This week’s The Good Wife made me kind of disappointed, as entertaining as it was. Why did it seem like Alicia was making so many incredibly obvious mistakes? Did this bother you?
On the other hand, a healthy dose of Stockard Channing in top form and a couple of fabulous Diane scenes may have more than made up for it.
Generational Post-Feminist Respect
Eli and Ruth’s rivalry continues to simmer. She tells him a meeting was at 10:30 when it was at 10 (someone’s been taking a page out of Paris Geller’s book of Mean Things To Do To People). Ruth also shows Eli his new office: a teeny-tiny box where the door hits the desk every time it opens. Every time someone else remarks on it, Eli acts blithely like it just needs a little cosmetic work.
Ruth wants Alicia and Veronica to appear on a cooking show: Mama’s Homespun Cooking. Of course as soon as she says this, Eli is utterly incredulous: “You want Alicia… and Veronica… to do a cooking show?” “Generational post-feminist respect,” Ruth says nonsensically. Even from Eli’s reaction, she doesn’t really get what a bad idea this is—which is all the better for Eli’s plan.
Just like Eli, Veronica bursts out laughing when she hears this idea, but says, “Oh, I wouldn’t miss that for the world.” So she and Alicia appear on this terrible show which revolves around mothers teaching their daughters to cook their favorite recipes—and then the daughters cook those recipes for their families. While they’re in makeup and Veronica starts getting a little inappropriate, Alicia asks if she’s been drinking, and says she smells wine on her breath. Veronica is like, oh, that. “I had some wine at lunch, I haven’t been drinking.”
Oh, Veronica. I feel you.
This all ends up even worse than you’d expect. The host of the show tries to smooth it over when Veronica announces that her go-to meal is delivered pizza, by saying, “Well, there’s nothing wrong with that, is there. Every once in awhile,” through gritted teeth. But soon enough Alicia and Veronica are flat-out fighting about why Veronica hasn’t been around (Alicia didn’t call) and why Alicia didn’t call (Alicia didn’t know where Veronica was), and the host is freaking out. [Janes: But again in a hilarious Stepford kind of way; I cracked up when she was like, “So let’s talk about this LASAGNA!”] Ruth is buzzing Eli’s cell phone, but he just holds it and grins. No one has dimples as devilish as Eli’s.
Later, Ruth accuses Eli of telling Veronica to sabotage everything, but he says that if she had worked with Alicia long enough, she’d have foreseen this outcome. I sort of agree there. It’s like she’s never even seen a Stockard Channing movie!
Analogs and Synthetics
At bond court, the same old judge (his name, as it turns out, is Schakowsky) assigns Alicia to a drug manufacturer, Roland, and Lucca to his dealer. Roland—a small, nervous man in a hoodie—is a talker, so Alicia has a hard time getting him bail. But the ASA offers them a plea: one year to whoever pleads guilty first, twenty-five years for the other.
Alicia’s first response is that they won’t turn on each other; her second response is, like Lucca, to sprint over to her client and work on him. But the conversation is derailed by his explanation that he manufactured not GHB but a replacement GHB with a less destructive high. He calls it “Snowball Cheese.” Or possibly Snowball Chi. It was kind of hard for me to tell. Roland’s a mumbler.
Alicia convinces Lucca not to plead, because it isn’t technically a controlled substance. “It contains no illegal attributes?” Alicia asks a scientist. He says no: it’s not ionic. Um, I’m no chemist, but I have my doubts that electronegativity can be an “illegal attribute.” Alicia tries to claim that Roland’s drug is Coke to GHB’s Pepsi. They are almost immediately defeated because “analog” substances are also against the law. But! Lucca has thought of a thing that will get them out, which in no way sounds like it would really work: the “Catch-22 defense.” Basically, you can only be guilty of manufacturing and dealing an analog substance if you meant to make the analog substance, and you can only be guilty of manufacturing and dealing a controlled substance if you actually made that controlled substance. Are there lawyers consulting on this show still? I’m honestly curious. [Janes: I don’t know, that seems like exactly the kind of idiotic technicality that would actually exist in our legal system.]
So Alicia goes to her client with this new strategy and carefully enunciates all of this information. If he meant to make GHB but failed, he’s fine; if he didn’t, he could get in trouble. With that in mind, what would he say the truth is, exactly? [Janes: Confirmed with our lawyer parents that this is definitely suborning perjury. She can’t claim plausible deniability just because he hasn’t testified to his knowledge yet; she has to literally have no evidence that he’s lying in order to put him on the stand. She could get disbarred for that.] Cut to bond court, where he’s on the stand insisting that he meant to make GHB. The prosecution pokes holes in this with ease. When the judge catches onto the defense, though, he calls it “a little cute.” But the ASA easily manipulates Roland into admitting he was trying to make something better than GHB. Roland’s going to trial. But Grace has discovered that he didn’t really go to Stanford. And she used facial recognition software to find a picture of him hanging out with FBI agents.
Alicia, impressed: You did all that?
Grace, bragging: I know!!
Grace: …Zach helped.
Grace is so SAD. However, this sends Alicia back in to threaten to quit. She can’t, though, because Roland is totally aware that Alicia got him to lie, and he blackmails her. This never would have happened to Season One Alicia. So she runs to Eli, nervous that her client is trying to entrap her somehow, since she suspects him of being FBI. She says slowly, “As part of his defense, I was walking him through a few different case scenarios. I explained the implications of each, and I let him decide how he wanted to testify.” Eli is like, cut the crap: “Is that a lawyerly way of saying you helped him lie?” Heh. Watching this scene the first time, I was thinking, “Does the client lying to the lawyer somehow negate attorney-client privilege?” Answer: I don’t think it does. I think Alicia is majorly fucking up here. [Janes: No, it does! There’s no attorney-client privilege when a fraud is being committed, so she’s in the clear… Except for the fraud part.] Anyway, Eli asks her to think about whether the strategy was her own or whether someone else suggested getting him to lie. Alicia: “It wasn’t a lie!” Eli practically rolls his eyes. Meanwhile, Alicia realizes it was Lucca.
So when Lucca shows up at the door all businesslike and ready to talk strategy, Alicia says they should separate their cases. Lucca is like, “Screw you.” Alicia tries to disobey Roland and plead guilty, and he has to request a recess and explain to her that yes, it is a sting. (Another thing that never would have happened to Season One Alicia: when she finds out her client is secretly FBI, she immediately asks if it’s a sting of her—and she has good reason to think the FBI could be after her, what with two voting scandals in her recent past, Lemond Bishop, etc.) He thinks the judge, Schakowsky, takes bribes. Alicia has to help him.
When Eli shows up to reassure Alicia, too late, that the FBI isn’t after her, she’s all, no, of course not, they’re after Schakowsky. That’s an even bigger fuckup, and that should be obvious to anyone watching. So we see a friend of the judge’s slimily asking him to let Roland off the hook and offering to make it “worth [his] while”—but when Alicia moves to dismiss as planned, the judge denies her motion. Roland is furious and fires Alicia, thinking she leaked, which she denies. Later, in bond court, the judge rewards Alicia with like twenty cases to Lucca’s four—although Alicia doesn’t seem to get it, simply kissing up to Lucca by offering her half the pile. Finally, we see Schakowsky thanking Eli for tipping him off. He makes lame noises about how he totally wouldn’t have taken that bribe, nosirree, but it’s definitely nice that Eli warned him, and he owes Eli one. So Eli asks for help with Frank Landau (the Democratic party guy).
Oh Alicia. You are usually so crafty. What happened?
Howard and Jackie: Elderly Romance of the Century
Howard is waiting for Alicia in her “office.” He likes her coasters. “Big fan of Lincoln,” he says. Alicia is like, “It’s George Bernard Shaw.” Turns out Howard needs a lawyer, saying that Cary’s trying to push him out. Alicia points out that he doesn’t exactly bill all those hours himself. “Whose side are you on, anyway?” says Howard presumptuously. Alicia doesn’t really agree to represent him but advises him that he can’t give them a reason to fire him, so he has to actually do his job and stuff. She also says for him to keep a journal about anything people say to him that points to a pattern of discrimination.
Howard, on his way out from his meeting, meets Jackie with an armful of photos (Alicia ran into Grace and Jackie earlier and Jackie was in fine Jackie form, saying things like, “Don’t worry, dear, most babies are unattractive,” and “You look so stern in these pictures, Alicia,” while Grace was being typically weird Grace, declaring of a picture of herself at, maybe, eighteen months that she was “a cow”). Howard and Jackie squish into the elevator together, and he asks her if she was a singer. Jackie looks alarmed, and declares him a flirt.
At the next partner meeting, Howard takes Alicia’s advice to heart. When he gives an unusually lucid update in a partner meeting and Cary quips, “Someone had a good nap,” he forces Cary to repeat it and ostentatiously writes it in a journal. Then, apparently reinvigorated, he asks Jackie out to dinner and compliments her within an inch of her life until she starts declaring how happy she is, crying from joy, and making out with him. With Howard Lyman. This lady must be very lonely. In the end, the magical powers of Howard’s kisses even convince Jackie to get him a client: the food service union, $33 million in billing a year. (He drops the suit, but it’s too late; the partners have found out Alicia was helping him. More on that in a sec.)
Diane the “Mento”
Diane is interested in mentoring a young, chin-dimpled blonde summer intern. She explains the generous terms of her mentorship, and the intern immediately asks about extra hours, and explains that she has a boyfriend. Diane whips off her glasses in a very Diane-like “Are you fucking serious?” way, but the intern obliviously keeps nattering on about her past relationships.
When Diane complains to Cary, Cary simply talks about work-life balance and even says, “I think every outgoing generation of lawyers looks at the incoming crop and thinks they’re not worthy.” Um, how old does he think she is? But Diane doesn’t even take offense at “outgoing”; she’s too intent on missing her perfect ex-mentee, Alicia. At the next partner meeting, she advocates for sending their extra cases to Alicia to help her out and neutralize her as an enemy.
But Diane obviously has an ulterior motive, given the disappointment with her intern. She visits Alicia to tell her she wants to give her extra cases, and is so excited to be talking to her favorite mentee that she doesn’t even laugh when Grace declares ostentatiously, “There’s a lot of calls, but I’ll hold them, Mrs. Florrick.” Business talk done, Diane lingers, hoping for a more personal conversation: asking how Alicia is, and hinting, “Big firms aren’t what they used to be.” Don’t tell me you’re thinking of making another move, Diane! These characters’ LinkedIn profiles must be hilarious: just an infinite series of short stints at firms named after various configurations of the names Lockhart, Florrick, Agos, Lee, and Canning. [Janes: And Gardner. Boo-hoo.] But they’re interrupted before Diane can work up to whatever she’s working up to, and soon Diane and the partners find out that Howard is working with Alicia on his ageism suit. Diane is righteously furious and confronts Alicia in her home office, her voice trembling with tears: “You accepted my generous offer, all the while actively trying to betray me.” Alicia tries to explain, but Diane leaves in high dudgeon.
I could never be Alicia, guys. Betrayed Will is terrifying and betrayed Diane is simply devastating. I don’t know how Alicia stands these conversations. I would just be following her out to the elevator like, “PLEASE BE MY REPLACEMENT MOMMY!”