14 November, 2011

"Death Row Tip"

Episode Title: "Death Row Tip"
Season 3, Episode 8 |Original Air Date: Sunday, November 13, 2011

After last week’s, “Executive Order 13224” (a law I now find myself reciting as though it’s a commonplace term such as ‘grande, non-fat peppermint latte’) we find ourselves out on a ledge with “Death Row Tip.” It wasn’t a groundbreaking episode, but a few slippery slopes opened up in a big way… 

In my opinion – episode commentary
To open, we find ourselves face-to-face with Ricky Packer, a death row inmate who is being charged with a double homicide.  Packer also happens to be full of tips and information on other Chicago crimes, but he’s slated to die in 36 hours.  Enter Cary and Dana who arrive on a crime scene from the State’s Attorney’s office to find two rotting corpses being dug up in a park.  It wouldn’t be a day on the job without the involvement of Lockhart Gardner in an SA matter though – between Alicia, Kalinda, Diane and Justin (the head of legal aid), this episode was fraught with intermingled relationships and plenty of soul searching when it comes to the death penalty.

While Packer has a lot of insider information that can be useful, at the end of the day we find out he raped and murdered two 14 year old girls – a case that truly gets under Alicia’s skin.  It has been awhile since we saw Alicia in an emotional place with a case (even the exceptionally creepy Colin Sweeny hasn’t truly rattled her).  As it turns out, Packer’s entire support network is holier than thou and he is, in fact, the crazed murderer.  This is a character we won’t be seeing again.

I think what’s most interesting is that we see a different side of Alicia – a side that supports the death penalty in extreme criminal circumstances.  I felt a bit like I was watching an episode of Dexter – what’s the right thing to do? Alicia is always struggling with this question, but no matter what, she works hard for her clients.

Getting a bit complicated
Will:  “Diane’s been eyeing us like we’re a lawsuit waiting to happen”
Alicia: “It’s getting a bit complicated, isn’t it?”
Will: “It is.”
Alicia: “Do we need to pause?”
Will: “Do you want to pause?”
Alicia: “I’m afraid even if we say we will, we won’t.”
Will: “That sounds right.”

Team Gardner is in a bit of a tight spot right now.  Rumours are beginning to surface out in the community that the firm is being investigated (how is this becoming public knowledge?) and Diane is stealthy at keeping her eye on Will and Alicia whenever they’re together.  Their fishbowl office layout definitely has some drawbacks.

Meanwhile, I was thrilled to see Kalinda approach Will about the investigation (thanks, Dana, for spilling the beans!).  Will knows things are always better with Kalinda at his side.  While he hasn’t confessed many of his secrets to K, he doesn’t have to, at least not yet.  Maybe because they’re drinking buddies, maybe because on some level they understand each other, but whatever it is, Will and Kalinda need each other’s friendship… and now Will is going to need Kalinda’s power-sleuthing to get him out of the hot seat.  I still can’t tell how this is going to play out, but I’m convinced wherever the cards fall, Alicia and Kalinda will end back in something that resembles friendship.  Kalinda is actively looking to take one for the team – she wants to help Will.

Lock your doors
When Alicia told Grace to lock the front door (a little Packer paranoia coming through), I don’t think she intended it to mean ‘lock Jackie out,’ however, that would have been a fringe benefit.  Sure, Chicago’s murderers are bad, but would they go through your laundry basket and try to get onto your computer?  Probably not.  If ever there was a case for having your locks changed, it would come in the form of Jackie Florrick.
Through the entire ‘investigator Jackie’ bit, I couldn’t help but think, “please tell me Alicia is spending more time at Will’s place than she is at her own.”  A bit of dirty laundry? I think that can be explained.

A shoot out
This episode rolled along nicely and came to an explosive ending when Cary and Kalinda were caught in the exchange of gunfire. It could be a metaphor for their relationship – Cary had a crazed amount of angst this episode, what with Dana and Kalinda befriending each other – but there’s just something about Kalinda that gets to him.  “I don’t like you being in my head” notes Cary… and then his kisses Kalinda before running away.  I honestly don’t think these two are going anywhere.  Cary and Dana are definitely a better match and she seems to have much fewer issues than Kalinda.  Then again, who doesn’t?

Quotes of the week:
Will: “I used to be good at reading the political tea leaves, now I can barely tell why people say hello to me in the morning.”

Will: "I feel like hugging you."
Kalinda: "No, just, just ask for my help."

Cary: “I know a lot of people who weren’t anything before they met Kalinda."

So, what’s next?
With fall sweeps coming to an end next week, it can only mean one thing: drama!  Word on the street is that super investigator Andrew Wiley (played by Tim Guinee) is going to be back on the scene within the next few episodes.  This is a character I both love and hate.  He’s just like Kalinda in that he always gets to the bottom of things… only he collects information legally.  Okay, that’s not as fun to watch, but he is good.  I’m a little concerned he’s going to come back to work for Cary again… and that means going up against Will.  If this is true, all bets are off.  Unlike Jackie Florrick, Wiley knows how to use a computer. Team Gardner, we have a problem.

Next week: “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.” Yes, writers of The Good Wife, your ‘WTF’ cleverness is not only putting you at the top of my Christmas card list once again, it’s putting you at the top of my tree.  The preview alone made my heart rate spike.  I literally couldn’t help but shriek.  It looks amazing (and Diane looks on the top of her game!  Can you say, ‘power suit?!’).  I just hope my Team Gardner coffee mug won’t be deemed null and void before the end of the episode… I’m not quite done with all of the dirty laundry.


  1. Alright it`s my turn Ms. Peperkorn-Marlowe. You continuously set the bar higher each week. I am going to focus my commentary on several key points:

    Lockhart Gardner vs. State`s Attorney -a matter of public policy

    I was reading an article in the Atlantic recently that discussed the expense of death row cases. Interestingly, the most recent episodes seemed to just skim across a thorny subject of death row, China, women in politics, and the private lives of politicians. Lockhart Gardner is also disappointing me on this issue, with the exception of Diane`s valiant efforts to save Legal Aid in the City of Chicago. LG seems to exploit policy only when it`s conducive to their clients needs. This gets a bit tricky when they are also running a political campaign consultancy out of their board room, a democratic dog and pony show no less.

    Being a policy wonk, I am also concerned at how loosely some of the public policy issues are glazed over in addition to reinforcing stereotypes in substitution for drama. Today`s episode was certainly in line (scary black men who rape young white teenage girls). I miss the days of the hospital ethics board and private health insurance company scandals. Maybe we`ll see some resurgance of that, at least I can dream about it. I would like to see Diane push forward her political agenda a little more freely. I want to see the Legal Aid division played up a bit more.

    Team Gardner -the seas look stormy, brace for a storm and hope for calm.

    Again I agree things aren`t looking good for team Gardner. They are being attacked on all fronts: Diane, Jackie, Peter, Grace, and Celeste etc. I think however, you might be a bit premature in your assessment that their ship is going down. I don`t think it`s time to pull out the white satin and Dido yet. Give them a few more episodes. I think the key pivotal point was when they had the pause discussion, but instead of folding they are continuing to forage ahead. The only mistake however is that Will is keeping secrets from Alicia and that will surely bring him to his knees if she catches wind.

    I think Alicia and Will might have some unexpected friends in the SA office and within Lockhart Gardner. The keystone being Kalinda. Cary`s comment ``I can`t get you out of my head`` might be the key to saving Will. My guess is that Kalinda will use his feelings and irrational side to her benefit, which is ultimately I think in loyalty to Will and out of guilt to Alicia. Alicia was the closest thing that poor Kalinda has ever had to a true friend, and think underneath Kalinda won`t want to cross Will, she is I believe loyal. This is where the good part comes in, I believe that Kalinda will manipulate Carey and divert him off the team Gardner trail, giving Will enough time to line up his swing for Peter. I am not sure what the outcome will be, but I got think Gardner will go quietly into the night without a true fight.

    How this all pans out for Alicia and Will, I am not sure. Will be interesting to see how they will continue to dance around the real consequences of their relationship both good and bad.

    Can`t wait for next week. Will post more at that time. Found this to be another tough episode.

  2. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't think the Team Gardner ship is going down - I'm just bracing myself for the tumultuous journey. The fact Will and Alicia had a conversation to discuss the possibility of slowing things down was good - now we know (and they know) that together, they are both in this thing. While Diane certainly comes with powerful voice, I don't think her demanding Will stop seeing Alicia is going to push him over the edge. I think the biggest factor will be if Peter can expose Will's past before Will explains things to Alicia. If she feels betrayed in any way,that's when things are going to go off the rails. Until then, game on.

    As for Kalinda, I like your assessment of her using Cary... but let's not forget that he walked out on her after the kiss. Cary is trying to escape the mysterious abyss that *is* Kalinda - I think on some level he's scared of what she brings to his life. Meanwhile, K has a solid allegiance to Will (I want more information on this - she isn't terribly loyal to any one cause, but she is to Will. Why? What happened that made she and Will connect?). I agree that she is going to pivotal in two ways: 1) Keeping Team Gardner together and 2) Keeping Will out of the State's Attorney's investigative backdraft.

    You bring up an interesting point as it relates to LG and their tendency to "exploit policy only when it`s conducive to their clients needs." This is 100% how they operate, but I don't think that's a unique defense... do you? We hear Alicia comment on this all the time - whether she agrees with things or not, she's there to do a job. Being married to a lawyer myself, I have had these conversations, too. Discussing this, I can't help but flashback to season two in the episode "Great Wall," when LG was defending a Chinese dissident who was being tortured by his government after having used some kind of social media site. LG wanted to win his case so they could secure the business of their other internet client. It's a strange ethical line - they wanted to win the case for their client, but they wanted to also win the case for future business. The key? The future business case would end up on the opposing side of their current client. It's very political, to be sure.

    One thing I think we can look forward to is a more integrated role of Legal Aid in the work of Lockhart Gardner. Sure, I want to see all of the Legal Aid staff rushing around, tie-less, outside of Eli’s office, but I also want to see how their business intersects with that of LG. I have a feeling “Death Row Tip” was just the beginning of this more elaborate relationship.

    Until next week...


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