Sunday, November 29, 2015

Alison Stern-Dunyak
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
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Just when it looks like Alicia and her handsome new P.I. are inching their way towards coupledom on The Good Wife, reality rears its ugly head. Not only is their closeness giving Eli and Ruth heartburn, but now we learn that Jason might not be who he seems to be. For the "Jalicia" shippers out there, this could mean trouble.

Alicia and Jason aren't the only ones with shifting relationships, however. A case involving Internet giant Chumhum also brings together another unlikely pair. Who is it? Read on and find out!

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A Trip to the Red Zone

It's now officially a theme of The Good Wife season 7: new episodes starting with a video or other media before rolling back into our main characters. In this case, it's a montage of laptop, tablet and smartphone images -- everything from the weather to maps to texts to what appears to be an individual's loan status and credit report.

This episode, "Discovery," begins with the return of Monica, the failed applicant who took her revenge on Lockhart, Agos by posting a scathing video about their hiring practices. She's working elsewhere now, representing a client who was run out of business by a company that's "lacking diversity even more than you are." She asks for their help, feeling they owe her that much.

The "less diverse" company is none other than Chumhum, which Louis Canning now represents. He asks Alicia and Quinn to join as co-counsels, given their greater -- ahem -- diversity. ("My parents would be so proud," Quinn snarks.)

The case itself involves racism. The plaintiff, a Chicago restaurant owner, blames Chumhum's "Chummymaps" for the loss of her business. When the map uses a feature called Safe Filter, it gives drivers a "safe" (i.e., lower crime) route. The "red zones" indicate unsafe neighborhoods. Guess where the woman's restaurant is located? Perhaps not coincidentally, most of the red zones are in areas with majority-minority populations.

So is Chumhum racist? The parties can't come to a settlement, so it'll take a judge to sort things out.

The Courtship of St. Alicia

Eli and Courtney go to dinner. Are they dating or campaigning? Hard to tell. Though, Eli tells Ms. Price, "You're incredibly sexy when you're writing a check." Courtney forks over the big bucks, telling her date(?) to convene some focus groups to see if "St. Alicia's" reputation has recovered from the voter-fraud scandal.

Back at Alicia's apartment/office, she's taping (lame, very lame) commercials for Peter when Jason arrives. He fesses up about working for Lockhart, Agos (which Alicia already knew about) and promises never to misuse info he gains while working for them (which Alicia says she believes). As they talk, Ruth looks on suspiciously. No mistaking the chemistry between the P.I. and her candidate's wife.

Ruth asks Eli if Alicia and Jason are having an affair. He says no, but she's not convinced. He's furious at the thought of Alicia's hiding something this important to the campaign.

Later, Eli buttonholes Jason in Alicia's apartment. Gold comes right out and asks if the investigator and Alicia are "getting close." Eli reminds him that Peter's running for president -- people are paying attention. But Jason deflects the questions. Ask Alicia yourself, he hisses.

Race Against Time

In court, Alicia and Quinn's motion to dismiss goes nowhere. After a poor showing by Chumhum's COO, Spencer Harmon, the judge thinks there might be a case after all. He allows Cary's request for full discovery of evidence but limits it to Chummymaps and any racist references.

At their respective offices, both sides of the case pursue discovery. Over at Lockhart, Agos, Monica and Cary continue butting heads. They agree on one thing, though -- Chumhum's search algorithm puts different ads on their laptops. Monica gets soul-food restaurants, while Cary gets skiing ads. This may give them the chance to expand discovery beyond the original judge's instructions.

They take their motion to court. The ads take their data from the entire Chumhum suite of tools, not just maps. Much to Alicia and Lucca's dismay, the judge rules that all of Chumhum is now open to discovery.

Alicia's now in a foul mood and not too receptive when Eli stops by to give her a speech he usually reserves for candidates. Basically, don't sleep with the help and don't give anyone reason to suspect anything's going on. A furious Alicia makes it clear that A) she's not having an affair with Jason, and B) if she were, she'd never discuss it with him anyway.

What she doesn't know is that Jason, sitting in another room, overhears the whole thing.

When is an Animal Not an Animal?

Canning calls together the troops again to deal with the full-discovery ruling. And it's not looking good. Chumhum's "autocomplete" search feature yields some questionable results, but worse, a photo-tagging system often identifies black people in the category of "Animal." Yikes.

The Chumhum coders tell A & L that the "animals" photos weren't tagged by people, but by an algorithm. The young man says it's much better now! We're not racists! "I'm not saying you are," Lucca say, scanning the office full of other young white men. "I'm just looking around your workplace."

Canning wants the women to ignore what they see as implicit bias (no white people were ever tagged as animals). Although both women are disgusted, Lucca says they should do what Canning says because he's paying the bills.

Eli's assistant, Nora, stops by. She says that the campaign sent her. I don't need any help, Alicia protests. But Alicia's chaperon isn't going anywhere, at least not while Jason's around.

Cary calls Lucca in. She thinks they're asking for a settlement, but instead it's to inform her that Safe Filter's main coder, Kip O'Neill, was mugged a year before he created the product. She's annoyed that he assumes the muggers were black. She walks out but worriedly calls Alicia to say that O'Neill may be a problem. Alicia sends Jason out to gather info but also tells him not to let Eli cause trouble between them.

Jason is starting to tell her ... something ... about his feelings, when Nora interrupts them. But he also says he likes his life to be simple -- and it isn't anymore. As he leaves, Alicia sighs. In confusion? Frustration?

The Joke's on Diane and Cary

Good news! The muggers were white, so no racial bias. Bad news! Kip e-mailed racially-tinged jokes to his buddies in the weeks before the launch. He says they were just jokes, made out of exhaustion.

Canning tells Alicia and Lucca to go ahead and tag every e-mail with a racist joke as evidence. But not just at Chumhum -- across the entire Internet. Cary and Diane receive a 50-terabyte hard drive, which Cary calls "the largest document dump in American legal history."

Back at campaign HQ, Nora tells Eli she's not hanging around watching Alicia and Jason any longer. She has real work to do. Eli just needs her to keep this whole potential scandal away from Courtney, who kisses Eli (on the mouth! Yes, dating!) over the good news coming out of the Alicia-centered focus groups.

Ruth tries to give Eli a file on Jason with his "skeletons." When he objects to the idea of giving it to Alicia, Ruth insists, "Use it!"

What's in the Jason File?

Back in court, Diane and Cary bring evidence that Chumhum tried to cover its tracks within the photo-tagging code. Worse, because Alicia didn't bring evidence of this to him before (the same evidence Canning told her to bury), he finds her in contempt and fines her $5,000.

Eli brings Jason the file that Ruth compiled. The P.I. says Alicia already knows about his criminal record. But that's not what Eli's worried about -- it's that Jason's been investigating Alicia. (What?!) Jason says he was going into business with her; he needed to know more. Eli's not buying it. Jason tells him to back off.

At the settlement table, Lucca and Alicia come with news. Chumhum has fired the "animal" photo coder, and Safe Filter is now an opt-in feature, not a default one. But they're offering no money. They've learned that the restaurant owner's business was going downhill several months before Safe Filter went online. Chumhum owes her nothing, in their opinion.

And how did they learn this? It's because she loaded her financial info onto a free, cloud-based service owned by Chumhum, which gave the company access to her data. Oh, the irony!

Cary asks Lucca if she'd like to go celebrate the non-case. They end up at a club. Despite Cary's insistence that he doesn't dance, he won't give up the chance to get closer to Lucca and wades gamely into the crowd.

At Alicia's apartment, Eli tells her that Jason has opened a file on her. "He's looked into your past," he says. She shuts the door in his face. The camera swoops through the door's peephole to show Alicia standing in her kitchen, looking ... angry? Confused? Frustrated? Maybe a combination of all three.

Summary Judgment

With race so much in the news lately, this could hardly have been more timely, which is typical of all of The Good Wife tech/Internet storylines. But the real news for the show was how this case served to drive forward the character development.

To wit: Cary and Lucca! Who knew? (Honestly, much of the episode made it look like Monica and Cary would become an item.) Eli and Courtney! Yes, they're obviously a couple. (Nice to see Eli back on that horse -- it's been a long time since his aborted relationship with Natalie.)

But mainly: Alicia and Jason! What's up? She implied to Eli that she planned to "get close" to Jason, but now we have the business of that file. What's in it? Why is Jason investigating her? Is he telling the truth about needing to know about his new boss? Or is he secretly infiltrating her life to mess with Peter's campaign?

We won't know for at least two weeks, when The Good Wife airs its last episode of 2015. Let's hope we start getting some answers.


The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9pm (or thereabouts) on CBS.


(Image courtesy of CBS)



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