E: Over and over in my head, I hear music. And no, it’s not Matthew Lillard’s delightfully charming Rowby singing either “Thicky Trick” or “Good Morning, Magic Sunshine”, it’s Axl Rose singing to another sweet child. Where do we go? Where do we go from here?
After all, Peter’s campaign is over. He and Alicia freely admit to no longer loving each other. Alicia’s motivating animus against Frank Landau has vanished. Grace is gone, which is a necessary but sad thing. Jason is gone, and with him the promise of romance. Or at least sex. Half of Alicia’s clients long for better infrastructure and threaten to flee the coop, and her condo association wants to evict her for running a business out of her house. Lockhart, Agos & Lee wants her, but she doesn’t want to go back to the complications and servitude of her time before. Broke and taken for granted by her imperious partner, Lucca’s ready to quit, and we all know how little Alicia likes being alone.
And there’s perhaps the heart of my discontent (one which still, combined with life events, has stopped me from doing a typical transcript-recap). Where DO we go from here? The pieces are still wonderful (Rowby, Marissa, Andrea Stevens, etc) but I just have no faith that the characters are headed anywhere I want to follow.
The moving parts this week, there are many. Alicia’s building has changed the numbering system on the elevator, leading to all of Alicia’s customers and packages ending up at her downstairs neighbors door. Apparently Grandma Gilmore/Bea Wilson (unlike the three year olds I’ve been working with lately) can’t read numbers, and she among a flotilla of others end up mightily pissing off the woman who lives in 603 (as opposed to 903). As a running gag, this goes a little far when Cary ends up on the wrong floor, considering that he worked out of Alicia’s apartment for months, but okay. The show always takes its jokes too far and thinks they’re funnier than they actually are. This all illustrates for us what a precarious position Alicia is in, operating a business out of her home; it feels dodgy to most clients and far from endears her to her neighbors.
One client who doesn’t care is musician Rowby Canton, who this time is the defendant in a lawsuit instead of the plaintiff. His former record label is suing him for the copyright of a song that went viral, something they claim he wrote while under contract with them. Christine Lahti’s Andrea Stevens steps in as the antagonist for this fight; sure, she’s Viola Walsh-lite, but she has her own special brand of teacher’s pet superciliousness. (One thing that leaves me in constant awe with this show — something I think is unparalleled in the history of television — is the writers ability to create lawyers who’re not simply vehicles for argument and exposition, but with obvious and distinct legal styles. Oh, the fantastic guest stars help, too, but think about the number of guest stars this show has who all come in with specific tricks and styles that feel organic rather than gimmicky. It’s no mean feat, this.) She smiles poison, complimenting Lucca on what she insists is a new hairstyle, when everyone meets at LAL (since Rowby wants both his former lawyers to work together on this) and the showrunners are happy to comply with anything that gets their disparate cast in the same room. Rowby has other, more compelling desires, however; he falls swoons over Lucca, the most beautiful creature he’s ever beheld, and with an weirdly endearing blend of awe and child-like sincerity wins over her initial skepticism. I have a weakness for artists, she tells him, consenting to a drink; despite her warning that she tires of said artists quickly, a drink turns into passionate necking at the bar and half naked serenades at Lucca’s apartment.
I won’t bore you with all the labyrinthine tricks and twists between the legal teams, which hinge on the justness of the record label letting Rowby go, the time stamp of the video, whether it was central or pacific time, and how quickly musical inspiration can strike. I enjoyed it (yay, copyright law! I know, I know, I’m a big nerd), and hopefully you did too. It suffices to say that for once lovably loser Rowby succeeds — and hilariously plants a victory kiss on a shocked Lucca to the greater surprise of Cary and Alicia.
Don’t take to much to heart from the one victory, however. Perhaps because they’re petty, greedy and slimy, the record label hits Rowby with a new suit, this one for 8 million dollars (which Rowby, divorced because he couldn’t provide his wife with a house, stable life, and a two-car garage cannot possibly pay) alleging plagiarism. The song is too much like another one owned by his old company. Why does the law give people so many ways to be mean, the poor musician asks Lucca, and I can’t but agree.
Back in court, the two sides present dueling experts as usual; to my delight, the defense employs Star Trek: Voyager’s lovable alien Ethan Phillips to explain that all of music is created from three cords, and that of course there’s going to be overlap between the millions of songs in existence, but that doesn’t make them the same. I found it a really compelling, even stirring argument, but Judge Page (70s movie star Marsha Mason, who I’m happy to see employed at all but would love to see with more to do) doesn’t really gets it, and calls it for the plaintiff. Not only does Rowby now have to come up with a way to pay this ridiculous amount of money (probably by signing over the royalties from “Good Morning, Magic Sunshine” to his old company), but he’s lost his new muse, Lucca, who makes it clear she’s headed back to real life after the idyll of their brief dalliance.
That’s another thing this show excels at. I feel like it’s an astonishing spin off generator. I’ve said for years I’d watch a show about Patti Nyholm or Elsbeth Tascioni or Nancy Crozier; I would without hesitation watch the Lucca and Rowby show. Can you image how much fun that would be?
Meanwhile it turns out that Bea Wilson has been acting as a mentor to our old friend Monica Timmons, who senses her unhappiness with Florrick/Quinn and tries to sweet talk the pro-choice advocate back to LAL. It turns out that Bea longs for the infrastructure of a firm like LAL, but loves Quick because it’s a small, personal, woman and minority owned firm, and we all know how LAL suddenly looks on that front. Sigh. She’s not the only one; Diane, David and Monica all work on approaching the firm’s former clients (particularly those that defected to Alicia) but none of them are biting. Cary’s solution to this dilemma for Alicia to come back, and bring Lucca with her; it wins Quick infrastructure, and LAL diversity. Much to Lucca consternation, Alicia basically shuts the door in his face. She doesn’t want to go back to a big corporate firm, or dependence, or interdependence, or whatever it is exactly about working in a big firm she fears. Lucca, on the other hand, wants to do more than just DUIs and definitely wants to be consulted when her future is concerned. Alicia, I get why you have to say no for yourself (even if it tortures the show structure), but there must be a happy medium between respecting yourself and at least appearing to respect your colleagues.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t understand how the two of them can even do the work for those 3 or 4 big clients Grace snagged them, and I don’t see how any of that that translates into either a DUI only business (which we’ve never seen them do, except for a single client meeting) or barely making ends meet. It’s not plausible from either end, is it? Granted, we’ve never seen them working for Bea, either, so maybe that’s why they’re not taking in her $4 mill in yearly billables? This all seems preposterous, and frustratingly unworthy of the show that does so much else with gloriously precise attention to nuance and detail.
When unhappy downstairs neighbor brings Alicia her mail (gee, you’d think that postal workers could read numbers, too), she hands over Grace’s opened report card and notes that the girl got a combination of B’s and 2 C’s. Ouch! So despite the fact that Grace (with a little assist from Marissa) defeats the eviction proceedings set up by 603-Nasty (pointing out that 603 has an illegal sublet, that another member of the board day-trades out of his apartment, and that many others have home business and even a rush of high priced call girls) , Alicia finally awakens to her parental duties and fires Grace so she can go back to being the high school student she needs to be. No, she’s not as warm and fuzzy about it as I would have been, but she does make clear enough (I guess) that she’s doing it for Grace’s good. And she’s firm. Which is good too. Of course, that gets rid of Grace as Veronica Mars, which is my favorite part of the entire season, but it’s the right move.
(Oh, and before you ask, no. I have no idea why Downstairs Neighbor Lady can’t put a sign on her door, or one in the elevator. Perhaps the building is too fancy for such measures? Maybe it would need to be engraved?)
And that brings us to the big emotion punches of the episode. Eli keeps showing up at Alicia’s with made up excuses to get her to see him, and she continues to shut the door in his face. Traipsing in from California, Marissa swans into her father’s new/old office, one he recovered from Ruth along with an apology from him (I wish I was nicer to you) and some advice from her (Peter has a target on his back now). Because she’s quirky and anti-establishment, she owns to preferring the tiny one. The important thing is, she wants a job, but Eli doesn’t have one, and he sends her to ask Alicia, perhaps hoping that Alicia won’t take out her resentment on his innocent daughter. WRONG. Of course the totally wounded Marissa goes back to Daddy for an explanation as to why her loving boss has suddenly treated her with suspicion and disdain, and so he confesses his interference and Alicia’s just resentment. And Will’s dead and she can never make it right, Dad, Marissa points out. That’s what has tortured me, Eli agrees.
In what’s one of the most honest and emotional scenes of the entire series, Marissa returns to Alicia’s apartment and confronts her, and for once, Alicia actually taps into her own feelings to answer from the heart. She’s too caught up in a prison of resentment and pain to forgive Eli. She can’t promise that will ever change. She can’t go the half step of saying she needs space but doesn’t hate him. Both women have thick veneers — Alicia’s armored with manners and the law, and Marissa with humor — so it’s heartbreaking to see how raw Alicia still is, and how unable to forgive despite the appeal from a young woman she clearly loves. At least she’s able to talk to Marissa for herself rather than as an emissary for Eli (though ironically she shows up the second time to plead a case she didn’t know existed the first time).
All in all, it’s a tough few days.
So, back to my first question. Does anyone have any idea what’s going to happen next? I surely do not. Will Alicia hire Marissa to take Grace’s place, leading to resentment and comedy? Should Alicia have offered Eli some small olive branch, and does she understand how truly he wants it? Will Lucca leave? Will Jason return? Is it weird that Alicia’s now reduced to being emotionally devastated by Peter’s handlers rather than Peter himself? Can you believe Peter hired Eli back as his Chief of Staff, and that he stayed? Will he seek to revenge himself against Peter, or is he over all that? Are you sorry to see Margo Martindale end her Critics Choice award winning role? Is there any way that any of this can end well? What does well look like? I’m not sure how her business succeeds. I’m not sure how happy that makes her. I don’t see long lasting happiness with Jason. I don’t see a reunion with Peter; neither of them seems to want one anymore. (Really, I think Finn was the best hope she had — he was a grown up, not a boy toy like Jason or a manchild like Will — and he’s long gone.) And I really don’t want to see her in politics; she’s too mindlessly ambitious. The show seems to be fundamentally opposed to showing her being good at anything other than the law, rather than running a business or a campaign or a relationship; considering that, I wish they’d just let her stick to what she does well. Or for God’s sake, let her get better at something. Let her be the hero, please. Let her grow up. God knows she’s suffered enough for it.