No more new episodes until January, so in the meantime we can dissect this very odd episode. Parts of it were very funny, parts of it were very sad, but on the whole I think it was a little TOO cutesy with itself to the point where I got distracted waiting for it to get to the good bits.
18. The Restraining Order
Remember the one that was a condition of Cary’s bail? The one that’s governed how far away Kalinda is allowed to be from Cary at any given time, and which resulted in some chicanery?
Order go BOOM.
Seriously, why is nobody on alert about this, suddenly? Cary and Kalinda are STANDING IN THE COURTHOUSE, where they have already established that the restraining order is still in effect, and they are huddled up and whispering about the case. Which is just on a brief recess. RIGHT AFTER Kalinda was called as a witness. Rumor has it that ten minute later, the restraining order was rejected as an acceptable replacement for $1 of Monopoly money, and was wound around a cardboard tube and inserted into a holder in the courtroom lav.
Everything in this hour seemed to happen AROUND her, or TO her, without her having a great deal of agency. She just bounces from conversation to conversation to sexually charged conversation (CURSE YOUR IMPOSSIBLE MAGNETISM, FINN) and reacts to stuff and cries.
For example, she dances around being available to Cary during his time of need, but isn’t until the very end of the episode — at which point she can’t really offer him advice; just sniffles and hugs and a sedate brown suit that suggests she is full of somber feelings.
And yet her ring remains perky. Do we think Alicia Florrick really would buy and wear that ring? It feels like something she borrowed. Or was bequeathed. I like it, but I’m not sure she ever struck me as Funky Ring Lady.
She tries to lay down the law with Elfman and Eli regarding getting favors from people in return for political patronage, but they give her the runaround anyway, and also release some information about Niles that she had asked them to keep to themselves. She gets to wear red when she’s feeling defiant. It looks great on her, but then, everything looks good on Julianna Margulies. Even the stupid stuff.
I don’t know what this is, but it’s foxy. The silver clip holding together her jacket is nifty.
She also does something really dumb, and no, I’m not talking about the coat. That coat and I are on great terms. Alicia’s problem is that Contrivance required her to do something that will Create Political Conflict and get her hands dirty and cause tension in her fragile peace with Niles Crane, and so it’s this: She wrote a facetious note asking for Grace to be excused from running laps in PE because she has a cold — a cold, mind you, that Grace does not in ANY scene appear to have for real, but to my memory there’s no mention of that as a factor (although there is a comment about Alicia writing a note of excuse the day prior as well). The note has now fallen into the hands of the principal, and it’s totally violent, and is largely cribbed from an actual quote from Alicia’s obsession, Darkness Before Noon. It reads in part: “If you make her run again I will personally come down to your office and knife you in your lower intestine. Then I will call Principal Whateveritwas to help you, but since he doesn’t accept parental calls of concern, you will most probably bleed out.”
I don’t know if I buy that Alicia would take the time to write out that whole thing even to mess with her teenage daughter, but whatever, Alicia insists it was an inside joke between her and Grace and was never meant to come to school. But it’s an extremely long road to travel for an in-joke. Like buying matching sweatervests and dragging your children to a Target photoshoot when they’re two and intractable and hate cameras, just to try and get about a 65-percent accurate replication of a toddler photo of your husband’s that only like ten people have seen anyway and which you also somehow lost two days before the shoot and didn’t find for another six months. Long road, thin in-joke. Also: It seems strange to me that Alicia wouldn’t be paranoid, at this point — in both her own career and Peter’s lengthy one — about putting things on paper that you don’t then destroy yourself. It’s just weird. Sometimes they try to make Alicia SO above-it-all and cool — like, cooooool — that she does stuff, or reacts to stuff, that I find unrealistic for the rest of who she is.
Also, WHY would she ever trust Grace with ANYTHING, given that Grace is demonstrably the worst.
But, the nut of it all is that Alicia has almost no power in this hour beyond her lovely suiting, and is in fact beholden to this one irritating plot device. So, straight to the bottom of the list you go, Alicia.
Welcome back, Grams, you delightful old coot. I was JUST complaining to Jessica that we don’t see enough of Jackie anymore. That is still true, by the way. She only pops up here — perhaps she is in some scenes that hit the cutting-room floor? — to summon Alicia away from Cary’s meeting about his potential plea deal, so that she can deal with whether she actually threatened to fillet Grace’s gym teacher. She does at least get to say, in her VERY BEST patronizing Jackie gone, “Alicia is a good mother. She would never stab a teacher,” as if she’s bearing the most vital and sincere and helpful witness to Alicia’s moral character. I love you, Jackie. Even when you are maddening. Maybe especially. I DO kind of want you to tell your pompous son to shove it hard, though. Might you consider that?
So, dumbass up there — who appears to have NOTHING wrong with her at ALL that would prevent her from running laps, which we all hate but just DO IT GRACE COME ON — brought in Alicia’s note. To school. And showed it to a teacher. And tries to intellectualize it by saying her class was discussing free speech and satire, and what constitutes protected speech, so she supplied the note as an example. Couldn’t she just have spoken hypothetically? GRACE. Stop it. The thing is, obviously she knew that note would read strangely to anyone outside her own living room, especially because she made the mental leap to, “Would this be protected?” So there’s no excusing her showing it around to an authority figure AT THE SCHOOL THAT EMPLOYS THE TEACHER ABOUT WHOM IT WAS WRITTEN. As much as I find Grace irritating, I actually like that The Good Wife presents her as a foil to Alicia’s atheism — she’s a kid, she’s sorting out her own mind, she’s found comfort in The Bible, and she forces Alicia to consider her own feelings about all that without proselytizing to her — but there is always this undercurrent of But Also She’s Annoying And Usually A Drooling Fool to it all, which suggests that in the end you’re never supposed to side with her, because she’s Grace, and they NEVER make Team Grace look like a fun place to be. I am not a religious nor especially spiritual person, but nor am I an atheist, and I like when TV presents intelligent and thoughtful people on all ends of the spectrum, to prove that faith is not always blindly given nor blindly withheld. But GRACE IS A MORON so it’s hard to hold her up as one of those people. GO TO COLLEGE, GRACE, AND LEAVE US.
14. The Note
I would have liked this better if Alicia, like many of us, did not have a proper notebook available and had to write the note on one of those free pads given out by your neighborhood Realtor.
Eli would very much have liked to keep the note from going public, because it’s easier to paint Alicia as a basic Grizzly Mom — protecting her kid, using extreme language (how has no one pointed out on the Internet that it IS a direct quote from a TV show and not a threat she concocted herself?) to make a point — if they have the note in hand and the world can’t see it written out in the dead art form that is cursive. Alas, the note gets out anyway. Why? Because of who’s holding it.
13. The Teacher
This is the teacher who read the note, and laughed, and showed it to her husband. And then reported it to the school, and is holding it hostage because, gee, she sure thinks they need to reboot an old educational task force to advise the State’s Attorney on issues of school crime. Let’s say, oh, eight members? Throw in an office in Bora Bora and a Nespresso machine while you’re at it, lady.
12. Niles Crane
Naturally, Niles — his name is Frank Prady on the show but who cares — fields a question about all this at some manner of public appearance (although this LOOKS like a home YouTube video, I don’t think it was):
He stresses that he would NEVER threaten to kill a teacher, not even in writing, not even as a joke, and that he thinks people who do that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This chaps the combined hides of Eli and Elfman, so they insist to Alicia that they need to fight back and release the “proof” they have about Niles being gay. And while Niles looks just fine in his pink tie, he should really stay away from colors favored by Known Hot Piece of Criminal Tail Lemond Bishop; also, that backdrop could not look more fake, like someone took a photo of a living room of Houzz and blew it up to a massive poster size as a backdrop.
Naturally, Frank claims he had no idea about the scandal and was just responding to a very specific question he was given. So of course he’s very hurt that Alicia’s camp — against her wishes, but he doesn’t necessarily know or believe that — leaked all this information about his sexual preference, and comes to Alicia to ask why they’re fighting dirty when they both agreed not to fight dirty. He swears he had no idea what he was saying would goad Alicia so much, and it’ll be interesting to find out if he was ever sincere about any of this, but he’s certainly got the wounded-dog act down pat. “So we’re right back where we started,” he says, mournfully. “No. We’re even in the polls now,” Alicia responds smoothly, as she wipes his blood of the dagger she just used to cut his throat. Seriously, Alicia was often good with a zinger, but she’s getting VERY barbed. It’ll be interesting if she DOESN’T win and then is left sitting atop a shredded pile of the remains of her conscience. Then again, if Niles turns out to brim with excrement like a festival port-a-potty, she’ll have nothing to fret about, so. Move along. In sum: Niles acts like he isn’t pulling any strings, but he’s probably pulling at least two more than he’s willing to admit.
11. Eli and Elfman
These guys are noodling with ALL the strings. ALL OF THEM. Alicia wants a day to think about how to deal with the Niles situation, but they don’t give it to her — they leak the homosexuality stuff over her head. And while they fail to get ahead of the whole “I’m Going To Gut Grace’s Teacher Like A Fish” scandal, they do suggest Alicia should solve it by giving the teacher what she wants. “I said no patronage,” Alicia insists. “It’s good to show that you can stand up to patronage, but the keyword is show,” they tell her. As in, make it look like she doesn’t but then do it anyway. Elfman brings up Peter as an example, and both Alicia AND Eli bodily flinch, because that’s NOT the name to drop with Alicia and even Eli knows it.
But are they down, or out? No. They get the teacher and the principal to give statements about how the story is ridiculous, and Alicia is marvelous, by having PETER offer them something in return. So no matter what stands Alicia tries to take, these two find a way around it, because the view is better from closer to the top of the food chain.
10. The Legal Process
The most curious part of the episode was all the semi-pointless asides with recurring or day players in whom we are not invested. I’ll tell you who they are and then we can discuss WTF.
Person One: David Paymer, playing a judge who is SUPER CRANKY for a variety of reasons, one being that it’s his anniversary and he’s NEARLY fruitlessly trying to get Neil Diamond tickets for that night, or something. (Not our problem, David. Next time plan ahead.) He can’t even get the carrot muffin he wants, dammit, and then jury selection for Cary’s trial takes awhile and he’d rather not try it at ALL frankly because Diane has a “junk case,” as he tells her. He is IN NO MOOD to deal with this.
Person Two: Juror number 11, who has an auditory processing disorder in times of stress that lead him to hear the wrong words — creating total nonsense sentences like “Your honor, I ask that you abstract nunneries” and “Did Cary Agos hunt lemons busying the implied tree mills of honeycuts” — and his main coping mechanism is to lip-read. If he can’t see the person’s mouth, he misses everything. So when Kalinda is called to the stand, he understands none of it, and asks a fellow juror for help. (This is set up earlier when Paymer snaps at them for whispering during testimony.) When this is reported to Judge Paymer by a juror, he tests the man, finds his ability to catch all the necessary information here to be wanting, and suggests that the best ice cream to pair with APD is rum raisin. This results in a pro-Cary juror being thrown out, skewing the whole shebang in the state’s favor.
Person 3: ASA Pine, in this good-looking suit and then a rich purple one, both of which are great on her. We get a whole bit about her giggling and cooing into the phone with her illicit lover — someone she is cross-examining in Cary’s case — while saying she is never going to leave her husband. There’s also some stuff with her husband leaving her a “WE NEED TO TALK” note during the trial (which… really, dude? Pick your moments, dillweed) and then coming to seethe at her later. And the thing is… nobody cares, so it’s a lot of screen time to devote to this. But, pressing forth before we circle back to that…
Her lover is the detective who spoke to Trey Wagner the day he was going to turn himself in (and they make eyes at each other at one point on the stand when nobody is looking, which is ASININE because in court SOMEBODY is ALWAYS looking). When Diane cross-examines him, she creates reasonable doubt because she gets him to admit that a) Trey told him on the phone that he turned the recorder on and off selectively, to make Cary look guilty, and that b) he was afraid of Bishop going after him, and that’s why he decided to dangle Cary instead by messing with the wire, and c) that Finn, when he was still an ASA, vouched that it truly was Trey Wagner on the phone, so there was no reason for anyone to think any of this was made up — especially not when Trey turned up dead on his way to the police.
This dude, by the way, then storms into ASA Pine’s office and spits that he gets it now: She’s dumping him because he’s not useful to her anymore. It ALSO might be that her husband is super hot? But basically, the implication is that she slept with him to ensure his compliance.
Castro pops up to growl at ASA Pine for creating reasonable doubt and then says, “You know what to do. We CANNOT LOSE THIS.” (Then why is he not prosecuting it himself?) She gulps and will do it, and that thing is: call Kalinda to the stand.
OKAY, so let’s discuss all this. My THEORY is that these little vignettes were designed to show that no matter what your case is, other stuff in the legal process always comes up that can throw a wrench in the works: a judge’s irritation at being on hold with Ticketmaster, an ASA who sleeps with a witness for personal gain, at the potential expense of her personal life (and when she stops to worry about that, she lets Diane slither in with some success); a juror with a condition he didn’t disclose because he thought — erroneously — that he could control it. All of this together surely was meant to show us that even when your case is airtight, sometimes Shit Happens, so basically, don’t do anything wrong that might put you in front of a jury because who the hell KNOWS what is going in the heads of all these people on whom your fate hangs. Which is fine and all, but all the digressions in the story — the sheer time it took to commit to these and let them play out — became annoying in certain cases. The juror one was well-enough executed, but NOBODY CARES about ASA Pine’s personal life. I actually wrote, “WHOOOO CAAAARES,” in my notes.
AND ALSO: The show did a whole act-out with ASA Pine standing up and calling Kalinda to the stand, and Diane being like WHAAAAAAAA, and then… we never heard what she said, because her time on the stand was used to illustrate the juror’s auditory processing issue, and then her testimony was thrown out for Reasons. So WHY WAS THAT THE BIG ACT-OUT. What was the big drama about Kalinda coming to the stand? Why do I have to get all het up about it if it, like communism, is just a red herring?
Look at that shirt, and then look back at the shirt Alicia was wearing under her black suit. Was there a two-for-one sale on drape-front blouses?
This was Diane’s reaction to Kalinda being called to testify, by the way. Diane, I wish I could have spared you the headache, because OBVIOUSLY IT WASN’T THAT IMPORTANT, if the show never actually let us hear what she said. Also, I hate her clothes here. Diane Lockhart should not dress like my parents’ old tweed suitcase.
Please note how murky Diane’s outfits are when things aren’t going her way. This one almost looks like she’s dressed as a phoenix that might rise from the ashes of Cary’s defense. Essentially, aside from her small victory in creating doubt about the detective’s testimony, Diane spends this entire hour trying to kayak against the current on Shit Creek, and failing. She gets stuck cross-examining a lying witness who drives a nail into Cary’s coffin, and basically… cannot do anything to help. She does get that one victory over ASA Pine, though. I probably shouldn’t have put her this high on the list, but:
I mean, that one necklace is making up for some very shaky fashion. Also, I love her. Also, the deck was stacked against her and she remained classy in the face of certain doom, so for THAT, I give her big power points. DIANE FOR PRESIDENT.
Tell me this dude doesn’t have power. When Alicia and Diane have to ask him a favor — they want to know, for instance, what the SA’s office’s bottom line REALLY is for Cary’s plea deal, and also, if he has anything they can use to help find Dante (the missing third man on the recording) — this is how they look:
That is such a “tee hee hee” collection of facial expressions. I know it’s partly because they know they’re asking him for stuff he can’t ethically tell them but which they have to at least TRY to get anyway. I do. And yet… I seriously think there is also an element of being giggly under his gaze.
And then this:
That’s how Alicia gazes at him at one point. That look says, “If I stand any closer I am going to throw myself RIGHT AT YOUR MOUTH.”
This shot is from a very cute scene wherein Finn and Alicia awkwardly discuss — without actually saying the words — the massive, cheese-wheel-sized slab of sexual tension wedged between them at all times, and how they came close to acting on it. But neither one wants to sacrifice the friendship, so they agree to start meeting in, as Finn says, well-lit diners, with plates of food and no drinks. Alicia jokes that the only music they should allow is by an accordion, and at the moment of this screen grab, Finn is making this crack: “Accordion music kinda turns me on.” In response, Alicia runs out of the room and dumps one of the Sparkletts jugs over her head.
And he has the power of charm, because he arranges to meet with her later… at a well-lit diner, with no cocktails. Where he gives her an envelope — working the caveat that he can’t TELL her anything, but nonverbally giving her information on a piece of paper is not technically TELLING — and once again demonstrates that he understands why she asks him for this stuff, does not resent her for it, and in fact is willing to help a friend AND FUTURE SEX PARTNER PLEASE GOD if she needs it.
7. Mother Nature
Mama knows when to cause a blackout, no? This is actually quite funny. The lights go out. The waitress brings them a romantic candle. And then a random mariachi who was snacking at the bar starts playing love songs on his guitar. Even frigging fictional Mother Nature in this fictional world wants these two to get their bang on, and so I am not sure why they keep refusing, but it cracks me up that Alicia immediately clutches at her low-cut blouse. Just let it out, girl.
She’s more colorful this season, or am I nuts? Is it because she’s tuning into her Deep Inner Emotions, which will of course be a fruitless thing when she leaves the show? How has she never been punished for not doing whatever Lemond wanted her to do with that key card? Does he not KNOW yet that she snapped it in half? How did you skirt both that AND this restraining order, which used to force you to sit at the very back of the courtroom and yet suddenly you were right behind Cary? WHAT IS YOUR SORCERY, MADAM?
Also, she is the only person who has the nads to stand up to Lemond Bishop and try to squeeze him for Cary’s sake. It’s almost astonishing to me that she’s still alive given that she coerced Trey to testify against him — which led to Trey’s death. Surely Lemond is not selectively sighted when it comes to her. Or… SORCERY.
5. The Envelope
Finn’s information was surveillance photos of known drug dealers leaving Lemond’s home. And the kick is, while Lemond wasn’t there, his son was. They can use Dylan’s presence in the house at the time of these photos to create a WHOLE mess of problems for Lemond. When Kalinda blackmails Lemond with this information — the photos, for Dante and his testimony — he is ENRAGED. “Does anyone know you’re here?” he asks, which is code for, “Can I murder you right now on my butcher block?” She, of course, says, “Yeah,” because she is not stupid. But Kalinda’s actions, driven by this information, are what seal Cary’s fate.
When Diane puts Dante on the stand, he COMPLETELY reverses course and testifies that Cary was giving them ALL KINDS of information about how to smuggle drugs. Diane freaks out, and asks if he was threatened with retribution for sticking to his story, but the damage is done.
Question: Why would Lemond want Dante to lie? He says it’s because he’s pissed that Kalinda tried to blackmail and threaten him. But wouldn’t the end of this case be BENEFICIAL to him? Cary has been loyal thus far, so wouldn’t you WANT to put your dude on the stand and let him get Cary off the hook, so that nobody is putting any more screws to Cary? Is Lemond just doing this out of pride, or ego, or being a control freak? This doesn’t seem entirely wise of him, to me, but perhaps there’s something I’m overlooking. Lemond wanted this case to go away so badly that he almost killed Cary himself. Dante could make the case go away. Ergo, Lemond should’ve let him testify. If he has so much power of Dante that he can convince Dante to commit perjury, then surely he can prevent Dante from making any deals with the state about him. I don’t know, this whole thing seemed silly to me. But maybe that’s why Lemond is a sharp-dressed mastermind and I am just a cellulite-stricken fool in a rotation of average jeans.
This was one of Cary’s last sights as a free man. Sniffle.
Let it be known that even The Mighty Lemond Bishop cannot keep his girlfriend from storming out of the house during an argument.
However, The Mighty Lemond Bishop can still go all Mr. Bates “I WANT TO MURDER” on people, and influence witnesses, and basically swing Cary’s entire case by having a witness get on the stand and stab him in the back (which I guess is how he worked through his more LITERAL urge to kill Kalinda).
Just look at him. He thinks he’s won. He extends an olive branch to Cary by way of a job offer in Barcelona, where he needs a trusted soldier to handle some European legal affairs. He is certain, just certain, that Cary will accept rather than go to prison, and Lemond will have yet another person under his thumb.
So, yes. There was a lot of this:
And some mournful this:
And some tears. From him, and from me. Because POOR CARY. But in the end, Cary was awesome. He rejects Lemond’s offer because, among other things, the law firm will go broke when it loses the bail money that it put up for him. “Don’t go to prison for four years because of a law firm,” Lemond barks, but it’s to no avail.
He then contemplates his options: Turn on Bishop and get time served with six months’ probation. Plead guilty — which forfeits his right to an appeal — and get four years on conspiracy, with only two years served. Nobody knows what to do. Alicia cries. Diane is glum. Cary is stoic, but with some tears. But he stands up in court and changes his plea to guilty, and as we head into the abyss of six weeks without The Good Wife, Cary gets the top spot here for finding a way to be loyal to EVERYONE — his firm, Bishop — and taking his unfair, awful, horrible fate like a total G, as the kids say. It’s fleeting power, and it is leading him right into the belly of the beast that is prison, with a lot of people he put there and some Bishop flunkies besides. But, dammit man, you got me. I’m sad. I’m worried. And I’m still mildly concerned Kalinda and/or her FBI lover are going to die soon. This show, man. This show.