E: In which Alicia invokes attorney/client privilege where it probably doesn’t even apply (but where speaking up could really have made everyone’s life easier) and also breaks it in the lamest possible, most off-hand way.
In other words, the show proves itself maddeningly incapable of making consistent character choices, yet still manages to entertain with a deeply flawed but also fascinating case of the week, outstanding family drama and an very unexpected — yet rather delicious — alliance. And also dalliance. The forest might be terribly disappointing, but the individual trees remain unrivaled.
Yep, you knew it was coming after last week’s bruising: Howard Lyman sits in Alicia’s sitting room, trying to stay awake as he waits for her to come home from Bond Court. Of course, just because we knew it was inevitable doesn’t mean Alicia does, and she’s comically stunned to see him. (I love that he springs to his feet when he hears her at the door so that he makes a more alert impression when she walks into the room.) “Love your coasters,” he says, setting his drink down. “Big fan of Lincoln.” George Bernard Shaw, she re-attributes whatever the quote is written on them. Now I’m intrigued. Howard isn’t; he frowns in distaste. “Big anti-Semite.” Fair enough. “What are you doing here, Howard?” Alicia asks in her frostiest tone.
We all know. He needs a lawyer.
Before dealing with him, Alicia steps into her bedroom, where Grace is laughing at an adorable laughing picture of her as a small child. “I was such a cow,” she says, not unhappily. Why would she say that? “Don’t worry, dear,” Jackie tells her, photo album on her lap, “most babies are unattractive.” Okay, that’s insane. Thankfully Grace knows her grandmother too well to let this affect her, and explains to her mom that they’re picking out photos for one of Peter’s upcoming ads. “You look so stern in these pictures, Alicia,” Jackie frowns, not looking up or greeting her daughter in law, and Alicia rolls her eyes. Being the excellent assistant she is, Grace not only mentions Howard, but that Lucca expects Alicia in Bond Court in an hour.
So why do you need a lawyer, Alicia asks Howard, joining him in her office. “They’re pushing me out. Cary, that little gerbil, told to take emeritus status.” How much do you love that he’s continuing to call Cary a gerbil? “Can you imagine that, me, huh? My billings are up double digits!” That’s not you, it’s the associates, Alicia snarks. I’m a partner, that’s what we do, he frowns, and then stops to look at her. “Who’s side are you on anyway?” Why would she be on yours? She folds her hands. “My guess is they’re pushing you out because of performance. You don’t do anything, Howard.”
Well, you can’t say it plainer than that.
He’s willing to look past her frankness, however: he wants to bring an ageism suit, and he assumes she wants revenge for getting fired. She leans forward, saying she’s going to give him some advice, clearly thinking about exactly what she’s going to say. “We on the meter?” he asks. No, she says; this is free. “You can’t bring an ageism suit if you quit, and you can’t let them fire you for cause.” He’s listening closely. What does he do? “Work harder,” she says, and not kindly. “Bring more money to the firm, and they won’t have a rationale to fire you. Lay the groundwork. Keep a journal of every incidence of ageism you encounter.” He nods. “With details – who said or did what. And don’t give them cause to fire you!” She looks at her watch and rolls her eyes again, this time at the oddness that’s become her life. “I have to go to Bond Court!”
The elevator dings as Howard waits in the hall outside Alicia’s apartment, a surprised Jackie joining him, the photo album clutched to her chest. “Madam,” he acknowledges her with a little bow, and she flusters. Oh my gosh.
Once inside the elevator, he stares down at her from behind. “Did you used to sing?” he asks. Excuse me, she replies, eyebrows raised. “Sing,” he repeats. “You look like someone I used to know at the Civic Opera House.” Ah. Nicely done — that could have offended her if it wasn’t such a posh venue. But alas no, Jackie has no opera training or background. They both smile at the floor, pleased with the conversation, and he leans in. “You do have a face of an opera singer,” he presses, and she laughs again. “You are a flirt!” she accuses, charmed, and he presses a hand over his heart. “My best quality,” he confesses.
Her phone rings; because Howard is listening, and not so subtly checking her backside out, she’s extra formal and polite on the phone, enough to confuse Eli, who’s back to walking and talking in the governor’s offices. What’s he doing there? Being hazed by a gleefully malicious Ruth and an unknown staffer, apparently, who gave him the wrong time for a campaign meeting. Classy.
She sits back down at a table with her staffers, where there’s no room for Eli. “Hillary uses Iowa to shore up her base,” she says,”and we use it to stake out ground to her right. Hillary will run the table, and we’ll be the only vice presidential option who can pull in the middle.” Well. It’s an interesting strategy. Candidates tend to run too far to the extremes in the primaries, in order to shore up their bases, and then have to reset themselves for the general election (a somewhat ridiculous process when all those far-out views get discussed endlessly in the press and even posted online); running to the middle won’t win you primaries, but I suppose it’s possible that it could win you a national rep as a centrist. That’s why our theme of the week needs a center-right tilt, a high placed staffer notes. “Family first,” Ruth reaffirms. Oh, too funny. The Florricks have had their hard times, but stuck together and came out stronger.
God, could this be more absurd or offensive? I’m really not sure it could. That’s not to say it can’t be sold — there is no such thing as a perfect family, only people who try hard to be the best family they can — but it’s a really tricky ground to make your stand on since it will always bring to mind your flaws.
Ruth plans to talk to the Iowa Commission on Family (which I’m not sure is a thing) and Catholic Charities (definitely a thing). And we need Alicia to play ball, the new staffer calls out, and everyone turns to look at Eli. Oh, I already gave you Mrs. Florrick’s schedule, he waves dismissively. I love that Eli’s the one sticking with formal, respectful language here. “Right,” Outspoken Staffer says. “6 days over the next two months?” Huh. Yep, that’s Eli screwing the campaign over for sure.
“I just want to know, why is she controlling the governor’s agenda?” Carl asks. “Why are we dancing to her tune?” Eli looks positively thrilled. “No one’s dancing to anyone’s tune. Alicia has a job, she has responsibilities,” Ruth defends Alicia. Interesting. Why is Carl being the heavy here and not Ruth? Is that a play of some kind? (Also, this is the kind of thing Alicia should have thought of before she told Peter to run. Stupid stupid stupid.) “Right,” he complains, “Responsibilities like defending murderers and dead beat dads.”
“Carl, that’s enough. I’m sure Eli’s already talked to Alicia about all of this,” Ruth declares with a wave of her hand. It feels so staged, this whole conversation. “Have you?” Carl pounces. Eli’s eyebrows go up. “Have I talked to her about defending murderers, or how many days she’s giving the campaign?” The days, Carl snaps, but Eli makes a stopping motion. “I wanna hear from Ruth,” Eli insists. ‘I’m sure she can talk to herself.”
Yes. I wonder why she isn’t.
“We need more days, Eli. Twice as many,” Ruth tells him. Be careful what you wish for! Also, good luck with that. There’s no way she’ll take two and half weeks off work in the next two months. Yet again. Stupidest plot (and decision) ever.
When the meeting ends, Ruth follows Eli out of the room, telling him she wants him in office so she can keep tabs on him. There’s Nora in the background so I guess that will make it easier for her to work for Eli while she’s apparently continuing to work for Peter? Miz Eastman’s just so pleased with herself she’s bursting with it, and in a minute we see why — his new office is the size of a nice closet, and the door smacks into the desk when she opens it. Of course it’s largely bad space management (move the desk back two inches, or even put it against the wall, and you’re done with this absurdity) but whatever. They did this better with Cary at the SA’s Office. And then at Lockhart/Gardner. But hey, you can’t beat a tiny office for physical comedy, right? I can’t decide if this show just has no institutional memory, or if the powers that be just have really specific senses of humor.
“You can’t harass me out of my job,” Eli growls, arms folded. “Now why would I do that?” Ruth laughs. “It’ll be much more fun watching you come into the office each day.”
“Oh. And we need Mrs. Florrick to appear on Momma’s Homespun Cooking,” she remembers. Oh, now that’s a smart idea. Excellent. Nothing could go wrong with that! I can’t stop laughing. What are they thinking? Haven’t they ever seen Alicia? Do they only know fake campaign Alicia? Ugh. Eli glowers at Ruth, his arms cross, his eyebrows fused together. “I’m sorry, what?” Momma’s Homespun Cooking, she repeats. “It’s a cooking show. Daughters learn recipes from their moms.” Ah. Well. Grace and Alicia together on TV would be pretty adorable, actually. “You want Alicia and Veronica to do a cooking show together?” Eli can’t quite get the words out.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Oh, now that’s really and truly the worst idea ever.
So if Eli were actually in Alicia’s corner, here’s where he’d tell Ruth to substitute Grace, but of course he doesn’t; he just lets Ruth blather on about traditional values and generational post-feminist respect. WHAT. EVER. “Hillary with the chocolate chip cookies,” he nods, and Ruth points a finger at him. That exactly. But that’s a well noted awkward disaster! Is she even listening to herself? “What if I said Alicia and Veronica would never do that?” he starts. “Then I would ask you to be a professional and convince them,” she says. She leaves, and his frown transforms into a murderous happy smile.
Judge Schakowsky gives his pitch to the latest crop of prisoners in Bond Court as the inevitable Bond Court baby wails. Why is there always a baby crying? And why do we never actually see this mysterious, invisible baby? “Do you understand?” he asks, not even facing toward the defendants. “Bully,” he cheers himself when no one responds, and he calls Alicia’s next case, a 26 year old man who’s been arrested 4 times before, and each time made his scheduled court appearance. “Bully for him,” Judge Breakfast snarks, clearly having worked up a new catch phrase since we saw him last; the guy’s a thief but at least he’s a prompt one. Bail’s set at 30k; that was a new strategy, Lucca laughs at Alicia as the two set off to get through twelve new cases.
“Male, 28, manufacturing and distribution of a controlled substance,” Alicia reads off her next file. “Mr. Roland Hah-lavin?” “Lavin,” the young man pronounces it for her, standing. “It’s okay, everyone gets it wrong.” He’s got a slightly nerdy, hang dog look, and is short with black curly hair; the dark circles under his eyes stand out against his pale skin. Like the judge, Alicia gives her little speech about getting paid and how he doesn’t have to keep her as his attorney after this moment, etc… “I know this,” he stops her. “The judge already said all this. I want you.” Well then. She rolls on to the next part of her speech.
“Look, I used to work at the Tower of Terror,” he explains. “I had to say the same thing over and over again for months. I’m very sympathetic to people who have to say the same something by rote. I’ll just sign it.” Huh. Alicia blinks back her surprise; I’m sure that’s far more articulate an answer than she’s used to getting, let alone his consideration of her rather than himself. More questions for her form: is he currently employed. “Well I was currently employed, and then they arrested me, so, no.” Funny how that works. Wait, does that mean he got arrested at work? Ties to the community? He starts to blather about how all his college friends (Stanford, class of 2011) started their own businesses , while he had to start his own chemistry lab, when she cuts him off. Focus, puppy dog. Ties to the community. No, he just manages to say that he loves drugs. Not using them, but making them. UGH. You’re sweet, but stop talking!
You were arrested with someone, she prompts him. “Yeah, my dealer,” he says, looking at a player type sitting nearby in the terrarium: a big, confident looking fellow talking to Lucca and taking up lots of physical space, wearing gray suit jacket over an open necked maroon shirt. In other words, Central Casting’s idea of a typical slimy upscale drug dealer. Wait, his what? “Well, not my dealer,” he corrects himself, “he’s the dealer who sold my GHBL…” Um, what? So that’s where the second level of Cooked comes from; first the cooking show, and now Mr. (h)Lavin is cooking up drugs to sell in a lab. Don’t say anything, let me talk for you, she cautions as he’s called. That might be hard, he admits. Just do it, she tells him in her best Mary Poppins voice, polite but firm.
The ASA begins his pitch — Roland Hlavin was caught with GHB with the intent to sell and Mr. Pierre Paul was caught selling it. Together the defense attorneys complain that the state has confiscated all of the clients’ property (two million dollars worth of drugs in Hlavin’s case, good lord) and then has the gall to expect them to pay an onerous, exorbitant bail. It’s the definition of cruel and unusual, Alicia grandstands, perhaps thinking of Cary. “Really?” snarks Judge Breakfast. “Cruel and unusual? Before lunch?” My client just wants his day in court, Alicia says. Breakfast ties the bail amount to the drugs; 300k each.
The ASA, a regular-looking guy we haven’t seen before, rushes up to Lucca and Alicia before another case comes up. “This case matters to the State’s Attorney,” he says, explaining that they’re offering what’s called an exploding deal. One of these guys will get a single year in prison, the other 25. Whoever reaches him first gets to make the plea. They have 45 minutes. Huh. It’s a good thing that it’s a light morning, then, isn’t it, because normally the judge wouldn’t give them 3 minutes, let alone 45, to confer with their clients. The time starts now, he says, and though the two women protest that they’re a united front, they can’t run to their clients fast enough.
In two separate meeting rooms, they explain to their clients the obvious benefit of being the one to turn state’s evidence. “Yeah, but that means going to jail, right?” Pierre-Paul complains in a small voice. “What happened to my day in court?” Roland asks. That was just a strategy to get you out on bail, Alicia says. “But I think I want it, though,” her sad-eyed client replies. “Roland!” Alicia cries, exasperated. “You were caught selling fifty gallon drums of GHB! Six of them!” No, he says. “Yes, six,” she snaps, but that’s not what he means. “All right, look,” he begins, scratching at blank piece of paper. “After Stanford I came back here, got a job at IBM. But my brother, he o.d.’d at a company party so I quit. Now, GHB gives the user a feeling of euphoria, but take it in combination with alcohol and you stop breathing.” We don’t have much time, Alicia reminds him, frustrated at this excess of personal detail. “I thought I could make it safer. I felt like I owed that to my brother, do I did.” He holds up the paper, which show two wildly different chemical formulas. “This GHB. This is what I make. I call it Snowball Chi, its a designer drug. Your body turns it into GHB on contact with stomach acid, but when you take it, or when I sell it…”
It isn’t GHB, Alicia realizes. That’s right. It isn’t illegal. Damn, she curses; I’ll be right back. And she flies out of the room.
And the sound of a wailing, inconsolable baby lets us know we’re back in Bond Court. Don’t make the deal, Alicia calls out to Lucca Quinn. What deal, Lucca asks, feigning ignorance. “They weren’t selling GHB,” Alicia rushes, “It’s a synthetic. It’s not on the controlled substance list.” That’s not going to save them, Lucca counters. The government will consider it an analog. “It’s still illegal. They’ll say its substantially similar.” Not in chemical structure, Alicia contends. “They’re just trying to get us to jump because they know it’s not a listed drug, don’t make the deal.” I just did, Lucca confesses. “You just sent your client to jail for no reason,” Alicia glowers.
Not one to dwell, Alicia gets on the phone with Grace, asking her daughter to call new private investigator Jason and get him to find a synthetic drug expert (what, no using Owen’s Chicago polytech contacts anymore?), and also to find a friend who can testify for Hlavin. Get me background, she sums up, and unlike incompetent Amanda, Grace the Wonder Secretary knows exactly what she means. Is Roland “Silent H” Hlavin a paying customer, the girl asks; well, he is if Mom can get the government to unfreeze his two million dollars in drug money. Can I say again how much I love them working together? It’s seriously so much fun. Best thing about this season, no question; if only summer vacation could last all year long! (Also, I like Silent H as a nickname; it sounds like a designer drug.)
And here’s Eli doing Ruth’s bidding. “So,” he says, “this is where you work these days?” He sniffs, deeply offended by the great unwashed. “Eli, I have allocution in a minute,” she says. Can we do this another time? Do what, he wonders, engaging in the typical dance. Confuse or annoy Alicia and she’ll be less able to think through your proposition. Whatever it is you’re here to do, she sighs.
“Have you ever heard of Momma’s Homespun Cooking?” he asks, leaving her stammering in shocked confusion. Clearly not. “It’s a cooking show,” he adds helpfully. “I need you to go on it, tomorrow, with Veronica, live.” Live! Is he kidding? This idea gets more and more stupid. “I know,” he says, looking at her shocked expression, “that’s what I thought too — at first.” I’m too busy to deal with this complete nonsense, she tells him, because it just sounds like random unconnected words coming out of his mouth. “Here’s the deal,” he says. “You can be yourself. I want you to be yourself.” Could it be any more clear that he’s hanging her out to dry? How is that not clear to her? “On a cooking show. With my mother.” A strategy which Peter would never in a million billion years have agreed to because he is not a complete moron. “Yes! It’ll be fun. We’ll have fun! And more importantly, you say yes to this you can say no to a dozen other things.” Because it will be such a disaster the campaign won’t come anywhere near you again? “Why can’t I say no to a dozen things now?” she asks in a smart ass voice. Eli sucks in his cheeks, disapproving. “Because you want to steer events, you don’t want events to steer you.”
Okay, that is the biggest load of hogwash ever. The show is doing this because it will be fun for us viewers to see Alicia and Veronica snipe at each other during a cooking show. There is no way that Alicia would ever agree to it. Simply not plausible. And if Peter knew it was happening, he’s put a stop to it. Plus, how does Alicia (now a very experienced campaigner) not become suspicious when Eli tells her to be herself on a television show? Seriously. There’s no level on which this is believable.
We’re not done with the wackiness for today, though – not by a long shot. Alicia’s phone rings, and it’s Howard Lyman. I don’t have time for you, Howard, she says, but he begs. I just need something fast. What? “I need Jackie’s number.” Twice in the same minute, Alicia’s rendered speechless. “Jackie Florrick?” Howard expands helpfully. “Why?” Alicia asks, totally stumped. “I wanna ask her out,” he shrugs.
Damn. How can one show annoy and thrill me so much in the space of literally 20 seconds? I’m speechless. Squealing, but speechless.
Judge Breakfast calls up Roland “Hav-lavin” on the charge on manufacturing a controlled substance so that he can plead not guilty; Alicia has to hustle up from the back of court to help him enter the plea. Mr. Pierre-Paul, on the other hand, is charged with one count of distribution. How does he plead? Lucca doesn’t answer. “Counselor, are we having a moment of reflection here?” the judges wonders, annoyed. Indeed she is. “Lucca!” he barks, but she turns and whispers to her client not to take the plea. Confused, he gives her a questioning “Not guilty?”
“The defendant reversed herself, we had a deal!” The ASA cries, irritated. “Well first of all,” Judge Breakfast smirks, “the defendant is a he, and second of all, the deal has nothing to do with this court, Mr. Pratt.” Yeah – why are they even doing this here? Isn’t Bond Court just for bonds, not for guilty pleas? Oh, whatever. “If she says yes to you, she can change her mind. We are set for pre-trial motions this afternoon. I imagine you’ll ask to dismiss,” he addresses the defense attorneys. Yes, Your Honor, they say as one. “Bully! We’re done here! Lunch!” He slams the gavel on this jurisdiction confusing morning. “Screw me like that, I will screw you back,” Pratt hisses in Lucca’s ear on his way out. “Have at it,” she replies dryly, but the expression she gives Alicia has a lot less bravado in it. “Okay, I just made an enemy I don’t need. This better work.”
It must be noted that the music that takes us to the first commercial bears a not insignificant resemblance to the Game of Throne theme.
Diane sits in her office across from a pretty, fresh faced young woman with long, softly curling blond hair. “No one reaches the summit on her own,” she says, wearing a sleek blue suit in a thickly woven fabric. “Women help women. I’ve mentored exceptional women. Alicia Florrick was one of them.” You’d think after the scandal that wouldn’t be so much of a selling point. “But now that she’s running her own firm, I would like to mentor someone new, and I’d like it to be you, Naomi.” Clearly, Diane is expecting riots of joy with this news. Naomi blushes a becoming shade of pink. “Your work is very good, very diligent, and I think your legal opinions are sometimes bold. It never pays to be conservative.” Thank you, Naomi gasps, and once she speaks her resemblance to Julia Stiles is even more pronounced. “So I’d like to meet once a week or so, talk about strategies for advancement,” Diane suggests.
“Will it mean more hours?” Naomi-Julia asks, bringing Diane’s mood crashing down. No, she says, visibly colder. Of course Naomi-Julia doesn’t notice, but instead launches into a meandering personal reflection. “I only ask because I’m not sure I can commit to more hours.” Oh, shut up, girl! “I have a boyfriend now!” She’s unreasonable proud of the fact, especially considering how beautiful she is. And then there’s the obvious fact that it’s really not Diane’s concern. “We met online.” Yeah, Diane definitely does not need (or want) to know this; she stares, and takes off her glasses. “You understand this is an honor?” she glares, annoyed. “Yes,” Naomi-Julia agrees quickly. “Completely. And thank you. It’s just – Ryan’s on the fast track at Belvedere and we’re trying to keep some time for each other. I’m worried about my last relationship. I was so focused on my career and where that was headed that I completely cut out my romantic ties in my life. Now it’s about three years since I even went on a date, and then I met Ryan online and that was really exciting for me. And he has the most beautiful hair…” Diane’s eyes pop.
She sails into Cary’s office in high dungeon. I wouldn’t have expected it, but from a distance, her suit is shiny as leather. “Do these new summer interns seem less committed to you?” she asks. Wait, why is she offering to mentor a summer intern? I mean, summer interns are law students, right, although I suppose they often do get hired by the firm they intern at. Anyway, this is a little odd. When Naomi talks about being committed to her career, she must mean to school? Because why would she be a summer intern otherwise? Stop overthinking things, E. “No,” Cary says, amused, ” Do they to you?” Yes, she spits. “Well, I think every outgoing generation of lawyers looks at the incoming crop and thinks they’re not worthy,” he suggests reasonably. “Yes. But this generation isn’t,” she growls, pacing like a caged lioness. “They’re worried about their boyfriends, their long work days.” She takes on a baby voice to catalog the complaints, and Cary smiles at her mocking tone. “They’re looking for more balance in their lives, more leisure time. That’s a good thing.” It is? From the employer’s perspective? Huh. Diane bites her lip. “Let’s get the equity partners together today,” she tells him. Why? “To talk about Alicia.”
Oh dear. That can’t be good.
Meanwhile Alicia’s in Judge Schakowsky’s court, where the desired synthetic drug expert is testifying to the difference between GHB and Snowball Chi. It’s a lot, in case you were wondering. (I’m wondering where the witness stand came from.) “The design is really quite elegant when you look at it,” he smiles. “Thank you,” Roland calls out, in this tone that clearly indicates he considers himself an unappreciated artist; you can imagine how appreciative the judge is of that little outburst. After apologizing, Alicia gets her expert to blind the court with science; Roland’s new compound is electrically neutral, while GHB is ionic. Lucca blinks. So would that be like the difference between Coke and Pepsi, Alicia asks, and now it’s the expert’s turn to look pained. “No, it’s more like the difference between abuterate coaligase and a buterol ACL transferase.” Oh. Very helpful.
ASA Pratt gets right to the heart of the matter; isn’t this an analog to GHB? It doesn’t have to be a specifically controlled substance to actually count as an illegal drug, thanks to the Federal Analog Act. Of course Alicia protests that her scientist isn’t a legal expert, but Breakfast is just peeved that they’re turning the motion to dismiss into an actual trial. Yes. All that law and evidence stuff is so irritating. “I have a life, I’d like to get back to it,” he adds, swanning his hand over the bench. What life is that again? Giving rote speeches and being bored by new cases?
“And isn’t it also true that no matter how elegant the defendant’s attempt to elude the law is,” Pratt goes on, prompting an outraged Alicia to object again. He’ll rephrase: isn’t the high identical to GHB? That is definitely true, the expert agrees from his chair. So it’s covered by the analog act since the drugs are only a few molecules away. We’re not talking about a few molecules, Alicia objects. It’s the difference between… “Coke and Pepsi, yes, I get it,” the judge cuts her off. “Thanks for making this folksy, counselor. But your motion to dismiss is denied.” Pratt allows himself a small, controlled smile.
“Damn, I thought we had it,” Alicia curses as the two defendants get walked out of court by sheriffs. “What?” she asks, looking at Lucca’s expression. “We still might,” Miss Quinn replies, beginning a smile of her own, clearly thinking through an alternative plan.
Bam goes the door against Eli’s desk as Nora shows a guest into the tiny office. It’s Veronica Loy. Again I’d like to complain that there’s substantially more room behind the desk than there is in front of it, but whatever; I guess he does need to be able to push his chair back. Of course all the furniture is far too large for the space, and no, don’t tell me that’s what makes it funny. That’s what doesn’t make it funny. Anyway, Veronica, and her terribly ruined face walk inside. ‘This is your office?” she asks nonsensically. “Yes. I am thinking of having it painted,” he says. “What do you think?” She grunts, non-committal. Clearly paint isn’t going to solve anything. (And personally, I like the beige-gray. It’s warm, but still formal and office-like.) I don’t have much patience for the attempts at physical comedy – he closes the door, she thanks him, he plunks down a metal folding chair and then almost walks around her to get to his desk before going back where he came from, making her stand back up. Sigh. I just don’t see that Peter would really want me involved, she begins. I’m not someone he wants speaking for him.
We want to show the world that Peter has a strong family, Eli says, hands folded primly, and Veronica guffaws before she can stop herself. “Have you heard of Momma’s Homespun Cooking?” No, she says, shaking the remains of her face, what’s that. “It’s a reality show.” Sounds delightful, she replies with that old Abby Bartlet verve. “And I’d like you to appear on it with Alicia.” She tries to hide her bursts of laughter behind her hand. “You would teach Alicia a recipe.” Yeah, there’s no hiding that guffaw. “A recipe she would then cook for her family.” Veronica still can’t speak; she waves her hand at Eli as the gales of laughter shake her. “And I’d love for you to participate,” he finishes. “Oh, I wouldn’t miss that for the world,” she chuckles, gulping back her laughter, tears in her eyes.
At the head of a table of elderly men, Cary and David, Diane goes through business with the equity partners. The Turnbo depositions start Wednesday. What about the Clyford-Hartford suit, Cary asks. “Settled,” Howard pipes up, and all eyes snap in his direction. “$1.2 million in damages, and remediation for facilities in Peoria.” Well, Cary says after a pregnant silence. “Someone had a good nap.” Laughter rolls through the room, bright and loud. Would you mind repeating that, Howard asks. What, Cary wonders. “I just wanted to make sure everybody heard it,” Howard says. Oh, it was a joke, Cary waves his hand, trying to move on. Oh, I know, Howard agrees. “Could you say it exactly as you said it before?” “I said, ‘someone had a good nap!'” Cary repeats, drawing laughter again; Howard thanks him and starts scribbling in his notebook (presumably Alicia’s suggested ageism journal) furiously. Anyone else thinking that the aging up of the firm makes this claim even more unlikely to succeed? I mean, Howard can’t be any older than the rest of these folks.
Diane can’t really be bothered to understand this oddness, however; she wants to talk about turning down the heat on Alicia. “You want to invite her back?” We do that we lose Reese Dipple’s business, David reminds them. Not that, Diane agrees. But we have more cases than we could handle; we could feed her our overflow. The money wouldn’t matter to them, but could help her a great deal. “It would also help neutralize her as a potential pawn for Canning,” Cary realizes. Yes. There’s no point in being enemies here. “She could be our pawn instead.” Okay, now you ruined it.
And that’s when Diane notices Howard seemingly counting the people at the table. Maybe that’s a good thing, because I forgot everyone else was there, what with their total silence. What is he doing? Checking to see who’s here, he says, and seriously, there’s no one under 70 among the extras. What’s UP with that? Where did all these ancient people come from? Where are all the young turks from Florrick Agos? I know Diane brought over some of the department heads from Lockhart/Gardner, but this is ridiculous. Have they all drunk aging potions? Howard’s phone rings, and he excuses himself as Diane asks for discussion on the topic of Alicia and the overflow.
“This is Howard,” he says once he’s out in the hall. Oh, this is Jackie Florrick returning your call, Jackie says, making herself what looks like a ham and cheese sandwich in Alicia’s kitchen. “Did you need Alicia’s number?” Jackie fiddles with the cap of the mustard. Oh no, he says, I was calling for you!
She looks up in shock.
“Oh! Well. How may I help you?” I love how she retreats into formality. “I haven’t done this in a long time, so I’m a little rusty,” he says, tilting from side to side, “but, would you like to have dinner with me?” Jackie’s eyes go wider and wider.
Intent, Lucca says to Alicia as the two sit alone in the now empty gallery, watching warily as the sheriff patrols the other side of the room. What intent? Well, to be classed under the federal analog act, you had to have known what you were doing. You have to know you’re making an analog. Roland did, Alicia replies, confused.
Here’s Lucca’s plan. Pierre-Paul thought he was buying GHB, not an analog. And although Roland knew what he’d made, he hasn’t yet testified to the fact. This seems to get Pierre-Paul off the hook either way. “He can’t be prosecuted for buying a controlled substance, because he didn’t. He can only be prosecuted for buying an analog, as long as he knew it was an analog. Which he didn’t.” Well. Nicely reasoned. Alicia quirks her head, giving Lucca a very respectful look. It’s a catch–22, she realizes. Yes, Lucca agrees. A very neat one. But it will only work for Roland Hlavin if he can testify to not knowing what he was doing.
So as unlikely as this is, Alicia goes to Hlavin in jail and gives him the room to come to his own decision about what to say. You’re not a chemist, you’re a computer scientist, she says. Is there any chance you made whatever it is you did make by accident? Obviously not, but she lays out the strategy for him saying so anyway. I don’t really see how she can argue it as elegant and distinct on the one hand, and then as accidental and ignorant on the next, but okay. She explains to him that his intent is paramount in the catch-22 strategy Lucca’s devised. I’m explaining to you what your dealer is going to say. I’m just telling you that it could be your defense, too. Just take your time. No rush. Think.
Judge Breakfast smirks as Alicia takes Roland through this testimony on the witness stand. He never intended to make an analog; he was trying to make GHB. Pratt objects; he just admitted that he was trying to make a controlled substance, he says. Yes, but he didn’t succeed, Schakowsky smiles appreciatively, which just kind of grosses me out. He’s so cynical. He knows Hlavin is guilty, he knows that he’s essentially perjuring himself, and he doesn’t care. “He didn’t make a controlled substance, he made an analog. I imagine you’re arguing by accident?” This is pointed at Alicia, who is. I still don’t understand what this has to do with his bond, or how this is still in Bond Court, but whatever. “It’s a little cute, but it does put you in a bind, Mr. ASA,” the judge considers.
ASA Pratt thinks it’s semantics. No, it’s the law, Breakfast smarms at his most odious. “You know the difference? I get a gavel.” Just gross. He’s always inventing new ways for me to dislike him, this one. Alicia moves for dismissal, but Pratt wants to cross first. Keep that motion ready, Breakfast advises Alicia.
Ah, but not so fast! We’ve about half a show left, people! It can’t be that easy. Smartly, Pratt plays on Hlavin’s ego. How did you go so wrong? Doesn’t failing to make GHB make you a failure? You can’t hold a job, you get arrest for selling this after only a few tries. You’re not some designer drug genius, you didn’t make the drug safer or better, you’re just a kid who botched something he read off the internet.
“No, it is better,” Hlavin answers, pressing his lips together, having his own little “you can’t handle the truth!” moment. “Oh, so you knew you were making something different?” Hlavin goes red and blotchy with anger and contempt. “I knew I was making something that saves lives!” Not like GHB, Pratt asks. “That’s right!” snaps the two angry Roland, and the two defense attorneys roll their eyes, exasperated. Our plan would have worked, if not for that meddling ASA! Almost as soon as the words are out of his mouth, Hlavin realizes what he’s done. Thank you, says Bratty Pratt, and without further discussion Breakfast denies the motion to dismiss.
And that’s the exact moment Grace takes to bring a little more weirdness into the case. “There’s something up with your client,” she says. “He didn’t go to Stanford!” Huh? He’s on the alumni website for the class of 2011, but industrious Grace has called the school, which has no record of anyone with his name, ever. “Neither does IBM. And the home address on his arrest report? There’s a Cuban family living there.”
Alicia shakes her head, unable to add this up. “Grace, what’s going on?” she asks uselessly. Of course Grace has no idea. She can say one thing for sure: “But your client doesn’t seem to exist.” She looks at Hlavin, shaking his head and glowering at the floor as a sheriff begins to nudge him out of his seat.
“I have to be out of here in an hour, Eli,” Alicia complains while touching up her make up for Momma’s Home Cooking. Me too, Veronica adds. Gosh, I can’t see her without wanting to cry. How could you think your natural face was so much worse than this? “Why?” Alicia scoffs, powdering her face. What do you possibly have to do? I have things to do, Veronica replies, offended. You’re not the only one who works, you know. Veronica works? Really? Doing what?
As Alicia continues to powder her nose, Veronica (wearing a sort of animal print in green and black, her daughter in one of her typical sleek black sheaths) leans an elbow on the back of her chair. Her face looks so much more face-like in profile. “I hear you’re punishing yourself as usual,” she says. Ah, Veronica. Always overly direct and aggressive. “Punishing?” Alicia replies, surprised. “That’s what Owen says,” Veronica replies dryly. Bond Court, obviously. Attending to the great unwashed. Alicia laughs. “I’m starting over. It’s a good feeling.”
“Like every new husband,” Veronica muses. “It’s a good feeling. For the first few months.” She leans over. “Why isn’t Peter helping you?” Huh. I hadn’t really thought of it that way, because Peter could help her, and unlike Alicia from the first few seasons, she’s been okay with accepting Peter’s help for a while. “Eli?,” Veronica turns to Peter’s former chief. Don’t ask me, Eli replies quickly.
“Mom, have you been drinking?” Alicia wonders. Though Veronica denies it (“it’s two o’clock in the afternoon!”) Alicia can smell it on her breath. Oh, I had a glass of wine with lunch, she protests, I’m not drunk. A curly haired woman in khaki pants and an apron sticks her head in Alicia’s bathroom door. It’s time, ladies! We’re going to have so much fun.
Well, we the audience will have fun, anyway.
It’s not till Grace sneaks in with her lap top that I realize we must be at Alicia’s apartment and not at a television studio. Oh, even better. She’s got Hlavin’s arrest photo up, and says he’s been all over social media bragging about his new drug and talking about his brother. “But?” Alicia asks. “But then I ran his mug shot through facial recognition software, and I got a hit.”
No. Best dynamic ever. Forget Jason has the new Kalinda (as the show apparently has); the new Kalinda’s Grace! Well, maybe she’s the new Robyn. Either way, it’s awesome. Alicia’s stunned. You can do that? “You did all that?” Alicia asks in wonder. “I know!” Grace whispers enthusiastically. “Well, Zach helped.” Heh. (Seriously, you can do that from home? Dang.) The photo Grace found online is of Roland wearing a suit, hanging out with three guys, two of whom are wearing FBI windbreakers. “He’s FBI?” Jumping to conclusions, Grace says that if that’s really him in the photo, he sure is. The two Florrick ladies look at each other in wonder.
This just gets curiouser and curiouser.
And that’s when the perky host calls Alicia to begin. Seriously, what are you people thinking? Grace and Alicia cooking: total campaign-runner’s delight. Veronica and Alicia?
As a working mother of two, not to mention wife of the governor, how do you do it all, Momma enthuses. She’s standing between Veronica and Alicia; now all three of them are wearing matching aprons. “Well, with great help from my mother,” Alicia smiles, her words poisonously insincere. “She’s always there when you need her.” Veronica quirks an eyebrow, looking at the host and her daughter over the mounds of french bread, tomatoes and onions on the kitchen island. So what’s your go-to meal for helping out, Momma asks. “Well, Momma Jill,” Veronica pretending to consider, “I’d have to say that now it’s ordering pizza.” Snort. “Well, there’s nothing wrong with that, is there?” Momma Jill laughs, a tinge of hysteria behind her too wide smile. “Every once in a while.” Ah, the tone of judgement. We knew it was coming. “But today, you’re gonna teach Alicia how to make your special lasagna.” Yep, Veronica agrees as Eli smirks, pleased to see Ruth’s plan failing as he knew it would.
“Yes,” Veronica enthuses, “my lasagna! You remember, dear. My special lasagna that I’ve made for you all those years.” Momma Jill has Alicia chopping up red bell peppers; personally, I wouldn’t trust her with a knife right now. “Yes Mom,” Alicia snarks, “I can’t wait to taste it.” Oh dear. “Have you noticed the tone of Alicia’s voice? The irony in it?” Veronica asks Momma Jill, whose fight or flight instinct is clearly telling her to run for the hills. “I guess I just wasn’t a very good cook when she was growing up.”
“But you must be making up for lost time,” Jill attempts to salvage the situation, but our ladies are more than a match for her. Yes, I’ve had to step up, haven’t I, Veronica sneers. “Really?” Alicia asks, danger in her smile. “Is that what this has been?” Yes. It has, Veronica defends herself. Poor Jill looks back and forth like she’s watching a tennis match. “I know you’re making fun, but it has. Ever since, you know, the issues…” Huh. As Alicia tries to tell her mother to shut the hell up without actually using those words, I notice that the legend on the screen says “Mama,” not Momma, even though they’ve all been pronouncing it Momma. Ah well. “No, what I mean to say is, a mother needs to be with her daughter when things get … difficult,” Veronica recovers quite nicely. Ha! It’s like she remembered she’s on television. Imagine.
“And what another preparations,” Momma Jill begins (sorry, but I can’t hold with that fake spelling) but Veronica cuts her off. “Seriously, I’m not talking about marital difficulties…” As Alicia asks to change the subject, Ruth Eastman spits out a cup full of whatever she was drinking (milk?) while watching them on Eli’s bank of televisions. “Don’t patronize me!” Veronica snaps. “I’m not saying what you think I’m saying!” Get me Eli Gold, Ruth screams, wiping her mouth and chin with the back of her arm. “I stayed away for two years because you didn’t call me,” Veronica thunders. Eli’s phone buzzes. “Mom, I didn’t call you because I didn’t know where you were,” Alicia replies, calm and reasonable. “What about this lasagna?” Momma Jill suggests with all the fake enthusiasm she can muster.
I bet Alicia’s relieved just to be talking to her lying, identity-faked client instead of humiliating herself and her family on television. (And seriously. That was a prank I can’t believe Eli would pull; that show is out there. Video on the internet is forever — or at least forever enough for a political life. There’s no taking it back.) “I thought you might have forgotten me,” Silent H says her plaintively. Oh no. Far from it; she’s ready to grind him up into little pieces. Who was his faculty adviser at Stanford? Why is there a Cuban family living in his apartment? If she called the wrong number for his apartment, what’s the right one? “Why’re you asking me this?” he protests, looking small. “Because you’re not who you say you are,” she glares down at him, authoritative, implacable, punishing. “And you sabotaged my defense strategy and I wanna know why.” I lost my temper, he apologizes. I didn’t mean to. He gives her the old puppy dog eye trick, and instead of caving, she pulls out the photo of him surrounded by FBI agents. Yeah, that does not look good.
“That’s you,” she says, thumping her finger on the meeting room’s metal table. Is he working with the FBI? Is he an informant? That’s not me, he tries, but sorry. She’s in no mood for excuses. “You don’t have to lie to me,” she insists, her expression glacial, and for the first time I can see the dress is deep blue, not black. “You’re covered under attorney client privilege.” He almost shrugs, trying still to look like a small, weak animal.
“Okay, so this is what’s gonna happen,” Alicia rolls her eyes, just done with him. “I’m going to go to the judge and ask to be relieved as your attorney.” Well, we know Breakfast believes lawyers have the right to change their minds. “I can’t let you do that,” Roland says, compressing his lips. “You have no choice!” Yeah I do, he counters; I’ll just go to the judge and tell him you elicited perjury from me.
“What did you say?” she says. “No, it’s what you said.” He gives a little run down of her speech about carefully considering his testimony. “I never told you to lie,” she growls, surprisingly self-righteous. “In fact I told you not to lie.” Yeah, except you know you didn’t, and if he does go so far as to tell the judge, you know you’re screwed. Heck, the judge and everyone else in that courtroom knew what you did. But why is it so important for him to keep her as his lawyer? “Who are you?” she asks, horrified. “It doesn’t matter,” he replies. “All that matters is you keep representing me until I get my day in court.”
Okay, that’s super creepy and ominous. And there is absolutely nothing she can say or do about it.
We see Eli in his office as if he’s being filmed by a hidden camera in the corner of the room, which is rather nice. I wouldn’t put it past Ruth to film him, would you? Like everyone else, Alicia slams the door into his desk. Honestly. He just has to move the damn desk back an inch. This is the stupidest gag ever, not to mention one they’ve done so many times already with Cary. Ugh.
Anyway, Alicia and Eli. I kind of can’t believe she’s still talking to him after this, but I guess she’s really taking her whole new “I don’t care what anybody else thinks” mantra seriously. (Also, her dress looks black again. Weird.) He tries to put on a good face about the office, making himself look like a martyr. She scoots over his new guest chair, which is a large green upholstered one rather than the metal folding chair Veronica used. What’s wrong, he says, sounding genuinely concerned, and even though what should be wrong is that she’s humiliated herself on a television and he set it up, she’s implausibly ignoring this. “I’m being set up,” she explains.
Eli thinks about it. “No, Ruth wouldn’t go after you.” Obviously that’s where his mind goes, but I’m really surprised that’s what she thinks. Whatever Hlavin’s cooking up (sorry), why on earth would she assume it’s about her? Isn’t it obvious he’s blackmailing her to cover something else up? But I guess she’s had enough weirdness with the Federal government over the years to be suspicious. The FBI, the NSA…. No, not Ruth, Alicia says, exasperated. The FBI.
Now that’s got Eli’s attention. Quickly, she explains about Roland and how she thinks he’s an FBI informant and how she elicited his testimony to fit the catch-22. “Is that a lawyerly way of saying you helped him lie?” Eli wonders, right on the money as usual. “No,” she answers in frustration, before admitting it could be interpreted that way. Which is to say yes. Frowning, Eli slams his chair backwards into the window.
“What are you thinking, enemies of Peter?” she asks. “Or you,” he adds. “It’s a primary. Anything could happen.” I don’t ever remember the FBI entrapping a presidential candidate’s family during a campaign myself, but since there’s a politically motivated congressional hearing going on right now, I can’t say they’re totally paranoid. Only mostly paranoid. So what does she do? “Just let me find out what’s happening, and I’ll get back to you,” he says, and she nods. “Oh wait,” he adds, sitting back down, “Was the strategy yours to get the client to lie?” It wasn’t a lie, she defends herself (that depends on what the definition of “is” is, right?), but that’s not his point. Was it her idea? No it wasn’t, she remembers.
And before she can give up Lucca Quinn as the author of this distress, Ruth throws the door open, sending Eli’s desk sailing backwards. “Eli, you … Oh. Mrs. Florrick, hello. Thank you for your time today,” she nods respectfully. (Eli pales.) “Cooking.” Oh, sure, Alicia says. “It was definitely an experience. I hope you got what you needed out of it.” Can she say that with a straight face? “A lot came out of it,” Ruth glares at Eli. If only we had another chair, Eli tuts; we could have a prayer circle. Wisely, Alicia takes that as her cue to go, so Campaign Mommy and Daddy can fight on their own; she and Ruth negotiate the doorway, and she’s gone, a blue-black ghost. Ruth slams the door behind her.
“You told her to tank the cooking show?” she accuses him. Oh, hardly. He just had to step back and let it happen. “I didn’t have to,” he scoffs. “Alicia and her mom do not have what you call a traditional relationship. If you’d been around longer, you’d know that.” Yes, or if you’d listened to him, or hell, talked to Peter or Alicia, both of whom would have laughed in your face and told you what a terrible idea it was. “You hurt me, you hurt Peter,” she says flatly. Yes. I’m sure he’s really broken up about that. You get that he feels like the only real justice is to un-make Peter, right?
“I do not want to hurt either of you,” he lies, straightening his back. “Eli Gold, what am I gonna do with you?” Ruth says, her tone weirdly affectionate. I kind of want to start singing “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria.” (Okay, I’ll be honest. I DID start singing “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria” the first time I saw this.)
The moment she opens her door, Alicia’s ears prick up as Grace tells someone she thinks her mom will be in momentarily. She’s so wary; does she think it’ll be an FBI task force, there to arrest her for suborning perjury? It isn’t, of course. It’s Diane Lockhart. Closing the door loudly so they’ll expect her, Alicia touches up her hair in the hall mirror before stepping in. Once again, I’d swear that dress was black. Crazy.
I’m sorry to barge in, Alicia, Diane begins. Oh, no worries, Alicia replies. I’m sure we can take a break from whatever we’re doing. Grace picks up on the signal, and announces that she’ll hold Alicia’s many calls. (It’s a little awkward that she refers to her mom as Mrs. Florrick, though, when obviously Diane knows who she is.) Thank you, Alicia almost laughs; Diane stands stiffly, wearing a black dress (an actual black dress) under a white blazer with light gray stripes and spot detailing. Alicia waves her to a seat.
Beginning with a compliment about her handling of the Smulders inheritance case, Diane tries to set a warm tone for the meeting. And then she launches right into her pitch. “We seem to have an overload of cases, and not enough associates to handle them. The partners and I met, and, um, we would like to give a few of them to you.” Wow, Alicia says, taken aback. (Perhaps after Roland Hlavin, everything looks like a trap.) Poor Diane; once again she’s setting up this big gift for someone who’s just not reacting with the gratitude she’s hoped for. Alicia clears her head, however, and receives the gift with appropriate gratitude. “Thank you.” They’re not huge cases, Diane cautions. “I’m not a huge firm,” Alicia shrugs, and the two women smile at each other.
Hesitating, delicately, Diane asks how it’s been to be on her own. “It’s been a struggle,” Alicia admits, “but actually not bad.” Diane’s smile spreads. “Big firms aren’t what they used to be,” she observes (and indeed, hers has aged a good what, 30-50 years per partner since Alicia left at the end of last season? Definitely not what it used to be). Sounds like you’re doing great, Alicia offers, if you have an overload of cases. I guess so, Diane agrees. The silence stretching between them is broken by the doorbell; when Alicia excuses herself for a moment to get it, Diane stays in the living room, looking thoughtful and perhaps a little sad.
It’s Lucca Quinn at the door in a multicolor lace dress. “So your guy is a lying egomaniac,” she sighs. That’s what Alicia thought too. “Do you trust him to get through trial?” Hell no. “Well, we can’t put him on the stand again,” Lucca sighs. Her propensity for showing up at Alicia’s door instead of calling is really funny. “I don’t need him dragging my client down.”
Alicia gives her a bit of a fish eye. How did she come up with her catch-22 strategy? Could she be part of a conspiracy to take down Alicia? “Are you always so creative with the truth?” Frowning, Lucca tilts her head. Why’s Alicia attacking her? “I am when I’m pushed to reject a one year deal,” she says. Alicia takes a steadying breath. “I think we should sever our cases. Different trials, different juries.” Clearly affronted, Lucca purses her lips. “Yeah,” she says, “sure. Great meeting. Screw you.”
Awesome, Alicia. You just alienated the only person who’s been in your corner.
Looking weary and defeated, Alicia watches as ASA Pratt calls Scott Pierre-Paul to the witness chair in Bond Court. Seriously, why are we doing this in Bond Court? This can’t be normal. Also something of a surprise: Lucca’s no longer trying for the catch-22. She’s sitting in the gallery, and Scott is testifying against Roland, saying that he knew exactly what he was doing, that he explicitly marketed Snowball Chi as a safer alternative with fewer side effects, just like Grace saw. Which totally sounds like someone who wanted to be caught. “His testimony is going to convict you,” Alicia leans over and whispers. “We need to come clean.” Wait, how’s that? Is that better in some way? “About you,” she explains, “and who you are.” Oh no. He’s not having that at all. “You think that the FBI is gonna protect you if you don’t give up your identity but they’re not.”
“You’re supposed to do what I want,” he snaps quietly. “No, I’m supposed to defend you,” she whispers back. She’s not getting along with anyone these days, is she? “Mrs. Florrick,” Judge Breakfast calls out, “I realize this rather damning testimony is upsetting to both you and your client, but could you please keep it down?”
“Your Honor, may we approach,” she asks. No, Roland hisses. Why yes, the judge snarks; it’s not like we’re in the middle of anything. When she stands, Roland actually leaps up to physically restrain her, which makes the judge lose it. “Young man, sit down!” he bellows, and the two court sheriffs quickly restrain him. “I’ve asked my lawyer not to do this,” Silent H insists. What is she doing, the judge wonders, but of course he doesn’t want to say; could they please have a recess to discuss this? Somewhat to my surprise, the always time-conscious judge allows it.
At first, we can’t hear what Silent H is saying. The first words we can hear? “Because I am an undercover FBI agent.” Oh. Interesting. Not what she thought after all, though given the fake name this makes more sense than him being an informant, who would be operating under his own identity. “And you were coming very close to blowing my case.” What case, she snaps, not at all cowed by this information. Of course he doesn’t want to say.
“I’m your defense attorney,” she thunders. “If you don’t want me to defend you then fire me!” He paces the room, and you can see his internal wheels turning. What’s the best course of action here? “It’s a sting,” he admits, and she takes a moment to reflect. “Of who, me?” No, he laughs. “Then let me go to the judge and brief him.” No, Roland says, turning toward her. “The judge is the target.”
Oh really! Interesting. Well, we’ve dealt with corrupt judges before, though I’m not sure why a Bond Court judge’s a federal case. Alicia can’t believe it. “Schakowsky?” What, his warm manner makes you think he’s incapable of doing ill? “He will be offered a bribe to dismiss all charges against me. If he does, he will be arrested.”
It starts to sink in. “Does Lucca know? Does the ASA?” No, no one, not even the cops who arrested him. (Wow, deep under cover.) You went to all this effort, Alicia sighs, stunned. “The bureau’s cracking down on corruption in state legislatures and judiciaries.” Ah. Okay. “Now, we need you to go back in there to continue this case. When the prosecution rests, move for dismissal.” On what grounds, she asks; he doesn’t care. If the judge takes the bribe as they expect he will, it won’t matter. “He dismisses the case, we arrest him. Now, Alicia, you have no choice in this.” She looks up at him, appalled. “Move for dismissal.”
Far different from the painted concrete and metal of the courthouse meeting rooms, Jackie and Howard have their date in a restaurant with white table clothes, soft classical music and sparkling crystal. They sit in a red-cushioned booth, and Howard has his arm over the booth’s back behind Jackie, a very bold and forward move. To my surprise, Jackie doesn’t mind at all. Any kids, Howard, she asks, and he says no. “I hated kids,” he shrugs, and she laughs. “You have a lovely laugh,” he coos.
She shrugs the compliment off in her delicate girlish way. “My mother hated my laugh,” she remembers. “She forced me to eat a garlic clove every time I laughed.” Damn. That explains quite a lot about Jackie, doesn’t it? “You’re kidding,” he says, leaning in toward her. No. “You have a beautiful laugh. Refined.” She looks down at the table, distressed, and hunches forward, turning away from him. For a moment, I think she’s going to cry.
“What’s wrong?” he asks, his voice soft. When she turns to answer, her tears held back, her voice thrums low. “Nothing, it’s just – it’s been so long since I’ve been happy.” Aw! He cups her face and kisses her there in the restaurant, a soft, chaste kiss. In the background, a man sings in Italian. Jackie leans forward, and they kiss more passionately, clutching each other, opera filling the air around them.
“Hello Alicia,” Howard says on the phone, walking through the LAL offices, bringing tinkling music with him, almost floating. “I wanna talk to you about this ageism suit.” You know what happens now, don’t you? David Lee overhears him. No, he doesn’t stick around to hear Howard say he’s changed his mind and doesn’t want to bring suit – just enough to know the general topic and Alicia’s name.
And so of course he charges into Diane’s office, where Diane and Cary are working, in high dungeon. “I just found out what’s going on with Howard,” he announces. “Why he’s acting so weird.” Is he acting all that weird? I mean, is this weirder than flashing clients? Something I wouldn’t think prim and proper Jackie would approve of at all, by the way, but perhaps she’s less picky now than she might have been formerly. “He’s bringing an ageism suit against us,” David announces with a flourish. Against us, Cary squeals. What have we done? Oh, come on, Cary. You know. “I don’t know,” David growls, his eyes almost glowing with rage. “And you know who’s helping him? Alicia!” At first, Diane doesn’t believe it. She wants proof.
“We need to fire him,” Cary says; David disagrees, saying that’d give him cause. “No, we fire him for cause, the next time he exposes himself to a client.” As they bicker about how Alicia must have told him to work harder and stop doing stupid things (hardly revolutionary advice, especially given that he’s, you know, a lawyer himself), Diane’s features harden and glitter with increasing rage. Finally, she takes off.
When there’s a knock at Alicia’s door, I’m certain it’s going to be her. Which is so unfair, really; first, she ought to realize that Howard’s “weirdness” predates her olive branch. Second, how can she impoverish Alicia and then expect her to turn away paying clients? Third, she’s jumping to conclusions on little evidence.
It is not, however, Diane. It’s Eli, who’s spoken to Frank Landau, who’s checked with his sources at the FBI. “They’re not after you,” he announces, full of his own importance. “I know,” she says, shutting the door behind him. “Which means,” he sighs, “they’re after Peter. I gotta make a few calls.” Yeah, I’m sure you’d be devastated if it were related to Peter; no wonder you’re so eager. No, I was wrong, she admits. It’s the FBI, but it’s not what we thought. Then let me make a few calls, make them back off in case it’s a sting. You can’t make those calls, she says. “It’s not about me, it’s about the judge.”
Oh my GOD. She didn’t. She did not just tell him that. She did not do that unbelievably stupid thing! Are you kidding me? She could have just said, “I can’t tell you yet, but I promise you it’s not Peter or anything related to us,” and then just invoke attorney client privilege if he pressed her. Why the hell would she be specific when she didn’t need to be? I know she trusts Eli, but she totally just broke the law for no reason.
“Schakowsky,” she goes on. Oh, even better. Go ahead, just pile up those unnecessarily specific details! “It’s a bribery sting. They pulled the exact same thing in Philadelphia earlier this year.” She’s distracted by intense pounding on her door, and, sighing, excuses herself to answer it. I don’t know how someone can slump down in exhaustion and yet still maintain perfect posture, but she does it.
“Diane, hi!” she says when she pulls open the door, relaxed and pleased. Ah, well. We all knew it was coming, but poor Alicia. “Tell me something, Alicia,” Diane says in a stern uncompromising voice, making a stark figure in her black and brown striped suit. “Are you always going to be looking at ways to get back at me?” Oh, Diane, don’t personalize this. “Excuse me?” Alicia rears back in surprise. Gosh. I feel so bad for her right now. “I thought we had smoothed things over. I championed you to the other partners. I got them to agree to send you our overflow.” I’m not saying that wasn’t nice, but Alicia didn’t ask for it or expect it. “You accepted my generous offer,” Diane continues, building up steam, “while all the while trying to actively betray me.” Betray you? Alicia again recoils. “I don’t…”
“You’re representing Howard,” Diane drops her bomb. “No I’m not!” Alicia replies, totally confused. “You didn’t give him advice about bringing an ageism suit?” Diane presses, and Alicia sighs wearily. “That’s privileged,” she says.
Oh, right. It’s a fine time to remember you’re bound by privilege! Two seconds ago you were spilling FBI secrets to Eli, and now you’re refusing to tell Diane that you refused to bring a case on Howard’s before? What the actual heck, Alicia. Is that really true that she can’t say any more than that? I feel like common sense would say no, but then again, I’m not sure that the law follows common sense. (Update: according to a defense lawyer friend, she was in fact bound by privilege not to reveal the advice she’d given him, even if he didn’t retain her as a client.)
Diane nods, all her ugly fears confirmed. “You told him exactly what he needed to do to sue us,” she accuses, nodding. “Diane, this isn’t what it seems,” Alicia pleads with her former partner and friend. “Actually, sometimes it is,” Diane snaps, turns crisply and walks away.
Uuuuuuugh, that is so depressing. That was the most insane 40 seconds of conversation.
Back at Lockhart, Agos & Lee, the name partners growl to each other about Howard and Alicia and how personally they take all of this. Even though they fired Alicia a few months ago and cruelly stiffed her of her exit package, even though they fought her with every weapon they could find in the Smulders inheritance case, they’re the wounded party now. Gosh, she admitted she’s advising him! “Bitch,” David snaps. Hey, Cary cautions him (thank God someone’s ready to be a little decent). “What?” David asks, and Cary gives him a look, because he knows what. Well. David really has only two modes of thought about people; if you’re not someone he needs to suck up to, you’re pretty much his mortal enemy by default. It seems that Howard has called a meeting, because he’s walking toward Diane’s office, and they quickly try to come up with a strategy. Can they get him to take emeritus status? Can they just fire him? Diane holds up a warning finger, and then opens her door. “Howard,” she calls out to the older partner as he stands by her assistant’s desk, “you wanted to see us?”
He did. Looking very neat and pressed, he walks through the door. “Yeah,” he says, smoothing his tie, “I just wanted to say, I brought in the, uh, Food Services Union.”
The three name partners stare at him, astounded. Then they stare at each other. He continues to smile at them pleasantly. “Excuse me?” Diane asks, gobsmacked yet again. “The Food Services Union? They were looking for new legal representation, and I landed them.” Huh. He did what? “You convinced Ronnie Erickson?,” David asks, slack jawed. Wait. What was the episode with that guy that Jackie was flirting with to stop them from striking at one of Peter’s events, do you remember that? Was that the Food Services Union? “Yeah, really nice guy. Friend of a friend.” AH HA! “Thirty three million in annual billing. I just thought you three should know.” With that heavy number and light touch, Howard makes his exit.
So it turns out he can actually do something worthwhile if he sets his mind to it, after all. First settling that suit, then this? Wow. The three name partners stare at each other, their mouths hanging open.
And, YES. There’s Jackie in a white pantsuit leaning against Howard’s desk. Dang. The color is so shocking on her; it’s spring, it’s renewal, it’s power. He holds out his arms, indicating his victory as much as a preparation to hold her, and she raises both hands to his face to kiss him. “I take it they were impressed with my friend Ronnie’s business,” she smirks, and Howard’s like a little kid, trembling with excitement. “Impressed, they nearly wet themselves.” Jackie throws back her head and laughs evilly. “Oh that laugh, oh my God,” he says, embracing her again. They laugh together, rocking side to side.
And a man in a black jacket and yellow shirt laughs, too. “A nine iron?” Oh, that’s so hilarious. Golf humor. Lovely. Judge Breakfast Schakowsky natters on to the man who, I assume, is there to bribe him. And, yep. Once they stop talking about going on vacation together (ouch, betrayal), Yellow Shirt brings up Roland Hlavin. He’s Muriel’s niece’s kid, Yellow Shirt says. He got himself into some trouble (“I’ll say,” Breakfast agree heartily, rubbing a finger over his lips), but he’s a good kid, trying to do something noble. Jail would break him. Is there any way that he could dismiss the case? Let them take care of it in the family? “I’d make it worth your while. I know your son’s been looking for a board seat over at Polytech. I can make that happen.” Ew. Maybe Hlavin does have sympathetic motives, but the whole thing’s just so gross.
And so Silent H sits in court, waiting for the result of his gamble. Alicia’s almost as nervous. When Schakowsky comes in, he asks for her motion, and as directed she asks for a dismissal. “The state’s entire case relies on the testimony of my client’s co-defendant. His most recent testimony directly contradicts his earlier testimony; he’s simply not credible.” She knows how thin this pretext is, and she looks down at Silent H, wondering if it’s the sure bet he thinks it is. Schakowsky considers.
“Your motion is denied, Mrs. Florrick,” he announces. “This case will go to trial. Let’s pick a date, shall we?” As a sheriff takes his arm to hoist him out of the chair, Hlavin looks up at Alicia, hatred in his gaze. He doesn’t stop staring at her even as they drag him away.
When she goes back to their little meeting room, he’s leaning forward over a chair as if trying to bend the metal with his hands and his laser beam eyes. “You tipped him off,” he accuses. Obviously not. “Maybe he’s just not corrupt,” she suggests. “Have you ever thought of that?” Do you think Breakfast sent Yellow Shirt away thinking he’d been bought? Because otherwise, wouldn’t he have tipped the FBI off before hand? Anyway. “This was a two year investigation,” Hlavin snarls, “and we had him.” Apparently not, Alicia shrugs. “You’re fired!” he tells her, his face turning red. Well, not only did he waste those two years but he’s also in a bit of a bind, so I can understand his anger, but he’s only doing her a favor now. Good luck, she says politely, and walks out; once the sheriff has gone back in, she collapses against the wall, taking strength from it to regain her composure.
Lucca — dressed in a swirly black, gold and white jacket — stares Alicia down as she reenters the courtroom. Schakowsky’s ready for the next crop of fresh fish, and so the two women walk up to receive their assignments. “Males 45 through 56, Mrs. Florrick,” he says, handing Alicia a thick stack of files, making eye contact. “And males 57 through 60 for you, Miss Quinn,” he says, handing Lucca an anemic pile, staring down at the bench. Very very strange. “Your Honor,” Lucca begins, but can’t really think of how to complain. “I don’t have time to discuss,” Breakfast tells her, and after giving him a confused look, she backs away.
And when she steps toward the terrarium, Alicia’s there, holding out close to half of her own stack. No words are exchanged, and Alicia immediately stalks off to find her first client; Lucca smirks happily at her back as she goes. After all this mess, at least Alicia’s made one thing right.
“Thanks for doing that,” Judge Breakfast says, hanging up his robes on a coat rack, “warning me.” He looks over his shoulder at his unknown benefactor. “Probably never would have touched that bribe anyway, but I hate the way the FBI turns friends against friends.” Well, that part does suck, but dude. As Schakowsky walks back to his desk, we see the outline of his savior.
And his name is Eli Gold.
“It’s terrible, isn’t it,” he agrees. Yeah, says Schakowsky, shrugging on his suit jacket. “Anyway. I certainly owe you one.”
“Good,” Eli replies, “because I need a little help with Frank Landau.”
Oh my gosh. That just… Holy Grapenuts, that is crazy.
I’m going to be completely honest. When I ranted about Alicia breaking attorney client privilege, I didn’t think it was wrong because Eli would use the information, even though she should remember she’s being used. I was mad because what she did was wrong and unnecessary, and because it could cause trouble for her, not because I thought he would do something so dangerous and rotten. I didn’t think he would betray her, which perhaps is stupid because we know he’s there to betray her. Maybe it was just a failure of imagination on my part, not imagining how it could benefit him. It’s a pretty awesome twist even as it’s a cruelty (and stupid vulnerability on Alicia’s part).
So, what else? I’m loving Howard’s new course. It’s far more fun than all the wandering and exposing he’s done for the last few years, and really excellent work on Jerry Adler’s part. And I just adore seeing Jackie turn all power-behind-the-throne, working to promote him. It’s perfectly in character, and even a little touching when you get to the bit about her laugh. It makes sense that Jackie would have come from a messed up home, and it’s nice to know.
I’ll admit, I was a bit surprised not to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Jason Crouse help Grace with her detecting, what with him joining the cast as a series regular for the season. We’ve certainly seem plenty of fellow new regular Cush Jumbo. Will Morgan go the way of Taye Diggs and Nathan Lane? (Or perhaps more accurately, Nicole Beharie or Martha Plimpton, who parlayed guest arcs into starring roles in their own shows?) Or will he actually show up for work? Not that I mind the mother daughter detective agency. I definitely don’t. Like I keep saying, it’s my favorite part of this season, and I will take what I can get. I’m just wondering about truth in advertising.
You tell me: why did Alicia agree to go on the cooking show with Veronica? I can see Veronica doing it for the mischief and to mess with Peter, but live television, seriously? What was Ruth thinking, not only putting people she doesn’t know out there as the face of her campaign, but with the lack of control that a live show implies? And don’t even get me started on what was Alicia thinking. I’m astounded at the way she’s blindly agreeing with everything Eli says, even when she knows he’s using her. I’m sorry Peter wasn’t there to rip Ruth and smug Carl new ones for setting it up.
It was funny, don’t get me wrong, and it was well written and acted. I just don’t feel like it would ever have happened. Most people who don’t get along can fake it for the cameras, or, you know, just being out in public.
Anything else? I liked the case. It was messy, with the whole layer of the supposed dead brother and the justice in making a designer drug safe. Because then you have to ask yourself, what’s our problem with drugs? If you take away their potential for harm and for addiction, do we have any right to ban them for being too fun? But is it possible to take away all the potential for harm? Is it possible with anything? Anyway, it’s interesting, as is the ripped from the headlines sting.
Finally, I think Diane was being ridiculous. Alicia should have turned Howard away as a client because Diane was going to be nice to her later? Really? That’s completely irrational. But oh well. I guess they have to keep inventing reasons for us to be seeing Diane and Cary and (newly promoted regular) David at all.
And that’s Cooked. Did you like it? Is this season finding its stride? Are you guys still managing to enjoy it, despite all the structural craziness? Were you wowed or shocked by Eli’s maneuvering? Let me know!