E: Monday, back to the daily grind. Monday, back to the same old. Monday, when we start each week new.
This Monday Alicia goes home again; it’s not easy for anyone. Lucca smarts under the heavy, stupid hand of corporate authority. Diane and Cary lose their intelligence and their collective minds. Millions of classic guest stars show their faces as the show moves toward its conclusion.
The writers on this show have a fondness for opening video montages; this week’s is the orientation video for Lockhart, Agos & Lee, which Lucca’s forced to sit through as a new associate. She’s shuttled off to the worker bee center on the 27th floor, just like Alicia was when she started out. Though Alicia’s a partner, there’s no space for her in the rarefied climate of the 28th floor, so she’s forced to toil away in an office like her first, something Eli enjoys pointing out when he catches a catnap on her couch. Hey, at least she gets an office instead of a cubicle like Lucca! And at least she’s not constantly shoved into the company of an equally irritated Monica Timmons the way Lucca is, because (as Cary and Diane repeatedly assure her) they’re really going to like each other. Ironically, I do think they’d like each other – they’re both pretty likable, at least in terms of this show – but come on. How are the name partners that unaware? I loathe when this show lowers the characters’ intelligence to justify a plot point. How is it not obvious to Cary and Diane that they’re insulting both women? That they’re laying themselves open to more complaints about the firm’s racial climate? There’s just no reason for this.
Of course the focus within the episode (aside from the whole “let’s show how even liberals can display institutional racism” plotline) is that LAL wants to break Alicia and Lucca apart as a unit; Lucca has to be the firm’s associate, and no longer Alicia’s partner (or even subordinate), and Diane and Cary seem to be deliberately assigning Lucca where she’s not personally needed to prove the point. Their working relationship isn’t easy for the two women to let go of, especially when they happen into a case involving Kalinda’s old hacker buddy Howell, now the head of IT at LAL, whose girlfriend picked up a mysterious tablet off the floor at a tech convention they were both attending. The tablet turns out to be a prototype of Chum Hum’s Foil, which the company hopes will be the next iPad; after tweeting a picture of it, Howell’s deluged with offers of up to 200l from tech blogs for access to it. Could Alicia and Lucca broker the sale?
Lucca’s all for it, and Alicia’s soon convinced that the law is on their side. Diane and Cary are far more hesitant to poke the bear (ie the aggressively litigious Chum Hum), but when a previously unheard of arm of the government shows up with an arrest warrant for Howell, who’s forced to his knees, cuffed and dragged out of the building, they change their tune. We find out a lot about TAPS, a Silicon Valley arm of the FBI which works with tech companies to make sure their designs aren’t stolen. This is styled as national security, but seems a lot more like a private security force with federal privileges protecting trade secrets and profit margins and buzz.
The case is interesting enough; it features the return of Jay O. Sanders as Judge Hal Ferris (this time obsessed with a colony of ants which has formed under his desk, leaving him to disconcert everyone by spending half the trial sitting in front of the prosecution table) and pulls in our old adversary Neil Gross (so he hasn’t been pushed out!) and his enemy Anthony Dudewitz, who mostly argue about whether or not “losing” the tablet was a deliberate marketing stunt. Why ever would an engineer be allowed to take it out of Chum Hum’s famously secretive compound to a party attended by 1500 people? It feels like a pretty reasonable theory, but eventually Neil convinces everyone that it isn’t so because the tablet hasn’t been perfected, and isn’t ready to be reviewed. His reluctance and bitterness over this admission do the trick. It looks like Howell’s going to end up in jail for several years as a thief and corporate spy because he won’t give up his never-seen girlfriend (who might have flirted and filched the Foil away from the Scott Baio-looking engineer who unwisely brought it to the afterparty), but is saved by a Hail Mary of Lucca’s invention. Howell (or at least his tweet about the Foil) has more than 400,000 followers, which is enough for the judge to consider him a modern day journalist and set him free.
Diane and Alicia share a fascinating conversation that feels far more 1st season Diane, jealous of her authority, annoyed by what she sees as Alicia’s entitlement; Diane chastises Alicia for overreaching with Lucca, and Alicia agrees to do better at staying in her place. Maybe it was necessary, I don’t know, but I feel like Diane could have more sympathy. Or empathy. Or less ego. Or something. After all, Alicia’s coming off of running two firms. This can’t be easy. And there has to be a spark of friendship and respect left in there somewhere, right? She’s got to want Alicia to stay, or she wouldn’t have asked her back.
And then of course there’s the fact that Jason’s now working at LAL; will that be weird after he and Alicia kissed? Interested in the answer, Alicia flat out asks him. Well, he’s only freelance, and he doesn’t plan that far ahead, Jason grins. Har har. God forbid he give a straightforward answer! I love that they talk about work being awkward but just ignore the far larger issue that she’s MARRIED. And not just married, but married to the GOVERNOR. There must be some sort of etiquette to dating married public figures that I just don’t know about. Maybe Miss Manners can tell us. Is it rude not to mention the existence of your potential lover’s spouse? Why talk about the elephant in the room?
All of these growing pains aside, the series’ end game begins to show itself. Remember Ruth’s warning to Eli that Peter will now have a target on his back? Well, she turns up personally to assure him that this is still true, just because she has a bad feeling. Because you totally fly into another state to warn an ex-enemy/colleague when you have a bad feeling. It’s a waste of a brilliant guest star, but there you are. Not wasted is Marissa Gold, who’s now working at a juice bar. It’d be touching to see a young customer fall for her if we didn’t immediately recognize him as Alicia’s undercover drug dealer/FBI client Roland Hlavin. Being the super smart cookie that she is, Marissa picks up midway through their lunch date that Scott Devereaux (as he’s currently styling himself) has asked her out to pump her for campaign donation irregularities in Alicia and Peter’s recent runs for office. Cagily, she doesn’t let on that she’s twigged to his intentions, but fills Daddy in afterward; it’s absolutely delightful to see his pride in her when he realizes that she covertly recorded Hlavin’s too obvious probing. What, she wonders at his fond gaze. “It’s just I get why people have children. They can admire themselves in someone else,” he gloats.
Eventually, Marissa sets up a date so that Daddy Dearest can meet her would-be-beau instead. There Eli, at least, discovers that the FBI is indeed trying to take down Peter; I’m still not sold that this isn’t retribution for Alicia messing up his case against Judge Breakfast (who also makes a cameo appearance when Eli visits him to see if he’s had more dealings with Hlavin) but I guess we’ll just have to see how the next scandal affects her. You know it’s only a matter of time before all that comes out, about the vote fixing and Eli’s little deal with Schakowsky. Will it be enough to take Peter down? Will Hlavin finally get his man? You know that Breakfast would spill that little detail in a minute to save himself, and you know he’ll implicate Alicia, too, because he believes her proxy to the deal.
Now, was a presidential run necessary to making Peter into a big enough target for the FBI? Hell no. He’s had a target on his back since the first season. Hell, the target was there before the show, or he wouldn’t have started the run in jail. And clearly being an Illinois governor puts an even bigger target on his back, considering their spectacular recent history with jail. All that said, we see where the rest of the season is going; will the FBI finally catch up with Peter? Do we want them to? Will that be the straw that breaks their marriage, and do we want that to happen, too? One thing they’ve done here fascinates me; in both Will and Finn, the show gave Alicia men worth leaving Peter for, men with whom she’d have a long term relationship, men she could marry. Jason’s not the guy you marry, though. He’s a sexy mystery. He’s the white male version of Kalinda. (This is an observation, not an insult or a compliment.) No, if Alicia leaves Peter, it will be about Alicia and Peter, not about her having a back up plan. It may simply be that being his wife will no longer serve her ambitions. Once every ounce of loyalty is exhausted, what’s left? Or will an ember kindle in the ashes?
Returning to dear Judge Breakfast, I recently watched an old episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation with my kids, a favorite called “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” and was stunned to find that the dashing young lieutenant one of the characters falls for was played by Christopher MacDonald. This discovery was quite alarming because I remember finding him rather dreamy when I first saw it, and never connected that earnest and charming young man with either Happy Gilmore‘s villainous golf champion or The Good Wife‘s vile judge. It was certainly a peculiar experience to root for him, rather than against him!
Normally, it’s pretty easy to find an article that the week’s drama is based on, but I haven’t found any references to a TAPS-like unit yet. In fact, the news right now is full of contention between the government and tech firms over encryption.
Finally, while I was on vacation last week the world found out that this indeed the final season of The Good Wife. 8 episodes remain to bring us to a clear destination, to the final vision of the creators. Though I’ve been pleading for it to end, I’m still feeling a little emotional about that number, now that I see it (only 8 new episodes, ever!) but I’m certain it’s the right call. What about you? How’re you feeling about the end of this world?