“All options remain open to me now,” parrots Alicia in this hour, over and over, at Eli’s behest. This episode is all about people who ostensibly have power realizing — or being reminded — of how little they actually possess. And it was marginally better, albeit mostly because there are only five left after it, and so some table-setting is happening.
The case of the week informs it all, so let’s open with that: The Good Wife LOVES to take on That Durned Technologies Them Kids Are Usin’ Today, and this week it’s piracy. Florrick Agos Lockhart — whose acronym, FAL, could be pronounced “fail” — is representing a filmmaker who believes his box office tallies were hurt by all the illegal downloads of his film on a service called WharfMaster. For its part, WharfMaster likens itself to the post office: It delivers the parcels, but never peeks inside, because that would just be wrong. In defense of the service and FREEEEEDOM and whatnot, a bunch of hackers release four months’ worth of Florrick Agos Lockhart emails to some legal equivalent of Gawker, with the threat to release two years’ worth if the case isn’t dropped. Shenanigans ensue. And they completely vomit all over the reputation of the dead, as evidenced by the lowest person on our Power Suit ranking, who is only even IN a suit because presumably they buried him in one.
16. Will Gardner
Alicia skates by the initial leak because she was mostly using her campaign e-mail address, but the threat of two years raises some flags and dredges up some extremely personal correspondence, like this one from the ex-Mr. Gardner:
I have notes. First, I don’t know that Will Gardner would ever type up a mash note that reads like a high-schooler trying to write a teenage Fifty Shades of Grey. He totally wouldn’t have said “your soft lips against mine,” he PROBABLY would have put a period after “body,” he CERTAINLY would have stuck one after “baby,” and that last sentence is the drippiest piece of pancake since that time at IHOP when my kids poured out all the strawberry syrup. WILL GARDNER IS DEAD. Don’t first sully his memory and then POORLY PUNCTUATE IT. ON COMPANY EMAIL. BECAUSE HE CAN’T DEFEND HIMSELF. I like to think Josh Charles watched this from home and yelped, “I WROTE WHAT?!?”
She thinks she’s got it made now that she’s won the election, but she learns the hard way that none of her principles matter because she has to cowtow to everyone else’s gargantuan egos and whiny demands. Everyone wants to make her hiring decisions for her; she’s essentially a figure head and a reasonably paid juggler; and all that money she took comes from people who now want to see the receipts. I’m sure part of her thought this would be different, but also, how does any of this come as a surprise? When Peter first started, before he went corrupt, did he not ever come home and bitch about all the jackholes with their hands outstretched? It’s crazy, utterly crazy, that Alicia could have been a long-suffering and publicly burned political wife and still turn around and walk into this with no cynicism about what she was about to face. It’s not admirable in this situation; it’s foolish, and unrealistic. She can’t be savvy one moment — in every speech, in how she handled herself in the wake of Peter’s scandal — and naive the next.
She can’t even eat any of the gifts with which she’s been showered, because consuming anything above $75 in value is against the code of conduct — which, by the way, Marissa had to tell her, and Alicia acts like she had no idea such a thing even existed. Again: Wha? Did Elfman and Eli not brief her on anything useful? Was Peter ALWAYS corrupt, so she never heard about any of this? YOU JUST RAN A LONG AND EXCRUCIATING CAMPAIGN, and you aren’t aware of how you’re legally supposed to handle freebies? ALWAYS PRIORITIZE THE RULES ABOUT FREE CHEESE. DID YOU LEARN NOTHING.
She DOES briefly get to work alongside Fug Nation’s collective boyfriend Finn, who is representing her in the divorce between her and the firm. Alicia wants $650,000; the firm wants to give her only $300,000, and there is some back and forth on how she’s trying to smooth the transition for her clients so that they don’t seek representation elsewhere, etc. Alicia panics to Finn that she is going to have to settle for less than she needs, and her chief argument is that she can’t send two kids to college on a mere SA’s salary. AHEM. THEN WHY DID YOU RUN. She is acting like EVERYTHING is news to her and POOR PITIFUL ME. Alicia. You were MARRIED to an SA and sent both your kids to private school on his salary alone. You know what the position pays. Your husband, who still bears joint financial responsibility for your family, is the governor. You are paying to maintain separate residences for bogus political gains. You have kids in college/almost in college. NONE OF THIS IS NEW INFORMATION. IF IT WAS GOING TO BE A PROBLEM FOR YOU THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE KEPT YOUR EXTREMELY CUSHY AND HIGH-PAYING JOB THAT DID NOT INVOLVE A BORING PLOT. So frustrating. SO MUCH.
So, I zoomed Alicia down to the basement here because I am fed up with her suddenly acting like a witness to her own life.
Oh, and also because she wrote back to Will:
This is the dumbest sex talk in the world. I want to throw both of their phones AND laptops into Lake Michigan RETROACTIVELY. Also, WHAT INTELLIGENT WORKING PROFESSIONALS who are trying to HIDE their TOTALLY ILLICIT AFFAIR are going to use COMPANY EMAIL to exchange hideous banter? GET A GMAIL ACCOUNT. OH MY GOD. This makes no sense. NO SENSE AT ALL.
I mean… she helps somewhat in this hour? But mostly, she’s just marking time until her departure, and it sucks for Archie Panjabi. She doesn’t even get to ably defend herself against Howard Lyman, which is super offensive on the part of the show. More on THAT later.
13. Michael Boatman
I’m glad the show remembers that he exists and is still allegedly part of FAL (“Closing the New York office,” or somesuch, is how he explains his arrival), but… is there a rule that only one African-American man at a time can be a lawyer on this show? Did Taye Diggs set fire to Julianna Margulies’s underwear drawer? WHERE IS HE AND WHAT IS GOING ON.
12. Taye Diggs
Then again, the show’s refusal to acknowledge that Taye was ever on it means that none of HIS emails are leaked. I would be happy for him, if he had not been erased from existence. Presumably he has been locked in a box somewhere with Robin, waiting for other actors to leave, or having been ejected for behind-the-scenes reasons. It’s just… I always trusted this show not to be clumsy with its cast, and yet that’s EXACTLY what has happened all of a sudden.
11. Howard Lyman
He remains an embarrassment. At one point, the Florrick Agos Lockhart team thinks it has a case of trademark tarnishment, because the film was illegally downloaded on a site that framed it with disgusting porn ads. But WharfMaster claims its ads are geotargeted and tailored to the user’s needs, and because Kalinda used Howard’s computer, it means Howard’s porn habit is the reason all those ads appeared. (I am not sure I believe this. Piracy is illegal. If Kalinda used Diane’s computer, there’s NO WAY the download site would bring up ads for One Kings Lane and J.Crew. I just don’t believe any ad pool with classy brands would ever be present on a flagrantly lawbreaking site.) And there is the following amusing exchange: “[Howard], do you surf a LOT of porn?” “Define ‘surf.'”
Ergo, once again, Howard being Howard throws a comedic yet ugly wrench in the works. And then he gets a good rude chuckle out of the litany of intra-company emails in which people crack that David Lee is gay. I get Howard’s reaction here because a) he’s of a generation that is a lot crustier, and b) everyone hates David Lee. It looks bad on him, but almost everything looks bad on Howard, because he is a character who is meant to be an old-guard obsolete shell who’s basically being put out to pasture unless he’s needed for a vote. I bring all this up because of my beef with…
Cary still doesn’t do any good lawyering, but he gets a hearty dose of Lively Ties this week, and they’re all red, symbolizing the blood in the water at Florrick Agos Lockhart. Initially, when David Lee argues intimidating Alicia into taking their lowball offer, Cary argues Alicia should get more because she was a founding partner. “She built this firm,” he says. “And abandoned it,” one of the others (David Lee?) snarks. But negotiations become contentious argument, made worse when Cary sees her later shaking hands with Evil James Castro and looking very friendly. Castro was behind Cary’s fallacious prosecution, and Cary holds a grudge, so he ratchets up his bitterness and stands firm with his FAL partners when they lowball Alicia even further. He also gets called a “good lawyer not a great one” in an email from Diane, who notes — at the time of his case — that losing him to prison would not cripple them. Tht’s way harsh, Tai-ane Lockhart.
But then Cary makes me want to punch him and drip his OWN blood onto his symbolically crimson neckwear. During the montage of Let’s Read The Hateful Gossipy Emails, it’s revealed Cary has suggested rather rudely that Gary Cole isn’t servicing Diane expertly enough and that he needs to try harder to remove the stick from his ass. This is sexist and unpleasant from a character we are supposed to like — and, in fact, in whose freedom we were asked to care about for the ENTIRE first half of the season. But that’s not even what pissed me off the most. No, it’s that while he and Kalinda are devouring these emails together, it’s revealed that Howard sent one that claims Kalinda blew him in the supply closet one time. Kalinda is alarmed. And Cary LAUGHS at her. You guys, I know it’s Howard, and I know it’s probably not anything people believe, but it’s GROSS. Cary is supposed to be… if not in love with Kalinda then certainly hopelessly devoted to her. And WE are supposed to like Kalinda, so we side with her when she turns pale and looks sick at the idea that someone spread a total sexual LIE about her that other people probably believe because of their propensity to speculate about whether her clothes correspond to a saucy loudness in the sack (courtesy of Carey Zepps). I just think Cary laughing at Kalinda in this situation is really awful behavior, because SHE does not find it funny, and she is in fact correct.
9. Florrick Agos Lockhart
The firm is in complete turmoil for most of the hour — fistfights everywhere, and Michael Boatman and David Lee screaming at each other about affirmative action and the phrase “racist fruitcake.” Cary puts it best: “It’s like a pirate ship in here.” But the firm ends up kowtowing to the hackers because the client, too, gets hacked and has emails released, and so he’s desperate for this to go away as fast as possible. So externally, no more damage is done, and they’re able to move on, which is why the firm itself gets to sit higher on the list than any of the people currently working within its walls (except Diane). Having to look at each other. Pretending they’ve forgotten, or at least forgiven, when probably neither is true.
But their position is imperiled somewhat: They use the hack to lowball Alicia back down to a TOTAL of only $100,000, because of Internet security expenses. She extremely sweetly says that they absolutely should NOT worry that this offer would in any way affect her treatment of their cases. It’s not even a veiled threat; it’s a pretty bald one. But I’m sticking them all higher than Alicia because she is the one who stands to lose in this situation: She gets a pittance, losing money on this venture, if she accepts. And if she presses forth with her threat to make their lives miserable, she becomes Peter, and gives up any shred of dignity she might’ve brought into the office. Either she signs out quietly at a cash loss, or she goes out with a bang and loses her moral ground. Score one for FAL either way.
She gets her own spot because she’s rad.
I really hate that outfit, though. I know you’re SYMBOLICALLY in the trenches, Diane, but WE can all still see you. However, I applaud her disdainful facial expression. It’s just nice to know she can still cut a person with her disbelief at their inanity.
Diane and Cary classily agree that this is all water under the bridge, and I hope she means it, because I always want Diane to win at everything. But that suit is… checkered, like their current work situation, so that’s appropriate. But why is she wearing an animal print butler pull around her neck? I think hunting with Gary Cole might have turned her into a mixed species of some kind.
BROOCH ALERT. WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN? For having me in the thrall of your accessories game, Diane, even when it is off-point (like the weirdo tassel thing), you will always be… not at the bottom.
The current State’s Attorney pops by to congratulate the incumbent, and is the first of a parade of entitled people to expect a favor. He tells Alicia she should keep his current deputy for a smoother transition, and then kindly explains a long-standing rule that the incoming SA does not investigate the outgoing one. “Look forward, not back,” is his buzz phrase, as he politely points out that he ignored a raft of wrongdoing from Peter’s reign of terror. Alicia isn’t impressed and coolly tells him that if there was gross misconduct she certainly thinks it would get her off on the wrong foot to turn a blind eye. She then calls him a lame duck, and even as he backs out spitting that he’s going to tank her record by overloading her with bad cases she won’t possibly be able to get to — much less solve — he comes off like a tragic, washed-up creep. If they ever remake Back to the Future — WHICH THEY MUST NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES — then this actor could play Principal Strickland.
6. Ed Asner
Redmayne is back, and as sexist as ever — seems those inflammatory remarks to Alicia absolutely were not intended merely to test her. He is the second of the vultures to circle, because of course he wants HIS person installed at Alicia’s right hand; when she refuses, he spits, “I spent seven figures to get you in. It won’t cost me nearly as much to get you out.” He then also hisses, “This may seem like power to you, but give me twenty minutes, and I’ll show you power.” Which is the undercurrent of the entire hour. Ed should maybe be higher up the list for actually cleanly delivering the central thesis, but a) that’s just the luck of the writing, and b) he’s a festering asstoad.
And he truly brings the chauvinist thunder. He clutches at Alicia, tries to make her sit next to him, tells her a long story about how her feet reminds him of “this whore in Arizona” who could work sexual miracles with hers, and then delivers a racist monologue in front of Lemond Bishop. Do you want to see what THAT looks like?
BIG MISTAKE, ED. HUGE.
She is on top of the regulations Alicia needs to know, and promotes herself to “executive assistant,” which sounds about right. She does get saddled with the unfortunate work of sifting through two years of Alicia’s emails, looking for just how badly this scandal might hurt her. Which means SHE is the one who had to read and underline all the deplorable dipshit pseudo-poetry between Alicia and Will, in addition to a note from Alicia’s gyno about pregnancy tests (she was late) and confirmation that she and Elfman did indeed have sex and it was “just a one night stand, albeit a damn good one.” (I am angry at this show for suddenly taking everything off-camera and acting like physical payoffs of that ilk don’t matter. But I covered that last week at length.) She then hands Alicia a sheaf of everything she has to fear from these hackers:
I repeat: GMAIL, ALICIA. GET WITH THE EARLY AUGHTS. (Although some of them ARE work-related; things like Will calling Colin Sweeney their “favorite wife-killing” client, or referring to someone else as a sweaty misanthrope.) But, the fact that Marissa did all that work, did it quickly, and did it without being a dick to Alicia or even ONCE making fun of her for anything Will wrote in a blaze of post-pleasuring false depth… Well, she remains the best, is what I’m saying.
This is his face when Alicia offers HIM the deputy SA job. It’s a stupid move, and Finn knows it, I think, which would explain this reaction. (I also think this is because he can’t figure out if she wants to sleep with him ever, because if she DOES, hiring him would make that REALLY REALLY complicated. ALICIA. WHY DON’T YOU WANT TO SLEEP WITH HIM EVER.) He brings Alicia nothing except a comforting shoulder, and also some bangin’ glasses:
I am atwitter.
Alicia has to apologize for an email in which, to buck up Cary during his trial, she claims Finn is “soft, with a spine of cottage cheese.” Finn doesn’t care because he knows she didn’t mean it, and because he is TREMENDOUS, although he also suspects she will try to wriggle out of the job offer. She insists she will not. WE’LL SEE. Alicia, I know you need a security blanket, but here’s how this goes: Hire someone who’ll challenge you, divorce your rat of a husband, take up with Finn, and have his shoulder to support you at HOME, where you can also LICK ITS NAKEDNESS. This is not a difficult problem to solve. Because look: I just did it.
Anyway, Finn. He clearly still has a hold over Alicia of SOME kind, and he’s working well with her, and basically, he’s one of the few people in this hour who was composed and cool and reasonable at all times. Power comes in many forms, and that ability — plus those glasses — is one of them.
This despicable dreamboat does not handle it well when Alicia tells him that, in fact, he should expect no special favors from her:
That was the tie of a man prepared to love, even if that love had really gnarly strings attached with which he might garrote your cohorts.
THIS is the tie of a man unafraid to soak himself in the viscera of you and your family when he disembowels you figuratively, or perhaps literally:
Lemond basically finds a way to turn the tables on Alicia and make it clear that her saying “no” to him is the beginning of a whole iceberg of problems that will tear into the hull of her professional vessel. Lemond was never going to let Alicia have the last word, and of all the people she learns to put off with vague answers, he is the only one who actually says he will be eagerly awaiting her phone call. Alicia. He is too smart for your rhetoric. And that tie suggests you are going to SUFFER for it.
He hears quickly from Redmayne that Alicia is spurning his “advice” on what to do, and he immediately spits that he’s depressed Alicia has no idea how to handle people. Alicia insists she isn’t going to do what he’s asking. “But you don’t TELL him that,” Eli groans. “Be a Disney princess if you want, but you don’t upset the money men.” He explains to her — which he maybe should have done a week ago — that the key is to be receptive and vague and make the person feel heard, even if you have no intention of going along with them. “The absence of ‘yes’ multiplied by time equals no,” Eli says. “That’s the law. Men like him want you to say, ‘I’m listening.’ He’s old, rich, and forgetful.” He feeds Alicia a line to say to every person who approaches her, and it becomes the chant for the entire hour: “Thank you for your advice. As the SA, all options are open to me now, and I plan to decide in the next forty-eight hours.” She uses it when she has to make peace with Castro, patch it up with Redmayne, and then try to wriggle out from under Lemond’s angry gaze. As I said, Lemond is the only one who confirmed he’d be waiting by the phone for those forty-eight hours to elapse, so Alicia definitely can’t shovel bullshit in his yard. But the rest of it all got handled Eli’s way, in Eli’s language, by Eli’s new protege. His only failure is that he taught her too well. At the end, he tries to put forth his own candidate, and she spits his line right back at him as he sucks on his lips and looks annoyed. Eli, I’ve missed you.
This anonymous entity holds the reins.
Obviously, that doesn’t happen. But this person controls everything that happens herein: It changes office relationships at Florrick Agos Lockhart, it renders all legal wrangling moot, it gives the firm an excuse to take money back out of Alicia’s settlement offer, and it HOPEFULLY inspires every viewer with a corporate e-mail account to STOP USING THEM TO TELL YOUR PARAMOUR ABOUT THE FEEL OF THEIR THIGHS ON YOUR FACE. IT’S 2015. TAKE IT ELSEWHERE.