Last night’s episode of the The Good Wife, Season 7, Episode 15, “Targets”, gets me to go “EW EW EW”, but let’s not start with that part. Let’s start with the part that made me go “huh?” The plot lines we’ll be focusing on for this episode are:
The Case of Alicia Florrick and the Super Secret Military Meeting
The Case of Lockhart, Agos, & Lee and the All-Female Takeover Maybe
So let’s dive right into that “huh?” moment. It starts right up top in this episode, when Alicia is getting picked up curbside by a very official dude named Sergeant Cole McWain (Sean Patrick Folster). She shows ID, asks permission to answer her phone from the backseat, and I’m scratching my head wondering if I missed an episode. On the phone is Eli Gold, who’s still trying to figure out who the FBI is going after; Alicia tells him that Ruth Eastman came by and said it was that old chestnut Peter Florrick, so he decides to hire a lawyer to figure out why he needs a lawyer. Specifically that (other) old chestnut, Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston). And in case I don’t remember to say it enough in this episode, god bless Carrie Preston.
At Lockhart, Agos, & Lee, we’re taking a group photo for an AVA article featuring only the women of the firm, which David Lee has managed to get all up in his head about. And since he’s a pal, he gets Cary Agos up in his head about it too, and both of them get on Diane Lockhart, quizzing her about what this guy’s angle might be. Cary wants to talk to Alicia, but Lucca Quinn reminds him that she’s out for a personal thing, and Cary’s phone call to Alicia goes straight to voicemail.
Because oh right, Alicia is in the middle of that thing. Right now she’s at a table full of men with very imposing names and titles, very few of which I caught, but all of which translate to Very Important. There’s Martin “Ace” Barnstone (Richard Brooks), George Kirby (Andrew Rothenberg), Captain Terrence Hicks (Patrick Breen), whom we’ve met before, Edward Janoway (Thomas Jay Ryan), Oren Cleary (John Finn), and then Alicia. The rest of the dudes are high up in the legal and intelligence branches of the military, and we find out that Alicia is serving as a civilian adviser in this confidential session. She’s been selected by the administration and granted special clearance to review the case of Massoud Tahan, an ISIS recruiter whose location is known to the United States for the next 48 hours. He’s never committed any violence himself, but his recruits have, so they’re looking for a legal justification to kill him. Woof.
Back at the now-seeming-much-less-important office, David Lee is asking Jason Crouse to do some freelance work for him: investigating Diane to see if she’s going to make the firm fully-female run. He wants to know what kinds of conversations the women of the firm are having with each other, and Jason seems to be agreeing to provide that work.
They always say the easiest way to find something out is just to ask, which is exactly what Elsbeth is doing to Peter; asking why he thinks he’s being investigated with the FBI. He says he has no idea, and then Eli irritably clears the room and is like, “What about all that vote-rigging in Alicia’s election, brah?” But then the two of them are interrupted by old No-Backstory Nora, who still doesn’t have a last name, but has terrible news: the FBI just called for her.
The threshold question that they need to address at this tribunal is whether an ISIS recruiter rises to the level of enemy combatant. He himself isn’t directly responsible for any deaths, so killing him anyway would put us on a slippery slope. But Alicia wants to know, does that mean we have to wait for him to make a successful attack? We’re looking for a way he materially supported the enemy, and she finds that he did that by supplying the bodies for the bombs. Alicia votes yes, that Massoud Tahan can be placed on a targeted kill list, and the motion carries. But psych! There’s more! Turns out this guy’s real name is Lance Hopper (Jeff O’Donnell), a man who disappeared from the United States and reappeared all racialized as Massoud Tahan, so the guy they want permission to kill is an American.
That understandably complicates matters somewhat, as it means they now have a second threshold question, and just held out the details of the case because they didn’t want the emotion of its arbiters to cloud their judgement. Alicia rightfully feels that as an American, Massoud/Lance is entitled to due process, so she withdraws her vote of support so that they can hear more.
Back at the office, Nora is being quizzed about what she told the FBI. She says they asked who calls Eli and who Eli calls, and asked specifically about Judge Schakowsky. Eli also tells Elsbeth about the vote-rigging, and she switches to her notebook for more serious notes. Sounds about right.
At LA&L, Diane is meeting with Jason, questioning him on his meeting with David Lee, sussing out that the latter asked the former to do some looking into Diane. Jason keeps his mouth shut, but Diane is a beast, so she doesn’t need you to answer “yes” or “no” to her questions to read your mind. In another part of the office, Cary is having lunch with Lucca, trying to get a read on Alicia’s part in all this. Lucca is also sealed up tight, telling Cary to direct his questions back to Alicia, and Jason and Lucca converge at the elevators to ruefully shake their heads about how insane and paranoid this whole firm is already. Just think how the rest of us feel, guys. We’ve been helplessly watching it fall apart for years now.
At the Pentagon tribunal thingy, Alicia has stepped out to check her voicemails, of which she has one from pretty much every major character in the show, mostly all with concerns about what’s up at LA&L. She steps back in to figure out if the three conditions for crossing this new threshold are met — 1. is the threat from Massoud imminent? 2. is this a combatant who can’t be captured? and 3. can the operation be conducted in accordance with current standards of war? If all those things are found to be true, then they can go on ahead and kill this guy, because this meeting right now is his due process. Captain Hicks takes issue right away with the phrasing of “imminent”; since all of Massoud’s atrocities are in the past, and this new video doesn’t urge anyone to violence, it’s tough to say they’re by definition “imminent”, since they aren’t in the future. Hicks wants to take another vote now, but they decide to take the night, “because we can”. I never get a chance to say this, but there are our tax dollars at work!!!!!
At the office, my girl Elsbeth Tascioni is doing me proud with some very odd learning concepts including frantic scribbling on and organizing of cards, a system that alerts her to the fact that she doesn’t know why Eli’s daughter Marissa Gold was of interest to the FBI, so she’s gonna go talk to her and find out.
At another office, oh boy does Alicia want into this bottle of whatever she has. She’s all but clawing at the outside of it, so when Jason cruises by, she asks him to use his handsy male magic to open it. He obliges, and asks Alicia why nobody around here trusts each other…and then plays directly into that by questioning Alicia on whether Diane’s ever talked to her about making LA&L an all-female firm. So basically in this moment, she probably shouldn’t trust him, right? I don’t understand why these questions didn’t trigger alarm bells in Alicia’s brain, or really why anyone on this show trusts anyone else anymore, but my attention is about to be scooped away by something far weirder: this goddamn courtship between Alicia and Jason. She asks him if he thinks she drinks too much, and at first he says no, but then withholds the bottle from her, while she flaps her hands at it and begs for it in a way that I think is supposed to be funny, but is just weird and sad. Then Jason makes Alicia meditate, and she sucks at it, so he just makes out with her instead and then they do it on the couch right there in the office??? I can tell I’m getting older and less fun, because I got absolutely no romantic energies from the scene, being completely distracted instead by my twin worries of, “what if someone comes in and sees?” and “oh so I guess we aren’t using condoms, huh?” Please everyone, let’s just be responsible adults for a second.
In questioning Marissa, Elsbeth finds out that she did indeed know about the vote-rigging in Alicia’s election, but Elsbeth doesn’t think that’s what the FBI are curious about. Marissa is listing off the topics she talked about on her smoothie date with Baby Boy, and all of a sudden Elsbeth stands straight up and goes UH-OH. She’s clearly figured out why the FBI are after Peter, but she won’t say, just shouting over her shoulder as she books it out the door that she can’t be his lawyer anymore and she also can’t say why.
Back at the Pentagon thingy, Captain Hicks has been excused, and no one will give an explanation until Alicia isn’t the only one asking. Sometimes you really need a male voice to add some validity to your questions, know what I mean? It turns out that Hicks is being questioned about leaks, so he’s been excused from the proceedings. This makes it a lot easier to meet that threshold, because every time HIcks would have voted against something, now there are only two votes against it, and Cleary can break the tie with his own vote, which tends to skew more conservative. Right off the bat, they vote that the first threshold is met — the threat of attack is imminent.
Meanwhile, Eli is understandably trying to figure out why Elsbeth can’t represent Peter. She won’t say, but does give him the card of one Michael Tascioni (Will Patton), her ex. Oh this should be fun. And I’m let down zero percent, because this dude holds a dog throughout the whole interview, and I can completely see how he and Elsbeth were together. It’s a perfect match. And Mike knows Elsbeth better than anyone, it seems, so understands the workings of her brain. He figures out that it must not be about vote-rigging; Elsbeth must have been conflicted out over one of her clients, who has overlap with Eli’s rich donor friends, whom Marissa was referencing when this all went down. So they need her client list.
And it turns out wiliness must be a Tascioni family trait, because Mike knows just how to get it — he goes down to request the case file from his and Elsbeth’s settlement papers from their divorce, which will contain a client list for each of them as part of a valuation of their practices. But she’s one step ahead of them, having already redacted one of the names on her list. She pops up to deliver this news in person, as is custom on The Good Wife, then briefly snuggles with the dog, and has a very sexually-charged out-loud interaction with her former husband that leaves them both short of breath. Sure. Once she’s gone, Mike tells Eli his Plan B, which is for Eli to give Elsbeth a piece of information that makes her paranoid, which will make her lead them right to the client.
At LA&L, Jason is reassuring Cary and David Lee that Diane isn’t starting an all-female firm, but they don’t seem to be buying it. Both these dudes are so far up in their own heads that it’s scary. Makes me wonder how they get any lawyering done at all. Alicia calls right around this time and gets sent to voicemail, so we switch to her storyline, where she’s speaking up for Captain Hicks and the fact that he would never leak privileged information about this confidential case. Cleary says he knows that, and that’s why they now need to ask Alicia some questions. OH DAMN GIRL I DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING. Nor did I see it coming that Alicia is in fact the leak, just not from her own mouth. Remember how the NSA listens into all her phone calls? Well now they can listen to her conversations even when she’s not actually on her phone, so they heard everything she said while she was outside the room, which Stephen Dinovera (Michael Urie) and Tyler Hopkins (Tobias Segal) are explaining to their boss, Clinton Foyle (Damian Young). They explain that Alicia was vetted by the Pentagon, not the NSA, so they don’t know about the three-hop warrant on her, or the fact that the information about the secret meeting was passed all around the NSA, and that’s where the leak came. Not from Alicia herself. Oh and also they listen to her have sex with Jason, which…come on dudes. Let’s cut that out.
Speaking of phone taps, Eli tries to initiate the paranoia plan with Elsbeth by saying that her client should be worried about a phone tap, since Peter’s phone has been tapped. Elsbeth figures out that this is a move designed to make her paranoid, but there’s nothing she can do about it, because now it’s her fiduciary responsibility to warn her client; even if it’s a lie, she can’t risk withholding the information and having it turn out to be true. She puzzles out that she can’t call her client, because of the phone thing, so she has to go to him directly. She sets out with the dog in tow, who’s been tagged with a GPS monitor, which she ditches in Garfield Park. But that’s what Michael wanted her to do all along, as it would mean she’d think she was in the clear and wouldn’t notice her real tag, Jason Crouse. He followed her to a diner where she met a man named Lloyd Garber, a very wealthy man who gave Marissa the job at a dairy farm when she was in Israel. So there’s your connection.
Meanwhile, Alicia is watching the news, and sees that Massoud Tahan was killed in a drone strike attack, so it seems like they didn’t waste any time once she was out of the proceedings. She gives Lucca some advice to stay on the sidelines at LA&L, and then along comes Jason for a scene that seriously grossed me out. First she’s normal, calling him out for sending her to voicemail, which reminds her of high school, and I totally feel you there, girl. Jason acknowledges that he isn’t the most comfortable with the situation, given that Alicia is, y’know, married to the governor and whatnot. Alicia says he’s totes fine with it, which we all know is a lie, and then YOU GUYS. Here comes the slimiest, weirdest, most uncomfortable bit of dialogue I’ve ever seen on this show, delivered by Alicia to Jason: “You kept me from drinking. If you don’t come to me tonight, who knows? Maybe I’ll start drinking again.” EW EW EW EW EW. So basically you’re blackmailing this dude with your own bad habits? I hate it, I hate it all. And then she comes back with “I want you again. Don’t you want it?” and I could truly sink into the floor. I’m feeling vaguely nauseated just mentally revisiting this to write it down.
And of course — of course — that creepy guy at the NSA is listening in on it, and has some questions to answer from his boss. Seems like the poop is about to hit the fan, and as soon as I quit vomming, I’ll be really excited for next week.