Someone crawls out of the basement, someone drops from the top, and Peter gets his knickers handed to him. So yeah, BIG DOINGS here on the Power Suit Rankings. But let’s begin with a beloved old friend.
21. Joe Jr.
You might remember this strapping lad from While You Were Sleeping, as the neighbor of Sandra Bullock who constantly hits on her and then gets caught trying on her shoes. I thought you’d like to know he still gets paychecks. I personally demand a reunion.
Joe Jr. here is with the Chicago FBI. He opens the show by trying to convince Cary to turn on Lemond Bishop. He and Lana play Cary a tape of Bishop talking which is extremely choppy and drops out in parts, but with endearing phrases like “He’s a white lawyer” and “He can’t just disappear” and “two to the back of the head,” and finally, “Okay, done, next week, make this end,” he posits that Lemond is planning to murder Cary. It is not an unreasonable assumption. But Cary is a loyal dude, so he refuses to believe the tape is real; the reason this play lands Joe Jr. in the Power Suit Ranking cellar is because a) his duds are a dud, and b) so, in the end, was his plan. Perhaps he SHOULD call Sandra (that movie was also set in Chicago, if I recall correctly), because she’d now have a WAY BETTER shoe closet in which he could frolic.
If you’re thinking Cary will be next, by the way, then that is your first whammy.
Diane does nothing this week except wear this necklace and have shiny hair — both of which are, admittedly, extremely important. To me. Although I prefer it when she’s being smart and awesome, she basically just hangs out with Cary and can’t even get Alicia to come to this meeting with Joe Jr. because she’s so hung up on her campaign. Diane deserves better than to be the bottom rung on Alicia’s ladder.
Even this suit can’t save her. Which is sad, beacuse I love it. The black and grey underneath is cool, jacket the overcoat with the vees cut out of it is EXTREMELY neat, if also impractical if you ever wanted to close the thing with something other than staples.
This week, we’re in the edit bay with Elfman and guest-star David Krumholtz making Alicia’s campaign commercial — along with a sad-sack editor who accidentally put Irish jig music over black-and-white shots of Will’s funeral, instead of a sad pan-flute dirge. Said editor also uses cows when they ask for “Morning in America” and gets roundly chastised for his moronic choices. Maybe he heard “MOOING” in America, you guys. You don’t know his life. Anyway, the cows are summarily rejected. Sorry, Bessie. Your byproducts are greatly enjoyed by all.
Lana is brought in when Agent Joe Jr. makes his pitch to Cary and Diane, and she is the one in possession of the wire tap. She has to suffer Cary making a snide remark about her banging his girlfriend, in front of her boss, which is a treat. Kalinda later convinces her to fork it over so she can get it analyzed to see if it’s real or fake — Lana swears it’s real; Kalinda wants to be sure — and Lana has a crisis of confidence about how committed Kalinda is to her, because EVERY FORTY-FIVE MINUTES she has a crisis of confidence about whether Kalinda is committed to her and I honestly think that’s part of why Kalinda is not committed to her. THEN poor Lana gets dragged into Joe Jr’s office because the existence of the wire tap has come to Lemond Bishop’s attention and GUESS HOW THAT HAPPENED and so poor old Lana is going to be questioned about a breach of ethics. And THEN possibly end up dead, or something, because Kalinda snapped that Card Key and there is NO FALLOUT FROM THE CARD KEY. WHAT WAS THE CARD KEY.
17. Card Key
WHAT WERE YOU? Well, whatever. In this episode, you were nothing.
Alicia calls Peter to heel for a joint interview in which they play up their affection and the romance of their marriage. Except this body language suggests that Alicia would rather feed herself to the shrieking eels than get snuggly with her husband. As they reminisce about their extremely rote first meeting at a party, and He Gave Her His Coat and Caught In The Rain, Alicia turns to him and says, “I don’t think I’ve ever had a happier moment.” Peter seems geniunely surprised. So, Alicia can still spook him, in Cocktail parlance. Alicia wins.
Well, sort of: While Alicia is sitting on her hormones, Peter is off having an affair with Connie Nielsen. This gives Peter some influence on the election, obviously, but indicates that he has no power over his own libido. Peter is weak. So even though this could screw Alicia in the end, I’m knocking him down the list because Peter is SUPER EASY and GET AHOLD OF YOURSELF MAN.
She obviously has plenty of power over Peter’s peter, and is a reasonable attorney besides, but she can’t command a room or much of a scene. Not even with her sly Sleater Kinney reference. I imagine that she’s on the phone with someone who’s Googling “references that will make you seem cool.” In the limo with Peter, we don’t know exactly what he tells her; we just see her sniffling and weeping languidly that she doesn’t want to be the cause of all this and she should just GO already, and Peter grabs her and kisses her. “We’re terrible people,” she whispers up his nostrils. He’s kind of like, “Yeah, and…?” She bores me.
Kalinda doesn’t even get a new coat in this episode. Maybe she shouldn’t have blown her trench wad by wearing both this one AND the purple one last week. She COULD have withheld. It would be like… tantric wardrobe.
She does perform some ass-kicking with the Bishop stuff, like violating the restraining order long enough to install a bodyguard at Cary’s side, and getting her expert to confirm the authenticity of the Lemond Bishop recording. Kalinda is not an incompetent person. Kalinda has even managed to remain alive despite briskly massaging The Card Key of Mystery Most Foul into two pieces. But as much as I love the idea of a character who is cheerfully bisexual and doesn’t see the need for schmoopy commitment if everyone is happy, the show keeps insisting she’s No Commitment and then giving her these meaningful looks with Cary and these “I do take you seriously” moments with Lana, and it’s like trying to have your cake and then bake another cake and then eat both of them at the same time. It doesn’t empower her as much as it makes me very confused about what any of her feelings are, and frankly, I’m not invested in her having sex with EITHER of those two people. I’d be more into her having it off with Lemond Bishop, because of all the DRAMA. How can she resist those ties? Imagine getting to REMOVE it.
13. Cary’s bodyguard
He’s an ex-baseball player. His name is Carter. He’s VERY nice. And although he seems totally capable of guarding the perimeter and standing near support posts and whatnot, the fact that they still have Cary in an office with windows (I mean, I guess Bishop can’t fly a sniper helicopter past the 26th or 28th floor or whatever, but still; aren’t their buildings nearby?) and that he is standing NEXT to Cary when the elevator doors open to reveal Lemond Bishop — rather than in front of him to absorb any danger — seems weird to be. However, I have never been a bodyguard, and have only watched The Bodyguard once, and NEVER saw My Bodyguard, so I have a lot of learning to do. Anyway, Carter: capable-seeming, but ultimately, also something that sets off Lemond’s paranoia in a way that’s nearly as detrimental to Cary as the simple fact that Cary is on trial.
Congratulations, Mr. Agos! You are not the Saddest Blossom at the Flower Show, although it appears that way from this photo of him in very attractive menswear. Cary had a reason to frown: He was afraid, justifiably that Lemond Bishop was sending a crony to plug his head full of lead. That is enough to coax anyone’s frown lines out of retirement, although let’s be real, Cary’s were on active duty already.
But Cary actually stands UP this week. First, he actually literally does get up out of his chair, in order to tell Agent Joe Jr. that if he wants cooperation, he’d better not ask Cary to work with the woman who’s sleeping with his girlfriend. Joe Jr. is like, “SAY WHAT?” Then, he accurately connects the dots that Lemond catching sight of his bodyguard — which he does, inside Florrick, Agos, & Lockhart itself — will lead him erroneously to believe that Cary has ratted on him and is awaiting inevitable retribution. THEN he realizes both that Lemond Bishop was out of town on the date in question, and that Lemond used the word “call” inside the office lobby, but on the FBI wire-tap he said “phone.” As in, the act of dialing numbers on an Alexander Graham Bell-endorsed device. IT MUST BE A FAKE, he crows.
He is wrong. About all of it. Totally , totally wrong. WHAMMY. And that is why he’s not higher on the list. Lemond was in town. The recording was real. Lemond REALLY wanted to kill him. And Cary finds this out WHILE he is standing in Lemond’s home and his bodyguard is in the car. (WHY IS YOUR BODYGUARD IN THE CAR? Also, Mr. Bodyguard, when Cary orders you to stay in the car, maybe secretly don’t do it.) To Cary’s credit, he only shits a small shed’s worth of bricks, and then immediately tells Lemond why he has the bodyguard and that he would never turn on him. It was ballsy of him to be there in the first place, and it was nice to see Cary being proactive about his situation instead of pouty and gray-faced, but… even though he was scared I sort of laughed when Kalinda was like, “Noooooo, it’s totally real, and he wants you dead,” and Cary made this face. Like, “Goddamn it, I should’ve had a V-8.”
11. Lemond Bishop
Lemond’s shirt has no idea what it’s doing. Which is appropriate, because Lemond himself was caught flat-footed this week. He was VISIBLY shaken when he saw that Cary had a bodyguard, and he had no idea the FBI was wire-tapping him (obviously). And in deciding even momentarily that he needed to kill yet ANOTHER witness to make this go away, he does two things: 1) Come to the stupid conclusion that a suspicious pile of corpses is a great way to make people leave you alone, and b) reveals that Lemond Bishop, who, is afraid of no one, is in act afraid of Cary Agos.
However, Lemond’s explanation for the tape is amusing to me. He goes, “No. It’s not fake. I talk all the time. I say things I don’t mean.” He’s super shruggy about it, part of which is obviously an act — it’s scarier when the Big Bad Wolf doesn’t seem perturbed by how big and bad he is — but which is also deliciously suave (for a homicidal drug lord). As the two of them smile and shake hands and laugh about how Cary is not going to bleed out all over anyone’s living room rug today, Lemond purrs, “You don’t hurt me, and I won’t hurt you.” So he’s still in charge, even if he was thrown.
And he gets all the points for looking suave on his freaking down time at home. That is some Cuff Science right there.
10. This Dress
I mean. Alicia looks WICKED foxy for the scene in which she throws caution to the wind, sits down, and gives the Interview Of an Eloquent Lifetime about being a political wife, about the scandal, about her children, her job, Will Gardner, why she’s running. It’s a tour de force and it’s going to save her campaign and possibly also eradicate certain forms of liver disease and everyone REJOICE because their smoking-hot candidate came to play.
And then Niles Crane’s mother wore the exact same dress in HIS ad, where they’re talking about how much Niles loves his dead dad. Brenda and Kelly are so going to come to blows over this.
They try to change Alicia’s digitally but it’s terrible. It looks like a disease under a microscope. They have to re-do the interview. Ah, the power of a dress.
9. Niles’s Mom
I mean, way to have the bod for that dress, and also, to have fashion mind meld with the gloriously crisp Alicia Florrick. Let’s not cast aside this achievement.
Finn has the power to make Alicia come to his office and very, very nearly make out with him. My God, you guys, we’re so close. Granted, some of this is because she’s feeling wounded because she suspects Peter of having an affair. But I think a lot of it is that a) she’s hot for him, b) she doesn’t care who Peter screws, but if HE gets to have sex then WHY CAN’T SHE; and c) she’s MAD hot for him.
Here’s how it happens: Alicia is at sixes and sevens from various campaign things, and of course she’s miffed at Peter for acting on his hormones when she isn’t, so she goes to Finn. And sits down. He joins her, and they’re silent, and there’s all this heat and a pregnant moment where they just STARE at each other and if they were on a savanna the gazelle would be RIPPED TO SHREDS by now. And I don’t even know which one of them IS the gazelle in that scenario, but I know the other is licking meat off the ribs.
Self-conscious, Alicia says, “This was stupid.” Finn takes her hand to stop her leaving, and then leaves his hand there, and THE PREDATOR CIRCLES HIS PREY until some floor-mates jolt them out of it and Alicia scampers away. So she IS the gazelle, potentially.
Then he comes to see her later, and essentially starts to bring it up, and Alicia apologizes for being weird and says, “I wish things were simple.” He replies, “They could be if you want them to be.” HE WANTS YOU ALICIA TAKE HIM TAKE HIM NOW. “I don’t think that’s true,” she says back to him. “People have expectations.” And then, she says, “I always hated that these offices were glass.” Which is, I think her way of saying she wants to throw him down and take him and MY GOD JUST DO IT. I hope next week she has MASSIVE blackout shades installed.
So: Finn has the power to make Alicia ALMOST give in to what she’s telling Peter NOT to do. It’s going to happen. It will. Bear in mind, this show made us wait an exquisite amount of time for the release of Alicia and Will, so nine episodes of me screaming “PLEASE MAKE OUT RIGHT NOW” is hardly anything.
She starts out with some level of control over her editor and her team (all in a circle around her). They listen when she objects to things, which is… basically almost everything. She hates the cheese, she doesn’t like “touched by murder,” or whatever, and she isn’t that into playing on Peter. In fact, she isn’t into Peter AT ALL. She bubbles up and lets him HAVE IT.
Here, they’ve just come from their interview about their marriage, and Alicia has been given information that Peter is bonking Ramona. “You have to stop sleeping with her because you’ve been seen,” she says. Peter laughingly insists that if Alicia’s private investigator had done the job right, there would be photos of him taking all his staffers out to meals, and that he would never do anything to embarrass her, ever. And she SNAPS. “You think I give a crap enough to FOLLOW YOU?” she seethes, adding that if there’s another scandal, “I won’t stand beside you. Not again. Not in a million years.” She concludes by pointing out that if he wants to get re-elected and he wants HER in office as well, “Zip your pants, shut your mouth, and stop banging the help.”
ALICIA FLORRICK. I personally think she’s harnessing her sexual frustration here. She’s playing by the rules, and she doesn’t believe he is — she is correct; he is baldly lying to her — and she resents it. Also, he’s a pompous windbag.
The energy from all this makes Alicia vixen out in that red dress…
… and give an amazing interview. Which she then has to try and re-tape because of Fashiongate 2014.
And it’s WRETCHED. She can’t get it back. She is Mojo Lite. At the end, she finally decides she doesn’t give a shit about the red dress; they go with the interview that worked. Also, they framed that sucker so tightly, who can tell? ALSO, couldn’t they just change it to another SOLID color, like… dark blue? Or black? You’re probably not allowed to wear black in your campaign promo, in case it makes people think you’re depressing. Or depressed.
Which Alicia may be. Look how lonely and angsty she is before she goes to see Finn. All alone in that elevator. GO GET FINN AND PULL THE STOP BUTTON.
So, Alicia is harnessing her hormones and trying to squelch them, and she also does one more thing that nobody wants her to do: She repeatedly communicates with Niles Crane and makes backdoor deals not to go negative. It starts thusly: Niles Crane drops by to convince her to run a clean and positive campaign. “I want to do this differently,” he says, and announces he’s figured out why politicians go negative. “Because it works?” hoots Alicia with a hardened edge that I found EXTREMELY interesting, because I would’ve expected her to wrestle with this. His BRILLIANT piece of analysis that the reason positive campaigns don’t work is because nobody actually intends to DO it. And then he gives Alicia the thing that sets in motion the entire rest of the episode. She gets some potent moments to hold Niles’s feet to the fire about keeping his word, but it all begins with…
A taped-up old shoebox is where, apparently, James Castro stuffed all his opposition research on Alicia, which he then dropped off on Niles’s doorstep without so much as chipper wrapping paper or a ribbon. Bad form, old man. Niles gives Box to Alicia as an act of good faith, as if he couldn’t have opened it, copied everything or removed the juiciest bits, and then retaped it. In fact, Elfman points out to Alicia that she shouldn’t trust this because whatever they REALLY have, they will use — “They always do,” he says — and they won’t pretend to share it with her. And Alicia stares down box for about half a day before she cracks and rips into that sucker.
And therein: A picture of Finn leaving her apartment, which we knew they had already; a photo of her and Will huddling somewhere; and a series of pictures of Peter wining and dining Ramona. Which, given that Castro dropped out at the end of the last episode and Ramona hasn’t been around that long, must have been a fairly recent get for Castro’s team (if it even came from them). Alicia’s face falls. At this point, are we even pretending she has any love for Peter? She doesn’t, right? The interview they did together made it seem like maybe she had some warm and fuzzies brewing for him, but I think he probably just irritates the hell out of her at this point because she’s now stuck with him for political reasons. A GREAT excuse to lose the election, Alicia. I mean, would you rather stay married to that chump and live a scrutinized life, or work at your new firm and have exciting sex in glass offices with Finn? CHOOSE B.
But despite Box’s hold over Alicia, frankly, it’s too small to be a believable receptacle for someone’s oppo research. Eli and Elfman produced a larger file than that just for their practice session with Alicia. Small but mighty, maybe, but Box, I think you are a pretender.
5. This Wine Cardigan
I realize this sweater did not stop her from opening Box. But it was FABULOUS. It was a gift from Olivia Pope, and it came with a card that read, “When you’re ready to get SERIOUS, there’s one of these in white waiting for you.”
4. These Pajamas
I LOVE that they did not make Alicia flit around alone in a tiny silky nightie. She’s totally in regular-person PJs, and they look wildly comfortable. They ALSO did not stop her from opening Box, though. I probably should have put Box above them in the rankings. But… Box lacks visual allure.
This ad, about NilesCraneousaur TERRORIZING Chicagoans, is a magnificent piece of awfulness that ALSO somehow manages to imply that when he comes home, he hangs his dino suit in the closet where he also keeps his sexuality. It’s so ham-handed and overt, and the RAMPAGE parts made me laugh and laugh and watch it again three more times. Elfman insists it’s the ad that will get people talking, but Alicia squelches it. Don’t worry; like a real dino, it gets out anyway.
Niles’s PAC — which he does not control — made a musical ad set to the can-can music all about “Who is Alicia Sleeping With Now,” and citing murderous wretch Colin Sweeney, and murderous drug-dealing wretch Lemond Bishop (WHY is this show brilliant at charismatic bad guys?). It’s very funny and screamingly terrible, and it galvanizes Alicia to yell at Niles. I am powerfully looking forward to what they will come up with next in this one.
2. The Firm of Elfman, Krumholtz, and Doof
For all the hand-wringing and occasional bad music choices, these guys play everything like a fiddle. They present Alicia with her options. They accommodate her as best they can. They get what they want eventually. And the BIGGEST thing is that Elfman effects the leak of the DINO video by giving a quote to a media friend about how they have an inflammatory ad that they REFUSE to use because Alicia simply will not have it — which of course whets appetites and means it can “turn up” for anyone who’s looking. Oh, Elfman. JUST as I was starting to think Eli was the only one getting his hands dirty. I wish they’d had a scene wherein David Krumholtz harkened back to his greatest film role and drew a penis on someone’s face, but there is still time.
1. Niles Crane
I’m giving him the top spot because he ALSO plays Alicia like… oh, let’s go with a tuba this time. He pitches the positive campaign, which she receives with snark because he’s up three points and she thinks this is his smooth way of declawing her campaign to maintain that edge. But then he gives her Box. She is moved to have a private off-the-books meeting with him about it — in the open air, of course, and yet nobody notices and puts a photo on the Internet because Contrivance smashed their smartphones — and they are open with each other about their dirt. He says their big ace in the hole is that she and Will Gardner were having sex, but “I think I can win a fair fight.” He promises that if his PAC does anything he doesn’t like, she should call him and he’ll do what he can, and she buys it. Well, his PAC releases the animated ad about her questionable partnerships — which is why she greenlights using the Red Dress Interview because she knows they need good material — and Alicia is enraged and orders Niles to make his PAC straighten up and fly right. She appears to have him scrambling, but then Elfman’s enginereered leak of the DINO ad happens, and he gets the moral high ground back. “They’re going to drag us into the pit, Alicia,” he says. “What do we do?” She grits her teeth. “RESIST,” she tells him.
And in the end, whether he means it or not — whether he’s faltering and she’s the one gunning for him to stay strong, like Tyra Banks to a Top Model contestant — he has her. His whole offer, his evidence, his plan, is completely in her head and it affected everything she did. He showed her the photo of Peter that had her reeling to Finn (maybe it was a trap, to catch her in the act with Finn?), which led to her being snippy with Peter, which led to her getting her mojo back and then losing it again, which led to his camp drawing first blood with the ad. Whether he’s being honest, or he’s lying, either way she is now the one pulling back and sitting on dirt. She acts like she’s holding the reins, but it’s her that it might hurt. David Hyde Pierce is masterful at not giving away ANYTHING and coming across simply as a likable person who has clean intentions. People are rarely that simple, on The Good Wife or in life, but he FOR SURE has Alicia’s number and he’s dialing it over and over again. Figuratively. Also possibly in actuality.
Not for nothing, Niles also puts out an ad sentimentalizing his father’s death with this great old photo and his foxy mother. It’s full of dramatic re-enactments of Deathbed Hand-Holding and everything. It’s deliciously transparent and strikes first — again, because of Alicia’s Niles-related dithering, he got to market faster. Oh, Dr. Crane, you are a sly one.
P.S.: Please let him turn up to something with a girlfriend played by Jane Leeves.