E: Maybe it’s because they took out most of the annoying politics, but that episode is what I’m all about, man. Meaty, twisty case with lots of topical relevance and both emotional and political complications, really ingenious maneuvering, and generally terrific acting and writing.
Halleluiah, people, it’s a Thanksgiving miracle.
We begin as we sometimes do with a video, in which woman delights over frozen yogurt in a crowded shop. According to the legend at the bottom of the screen, we’re looking at Dr. Hallie Fisher at a Yogogurt on September 28th. Her swooning over the frozen treat quickly cuts to a matter of fact discussion of harvesting products for $100 a pop, and immediately I know what real life recording we’re riffing off of — this summer’s infamous Planned Parenthood tape. Between mouthfuls of froyo, Dr. Fisher calmly explains that since her doctors “work” using ultrasounds, they know where to place their forceps so as to leave whatever tissue the buyer might need intact, whether they need a heart or a liver or what have you. “Then we don’t squash the part you need.” And you can change its position, the unseen female buyer asks. If we need to, the doctor shrugs. Ultrasound can help us change to a breech, she adds; Ethan Carver pauses the television in Diane’s office.
“You have to tell me what you’re thinking,” Diane tells him, taking off her glasses. “I can’t guess.” Oh, he thinks she can, and indeed she does. “You’re against abortion, so my guess is you’re appalled.” I’m a human being, he says, so yes, I’m appalled to hear a doctor selling body parts so cavalierly. She’s not selling them, Diane argues, just retrieving and packaging scientific research samples. Wow, that seems like a really tricky line to walk, one I hadn’t thought about before. (I also had avoided watching the tape before now, mostly because I try to avoid abortion debates; despite the warning that began the episode, what Dr. Fisher says isn’t nearly as graphic, specific or stomach-turning as the real life discussion of where and how different body parts get crushed. So if you were freaked out by what was on the show, do not follow the link.) Can you hear yourself, Carver asks. “Delivering, preserving and packaging parts of babies.” Parts of fetuses, she corrects him. So you don’t think there’s anything wrong with that video, he asks, not surprised but still a little puzzled.
“I think it’s shop talk,” she tells him, walking back to her desk. “I think if you listened to any two doctors talking over drinks or yogurt, about an appendix removal, it would sound just as bad.” Well. Perhaps not just as bad — after all, generally the owner of the discarded body parts in an appendectomy comes out alive — but it’s true that medical professionals can be completely blaze about things that would horrify the rest of us. (EMT first response stories are particularly gruesome; people in those professions develop a thick skin and a gallows sense of humor, or they don’t last.) “So you know it’s bad,” he pounces, sitting down across from her. I know it’s effective propaganda, she says; he thinks it’s effective because most Americans support abortion only when they don’t think too much about the particulars, like knowing where to “squash.” Which makes it no different from a hamburger on their plates, Diane argues. “Except this has a face,” Ethan counters, and even though I totally get what he means, the first thing I think is “but cows have faces!”
It’s a human being, not an appendix, Ethan continues. “Well that’s the difference between us,” Diane replies. “I don’t believe it.” (Continuing to play devil’s advocate, I want to ask her what it is, then. I hate that I see both sides of this debate; this is why I have to avoid it, because there’s no winning either way.) “How’d you even get that?” she asks before he can reply. The video was an undercover operation by the Citizens for Ethical Medicine, a group Diane immediately discounts as anti-abortion radicals. “It’s not radical; why is something radical merely because you disagree with it?” And they pretended to be biomedical researchers in need of organs, she guesses. “Aborted fetal tissue,” he restates, and it turns out he thinks he can use the video to launch a lawsuit against Dr. Fisher and her organization. For what, Diane wonders. “Well, that’s where you come in,” he suggests. Oh no. Not in a million years. “It’s not about you being a lawyer. It’s about you telling me how Mr. Dipple can sue.” It took me a minute to see what he meant, that he wants her to be the devil’s advocate rather than work on the case. “Well he can grow a uterus,” Diane snaps, which makes me laugh out loud. Excellent. It makes Carver laugh, too.
From there she presses her advantage. “You don’t have standing. What’re you going to sue for?” Selling the fetuses, he replies. Not enough money, she says. “The re-positioning of fetuses for a breech birth,” he guesses, and when she stops to think, he points at her. That’s it! Um, they don’t actually say, but I’m going to guess that this is harder on the mother, more dangerous (it certainly is with a live birth) and so putting the mother’s health at a lower priority than the price of “selling” the fetus for research.
No, she says. You’d need a woman who had an abortion with Dr. Fisher’s clinic, who was lied to about the procedure, and who suffered medical harm as a result.
Smart fellow that he is, he tosses a folder on her desk, containing the information about a woman named Stacy Groom he claims meets all three criterion. As per usual, he doesn’t want Diane to try the case: he wants her to meet the woman and see how she’d stand up to a vigorous cross. “Do your worst. See if she’s ready for court.” After flipping though the file, Diane uncrosses her legs, stands up, and wacks Ethan on the shoulder with the folder on her way out to meet Jason in her personal reception area. Hee.
It seems that he’s going to be doing some part time work for them, at least. She wants to know everything she can about Stacy Groom and her abortion. “What’s the cap on hours?” he asks, flipping through the file himself. “Cap?” she looks up at him, astounded. “Whenever the work is done it’s done.” That sort of largess is a little outside Jason’s frame of reference. “I’m on my way,” he grins, inclining his head.
He’s on his way to Alicia’s apartment, however, where she and Lucca are having a very different conversation; Lucca’s lamenting the state of their finances, which is apparently living DUI to DUI. (Does he have a key? That’s extremely interesting. Also interesting that we haven’t seen them actually take on a DUI. Or maybe that’s good since that might not be very entertaining.) We need to ration our investigator hours, Lucca goes on. “Should I leave?” he smiles, leaning on the door frame. He’s still carrying Ethan’s folder, but hides it with a magazine filched from Alicia’s living room. No, Alicia stops him; when it comes to him, Alicia thinks the money’s worth it. After all, he wins them cases, and if they don’t win cases, they won’t get bigger clients. Fair enough. “We can’t ration our way to success!” She suggests other economies (canceling their subscription to a legal research database) and doubling efforts to bring in new clients.
Taking a big breath, Lucca has another suggestion. “We eat what we kill,” she exhales, and Grace (sitting in on the strategy meeting — he really must have a key if Grace didn’t let him in) wonders at the expression. It means they each take two thirds of the cases they bring in. It’ll make us hungrier, Lucca suggests. “If you want it, I want it,” Alicia shrugs. “I want it,” Lucca says, and picks up her purse, saying cagily that she’s on her way to a business lunch.
And look who’s waiting for her at a table for two; it’s Louis Canning, who rises to take her hand and thank her for meeting with him. “What do you need?” she asks in that archly charming, hostile way she has. It should come off as rude, but like Elizabeth Bennet (“there was a mixture of sweetness and archness in her manner which made it difficult for her to affront anybody”) she gets away with it. Extending his arms, he makes an admission. “I’m a fan,” he tells her before pushing a bottle of wine in her direction. “I’d pour,” he chortles, “but it’d get all over the place.” How can you be a fan of mine, she wonders. Why, from the T-Portable case, of course! Which was 75% Alicia kicking ass. “You’re scrappy, you’re aggressive,” he declares; she glares at him, arms folded, stunning in her maroon dress and one of the coolest necklaces I’ve ever seen on this show, circles suspended from two strands. “You deserve better.” No no no!
What’s better, she asks suspiciously, which is even more distressing. He makes a very nice offer (90k a year, 30k in guaranteed bonuses, plus 10% of whatever she brings in) but despite being a mere four years out of law school, she’s not having it. You don’t have that much room to negotiate, he scoffs, taking a drink of his wine. “I’m not negotiating,” she claims, “I just don’t want to be bait.” Ah. Nice. “You’re trying to lure Alicia,” she tells him, leaning forward. “So either make it clear why you want me, or save your money.”
I don’t know about you, but I was torn between horror and admiration of her no-nonsense negotiating style.
In her kitchen, Alicia’s concentrating (is she buttering something?) when Grace walks in to say that she wants to help. Her voice is small, and she’s unsure of herself. We’ll be fine, Alicia says, but Grace really wants to be a part of things. “What can I do?” Cold call clients, Alicia suggests. Look for mid-level insurance and real estate companies in the phone book, and see if they’re happy with their legal representation. (Ah, there’s mustard. A sandwich for sure.) “How do I know it’s mid-level?” Grace asks; by the size of the ad in the phone book, Alicia tells her. Coolness, except, why does she even have a phone book? Do people really keep phone books these days? The ones they send us always go straight in the recycling.
Anyway. “And do I get a percentage if I find anyone?” Grace asks, making Alicia smile. “I thought this was to help,” Mom replies, mocking a little. “It is,” Grace hurries to assure her, “but do I get a percentage?” Alicia laughs in actual delight. “Okay,” she agrees after considering it, leaning on the island, “I will give you half a percentage point for any booking.” Intrepid Grace tries to argue it up to a full point, but Boss Mom’s not having it.
“Stacy Groom,” a young woman with blond hair and bangs introduces herself. “I work as a copy editor at Myrtle Publishing.” Sitting across from his wanna-be star witness, Ethan elicits that Dr. Fisher performed an abortion on her 10 months ago at the 8th Street Clinic; Stacy believes Dr. Fisher misrepresented the procedure to her. “No,” Stacy says, wearing black tights, a loose wrap dress and a sad expression, “she tricked me into donating fetal tissue.” Hmm. How so? “She never told me it would be sold. She even,” and here she takes a breath, “flipped the baby into a breech position to better harvest the organs.” I really wish they’d tell us why this is so particularly a) egregious, and b) necessary. When pressed from damages, Stacy lists her symptom: she cries all the time now, she can’t eat, she can barely sleep. Diane’s bug eyed response makes it clear that Stacy’s unemotional delivery fails to convince her of this emotional harm. “It’s hard to get to work every day.” Not to minimize her distress, but when Diane listed medical harm as a condition, I wasn’t really thinking debilitating regret would fit the bill.
Ah, and good timing, Jason. This is all taking place on the same day (to judge by Diane’s black and gold suit) so he’s worked fast despite her offer to take as much time as necessary. To Jason’s displeasure and Stacy’s distress, Diane rushes out to see what he’s discovered.
Found anything, she asks. “You tell me,” he smirks, handing over the folder. She opens it, and after about three seconds of skimming, she grins. “Why don’t you work for us full time?” she wonders. “I like keeping my options open,” he says, and that may be true, but I wonder about that skeleton in his closet. Or if he’s just drawn to Alicia; his charm is always on full blast, so I honestly can’t tell what might be specific to her. “We need a dedicated investigator, you could make more money.” He knows. He definitely knows that. “Money’s not everything,” he rasps. “Yes, but sometimes it’s something,” Diane tells him. Indeed. They smile at each other. “I’m good,” he says, and walks away, considering the case closed.
“I may need more of this,” Diane calls after him. He grins, flashing dimples. “Call me,” he tells her.
The first secret that Jason ferreted out for Diane, which she quickly deploys to shred Ms. Groom, is the tissue donation consent form she signed. How can she account for this? Where was the trick? “Well, she said it was for medical research, not to make money,” Stacy protests. “And how do you know it was to make money?” I saw it on the video, Stacy frowns. And that’s when you began experiencing these symptoms, Diane sneers, just these last two weeks, not after the actual procedure? I guess, Stacy admits. “Any chance you’ve gone to a doctor and gotten a diagnosis in those two weeks,” Diane wonders. I haven’t had time, Stacy replies.
“You have had time to go to the Church of God in Christ eight times since you joined two weeks ago,” Diane counters, her voice oozing contempt. What do you mean by join, Stacy asks. “Well, did you accept the Lord as your savior in an altar call two weeks ago at the Church of God in Christ?” Is that illegal, Stacy asks sharply.
No, not at all, Diane says. “But, two months ago, did you give this anonymous quote to the Tribune?” Diane pushes her glasses closer to her nose. “‘Choice is under attack by right wing forces in this country’?” So, Stacy shrugs. “So,” Diane cuts to the chase, “it seems like you tend to go from one extreme to another.”
“How did you get that quote?” Ethan asks as Diane walks him to the elevator. What an excellent question. How could you possibly? “It’s why you pay us,”Diane smirks, pursing her red lips. So what’re you going to do, she wonders as he wanders toward the elevator. He’s not going to pursue the case; to her great surprise, it seems she’s made her case too well. “Wouldn’t it be odd if the person who respected you the most is the person you agree with the least?” That would be odd, she smiles, but considering her marriage, there has to be a familiar feel to it. I’m putting the videos online, he says. Maybe someone somewhere will take it seriously. “Well that was easy,” Diane smiles to herself as the elevator doors close.
I can’t help laughing when I see the familiar Chum Hum logo, because it means that Grace understands the phone book to mean Google. I’m not entirely sure how she’s going to judge company sized based on advertising space here, but I’m fascinated to see. At any rate, she looks for Chicago insurance companies, and sighs when she gets nearly 700,000 results. Adding “lawsuit” as a search term reduces the bounty to 89k. Reaching for her pink swirly-cased iPhone, she calls Eli instead. It’s so strange and sad that his name is listed before any friends, isn’t it?
And you all know where Eli is, don’t you? That’s right. Standing up on his desk, listening at the vent. He picks up the phone and tries to listen to the vent and to Grace at the same time. “No, I don’t know anyone in need, why do you ask?” he frowns. “Are things that bad over there?” As Courtney Paige’s voice drifts through the vent (ah ha), he promises Grace he’ll call her if he thinks of anyone, and rushes out into the office.
Where, good Lord, Courtney Paige is wearing another crazy patterned suit. “Mr. Gold. Hi. I was wondering if I’d see you,” she sashays toward him. Hmmmm, that was friendly. Though she’s generally calm and reserved, she seems quite happy to see him. “Eli, please,” he grins awkwardly. “Do you have a minute? I have something to say. Or, discuss.” Oh, Eli. You’re so funny when you’re twitterpated.
As always, the door smacks into his desk. His lips twist in embarrassment as they maneuver themselves through the small space, which he claims is temporary and she pretends is cozy. He (or the prop master) has lost his nice extra chair and returned to the metal folding one for maximum embarrassment. Somehow there’s less room rather than more, because he has to physically climb over her to get back to his seat, nearly ending up straddling her lap as she strains backward to avoid him.
Once seated, he clears his throat, trying to recover his dignity. Folding his hands, he repeats that he’s got something to discuss. “Have I done something wrong?” she wonders. No no no, he replies, and then stops. What does she mean? Oh, just that he sounds so serious. Ah. Well. “That’s just who I am,” he grimaces. “I’m working on that. I told a joke yesterday.” Oh, what was it, she wonders, and of course he can’t remember. She gives him a fond smile. Huh. Very, very interesting. “It’s about your business,” he explainss. The conversation, not the joke, and it is a bit serious. “I think I know what it’s about,” she says. “The salary floor.” This wasn’t a term I was familiar with, but it seems that it’s the opposite of a salary cap: while a salary cap sets a limit on how much an employee can make, a salary floor sets a limit on how little they can make. As in, as of this year, no one at Courtney’s HRT Industries will make less than $75,000.
And I don’t know what she does, but sign me up! “It’s communism, right?” she forestalls his objection. “No,” Eli scoffs in an exaggerated way that means yes. “Socialism?” she offers, and again, he gives her the same no in response. “Well, yes, a bit.” “I like my employees,” she explains. “They work hard. I decided to give ’em all a raise.” Eli is dubious. Deeply dubious. “It’s my money,” she reminds him. “Why is that bad?” Oh, it’s not bad, he says, in a way that means it is, “… for your employees, but … Peter.” Oh, she realizes; Eli fears it would make him a socialist sympathizer.
Oh, whatever. Give me a boss who pays her employees really well, and I’ll show you a public who thinks that’s great. Not to mention a workforce, and it can come in pretty handy when they care about you. (I’m dying for TGW to take on that case.) Pathetically, Peter wants Courtney to wait until after the election to give her raises/raise her salary floor. Or at least, that’s what Eli says. I’d believe sooner he made that objection up just to spend more time with her; if it was really an issue, Ruth would have brought it up. Plus, why would they risk alienating a donor at her level? That just makes it easier to for her to give her money to someone else; God knows she has no real reason to give it to Peter in the first place, considering that she barely tolerates him. I can’t help thinking neither Eli nor the writing staff would have dared to dictate business strategy to a male donor.
“Oh,” Eli smiles, hoping to lighten the moment, “so there are two fish in a tank, and, um, one fish says to the other, how do you drive this thing?” She waits expectantly. “That was the punchline. Because, you know, we think they’re in a fish tank when actually they’re in a tank tank.” You’re cute when you stammer, Eli. Funny, Courtney says coolly, not laughing, not giving an inch, and Eli swallows hard, clearing his throat. Quick on his feet as ever, Eli suggests that despite having already checked through the legal ramifications with her own team, Courtney might want to get an outside opinion.
And so of course he shows up at Alicia’s door. “I don’t want to hear it,” his sort of boss says to him, prepared for a fight. “No, I, what do you mean?” Eli asks, confused. “You yelling at me about Landau,” she replies, walking back into the apartment, leaving him to follow. He doesn’t close the door, which drives me nuts. “What did you do with Landau,” Eli wonders, and she spins back to look at him. “Wait, why are you here?” A client, he says, and insists she answer. “The election board. I punted a vote on the machines by doing a study, and Landau’s furious.” YAY Alicia! I was so hoping she would do that. First of all, it’s the right thing to do, and second, it might just save her butt later, if/when the secret gets out. And I say again, wasn’t the whole point of getting on Landau’s good side to take him down and make him suffer? Why isn’t she happy she’s displeased him, then? “Because you two had a deal, I knew it,” Eli realizes, congratulating himself. “Well, let’s just file that one under ongoing disasters, shall we?” Sounds about right, except for the fact that he doesn’t think about his own Machiavellian plan either, not the part she knows about or the part she doesn’t. Where the hell is all this going?
“I’m sending you a client who just happens to be a billionaire,” he tells her proudly. Immediately she guesses who. “It’s probably a couple hours work, but you can bill what you want,” he tells her, chin up. That’s so weird. As Peter’s wife (especially given the pair’s initial plastic impression), Alicia’s not in the best position to offer Courtney unbiased advice.
Thank you, Alicia says. “Yes, that’s all I want, your thanks,” Eli snarks. Ha ha ha ha ha. Thank you, she repeats. “And I need you to talk Courtney out of what she wants to do.” He holds up a hand to stall her protests. “I know, I know you can’t promise anything, that would be unethical, but she’s planning to give everyone in her company a raise to $75,000 a year!” What about people who’re already making that much, I wonder? There have to be some. Do they not get raises? Alicia walks Eli, her mouth gaping open. “It is in her best interests, both legally and politically, not to do so. Also, it hurts Peter,” he suggests. “It’s just my opinion! I’m not telling you how to advise! You want to encourage her to chase socialism to the grave of history, be my guest.” Hee. Awesome. Finally, he shuts the door behind him on his way out.
Um, okay, back-tracking a little, how does Eli know about Courtney’s salary floor plan? Because if it’s public knowledge, I can’t help thinking it’s going to be way, way worse press to take it back.
Later that day, Ethan Carver marches into Diane’s office with the information that Hallie Fisher is suing to take down their teaser of the undercover video, and block the release of the rest. “And?” Diane asks, perhaps thinking (like me) that Carver was a moron for not simply releasing the tapes. “And that’s bad,” Ethan replies. Hee. “Not for you but for me.” Naw, she scoffs. “That’s prior restraint. No judge will allow it. Go ahead, put it online.”
“Judge Margovski already granted an emergency hearing today,” Ethan tells Diane, who’s stunned by the news. I know you’re no fan of the Citizens for Ethical Medicine, he adds, sitting down, “but this isn’t about abortion anymore, this is about the first amendment.” Oh, she doesn’t like that. “Which you’re using as a weapon to attack women and medicine and choice,” she counters, whipping off her glasses. “Anyone can defend a sympathetic client with popular beliefs,” he declares passionately. “The real test of the First Amendment is whether we’re willing to stand up for people and ideas we hate.” She regards him with more attention, impressed. “Well that’s more persuasive and plainspoken than you normally are,” she tells him. “I was quoting you!” he exclaims. “You said that in a speech to Emily’s List. You may not agree with our tapes or how they were made, but prior restraint is just wrong.” He gives this a moment to sink in. “And you know it.”
And Diane sighs, because she does. “Why do I have to be so damn convincing?” she wonders out loud. Ethan’s flattery and her own convictions, working together in harmony.
The court, even before Cary and Diane dramatically open the double doors, is on the edge of exploding, people on both sides of the aisle standing, yelling, in some cases blocked by court sheriffs; both lawyers look pale and apprehensive. Cary huddles around Diane’s back. “Just remember,” he says, “you’re representing the Constitution.” Well, it’s nice to see Cary in a courtroom again! We don’t get enough of that. The partners reach the front of the courtroom, where a well dressed woman with plastic looking hair and a sanctified sounding voice extends her hand. “Diane. Hello. God bless,” she coos, and Diane’s stiffened by a greeting which sounds zealous rather than sincere. “I’m Heidi. I shot the video. I’m your client.” Heidi wraps her second hand around Diane’s as well. “Stay away from my uterus!” a woman calls out from the gallery, and Heidi turns around waspishly. “We don’t want your dirty uterus!” Oh dear.
“Sorry,” she turns back to Diane with that same soft, false voice. “Just ignore her.” And the rest of her half of the raving court room. “You know I’m not pro-life,” Diane tells her client flatly. I know, Heidi says, sounding pained yet willing to look past it, “technically, but you’re here to show your support.” Oh God. In what world does that even make sense? She’s here to show her support for the Constitution. “I’m not here to show anything,” Diane replies, sitting. Stop killing women, someone in the gallery yells; stop killing children, someone from the opposite side hollers.
“This video is already causing irreparable harm to the important work that Dr. Fisher does, Your Honor,” a very sincere woman in her fifties proclaims, her curly hair piled on top of her head, her New York accent nasal. Stand up, she tells her client, and when she does (awkward, hands folded) her side of the court room explodes into cheers. No, no, Judge Ben Margovski bellows, banging his gavel emphatically. “People, let’s get this clear: you’re guests here, no waving of signs no — in fact, John, let’s collect those signs, okay?” The lead sheriff follows instructions, as does the disappointed crowd. “When I was growing up in the Bronx, there was one thing I was always told. ‘Sneaks can’t be rewarded for sneaking.'” Um, what? He should base a legal decision on a mob saying? Is she serious? “Your Honor,” Diane stands wearily, “this isn’t about sneaks. It’s a textbook case of prior restraint. If we were against it with the Pentagon Papers, we should be against it here.” “That offends me,” Hallie’s sort of hippy-yet-professional-looking lawyer protests. “I know Danny Ellsberg, and that woman is no…” Then sue her, Diane interrupts. “If you think there is harm, the proper remedy is a suit for damages.”
“She’s not wrong, Miss Steele,” the judge intervenes. “The law strongly disfavors this kind of censorship.” Yes, Steele agrees, “except that this secret tape was made illegally.” She brings up the fact viewers of this show are quite familiar with; that Illinois law requires two party consent for videos, and Heidi definitely did not have Hallie’s consent. Getting in on the game, Cary stands up to assert that consent isn’t necessary in this case, since Hallie could have no reasonable expectation of privacy in a crowded fro yo shop. Interesting argument, Agos. If you can potentially be overheard in snippets by a few strangers in a restaurant, you’re consenting to perhaps millions of online views? I’m not sure that’s a reasonable inference, but apparently it’s a significant legal strategy. Judge Margovski wants to hear the tape and determine if the yogurt shop was sufficiently crowded. (Again, 20 people in a yogurt shop are going to stand in for the entire internet? Also, the more crowded it is, the less likely she is to be overheard because there’ll be more competing voices.)
Adjusting her cat-eye glasses, Miss Steele suggests that the gallery be removed, since the whole point of the injunction is that the secret tape stay secret. That seems reasonable enough, and so the judge (through his head sheriff John) complies. “God bless you, Diane, thank you,” Heidi says, once again grasping Diane’s hand with both of hers, trying to make emotional eye contact. It’s all Diane can do to smile and nod politely in return.
“There was one day where, as I was working my forceps into position, trying to get a good grip, I was literally almost doubled over from camps,” Hallie says in the video, sounding callous and unsympathetic. Again, it’s what Diane calls shop talk (doctors are people and will have bad days), but wow is it bad press. Cary freezes to indicate two children seated behind her and two other people at the counter ordering. I’m not sure I’d call that full, as Cary does, or even crowded, but it’s certainly not private. “Wait, is that all you need from the tape?” the judge asks Cary, and when he says yes, opens the court back up to the protesters. “There was no expectation of privacy, Your Honor, they were three feet from the next table.” Ms. Steele wants to make hay over the fact that this table was occupied by children, who wouldn’t understand what Hallie was talking about; for my money it’s a silly argument, because we have no idea what other tables surround Hallie and Heidi or who might be sitting in them. I’m sure there are more than two tables in the shop. “So?” Diane wonders. “Like my mom used to say,” Ms. Steele replies, “stick to the main tent and avoid the side shows!” How is that remotely applicable here? “What does that even mean?” Diane asks the judge. Regardless of the children’s inability to follow Hallie’s conversation, their mother joined them, Cary points out, and Hallie kept talking. Hence no expectation of privacy. But how can we really tell? Oh, I know. By clearing the court and watching the next few seconds of the tape. Out you go again, protesters!
“I don’t remember when he got divorced, maybe seven, eight years ago,” Alicia tells Courtney as they walk down a white staircase together. “Why?” Just curious, Courtney asks in an off-hand way that exposes rather than masks her interest in the answer. “Well, Eli has a daughter,” Alicia continues, “Marissa, he loves her very much. So do I.” She beams, thinking of her former assistant. “He’s a good guy, for a political animal.” Interesting, interesting.
“Well, I know why Eli doesn’t want a salary floor, but what do you think of it, legally?” Courtney asks. Alicia’s put a black jacket over the white blouse she was wearing earlier, and as they’re walking we get a good look at her plaid skirt. I like. Since she doesn’t often wear separates, it feels like a nice change. “Well,” she says, “shareholders may feel devalued and clients might feel insulted.” What? I get the former (even though it’s stupid; shareholder is one of my least favorite words) but how does that insult clients? Is she assuming that they’ll think they’re being fleeced if HRT employees are well paid? People suck.
Courtney reaches her spectacular office, which offers a sweeping view of … is Chicago nearly that massive? Anyway, it’s spectacular.
Does Alicia think the salary floor leaves Courtney open to law suits? Yes, possibly. Upper management and long time employees might object to others making nearly as much money from day one. To counteract this perceived expectation of, what, a lack of appreciation for her long term workers, Alicia suggests a sliding scale, where senior employees get the largest raises. “Do you know Matthew 20?” Courtney asks, narrowing her eyes a little. Surprised, Alicia admits she doesn’t. “I’m sure my daughter does,” she smiles, a little embarrassed not to be up to speed even if it’s with something she discounts as much as the Bible. Of course this is the parable about salvation, where workers at a vineyard are paid the same daily rate no matter how long they worked. Why, Alicia wonders. “Because the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.”
Okay, no. That’s not it at all. The point of the verse — and sorry for going all religious on you for a second — is that going to heaven is going to heaven. It doesn’t matter when you start believing; even an eleventh hour, death bed conversion can bring a new soul to God. There’s no sliding scale for salvation. You either get that “reward” or you don’t, and it’s no good judging your fellow workers as undeserving because they haven’t been faithful as long as you have. Though you can interpret it as a business directive (treat everyone equally), it’s not about being first or last.
“I do know that Bible stories aren’t usually the best business plans,” Alicia responds. Sigh. “Yes,” Courtney agrees, “but you know what the bottom line is?” It’s your money, Alicia realizes. Yup. Shove off, haters! Let her be awesome. “Amen,” Courtney smiles.
“We’re not Planned Parenthood,” Dr. Hallie muses on the video, and wow, they’re really going out of the way to make her unlikable here, with that flat, casual delivery, “We’re the 8th Street Clinic. To have ocular tissue intact, it actually helps….” Here she turns to watch the mother sit down behind her with her kids, but the caption let’s us know what she’s going to say: it helps to have a breech. She turns around, her voice at the same level. “There,” Cary says, stopping the tape. “That’s the mother. No kids, no side show, adults.” Yes, but Dr. Fisher was whispering, Ms. Steele stands to object, which demonstrates her desire to keep the conversation private. I don’t think her decibel level changed at all, actually. “Oh, come on,” Diane stands up, “it demonstrates her awareness she was in a public place and could be overheard.” I can’t help feeling like they’re saying the same thing. Judge Margovski, a trim, compact looking man covered with fine lines, holds up a hand. “Sheriff, you know what we’re missing?” he asks. “Oh do I, Your Honor,” John says, his arms folded, and he opens the doors to call in the gallery, lest they raise a fuss about being excluded.
“So what does whispering mean,” the judge muses. “I think it means Miss Lockhart is right. The yogurt shop did not afford a reasonable expectation of privacy, motion denied.” Ethan, now sitting at the end of the table, smile happily at Cary and Diane. “Any other motions?” Miss Steele asks for a recess to prepare a new one.
Camped outside the LAL elevators is Kelly Bishop, the grandmother from The Gilmore Girls. I love all the resonances of the casting on this show; we’re all familiar with her Gilmore Girls husband, the late Edward Herrmann, and his work here as Lionel Deerfield. Add them to the casting of Ugly Betty stars America Ferrara and Vanessa Williams as love interests for Alan Cummings’ Eli (and their cast-mate Michael Urie, ironically not cast as Alan Cumming’s love interest), look at Becky Ann and Dylan Baker, look at Renee Goldsberry and Will Chase (now of Nashville, for a year with fellow TGW alum Laura Benanti) costarring in Rent together on Broadway… Anyway. The casting on this show is always superlative, but the connections add another cake layer of happy.
Anyway. Mrs. Gilmore’s punching numbers into her Tiffany blue phone when Diane arrives. “Bea! I didn’t know we had an appointment,” she calls out warmly. We don’t, but we need to talk, Bea declares seriously. “Ms. Wilson! I’m Ethan Carver,” Ethan introduces himself. “I recognize you from your appearances for the National Women’s Council.” She turns a cold stare on him. “And I recognize you from the congressional hearings on de-funding Planned Parenthood.” And how lovely that we all know where we stand! That’s not awkward at all. Diplomatically, and at Diane’s request, Cary whisks Ethan and Heidi off to his office.
Once they’re out of earshot, Mrs. Gilmore turns a betrayed face to her friend. “Diane, how can you do this?” she asks. This case isn’t about choice, Diane defends herself, it’s about the first amendment. “That’s a nice neat justification,” Bea gasps, no less offended. “The pro-choice position isn’t so weak that it can’t stand up to the marketplace of ideas,” Diane replies. I notice that like Diane, Bea’s wearing a black suit shot through with gold threads, though the patterning is very different; Diane’s is more linear, rigid, body-conscious. “This isn’t about censorship,” Bea argues passionately. “This is about an orchestrated right wing war on women.”
You’ll get no disagreement from Diane, Bea. “I’ll join you in arguing against the substance of these tapes,” Diane answers. ‘But only after they’re made public.” That’s insane, Bea replies. “We wouldn’t have to argue against them if they weren’t made public!” Sigh. There it is. Free speech when it’s convenient. I get the feeling that confirmed for Diane that she’s doing the right thing, even if it’s also the really hard thing.
You know how in the movie Up where the dog yells “squirrel!” in the middle of a thought? Well, that’s a little how it feels when Jason arrives on the next elevator; he sucks up all the attention we were giving to the debate, and pulls Diane into his orbit. “I think I know what they have, the opposition,” he announces. Her eyes widen. “What is it?”
A non-disclosure agreement, it turns out. Heidi’s group signed an NDA at the conference they (and Dr. Fisher) were attending, and they did so before the filmed conversation. This seems pretty iron-clad, the judge says, looking it over. At first, Diane and Cary protest that the NDA is unclear, hard for her client to understand, and asymmetrical. She didn’t have choice in signing it and wouldn’t have understood the three pages of legalese, which ought to render it invalid. Miss Steel disagrees. “And Your Honor, sneaks…” “Can’t be rewarded for sneaking, I know that,” the judge wearily completes her sentence. Ugh. The judge rules that the NDA stands, much to the jubilation of the pro-choice crowd. How long will they let both sides throw new motions and arguments at the problem? Will this be the end of the matter?
Once more, Eli shows up at Alicia’s apartment, ranting. “Courtney’s ex-husband’s suing her for breach of fiduciary duty,” he snaps, as if this is all Alicia’s fault because like him, she couldn’t talk Courtney out of doing what she wants to do with her own money. “What?” Alicia gasps, and Eli tosses her a blue document which must be the suit. Why would he have that, again? “Mmm hmm. He’s still a partner in the company. I thought her lawyer would know that.” Oh, hush up Eli. Her lawyer works for her, at her company; Alicia met her for what, an hour? Alicia immediately picks up her phone. “Who’re you calling?” Eli snaps.
Of course she’s calling Jason, who’s listening to Ms. Steel and Ms. Lockhart trade barbs in court; he rushes out to the hall. “Alicia, did you find a new client?” Eli referred someone, she says. “Not just someone, a very rich and powerful someone,” Eli barks into the phone. He’s being protective of Courtney, even at Alicia’s expense! That’s kind of cute. She shushes Eli so she can ask Jason to look into Courtney’s husband. “His name,” she starts to read off the suit, “is …” “Larry Oliver,” Eli bellows into her face. Cute, but also really annoying. Take a breather, dude. Alicia wants Jason to look for weaknesses, vulnerabilities. “It’d help to know why they divorced,” Eli pipes in. What, your google alerts and obsessive following of her career didn’t tell you that?
That’s when Diane walks out of court and tells Jason she needs him. Back in her apartment, Alicia’s eyes nearly bug out of her head at the sound of her old partner’s voice. “You have to go?” she wonders. He does. He’ll call her back – perhaps to get Courtney Paige’s name, so he knows which Larry Oliver he needs to research? “What’s wrong,” Eli wonders, noting the sharp change in Alicia’s face. Nothing, she lies, personally jealous and perhaps professionally fearful of losing another investigator.
“I’m calling from the law offices of Florrick/Quinn,” Grace hesitates on the phone. I love her little stripped sweater and patterned shirt. “The Midwest offices,” she corrects herself. “I’d like to set a meeting to discuss what our firm can do for you.” She listens. “Okay, sure,” she says in a small, girlish voice. “Thank you.” She hangs up, then stares despondently around her pretty, silent bedroom.
And that’s when this resourceful girl gets an idea. Honestly, Grace is far and away the best part of this season. She chumhums a video of ambient office noise. Thinking about the effect, she grabs her lap top and sets it next to her computer, so it is sounds like noises are coming from different directions. Then she snags her mom’s laptop off her desk, and positions it on her own bed, giving the ambient noise a 3-D feel. Pleased with this effect, she gets out her mother’s date book, sees an empty block of time, and starts calling with renewed confidence. “Good afternoon, I’m calling from the Midwest offices of Florrick/Quinn. I’d like to set a meeting to discuss what our firm can do for you.” Then she continues the effect of a booming business saying she needs to close her door; instead, she closes the laptop nearest to her. “There,” she says. “That’s much better. Would you mind transferring me to whoever deals with outside counsel?”
And, she’s in luck – who ever she’s called is looking for a new firm. “That’s great news,” she gushes. “Would you mind transferring me to,” then she freezes, “whoever I should talk to?” They do.
“This is Bea Wilson on National Council of Women’s Rights, who am I speaking to?” It’s Grandma Gilmore! No way! Is this the same phone call? Did Grace think the NCW was an insurance firm? “Grace Florrick, at Florrick Quinn & Associates,” Grace stammers, clearly shocked she’s gotten through to anyone. “I was hoping we could discuss representing your organization and all of its … legal concerns?” Grace tries. “And issues and so on?” Yes, I would like that, Mrs. Gilmore replies decisively, taking off her glasses. I’m going to start a drinking game with that gesture, it’s so overused. “We’re just in the process of considering moving our legal business,” she says. “When would you be able to accommodate us?” As in becoming your law firm, Grace wonders in complete shock. Um, surely she’s going to want to meet with you first. Instead of contradicting her, like I assumed, Bea gives another emphatic yes. “This is Florrick Quinn as in Alicia Florrick, yes?” Oh yes. “We worked with her before. When could we make the transfer?” Whenever you want, Grace gasps. “Good,” Bea answers. “Please call me tomorrow and I’ll send over the necessary papers.” Setting down her phone, unable to believe her luck, Grace sits stunned – and then raises her arms in a silent V of victory.
Not to be a wet blanket, because I love the idea of this, but how could Alicia and Lucca can’t handle a client that big?
“Mrs. Lockhart, if you ever need anything,” a round-faced young white guy walks up behind Diane, “if there’s ever anything, I’m one of the new associates, Brian.” She’s not paying attention to him; she’s watching a man and woman leave the conference room in what looks like high dungeon. “Miss Lockhart,” she corrects him as Cary futilely attempts to placate the pair. “Oh, that’s right,” he guffaws. What a dunderhead. Seriously unimpressive. “Use me in any way you want. Carrying boxes, killing spiders…” Killing spiders? Because she’s a little lady who can’t do those things for herself? Diane, whose gray suit indicates a new day, looks at her unwanted employee, completely stunned. Wrong way to suck up, dude. Fortunately for him, Cary asks for a moment with Diane and prompts Brian to skedaddle before she summarily fire him for being a complete twit. “Sure, that I can do, get out of the way,” he grins, and leaves.
“Good hires,” Diane snarks, “these smart ones.” Cary sighs, and then squares his shoulders. “That was Mike and Ginger from the Justice Center,” he announces, no doubt unnecessarily. “They’re leaving.” Whatever Diane thought they were saying, she’s astounded that it’s gone so far. “This is a first amendment case,” she protests. “I know that,” Cary agrees, “and you know that, but they don’t know that.” Then have them talk to me, Diane replies. “They don’t want to be argued out of their position,” he explains.”There isn’t much neutral ground on abortion.” I’ll say. (I’ve probably said before here that it’s one issue where I think both sides are completely right, which leaves me absolutely no where.) “On free speech,” Diane reminds him, and then spins around.
And when her body has completed its turn, we’re in court. “Your Honor,” Diane addresses Judge Margovski, “will stipulate that the non-disclosure agreement applied on the premises.” Ah. Okay, that’s an interesting take; since Hallie and Heidi weren’t physically at the conference, Diane’s arguing that the NDA doesn’t apply to their off-premises conversation. “They met at the conference, and were on an officially scheduled break,” Miss Steel counters. “Your Honor, we can show that the trip to the yogurt store was just an extension of the conference, but …” Miss Steel steels herself before admitting that means watching more of the video. Sigh. Everybody out! Today’s much more subdued crowds groans their complaints mildly.
And, ouch, Lucca’s sitting in reception at Canning & Associates. Not cool! Also, in a nice touch to the small lawyer’s over-sized ego, his shining gold name probably spans a good 8 to 10 feet. Yikes. “Lucca,” the man himself says, “I will see you now.”
“Don’t look now,” he says as they settle in, “but the guy I just kicked out of your office is walking by.” What? What an awful ploy! There really is a man walking by with a box full of belonging cleared off his desk, including a house plant. I don’t for a second believe he’s done that, but I do wonder if the walk by was a plant, or just a coincidence Canning’s exploiting. And as he surely intended, it unsettles and guilts Lucca. “Why would you do that?” she asks, horrified. “Well, where else are you gonna work? Shared office?” Is that a reference to her lack of an office – hell, her lack of a desk – at Alicia’s? “Out of your home?” Yep, it sure was. “I haven’t take the job,” Lucca reminds him. “And you haven’t made your pitch. If you really want me here…”
As part of the deal, he lays out three folders in front of her. “You say yes, you get what’s behind all three doors!” They’re clients she’d be put in charge of. The first is a hospitality company in Jamaica. “Your Dad’s Jamaican. They’ll like that.” The second is the department store, Arthur Beadle & Sons; the size of this client impresses her. (I don’t know why, but that name was familiar enough I thought it might be real. It isn’t.) One of the sons has been in and out of prison, so her work as a bar attorney should be a big help there. Finally, behind door number three, there’s Inner Heart Hope, a medical group which performs low cost surgeries in third world countries. “They need someone like you,” he suggests, and she looks moved. “I want you, not Alicia. So give it some thought, but I need to know in 24 hours.”
“So?” Alicia asks, handing Lucca a water bottle out of the fridge. “You ever hear that joke about the Irish guy who goes to confession?” A religious joke? Nope. The guy, Lucca says, confesses to adultery. “The priest asks, was it Mrs. O’Leary?” She adds a nice little Irish accent. It wasn’t, by the way, and so the priest suggests Mrs. O’Grady and Mrs. O’Donnell, both without a positive response. Alicia laughs, as much as Lucca’s voice work as anything else. “Guy walks out of confession and says, I got three good leads.”
“Canning gave you names?” Alicia gasps. “Montego Courtmore Estates, Arthur Beadle, and Inner Heart Hope. They add up to $10 million.” Together in trickery, the partners clink water bottles. Nice. “I called ’em all on the way over, we can pitch ’em tomorrow.” Hmm, but where? Alicia’s afraid her home office doesn’t look like a 10 million dollar firm. “It’ll look like a hobby,” she fears.
“Hey Mom, I got a client,” Grace pops into the room, clutching a notebook and grinning. Why is she not in school? “That’s great, honey, good job,” Alicia patronizes her daughter, practically patting her on the head. “We’ll be right back.” Aw, don’t harsh her buzz! How can they not want to hear about the prospective client? Living DUI to DUI, and suddenly you’re above what you think is a mid-level insurance firm?
Even in her disappointment, Grace hears her phone ringing and leaps into action. Just in case, she sets up all the computers to give that 3D office feel again before she answers. “Hello, Florrick Quinn & Associates, this is Grace, how may I help you?” “Hello,” comes the deep voice of an older woman, “this is Ginger Gale from the Justice Center. Bea Wilson gave me your number, and said you might be open to new clients.” Yes, the girl replies quickly. “What was your business again, m’am?” The Justice Center, Ginger rasps, and Grace takes notes. “I know we’re not as big as NCW, but we have 2 million a year in billing, and growing. We’re moving on from Lockhart, Agos & Lee.” Yes, Grace replies, I mean we are a little busy, but we’re never too busy for a business like yours.” Her face looks ecstatic.
What you are is too understaffed, but that’s okay.
“I have a few minutes. Walk and talk?” Dr. Hallie Fisher offers Undercover Heidi on the video, which plays in court with the peanut gallery once again out in the hall. “As you can see,” Miss Steel asserts, “the conversations starts at the hotel, and continues across the street to the yogurt shop.” Hmmm. The judge buys it; the conversation was continuous, which means it was an extension of the conference and so covered by the non-disclosure agreement. Team Sneak gives each other worried, covert glances. Before the judge can official bury the video, however, Diane asks for a recess to come up with a new strategy; Cary mutters at her under his breath, but the judge grants her request.
“Ms. Lockhart, do you have a moment?” Brian the Ivy League Twit asks when she and Cary burst through the courtroom doors into the hall. I don’t, she snaps, disinclined to listen to anything he can have to say. I found a way you can fight this, he insists. “Maybe we can talk another time,” she continues to ignore him. “She’s a whistle blower,” he pushes forward anyway. “Try the whistle blower statute.” Diane and Cary spin to look at the idea. Apparently Harvard Law does have benefits after all.
“You can quote the Bible all you want, Court,” a man with a thick accent tells Courtney Paige, who sits in her spectacular office with her arms crossed, defensive and annoyed. You know, her view reminds me of Eli’s when we first saw his office, or Elsbeth’s. “But you’re just trying to screw me out of what is mine.” What an asshat. I demand to stay rich on the money that other people’s work gets me! Wah wah wah. (I totally sound like a socialist, don’t I?) “No, Larry, I’m just trying to do the right thing,” she says wearily as Alicia and Eli look on in horror. “Something you would know nothing about.” Larry and his spiky hair protests that he’s been to Cambodia and Sri Lanka, making films about – did he say El Nino? Bah. “What do you call that?” She calls it squandering her money making experimental films no one will ever see.
“If I may make a suggestion,” Eli actually raises his hand, wondering if unlimited sick days and vacation time might be a good substitution for the salary floor. Alicia, he hisses, because Alicia is staring down the hall instead of paying attention. Yes, that’s one way you could go, she recovers. And then makes a pitch; does Courtney ever rent out her conference room?
“Your Honor, at this time, my client would like to file pursuant to the Illinois false claims act.” The whistle blower act, the judge replies. “All due respect, judge,” Miss Steel stands, “but this is what my mother would call focach.” Okay. “Who’s your whistle blower?” Judge Margovski asks, and in the gallery Brian grins a broad Harvard law grin. She is, Diane says, looking down at her client. “Diane, you are amazing,” Heidi gushes. “I admire you so much!” You can see Diane’s ready to kick Heidi in the gut. “Your Honor, as my father would say, this is like putting an asses’ bridle on a Model T Ford.” Well, you have to give the writers credit. She’s a character all right. “Okay,” the judge squints. “I don’t even get that one.”
“The 8th Street Clinic receives state funding for the procedures they perform, which they are misrepresenting. The tapes represent that fraud. And therefor they cannot be censored.” Ah. Well argued, Diane/Brian. “It’s a creative play, Miss Lockhart. Please approach,” the judge tells her, and he nods to the court reporter to indicate that she shouldn’t record whatever it is he’s going to say. “We need to talk,” he insists. “This is not ex parte, but we need to talk.” Whenever you want, she says. Now, he insists.
“Diane, what are you doing here?” he wonders, hanging up his robe in his chambers. “Your Honor?” she asks, sitting down. “Please,” he says. “Stop with the Your Honor. This is just Ben.” He presses a hand to his heart as he sits down. “You really think your client is a whistle blower?” She was reporting a public fraud, she replies. “To whom?” he wonders; did the come to the police, the feds, the State’s attorney? No, Diane admits. “Then under the statute, she has no provided proper notice.”
You have to give notice before blowing a whistle? Interesting. Well, she posted the video online, Diane argues; why doesn’t that count toward the spirit of the notice requirement? “I’m telling you it’s too much of a reach,” he says. Why couldn’t he tell her that in court? Why couldn’t he just say no to her argument? “And even more so, I don’t understand why you’re trying so hard to make it.”
Hello, what did he just say? I just saw a meme that basically said that when a woman asks you to repeat what you’ve said, she really means that you should consider what you’ve said and change it. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve used that trick with my kids, and kind of want to say that to Margovski now. She’s trying to hard because that’s her job. So, let’s repeat that. What did you just say?
“I’ve known you for a long time, and this – this is not your case,” he says, shaking his head. Poor Diane simply cannot believe this. He voice goes soft. “Are you saying that I shouldn’t pursue this case because of my politics?” she asks, choosing her words slowly. “I’m saying you shouldn’t be pursuing this because it’s not you.” Wow. No wonder he didn’t want to say this in the courtroom. This could hardly be more inappropriate. OH MY GOSH. “This is about free speech, and you know it,” she argues. “No I don’t know it,” he says, digging the hole deeper. “This undercover tape is disgusting! It’s like James O’Keefe with ACORN. It’s like all Republicans, they don’t play fair.”
He did not. Clearly it COULD get more inappropriate.
Diane closes her eyes, trying to compose herself. “This is… you can’t be telling me this,” she rightly observes. And yet he did. “And yet I am,” he answers. “I want you to stop trying to make this work. So let’s go back out there, get to work, and make sure these videos never see the light of day.”
Holy crap. Holy crap holy crap holy crap.
Slowly, Diane closes the door to Judge Margovski’s chambers. So, asks Ethan Carver, waiting excitedly. “Your client, Stacy Groom, the one who had the abortion?” Diane asks, in a trance. The one you ripped apart, Carver wonders. “Yes, Diane agrees. “We’re putting her on the stand.”
Huh. That’s interesting.
In the black and white conference room at HRT Industries (mildly reminiscent of the Mood offices, rationally softened), Alicia and Lucca meet unsuccessfully with all three of the clients Louis Canning offered Lucca. They fall flat in every way possible; the women talk over each other at the wrong moments, they tell different lies about how big their firm is, they forget which prospective client they’re talking to and so pitch badly. Really, it’s an unmitigated disaster. Alicia even refers to their firm as Florrick Agos. In a word, catastrophe.
“No, there’s no question,” Grace riffs, walking around her bedroom with the 3D ambient sound going, “Diane Lockhart’s an excellent lawyer. But we have the expertise…” Suddenly one laptop starts neighing, horses charging across it in an internet ad for Lippincott Mutual. Looks like she was looking for insurance companies after all. “One second, Jojo.” She shuts it off. “One of our lawyers is working with horses.” She shares a laugh. “I know. Good help these days! So, actually yes, I do think we can squeeze in a meeting tomorrow.” Oh, Grace, you wonder of the universe, you!
“Ms. Groom, did the 8th Street Clinic perform an abortion on you?” Diane asks Liability Stacy. Miss Steel, of course, objects for relevance, and the judge is puzzled as well. “Ms. Groom is private citizen who believes she has be defrauded, and is now reporting it. Here. To this court.” There’s a dangerous snap to Diane’s voice, putting the judge on notice that will not back down. Fascinating, though, that she’s going to do it with a witness she knows is so vulnerable. Can she possible win? “She is our whistle blower.” Objection over ruled, the judge declares. Proceed.
She does, eliciting the information that we already know, including Dr. Fisher turning the baby/fetus to better harvest organs. Of course, nothing’s been entered into the record about the breech position, so Miss Steel accuses Stacy of misstating evidence. Are you saying Miss Groom’s abortion didn’t involve a breech? No she’s saying there’s no evidence as to cause. Yes, because you’ve denied us those records, Diane snap, and then demands a hearing to grant them access to the clinic’s medical records. Oh no you don’t. The collective pro-choice and medical communities would be steaming out their ears at the idea of a court reviewing individual health cases and determining the worth of a doctor’s decision. This time, unsurprisingly, the judge sustains the objection. “Do you have more questions for this witness, Miss Lockhart?” he asks pointedly. She does not.
Unsurprisingly, Miss Steel manages to tease out (even without Jason’s prep) some of the, let’s call them issues with Ms. Groom’s story. “These symptoms you discuss,” she begins, as Diane smirks to herself. Why is she smirking? “Have you reported them to a doctor?” Yes, and she received a PTSD diagnosis. “Really? When was that?” Yesterday. Hmm. That looks wonderful. “Great,” Ms Steel replies. “Before your testimony here.” Of course Diane objects to the snark, but she’s overruled. “You said that Dr. Fisher tricked you into donating tissue, how did she do that?” She promised that the tissue would go to research, and that my health wouldn’t be compromised, Switcheroo Stacy replies. “And it wasn’t,” Miss Steel responds, “was it?” Stacy’s eyes fill with tears, and I feel a little mean for suggesting (as Diane did) that there’s anything wrong with her changing her mind. “She said on that video, the baby will be moved to a breech position.” Diane nods, as if she’s landed a killing blow.
Yeah, once again, I’m at a loss as to why they’re not explaining this more. Does turning the baby hurt her uterus? It could. We haven’t been told how far along she was, have we, so that could be part of it. I just wish there was a little more detail there. Speaking of killing blows, however, Ms. Steel brings up the would be whistle blower’s recent religious conversion. Your Honor, no, Diane stands, absolutely yelling with an anger that’s very unusual for her litigation. It’s an indictment of this woman’s religious beliefs, and that’s beyond the pale. “What happened to constitutional freedom,” she fumes. Ms Steel looks ready to spit, seething over Stacy’s choice to have an abortion and then blame the doctor for the regret brought on by her new faith. Judge Ben (odd that it’s just Ben on his name plaque, right, and not Benjamin or Benedict?) bangs the gavel, annoyed.
As Courtney finishes up a phone call, muttering ‘yes’ and ‘absolutely’ and trying in vain to hurry up the other caller, Eli peers around her office. He’s awkward and unsettled and totally unsure of what to do with himself. Trying to give himself something to do, he walks over to her bookshelves and looks at her framed photographs, picking up an obviously recent one with Pope Francis. Nice! Even Eli likes the pope. Of course he drops the picture, which startles them both, but it’s okay, nothing breaks. Like the HRT Industries offices in general, most of Courtney’s office follows a black and white theme, which as I said suggests Wilhelmina Slater, but with far more warmth and homeyness. Her loose white suit, too, has a real warmth to it. “Nice picture of you and the pope,” he says, which makes her smile. “Did you decide what you wanted to do,” he asks as she skims her cell phone, sounding very nervous, “with the unlimited vacation days?”
She looks up at him. “Eli, what are you doing here?” she asks, as if she doesn’t know the answer.
“I…thought you wanted me to stay,” he stammers. Hee. I notice he’s wearing a silver and gold stripped tie. “And your concern is Governor Florrick?” she presses. Yes, he says, then thinks about it and backtracks. “What do you mean?” What else might his concern be, in other words. “Well, it’s important to understand motives, don’t you think?” she asks, and he just gapes at her. He’s got absolutely no idea how to take this, none at all, and it’s incredibly endearing. Those mental wheels spin. What kind of motive does she want him to have? “Always,” he gaps. Aw! “Unlimited vacations is a ploy,” she explains. “It’s cynicism disguised as benevolence, and you know that!” I, um, how do I know that,” he wonders, still utterly flummoxed. She sighs. “Give me some credit,” she says. “When companies offer unlimited vacations, employees take even less vacations. They’re so paranoid about pulling their own weight they don’t even use their 2 weeks!” He nods as she explains this, and apologizes; that was not his intention.
“Well then,” she asks, making warm eye contact, “what is your intent?” Again, he gapes, his mouth flapping, trying to figure out what she wants him to say. “What are we talking about now?” he wonders. “You’re in my office,” she reminds him, “the door is closed.” He looks over at the door in a panic. (Oh no! The door is closed. A closed door can mean only one thing!) “You still trying to … help me?” He favors her with a slightly rakish smile, then blushes and grabs his head, tousling his hair. “I’m not good at this,” he confesses. “What is this?” she asks, which feels like a combination of taking pity on him and also kicking his butt a little. She finishes the comment with a wry, fond smile.
“You’re beautiful,” he confesses like he just can’t hold it in anymore, and she smiles again. “And I’m … well, I have my moments, but my office is the size of your bathroom, and I don’t have the money you have.” Who would? (In fact, given the way her ex-husband seemed excessively comfortable spending her money, I expect she’d find Eli’s discomfort refreshing.) She exhales, tips her head, considers him, and then turns in her chair.
“Come here,” she demands, and there’s no way even he can mistake that. He stares at her, his jaw dropped.
And then he starts spinning his head a little, like he’s drunk on her. “Okay,” he replies, giddy, and then slowly he walks across the room, and slowly bends toward her until her eyes close for a slow, gentle kiss.
In contrast, Lucca’s having a very unhappy phone call back the law offices of Florrick/Quinn. “That was the last one,” she tells Alicia, who’s stumped. “I thought Canning’s clients would be easier to pick off,” she admits. Well, you really don’t have the resources, and it looks like you didn’t go in well prepared, either. ‘What do we do?” Lucca shrugs, sounding defeated.
And that’s when Grace arrives, like their saving .. grace. Give us a minute, Alicia replies, not really paying attention, so that’s when Grace gets a little more forceful. I think you want to hear this, she announces. “I got four new clients.” To my irritation, even this doesn’t wake Alicia up. ‘That’s great, honey,” she says, “I’ll be in in a minute.” So Grace reads off the list in her notebook. “NCW, the Justice Center, Preservation Basin, and Jojo Lee’s company.” Check her out, schmoozing with the head of the company! Excellent. Lucca blinks, frowning, and Alicia stands up slowly and turns around. “Excuse me?” she asks.
Yes. Thats’ right. Paying attention now, are we?
And so Grace repeats herself, reading out the names again. “I,” Alicia begins, “you — you talked to them?” Ha. (Anyone else think Lucca’s dress has a bit of a Santa vibe to it? That Christmas red with the white edges? Love it.) Yes, Grace nods, thrilled to have her moment in the sun. “NCW? Who did you talk to at NCW?” Bea Wilson, Grace tells a very shocked Lucca. “Bea Wilson? THE Bea Wilson?” Well, a Bea Wilson, Grace laughs. “How did you get all those firms?” Apparently they’re unhappy with Diane Lockhart, Grace shrugs. You can see Lucca’s starting to come around, but Alicia’s still stunned. “So, can you make time to meet with them?” Um, yeah.
Back in court, Diane’s pounding on the fact that she can’t substantiate her claims because the clinic won’t release minute to minute medical records. That’s pretty much the holy grail for someone like Ethan, those records. You have no basis for discovery, Ms. Steel snipes. “It’s a catch 22, Your Honor,: Diane contends. “I need the evidence they have to get the evidence they have.” That is a problem, he agrees dryly. “For you.” Well, you could fix it with an evidentiary order, she asks, her eyes bright with irritation. Let me think about that, he says. “No.” Diane casts a quick look to Ethan before making her next move.
“Your Honor, per Illinois rule 735ILCS5-27001, I would like to make a motion for substitution of judge.” Ooooh, snap. “You’re asking me to remove myself from this case?” he asks dangerously. She is. On the grounds of political bias. “Motion denied,” he bites out. “There is nothing in the record to reflect any bias on my part, political or otherwise.” It’s true that he’s been very balanced in court, but good lord. Giving a tight and tiny smile, Diane walks right across that line; “there is nothing on the record because you pulled me into chambers for an improper ex parte conversation.” Oh, boy. Judge Ben is livid; if he were a cartoon, steam would be coming out of his ears. You stop right there, he yells, pointing at her. She doesn’t. “Which revealed your bias against both me and my client’s case.”
Denied again, the judge thunders as the court fills with gasps. “You wanna keep getting knocked down?” She does. “It is not fair that you who are biased get to rule on your bias,” she tells him, rightly. “It is fair,” he snaps, “and you are way over the line.” She tries to push again. “Miss Lockhart!” he shouts over her. “I have made my ruling! You’re welcome to proceed with your case. And I assure you, I will give it all the consideration it deserves.” She smirks at him, and he looks a little self conscious.
She sits down with a rueful smile on her face. “Sorry,” she tells Ethan. “I tried my best, but I’ve just become a liability.” He nods. “It’s in your client’s best interest for me to withdraw.”
“Nicely played,” Cary rushes up behind Diane as she walks out of court, a spring in her step, peppy music on the sound track. She raises her eyebrows at him questioningly. “You found a way out without backing down from anyone. Kudos.” Yes, and it was all true, which makes it even better. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she declares loftily, walking fast. “Okay,” he says, not caring what she admits. “It’s time we got our clients back.” I’m on it, she says.
Back at Alicia’s apartment, the trio of women are toasting their success, the legal ones with red wine. Perhaps a bit premature, this celebration, all things considered, but hey, it’s good to acknowledge all victories, even incomplete ones. Hey, Jason, you’re just in time, Lucca observes as Alicia suddenly looks self-conscious because of the investigator’s arrival. (He totally has a key, which is so weird. That or she just doesn’t lock her door, and even in that building it seems unlikely.) For what, he wonders. “To celebrate,” Grace says. “New business, new life – and we owe it all to Grace,” Lucca explains. “Well, congratulations,” he says, before Grace asks Alicia for a minute.
Sure, her mother says before thanking her again. Oh, of course, Grace answers. “So,” she adds, “it works out to $35,800. For the year.” What’s that, Alicia blinks. “Half a percent of billable hours,” Grace explains. Ha! “That’s what you owe me! Cash or check is fine.” Alicia blinks, trying to work this out.
Well, okay. Nothing like counting your chickens before they hatch, Grace! You don’t even know if you really have those clients yet, not for sure, or that you’ll keep them for a year, or that this tiny firm can cover so many enormous clients. Those are a lot of ifs. On the other hand, way to kick butt. I love it.
I was thinking, earlier, that I can off as very harsh and uneven unnecessarily picky here. Heaven knows (and you guys do too!) that I have plenty of issues with the plot of the last few seasons, and don’t always like the direction characters have taken. I will say this, though; I nitpick because this show is good enough to stand it. When I watch Blindspot (which I quite enjoy) I don’t ask how an agent could have seen something happening in a building when they were clearly stationed outside it on ground level. They’re not trying to be that real; it can’t stand up to that basic level of scrutiny. On Castle and Bones (old favorites) the writing can and should be as silly rather than rational. I don’t expect or even desire fidelity to reality everywhere. But here, when they drop a plot line or make someone act out of character, it bothers me because this show is grounded in reality. And because TGW writing breathes with such detail, because the characters feel so human, and their world so lived in that I do expect it to maintain a certain standard. When this show is inconsistent, it does bug me, because writing and acting this brilliant shouldn’t be marred by such lack of imagination.
So, there it is. It only looks like I hate, because I love. That makes sense, right?
And anyway, this week I’m not complaining.
I don’t know if there’s a lot more to comment on. Eli and Courtney were really fun. Did they just leap into that? Sure. Is that a safe choice, considering their working relationship and the campaign? Quite possibly not. I enjoyed it a ton anyway. And it’s not like real people date particularly wisely, anyway. Perhaps it wasn’t as beefy as his first appearance, but I enjoyed Peter Gallagher’s conservative lawyer and the way he sort of tricks Diane into doing what he wants — and obviously I loved the way she completely snows him. You know, I don’t necessarily like Gallagher better than Oliver Platt, but I think it makes more structural sense for Diane to be working with one of Dipple’s lawyers than with the boss himself – and since Platt is now a regular on Chicago Med, I’m pleased with the substitution. Ah, such is the double sided blessing of The Good Wife and its amazing guest stars; so many actors go on to leading roles, and which is great for them, but often a bummer for us. In this case I think we might be the winners.
I’ve already said I wanted more detail out of the abortion clinic plot — just a little bit, not a lot, about the whole breech thing. But whatever. What I’m really happy about is a week off from the whole epic story of watching a smart, principled woman being ever so slowly corrupted by the system. First of all, she punted those damn voting machines to a committee! I am freaking thrilled about that. And I guess I’m not offended by her trying to steal Canning’s client as Canning tries to poach her partner — or her scooping up Diane’s clients after they left. Perhaps it a case like the doctor’s oath; she did no harm, so for that I’m happy.
Now, okay, they were celebrating the client acquisition pretty early, which did make me nervous (had they met with the clients? signed papers?) and there’s also no way that a two person firm could handle that many large clients, but whatever. Perhaps it’s worth celebrating the mere fact that they were wanted. Maybe they’ll hire Monica Timmons and she’ll help them stick it to David Lee and even Cary for being so – hmm. What shall we call it? Anti-diversity? Unimaginatively status-quo centric? I don’t really want to go with patronizing, sexist and bigoted…
Anyway, it was good and I’m happy and I will take it. Happy holidays, all – where ever you live, whatever you celebrate, whatever brings joy to your lives as we move into winter, I wish you joy. And just a little more Good Wife to close out the year.