Of all the crossovers I’ve imagined between this show and Scandal, my most urgent and new favorite is Elsbeth Tascioni being Fitz’s Attorney General. Just IMAGINE the beautiful aneurysms she would give Cyrus. It’s my new bliss, truly.
This poor guy. He doesn’t want to move into the old Lockhart Gardner offices because he perceives it as a step backwards, but of course, he’s outvoted. Honestly, Cary, cockroaches are not acceptable business partners, and I don’t mean metaphorically. Get over it.
Second, he tries to pick up a girl at a law party, and once she finds out he’s Noted Felon Cary Agos, she balks. This leaves him with only a repellent option: a wannabe-vixen who’s turned on by his arrest, which leads to an absolutely cringeworthy exchange in which she expresses disdain for the fact that he wasn’t in prison long enough to be gang-raped, because “that would’ve been a turn-on.” I’m sure she’s meant to be a sarcastic coquette — I hope — but she comes off as a gross moron and so of course Cary gets all over that. Even when he wins, he loses: The two of them get so hammered that he’s barely upright when he gets home and finds out that Linda Lavin is giving him a spot-check, as part of her job in making sure he obeys the conditions of his bail. The girl gives Linda some lip about them doing drugs, and they had to Uber it home, meaning apparently the car took a brief detour into Indiana, which is across state lines. That whole drunken outing was his undoing. Oh, Cary. Your liver is frustrated with you.
He is also barred from seeing Kalinda — more on that later — and when he tries to step back from the firm during his court case, Alicia won’t let him. She’s trying to be supportive and we’re-in-this-together, but the poor guy can’t even QUIT successfully. And his necktie and shirt combinations bespeak a man who’s not at the top of his game. Somebody please let him win at SOMETHING, because he’s been a basement-dweller pretty much all season.
David Lee and Louis Canning call in OSHA to try and paint Diane as an inattentive landlord, so that she loses authority to evict them. If you were looking to fix your own warped reception floor, here’s your estimate. Sadly for OSHA, Kalinda comes up with a counter-plan: She learns that Louis Canning’s various properties owe $1.6 million in fixes to OSHA. So the two parties agree to wipe this off the board, which I guess means that OSHA doesn’t get any money at all and nobody cares that TECHNICALLY they should still be on the hook for reported violations, right? Clearly they don’t fear OSHA. Sorry, OSHA. You are no Lemond Bishop.
17. Lemond Bishop
He’s not actually in this episode, but Linda Lavin’s character — Cary’s pre-trial whatever officer — repeatedly pronounces “Lemond” as if he is Lemon Breeland’s superfluously consonanted name twin. It’s amazing, and he would be galled that his reputation does not precede him. ESPECIALLY once she got a load of HIS shirts and ties.
16. The Honorable Ana Gasteyer
The Honorable Gasteyer is presiding over the federal case against the clients Alicia and Elsbeth were representing last week — a company and its fired female CEO — which has caused them to join forces (once this case is done, they can go back to suing each other). In my opinion, this judge is becoming the least-effective of the rotating cadre (I miss Denis O’Hare’s relentlessly spiritual and positive one). Because here’s the thing: NOBODY ever thinks to prep their co-counsel on the “in my opinion” thing until they’re in the middle of a proceeding. Which is obviously for comic relief — Elsbeth turns to Alicia and asks, “Are you hazing me?” — but it’s also kind of unrealistic. Don’t you know which judge you’ve been assigned? And how has it not made the rounds yet in Chicago that The Honorable Margaret Jo McCullen has this tic? Why is Alicia the ONLY person who ever seems to know this about The Honorable Bobbie Mohan-Culp? It’s becoming clunky — logistical gymnastics thy’re doing SOLELY for comic relief. Having said that, I laugh at anything Elsbeth does, including this AND the moment in which she whispers this tip to Kyle MacLachlan’s character, their opponent in court, purely because she is hot for him and can’t help it.
15. Lockhart Gardner Canning
I mean, two-thirds of the title is dead and/or gone, so already they’re in a hard-luck situation. But no matter what they scheme, they can’t stop Diane from evicting them this week. I do applaud their parting shot of leaving the offices a hot mess and ripping F, A, and L off most of the keyboards (although I’m unclear why the equipment itself didn’t belong to them). David Lee and Louis Canning remain totally awesome together, as pair of sniveling snakes, and it’s predictable that they’re losing every time right now but eventually they will win again. We need a good foe on this show.
14. Marissa Gold
Eli’s daughter has been dispatched by Eli to be present because the show can’t always afford Alan Cumming for limited work. “I’m your bodywoman,” Marissa says, which apparently means she is at Alicia’s beck-and-call to be as helpful as possible, and also to spy on Eli’s behalf. “But I’m not a good spy, so don’t worry about that,” she says cheerfully. She is also not a good dresser.
Alicia still takes Grace’s knowledge about God, and her beliefs, as seriously as she can. And she’s honest with Grace that she’s trying to understand some of this stuff for political leverage. But Grace gets lauded by her prayer group for opening up the “hardened heart” of her mother, and as much as she tries to shrug this off because she knows it’s a lie, they won’t let her. So, poor Grace is stuck between a rock and a hard faith. HAR. But seriously. Considering Alicia finds religion ridiculous — beyond being an agnostic, she’s an active, avowed atheist — I think it’s nice that Grace has done her own thing if it’s meaningful to her, and it probably sucks knowing your mother thinks what’s important to you is foolish.
However, I was unmoved enough not to get a screen grab of her, so… sorry, Grace.
12. Diane and Kalinda
Diane is REALLY stressed about this lease thing. You can tell because her necklace of chains is ENORMOUS.
I also appreciate what looks like a gold-leaf blazer (Finn doesn’t even make the list this week because he has three lines and they’re all the same blah-blah), deployed in court to defend Cary against having to go back to jail for accidentally violating the terms of his parole.
I also think I hate this red suit Diane wore to confront David Lee and Louis Canning. It’s so boxy. Diane Lockhart should never have anything in common with a Volvo, except I guess… reliability. And price.
Kalinda all but does finger guns in this scene. She is instrumental in helping Diane solve the lease issue. Canning and Lee pointed out an amendment to the lease that stated she had to be on the premises/in residence, and because she hasn’t been, she can’t evict them. Kalinda magically knows that Diane CAN have had a proxy there, though, and this includes hiring somebody and having it be retroactive, or something? They don’t say that specifically but surely that’s part of it, because the solution to hire…
11. Howard Lyman
They find him napping on his couch, as usual, and Kalinda and Diane give him this delicious spiel about the perceived value of his gravitas and expertise. He’s surprised by the timing of this, and Christine Baranski is warm perfection when she coos, “When one’s pursuing excellence, does timing really matter?” Even though he’s a pawn in this game — they get him to join by promising him courtroom time, which promises to be fabulous — I’m giving Howard a spot above Diane because he DOES hold the trump card, and also I want him to feel good about himself for some reason even though he isn’t real and has, in the past, been a buffoon. I don’t know. Old people get my heartstrings going. I want him to swan into court and make Daniel Castro cry.
I do have some questions about how the rest of the firm is going to react to this expense, but… I mean, they’re moving into these offices; Howard really ought to come as part of that deal. He can’t move. Where would he go? He would just show up there every day anyway out of habit.
10. Cary’s Kitchen Backsplash
I like it, although not with the light-wood cupboards (it’d be better with white, right?). But it feels like the kind of thing that made Cary think, “Eh, I’ll change that out after I move in to something really masculine,” and then he got lazy — and arrested, and stuff — and forgot.
9. Linda Lavin
As pictured above, Linda surprises Cary with his spot check and doesn’t think he’s taking this seriously. After reporting him to the court, she interviews Kalinda and then recommends that Cary be allowed to remain free on bail BUT he has to wear an ankle monitor and have a 9 p.m. curfew, and he cannot see Kalinda. She thinks Kalinda is a bad influence on him, or something, and the judge upholds it. So basically, Linda Lavin just took control of Cary’s junk, and she locked it its own kind of prison. She is the warden of his junk. I hope that’s how they pitched this role to her.
8. Kyle MacLachlan
Kyle here, as the federal prosecutor against Elsbeth and Alicia, tries a decent case and has a really funny moment of sucking up to a witness. The guy says his name is Nils Landrusyshym, “spelled the standard way,” which gives everyone hilarious pause until he lays it out for them — a joke that is not as funny in writing, but oh well. When Nils compliments Kyle on pronouncing it correctly, Kyle beams, “I listen.” He is Elsbeth’s perfect foil somehow and they are great together, and although this episode is MORE about her hold over him, his reciprocal hold over her is almost as strong.
He also gets a moment of power over Elsbeth when she thinks he has deliberately not told her about a rescheduled meeting because he’s cheating his way into a date with her. So she storms into his meeting and gives him an entertainingly bungled lecture about respecting her time, before his assistant calls out that she had left a message with Elsbeth’s secretary. “Fantasia!” Elsbeth hisses. Of COURSE her secretary is named Fantasia; I feel like Elsbeth’s brain is, basically, an orgy of images not unlike the Disney movie (also, there was a Fangtasia nightclub in True Blood so maybe it’s a wink at Carrie Preston’s former job on that show).
However, Kyle loses points for chasing Elsbeth down the street in order to flirt with her. I mean, in LIFE points he’s doing okay, but in terms of having the flirtation upper hand, he totally just lost it. I did love that he realized Elsbeth is walking strangely because she’s afraid of sidewalk grates, and his response was to jump up and down on one extremely hard and then pretend to fall through it. For as over-the-top silly as I thought the writers made the chaos in Elsbeth’s brain, these two complement each other. They are a symphony of strange.
She puts on a lovely cranberry power suit to confront her issues with religion this week. Basically, Elfman says her oft-professed atheism will turn off voters. Alicia, annoyingly, comes across kind of naive about this. As if she’s surprised. Alicia, like it or not, this is a country full of people who really dig God. It’s a country which has a very challenging time separating Church and state, so to speak. This is not news. You cannot be this naive. OF COURSE you’re going to have trouble if you stick to that particular gun. But, she manages to skirt the line well. She doesn’t cleave to a newfound respect for Christianity, but she does say that her dogmatism has decreased and that she’s listening. “If there’s one thing that I hate, it’s when people don’t listen. I’m open,” she says delicately. Julianna Margulies does a nice thing where her voice is just a touch softer and smoother when she’s spinning these little fibs, as if Alicia is slowly sliding into politician mode — or as if Alicia is slowly creating a character she can pretend exists separately from her real self.
For the rest of the episode, she’s basically in black, or grey, or… it reads as black so let’s go with that.
She has on a brown dress when she walks into the new Florrick Agos Lockhart and pauses at the intersection of Diane’s and Will’s old offices. Diane tries to convince her not to take Will’s. “I need a fresh start,” Diane insists. Alicia won’t allow it, and slowly walks into Will’s empty room with the heaviest of hearts…
… and sits in his chair. She exhales shakily and then turns and meets Diane’s eyes across the office, the way Will used to do. They nod at each other. Cary has said he’s fine with occupying David Lee’s old space, but I’m surprised by that, unless it’s a tacit admission of defeat (and where is Taye Diggs in all this?). Installing Alicia and Diane in the offices that are the symbolic center and top-rung of the Lockhart Gardner everyone started at is basically like making them the top of the new pyramid as well. It also means Alicia is stepping into Will’s role, and Will was always the more shady one; how this ends up paralleling Alicia’s increasingly jumpy moral compass will be very interesting.
She loses some points for the obviousness of this power position: candidate, seated, gazing up at the manager who acts like her master. (Although he really isn’t her master, and he knows it, and I left him off the list this week because he was boring.)
6. God and Pastor Jeremiah
Alicia does her God Interview with Frankie Faison, who is considered politically influential, to the point where she studies tape of his conversations with other politicians (Chuck Schumer being one of them; this show is good at snagging cameos). Frankie can’t make Alicia crack, but the importance of playing to him is the entire reason she shifts her stance on religion, and he scores major points for bringing up both the death of Will Gardner and Grace’s faith. He paints her into corners she has to try and wriggle out of, and she does it with a minimum of speech, but she still does it. God’s only real objection to Frankie’s performance is his tie. It looks like a Monet of stains.
5. Baby lotion
This one is Elsbeth’s signature scent, and it drives Kyle MacLachlan bananas, to the point where he catches a whiff of it in an elevator, on an actual baby, and gets all dreamy. It’s nice that Kyle is so drawn to Elsbeth’s skin choices, but ultimately, the takeaway for Johnson & Johnson and its ilk is that liking the smell of baby lotion might make you a huge creep. That’s a tough one to market.
4. Old Spice
Once Elsbeth finds out this is Kyle’s scent, she huffs it in court to try and focus her mind. And right before the inevitable copulation of these two kooks, she murmurs, “Damn you, Old Spice.” Old Spice was not available for comment, but I’m told every time its name was mentioned, a hundred men sprouted back hair.
3. This blouse
When Kyle comes to speak to Elsbeth — he was driven to distraction in court when she mentioned having been married before — she is wearing something I imagine Chloe Sevigny sent her after Big Love ended (Elsbeth would totally be Chloe’s lawyer, for… something innocuous), while on a brief lawyering break before returning to the butter-churner.
And Kyle cannot resist it. He apparently has never met a Half-Pint he didn’t want to guzzle, so to speak.
2. Carly Rae Jepsen
When Kyle rips off her blouse, Elsbeth makes this hilarious pose right off a romance novel. It’s apt because Kyle MacLachlan DID wear a kilt on Sex and the City, like many a roguish laird before him. Let’s name their novel. Her Fifty Shades of Pastel. He Worked Pro Bono. Or maybe Corporate Sexspionage. We’ll get it. But these two actors CLEARLY had the biggest blast of all blasts filming these scenes, and it’s one of the few times I think being on a TV set would have been freaking hysterical and awesome. (The rest of the time it seems like loooong hours and lots of hurry-up-and-wait.)
BUT: back to Carly Rae Jepsen. This entire scene is set to “Call Me, Maybe.” Basically, Elsbeth discovers that song and of course it applies to her animal attraction to Kyle, and it’s playing in her office when he comes by. They have sex to it, and he can’t get it out of his head the next day. then rips off the poor sad sucker, buttons flying everywhere. So, well done, Carly, because frankly I think we’d all kind of forgotten you existed.
1. Elsbeth Tascioni
Let’s be clear: Her clothes are terrible.
I BELIEVE this jacket had flowers the rest of the way down, but it looks like cartoons from here. It’s hideous.
This blue and purple suit is chic as a bruise.
And she’s wearing that crazy-ass thing OVER the aforementioned blouse. And yet with all this inane suiting, Kyle MacLachlan is DEEPLY turned on, to the point where the mere presence of her hand near his on the table distracts him from his prosecution. So, you know, go with what’s working, Elsbeth. When the motor is running, you don’t yank out the key.
She also wins the case because, while rebuttoning a blouse that MYSTERIOUSLY still has buttons even though they all flew off when Kyle tore it open, she comes up with a plan. She predicts that Kyle will shred evidence, and so she records him doing it, because Illinois doesn’t recognize the two-party consent rule when considering whether a recording is admissible evidence. Kyle is forced to cancel his prosecution, and the woman with clown wallpaper next to her home treadmill wins the day.
And I mean, when a man sweeps your desk clean so he can drape you upon it and worship your semi-nude form, YEAH, you’re pretty high in the power rankings.