Whoa, things are really not looking good for Cary. That much was obvious since he was arrested, but with every episode, his case sinks further into despair. Diane knows it, Alicia knows it, even Cary knows it. Still, they’re all trying to keep optimism as the trial date looms two weeks away.
The latest piece of incriminating evidence (trying to prove that Cary advised how to smuggle $1.3 million worth of heroin) is the recording captured on Trey’s wire when Cary met with Lemond Bishop’s crew. As we learned, the recording was edited so it looks like Cary is just laughing and joking as he shares details about how to evade arrest. The recording is so damning that Diane and Alicia discuss whether they’re making the wrong choice by not having Cary take a plea deal.
However, Cary is adamant that he’s put on the stand to testify — especially because he’s the only one who can explain that the recording was edited by Trey to frame him in exchange for a lighter deal. The other crew members who could corroborate his story are, well, dead. Diane and Alicia think it’s a bad idea; lawyers make terrible witnesses. Cary’s insistent and Kalinda seems to support him. Though she’s just conferencing in via phone since a) She is court-ordered to stay 50 feet away from Cary at all times and b) Snuggling in bed with federal agent Lana Delaney, her sometimes girlfriend.
Diane reluctantly agrees to test Cary as a witness and hires an attorney for a mock cross-examination: Viola Walsh (Rita Wilson), the firm’s nemesis, is perfect to try to rattle Cary because she’s terrifying. The get Howard Lyman to act as the judge, because what else does he do all day?
Viola plays the super-casual lawyer, trying to throw Cary off his game by mocking him and acting really condescending. It works and Cary is visibly annoyed. She grills him about his time as an ASA and whether he was secretly working for Bishop the entire time before he went back to Lockhart Gardner. Cary stumbles as she tries to catch him in a lie about what details he told his co-workers about working for Bishop, and Diane does not look impressed. It just gets worse as Viola challenges him about the cocaine that went missing from the evidence room, setting Bishop free. Cary is normally quite composed, but yeah, he’s an awful witness.
Cary watches back the footage of himself and cringes, making a call to the only person who can help: His co-worker/lover Kalinda. But Kalinda’s distracted and in a bind of her own, as Bishop finds out that the federal government is working on a case against him — and that Kalinda is sleeping with Lana, a federal agent. He politely threatens Kalinda that she better find out what Lana’s up to, or else it could be very bad for Cary. Of course, Kalinda can’t tell Cary any of this, so she screens his call at Lana’s house. She also tries to eavesdrop on Lana, on the phone in the other room, talking about something indeed related to Bishop.
Unfortunately, Cary suspects Kalinda’s up to something and winds up catching her and Lana kissing on the street. That makes him furious and completely unable to concentrate as Viola comes at him again on Day 2 of trial prep. Apparently Cary made a joke about Beyonce on the recording and Viola is relentless: Cary blows up at her and storms out of the room, yelling that Diane isn’t helping him enough. Diane shoots back that these are softball questions compared to what an actual prosecutor will ask — Viola takes Diane aside and emphasizes that Cary is a really bad witness. “If I’m on the jury, he’s going away for 15 years,” she says.
Diane snaps at Cary to get his head in the game, as they’re 14 days away from Cary possibly spending a decade in prison. With that, Cary breaks his bail rules and sneaks over to Kalinda’s house in the middle of the night, almost getting shot in the process when she thinks someone is breaking in. A heartsick Cary begs her to stop fooling around with Lana because he can’t stop picturing the two of them together. “Act like you care,” he pleads. “Act like I mean something to you.”
Kalinda reminds him that she does care, but it’s not like they’re exclusive or as she hilariously calls it, “going steady.” Cary remains steadfast. “I don’t want to be with anyone else,” he says. Kalinda has one response: “I do.”
Well, problem solved. “Thank you,” Cary tells her. “And go to hell.”
Heartbroken or not, he’s motivated after that exchange and manages to beat Viola at her own game when they go back for more prep, refusing to answer more than one-word responses. Diane smiles approvingly. Over in Kalinda land, things are about to get much worse. Though she lies and tells Bishop that Lana isn’t investigating him, Bishop gives her a mysterious white key card and orders her to secretly give to Lana. (Maybe it’s some sort of tracking device?) Kalinda almost goes through with it and then breaks the card in half at the last minute, so that will definitely have consequences later.
As that’s going on, Alicia is busy with her case of the week. Did you think she would stop taking new cases just because she’s running for state’s attorney? She’s supposed to, but she can’t resist when her brother Owen stops by and pleads with her to help out one of his students at the college where he works. A student named Jodi said she was raped at a party and wants the guy who assaulted her expelled — and she needs a lawyer advocate to sit next to her during a university judiciary committee hearing.
Alicia reluctantly agrees and Owen promises it will only take a few hours. The case winds up being a lot more complicated because Alicia is horrified by the lack of due process at the university. The people in charge of the hearing won’t let Alicia speak, so Alicia winds up texting advice to Jodi throughout the whole thing as well as rules from the student handbook that the officials keep breaking. After confusing statements from the campus police and one hilarious autocorrect incident when she texts Owen while he’s testifying, Alicia is furious when the committee declares there’s not enough evidence for an expulsion. So Alicia announces Jodi will be suing the school because Title 9 requires due process in campus allegations.
In court, who should be representing the university but Mr. Louis Canning? Known for explaining his medical issues in detail to all judges, Canning enters the courtroom in a wheelchair, telling the judge he’s suffered a bout of kidney failure. Alicia rolls her eyes every time Canning takes a breath from his oxygen tank, which would seem callous except that she’s seen all his tricks before. He won’t actually confirm whether he’s telling the truth about any of it.
She and Canning go back and forth about the school’s responsibility (the university just wants the case to go away because of the bad publicity it could bring) until Kalinda finds the one piece of evidence they need. The school is in the process of painting over a “rape wall,” where women write down the names of their attackers every time they’re sexually assaulted. All Alicia has to do is point out this evidence to Canning and mention she’s starting a class action suit. Within a day, the university has suddenly discovered that Jodi’s attacker had marijuana in his dorm room, meaning that he’s expelled from the school.
The whole thing proves Alicia’s a lot better at her day job than running for state’s attorney — she catches wind of some focus group testing where one woman declares she probably wouldn’t vote tor Alicia because she seems selfish and entitled. That comment sticks with her so much that she confides in Finn (during a chat in Finn’s new office in the Lockhart Gardner space) about her feelings. Finn suggests she join him at a soup kitchen where he volunteers once a week, since he ex-wife once made the same remark about him. Yep, bringing up the ex-wife: Who wants to start the episode countdown for when Finn and Alicia make out?
Alicia shows up at the soup kitchen, still dressed in work clothes (“Wow, look at you, best dressed at the soup kitchen,” an amused Finn says) and gets to work scrubbing pots and pans. Unfortunately, a bystander snaps a photo of Alicia cleaning what looks to be an already-clean pot while smiling on the phone. The gossip sites have a field day with that one, and Eli is furious that she pulled that stunt. When Alicia protests it wasn’t a stunt, he harshly tells her that if she wants to win, she has to do whatever he says. That includes actual photo ops of her in a soup kitchen, and ideally a picture with Peter on the day that former commentator Frank Prady announces his candidacy.
That’s right, Prady is officially running — and Castro has officially dropped out, meaning it will be a two-candidate race. Alicia has some seriously tough competition though, as Prady’s an even stronger brand. But she gets a boost of confidence when she watches another focus group and the women that previously called her selfish has changed her mind and says Alicia has her vote. “I think she seems to care,” the woman says.
Fired up, Alicia is ready to go to war with Prady, whatever it takes. “Tell me what to do,” she says to Eli.