30 January, 2012

"Another Ham Sandwich"

Episode Title: Another Ham Sandwich
Season 3, Episode 14 | Original Air Date: January 29, 2012

For me, the mark of a great hour of television comes when my heart rate elevates and I feel as though I haven’t taken a breath for a full 60 minutes.  Heading into “Another Ham Sandwich” I knew I was going to be on the edge of my seat, if not falling completely off of it.  Did I shriek?  Once.  Okay, maybe twice.  Did I cover my face?  Twice.  Okay, maybe four times.  Did I yell at my TV, “Did that just happen?!?  I can’t believe that just happened!”  Yes.  In fact, I haven’t stopped… and I have witnesses.

This week, I’m excited to feature a recap of “Another Ham Sandwich” and a special section feature: “The Top Seven Breath-Taking Moments” – because if you’re anything like me, you spent most of the episode hyperventilating with paper bag in one hand and a stress ball in the other.

In My Opinion – Episode Commentary
Eyes.  Pirates.  Stickmen.  Ferris wheels.  Wait, pirates?  All of these things flashed on the screen in the opening of “Another Ham Sandwich” as the impaneled jurors doodled during Wendy Scott-Carr’s opening remarks.  Frankly, I was thrilled to see the grand jury portrayed as a whimsical bunch – anyone who doodles pirates is going to be a difficult sell when it comes to bribery, unless it’s on the high seas.  Will Gardner, you may have just dodged a swashbuckling bullet.  Maybe.

The case this week revolved solely around Will Gardner.  The issue?  Being indicted by a grand jury for felony bribery.  The possible sentence?  Three to seven years in prison.  For Will, everything came down to who was put on the stand and fortunately, everyone from Lockhart Gardner was on the same page thanks to Elsbeth’s shrewd legal mind: If all answers led back to Peter Florrick, the grand jury could be called off.  Let’s get this show on the road.

First up: Andrew Wiley.  Whenever Andrew the investigator is on the scene, you know things are going to get dicey for whoever’s on the receiving end.  His “always in the pursuit of justice” attitude is both admirable and annoying.  Perhaps I would like him more if ever he was on the side of Lockhart Gardner?  This week he revealed that three judges (Parks, Dunaway and Winter) decided favourably for cases Will argued 95% of the time.  As if this wasn’t questionable enough, as it turns out, they all played basketball with Will.  Now, that could be like saying, “they all drove ’57 Chevys” or “they all went to law school,” but in this case, it is unfortunately implied they all know something.  Exiting stage right, Wiley quickly picked up his stroller and headed to court’s hallways, where he saw Will go into Judge Parks’ chambers, passing him an envelope.  Quickly using his baby as a diversion, he took a picture of the exchange.  My question?  Why can’t this man ever find daycare?  He knows dozens of Dad’s who stay at home with their kids – could none of them have babysat, even for an hour?  A grand jury is kind of important…

Next on the stand: Diane Lockhart.  It’s impossible not to love Diane in the place she draws the most strength: the courtroom.  In what can only be called, “The Battle of the Beautiful Blazers” Wendy Scott-Carr (WSC) and Diane went head-to-head.  How long had Diane known Will?  Eight years.  Did Will ever invite Diane to play basketball?  Yes.  Did Diane ever go to a basketball game?  No.  Why?  She doesn’t play basketball (enter cackles from the 16 jurors, because, well, does it look like Diane plays basketball?  This was a silly line of questioning coming from WSC, who is clearly also not a basketball player either.  A jouster?  Maybe.  A ballerina with an axe to grind?  Most certainly.  But not a basketball player).  Does Diane think Will playing basketball with judges is inappropriate?  No… and she doesn’t think Peter Florrick would either, since he’s also been involved.  Swoosh.  WSC didn’t see that coming.  Unfortunately for Diane this meant a new line of questioning coming back to the infamous “McDermott file” Kalinda planted in Dana’s hands.   Did Will ask to take over the case because he knew Judge Parks, subsequently winning the argument?  Yes.  Oh dear.

David Lee – don’t forget to smile.  Ever a loose cannon, David Lee is both the first and last person I would want testifying on my behalf.  He’s sketchy but efficient, both things WSC would typically appreciate in a person, preferably on her side of the table.   With a quick note from Elsbeth to “smile” while being questioned, David took to the stand and caught ASA Dana Lodge in a messy web surrounding the fair market value of doing trust work – sure David gave Judge Parks a deal… but he did the same thing for Peter.  That’s another swoosh for three points.  Thank you, David.

In hot seat with Judge Parks.  As an audience, we haven’t seen Judge Parks since season two’s “In Sickness.”  While his on-screen appearance made me yearn for a good bout of verbal sparring between Will and Patti Nyhom, the only conversation we were treated to involved Parks saying, “Upon the advice of counsel, I insist on my fifth amendment rights.”  This is always a dodgy way of evading a question because guilt is somewhat assumed.  Point WSC.

At the heart of the matter with Will Gardner.  The moment Wendy Scott-Carr had been waiting for: getting Will on the stand with the evidence Dana secured from her “inside source.”   Having been given an easy opening with the photo Wiley snapped, Will quickly admitted to meeting with Parks and passing along an envelope of money.  Stunned at Will’s honesty, WSC falls off pointe and follows up with a “was there an agreement between you and Judge Parks?” as per the $2,000 sealed in the yellow “you’re being served” stationary.  As it turns out, there was: Parks was to give the money to a Unicef Immunization Drive benefitting those in Uganda.  The three point shot?  Will had the charitable receipt in his suit jacket.  Having nowhere left to go, WSC began pirouetting around questions surrounding the McDermott case, where the I’ve got your back bond of Will and Kalinda became increasingly obvious.  Yes, Kalinda had given Dana the file, but as predicted, it wasn’t entirely pure.  The emails in the file, believe it or not, had been tampered with: WSC had no real evidence.  Who had it?  Will – in his briefcase. 

Enter Will’s Achilles heel, Alicia Florrick: Everything quickly turned from business when WSC summoned Alicia to the stand.  After getting virtually nowhere with all of the previous witnesses, it was time to make Will Gardner pay for this runaround.  With Cary in the background shaking his head at the audacity of WSC for turning the fishing expedition into a full-fledged circus, he had nothing left to do but stand up and question WSC on his own, urging her to stop probing Alicia for personal details.  In the end, Alicia ended up having to admit she had a sexual relationship with Will but it has since ended (paper bag + stress ball = me, freaking out on my couch).  Did that honestly just come out?!  I’m still in disbelief, but after re-watching this scene once, twice, okay, three times, I can state for the record: that just happened.  While Alicia looked horrified at WSC’s line of questioning (which seemed to equally bother Cary), the accusation that Alicia was moving up in the corporate ladder because of her relationship with Will, threw things over the edge.  Getting up, Alicia walked out of the courtroom while saying, “You’re out of control.” 

With the fate of Will Gardner left to the people, WSC assumed she had made her case, because as we know, grand juries will indict anything – even a ham sandwich.  What WSC didn’t bank on was the fact this pirate-doodling crowd was more suspicious of the oft-mentioned “Peter Florrick” and the “fifth amendment” judge.  In their minds, Florrick and Parks should have been the ones arrested (enter a coy smirk from Cary, who, on some level, also agreed).  Wendy Scott-Carr, game over.  Literally.  Peter Florrick just had your parking validated.

What the Fish?
While Will, Diane and Alicia were busy with grand jury, Eli was off sleuthing new business over at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Chicago (GLAC).  Also vying for new business was Stacie Hall, the clever campaigner who worked Eli out of his dairy job.  Chicago, it would appear, is a very small city, especially for these types of gigs and in the case of Eli and Stacie, they always seem to find themselves in each other’s business… both figuratively, and as of this episode, literally.  Stacie admitted she “desired” Eli and Eli reciprocated, but only after securing the GLAC account.  The sting?  Stacie is now representing Eli’s ex-wife, Vanessa, in her campaign for state senate. 

Top Seven Breath-Taking Moments
(Just be thankful I didn’t pick my top 28… because that’s where this list started)

1) The Kitchen Conflict – Time for my stress ball!  Worried about Will, Alicia confronted Peter about the grand jury, asking him to back down.  Accusing her of sleeping with Will, Peter yelled, “off course that’s the issue!” regarding this whole legal mess.  Following up to the outburst, Alicia calmly, and honestly stated there’s nothing between she and Will… but Peter called her out on semantics, a game he knows, and plays, all too well.

2) The Friendly Phone Call – Finally, a truly great glimpse into the beautiful world of Team Gardner – Oh how I’ve been waiting for this moment! Harkening back to the I miss you phone call from “Feeding the Rat,” Alicia called Will to wish him luck and apologize for any involvement she may have had in his current situation.  In what could be considered one of their most heartfelt conversations to date, their chat was a perfect blend of concern, love and respect for each other.  Sigh.  I think I just melted.  Let’s get these two back together!

3) Will on the Stand – This scene made me pull out a paper bag and be thankful for those deep breathing techniques learned in dance class.  Having Will on the stand was nail-biting enough, but when he pulled out all of the evidence to contradict what WSC was presenting?  I couldn’t help but shriek.  Also, it was nice to learn Will has a philanthropic spirit – giving to Unicef and supporting immunizations in Uganda is downright admirable.  In fact, I’m pretty sure public knowledge of that would elevate him to at least 10th spot for Chicago’s most eligible bachelors.  

4) There’s the Slap – I don’t know what Dana expected when Kalinda passed along the McDermott file, but she couldn’t possibly have though K would throw Will under the bus.  Surely she’s not that naive.  Oh wait.  She was.  As predicted, Kalinda saved both Alicia and Will in one fowl swoop, like a leather-clad hero whose main superpowers involve sheer brilliance and a knack for outwitting those who have spent eight plus years attending university.  Two words: Pa chow.  Admittedly, Kalinda felt kind a little bad about having to use Dana to save those she cares most about, so she offered Dana a consolation prize: “Go ahead, hit me. It will make you feel better.” Slap.

5) The New Subpoena: Alicia Florrick – Perhaps the most intense moment of the whole episode came when Alicia took to the stand, was forced to admit her relationship with Will and found a surprising ally in Cary who tried to diffuse the situation.  Walking out in the middle of WSC’s accusations was part of the new Alicia we’ve seen grow and develop over the past three years.  She’s not afraid to take a stand and she’s even less afraid of what Peter or anyone else is going to do about it.  I was proud that she stuck her ground – Alicia 2.0 is someone you don’t want to cross.

6) Mulled Wine and Brandy  – Eli has danced on the verge of relationships before, but we’ve never seen him take the leap… until now.  Baited with mulled wine, brandy and whipped cream-covered fingers, Eli was seduced (or was he the one doing the seducing?) the unflappable Stacie Hall.  Talk about a game of thrones – these two have a love/hate relationship that continues to see them working to one-up each other in the chess game that is business.  I can’t wait to see these two face-off again… and with Eli’s ex in the mix, it’s likely to happen sooner rather than later.

7) Here I Go Again, On My Own – The one thing you can always count on to make an episode of The Good Wife better is a scene with Will and Diane.  Spotting each other through the fishbowl boardroom glass, they met, looked at each other and began to dance to Audra Mae’s powerful version of Here I Go Again. As Will spun Diane and they looked warmly at each other, I couldn’t help but think: this is what television gold looks like… if only they had won the SAG.

Quotes of the Week:
Elsbeth: So, here’s the thing: Grand juries indict, hamburgers and all. 
Will: Ham sandwiches. 
Elsbeth: Yes.  So, you’re going to get indicted unless… Oh, I like that pin. 
Diane: Thank you 
Elsbeth: Unless someone pulls the plug, someone higher...

Alicia: Will… I’m sorry. 
Will: Don’t be. 
Alicia: I am. 
Will: Well then be sorry because it’s happening, don’t be sorry because of anything else. 
Alicia. Okay.  Do good. 
Will: Always.

Will: That was a close one. 
Diane: Yes. Let’s try to reduce the excitement level from now on, shall we?

Peter to Wendy Scott-Carr: Thank you for your service.  My assistant will validate your parking…  Now, get out of my office.

What’s next?
There are many things The Good Wife has taught me about law and a few things I’ve picked up on the street.  In episode 15, “Live from Damascus” the culmination of book smarts and streets smarts collide when the Bar Association calls for Will, because, let’s face it: they rarely call about anything good – it’s official, you’re in trouble.  It appears that Wendy Scott-Carr wasn’t joking about sending Will’s infractions to the Bar Association and the next step is having him disbarred.  Unfortunately we have to wait until February 19 for this next collection of trials of tribulations, so until then, I suggest enjoying some mulled wine and brandy topped with whipped cream – things are going to get bitter sweet.

Preview: “Live from Damascus”

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  1. I wish the women of The Good Wife were people I knew in real life...yep even the backstabbing ones - These women are my heroes! The men ain't too shabby either.

    1. Agreed! The women of The Good Wife are strong and dynamic... and they all have an impeccable sense of fashion!

  2. I could say that this latest episode of "THE GOOD WIFE" disgusted me. But the fans' reaction to what happened made my skin crawl. I will not be watching this show for a while. Two black females who were regarded as villains with such relish left me feeling very uncomfortable. So, I will no longer watch this show.

    1. Your perspective on "Another Ham Sandwich" is an interesting one @Juanita'sJournal. I don't feel the writers have painted WSC as a villain because she is black, but rather, because she has an ax to grind with Peter after having lost to him last season. She was a character fans of the show knew and therefore was a perfect choice as special prosecutor. As for Dana, her character was aligned with WSC to get ahead at the State's Attorney's office - I don't see this as a race issue, but rather, commentary on getting ahead in the workplace.

      The one thing I will say about The Good Wife is that everyone on the show is painted with fine lines wherein sinister traits and/or questionable judgement calls sometimes surface. Not everyone is "good" all the time. It's not about race, ethnicity, education, profession or age - it's about the human experience - relationships, personalities, ethics and morals. I can certainly see why you feel Dana and WSC have be portrayed as villains, but I would also look to Jackie as a character quite different from the others, yet equally evil, despite being in an entirely different demographic.

  3. I thought this was one of the best episodes to date. It was awhile ago that I watched it so I can't comment specifically on all the show elements, but I do admit when Alicia walked out of that courtroom, I suddenly got goosebumps and teary eyed for all the hard fought battles women both personally and professionally they take. I am so impressed by this series and their portrayl of strong and powerful women. Maybe they aren't everyday "American" women, but they are archtypes that serve us well. I look forward to watching the next episode. Laura

  4. When I grow up I want to be Diane Lockhart. End of.


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