Editor’s Note: Apologies for the delay on this, due to travel and illness. And hopefully this open thread will tide you over until next weekend’s episode.
By Kate Linnea Welsh
Lockhart/Gardner is facing the military justice system again in “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” as Will and Alicia defend Sgt. Regina Elkins, a young, female drone operator who is charged with 12 counts of murder when drones kill civilians in Afghanistan. Elkins’s parents are paying for civilian representation, and Capt. Hicks, who we first met in “Double Jeopardy,” comes to Lockhart/Gardner because he thinks they “would do the least damage.” Interestingly, though, it’s Kalinda who convinces Will to take the case: he’s reluctant, unsure of his own competence in the military court system, but when Kalinda tells him that the State’s Attorney’s investigation into him is winding down and that he should “do something nice for someone,” Will takes her at her word, and he and Alicia are back in military court. The judge is the same one Will clashed with during his last experience, so he does what he did when the British judge didn’t like him: He has Alicia talk in his place. Even though Will loves Alicia partially because she can hold her own in a courtroom, he persists in believing that she will come across to others as meek and kind to a fault. This play never really works, and despite Alicia’s compelling argument that Elkins’s accuser was sexist and that she was prosecuted as a scapegoat, Elkins is found guilty. I liked that, because the courtroom scenes have no tension if Will and Alicia always win, but I wish the show had taken this opportunity to delve into the questions it raised about civilian collateral in drone strikes and about the illegal use of drugs like Adrafinil by soldiers who must stay alert for long shifts.
It turns out that Kalinda had Will doing something nice under false pretenses, anyway, because her information was wrong. The investigation into Will isn’t winding down — it’s heating up. Peter assigns his old rival Wendy Scott-Carr as special prosecutor, and Scott-Carr decides to forget about Lemond Bishop and drugs, and instead go straight for Will and judicial corruption. (While we have no reason to think that Will is actually bribing judges, it is interesting that judges from outside his own system, like the British judge and the military judge, tend to hate him practically on sight.) Scott-Carr says it’s her own decision to make Will the focus of the investigation, but everyone, including Diane, assumes Peter is coming after Will because of Alicia. Diane knows the allegations against Will are unfounded, but her patience has run out, and she talks to him like a school principal scolding a wayward 10-year-old: “Stop it. Alicia. Peter Florrick is coming after you because you are sleeping with his wife. Don’t lie to me. It’s wrong. You are her boss. He is the State’s Attorney. Even if it weren’t wrong, it’s not smart. Stop sleeping with his wife. Do you understand me?” By the end of their confrontation, I’m ready to let Diane take over running the whole world, and Will looks appropriately chastened — though he never actually agrees to stop sleeping with Alicia.
Because one love triangle between Lockhart/Gardner and the State’s Attorney’s office wasn’t enough, the Cary/Dana/Kalinda situation goes to a new level as Kalinda — maybe? — tries to seduce Dana, who then sleeps with Cary. I’m still inclined to see Dana as mostly a pawn in the complicated Kalinda/Cary dynamic, but she might simultaneously be using them to get information or leverage toward her own ends, whatever those may be. And it’s interesting that Cary — who was, after all, fired by Lockhart/Gardner — is the one person in the State’s Attorney’s office most reluctant to pursue the case against Will, and most determined to keep Alicia out of it. Is it because he genuinely likes them and thinks they’re innocent, or because he knows firsthand how ruthless Will can be when crossed, or some of both?
Eli’s subplot supplies the comic relief again this week as he works with the cheese lobby to try to get the USDA to adopt a more cheese-centric recommended diet diagram. While it’s hilarious to listen to him try to talk about “the bread people” and “a mutual enemy in vegetables” and food pyramids without laughing, his cheese clients actually are important to Lockhart/Gardner’s bottom line, and in the end he loses them to a fruit lobbyist played by Amy Sedaris. While Diane thinks Eli just needs to get used to the occasional failure — “You’re brilliant, but you’re not God’s gift.” — I think it’s telling that this failure stemmed from that brilliance and his related inability to take seriously things he basically sees as trivial. The great Eli Gold was outmaneuvered by someone who could genuinely concentrate on fruit interests as a real issue, rather than a punchline or a way to keep the lights on. Will there be consequences? At the beginning of the episode, Will told Kalinda, “We lose cheese, we lose our quarter.” I hope the show follows through with the effects that the loss of this client will have on the firm.
On the home front, Alicia finally makes some definite progress in her ongoing battle with Jackie. It turns out that Alicia’s webcam was recording during Jackie’s snooping mission last episode, and that evidence is enough to make Alicia change the locks. This leads to a showdown in which it’s made clear once and for all that Alicia has found her backbone, at least in this situation: when Jackie asks if she’d like to explain why she changed the locks, Alicia says “Sure. I don’t want you in here anymore.” And when Jackie threatens to have Alicia’s children taken away, Alicia is having none of it: “Look at me, Jackie. Look at my face. You no longer have the power to wound.” After she shuts the door in Jackie’s face (Go Alicia!), she has a moment when she looks like she’s going to break down — but, instead, she does the practical thing necessary to follow through with her decision. Since Jackie’s excuse for being at the apartment was to pick up the kids to drive them to Peter’s house, Alicia announces to a delighted Zach that she’s going to buy him a car so he can drive himself and Grace to their dad’s instead. I was torn between being proud of Alicia’s personal growth that got her to this point and being afraid that she had reached this level of confidence exactly at the moment at which it might all blow up in her face because of the Will investigation. The big question here is whether Jackie is acting on her own. Does Peter even want full custody? Will information Jackie gives Peter end up being used against Will instead of in a custody dispute? Did Jackie actually find anything, or is she bluffing?
Kate Linnea Welsh is a New Hampshire-based writer and taxonomist. (No, that doesn’t involve dead animals.) She’s a senior editor at TheTelevixen.com, on staff at Vampire-Diaries.net, and writes about other TV shows, books, and more at her blog (http://katelinnea.blogspot.com). She’d love to talk to you on Twitter: @katelinnea