This week was all about battles: Cary vs. Howard, Alicia vs. Nancy, son vs. mother, Eli vs. Ruth. It was also about the introduction of Jason Krause, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, which only helped to further prove my theory that Jeffrey Dean Morgan makes everything better.
Let’s take this one battle at a time: Alicia vs. Nancy/Son vs. Mother
We kick things off in Alicia’s new home-away-from-home: bond court, where she takes on the case of “Male 209,” better known as Eric, the young man who attacked a piece of art at the Chicago Museum of Fine Arts. Only, when Eric reveals that the picture he destroyed with a hammer was a naked photo of himself as a child, Alicia’s interest in his case grows.
After deciding to take on the case, Alicia realizes she needs a good investigator. Lucca gives her three names, and despite the fact that Jason Krause nearly charms the pants off her, she goes with the cheaper option, a woman named Amanda. And let’s just say this: By the end of the hour, Amanda’s gone and Jason decides to work for Alicia despite the fact that Diane offers him more than double the salary. (Potential romance, anyone?)
On the case, Eric explains that his mother took the naked photo when he was 8 years old. Apparently, there’s an entire series of photos his mother took of him and his sister. They had followed him around most of his life before dying down. But now that she’s selling them to the Chicago Museum of Fine Arts for their permanent collection, he can’t get away from them.
Bad news for Alicia: Representing the museum/mother is none other than I’m-so-innocent-I’m-from-the-Midwest Nancy, who continues with her dumb act whenever it suits her cause. When the museum offers to drop the charges if Eric publicly embraces his mother’s work, it’s official: We’re going to trial.
After Lucca joins Team Alicia — she handed her the case in bond court, which entitles her to 50 percent — they decide to go for the no-consent angle.
Standing before an awfully zen Judge Dunaway, Alicia argues that Eric never wanted to be photographed, and he never gave consent, therefore, the photos can’t be sold. But given that Eric was a minor, it’s decided that his mother was allowed to give consent on his behalf, so the copyright interest holds.
Sadly, Alicia’s next attempt to prove that the photos caused Eric harm — they did get him his first email from a pedophile — also fails.
In the judge’s quarters, where we discover the reason for his new attitude is that he’s converted to Islam after having a heart attack, Alicia’s consent angle is definitively crushed when the other defense finds Eric’s sister first (hence Alicia firing Amanda). But once again, Lucca saves the day by requesting a separate ruling on the right of publicity. Basically, the museum can show the work, but they shouldn’t be allowed to use it for commercial purposes (translation: in the gift shop).
At court, the judge rules on every item sold in the museum gift shop … until Nancy brings up the fact that the photos were taken in Maine, which does not recognize a right to publicity. Again, Alicia loses. The museum can sell it all.
But after sexy Jason steps in — as Kalinda taught us, all investigators should be sexy — Alicia calls someone new to the stand: a man who was convicted of possessing child porn and was an active member of an online community. When asked if he’d seen Eric’s picture, he said he and his friends had traded them back and forth for years for the use of “personal sexual gratification.” According to him, he doesn’t see a difference between Eric’s photo and child pornography.
When even that fails, Alicia tries for child labor — Eric was a model but wasn’t paid — but in the end, the scuffle ends with Eric mother extending a hand and him taking it. (I have no idea what that means, to be honest.)
Next: Eli Follows
Next battle: Eli vs. Ruth
After Eli apologizes to Peter and they say goodbye, Ruth informs Eli that if he comes near Peter again, she’ll destroy him and everything he holds dear. His response? “Have you seen the movie It Follows?”
Eli then calls Alicia and informs her that Peter has vetoed him as her chief of staff. She immediately sees what he’s doing. “I get it. You’re using me,” she tells him as she heads over to talk to Peter. She informs Peter that Ruth might not stand for Eli, but Alicia won’t stand without him. She then reminds her husband that he needs her to paint the picture of a happy family that will appeal to Hillary. He informs her that she’s being used. She says, “I know. Who isn’t?”
With that, Eli is officially Alicia’s chief of staff, and Ruth still can’t let go of Eli’s last comment. Asking Nora what It Follows is about, Nora informs her that it’s about a girl who goes crazy because this thing is constantly following her and if it catches her, it will kill her, so she can never feel safe. Get it?
Ruth then asks Nora to be Eli’s assistant and report everything he does back to her. The trouble is, Nora likes Eli more than Ruth and it doesn’t take long for her to inform him of Ruth’s request.
Meanwhile, Eli gives Alicia the plan for the first two weeks of her rehabilitation. Step one: Meeting with Frank Landau, the democratic chair who screwed her over.
Alicia does what is asked of her and apologizes. And when Eli asks that Frank write a letter of support to clear Alicia’s name of any wrongdoing in the election scandal, Frank offers them one better: He’ll give Alicia a seat on the election board that found her guilty … only he wants Alicia to vote “no” on the first proposal. And of course, he won’t tell her what it’s about. Regardless, Alicia seems to accept, because she tells Eli that she’s on the board.
After Frank calls Peter with the good news, Peter goes to Ruth to inform her of Eli’s good work. He then tells her that he doesn’t like bad blood, so he suggests she give Eli a call and congratulate him. Round one: Eli.
Cary vs. Howard
After the associates complain to Cary that Howard Lyman does no work on their cases — unless sleeping in meetings is work — and then claims 70 percent of the profit, Cary calls a meeting of the name partners to discuss Howard. But Diane and David don’t see the problem. They all take 70 percent of the associate’s billable hours without doing much of the work.
And yet, despite the meeting, Cary takes Howard to lunch and suggest that the partners think its time for him to shift to emeritus status. His reaction, surprisingly, is to threaten to cut Cary’s balls off. And apparently, he means it. Like, really means it. Who else now thinks Howard was in the mob when he was younger? I officially want a young Howard spin-off.
After that, Howard gives one of his good friends (who just so happens to be a judge) a call and suggests that he move Cary’s case up four weeks … when Cary’s not even close to ready. Cary retaliates by telling Howard NOT to attend one of Diane’s meetings knowing full well that he will now go and ruin everything. And nothing ruins a meeting like saying, “I think abortion is great!”
By the time David and Diane sit them both down to sort things out, Howard issues what David calls the easiest ultimatum in history: Either Cary goes or he goes. Okay, but if Howard goes, can I get my spin-off?
I have to say: I’m loving Jason. I’m loving Lucca. I’m loving a manipulative Eli. So far, this season’s on the right track. What did you all think of the hour? Hit the comments or let me know your thoughts on Twitter @samhighfill.