We ended last week’s episode on what was supposedly a cliffhanger, but if you were looking forward to seeing the resolution of that big question (will Alicia wait to divorce Peter till after his legal troubles are over) happen onscreen, you’ll be disappointed.
That said, this episode finally zoomed up to full speed and delivered a whole bunch of major plot developments. I also had the privilege of seeing this screened with a large and very engaged audience at the Tribeca Film Festival (my write-up is here), which made it really fun.
The Goofballs Return
In the Toronto airport, our old friend Jeff Dellinger is on the phone consulting one of the other goofballs he used to work with at the NSA (the one who loves goats). Do they not realize how dumb this is? Apparently not, since Goofball Friend assures Dellinger that he isn’t on the watch list anymore. Of course this is false; as soon as they start speaking, two more NSA agents, who still apparently have jobs—one mousy-looking one that has been on the show before, and a new one, perk up. Apparently these two also love viral videos about goats. Don’t they know that’s so last year?
After getting progressively more nervous and giving the US Border Patrol officers a nervous glance that would alert even the dumbest cop that something’s up, Dellinger backs off from the customs agent and crosses the yellow line back out of the customs area. The camera lingers on the yellow line for a long time, so you know it’s a big deal.
Sure enough, when the Big Bad US Border Officers come and try to manhandle him for questioning, the Kindly Elderly Canadian Officers protect him—as long as he’s back on their side of the yellow line. (At one point the US officer says, “that’s easily fixed,” and tries to physically pull him back over. Uh, that’s definitely not legal—right?)
He calls Alicia for help, and Alicia brings Lucca. They start talking about how it’s clean in Canada, which becomes an odd recurring joke in this episode. It’s sort of Gilmore Girls style, where everyone says the same thing over and over again and somehow it adds up to a joke. (It only rarely worked on that show, either, to be honest.) An NSA officer has come in to represent the US, but he assures them that this isn’t about Dellinger’s work with the NSA. No, it’s simply about who holds jurisdiction over the “pre-clearance area.” I’m so sure. Alicia calls Diane for help, but Diane says Cary knew the most about international law—and in his absence, Jason might also be a help.
Alicia calls Jason. She tells him that Canada is clean. He tells her that Dellinger can only be detained by the US if he made a false or deceptive statement to a customs officer. Of course, the NSA guys are like “HOORAY ALICIA IS INVOLVED” and ask their boss if they can listen in on her conversation about trial strategy with the investigator she’s sleeping with. Oh Lord. The New Goofball asks if he can be involved, but he’s not needed. “How are your tax accountants?” says Mousy Goofball, rubbing it in. Anyway, Dellinger’s kept overnight, and Lucca stays to handle it, so Alicia can go home to deal with her multitude of personal issues.
The justice turns out to be named Nora Valentine, and she pronounces it “aboot,” which made the audience laugh really hard, because accents are funny! To up the quirk factor of the fact that this takes place in (gasp!) Canada, their hearing is in the airport and is constantly interrupted by intercom announcements about smoking areas and baggage. She advises everyone to “leave the land of guns and gangs behind us, shall we, and not interrupt each other,” and to call her “Your Worship” instead of “Your Honor.” Everyone keeps acting like this title is SUPER WEIRD, like they’ve never heard of other countries having other etiquette rules and customs.
Alicia arrives at the last minute to defend Dellinger, saying he never lied to a customs officer. The US officer gets the customs officer to tell a bald-faced lie, saying that Dellinger answered one of her questions. Alicia asks for a moment and is about to make a call when Dellinger is obliged to tell her not to take that chance. “Uh-oh,” says Mousy Goofball at the NSA, since he can hear this whole thing.
The justice rules in favor of Dellinger after Alicia and Lucca show a video that clearly shows he had no time to say anything to the customs officer, let alone to lie. But he’s arrested as soon as she declares this. Alicia protests that they obviously detained him “on a trumped-up pretext to give them time to get a trumped-up warrant.” Nora Valentine is about to rule in favor of the US—since they need only show enough evidence to go to trial—but gives Alicia and Lucca the chance to bring additional evidence. She also goes on a little tangent insulting the US officer—“I’m only remarking now as a Canadian citizen—it would be better if our neighbors from the South would try to emulate the freedoms we enjoy here. With no surveillance. And with our superior health care system.” This got a big cheer from the audience, too, and deservedly, even if it was cheesy.
Alicia brings in the Goofball Friend who was helping Dellinger to start with. When he arrives, he greets Alicia exuberantly: “Well! You look taller than I thought. How is Zack doing? And Grace? Has she picked a college yet?” Alicia asks if they’ve met, and he says jubilantly that this is the first time. For some reason, she’s still shocked later when she realizes that the NSA is listening to her phone.
Anyway, things start looking up for Dellinger. Goofball Friends testifies that the flash drive was not classified when he brought it home and that he was being scapegoated. Alicia also gets testimony that the person who is accusing him of espionage was fired—and that Dellinger played a role in his firing. They play a recording of someone named Hopkins (I guess that’s the name of the friend) telling Dellinger about Massoud Tahan, the man convicted by the secret panel Alicia was on. And it turns out Dellinger sent the info to WikiLeaks.
Alicia’s horrified, because her military friend Captain Hicks was accused of being the leak and kicked off the panel. ”People have a right to know what America’s doing in the name of national security,” Dellinger insists, but she tells him not to play the idealist with her since someone else got in trouble for that. Then she brings the NSA officer outside and hisses that someone else got in trouble for that, and that they can’t blame Captain Hicks and Jeff Dellinger for the same leak. But he says that she can’t even talk about this, or she’ll face an espionage charge.
But Alicia isn’t cowed. She starts interrogating Hopkins on how he found out about the assassination. The NSA officer insists this is a national security matter, but Nora Valentine snarks, “Everything in America is a national security matter.” He can’t use the recording unless he opens this up to questioning. So Hopkins has to admit that he found out because he had turned Alicia’s phone into a hot mic. Alicia is shocked. Shocked! “They’ve been listening to me for months,” she says. “To everything. To Jason!” Of course that’s what she thinks of first.
But she’s also happy because the judge is on their side now. Priorities realigned! Lucca says, “I’m thinking our client is guilty.” Alicia’s like, so? Lots of clients are. Lucca insists, “He went to WikiLeaks about a military action. That to me, is treason. Is it not to you?” I think Lucca did not realize how much of a cold cookie Alicia can be until this moment. (And I say “cold cookie” with the utmost admiration.)
When they get back to the hearing, there’s a mysterious man watching from the balcony above. Nora Valentine announces that the extradition is approved, causing Dellinger to throw his head in his hands—but Alicia comes up with another motion: asking for asylum for Dellinger. She has not consulted her client about this at all, apparently, since she has to check that he’d be willing to live in Canada before making the motion. Nora Valentine takes it under advisement. Alicia asks Dellinger who the man up there is: he’s from the CSE, which is the Canadian NSA.
Just before the final ruling, Lucca has a new idea and she tells Alicia over the phone. Dellinger knows the ins and outs of the NSA, and that is why the NSA is trying so hard to get him back. Of course, the NSA is totally listening to this.
Meanwhile, two other white twenty-something men are goofing off when they realize they’ve just been mentioned. They’re the CSE! It’s kind of funny to see the parallels. But jeez, doesn’t our government hire anyone of any other ethnic group to do its spying?
Nora Valentine grants Dellinger’s request for asylum. Dellinger is shocked. “You’re a valuable asset. The Canadians want you for themselves,” Lucca tells him. The CSE guy comes up and asks Dellinger for a word. Dellinger’s wide-eyed face has a very “Oh shit” expression on it; poor guy is going to live and die as a pawn in a very large game.
So I guess Lucca was talking to Alicia about this on purpose to give the Canadians the idea of keeping Dellinger for themselves? But that wouldn’t explain why CSE guy was listening in on the hearing before this phone call, so maybe Lucca’s just a dummy who didn’t realize calling Alicia about the case was not a good idea. Unclear.
Go Fuck Yourself
Diane and Kurt are hanging out in Diane’s frighteningly elegant sage-green-and-gold bedroom (or a hotel?) when he says they should talk. He says that they barely see each other, and she, thinking he’s criticizing her, pleads that it’s just their careers. Oh no! You can’t break up Diane and Kurt—someone on this damn show needs happiness! But then he says that he wants to sell his business and move in with her full-time. Diane loses it (playfully) and shoves him and says she thought he wanted a divorce. When he says he doesn’t, she says, “Well, did you tell your face?” Hee. She chases him to the bed, chiding him that “You can’t use the same expression for everything!” Can someone send that memo to Jason please? She pushes him onto the bed, but they clash teeth before they can get too far down that path. He asks her to review the contract on his offer. Let’s just say Diane finds this prospect very exciting.
She brings in David Lee to help her with the review, and they realize Kurt’s been undervaluing his company. Diane says Kurt might not know or he might want to get out fast to live his life. David makes a face like, “I’ve never heard of that.” He tells Diane to tell Kurt what they’ve found, but Diane says, “He’s a proud man. He doesn’t want his wife telling him he’s undervaluing himself.”
I’M SORRY. WHAT? WHY THE HELL WOULD HE HAVE ASKED HER TO REVIEW THE PAPERS IF THIS WAS TRUE? Is this really the second-wave feminist Diane of seasons past? She’s going to avoid telling her husband what she’s found in her capacity as the reviewer of his offer, because his pride would be offended if he got financial advice from his extraordinarily successful, wealthy wife? This makes me so angry.
It also makes me angry that now I have to recap a plotline where Diane was on the whole quite funny and entertaining but her behavior hinged on the notion that, while Kurt’s masculinity would be threatened by getting advice from his wife that he already asked for, it wouldn’t be threatened by her going behind his back to negotiate with his buyer. But this is the conclusion to which Diane, inexplicably, comes.
They meet with the buyer, PGT Ballistics, which turns out to be just a single woman named Holly Westfeldt. She is about twenty-nine and has a tight dress, huge boobs, and perfect blonde hair. She says the name gives her more “gravitas,” and then explains laughingly that she’s a “friendly competitor” of Kurt’s and was once his favorite student. Diane is extremely, visibly perturbed. David offers to take the meeting, but Diane’s like “NO! LET’S ALL SIT DOWN!”
“I like your necklace. I have one just like it but smaller,” Holly gushes as soon as they sit down. Diane gives her the eyebrow lift of doom, but Holly doesn’t care. She launches into a whole story that isn’t relevant to the questions Diane’s asking, and basically just makes it clear that she and Kurt have been hanging out—and flirting—at gun shows, and that’s how this sale happened. “Miss Westfeldt, you’re very charming, I’m sure, but unless you can pay thirty percent more, we’re not selling,” Diane says. When Holly says they already had a deal, Diane suggests that she go fuck herself. For the sake of the network censors, the camera cuts away in the middle of that second word to a shot of Holly stalking enraged down the hall.
Left alone with Diane, David’s like, “Ummmmmmm…” and Diane just stares into the distance, furious.
I also object to the notion that Diane would get prickly as soon as she meets an attractive blonde woman who’s doing business with her husband. What is she, Jackie Florrick? It’s just weird. Yes, Kurt has a history of hanging out by the fireside with pretty young things, but I think part of being a good feminist is assuming that a woman who’s at the table of your business meeting is there because of her business acumen until you have a reason to think otherwise. Diane, on the other hand, was fuming the second Holly walked in. COME ON, DIANE.
That night, though, she makes up for all the ways she’s disappointed me today. She tells Kurt coolly, “I have faults. I’m easily mesmerized by people who use multi-syllabled words, and um, men who can discuss Tolstoy.” She gives him a cute little faux-embarrassed look. Then she segues into her real point: “I tell you this so that we can now discuss your failings.” Hee! She tells him calmly, “You are easily swayed by pretty young blonde Republicans.”
Kurt says that he already shook on his sale. “Yes, well that means nothing to me,” Diane says. She explains he’s undervalued his company and that she wants to sell it for its real value. She promises she’ll put half a million aside for him to use to hire Republican strippers. I don’t see how this solves the problem, but whatever. He argues that she’s the top ballistics expert in the county. “Yes, and she dresses like one,” Diane says acidly. Um, I call sexism on that too. Especially because her dress, while tight, totally could have been appropriate for a business meeting. Especially on TV, where people wear much more curve-hugging stuff to their meetings on a daily basis.
The next day, though, when Kurt comes to her office, she apologizes and says she recognizes it’s his business and he can sell it however he wants. He tells her he’ll look for another buyer because he loves her. “You make me happy, Kurt,” she says with tears in her eyes. Well, at least they didn’t break up and Diane is hilarious. You win some you lose some.
The Big D
It’s time for Alicia to tell Jason about the divorce (after we sit through more of their post-coital nattering, of course). She gives him a long awkward “preamble” about how her news has nothing to do with him and she was going to do it anyway (um, was she? She’s had seven seasons to do it, as Jason will point out soon enough): she’s getting divorced. She says she doesn’t want him to think that she’s, “you know… expecting something from this.” When you’re dating someone who thinks he’s hot shit, I guess you have to spend a lot of time reassuring him that you’re not going to act all girly and fall in love with him. Jason looks a little perturbed, though he doesn’t say much, surprise surprise.
Before she can leave Jason behind to go to Canada, Alicia gets a call from Eli to alert her that Peter’s going to be arrested. Eli’s freaking out in that beautifully unhinged way he has. Eli, Michael Tascioni, and Michael Tascioni’s dog are meeting with Connor Fox to negotiate a later arrest so that Peter can, supposedly, attend a homeland security meeting—and to negotiate where the handcuffs get placed. Michael wants them in front so they can be hidden with a suit jacket. “I’m executing an arrest warrant, not stage-managing a TV event,” eye-rolls Connor Fox. Eli mentions the “dignity of the office.” Uh, I think the best way to preserve the dignity of any office is not to elect an incorrigible criminal to it, but I guess it’s too late for that.
Alicia spends much of the day freaking out about Jason. She tries to get information out of Lucca, even though Lucca has not had a chance to talk to Jason since the divorce revelation. Lucca looks not exactly thrilled to be used as a go-between, but she’s too nice to protest.
At the apartment, Alicia arrives home to find Peter in the middle of a meeting with Michael and Eli. Michael has one word for Peter to say: “witch hunt.” When Eli tells her to come in, she says drily, “To my house?” He explains that there are cameras outside of Peter’s house. She says Canada is clean. She offers everyone some tequila, which Peter accepts. Does this mean that as soon as Jason stops paying as much attention to her, she started drinking? Anyway, Michael asks about having the kids at the press conference. Eli’s shocked: she doesn’t mind? “No, should I?” Alicia says calmly, sipping her tequila. After all, she barely likes them, right? Why bother trying to protect them from the press now?! (I wonder if the point is that Alicia never really wanted to protect them, if it was more that she wanted to avoid the humiliation to herself—or she wanted to appear like a “good,” protective mother.) But the reason she gives is that their dad is in trouble. And I guess I buy it. When a family member’s in trouble, you rally—that’s always been Alicia’s code.
The doorbell rings, and Alicia goes to answer it. It’s Connor Fox, here with a team of like eighteen officers to arrest Peter. “He wants to embarrass you by dragging you out in your shirtsleeves,” Eli growls, and then notes that there are TV cameras outside. I guess Connor does want to orchestrate a TV appearance after all! When Connor calls Peter “Mr. Florrick,” Eli gets all mama-bear on him: “It’s Governor Florrick, you son-of-a-bitch.” Oh, Eli! How I’ll miss you when this show ends. Anyway, Connor cuffs him, and you can see Alicia’s mind working as Peter’s hands are planted on the table in front of him so he can be searched. She dashes to the closet and grabs a tie and suit jacket for Peter. Then she puts the tie on his neck, the jacket over his hand. “You will not embarrass my husband,” she tells Connor. He thanks her softly, and she promises they’ll handle this.
I really liked this scene. It shows that for all her sudden emancipation, Alicia still has a certain code of loyalty and WASP-y regard for appearances at the core of her character. She might be pissed off at Peter, but she’s not going to let him be humiliated. I’m sure it is partly for the good of Grace and the much-missed Zach. But it’s also because she and Peter are intertwined, despite their estrangement, and she feels a responsibility to protect him. I liked it. As long as it doesn’t get in the way of the divorce!
Even better, they’ve changed the credits to reflect this new arrest, with Alicia accompanying Peter as he’s arrested the second time. Love it!
Later Eli and Michael watch the footage of the arrest. In various snippets watched by these and other characters (including David and Diane, who wonder aloud if the publicity of Peter’s arrest is going to hurt or help them), you can hear Alicia saying “witch hunt” just as promptly as Michael could have wanted. Michael’s hiring an investigator, which of course turns out to be Jason. Jason is a little hesitant and asks Michael to ask Peter first, but Michael insists he has discretion.
Jason comes to see Cary at a restaurant. Cary’s suited up, and has only agreed to meet Jason because it’s not about the firm. Cary explains that the theory was that Locke was being two-timed and got jealous, and that they would’ve gotten the conviction if the bullets hadn’t gone missing. Cary says, “Some people blame the lead prosecutor, I blame the crime lab. … Probably just sloppy. Incompetent.” When the bullets couldn’t be found, the judge declared a mistrial, and jeopardy was already attached. Jason argues that if someone was trying to bribe anyone, they would have “leaned on” the lead prosecutor—i.e. Peter.
Cary says, “People change. I think I know people, even well…” and he shrugs cryptically—but he won’t say who he’s really talking about. Jason smiles inappropriately, as usual, as if Cary’s said something hilarious. But he asks Cary before he leaves if Peter Florrick has any reason to be concerned about him. “Only if he has reason to be concerned about the truth,” Cary says.
Jason reports all this to Michael, but when Eli figures out they’re meeting, he tells Michael they have to stop working with Jason. Michael doesn’t understand why: “He’s worked for us before, he’s still working with Alicia, and he’s preternaturally calm!” Well, those are three good reasons, I guess! For some reason this line completely cracked me up, though no one else in the theater seemed equally amused.
Of course, Peter is not pleased when he finds out Jason’s working for them. Eli tries Michael’s line on him: that Jason’s worked for them before and is very calm! Hee. But Peter says, “Alicia is divorcing me,” and explains that they won’t act on it till after the trial. So I guess she said yes to his request after all. Booo. But Eli says he’s sorry, and Peter, looking sad, thanks him. (There’s a photo frame behind him of himself and Alicia in front of a flag, Alicia in that square-neck red dress that she’s worn in previous episodes. Nice touch.)
That night, Alicia and Peter meet in his office. She reassures him that he looked good, and that some of the media is on his side. He asks after her case. You know, just your basic end-of-the-day husband-wife catchup, only it’s in the governor’s mansion and one of them is technically under arrest. Finally Peter reveals that Connor Fox offered him a plea bargain: three years. Probation, Alicia assumes—but no. It’s jail. And Michael Tascioni says that they have a case. Alicia’s gut-punched, which is also moving to me; she still cares about Peter. Peter comments, in case we haven’t figured it out: “We’re right back where we started.”
The next day, we see a short clip of Alicia on the news: “I am standing beside my husband again, because I know that he is innocent,” she says, looking stronger and sounding more confident by a factor of a thousand than she did in the pilot.
She arrives home that night looking exhausted (can’t blame her, she’s been basically an international commuter the last few days). Jason is waiting in her apartment. I guess he has a key?! What does Grace think of all this? She’s probably too busy at prayer group to notice. They have a really stilted conversation for awhile. Finally Alicia brings up the divorce and asks if it’s thrown them off. He asks her what she wants—why is she getting divorced? “You may have heard my husband slept with prostitutes,” she says drily. He points out, rightly, that it’s been a long time. She gives him a whole spiel about how she wants to now. “What do you want, Jason?” she says, sounding a little hostile.
“I want things simple,” he says. She rolls her eyes and says, “Yes, I know. So you’ve said. Unfortunately things aren’t simple. I’m not simple. Nothing’s simple.” Excellent point, Alicia. He says “OK” and asks her again what she wants. “You,” she says.
Please, Alicia. AIM HIGHER. You want self-determination. You want freedom. You want success. You want your own firm. You want a lot of things that aren’t some dumb investigator with fake glasses.
At least she called him on the “simple” bullshit! I just realized, though, that wanting things to be “simple” was actually one of the phrases that Alicia used to keep Will at a distance during their affair. Whenever they got complicated, she acted like she was going to flee, and so Will was walking on eggshells, hoping that she would continue to believe things between them lacked complication. I’m sure it was painful for him, too. So I guess it’s not only men who pull this bullshit. But, frankly, it is often men. And it is often used as a tool to convince women that their feelings and needs have to be denied in order to keep the man happy. And that’s why it drives me so nuts.
That said, there’s three episodes left. More than enough time for Alicia to kick Jason to the curb.