‘The Good Wife’ Recap 7×6: Running Milk

TGW

Margo Martindale and Alan Cumming in The Good Wife. (photo: CBS)

It’s only Christine Lahti’s first episode of The Good Wife, and already the shade is fierce and the library is open. In Season 7, Episode 6, “Lies”, we focus on the following storylines:

Alicia Florrick and Lucca Quinn’s lie detector test, and the introduction of Miss Andrea Stevens, Attorney at Law.

Peter Florrick’s potential Presidential run.

Who is Jason Crouse? (And why does he spell his name the worst?)

Eli Gold and Ruth Eastman’s will-they-won’t-they? (Destroy each other.)

White male privilege at Lockhart, Agos, & Lee.

And the return of that old chestnut — Alicia’s surveillance by the NSA.

It’s a lot, but we got this. (She said to herself, contemplating the three intense pages of notes she compiled during a single hour-long episode.) Here we go.

Lights up on a lie detector test being taken by the Vice President of Information Technology for a company called Running Milk? Is it seriously called Running Milk? That’s what I’m hearing, but I don’t understand what pun that would be. Running Milk. Anyway, her name is Kristen Balko (Anna Wood), and she’s been fired from Running Milk because of a lie detector test, and has retained Alicia and Lucca to try to protest that firing, since (deep breath), the only reason the lie detector test was admitted was due to some kind of theft in the company, and even though the test didn’t prove that Kristen had anything to do with the theft, it did prove that she’d lied to the company, so she had to go. Even though (pressing hands into eye sockets), the thing she lied about was on her original resume, where she said she’d worked as the VP of Information Technology for another company before Running Milk, which she actually hasn’t.

So at this point (lying down), in order for Kristen’s dismissal to be legitimate, the company needs corroborating evidence that she actually lied, and how. And Jason Crouse is here to find it, but also to wittily banter with Alicia in a way that makes it impossible for us to tell if they boned it out after last week’s cliffhanger. Oh and also (in my coffin), we find out that this case came directly from Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox), who already filed suit but got busy and assured Kristen that Alicia would take over. And that, my friends, was just about the first five minutes of the episode.

On the nuts and bolts end, Alicia and her BFF Lucca are discussing malpractice insurance, specifically whether theirs would cover Jason, and finding that it wouldn’t, decide to do a background check and find out, y’know, what that whole punching a judge thing was about. I usually like to schedule these types of things before I hire someone and establish a foundation of witty repartee, late night drink invitations, and potential visits to the bone zone, but that’s just me. You do you, Alicia.

On the other side of town, Eli Gold couldn’t be further outside the bone zone, as he’s having lunch with Ruth Eastman, who’s about to drink him under the table with Alabama slammers. From the outside, it looks like a peace accord, with Ruth throwing out metaphors like Eli being “a new tree in her forest” that she’d like to investigate instead of chopping down, and Eli sharing a story from his childhood that turns out to be a fiction, capped off with a slightly tweaked line from The Usual Suspects. But the main goal of this lunch is for Ruth to tell Eli that Peter is up four more points, and considering a legit push for President versus the Vice Presidential slot he was previously aiming for with his run. But either way, these two need to work together and trust each other. (HA.)

AND CHRISTINE LAHTI, COME ON DOWN. She’s playing Attorney Andrea Stevens, representing Running Milk, and she is opening the library bright and early, leaving her sunglasses on while she talks to Alicia and handing Lucca a business card, telling her to call if she ever needs advice, being so fresh out of law school. Woof. She’s pushing for the case to be moved to California, and she gets an early in with the judge by saying it shouldn’t be about people shouting over each other, but Alicia holds her own, and the Firm of Florrick and Quinn, BFFS at Law wins an early victory.

Back at home, vanished child Zach Florrick must have taught his mother how to complete a basic internet search, because she’s Chum Humming (is that the adjective?) Jason Crouse, and finding a very sexy mugshot to add to her spank bank.

Also Blue, I found a clue! When Eli comes over to tell Alicia about Peter running for President, she mixes herself up a margarita instead of her typical glass of red wine. It smells like Jason Crouse in here, sneaking in and convincing a lady to switch up her drink order. Let’s just hope he left the crowbar at home. Alicia also calls Eli out on scheming, which he most certainly is, getting Frank Landau involved in Peter’s Presidential announcement, which will surely backfire, given Landau’s involvement in all the shady political Chicago goings-ons.

In the land of Running Milk (and Running Honey), it’s looking like no actual theft took place, aka the polygraph wouldn’t have been admissible. And with that info, the company is now trying to hire Kristen back, clearly just so they can administer another polygraph and fire her again. And when Alicia and Lucca try to protest, Andrea drops that n-bomb that seems like it derails so many cases on this show: she claims Kristen was working on a project that had to do with National Security, which unsurprisingly means that any and all polygraphs are up for grabs. Ruh-roh.

We also get a little glimpse of Bad Judge, even though we’re not in bond court; Don Schakowsky and Eli are meeting up so Eli can cash in the favor for alerting the Judge to the bribery sting a few episodes back. He wants him to turn on Frank Landau, basically, and give Eli proof of the voter fraud that went down. So I guess Eli is really going for this!

And because Lockhart, Agos, & Lee doesn’t have a storyline yet, let’s just keep drilling into our heads what a messed up office culture they have working over there. Through the interviews of a prospective summer intern, Monica Timmons (Nikki M. James), who is black, we see that every single name partner has some very problematic preconceptions about diversity in the office. Considering these guys just had sensitivity training in order to avoid an ageism lawsuit from Howard Lyman, the way they’re treating this young woman, saying she doesn’t measure up against the other (white, male) candidates, feels a little tone-deaf to me. Unless this is a firm full of lawyers who love to get sued, in which case their obliviousness is completely justified. Diane Lockhart and Howard Lyman want to hire Monica, and Cary Agos and David Lee do not. Because everyone’s a dummy and bad at the law lol.

Then comes another scene with Andrea Stevens in court where Lucca and Alicia are trying to figure out which of Kristen’s projects fell under the national security umbrella, and there was such a blistering volley of shade that I didn’t even write down details in my notes. I just wrote down “SHADE SHADE SHADE. This bitch!”, which I mean only in admiration. I’m honestly so glad Christine Lahti is here; I love me some Mamie Gummer, but I was craving new lawyer meat like whoa.

In Election World, Ruth is falling right into Eli’s trap, stealing away Frank Landau to introduce Peter instead of Alicia, which is why he initially came on, after Eli has done all the work of wooing him. And Eli doesn’t mind, which we learn is suspicious via the exposition receptacle that is his assistant (?) Nora, played by Nicole Roderick, a role so embarrassingly un-fleshed out that she doesn’t even get a last name. Literally, this woman just appears in rooms to coolly assess the situation at hand and tell the audience what they might be missing, and then disappears again. It’s lovely to see people of color in the cast, and to witness the show grappling with some more complex racial themes, specifically in regard to privilege, but the part of Nora in particular is such a glaring misuse of a talented actress that I needed to take a quick moment to address it. Please give Nora a last name and a personality instead of relegating her to the background to bolster Eli’s B-plots.

Meanwhile, the white people are doing Very Important Things, trying to find the exact overcoat President Obama wore when he announced his own Presidential run, and trying to make Peter’s announcement happen on the same steps, so that it invites comparison and their photos get printed next to each other. Since Eli is going along with Coatgate and being so genial about Frank Landau being stolen away to intro Peter instead of Alicia, Nora informs us that it’s very likely that Eli is setting Peter up. She doesn’t have any opinions about it, she just wanted to let us know.

Fresh off her Googling Humming spree, Alicia has also figured out how to look up numbers, and is on the phone with Judge Hess, the guy Jason beat up back in the day. He warns her that Jason is a ticking time bomb and a sociopath, that he’ll tell you jokes while pretending to be a normal person, but he isn’t. Basically, it all boils down to this: “Run”. And Alicia’s like, “Whoops, I already hired him and maybe touched parts with him. I mean did I? I dunno! Maybe you’ll find out next week, tee-hee.”

Lucca, Jason, and Alicia are also making progress on figuring out which of Kristen’s projects was national security related — they suspect it might have to do one of her side projects, a relationship-diagramming app called Spoiler, which predicts the end result of a show based on its first episode. And in order to chase down that lead, Alicia enlists the help of former NSA-whistleblower Jeff Dellinger (Zach Woods), who’s currently hiding out in Iceland and has a very complex process for how people are to get in touch with him. But once they get in touch, he puts himself on camera saying that Spoiler has been one of the NSA’s most exciting acquisitions of late, since in addition to crappy television, it can also predict the future plots of terrorists based on their preliminary conversations. Woof.

At the firm of White, White, & White, Diane is getting overruled on bringing Monica aboard because David Lee and Cary want to keep the standards high (and male and white) by hiring three Ivy League white guys.

Meanwhile, Peter can’t make his announcements on the Town Hall steps because of a break dancing competition, so he has to go to the local gymnasium instead. Very cool.

Bad Judge has agreed to rat out Landau’s tampering with voter machines, but in telling Eli this, he reveals that Peter was involved as well, something that Eli apparently didn’t know. According to Schakowsky, Peter was worried Alicia was going to lose, so he set it up in her favor. Oh, Peter. Remember when we still thought you had redeeming qualities?

With no other options available, Kristen has decided to suck it up and take the new lie detector test, so Jason is trying to instruct her on how to beat the system by manipulating the reader. But instead, she’s working with this new polygraph robot named MILD (Multiple Input Lie Detection), which takes measurements of fifty different things your body is doing while you’re talking, and decidedly can’t be manipulated.

At the firm of White, White, & More White, Diane sits down with Monica to tell her that she can’t bring her aboard as an intern, but does want to help her out in the future. And Monica is like, “Oh very cool, awesome offer; one thing that would really help me is a job, but okay sure, thank you so much.”

At Alicia’s apartment, we’re mixing up another suspicious margarita, and an envelope arrives with a ringing phone in it. It’s Jeff Dellinger, and he starts instructing her on how to manipulate MILD, but the more important thing about this conversation is that THE NSA IS LISTENING IN TO IT. Specifically Stephen Dinovera (Michael Urie) and Tyler Hopkins (Tobias Segal) are listening. They’re allowed to listen to the conversation of anyone Jeff talks to, apparently, because he’s what’s called a brown target, but there are cuts happening system-wide due to reforms in the Patriot Act, so they can no longer collect the bulk telephone data that they were used to. Which means that unless they find a connection between Alicia and another brown-level target in the next 48 hours, they aren’t allowed to listen to her anymore.

Meanwhile, because Monica isn’t an idiot, she taped all her conversations with the hiring committee at Lockhart, Agos, & Lee, and oh boy does it not look good! The firm looks like what it is, which is ignorant, elitist, and un-diverse, and to the show’s credit, they lump Diane in that category as well, since even though she’s the lesser of the four evils, she’s still a suuuuuper problematic rich white lady who’s trying to compare histories with a black woman, and patting herself on the back for extending a “helping hand” to a person of color, when all Monica really wants is a g-d job.

Complicating matters in the Jason Crouse world, Lucca says she spoke to a witness to Jason’s beatdown of the judge, and says Judge Hess walked away pretty much unscathed, which is a totally different story than he’s presenting. (Shocker.) So maybe it’s okay to bump uglies with him after all! Fingers crossed.

Peter’s presidential announcement has become a farce at this point, as the gym steps aren’t available, so he has to announce inside, in full coat and hat to get that Obama comparison. Eli hasn’t decided yet whether he’s going to destroy Peter, because if he does, Alicia gets taken down in the crossfire as well, since she doesn’t know he rigged the voting machines. And she’d be pissed, given that that’s a large part of why she had to step down as State’s Attorney. Who knows if she would’ve won without Peter’s meddling, but she’s certainly taken an anti-meddling stance in the past, so I suspect she’d be pissed. Eli does have a little “aha” moment looking at her though, during the announcement, which I don’t totally understand. I’m assuming (and hoping) that it gets explained next time.

But in the last plot twist of the episode, Andrea calls Alicia to gloat about the victories she’s won so far in the Running Milk case, and Alicia threatens to tell people at the presidential announcement about the fact that Running Milk is in bed with the NSA. She warns that that would likely drop stock prices, and Andrea agrees, and says that if they’ll change the basis of the suit to gender discrimination, Running Milk will settle. Alicia expresses surprise that they’d rather be seen as sexists than have any connection to the future EDWARD SNOWDEN, and over at the NSA, everyone gets boners, because Alicia just mentioned a brown-level target, and they can officially listen to every word out of her mouth again. Hoo boy, here we go.

‘The Good Wife’ Recap 7×6: Running Milk