How apropos is it that Will is watching a documentary about suicide just days after Diane has told him that six months away from the law will kill him? He’s doing fine on his suspension, despite some adorable ribbing from Kalinda about how he looks good for an out-of-work loser. In fact, he’s thriving. He’s writing a riveting-sounding magnum opus called A Failure of Principle: War’s Impact on Supreme Court Opinion. He hasn’t checked his cell phone in two hours. But he did read Vulture forty times. He’s clearly hurting on the inside.
This episode felt like a placeholder — a little heavy on the case of the week stuff and a little light on real drama. But it was perfectly serviceable and the rare look into Will’s life outside of the office was as much of a treat as Alicia’s road trip with Owen. We’d seen his bedroom (Alicia is familiar with its walls and ceiling), but god, does he have a killer apartment. Guess that’s what having a firm with 300 employees and $38 million in yearly assets will get you. He also has two sisters we never knew existed: Aubrey and Sarah. Aubrey is a vagabond, committed Buddhist musician. Sarah is unemployed but married. They’ve both shown up to rescue him from his misery. Aubrey thinks they should start a family band like the Osmonds. (Side note: Josh Charles is a pretty good guitar player!) And they both just think he needs a girlfriend. As sisters do, they can tell he’s using his “sweet voice” with the woman on the phone from his law office (Alicia). Then they meet Kalinda and are convinced she was on the other end of the line. They would make a cute couple, but that will never, ever happen. She’s just way too foxy for Will.
Will is allowed to consult on cases that started before the suspension, so he lends a hand to Alicia’s current case that seems to be based on suicides at Cornell (or the movie The Bridge). L&G is defending a documentary filmmaker who set up cameras on a bridge to film the people that throw themselves off of it. The parents of a female student he filmed are suing him for wrongful death, saying his movie is meant to encourage rather than discourage suicide. How? Apparently there are fifteen suicides on average a year, but when the rate was slower than usual, the filmmaker put out a YouTube video that seemed to glorify jumping, and got five more suicides, including their daughter’s, in the next two months.
Alicia’s opposing counsel is the wonderful-as-always Mamie Gummer as Nancy Crozier, who’s pulling her usual “I speak from the heart” and “I’m just a girl from Michigan” act. Alicia is usually pretty good at combating this, but for once she’s getting no traction with the judge. “That blond girl is just a really good attorney,” says my friend Linda who was watching the show for the first time. Ten minutes later, after Alicia had gotten the filmmaker to stonewall Crozier when she tried to drag him into a conversation about aesthetics, Linda had changed her mind: “She sucks. I hate her.”
Still, Alicia needs help, so she smartly decides to fight blondness with blondness and brings in Caitlin to do cross-examination. Caitlin immediately throws Nancy off her game in judge’s chambers, then bests her at her playing naive and inexperienced in front of the jury. Caitlin: “Sorry. My first time in court.” Nancy: “Objection, your honor. Do they really need the personal touch?” They’re basically the same person except that Caitlin is younger and has prettier hair. By the time Caitlin is done cross-examining the suicide victim’s boyfriend, she’s managed to both win over the jury and accuse the boyfriend of causing his girlfriend’s suicide by sometimes ignoring her. Diane is so impressed she decides to make Caitlin a full-time litigator. AND she asks Alicia not only to mentor Caitlin, but also to let Caitlin share her assistant. Alicia is not pleased. The final scene, when Alicia spots Caitlin struggling with the door to her new office but doesn’t offer to help, seems emblematic of the Cary-Alicia rivalry 2.0 that we’re about to witness. It’s going to be good, particularly since David Lee hates Alicia and he has the newly empowered Caitlin in his pocket. My friend Linda was very excited: “I like blond bitches.”
Back at the office, as Will predicts, David Lee is checking out Will’s square footage, as are Julius and Eli. They circle Will and Diane’s offices like sharks, each dropping in to make his case to Diane about why he should get Will’s office and name partnership. David Lee’s argument is that Diane knows how much he hates management, so she can be assured he will step down when Will comes back, which we all know is a lie. Diane points out to David Lee that he hates people. “I don’t hate people. I hate some people,” David Lee corrects. It’s true. He doesn’t hate Caitlin. Julius’s argument is that “nature abhors a vacuum.” He thinks the slot is rightfully his and that Will should have to struggle to gain back his place on the letterhead and the trust of his clients. He also goes to Eli to get his vote. That meeting takes place with David Lee sitting behind Julius, staring in at Eli through a glass wall. Eli visibly offers Julius his support and then asks David Lee if he can offer him a magazine to read while he skulks in the background. But Eli, too, has his eye on Will’s office and a name partnership. Diane shoots him down as well. He’s only been an equity partner for a few months and he’ll soon be distracted running Peter’s governor campaign. Plus, she has no intention of letting anyone take Will’s place. They’ll have to wrest it away, mutiny-style. And there’s a good chance that they might. Stay tuned.
Stay tuned, too, for more large-scale political machinations. Eli is meeting with Donna Brazile to convince her to let Peter give the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. Peter is impressive in the meeting, telling Brazile, “I want to talk about a country that gives second chances. They gave me a second chance.” But there are two sticking points. One, Brazile doesn’t want to give him the slot if he and Alicia are getting divorced. And two, it seems that none of his friends are his friends anymore.
To deal with the first problem, Eli just point blank asks Alicia if she’s divorcing Peter. He also tells her that David Lee blabbed that he’s Alicia’s divorce lawyer, which is a blatant violation of attorney-client privilege. Alicia knows Eli is being a manipulative little weasel but she also knows he’s right to tell her not to trust David Lee. In the end, Alicia decides not to divorce Peter and unceremoniously fires David Lee, which I’m sure is going to lead to some nasty revenge by season’s end, probably from Lee himself and from Lee via Caitlin.
The second problem is trickier. Peter’s supporters have abandoned him because, in his efforts to run a clean office, he didn’t follow the standard rules of patronage and give them all jobs once he was elected. Peter is at first adamant that he’s not going to hire any friends. But when Eli tells them that his stubbornness will cost him his political career and that he (Eli) needs to find another candidate if Peter isn’t going to take the dirty parts of his job seriously, Peter suddenly has Cary demote Geneva so he can install a new head of felony review. Lo and behold, all his friends start calling Brazile nonstop to talk him up. He gets the keynote slot. Wonder how that happened!
The inadvertent result is that Cary’s loyalty to Peter seems to have shifted. Cary probably resents the patronage, and having to be the bad guy. (Geneva thinks she’s being demoted because Dana, Cary’s “girlfriend,” hates her. Little does Geneva know that Dana hates Cary, too.) Cary ends up giving Kalinda a 911 tape L&G need for their case. Kalinda basically saves the day all around. She finds evidence that the city does nothing to stop suicides, since the police take over 40 minutes to respond to 911 calls, and because the suicide emergency phone on the bridge is out of order. And she finds out that the victim’s parents cut her off financially just two weeks before she jumped. The parents drop the suit, as long as the filmmaker will include a disclaimer and donate half of the film’s profits to a suicide prevention hotline. L&G wins the day. Big surprise.
Will’s walkabout is over by the end of the episode, and man, oh man, does Josh Charles look hot walking through the office in casual dress. He’ll be working out of office yet again, as David Lee, Julius, and Eli continue to circle around him. Get prepared for Caitlin to start dropping by for late night consultations. As Will’s sisters pointed out, he does like younger women, and right now seems as good as any time to stop pining for Alicia and return to his former lothario self. Or at least start the Gardner Family Band. Next week: Colin Sweeney!!!!