16 January, 2012

"Bitcoin for Dummies"

Episode Title: Bitcoin for Dummies
Season 3, Episode 13 | Original Air Date: January 15, 2012

Bitcoin, it can be argued, is both a currency and a commodity.  If you’re Will Gardner, it’s most easily understood as a bushel of fruit.   While I prefer to think of it as pairs of shoes or pints of ice cream, I appreciate his metaphor (and also the fact bushel is a highly underused word, at least in my circles).  Always eager to learn something new, I tackled “Bitcoin for Dummies” in a similar way to Alicia: I headed to the source – Google and YouTube – to get to the heart of the matter.  More about that later.  First, let me say this: We’re a little more than halfway through season three and my I Didn’t See That Coming list is ever-growing.  For fans of Kalinda (and I think we all are), this episode was a tribute to a character who continues to be one of the most compelling on TV, surrounded by story lines that keep the viewers guessing.  If ever you find yourself thinking, I Didn’t See That Coming, you’re not alone – that’s the beauty of The Good Wife and the mystery of Kalinda Sharma.

This week, I'm featuring a recap of “Bitcoin for Dummies” as well as an analysis of The Judges in Question: Winter, Dunaway and Parks.  Which judge do you think is most likely to be corrupt?  

 In My Opinion – Episode Commentary

This week, The Good Wife opened with the empty reception area at Lockhart Gardner.  Enter guest star Jason Biggs as Dylan Stack, a Digital Information Lawyer from New York.  Sitting down, he is quickly followed in by two men representing the Treasury.  While I’m not an expert in legal dealings, I do know that if you’re being tracked by Federal Agents from the Treasury, you’re in some kind of trouble.  Alicia Florrick knows this first hand, which happens to be why Stack is in the lobby.  “The rumor is you’ve had your own dealings with the Treasury” he tells Alicia when she asks why he is at Lockhart Gardner.  Apparently word on the street is that Alicia got out of a tight spot unscathed so now she’s the “go-to” for these types of matters.  In her mind, she’s probably thinking “shouldn’t you be in Elsbeth’s lobby?” but instead she gets Diane who is wearing what can only be described as a upholstery-inspired smoking jacket.  But I digress.

Stack has money and plenty of it.  His biggest problem is that he is unable to disclose the name of his client, henceforth known as “Mr. Bitcoin.”  The Treasury is after Mr. Bitcoin and Stack is, seemingly, the only one who can give up his identity.  The thing is, he won’t and the Treasury is trying to imprison him over it.  Fortunately for everyone, Diane is a closet techie and happens to know that Decode-A-Con, a conference of cryptographers, is in town.  While I want to know why Diane is so well versed in computer coding, we’re only left to speculate as to why this event was top-of-mind.  Maybe the person who sold her the smoking jacket told her?  In any case, if there’s one person who can uncover a computer mystery, it’s Kalinda, so off to Decode-A-Con she goes.

Before I go any further, it’s important to understand Bitcoin, an online currency (or is it a commodity… I’m still confused on the specifics).  Luckily, like Zach (who, by the way is still with Neesa), I was able to track down a video (dare I say, the same video The Good Wife writers found online and used as a model?) to learn, in just under two minutes, the intricacies associated with these new “digital coins.”

Now you’re an expert in Bitcoins, we can move on.

It wouldn’t be a matter involving the Treasury without the cupcake-loving Gordon Higgs on the case, and this week he’s in top form as he tries to take down Stack and Mr. Bitcoin.  What he didn’t bargain for was Kalinda tracking Mr. Bitcoin on her own and, in fact, getting caught up in the case to the point of having her computer “ghosted” and ending up on the stand after accidently taping a conversation between herself and Mr. Higgs.  You see, at the Decode-A-Con conference, Kalinda met two potential Mr. and Mrs. Bitcoins: the former, quickly fell for K and the latter, gave her just enough help to crack the code on her own.  In the end, presiding judge, Dwight Sobel, had no option but to let Stack off.  With Alicia and Kalinda working together, they’re nearly unstoppable.  Case closed.

Tascioni & Asbestos

With the Bitcoin drama unfolding over at Lockhart Gardner, Will found himself away from client’s cases, instead spending his time with Elsbeth working on his own defense.  While Elsbeth found herself busy juggling Will’s debacle, she was also trying to manage life in a construction zone.  It seems asbestos was found in her office, so gone are the drop cloths and painting ladders of last week, only to be replaced with bare concrete and workmen in steel-toed boots roaming the space.  The only thing that seems to be consistent is the pile of purses and bags squirreled away in the corner.  Of course, this isn’t the ideal circumstance to host guests, but the element of surprise is what keeps Elsbeth top of her game, and so she welcomed Wendy Scott-Carr, Cary and Dana into her modest quarters.  The meeting went, well, poorly for the State’s Attorney’s Office and rather splendidly for the team of Tascioni and Gardner.  The beauty of it all was that Elsbeth was able to get Wendy to drop the names of three judges who Will is being looked into with regards to bribery: Winter, Dunaway and Parks.

The Judges in Question: Winter, Dunaway and Parks

There was nothing left for me to do but investigate the judges on my own (why should Elsbeth do all the work?  She has bigger problems… like finding a desk).  The facts are these:

We have seen all of these judges throughout three seasons of The Good Wife.  The breakdown?  Here goes:

Judge Robert Parks – He has appeared in five episodes, more than any other judge in question – Season 2 Episode 21: In Sickness,  Season 2 Episode 6: Poisoned Pill,  Season 1 Episode 17: Heart, Season 1 Episode 10: Lifeguard and Season 1 Episode 5: Crash.  Personally, I’ve always been a fan, and not just because “Heart” was one of my favourite episodes of all time.  He’s sharp, smart and never showed what I would consider to be biased judging.

Judge Harvey Winter – Judge Winter was notably absent in season two, but has still managed to preside over four cases in The Good Wife’s history: Season 3 Episode 6: State of Affairs, Season 1 Episode 14: Hi,  Season 1 Episode 13: Bad and Season 1 Episode 8: Unprepared.  Winter hasn’t been my favourite judge over the years, and I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t say he could land on my potentially into shading dealings list.

Judge Peter Dunaway – Judge Dunaway is the biggest wildcard of the pack, having only been presided over one case, Season 3 Episode 11: "What Went Wrong". He’s a bit quirky but that’s what makes him fun.  In “What Went Wrong” we saw him fall strongly on the side of the defense (Lockhart Gardner), but he made them work for their win.  Was it because of a past relationship with Will or was it because the original verdict was unjust? 

In the end, the only judge that may matter at all is Parks – my favourite of the three.  A verdict from a 2009 file went the way of Stern, Lockhart & Gardner to the tune of $8 million and because it was a bench trial, things look a little suspicious.  What is inside the file is a mystery to us, but we know the following: 1) incriminating evidence can be found within the manila walls of the accordion folder and 2) Will didn’t ask Kalinda to “get rid of the file” – he can’t, that would be tampering with evidence – but with one look, the file was gone.  Thank you, Kalinda.

Who is under the bus now?

Between attending Decode-A-Con, having her computer hacked and meeting with Will in a parking garage, Kalinda still had time to get together for drinks with the predominantly evil ASA, Dana Lodge.  Unfortunately, Dana is trying to use Kalinda to further the Florrick-under-the-guise-of-Gardner investigation.  Waiting for the ball to drop, Dana presented K with a shocking piece of paper: the forged document from “Alienation of Affection” – the one David Lee had Alicia sign.  I didn’t see that coming… and neither did Kalinda.  As Dana presented the situation, the evidence is “highly actionable” unless Kalinda points the State’s Attorney’s Office to one of Will’s cases that makes him vulnerable.  At this point, I may or may not have yelled at my TV, “That did NOT just happen.”  Gasp.  Fortunately, if there’s one thing Kalinda is willing to protect more than herself, it’s Alicia Florrick. 

While I’m left questioning how Dana is going to prove the document is a forgery (the analysis alone costs $30,000 and we know Wendy Scott-Carr’s budget is being closely monitored by Peter, who, let’s face it, isn’t going to spend the money only to have his wife disbarred), Kalinda has no choice but to protect those near and dear to her.  Who is under the bus now?  Will.  Maybe.  Kalinda handed over the Judge Parks file from Will’s office in order to protect Alicia.  Of course, one never knows what Kalinda did to the file before passing it along.  Could evidence be missing?  Absolutely.  Is K clever enough to outsmart Dana to save both Alicia and Will?  Is the sky blue?  Of course.  She’s brilliant. There’s no way Kalinda is going to let Will (or Alicia) go to jail, at least not without a fight (and if one of them does end up there, my money is on Kalinda to be the first one to make a pie with escape materials baked into the crust).

Quotes of the Week:

Judge Sobel: Do you guys in Treasury get a lot of dates?
Mr. Higgs: Yes we do… (pause) thank you for asking.

Will: You’ll visit me in prison?
Diane: Every Friday.

Kalinda to Dana: “I like Will. I go back and forth on you.”

Wendy Scott-Carr: “That was a sham.”
Cary: “She played you”
Wendy: “Yes, thank you, Cary.”

 Team Gardner, we have a problem… as if we didn’t already 
(formerly entitled, “What’s Next?”)

After months of waiting, the grand jury story line finally reveals itself in an episode that’s bound to be overrun with courtroom drama: “Another Ham Sandwich.”  Avid viewers will remember the original, “Ham Sandwich” from season two when Kalinda gets hauled into her own grand jury.  This time around, Alicia gets called to testify with questions surrounding her relationship with Will.  While previews aren’t always what they seem, it can’t be denied that we’re in for a real treat: Alicia if forced to dodge questions about sleeping with Will (is it wrong that I want her to state for the record “it was worth it!”… no, right?) and that she walks out of the courtroom proclaiming, “then arrest me.” 

The episode also promises to be engaging on an entirely different level when Amy Sedaris reprises her role as Stacie Stahl.  Could Eli be back in the cheese business? Perhaps he’s simply taking Diane’s advice, “we’ll sit and talk, we’ll hatch a plan, and Stacie Stahl is going to rue the day, and that’s a fact?” Oh for the love of a bushel of fruit (and dairy), I can’t wait!

Preview: Episode 14 "Another Ham Sandwich"

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  1. Thanks for the bit about the judges, the names were vaguely familiar. Judge Parks is also one of my favorite judge. After all, he was featured in two great episodes : Heart ( as you said) in In Sickness ( a thing with medical cases maybe ? ).

  2. I was also thinking about the medical angle re: the cases we've seen Judge Parks deal with over three years. I wonder what Patti Nyholm would have to say if she were to be called to testify? That said, the way she operates, WSC could probably have a grand jury brewing on the side to catch Nyholm in questionable dealings, too.

  3. Oh, I just realized that the comment I wrote yesterday was not saved :-(. Probably forgot to complete the word verification at the end... too bad, now that it already took me so long to comment on your blog entry.

    I have to admit this was not one of my favourite episode. I guess it was because I didn´t particularly like the case and in addition I could not wait for the Grand Jury drama to unfold itself... too exciting!

    With being sick at home last week I had my fair share of The Good Wife - I was watching season 1 and 2 again. Which was also a perfect as I was able to see the judges again.
    Without watching it again I would have been with you on Judge Parks... but I still have the feeling that there is more to Judge Winter! Even after watching "Another Ham Sandwich".
    The reason for this is Season 1 Episode 14 "Hi", especially Kalinda being questioned and all these hints coming from her. But I am pretty sure this is a place where Peter will never go.

    Can´t wait for your blog on yesterday´s episode!

    1. Whew! My blog for "Another Ham Sandwich" is officially up - I found it difficult to condense everything... including my list of "Breath-Taking Moments." I look forward to hearing what you think!

      Re: Bitcoin for Dummies. I think this episode needed to happen if only for the advancement of the story line re: the grand jury. K needed to slip the file to Dana, we needed to see WSC's evolution with Elsbeth (and also her shift from wanting to attack Peter back to actually wanting to get Will out of spite) as well as take the time to really ponder the judges in question. I agree - Judge Winter seems very sketchy. He is, by far, my least favourite, and I don't think I'm alone with that sentiment. He might end up surfacing down the road and when he does, it will be interesting to see how he deals with future cases.


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