“Stop acting like this is about you becoming a better person.” “Just tell me what to do.”
The former was said by Eli, to Alicia, and the latter — in a later scene — by her to him. And I think they might mark a real shift in Saint Alicia, who is giving herself over to the Jedi Master who might himself be a closet Sith. ALSO, we need to discuss something I forgot to include in last week’s ranking, but which we all discussed in the comments: When exactly did Alicia tell her new firm partners that she would run? And what did they think? How does this affect them? Might this have changed some minds? HOW DOES TAYE DIGGS FEEL? It’s strange that we’ve been privy to so many of their conversations and yet never saw Alicia deliver this piece of news. In fact, we saw her tell them the rumors were FALSE and that she would NOT run; why not the other? It’s weird. You’d think they’d care, especially because — per Alicia in this episode — she’s cutting back on her case load.
Finally: I’m sorry this is so tardy this week. My cold came back, and I can only screen-grab if I’m at my desk versus splayed out in bed with my laptop being tragic, yada yada yada. Let’s get this thing going quickly because a new episode is (presumably) nigh. I might have to start limiting the list to the Top Ten and keep track of who gets bumped every week… but then Cary would NEVER make it, the poor dear. So we forge ahead:
19. James Castro
This is the only time we saw Castro in this episode: on a TV screen, during a camera move. This is the moment we found out that he dropped out of the State’s Attorney race, and we have no explanation for it. Just… boom, he’s done. I’m sure he’ll linger to wreak havoc in the life of Cary Agos as his trial inches closer, but for now, he is but a footnote, and they have two newbies running against each other: Niles Crane, and Carol Hathaway. I only just realized that Julianna Margulies’ two major TV roles were on shows set in Chicago. The Good Wife should have a flashback episode in which Alicia is in a hospital and a woman in scrubs who looks AWFULLY like her drifts past an open door.
18. Howard Lyman
This big galoot. He joined Florrick, Agos & Lockhart (I know an Oxford comma is awkward with an ampersand, but still, the lack of one pains me) to get trial experience, and he IS, of a sort: playing judge while they prep Cary for potentially testifying. He’s charmed by the opposing counsel — played by Rita Wilson — and accidentally sustains an objection that he means to overrule, catching himself with a chuckle. He needs a show where nobody cares about using any of that lingo. Next season on The Good Wife, a running gag should be that Howard actually does become a judge and has his own People’s Court show. Call it Lyman Under Oath. Or, you know, Judge Howard Lyman. Seems to work for his competition. Even better if somehow it’s a court show where people are allowed counsel and Diane has to do it. Or Carey Zepps. I am super on board with crackpot Judge Howard Lyman. He would NOT wear pants.
This guy lives in the Power Suit Ranking basement so frequently that he hired a cleaning lady and offered to run some of my junk to Goodwill.
Cary is Sad Clown because Trey Wagner’s tape is only edited in the sense that he turned it on and off at a well-chosen spot — because apparently Trey Wagner was psychic and knew in the MIDDLE of the conversation, as it was happening, exactly when to start and stop his recording. We have lost not only a witness, but a man of great and ill-understood mental powers. Anyway, only two of the four people on that tape are still alive to testify. One is missing, and the other is Cary. But, as Alicia points out, lawyers make terrible witnesses, so if this is going to happen they’ll have to practice.
And Cary is Vexed Clown because it turns out he’s horrible at this, and also, the evidence mounting against him is formidable. Worse, he can’t touch Kalinda, and learns — by following her, which is healthy — that she is indeed having sex with FBI Agent Lana Delaney again while he is marinating in the juices of his own certain doom.
And so Cary is Slouchy, Argumentative Clown, which is not a clown anybody loves — although frankly, with actual clowns, I might like this one better than the one that wants to get up in my face and make me laugh because NOBODY TRULY LOVES A CLOWN. THAT INCLUDES YOU, SADFACE CARY AGOS. He’s like Harry Potter in the fifth book: all bitter and eye-rolly and lashing out at the world, because his situation sucks and there’s nothing he can do about it, and I guess also a noseless wizard might be trying to rip off his limbs. I don’t know his life.
Fortunately, a bracing conversation in which he and Kalinda effectively split up, plus some advice from Alicia, gets him to put on a smile again. “Give the jury the chance to find the indignation and injustice themselves. Coming off of you, it reads like entitlement,” Alicia says. But she believes in him. With tears in his eyes, he buckles down and commits himself to his mock-trial. I assume Howard Lyman arrived with his own theme music.
Oh, and one more shot of power: We learn he made $85k annually at Lockhart Gardner, $38k annually as an ASA, and now pulls $350k plus profit share. Cary is FLUSH. He is going to blow ALL of that on hookers if he wins his case.
Another rough one for La Lockhart, who realizes this week just how steep a hill she has to climb to get Cary out of this, and just how much nice hiking boots are going to cost — but there might not be any in her size at this time of year, and what if clearance-rack boots give her nasty blisters? The worst.
So she puts on her glasses and her print and tries to get Cary ready, giving him a fairly easy line of questioning before turning him over to the wolf that is Rita Wilson. I don’t particularly like this jacket on Diane, and I’ve decided it’s because she feels HOPELESS right now and just CANNOT be arsed to hit up the Magnificent Mile for some proper business separates because there’s nowhere more depressing to her than a Saks solo when her partner’s going full Sad Trombone.
In this episode, even though Cary pulls himself together late, Diane basically learns how nigh-on-impossible this defense is going to be. She lands above Cary simply because she’s not the one who will have to retire to the slammer if they lose, but she had a lousy week and I hope her husband Gary Cole gave her a lot of really manly foot-rubs and stuff.
I do love her Serious Face. I would never want to go up against Diane Lockhart when death is on the line.
15. Rita Wilson
Rita is just a paid consultant, but she sinks her teeth into this gig and picks Cary apart like a vulture tearing meat off a carcass. In a gentle way. Rita Wilson is very good on this show at going for the jugular with full smiling sarcasm. She particularly gets Cary on the twenty months he was an ASA — between working on Bishop’s various legal teams — and the fact that he told his colleague there that he’d never been part of Lemond’s defense. Cary denies lying, then admits that he did lie but not for the reason she thinks; it was only to stop her challenging him at work, and not because he was covering up any lingering affiliation. Rita is not amused by his semantics, and basically does an able job shining a light on what a bitter and angry and frustrated witness Cary will be as the law pushes harder and harder against him. But, you know. Then she goes home and goes about her business, because she’s not ACTUALLY prosecuting this case, and so the only prison she can put Cary in is the jail of a faithless mind, and Alicia Florrick WILL NOT PERMIT IT.
He shows up and ropes Alicia into the Case of the Week: One of his students was raped, and brought it to the university rather than the police, because she wants the guy expelled but doesn’t want any further upheaval. Owen wants her to have an advocate. What follows is an amusing poke at how lousy university committees are at this stuff, and how they seem to stack themselves against the squeaky wheel — for instance, they apply the rules incorrectly to the victim, but are very permissive of the accused; they’re militant that Alicia can only be a silent advocate, and try to sweep it under the rug as quickly as possible. Owen really only appears here because he has the pull to get Alicia to blow off her campaign and Eli, simply by making his puppy-dog face — Alicia’s words — and accepting Alicia’s apology for nosing into his personal life. Owen can play her, basically. And he does. He gets what he wants. But he’s low on the Totem pole because he’s boring thereafter and has a bland wardrobe, and there are no greater Power Suit Ranking sins.
Alicia brings him booze to welcome him into the building, where he laments a forthcoming career of representing bail jumpers and petty thieves, and not being able to have sex with her in his office because there are windows everywhere. I mean, I assume that’s what he’s thinking. Every conversation they have includes an undercurrent of “we would be naked right now if not for Peter.”
And when we see Finn in a hoodie, even Alicia says, “You dress down WELL.” She practically double-takes. She is right. TAKE HIM ALICIA. Anyway, aside from his magnetism, Finn’s power this week comes from getting Alicia to a soup kitchen. They’re talking about Alicia, as usual, and people who are judging her to be a certain way, and he informs her that he volunteers here once a week to make sure he never forgets that the world and its problems are bigger than he is. He also wears latex gloves in a way that looks appealing, because FINN. I was so lukewarm on him once and I am so HIGH TEMPERATURE for him now.
The first shot of the episode here is Alicia on TV, in Candidate Mode, a.k.a. the version of Alicia that someone else is making sure she puts out there. Already that’s low power, even WITH the bright suit.
This week, she’s being vetted by a focus group. They watch footage of her doing things and then vote on whether or not they’d elect her, or whether they like her. The room see-saws tremendously, from thinking she seems real to thinking she comes off very entitled and shallow, to judging her for not leaving Peter. All of this dictates much of what happens to her, and burrows so deep inside her brain that she starts obsessing over this one woman who is her main detractor — Alicia being, I think, wounded that a similarly aged woman wouldn’t automatically be on the side of a mother who started her own firm and is running for office. She assumes everyone will Gloria Steinem her, and it’s not happening. She’s shaken.
And indeed, she’s wearing a suit pocked with the same holes that are developing in her psyche. I don’t know if I’d have minded the grommets if it didn’t have the zipper. But it’s just too much metal this way. It’s a lot. Streamline, Alicia. On several levels.
And this one looks like diluted animal print. This is what she’s wearing when she gives in and goes to Finn’s soup kitchen (she heads straight there from work). Because she’s last to arrive, though, she gets the dirty dishes. “Just like at home,” she says. “But less entitled,” Finn quips, because he’s the best and he sees through her and doesn’t hate her for it. “Much less,” she replies. “I can feel the selfishness melting away.”
But of course, Eli calls her with a question, and as she answers the phone while scrubbing a pot, a woman takes her photo. Alicia takes a second to beam up at her. It was so obvious where this was heading, I’m rather startled Alicia didn’t see it herself. Then again, Alicia often seems surprised by what people do with the Internet. When you’re a lawyer, it’s not ideal to be surprised by humans.
When this picture lands on a TMZ-style site, Alicia is not pleased with the implications that she showed up dressed for a cocktail party and stood there talking on the phone while scrubbing an already-clean pot. She is horrified because she’d been cleaning it for fifteen minutes at that point. Perhaps the bigger story is, if it takes her fifteen minutes to clean a dirty pot, how long will it take her to clean up the corrupt SA’s office? Also: ALICIA. Put your phone away and travel with a sweatshirt. No, steal Finn’s off his back. TAKE OFF HIS SWEATSHIRT ALICIA TAKE IT OFF NOW.
Worse, she’s stuck in this gray suit for two scenes, and it’s lumpy and unflattering, just as her candidacy may turn out to be.
And then RIGHT AFTER the gray-suit courtroom scene, she’s in a great sleek black outfit giving advice to Cary. I don’t even know. Her ability to buck him up was impressive, though.
And she halfway won the Case of the Week, although she brought out the big guns — her glasses — for a class-action lawsuit that ended up fizzling in her hands. Methinks Alicia misses her work already, and was looking for an excuse to bite off more than she could chew, so she turned the university hearing into something much larger. I do give her points for figuring out that she could call a bathroom break and then use lots of texting to communicate with her “client” and Owen, given that the committee enforced her being a silent advocate. But I get the sense that the texting especially violated the spirit of the rules, and I have NO IDEA how nobody called her out on it, given that the victim kept staring down at her phone and at one point Owen read an unfortunate auto-correction DIRECTLY off of his that was, “The campus cop was composing his erection.” It ground the room to a halt. So while the writers found room for some funny, poking at this ineffectual process, maybe it wasn’t entirely logical.
Oh, and then Alicia bends to Eli’s will and goes back to the soup kitchen for a proper photo opportunity, in a sensible sweater, and it works and everyone loves it. She finally puts herself in his hands later by saying, “Tell me what I need to do,” and with that, the erosion of her scruples is ever more real.
This is totally the poster for an indie movie about their self-destructive love affair, which would involve SO much runny mascara and smeared eyeliner. Lana is not a very interesting character, but for some reason, she has a real hold over Kalinda’s genitals. And causes Kalinda not only to dump Cary, but to throw caution to the wind with Lemond Bishop as well. However, Lana seems like a prime candidate to end up dead someday, so that’s bad news for her. Also, she loses actual suit points because the only one she wore most of the episode was of the birthday variety. Which is fine, and I’m sure it’s lovely, but it’s also a snore.
10. The Tape
It’s damning. It comes in on Cary making a Beyonce joke and he seems to be laughing and enjoying life and making cracks about the huge-ass drug party they’re all going to throw. Very jolly, very incriminating. And it’s handy that the transcription scrolls past as the tape plays, almost like closed-captioning, but it loses power points for its ancient font and how busy it is with the Cook County seal under it. You are not styling yourself well, Tape. You’re going to regret that in ten years when you look back on your moment in the sun and wonder if those square brackets made you look fat.
9. Louis Canning
When Alicia demands that the university examine its process and let the victim appear before a judge, Louis is the opposing attorney. And he arrives in style:
The Good Wife dances the most marvelous line where everything Louis is going through is sad, empirically, and mostly legit, but he also milks it SO MUCH and with such an aura of half-truth. So you, like Alicia, wonder whether he’s bullshitting, and roll your eyes at his every struggle, even though many of them are rooted something real. Here, the chair is something he actually needs, but he wheels himself in by making a huge show of crashing several times into the wall outside the courtroom. He is having kidney failure, but he does not actually need to rush this case in order to make his transplant the following week. And whether he genuinely needs his oxygen tank is unclear, but he certainly picks up the mask and heaves into it at the most opportune moments for garnering pity.
He’s Machiavelli in cashmere. And he ends up winning: Once Kalinda discovers that the university is painting over a Rape Wall where female students write about their aggressors — which, frankly, does sound like REALLY legally questionable thing to KEEP around, because what if some fraternity asshat treats it like a bathroom stall and starts libeling his buddies? — she and Alicia decide the university is blowing off rape cases. But before she can get the class action going, Louis tells her that the school suddenly searched the accused’s room and found a bunch of pot and expelled him. Alicia smells a rat and keeps pressing, but the victim got the expulsion she wanted, and so she flees and Louis is like, “Oh well.”
Then there is a nice moment where he asks Alicia to visit his wife if and when he dies, because his wife likes her and she’s having a tough go of it. Aw. I DO remember them bonding. Louis, you rat, I’m going to miss you if you go. So don’t. STAY WITH US MICHAEL J. FOX.
He runs the focus group, and that’s basically it. So he is controlling that which is driving Alicia insane, but he’s also quite clearly taking a backseat to Eli, and yet is using NONE of that spare time to shave his cheeks.
7. Focus Group
What they say influences the campaign strategy. They like her. They hate her. They like Niles Crane’s brand; they can’t figure out Alicia’s message. There are gender politics, and one man’s INCREDIBLY shiny blonde hair helmet. This. Group. Has. Everything.
6. The Lady Demon
Alicia accidentally sees footage of this woman complaining that Alicia makes everything about her: her pain, her achievements. “The world is bigger than you,” she snots. So twice afterwards, Alicia catches herself imagining what this woman would think of her — seeing in her mind’s eye the woman approving heartily of Saint Alicia at the Soup Kitchen, or criticizing her for questioning the veracity of Louis Canning’s disease. But everything Alicia does — including, ultimately, her advice to Cary about how his attitude might come off as entitlement to a jury — is based on catching wind of this woman’s opinions, and the cold hard truth that some people just do not like you and that’s that. It’s where and how she begins to chase opinion rather than brushing it off and being her own Alicia. You did that, Random Focus Grouper. YOU. Pat yourself on the back and take your $40 and go to Five Guys.
5. Lemond Bishop
WELL WELL, you dapper cad, you’re not atop the hierarchy this week. HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM ROTTEN APPLES?
The answer: Lemond is not at home to rotten apples. He is calling Kalinda here, informing her that the FBI and the Illinois SA are passing information back and forth, to better aid them BOTH bringing him down, and he does not care for that. He also knows Kalinda isn’t alone — and indeed, she is naked in Lana’s bed — and while he’s ordering her to sniff out some information for him, he says sharply, “No more candy,” and he’s talking to his son in the car, but it works tidily for Kalinda as well because he wants her to stop snacking on Lana and do his bidding. That being: Find out if Lana is attached to his case “if you want me to be calm about you sleeping with a federal agent.” As if Lemond would ever be calm about that.
Indeed, does that shirt/tie combo bespeak a man who is calm? No. He is ROILING inside, and when Kalinda tells him Lana isn’t assigned to his case, you can tell he doesn’t believe her — he is correct; she is lying — and that he will demand a toll. His tie is manic. Run, Kalinda. That tie wants him to kill you. It’s like Space Invaders and you’re the ship. You can fire all you want, but at some point, they get you because they’re just too fast.
4. Card Key
Lemond gives this to Kalinda, to put in Lana’s wallet. WHAT IS IT FOR. WHERE DOES IT LEAD. Is it a bug? A bomb? A tracker? A parking pass for her gym? WHAT ARE YOUR MYSTERIES, CARD?
3. The Confetti Brothers
They don’t actually appear, but Eli gives them mention as a Wisconsin duo that makes all confetti for political events. ALL THE CONFETTI. That is power. AND GLORY.
This week he makes Alicia heel, essentially. It’s his focus group that gets in her head — well, his and Elfman’s — and when she gets snapped at the soup kitchen and it’s a disaster, he convinces her to do it his way with an official photo op. She defends going there on her own by saying she was just so sick of everything being about her, and Eli nips that in the bud. “Stop acting like this is about you becoming a better person,” he says to her of her appearance there. “It’s about you appearing like you’re a better person. That’s what voters respect.” Alicia thinks that’s counter-intuitive, to which Eli replies, “That’s why you’re bad at this, and I’m good.” He then explains that reporters just want him to feed them a delicious lie or line, and Alicia puts herself in his capable hands. ELI’S hands, not Elfman’s, because we all know who’s really in charge. And it works; the soup kitchen OFFICIAL photo op is well-received and even Alicia’s mortal enemy in the focus group decides she seems super real and honest. Eli wins. Eli, whose name anagrams to “lie,” which is perfect.
Let’s start with what’s important: the trenchcoats.
And whatever this is — vest, or coat with red sleeves — is also good on her. KALINDA. You are bringing the color. Is it because you’re getting sucked into Lemond Bishop’s vortex? Is it because you’re already dead, essentially? (Because, if Lemond killed Trey Wagner before he could turn state’s witness, SURELY he knew it was Kalinda who tracked him down and convinced him, so why isn’t he punishing her? Because he can use her. And when he’s done, kapow.)
But Kalinda’s magic vagina is in full force this season. Cary is in love with her; Cary wants more. Lana, a super cute federal agent, can’t get Kalinda out of her head and puts up with all kinds of using from her until finally she gets Kalinda regularly in the sack. EVERYONE Kalinda has ever wanted seems to want her back.
And here she holds all the cards, and not just the little white one Lemond gave her: She knows Lana is on the Bishop case. She knows Lemond is onto Lana. She finds the Rape Wall that effectively wins Alicia’s case for her (even though the class action goes away and no money comes from it, Alicia’s client gets what she wanted). She convinces Cary that he should testify. And Cary is driven to bitter distraction when he finds out she’s sleeping with Lana, so he violates her restraining order so that they can talk it out. “Can you act like you care for fourteen days?” he begs her, referring to how long he has before his trial starts. She insists she does care. “Show me and stop going to her,” he pleads. Kalinda blinks and sighs and says they don’t do that. And when he informs her that he doesn’t want to be with anyone else, she exhales and says gently, “I do.” Cary is furious and leaves, but basically, Kalinda’s rejection frees up his mind to concentrate on his defense. She may have done that deliberately, for his own good. Or she may really care for Lana. Or, she may have seen this necessary separation in the cards — he’s looking good to go up the river — and gone to Lana to defray any further emotional investment in Cary, and thus, skirt the hurt. It could be anything. But she takes the reins and she kicks Cary’s head back into the game, and she’s not long for the show and she MIGHT even go the way of Will Gardner if she’s not careful, so… you get the top spot, Kalinda.
Oh, yeah, and the card she was LITERALLY holding, she went to put in Lana’s wallet… then said, “Oh, damn,” and snapped it in half. Maybe she does love Lana. Or maybe she’s willing to let Bishop kill Lana? But that seems cold even for Kalinda. So… look, Lemond will not be denied. SOMETHING gnarly is going to happen. That tie foretold it. It does not lie.