Employees are on edge as Will Gardner and Diane Lockhart begin to cut positions and reduce costs. Alicia is expecting the worst when Will calls her into to his office but he in fact wants her to be the second chair in a lawsuit against Anna Loeb, the estranged daughter of the firm's absentee partner Jonas Stern. The woman is represented by storefront lawyer Ryan Alprin in a case where a pedestrian tripped over a cable and fell in front of Loeb's house and is now suing for her and her husband for $1.2 million, accusing them of negligence. Their lawyer decides on a unique argument: as Orthodox Jews, the Loebs couldn't repair the cable, which became detached on the Sabbath, as they are prohibited from working on that day. That defense soon runs into a problem and it's left to Alicia and investigator Kalinda to get to the root of the accusations. It all may fall apart however when Alicia learns something shocking about Alprin himself.
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E: This week the writers decided to throw a little temptation Alicia’s way. Ah, so Will made a move, did he? Um, no. Nothing so meaningful as that. But ooooh, can I just say how much I love the dialog on this show? I could just roll around in it, like George Costanza in velvet.
Erm. Yes. What was I saying? Case of the week: mystery partner Stern has a daughter who’s being sued, and Will asks Alicia to sit in on the case (which is really about helping to protect her job from layoffs). The lawsuit is what they call a ‘slip and fall,’ filed by a woman who slipped and fell in front of the former party girl/now devout Orthodox daughter’s house. The daughter, Anna, had met the scholarly Mr. Loeb while she was in rehab, and unlikely as it may be, that was it: “that’s the problem with love – you can’t make it do what you want.” There’s a complicated issue involving a wire which creates a sort of artificial community boundary, but the most important thing is, the eruv wire fell down on the Sabbath and the couple couldn’t fix it or even call someone to do so because that would constitute work. And so – of course – a nice, super-sympathetic lady walks by after getting special groceries for her toddler’s gluten allergy, slips, and ends up in permanent agony. Ouch. Sucks to be us. And her, of course.
The lawyer already hired by the Loebs turns out to be this motorcycle riding, leather jacket wearing, Dennis Leary/Aaron Eckhart type in Patrick Jane’s clothing. Meow. You know, if you like that sort of thing. He is just the kind of rebellious idealist that rule-following smart girls love. Anyway, he’s the unorthodox of the title, and he immediately sets about hostile flirting with Alicia: I do all the work, he says, “and here comes the 600 pound gorilla” to take over. “That’s me, 600 pounds,” she tosses her glance over her shoulder.
Isaac Loeb is very touchy about his father in law’s money, and doesn’t want to let Alicia stay on until he realizes that she was married to Peter, the former State’s Attorney. “Your husband was a great man, Mrs. Florrick.” Now that’s unorthodox. It turns out that Peter did a lot of work against skinhead gangs; he made the Orthodox feel listened to and valued. It’s no wonder the powers that be took him out, according to Loeb – “the righteous man quickly finds the world against him.” Kalinda gags on the notion of Peter being righteous. The Orthodox invest a lot in feeling protected; the neighborhood is crawling with cameras, although the one that should have given a perfect view of the Loeb’s front door wasn’t turned on until a week after the accident. Kalinda suspects that the Loebs will have a “sympathy issues.” “Is that a euphemism for something?” Alicia wants to know. Anti-Semitism, Kalinda believes. Ugh – as if they don’t have enough stacked against them?
Alicia visits her hottie co-council Ryan Alprin at his storefront office, and he immediately calls her out: he accuses her of slumming, “dressing up as a peasant and walking amongst the serfs.” “That’s me,” she responds, cool as usual, “so this is what idealism looks like.” He calls her a minion of the corporate overlords; she wonders if it’s so much more morally superior to fight for DUIs and prostitutes. Then he tells her that Will once buried him with paperwork once so that his client – a baby with lead poisoning – died before they could bring the toy company responsible to trial. She’s unsettled. So what’s our case? she wants to know, almost as a distraction. “What do you think about the First Amendment?” he asks. “I like it?” And that’s his notion; the Loeb’s religious freedom precludes them being held liable. Seems like a good tack to me – and, upon examination, to Alicia, and Will, and also to the trial judge who (as it turns out) argued the same thing in his very first case as a young lawyer. It’s just a slip and fall, the plaintiff’s lawyer claims. It’s not about the Constitution. “Everything’s about the Constitution,” the judges replies, beaming. It’s not often that you get a chance to do over something you believe in.
Have I mentioned that we’ve picked up an old thread? Zach is looking for the call girl who appears with Peter in the photoshopped drug pictures. He and a friend troll escort sites, glorying in the fact that Alicia trusts Zach enough not to set parental controls on his computer. They’re almost caught by grandma Jackie. Dumb, guys, really dumb. Of course, the really dumb thing is that when the friend finds the girl, “Katerina,” Zach then steals Jackie’s credit card to try and talk to her. Lunatic! He’s crushed to find that the woman on the other end of the line isn’t actually Katerina. And of course he’s also caught. His sweet red face is covered with tears, but he can’t bring himself to tell his mother the truth, and settles for the sad old “I was curious” defense. I know you’re trying to protect your mom, dude, but that’s so annoyingly Harry Potter of you. Tell the grown up! She can actually help – and if you pass on the information, it will get it farther. It’s not going to hurt her when you explain that the photograph is faked and is actual proof that someone’s trying to frame your dad. So frustrating!
Meanwhile the layoffs continue at the firm, and Will broaches the idea of hiring Ryan as a cheap (but smart) replacement for some of the people they’ve had to let go. He also suggests to Diane that they could keep 15 employees if they powered out absent, do-nothing, bringing-in-no-clients (C: except his daughter?) partner Stern. Diane sees it as a bid for Will to control the firm completely, since Stern often sides with her. Will pleads (relatively) pure motives; Diane snarls “nothing here is pure and simple” and stalks out. No one can snarl (or stalk) like Christine Baranski. Awesome.
Back in court, Ryan decimates the first witness. Maybe the crazy First Amendment defense will work! Alicia looks longingly as the Loebs quietly touch hands during a break. But then, oh dear. Opposing council has dug up Anna’s cell phone records, and found that she has a habit of calling her estranged father Friday nights after her husband has gone to bed – which is to say, she’s broken her adopted faith and done work on the Sabbath. OUCH. (C: Wait, phone calls are “work”?) Isaac doesn’t know if he can forgive Anna, and there are perhaps dubious comparisons made to Peter’s betrayal and Anna’s lies. The First Amendment defense is decimated, and all parties go to Alicia’s office to discuss a settlement. (A lot of glass, Ryan observes. “Yes,” says Alicia. “Every time we sell a piece of our soul, we buy more glass.”) It’s clear that the plaintiffs are going after Stern through Anna, even though Isaac won’t take Stern’s money. While they’re alone, Ryan quizzes Alicia. “Why didn’t you leave [Peter]?” Finally someone came right out and asked! “Because I didn’t want to,” she counters, which he rightly assesses isn’t a real answer. “You like people who scare you,” he concludes, setting her back. “I like working with you,” he tells her. That’s his line? Apparently so, because this is where she tells him she’s married. “He cheated on you!” is the reply. “So what?” she asks, a bit horrified. Whatever Peter did, that’s not a justification. That’s not the way she rolls.
Since they need a new strategy, Kalinda starts investigating the scene, and finds out that the poor woman who slipped somehow managed to fall in a hole in the camera coverage – one foot from one camera view, two feet out of another. This sets off all sort of alarm bells for the lawyers, and happily for the Loebs we find out it’s all a scam. The guy from the security company conspired with the sweet-seeming mother to weaken the eruv wire so it would fall just there, and to make sure none of the cameras were pointed in that direction. Wow. Less novel than the First Amendment defense, but the ugly truth will do, too. Ryan surreptitiously touches Alicia’s hand in court. Whoa! Just then Kalinda breaks in with the rather shocking news that Ryan seems to be practicing without a license. Looks like he failed the bar once and never tried again – he hung out his shingle anyway. Alicia stops Kalinda before she can hear absolute confirmation (which she would then be required to report to the judge). They finish the trial abruptly, they win, and Alicia tells Will not to hire Ryan, but she doesn’t report him. He calls, pleading, trying to explain, but Alicia shuts him down. This is her all over; she protects him, but the price comes from their personal relationship. Ah well. Not that I wanted her to run away with him or anything, but their interactions had a nice snap and crackle. At least Isaac and Anna seems to be working it out.
Up next week – Alicia testifies for Peter. Well, like I said. We knew that was coming.
- This episode first aired in on November 10, 2009.
- On its first airing this episode attracted 13.35 million viewers.