The episode opens with a shamelessly sentimental montage of a father and daughter as the daughter, Yesha, grows up: playing on the rug, going to her first day of school, planning on her education, going to prom. The father is played by Blair Underwood, who is not going to get a whole lot to do in the rest of this episode. After the prom, the little girl, now almost grown, shares a glass of chocolate milk with her father in the kitchen.
A car screeches outside, and the father leaps to the ground—but Yesha is shot in the neck. He yells to his wife to call 911 as he gathers her in his arms, both crying.
He becomes a client of Diane and Cary, not as a plaintiff but a defendant. He has put up a billboard saying that the gun shop, Gloria’s, has murdered his daughter. (Gloria happens to be played by the same actress as Dorota, from Gossip Girl, minus the thick accent, which is very unsettling—Zuzanna Szadkowski.)
She’s suing Blair Underwood to take down the sign. Her gun store has never been in trouble or broken the law, but when Cary gets up he points out that her guns have been involved in 3000 crimes. She blames the neighborhood, and Cary tries to argue that she is known as someone who sells guns to people who wouldn’t usually qualify.
Luckily for Diane and Cary, presiding at this trial is Judge Abernathy, our favorite bleeding-heart, everyone-should-donate-blood-today liberal. Though the prosecution tries to trip a contrarian wire in him by implying that he’s biased, he doesn’t go for it; he doesn’t try to pretend that he is neutral on the issue, that he doesn’t think the gun laws in this country are unfair and deadly. I like the choice of having an openly sympathetic judge for this one case, because it helps with the show’s naked and successful attempt at tugging at our heartstrings.
Diane and Cary run into a little rivalry when Cary pivots on the defense without asking Diane ahead of time, saying that “truth is an absolute defense.” Diane has Jason look into the truth issue, since they’ve been preparing for an opinion defense–and she doesn’t look particularly pleased about the pivot.
When it’s time for Blair Underwood, whose character’s name I’m obviously not going to learn, he testifies that the man who shot her is in jail, but the gun used to kill his daughter was sold by a straw buyer to Gloria’s: someone who buys a gun and sells it to someone who wouldn’t have passed a background check. Judge Abernathy is totally sympathetic to this, and can’t stop himself from saying, “I don’t blame you, sir.”
The only thing Blair’s asked while on the stand by the prosecution is the name of the person who murdered his daughter. She then argues directly to the judge that the justice system has stated that the causal connection is not valid between a gun seller and a gun murderer. Diane comes back with the opinion argument, but since those are two conflicting defenses, Abernathy is obliged to rule against her despite what he calls Gloria’s “outrageous business practices.” He’s going to hear their arguments on damages.
Diane, sounding on the verge of tears, asks if she can point out the perversity of a gun victim being asked to pay damages, and Judge Abernathy says she may, but it doesn’t change the outcome. Meanwhile, Diane reproves Cary right in front of Blair Underwood for switching to the truth defense. I don’t understand why they have a squabble right in front of their client—usually they’d be worried about a malpractice suit, no?
Gun business is booming, Lucca discovers—she’s doing associate grunt work on the case, but hasn’t been in the courtroom. So there shouldn’t be damages. But they have discovered one thing that’s down: tourism in the area. Cary points out that gun sellers are protected from damages—this is a law that hopefully everyone is familiar with, which essentially means that everyone in the gun industry is protected from being held liable for the deaths caused by the things that they sell and manufacture, which are specifically intended to cause death.
Anyway, Diane says that no one has tried getting damages for tourism. In court, she announces that she’s countersuing. The plaintiff can’t show losses, but their client, who owns a motel whose business is down, can. And since there is a law stating that the state must increase tourism, then hurting tourism is against the law. Crafty Diane points out that the courts are divided on how directly a broken law must apply to a gun business before the law protecting it stops applying, and divided court + controversial issue = possibility for a Supreme Court case to strike down some of these laws.
Blair testifies that his business is down and that more than 300 guns sold by Gloria’s have been tied to crimes within a mile of his motel. But he’s taken to task by Gloria’s lawyer: he has a lot of one-star reviews on “Bed and Plate,” a hotel review site. Abernathy is about to rule against them, but Diane gets some new information and asks for a brief recess.
Back at Lockhart Agos, Jason has gathered like eighteen zillion local business owners and tells Cary and Diane and Lucca that they can all testify business is down. Diane says she wants to use this as a “test balloon,” whatever that is. So they bring seventeen local business owners in to testify that business is down.
But first, Gloria’s side brings on the chief economist of the chamber of commerce for Chicago. She says that Chicago business is up. It looks bad—until Diane points out that their visitor numbers include traffic through the airport, even if people don’t leave the airport. “That’s not something I can confirm or deny,” the economist says. Diane points out that she should know that, and argues that other cities usually count by hotel occupancy rates while Chicago counts passersby who don’t stay overnight.
However, despite this, Judge Abernathy rules against them—and then orders Blair to take down his sign or pay ten cents per day for every day he disobeys the order. Blair gives him forty dollars, which buys him four hundred more days. “This invites chaos,” argues Gloria’s lawyer. “Your client has a very profitable business,” Judge Abernathy says passionately. “She doesn’t want to look at a victim’s face? Well that’s too bad. She’s going to have to.”
Diane hugs Blair Underwood, who really didn’t get enough to do considering he’s such a big name. The early montage was wonderful, of course, but after that it was basically a lot of sitting in court looking serious and sad. He didn’t even react to Diane and Cary squabbling about strategy right in front of him. Maybe there was some lost on the cutting room floor, because this episode has a lot of random plots taking up screen time.
On the topic of guest stars, I hear this was Judge Abernathy’s last turn on this show. Too bad! He is wonderful.
The Longest Grand Jury Hearing In the History of the World Continues
I’m not even sure this part’s worth recapping, since I feel like this plotline has been dragged out way too long and has literally nothing to do with anyone’s emotional investment in this show. But basically, Lloyd Garber’s about to testify, Eli still has a way to eavesdrop through the handicapped bathroom, blah blah blah Peter’s the worst fishcakes. Mike, who has to hand off his dog to Eli in order to get on the phone with Alicia, informs Alicia that she’s going to be dragged to the stand, and that invoking spousal privilege will make Connor look like a bully.
Eli, in the same handicap-accessible bathroom from which he was eavesdropping last week, manages to overhear some of Lloyd Garber’s testimony. “When Peter Florrick was state’s attorney, did you ever ask him to intervene in the trial of your son…” “…That has nothing to do with why I supported Peter Florrick….” He recounts a conversation where Peter told him that he had nothing to worry about, and that eventually a mistrial happened.
“Seriously?” a juror cries out. “Seriously? It just seems pretty convenient, Mr. Florrick admitting to exactly what you need him to.”
Eli gets all excited, while Connor tries to invoke the sanctity of rich people giving sworn testimony. The juror starts speaking up, saying that he doesn’t believe Lloyd Garber (god, I wish I could never hear that name again) remembers anything that clearly.
So they change strategies. When it’s time for Alicia to testify, they tell her there’s a grand jury member who’s incredulous about the case. “Where there’s one juror, others might follow,” Eli says, his voice gravelly with excitement. So in order to make use of this, Alicia needs to not invoke spousal privilege. They want her to try to speak to the juror’s doubts without seeming to, but they don’t have any suggestions on how.
This plotline could have gotten this far in about one episode’s worth of A-plot, and instead it’s been at least three so far. AND NOTHING HAS HAPPENED! This scene–where they tell Alicia to switch strategies and to answer questions to get this juror’s attention–would, in a typical Good Wife episode, have taken place in a whispered conference about four seconds long as Alicia and Eli were walking into the courtroom. Instead we’re getting two minutes of filler in the sixth-to-last episode of the show. So strange!
When Alicia shows up at the hearing, Eli is back on top of the trash can listening from the handicap-accessible bathroom. Connor is pretty confident he knows what her strategy would be, and does a ham-handed announcement that no one should judge her for invoking spousal privilege clearly designed to encourage the jurors to judge her. Alicia is very calm during all this, but when he asks his first question, about whether there was a deal with Lloyd Garber to release his son, she answers it.
“Just to be clear,” he says, dismayed, “you answered this question.” Alicia agrees with him. He explains that now she can’t invoke spousal privilege. “So… you want to answer questions,” he says.
Alicia’s duh expression is perfect as she says, “Yes… that’s why I’m here.”
After a few more questions where Alicia says Lloyd Garber has a very bad memory, she notices one of the jurors – the same one Eli overheard asking questions – giving her an intense look. She starts speaking more, knowing that this will cause Connor to try to cut her off, and just as she obviously hoped, the juror interrupts to ask to hear the rest of what she was trying to say.
Alicia goes into Lloyd Garber’s selective memory again, and Connor gets angry. “Have you ever met with that grand juror outside of this room?” Alicia gets pissed, and the juror even more so. “I have never met with her,” he yells. Connor stomps out of the courtroom and has a full-on temper tantrum, telling Mike Tascioni that he can’t be tampering with grand jurors. Mike stammers that he’s not. “Tom and I have been sitting here quietly waiting for Mrs. Florrick to exit,” he says, and the dog yelps. “Tom doesn’t like your accusation either.” Mike is funny, but I miss Elsbeth–he’s only got one quirk and she’s got a new one every week.
Alicia emerges. Mike guesses that it went well. “It was interesting,” Alicia says. Um, I think “interesting” would be a stretch, kid. “Mildly less boring than that time we watched Eli try to figure out what ‘V-lock’ means for ten minutes” might be more accurate.
The next day, Eli and Mike see Lloyd Garber in the lobby. He’s been called back for further testimony. Connor doesn’t look happy, but Mike and Eli look even less so. Eli can’t eavesdrop because a janitor’s in the restroom, though. And I guess we’ll find out more about this incredibly long hearing next week?
Grace is waiting to hear back from a college. Her guidance counselor told her that she’s not getting into the college she wanted because they think she plagiarized her essay.
So Alicia comes in to the guidance counselor’s office and finds out more: there’s a website, Genuine Thought, that checks for plagiarism. Alicia says that the essay is intensely personal (I bet! How many kids can write college essays about their fathers leaving political office to serve jail time for hiring prostitutes?), but the counselor says that the events may be unique but that the lessons kids say they’ve learned are often plagiarized.
I mean. Isn’t that literally what you’re supposed to do in a college essay? Mine some event from your life in order to describe how you learned one of approximately four college-admissions-sanctioned life lessons? Perseverance. Not judging others. Being yourself. Telling the truth. There aren’t a whole lot of sentiments that are acceptable in the narrow, specialized market of artificial optimism and humblebragging that is college admissions. How can you accuse someone of plagiarism for spouting a cliché in this situation with a straight face? Anyway, Alicia can’t get the guidance counselor to tell her what exactly Grace is accused of plagiarizing. But she tells Grace that it’s not over, because “software… makes mistakes.”
I read an article on Wired recently that argued The Good Wife is “the most tech-savvy show” on television, while we here at Adversion tend to see it as an amusingly out-of-touch show constantly wringing its hands about Sexting and Swiping and all of those things that non-millennials tend to freak out about. But jd pointed out to me that The Good Wife is not just about hand-wringing; it’s about taking new developments in technology (and by “new” I mean “about eight months old,” i.e. just old enough for boomers to have heard of them) and applying them to the world that existed before, both the legal framework—which we all know is woefully behind—and, by extension, to the moral and social interpretive framework. There isn’t a show, really, that does that. There are shows that assume texting and GPS are a thing. There are shows that seem to exist in a Wild West of a world before caller ID, where people are constantly being surprised when they pick up their cell phones and it’s their ex or their mom (hi, Gilmore Girls). But it’s unusual for a show to consider specifically, “what happens to kids when their college essays get run through a plagiarism detector, and what does that mean about how we see plagiarism (and how we treat our teenagers)?” The Good Wife exists in an uncomfortable place between those two extremes, people who already understand the new world and people who haven’t even entirely figured out what the internet is, and tries to interpret one side for the other. So that is pretty cool. And obviously I think that Robert and Michelle King, being brilliant, are excellent choices for inter-world interpretors. But… I’m still going to laugh when characters say in portentous voices, “Software makes mistakes.”
Alicia hires Jason to look into Genuine Thought. He tells her that the software designers acknowledge they’ve had problems with false positives, such as flagging cliched phrases like “according to conventional wisdom” as plagiarism. She thanks him and then confirms that she could submit something to them herself.
She takes the results to a meeting with admissions at the college: a weak-looking, long-haired man and a well-coiffed, strong-willed woman who says that they can’t reveal the results because of confidentiality. “If there’s anyone you should be worried about, it’s a lawyer,” Alicia says. “And if there’s anyone you should be worried about not intimidating, it’s a college admissions officer,” retorts the woman. The man tries to cut the meeting short, but the women ignore him. Alicia reveals that what’s been flagged in Grace’s essay is a passage from the Sermon on the Mount and asks if they want it to be revealed that they didn’t give her admittance because they couldn’t identify the Sermon on the Mount. The admissions woman gets up and leaves. “I think we should leave it at that,” says the man. “Oh, like hell,” says Alicia.
Later she comes back and reveals that Genuine Thought doesn’t have the IP rights to the other essays they use to cross-reference for plagiarism. “So you’re subject to suit too,” she says. She’s going to subject them to a class-action suit. The admissions officers are obviously defeated, and when Grace gets out in the hall she announces she’s decided what to do with her life: the law. Like Alicia. So that she can threaten her enemies until they give her her way, I guess!
Jason, in a cheery mood, teases Lucca for being unhappy. She wants an office, and he tells her to take some empty one across the way. Alicia walks in on this and joins right in on Jason’s bit, grinning at the idea of Lucca just waltzing in and claiming an empty office. Lucca makes a long-suffering face that perfectly expresses, “Well I’m not getting laid and I’m not a partner, so why don’t you stop rubbing your post-coital glow and your superior power in my face.” When she has to go, she tells Jason, “Don’t move me,” worried that he’ll get her in trouble by moving her without her permission.
That does seem like the kind of thing Jason would do.
“She’s not happy, is she?” Alicia says ruefully.
Later, Alicia meets up with Diane for martinis—well, Diane has a martini, and Alicia has water. She’s trying to go easier, she says.
“Have you given it more thought?” Diane asks.
“An all-female firm?”
“All-female name partners,” Diane corrects patiently for the eight thousandth time.
Alicia is reluctant to hurt Cary, but Diane says she’s just going to try to buy him out, and that Cary and David are already plotting against her. Female vocals chorus in the background as Alicia thinks this over and finally gives a little speech about how Lucca is being treated poorly and is one of the best lawyers at the firm. “I want to be at a firm that recognizes talent,” she says.
So Diane promises to look into it, and the next day she gives the redirect on Blair Underwood to Lucca. “What? Why?” Cary says, alarmed. Diane says she wants to encourage her. Cary is alarmed. The wimmenfolks is plotting!
When Lucca gets back from court, she finds her stuff has all been moved and immediately yells at Jason. “I can’t just take an office!” she says. He tells her it was Diane, but Lucca looks unconvinced. “Congratulations,” Jason says. Lucca smiles and decides to go with it. “Thank you,” she says.
Later, Alicia kids Lucca that she thinks Lucca’s office has more square footage than her own. They joke about how the other associates resent Lucca. Then Cary comes by and asks Alicia again about Diane approaching her. He even references their time together as associates, which would have totally melted my heart but has no effect on Alicia’s. Alicia gives Lucca a look. “No, she didn’t,” she says convincingly. Cary gives her a resigned smile. I very much doubt he believes her.
When Jason gets the call from Diane to investigate the “truth” defense, he’s in bed with Alicia. She insists on kissing his neck while he takes the call, and he has to cover the mouthpiece to tell her to grow up. She giggles. He giggles. Such hijinx! Such funny SexShenanigans! Eyeroll. Alicia gets a call too, and has to take it from the opposite side of whatever room they’re defiling with their weird affair. When she’s practicing her invocation of spousal privilege, Jason comes over and kisses her neck. Both of them do actually need to grow up.
Later, out with Diane for drinks, Alicia’s eyes light up when she sees Jason show up at the door. She gets up to go say hi to him, but just then he kisses a thirty-something blonde woman deeply on the mouth. Alicia’s mouth falls open; she turns aside. “Everybody hurts,” a woman’s voice croons in the background. I mean, yeah. Especially if you always go for selfish, charming guys who think they have a god-given right to every pretty girl who walks their way (and by always I really just mean Peter and now Jason; Finn, Johnny, and Will obviously don’t apply here).
Later, Alicia’s sucking down tequila in her kitchen with Lucca, who tries feebly to convince her that this was just some old flame Jason was hanging out with. “I have issues on this front,” Alicia sighs. “Husbands who screw around, who lie, who leave me in tears.”
But Lucca points out that she’s not in tears. Alicia gives her a tequila-infused smile and says that something’s changed: maturity and cynicism. “You expect the worst in people, you’ll never be disappointed,” Lucca says.
“You think this is the worst in Jason?” Alicia asks. Uh, no, I think beating people up with his big stick is probably the worst thing Jason does. Sleeping around is like, middle of the scale.
Lucca makes a different point, though: he never promised Alicia anything. Alicia admits that he didn’t, but that she was becoming invested. It’s strange for a woman her age to assume a man like Jason is going to be monogamous without some discussion about it, though. Alicia doesn’t want to be another face in his harem, but Lucca counsels her to have fun, and when it stops being fun, to say good-bye.
“This isn’t who I am,” Alicia protests with a grin. But Lucca says, “No one knows who they are.” And that’s doubly, triply, quadruply true for Alicia, who has always fought fiercely not to know her innermost desires so that she would not have to reconcile them with her idealistic notions of her own life. Maybe Lucca gets that, but I doubt it; their friendship has not really extended beneath the surface, except for that one super weird time in the laundry room.
Anyway, she tells Alicia to talk to Jason, and that he likes her. When Jason shows up at her office and asks if they’re still on for some plan they made, she says she needs to get back to him. “Everything is normal here, right?” he asks a little nervously. “OK, so then we’ll just reschedule lunch.”
Later, Lucca calls Jason into her brand-new office. She asks him about the woman he was with. “This seems like a subject that we don’t usually delve into,” he protests. But Lucca presses him. “Alicia saw you.” His smile falls a little, and he looks out towards Alicia’s office. “What did she see?” he asks. “You kissing this woman,” Lucca says, a little reprovingly.
“Was Alicia upset?” Jason asks, looking actually worried and maybe even a little sad. Lucca reassures him sarcastically, “You’re not married.” So she asks him what he’s going to do. “I don’t know,” he says, looking, again, genuinely sad. I mean… seems like the obvious answer would be to stop sleeping with other women, no? Anyway, Jason’s suckiness is somewhat lessened by the fact that he’s finally showing some semblance of giving a shit about Alicia. To be clear, I don’t think you have to be monogamous to give a shit about someone, and his sleeping around shouldn’t have surprised Alicia, who’s freaking married anyway, as she’ll realize later; but his MO has been not only to be sketchy but to be smugly sketchy, and seeing that smugness punctured a little makes me like him a lot more.
That night, Alicia’s eating pizza standing up in her kitchen when Jason comes over. “That is the saddest piece of pizza I’ve ever seen,” he says gently. She compares it to Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree and admits, “I’m not even hungry.”
Jason hesitates then says, “I think that I’ve offended you. I met an old friend…” She stops him. “I’m an adult,” she says. “I know it may not look like that from this pizza, but I am. I know that we have not committed to each other.” He tries again, but she interrupts again and says she’s fine and thrilled that he stopped by and doesn’t need a profession of faith.
“I am married. If anyone should be explaining, it should be me,” she says seriously. He takes off his glasses, looking relieved. “So I came here with this plan and now I… I don’t know what I should do,” he says. Alicia, not looking quite as happy as him, tells him to come around the island and kiss her. Music starts playing. “What if I’m jealous of your husband?” he whispers to Alicia. She tells him not to be and then says Grace will be home in forty-five minutes.
I guess maybe this thing is going to be serious? I don’t know. I prefer for it to remain a thing where Alicia figures out how to enjoy herself, and to admit she’s enjoying herself, without turning it into either wedding vows, or into some sort of guilt-inducing sin she needs to punish herself for.
Later, they go out to celebrate Lucca’s “promotion,” and as soon as Lucca gets up to get chips, Alicia starts talking dirty in Jason’s ear and unzipping his pants. Are they sixteen? They can’t wait till they’re at least not out with a third wheel before groping each other in public? I think Lucca’s going to majorly regret brokering peace between the two when she comes back with the chips and finds her friends too busy rounding third base to celebrate her success.
Please excuse me. I am going to go stab my eyes out with one of Alicia’s enviable collarbones.