Would you vote for Peter Florrick for President? In The Good Wife‘s world, you may get that chance. But will Eli Gold’s plan to bring down rival Ruth Eastman put a quick end to Peter’s ambitions? Worse, will it destroy Alicia?
It’s a pivotal and entertaining episode that mulls truths, untruths and the gray space in between. Just for starters, Alicia’s in the NSA’s crosshairs again, Jason might be a (gulp!) sociopath, Diane makes a major strategic error in hiring and everyone doubts Eli’s motives. Plus, there are goats. Singing goats.
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Lying Liars and the Liars Who Hire Them
All of season 7’s one-word titles carry many meanings, and this episode, “Lies,” is no exception. The first, on-the-nose definition comes from Alicia and Lucca’s latest client, Kristen Balko. Her company fired her for lying during a polygraph. Ironically, she was canned (a carefully chosen verb) because the test revealed she’d fibbed on her resume, not that she’d stolen from the company — the original point of the polygraph. Silicon Valley is rough on women!
Lucca and Alicia want to think that the case is over, but Louis Canning (get it?) assured Kristen that the new duo could move faster than he could. (Canning’s already filed a suit on the woman’s behalf.) They agree to take Ms. Balko’s case and send Jason out to learn more. They also discuss whether Jason will be covered under their legal malpractice insurance, given that he was disbarred for punching a judge. (Meanwhile, I’m wondering why Lucca’s wearing a dress that makes her look like a British barrister, though actress Cush Jumbo is a Brit, so I guess it’s okay.)
Possible lie number two arises when Eli calls and asks Alicia to say the best thing she knows about Peter. He needs a quote for his official bio. “Does it have to be true?” asks the governor’s wife. “True adjacent,” responds Mr. Gold. (I’m remembering that one.)
Can Enemies Find Common Ground?
Meanwhile, Eli’s been summoned to meet with Ruth Eastman in a local restaurant. He thought it was a staff meeting; it turns out it’s a sit-down so Ruth can learn “what makes Eli tick.” He’s naturally skeptical but agrees to go along.
But only so far. He first flat-out lies to her about his background, but Ruth’s too savvy to believe him. So what does she really want?
She hands him new polling data: Peter’s catching on. He might have a shot at national office now. Not just for VP. For the whole enchilada (assuming Hillary tanks, she adds). The two may be rivals, but if Peter goes all the way to the White House, there will be more than enough spoils to go around.
Ruth tells Eli they’re moving up the announcement by several days. That means getting Peter and Alicia out there together, looking young and vibrant. “Jackie O. to his JFK,” she says. “We need to work together.” Hopefully, with a little trust thrown in. (Another costume note: Alicia’s wearing an updated Chanel suit, just like Jackie did. Nice!)
Watching the Detective
Lucca and Alicia head to court for Kristen’s case. Andrea Stevens, the opposing counsel from Kristen’s former tech firm, Running Milk, fawns all over Alicia and praises Lucca’s haircut. TV legend Christine Lahti, as Stevens, rocks a pretty nice haircut herself.
The first issue is jurisdiction. The firm’s offices are in California, but Balko lives in Chicago. Judge Marx (Uncle Junior from The Sopranos, aka Dominic Chianese) keeps the case local. After all, as Running Milk’s ads say, “The cloud is everywhere.”
Back in the apartment, Alicia — using search engine ChumHum, natch — investigates her investigator, turning up several stories about Jason’s skirmishes with the law. (Jeffrey Dean Morgan‘s mug shot looks way better than your typical perp. No surprise there.) Eli shows up at her door, announcing that Peter wants to be president.
Alicia needs a drink. Eli needs her at rally in Springfield, looking all First Lady-like. And they’ll have (evil) party chairman Frank Landau introduce her. What could be better?
Alicia lifts her homemade margarita. “You’re scheming something here,” she says. “Cheers!”
The next day, Jason reports to the gals that Kristen definitely lied on her resume (about an earlier job title). But there’s no evidence of a theft or data breach at Running Milk. Therefore, no reason to make her take a polygraph in the first place. “Fruit of the poisonous tree,” says the ex-lawyer turned P.I. (wearing a really sexy leather jacket).
Alicia also asks Jason why he punched the judge. “I was angry,” he says. But I don’t punch people when I’m angry, Alicia responds. “Maybe you should start,” he says. The flirting is so obvious that Lucca excuses herself.
Hired, Then Fired, By Liars
In court, Lucca tries to get the polygraph thrown out. Running Milk’s CEO is now in the room, and attorney Steven suddenly says they’ll hire Kristen back. They want to let the suit go. Normally, Kristen wouldn’t have to take a polygraph again, but Stevens flips the story — there was no data breach, but the company is involved in work for the National Security Agency. So lie detectors are still on the table (so to speak).
Lucca says Running Milk wants to hire Kristen back just so they can fire her again. The judge agrees that it’s contradictory. But under the newly revealed circumstances, if Kristen returns to her job, she’ll have to undergo a polygraph.
Eli drops in on his old friend, corrupt judge Schiakowky. He owes Eli a favor over the aborted bribery sting. Gold wants information on Frank Landau and his manipulation of voting machines in the last election. “What are you up to?” he asks. Does no one take Eli at face value? (That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.)
Over at Lockhart, Agos & Lee, a young woman, Monica Timmons, waits to interview for an associate’s position. She’s from Baltimore and black — which becomes relevant when Howard Lyman asks her if she’s Nigerian. (Um, no.) Almost as bad, the others (Cary, David and Diane) assume that she must have grown up in a tough neighborhood. Because everyone from Baltimore must grow up in a tough neighborhood, right?
Diane wants to hire her, but Cary and David aren’t convinced that she’s as qualified as other candidates. “I’m for the black girl,” Howard says. (I’m sensing a lawsuit.)
In the governor’s office, Ruth tells her staff that they want Peter’s announcement to echo Obama’s original, back in 2007. Peter enters the room and gives a pep talk. He’s also happy to hear that Ruth and Eli are working together now. “I’m here to serve,” Eli says. In fact, he’s so cooperative, he’s willing to let Frank Landau introduce Peter instead of Alicia.
Eli’s assistant, Nora, wonders what he’s up to. When she figures out that he’s willing to let Peter suffer just to bring down Ruth, he doesn’t deny a thing.
Alicia talks to the judge Jason punched back in New Jersey. The judge warns her off Crouse, calling him a “ticking time bomb who will explode when you least expect it.” He calls Jason a sociopath who will “eat away her life from the inside.” Run away! he says.
Lucca, Kristen and Jason discuss her work history. At Running Milk, Kristen developed a fun piece of predictive software called Spoiler — could it have been used by the NSA? Alicia asks Cary to help her contact an old client who might help. After following a complex scheme, she reaches Jeff Dellinger (Silicon Valley‘s Zach Woods) in Iceland. Jeff was part of the NSA wiretapping episodes two seasons ago.
Diane, Cary and David argue over hiring Monica. She wants greater diversity; they want the usual suspects from the top universities. She accuses Cary of wanting people who look like him. When he says that’s not fair, she snaps, “A lot of things that aren’t fair are true!” (Probably the most honest thing anyone says during the whole show.)
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A Surprising Connection Between Peter and Landau
In court, Alicia and Lucca want to play a video from Dellinger, who is now on the run. Stevens calls him “the disgraced poor man’s Snowden.” The judge agrees to watch it in the chambers. Dellinger explains how the NSA adopted Kristen’s app, which drove up Running Milk’s value. Firing Kristen would keep her from profiting on her own invention. Unfortunately, since Dellinger can’t come to testify about it in person, the judge says Kristen’s still on the hook for the poly.
Ruth’s upset that Peter can’t make his announcement at the Old State Capitol (where Lincoln served), but Eli convinces her that a local Catholic school gym could look almost as Obama-like. Back at Eli’s broom closet, the crooked judge Schiakowsky awaits with the information on Landau.
It’s not exactly clear what he wants to hear. It’s true that Landau hired someone to hack the voting machines, but it was at Peter’s request. (He was worried about Alicia’s chances in the State’s Attorney election.) This could take Peter down, not just the party chief. Oops!
Alicia listens to Jason coach Kristen on how to throw the polygraph operator off his game and make the results inconclusive. Is he really a sociopath or just good at his job? In this case, it doesn’t really matter. Kristen’s polygraph “operator” is a computer program, not a human.
Diane calls Monica back into the office. She says that the firm won’t be hiring her — it’s just too competitive. But why not just send a polite kiss-off e-mail? Monica walks out of the office, saying angrily, “This is most illuminating.” Diane looks pained. She later receives an e-mail from Monica with a link to undercover video of her interviews. It’s not only damning, but it’s all over the Internet with the tag that Lockhart, Agos hired three white males.
An Unwelcome Blast from the Past
Dellinger calls Alicia to ask how the case is going. Unfortunately, the NSA’s listening in again. The young analysts try to guess what’s happening in Alicia’s life. (They stopped following her around the time of Will’s shooting.) They report to their supervisor that Dellinger called her.
Lucca tells Alicia that she spoke to a witness of Jason’s fight. Apparently, it was pushing and shoving, not a beat-down, so he’s probably an okay guy. (Whew!)
Peter’s ready to announce his candidacy. Nora wants to know what her boss is going to do with the information he has on Landau and Peter. Revealing the truth would destroy Alicia. She had no idea about Peter’s interference in her campaign. For once, Eli’s genuinely torn about what to do.
Diane calls Monica back into the office and praises her ingenuity with the video. But when Diane compares her own experiences starting out 30 years ago, Monica doesn’t buy the comparison. “I don’t want your understanding. I don’t need your advice. What I need is a job,” she says.
In Springfield, Peter and Alicia look on as Frank Landau makes the intro speech. Eli and Nora watch on TV. (They’ve dressed Alicia just like Michelle Obama.) Eli leans in and realizes that Alicia’s looking at Peter with real affection. He’s holding onto his damaging information — for now.
Lawyer Stevens calls Alicia after the event. Alicia says she’s going to tell everyone about Running Milk’s NSA connection — Dellinger’s willing to talk publicly. Stevens quickly says that if she amends Kristen’s lawsuit to have a gender discrimination angle, they’ll settle.
As part of the conversation, Alicia also lets the word “Snowden” drop, which gives the boys over at the NSA the “evidence” they need to keep her under surveillance — again. They joyfully share videos of goats singing “I Will Always Love You.”
The Good Wife always shines when it takes on legal issues involving the Internet, surveillance and civil liberties. “Lies” was no exception, and bringing back our old NSA analyst pals just put some extra icing on this cupcake. Cue the goats!
Meanwhile, what’s Eli going to do? What a pleasure to see the always amazing Alan Cumming take center stage, especially when he’s so conflicted — not his usual state of mind. Throwing Alicia under the (campaign) bus wasn’t his intention. Will he betray one of his few friends to regain power? With Peter’s candidacy heating up, he’d better decide soon.
The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9pm (or thereabouts, depending on football overruns) on CBS.
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