than another candidate would? That her personal narrative demands it? You have to show that we’ve overcome your sexual indiscretions, Alicia presses, hand over her heart. “Because your wife forgave you, and continues to forgive you.”
His eyebrows knit together, Peter looks at her in confusion and wonder. “You’re being used,” he says bluntly, as if he can’t understand why she doesn’t see it. “I know,” she agrees reluctantly, the vocal equivalent of a very tired shrug. “Who isn’t?” He nods as if in acknowledgement of the truth of that statement. “Eli’s all yours,” he decides.
At home, in the dark, with the inevitable glass of red wine, Alicia leafs through a giant coffee table book, The Innocents by Phyllis Barsetto. The camera hides behind a chair back like a voyeur as Alicia looks at Nude #5, Kennebago Lake. Nude #12 is the sister, Wendy, sun kissing her face. Whatcha lookin’ at, Grace wonders, and Alicia shuts the book as if caught with, well, nudie pictures. For a client, she explains. Pictures his mom took. Then, with a rather shrewd look, she passes the book to Grace. What does she think? Grace opens to an image of Eric reclining on a rock, his arm crossed over his chest. I can’t decide if he looks angry or if he’s just squinting at the sun, but the angle (where he’s leaning back, his pelvis presumably closest to the camera) seems somewhat provocative to me, something I find interesting given the book’ name. Is the point of the pose that the model is innocent, but the audience is not? When Grace flips the page, she sees Wendy, sitting and frowning at the sand. “How old are these kids?”
8 and 10, Alicia says. It’s weird, Grace frowns. The pictures are pretty. Is there more to it than that? The doorbell rings, and Alicia gives her child an approving glance (why?) before getting up to answer it.
And there’s Lucca Quinn. Seriously, what is going on with Alicia and security? Last week Lucca calls her without having any reason to know her cell phone; this week, she shows up on her doorstep? Shouldn’t’ that information be unlisted? Sigh. Anyway. Lucca’s come for half the proceeds of the Barsetto case; she had the case originally, she should reap the rewards as well. Not that we know there are going to be any, but when you’re talking rich artists, Lucca’s probably on right scent. “Alicia, you can tell your client it’s about stopping the exhibit, but you know it’s about milking the museum for some cash.” Gosh, that’s so depressing. Alicia gives Miss Quinn a speculative look.
“He’s an embarrassment,” Cary complains to his fellow name partners, standing across from Diane in her office. “I see Howard more as an inconvenience,” David Lee smirks, not taking this seriously. Wow, that’s a lot of color – David with his gray suit, purple tie and olive brown shirt standing behind Diane’s chair, and Diane wearing a symphony of red, white and black. That scarf added to the mix? That’s a bold and blinding amount of pattern. “He can also be charming, in an old school way,” Diane excuses him, which is frankly out of character. Since when does Diane find the entitled patriarchy cute? Let’s be honest. Howard is there because he’s a reliable vote for whoever bought him last.
He sleeps half the day, Cary grits his teeth. We’re going to start losing good young associates to a mutiny if we keep letting him swallow up so many of their billable hours.
David and Diane roll their eyes. The thing about billable hours, they say, is that we all do it. That’s what being a partner is – nipping in at the end and taking all the glory. And if you tell the associates they’re right resent Howard, they’ll resent you next. But we do the work, Cary counters. “No we don’t,” Diane scoffs. “We provide the clout, the leadership.” Huh. I think of them as still doing a lot of work. “So you need to think about whether this is a professional problem with Howard, or a personal one.”
Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t think sleeping through meetings is an acceptable professional choice, not when it isn’t balanced with some sort of extraordinary merit as a litigator. I don’t think insulting clients and ignoring them is an acceptable professional quirk. Heck, Howard and the culture that surrounds him is part of why Cary ditched L/G in the first place, and so inheriting him must then rankle quite a bit. Cary’s left to chew on the idea uncomfortably.
And in court, here’s another awkward moment — Amy Irving, the former Mrs. Stephen Speilberg, arrives with a big 80s shag of blond curls, looking for all the world like Carol King in a beachy white blouse, floaty white scarf and a white skirt with blue flowers in a china-inspired pattern. When Eric calls to her, she walks up to him slowly, deliberately, and kisses him on the cheek. By slowing down she turns it into an event; it’s all very dramatic. You don’t have to talk to her, Alicia cautions him, but he shakes her off; she and Lucca retire to the shadows.
Phyllis Barsetto holds out her right hand, palm up, and stares into her son’s eyes expectantly. After a brief hesitation, he puts his right palm on top of hers, and she folds her left hand over it.
“You could have called me,” she says. I immediately dislike her for her pretentious-feeling mannerism and for this way she has of bringing up what must be childhood behaviors, not to mention publishing that book in the first place; I want to slam her comment as a quiet guilt trip but I’m not sure that’s fair of me. “I didn’t think this was about us,” Eric counters, which, ha. That’s hilarious. “How could it not be?” she wonders. I’m not a kid anymore, he says. “I don’t want them out there. I don’t want people gawking at them.” She fusses with the hair on his forehead, which is definitely not treating him like an adult. They don’t gawk, she scoffs. “They do. They look at them, and they look at me.”
“Why is this a problem now, Eric? The book has been out for years!” Again, I like this actor, but if they’d cast someone who really looked like a 21 year old kid, it would have lent more weight to this struggle that he’s having to define himself outside his mother’s shadow, outside the photographs’ shadow. The museum, obviously, he says. They’re everywhere again. “Sorry, but this is what I do. You know that. It’s like a novel. You’re asking a novelist to burn her book.” No, I take it back. She’s not hearing him and she’s giving him a guilt trip. I definitely don’t like her.
“No, it’s not, Mom,” he protests. “I’m asking my mom to listen to me, that’s all.”
She sighs. She smiles. She shakes her head. She apologizes in this way that sounds like she’s sorry he’s upset, even if he’s clearly crazy for being upset.
Let’s go, he tells his team.
Immediately he’s on the stand, telling Alicia that no, his mother never asked for his permission. She never asked if he wanted to be photographed, even when he sometimes told her he didn’t want to do them. So you didn’t consent to these photographs. No, he says, his eyes locked with his mother’s. In the gallery, Phyllis heaves another long sigh. And without consent, Alicia adds, the photographer cannot sell them. In her baby voice, Nancy points out that this is Alicia testifying, and Judge Dunaway smiles widely at her. “An innocent mistake I am sure, Mrs. Florrick,” and she rises to apologize. No need, he beams. What’s up with that? Whispering to Lucca, Alicia suggests that he might be on medication. Maybe we can use it, the hungry bar attorney guesses.
“Did you like going to the dentist as a kid?” Nancy asks, launching into a long, really lengthy comparison that I’m not going to detail; I’m just going to tell you why it’s wrong. Yes, parents routinely substitute their judgement for their children’s, not merely because we’re adults but because children can’t see their long term good in important but unpleasant tasks like going to the dentist or the doctor, or even just cleaning their rooms and doing their homework. (Let’s be honest, lots of adults use their freedom of choice to avoid those tasks, too.) But a parent’s judgement isn’t perfect in and of itself. If she’s going to use that analogy, it should be incumbent on Nancy to prove that when Phyllis made the choice to put Eric in her photographs without his clothes on, that it would be to his ultimate benefit and in his best interest. That as an adult, he should be grateful in the same way you might grateful for having had braces once they’re off.
Here’s the other thing about Mrs. Barsetto’s copyright interest; I wish they had explored the notion of consent with majority. I know nothing about the law, so I don’t even know if that’s a thing, but it seems to me that while kids don’t have a legal right to make their own choices until they come of age, it’s entirely reasonable to say that, now that he’s of age, Eric should have the right to reconsider his mother’s decision. Why does his mother’s choice stand in perpetuity? Even if she within her rights to choose for him at the time, to take the pictures and publish the book, why does he not get a voice in the museum’s acquisition now that he’s a legal adult? I’d love to know whether that’s a legal argument they could have made.
And, yeah, Alicia suggests that a parent’s right to choose for their child isn’t absolute, trying to get at what I was saying. Phyllis couldn’t give permission to Eric being raped or beaten, she says, but of course Nancy pretends horror at that example. It’s so extreme! Sigh. Although, to be honest, even Lucca raises her eyebrows, and the judge agrees that if he’d wanted to be talking about rapes and assaults he’d have stayed in criminal court. Could they keep it civil, please, he asks? (Ha – see what he did there?)
Trying to salvage the moment, Lucca stands. “Her point is that parental consent for a child ends where harm begins.” Indeed. Thank you. The judge correctly surmises that they’re arguing that Eric was harmed by his mother’s choice, and so to that end Alicia asks to enter a photograph into evidence. When Nancy objects, the judge gives her a most excellent stare. ” You don’t want me to see the photograph?” he asks, putting her into an obvious bind because how can she justify not letting him see a picture she’s arguing needs to be seen? The judge decides that, in deference to Eric’s awkward nakedness, Judge Dunaway will review the photos in his chamber, and in the court they’ll “cover the sensitive parts.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? If you feel like, in order to sit in court with Eric and look him in the face you have to cover up his boy bits (which is to say, that it is reasonable for him and you all to be uncomfortable with his nudity), then you have made his case for him.
At the governor’s office, Nora stands in front of her desk, tapping on a tablet. Squinting malevolently, Ruth creeps up on her. “What is It Follows?” she asks, and though Nora tries valiantly, she can’t maintain a serious expression. “You smiled, why’d you smile?” It’s one of Mr. Gold’s favorites, Nora explains, and Ruth starts to sound paranoid. “Eli said I should see it. Why should I see it?” I don’t know, Nora shrugs, but then she explains in what might be her longest bit of dialog ever. “It’s about a girl who goes crazy, cause this thing, this being, constantly follows her. If it catches her, it’ll kill her. So she can never feel safe.” Gee, I wonder why he mentioned that? Nora raises her eyebrows delicately, as if to say she’s going to let Ruth draw her own conclusions.
Nora, I need you to do me a favor, Ruth says. Be Eli’s Assistant.” Nora clearly finds the suggest daft. “Does he need an assistant?” “My guess is he missed you,” Ruth suggests, because she’s so concerned with Eli’s well-being. “Be his assistant. And report back to me everything he does.” HA! That is the dumbest plan ever. Why on earth would Ruth expect Nora, who has worked for Eli since we’ve seen Eli with staff, to switch her loyalty like that? Is it possible she doesn’t know that Nora worked for Eli? It can’t be; she asked her to explain the movie. Perhaps, like Tom Riddle, she simply doesn’t understand the bonds of loyalty or love. Big. Mistake.
“Eric, when was this photograph first publicly exhibited?” Alicia asks; we see a redacted version of the photo where he leans on a rock, where the bottom two thirds are covered over with paper bag brown. Seriously, all you can see is a tip of one shoulder, his head and his neck. Who know his boy parts were that enormous. (Sorry, that was a rude joke, but you know what I mean. It’s nuts.) The photos were displayed at a gallery when Eric was 10, and released in the deluxe book Alicia was looking at later the same year. “And what if any impact did that photograph have on your life?” I got my first email from a pedophile…” he begins, and Nancy cuts him off, objecting to the word pedophile. A shaming look from the judge stops her. and she takes it back. “After the book was published, I’d come out of school and these men would be waiting for me.” Gosh, that gives me the shakes. In the gallery, Phyllis casts her eyes down. “Websites about my sister and I started popping up.” And did your mother know about this, Alicia wonders. She did. Did they discuss it? No. Phyllis looks aghast.
“I could sum up the Cubs turn-around in one word,” Howard Lyman pontificates, cutting his meat in a posh restaurant. Why do all the restaurants they use on this show look the same? Is it the same blandly, conservatively rich looking place every time? “Jews.” Oh. My. At first, I thought this was bigoted, but I’m pretty sure he’s actually just bragging. “You know all the great G.M.’s are Jewish.” They must be at a steak house, because Cary, too, is busy slicing meat as he tells the old man he’s checking in. How’re things going? “Whatever’s better than great is how they’re going. Billings are up. My shingles are gone. And those new associates, oooooh. You see the yabos on that Mexican one, huh? Theresa?” She’s American, Howard, Cary frowns. Either way, Howard laughs.
Cary can’t handle it for another second. The other name partners and I were thinking this’d be a great time for you to become an emeritus partner, he suggests. Keep your name on the letter head, but play golf instead of sleeping at work. What do you think about that?
Howard points his steak knife at Cary. “I think if you try to move me out I’ll cut your balls off,” he threatens.
“You think I’m bluffing, you little gerbil? Check with a guy named Henry Weir at the firm I used to work for. Only don’t stare at his eye patch too long, okay?” Howard raises his highball glass at Cary and drinks.
So that went well.
Next it’s Nancy’s turn in court, and it’s frankly quite annoying on several fronts. The first is that she uses pictures of Eric having fun that she culled from social media (drinking with college friends, holding a surf board on what I’m pretty sure is Tunnels beach on Kauai) to intimate that being stalked by pedophiles can’t have ruined his life. How ridiculous is that? Because there’s documentation that he had fun two or three times in his adult life, that means he doesn’t have the right to control who sees him naked? That is beyond bleeped up. It seriously makes me furious. Obviously the second point of annoyance — one that Alicia addresses in a very angry phone call – is that Amanda was supposed to let them know if there were any potential problems on Facebook. And for future reference, she tells the investigator as the latter hops into her tiny, classic convertible, when I say Facebook I mean the internet! “I’ll make a note of that,” Amanda replies dryly, driving off like she’s an agent in an Austin Powers movie, following some leads on the whereabouts of lost girl Wendy.
And without delay we have Phyllis on the stand, sighing over how she thought Eric was enjoying himself, and how she didn’t force him to pose, and how she was just a mom with her kids running on the beach. Yeah, whatever, lady. “Look,” she adds. “I know we live in a culture saturated by porn and we’re all highly sensitive, but I hate that that photo is covered up like it’s dirty. It isn’t dirty. The nudes of Michelangelo aren’t dirty. The nudes of Edward Weston aren’t dirty, but as soon as you slap brown paper on it, it’s dirty.” Well, sort of. The thing is, you didn’t release the book into the culture you want to create; you released it into the real world. “My son is beautiful. My daughter is beautiful and I won’t give in to people who want to paint them with a prurient brush.”
Okay, that’s totally laudable and beautiful, BUT. You made your children’s bodies the battlefield of that war. If you don’t think it’s right that other people treat their precious bodies as things, then you can’t do the same. You have to let them own their bodies, and make that choice.
Lucca takes the cross examination, and uses a quote that Phyllis gave in an interview to undercut her authority as a parent to give consent for her children. Was she thinking as a parent, in the best interests of her children, or was she thinking as an artist, caring only about the shot? This exasperates Phyllis, who says she was merely talking about wearing many hats and how different states of being aren’t mutually exclusive. Even though you drew the distinction yourself, Lucca points out. “I find this insulting,” Phyllis snaps. “You’d never ask a male artist to explain himself like this!” Ah, Alicia’s recent argument to support not taking anyone else’s concerns into her decision-making process. “I would if he’d taken nude photographs of his kids,” Lucca disagrees.
Bam! Eli slaps a bound document entitled Campaign Initiatives on Alicia’s table. Here’s the plan for the first two weeks, he beams. Who’s plan, she wonders. Peter’s? “No, yours. Your pathway to rehabilitation.” Poor Alicia would clearly rather walk on broken glass than to have to explain herself again (something she should have thought of, frankly, before telling Peter he should run). People are ready to love you again, Eli promises, something I’m frankly not sure of. I don’t even know how she recovers from this scandal. How do you gloss over stealing an election? Which she didn’t do, but had to lie and essentially except the blame for? As much as I hated that plot and didn’t want her in office, man, that’s a terrible position. She can either be exonerated, or she can give it time and hope people forget, and right now she doesn’t get either of those choices.
Of course Eli has a plan. “But I need you to talk to someone and you won’t want to. Frank Landau.” Yeah, obviously Alicia does not want to meet with Frank, the author of her distress, the person who forced her to take a hit for the team. I know, Eli says. “But you’re gonna be a bigger man than him. You’re going to apologize to him.” Excuse me, what? The phone rings; Alicia’s needed in court. Summarize, Eli. “Alicia, swallow your pride now. You will destroy him later. You apologize, and he won’t see you coming.” Gee, I’m sure that holy fire in Eli’s eyes is all about Frank and nothing to do with, saying Peter. “And I promise you, in four months time you’ll be kicking his teeth in.” Dump the metaphors, Eli, Alicia demands. What do you mean? “You’ll be forcing him out of his job. Embarrassing him. Making him come to you to apologize.” Somehow, Alicia finds this bloodthirsty vengeance very appealing.
(And, okay, I get it, but it’s yet another reminder that she’s not any better than Frank. She’ll do what’s expedient to serve her own baser instincts. And that kind of sucks.)
Instead of heading right into court, however, Alicia, Lucca, Nancy and the Freudian-looking museum director stand in the busy hallway outside The Honorable Peter Dunaway’s office. Once a sheriff finally lets them inside, it’s clear why; Dunaway has his head bowed to the ground, kneeling on a prayer rug in the corner of his office. “He’s a Muslim?” Lucca whispers to Alicia, who thought he was Jewish. “He converted last year after a heart attack,” Nancy tells them, and maybe it’s because it’s so unexpected she actually sounds human about it, rather than gloating because she knows something they don’t.
“Sorry, afternoon prayers,” he says, and sits. “So, I’ve been giving this matter a great deal of thought.” Alicia tries to forestall judgement by saying that they need to hear from Wendy on this topic, but Nancy cuts her off. Nancy, it seems, has managed to find Wendy, and Wendy has a very different viewpoint as an adult than Eric does. (To which I say fine, let the museum display the naked pictures of her.) “This reinforces my conclusion that Mrs. Barsetto’s consent was and should be binding. She was well within her parental rights to substitute her judgement for that of her children. As a result the preliminary injunction is lifted, the museum may reopen the exhibit immediately.”
Dude. That is so wrong.
The judge is so convicted of his rightness, however, that he cuts Alicia off before she can even get a complaint out of her mouth. My decision is final, he states flatly. We know that, Your Honor, Lucca says, which is why we’d like to move on to another concern: the right of publicity. We think that Eric should retain the right of publicity for his own image, and that he should control if it can be recopied from the original image to items in the gift shop. “We don’t make a profit unless we have the gift shop revenue,” the museum director gasps, horrified. Well, I guess that’s why he (and not Eric) showed up for this scene. Lucca’s correct on the law, Dunaway says, and so they’ll meet again and go over every single item that the museum was hoping to sell to see what’s acceptable. Under her breath, Alicia thanks Lucca for the save. “I have my moments,” the bar attorney smiles.
Alicia and Eli twitch uncomfortably in chairs across from a very smug-looking Frank Landau, their discomfort echoing around his enormous office. “To what do I owe this pleasure?” Frank wonders, but it’s clear he’s just enjoyed watching them squirm. After giving Eli a look, Alicia bites the bullet. “I’m here to apologize, Mr. Landau. I’m sorry I made a stink about the party withdrawing its support for my campaign. I understand it had to happen.” He grins, as if he knew it was only a matter of time before she came groveling, and then he answers her graciously. “You’re new to this, Alicia. There’s a learning curve. We’ve all had to scale it.” He takes a second to let that beneficence sink in. “I accept your apology.” Thank you, sir, she replies, sounding sincere. For the second time this episode, an apology makes me sick.
Eli steps in and explains his hope that everyone will move forward if the party just released a statement in support of Alicia, saying they no longer believed her to be corrupt. Like I said, I have no idea how they could just do that without risking exposing the candidate who did cheat, but okay. “I can do you one better,” Frank declares, standing up. “Alicia, how would you like a spot on the election board?” Say what now? This maneuver is so insane that even Eli’s flabbergasted by it. “Nothing will show we believe you’re innocent than a seat on the board that found you guilty.” Um, yes, but you know that will just look corrupt and conniving, right? “Whoa. Thank you, Frank. This means a lot,” Eli manages to gasp, and he doesn’t just sound sincerely thankful, he is.
And that, of course, is when Frank smoothly asks Eli to leave the room, and when he does, demands that Alicia vote no on the first vote once she’s on the board. When he tells her that it doesn’t matter what the vote is, I wonder if he wants her to vote no on something specific, or if it’s a kind of alpha move, a test to prove that she’s his creature.
As Eli waits outside for the inevitable caving of Alicia’s moral fiber, chewing his face off from the inside out, staring at Frank’s enormous wooden door, Nora sneaks up behind him. “I’m working for you now,” she announces. This succeeded in totally distracting him. “You are? Why is that?” I don’t like working for “Miz” Eastman, she says, which disappoints me a little. She’s not actually going to play along with Ruth’s dastardly scheme, is she? Before things can go further, Alicia comes out and announces it’s a done deal. She does not confess her sins, and Eli squints at her suspiciously.
Perhaps because she’s just sold another little piece of her soul, Alicia comes home in a fury that only increases when she finds a contrite Amanda in her sitting room. “I don’t know what happened, I had a lead on her,” the inept investigator tries to explain, to excuse herself, but Alicia just walks past her. “Wendy was living in Chicago,” she spits out. “All they did was look online.” Ah. Something Grace could have done for free. Lovely. “It’s not all they did,” Amanda replies, slightly aggrieved. “Look, if you want to fire me, fire me. But I am the best investigator in town.”
“You’re fired,” Alicia snaps, stepping behind her desk and picking up her phone.
This shocks Amanda. “I put me heard and soul into this case!” she huffs, which speaks ill of her heart and soul if it’s true. “Fired. I don’t need you,” Alicia dismisses her with a flick of her hand as she waits for the person to pick up on the other end. “Go to hell,” Amanda curses, and rushes out as Alicia tries to hire her replacement. “Yes, Mr. Crouse, this is Alicia Florrick. Do you remember me?”
“Do I remember you,” Jason repeats from inside Diane’s office, wearing a new leather jacket, salt and pepper scruff and dimples. “Back up singer in Prince’s band?” She laughs. “Right. I was wondering if you were available for work?” Obviously, he’s going to need to call her back.
Diane and Cary walk into the office, Diane in a fitted mustard gold dress that’s a vast improvement on the rest of her very eccentric wardrobe this week. “You have a very impressive resume, Mr. Crouse,” she coos, and he grins back at her. “Well, I’m a very impressive person.”
Immediately, Cary gets waved out of the meeting by the dark haired female associate who showed up with Wanna Be BoyToy to complain about Howard. She has another complaint; she just got a call from a judge saying that the trial they were supposed to start in a month has been moved up to Monday.
“What the hell are you doing,” Cary yells, slamming open Howard Lyman’s office door. “I was about to squeeze lemon juice onto Susan Saradon’s bare torso,” the old creep declares lasciviously, struggling to sit up from his couch, pantless as always. Rightly ignoring this gross bit of too personal information, Cary accused Howard point blank of getting the judge to change the date, and Howard admits it freely. “We’re not even close to being ready,” Cary tells him, shocked. “Then get ready,” Howard replies without compassion. “You push back on the emeritus thing by screwing over a client?” Cary really can’t believe that. “Clients don’t like to wait for the damn court,” Howard shrugs, acting as if advancing the time table really did Cary a favor. “They get all antsy. You’re in the big leagues, buddy.”
“You don’t wanna fight me, Howard,” Cary declares quietly. “Actually, I do,” comes the nonchalant answer.
Well. Alrighty then.
“We may commence petty fighting over tchotchkes,” Judge Dunaway declares wryly. Helpfully, Alicia and Lucca have laid out all the items from the gift shop on their table, and the legal teams do indeed fight over what has artistic merit and can remain on shelves (the catalog, t-shirts without the museum logo) and which ones don’t (mouse pads, t-shirts with the logo which are thereby considered advertising). Perhaps hoping to make an impression, Jason Crouse shows up in the gallery to watch the infighting; sadly for Alicia there’s not much for him to see. Clever Nancy has does her research, and so realized that the photographs were taken at Kenebago Lake in Maine, a state that doesn’t recognize the right of publicity. Okay, Judge Dunaway declares, it’s all permissible. He bangs the gavel and stalks off, leaving Lucca and Alicia with the impression they’ve made him angry.
“It’s not you. He’s hungry,” Jason drawls. What? It turns out that it’s Ramadan, the month-long Muslim holiday which requires fasting during daylight hours. (If anyone’s wondering, that sets the timing between June 17th and July 17th of this past summer.) “So what do we do,” Lucca wonders, and while Jason suggests trying to time court for the morning, I’m puzzled. What’s left to litigate? How is this trial not over? “Thank you,” Alicia says, turning to Jason. “I’m sorry I didn’t hire you immediately.” I believe in second chances, Jason tells her with his signature slow smile, making the line sound much less corny (but maybe also more of a line) than it is. Again, if being around The Haircut turned Peter into a preening peacock ready to prove his masculinity, how the heck is he going to respond to Jason? I guarantee you he will not like his name-only wife having such a sexy/sexed up employee.
Anyway. Jason wonders what Alicia has planned (nothing) and lets her know he’s got a suggestion. I guess that makes him the real Kalinda in this scenario.
“Mr. Wilson, do you consider these images to be child pornography?” Mr. Wilson, on the stand, is a white guy in his fifties or sixties with curly gray hair, wearing a striped button down open at the neck. Obviously Nancy objects (“this man’s opinion is not relevant”), but the judge caves immediately when Alicia reports his expertise in the field: Mr. Wilson has been convicted of possessing, and spent his life sharing, child pornography. Wonderful. Of course what Alicia wants to know is whether Wilson, as a porn connoisseur and proponent, has come across the Kenebago Lake photos. “Absolutely, My online friends and I have traded them back and forth for years.” Wouldn’t it be easier to just buy the book? “For what purpose,” Alicia asks, which forces him to come right out with it: personal sexual gratification. Poor Eric doesn’t know where to look. “And to your mind, are they distinctive from the photos you were convicted of possessing?” There it is. “No,” Wilson shrugs. “Same thing. Only better.”
Yuck. Just yuck.
“Your Honor,” Alicia says, “we submit that these photos are essentially child pornography, and as such, consent does not matter. Nor does any fine arts exception. They cannot be displayed.” Ah. Well. That’s a good tactic. “This is a smear campaign!” An outraged Nancy starts a shouting battle that stalls with the judge’s gavel, but truly ends when his empty stomach begins an epic rumble. Even Nancy, ever the prim teacher’s pet, is appalled at the unseemly intrusion.
“You really see no difference between child pornography and Mrs. Barsetto’s work,” she asks Mr. Wilson, astounded. “Well, they’re artsier,” he admits, “but I still use them.” I think often she’s putting on the small town girl act, but I feel like at least part of her outrage is real when she informs Wilson that she’s from Michigan, so she just can’t understand this. (How lovely it would be if sexual predators confined themselves to specific geographic areas, so you’d know how to avoid them?) Again, Judge Dunaway’s stomach complains loudly, making Nancy wince. “What else do you use, sir, for the purposes of your self gratification? Um, anything from a normal bookshop?” He wouldn’t know, he says; he’s been in jail for the last 15 years. “How about Lolita?” Yeah, not so much. “Gap Kids?” Nice fishing, Nancy, and so gross.
“Simply donating to pro-choice candidates isn’t enough anymore,” Diane tells a group of well dressed women at a typically expensive and traditional looking restaurant. She’s wearing a color blocked jacket in black with bright jewel tones. “We need to think much bigger.” A woman in a suit and pearl-like beads as if that’s her polite way of saying they start a super PAC; it is. “Good afternoon, ladies!” the dulcet tones of Howard Lyman intrude on this strategy session. “And may I say how honored we are to be having this meeting with the leadership of Emily’s World?” Emily’s List, Beaded Lady replies with dark disapproval. “Of course,” Howard enthuses without shame, “So, Diane, are we gonna help these ladies kick some pro-lifer butt in 2016?” HA. Well, Diane, you did claim to find him occasionally charming, and this is him trying his hardest to be that. Somehow it isn’t enough to stop her from pulling him aside.
“Cary tried to keep me out of this meeting,” he declares, pumping his arm close to his chest. “I will not be sidelined.” Poor Diane. “Cary’s not involved in this group!” she cries. “Don’t enable him, Diane,” Howard snaps, and then steps forward. “And may I say, ladies, I think abortion is great!”
Oh dear God. They are writing the heck out him this week, huh?
Back at Lockhart, Agos & Lee Diane rushes into Cary’s office. (Huh. Her jacket is dress-length. Interesting.) “You told Howard not to attend my meeting with Emily’s List knowing he’d show up and make a fool of himself,” she snaps, truly angry. You don’t mess with Diane’s causes. “No,” Cary bites, “I told him not to show up.” Oh please. Nobody’s buying what you’re selling there, Cary, least of all your very angry partner. “You two have to quit this! Now!”
“And set up a call with Abe Earling at The Ledger, we need to do a story on Alicia starting her own firm, working as a bar attorney, defender of the underdog sort of thing…” You know, I get why Eli’s giving instructions to Nora, but not why he’s at the governor’s offices. He needs his own office spaces. He used to have pretty stunning ones, back in seasons 1 and 2. Sure he can afford a closet that doesn’t come with Peter in it. “Nice try, Eli,” Ruth Eastman drawls in her folksy way, “but no. You know voters hate defense lawyers. They keep the bad guys out of prison.” Um, okay. What’s your alternative plan, then? Invent a new career for Alicia? Wipe America’s memories so they’ll forget what she’s always done for a living? “I won’t let you sabotage the campaign!”
What does she want him to do, then, he asks. I control the message, she insists, and gee, what a surprise that control is the sticking point. Every article, interview, anything goes through her. “And you’re on probation!” she finishes, stomping off.
Nora leans over, whispers. “I’m supposed to keep tabs on you for Miz Eastman. Tell her everything you’re doing.” Eli whips his head around. Really? She nods yes.
Back in civil court, Phyllis Barsetto gives an art history lecture, classic paintings displayed on the monitor behind her. She starts with Titian’s masterwork the Venus of Urbino, widely considered the most erotic painting of all time, not merely because it’s a nude but because of the frank eye contact the subject makes with the viewer. (Amusingly when compared to the photograph of Eric, the Venus is shown in her entirety; only her nipples are subtly blurred.) I’m not willing to agree to the comparison; yes, a fuss has been made throughout history as to whether nudes were appropriate for public display, so I suppose that’s one point of comparison, but Venus is likely an adult. Barsetto’s subjects are children. Whether or not it’s right, we assume today that it’s okay to look at this woman’s body and consider it sexually — and any model who might be recognized from it is centuries in her grave. Neither of those things can be said about the Barsetto children. Anyway, the photographer makes an impassioned point about children’s bodies in art, and how they appear naked as babies, angels, cupids. There’s even a famous painting of a naked baby Jesus cradling his mother’s breast as he nurses — but the breast part gets bleeped out by Judge Dunaway’s stomach. Ah well. Even if that’s more slapstick than the show’s forte, it’s still funny to see Nancy’s uptight reaction.
Mrs. Barsetto, of course, believes that her work has more in common with classic works of nude art than with child pornography. I suppose for me the essential difference isn’t even necessarily the nudity, but rather the difference between a painting and a photograph. The photograph is inescapably personal and specific. It’s just not a point of view that makes sense to a photographer, though, and from the stand Phyllis addresses her son directly, hoping to win him back to her side. “I’m sorry, Eric, if they caused you pain. but they’re not pornography.”
To counter this, Alicia launches into the legal definition of pornography, but Nancy cuts her off. Those are criminal statutes. Is Eric going to swear out a criminal complaint against his mother? Um, no. Then here we have a ruling, the judge says. “This court isn’t going to find that Mrs. Barsetto’s photos are child pornography.” And so the injunction expires and the exhibit will reopen. Alicia and Lucca exchange a disappointed look.
I’ve got another offer, Jason Crouse tells Alicia in her apartment office. “May I ask from whom?” Nope! “They want me to be exclusive which means no freelancing for you,” he adds. She narrows her eyes. “Are you leveraging me to get a better deal from them?” I am, he grins. “I don’t have any wiggle room, Mr. Crouse,” she claims. What are they offering you?” He’s enigmatic: “more” is all he says. In the hall, Grace fiercely motions for her mom to do whatever it takes to keep him. “Okay, she says, I’m stretching here, but final final, $85 an hour.” Wow, he laughs. “That will put me in the button third of the P.I. scale.” Take a chance, she urges him. Might be fun. Or he could just see if he could up the other offer. “Yup,” he agrees blithely. “I’ll call you.”
“I don’t get it,” Grace says after he’s gone. (Love Grace’s clothes lately. She looks so darn cute.) “Was that a yes or a no?” It wasn’t a yes, Alicia observes wryly. “Okay,” Grace says, sitting down, “let’s turn to me.” Okay, Alicia replies, surprised. “I’d like to renegotiate my salary,” Grace explains. “You don’t have a salary,” Alicia reminds her. I know, her daughter says. “Which is why I’d like to negotiate it.”
Diane and David sit Cary and Howard down in the main conference room. If we have to needlessly follow LAL through these silly subplots, it’s nice to be back in the conference room for once. “You two need to make peace,” Diane insists. “Or at the very least stop making war,” David adds, and you know if David Lee looks calm and reasonable compared to you, you’re doing something wrong. “We are not leaving this room,” Diane continues, “until we find a way to put aside the differences and work together.” That’s fine by me, Cary replies, clearly trying to be the bigger man.
“Absolutely not,” Howard shoots back, apparently not familiar with the whole “bigger man” concept. “He sat me down at lunch and told me I was worthless.” I’m sure he didn’t say that, Diane attempts to placate the grumpy old man. “Diane, there’s no common ground, okay? It’s either him or me. Cary goes, or I do.” And then to show us the level of his resolve, the steel in his soul, he storms out of the room.
David looks around at Diane, shocked. “Did he just issue the easiest ultimatum in history?” Ha.
This of course begs the question. How soon should we assume that Howard’s going to end up working for Louis Canning? If he can stay awake long enough, he might be an excellent aid in Canning’s quest to destroy the firm that hurt his wife.
Anyway, sorry for the distraction, because our time in the LAL offices aren’t over; Diane notices Jason Crouse walking through the halls and goes to meet him. “I’ve got a counter offer,” he tells her. “And you’re wondering if I’ll beat it?” He is. And he claims it’s for $200 an hour. Well.
So without batting an eye, Diane offers $250 for exclusivity, as long as he can answer right now. Dang. She really wants him; that’s a seriously hiked offer.
“Phyllis, you testified in court about how much Eric loves what he did. How he helped you after school and on the weekend, when some kids play sports or get a job. But he didn’t need a job, he already had one. As y our model.” Oh, now that’s a surprise; we appear to be in a private negotiation rather than back in court. “He enjoyed it,” stubborn Phyllis insists, but thanks to Grace, Alicia’s got a bug in her ear on the whole child labor concept. Well, I suppose if you just keep throwing stuff on the wall, eventually something has to stick, right? Eric, in case you were wondering, once again resists looking at anyone Lucca adds that there were no papers or taxes filed to that affect. “Oh,” Nancy realizes, “you’re going after child labor? Seriously?” Hey, why not? “Our client worked four hours a day, five days a week. That’s per photo. These were 200 photos.
Eric appeals directly to the person who matters most. “Mom, you could have skipped all this. You still could skip it if you just give me the photos.” Reminding me of Lucca’s initial pronouncement (that Alicia might talk about getting the pictures taken down, but it’s really all about feathering her pockets from the museum’s nest), our heroine points out that the photos are already out there online. “You’ll never truly get back what you lost.” So is the way of childhood and time. “But this money, it can help you start the next part of your life.” Phyllis lays her hand on the table. Smiling, Eric lays his hand in hers, and as she places her second hand on top of his, The Weepies’ “And the World Spins Madly On” begins to play in the background. Nice! I love The Weepies. They’re so good. (Hey, this would have a been a good one for last season.) This show almost never plays songs I already know. In fact, I can’t think of a single instance off the top of my head.
“Ruth,” Peter says, looking into her office. “I just got a call from Frank Landau.” Yes, she says regretfully, Eli went rogue. His assistant just told me. Frank is supporting Alicia, Peter announces, and Ruth is floored. Totally floored, stammering and stunned. No, I don’t think so, she stumbles. “He is. He said that Eli arranged it.” It’s too early for Ruth to form complete sentences. “I think it’s good work on Eli’s part, don’t you?” Well, Frank took things much farther than Eli was expecting. Not that this negates the compliment to Eli. Again, Ruth can’t get out a complete sentence. “Give him a call and tell that,” Peter instructs his shocked campaign manager. “I don’t want any bad blood. When he does well, I want you to congratulate him. When you do well, I want him to congratulate you. Give him a call.” Willingly, Ruth lies. Good.
$32,000. That’s not bad for a week’s work,” Grace reflects, sitting with her mother in her home office. “$16,000. I split it 50/50 with Lucca.” Yeah, that’s still a really nice chunk of money for a few days work. “well, let’s see,” Grace counts it out. “400 to Amanda, 160 to Jason….” she gives her mom a speculative look. “80 to me…” As Alicia’s laugh rings out through the apartment, the doorbells rings as well. “I’ll get it,” Grace surges up, gleefully. “It might be a new client!” No, I can get it, Alicia decides, and there’s Jason leaning on her door frame instead.
“So. are we negotiating?” That depends. “What to I have to beat now?” “90 an hour, no exclusivity,” he says. Really! Is it the exclusivity that’s the issue, as it was with Kalinda? Because that’s not much more than a third of what Diane just offered him. Or does he not like the idea of a more corporate job? Or does he just like Alicia? Or, hmm. Or is he in the pay of someone like Canning or Eastman who’d like to keep tabs on Alicia? “95,” she caves, “but that’s it. No more using me as a stalking horse, take it or leave it.” He smiles his slow, sexy smile. “Take it,” he says.
What I’m coming to realize is that the point of this show is also my problem with it. The woman I cared for so much in the beginning, the one so desperately hurt not merely by her husband’s infidelity but also by his general dishonesty, doesn’t exist anymore. She’s not an innocent anymore, not only in the sense that she’s seen evil and been betrayed, but in that she’s done wrong and betrayed others (as even herself). She’s not motivated anymore by fairness under the law. Like her husband and colleagues, Alicia is now willing to do whatever it takes to win hollow success. She’s been “educated” and she’s closed that learning curve Frank graciously forgave her for chaffing at. But I keep coming back to the why, and to the results. Sure, she has money. Just because it gets her access to a higher pay scale, to the world of power, does that mean it’s been a good trade off? It hasn’t made her any closer to her husband or children, or won her true friends, or made her able to live a life that she finds generally fulfilling. It hasn’t made her into a good boss, or a person who can rally others to get things done in the long term. It hasn’t lead her to achieve anything great. It’s won her a life that outsiders might (or might not) look on as being successful, and again, to me, living by other people’s changeable definitions of success is not enough.
What else? As usual, the title generated lots of great ripples, as it were. Innocence! Experience! Alicia the former innocent! Jason the definitely not innocent! Howard, the toothless, senile old man who turns out to fight dirty. Cary, who wants to make nice with the associates and court youth but doesn’t consider that he might serve them ill. Diane and David, clearly representing the world weary experience. Grace, who we still think of as innocent, melting over a hot older man. Eli, pretending innocence and penitence. It Follows, a movie about a haunting that begins with the loss of sexual innocence. Amanda, who seemed to have the experience of Kalinda but turned out not to have her expertise and knowledge. The naked children! The pedophile!
A other few things. Now, I can’t see that the show’s going have Peter succeed in his campaign. Assuming that the show is going to end in May — something I’m currently despairing of, given the lack of word on the subject — we might not even have a clear democratic nominee by that point, let alone a vice presidential one. We probably will, but there was 2008. And good lord, what does it do to the show’s strategy if the presidential nominee’s Bernie Sanders or Lincoln Chafee? I’m not saying it’s likely, just that it’s possible. Anyway. That’s okay. You can have a whole season be about a campaign that we know will fail from the outset. We’ve done it before. I don’t know why we have to do it again, but whatever. Who knows; maybe Peter’s faux-presidential campaign will turn into a real thing.
As for the case, I could probably go on forever. As you may remember from past cases, I’m a total copyright geek; these tend to be my favorite cases from a purely legal standpoint, and this one did not disappoint. There were lots of meaty issues, so much so that it made me wish I was a lawyer and could litigate it along with them. If there are any copyright lawyers out there reading this, please give me your reading of the case!
Also, as you guys are likely aware, I’m a parent. Now, all kids are different, and maybe artsy Phyllis Barsetto raised her kids to be easy with their bodies, to be unashamed enough to run around naked on a beach and not care, but let me tell you my kids would not go for that, let alone let anyone take pictures of them. A five or six year old, you might convince. A toddler, absolutely. Most ten year old girls, however, are already conscious of their bodies in a way that’s not at all likely to result in them enjoying running around naked, let alone getting photographed for it. Even leaving out the onset of body discomfort and the first stirrings of puberty, kids that age aren’t innocent in the extreme way that Phyllis wishes; they’re aware that nudity is not something socially accepted. They’re just too old. I’m curious to know if episode writer Craig Turk has kids, and why he picked the ages that he did for Eric and Wendy.
Well, and obviously, I think the show did a good job of looking at the issues of a parent protecting their children, and how much is necessary. Phyllis and her mothering style of course reflects back on Alicia. When she knew that her children can be damaged by a campaign, Alicia still ran. She tried to protect them, but she ran. And she let Peter run, even knowing that Zach has terrible personal secrets that could come out and deeply hurt him (and Nisa). And that’s the kind of thing that is going to come out. Okay, it’s not as unkeepable a secret as Bristol Palin’s pregnancy, but it’s going to come out. So Phyllis, as much as she wants to send an innocent picture of her children’s bodies out into the world, knows that she’s sending them to the wolves as well. Men stalking her kids at school, websites devoted to them; is the photographs’ prettiness, as Grace put it, enough? Is Phyllis’s ambition or need to make a living enough to counterbalance that? There was no innocence on Phyllis’s part; she used her children’s natural vulnerability to make a point, and to that end, exposed them to evil. Is that evil just an inevitable consequence of being in the modern, connected world? On the other hand, she’s making an artistic statement about a world that could be a better one, a more beautiful one. She’s perhaps looking to create that world, to contribute to a better future. And surely, as Nancy pointed out with her comment about the Gap Kids ads, it’s not like you can hide the photographic existence of children (or women) from sexual predators. Is every parent who puts beach photos of their kids on Facebook just as culpable?
Anyway. There’s also the feminist angle, which interests me. Yes, women get questioned about things that men don’t. Women are expected to be nice and thoughtful and considerate of others rather than themselves where men aren’t, a phenomenon well explained by Jennifer Lawrence this week. But on the other hand, I feel like characters on this show use that dichotomy as permission to be assholes; to me feminism isn’t about being able to be a jerkwad just because men can get away with it. Feminism, for me, is about not being ashamed of looking at the world in the way I do, which happens to be cooperative and egalitarian and yes, nice. Obviously this ties in to my dissatisfaction with the turn Alicia’s character has taken; I see more value in compassion. Maybe like Phyllis I’m lancing at windmills, but I’d rather live to create the world I want to see than give in to the corruption and moral bankruptcy.
Personally, I don’t see that the gender of the artist has anything to do with it being wrong to deny Eric control of his own body and image. To me, it’s incontrovertible that his rights are being trampled on in the most intimate and uncomfortable way. But perhaps there’s a little truth to Phyllis’ accusations of gender bias. Can I say for sure that I’m not more upset that the parent who’s so denying their child autonomy is a woman, because I expect her to be more ready to do what I think is right, putting the interest of the child before her artistic point? Maybe. Maybe I do expect better from a woman.
Finally, let’s talk about Jason Crouse, the new Kalinda who doesn’t look like Kalinda but definitely brings the sex the way Kalinda did. Well, and flirts shamelessly with Alicia, Diane and presumably Grace. I fear that the full wattage charm offensive will be a little much over time (and if you don’t like him, must already be nails on a chalkboard). I’m incredibly curious to see how audiences will react to him; after all, he was insanely popular as Denny Duquette while Denny was alive. But he’s definitely a unique character, which is important, and his reliance on sensual charisma feels different for us to see from a man. I do wonder about his choosing to work for Alicia when he had the offer of so much more money. What’s in it for him? Is his independence really so precious, or is there something else going on?
And there it is. If it’s not too late, let me know what you think about this episode before the new one airs. How much is Canning working behind the scenes here? Is he going to snap up Howard, assuming Diane and David do let him go? Should Eric be able to just shrug off the attention of pedophiles and support his mother’s art? Why does consent seem to be a one time deal? Is Eli going to be able to bring Frank to his knees in a matter of months? Does he have Alicia’s interests at heart, or is he going to destroy her along with Ruth? Should Lockhart, Agos & Lee be taking up time at all? Let me know!