'Eli Stone': Living Brave

Jonnyleemiller_elistone_s1_240 This week, Eli Stone is troubled by a vision of a Times Square-like rally with giant yellow banners that read "Live Brave," and a speech by a man named David Mosley. He looks at the front page of a newspaper whose headline trumpets a complete U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. I'm troubled that the date on the paper is 2018 -- shouldn't it be 2118 or something? But anyway.

Eli turns, as he often does, to Dr. Chen, who observes first that Eli's visions usually contain rock stars who are older, whiter, and more British. Second, he very correctly calls Eli out on his scoffing that the visions are just hallucinations. You can't have it both ways, buddy. At the office, Eli asks Patti for help in tracking down David Mosley -- but she's watching a video online of Steve the chimp, who's quite literally heartbroken because he's been separated from his mate, Pete. But more about that later.

One more destabilizing influence this week: the presence of another senior parter in the firm, Marcy Klein (Katey Sagal, looking spectacular), in from London to give Jordan a little talking to about how many Fortune 500 clients they've lost as a result of Eli's crusading. She is deliciously condescending, particularly to Eli, and she adds an energy to the place that clearly keeps Jordan alternately on his toes and more than a little bit annoyed.

Back on the hunt for David Mosley: Patti's found 53 men who fit the description (African-American, between the ages of 28 and 40). One of them, conveniently, was a client of new associate Keith Bennett (Jason George) 10 years ago -- and convicted for felony murder. Eli goes to Tipton Bay prison to see Mosley, and finds out that he's been denied a parole hearing because he's been labeled a discipline problem -- for leading a hunger strike to protest overcrowding and other efforts at civil disobedience. The warden who denied the parole hearing tells Eli that it's his job to "feed them, water them, and try to keep them from killing each other" -- but rehabilitation for prisoners isn't in his budget.

Mosley ends up in the prison infirmary, beaten up and with broken ribs, telling Eli and Bennett that the warden knows how to make a point -- prisoners who complain about conditions end up in a hospital bed. The lawyers decide to file a class action suit on behalf of the entire prison population for denial of parole hearrings, violation of civil rights, and prisoner abuse. They've got 48 hours to go through hundreds of boxes of records, trying to link what's happened to prisoners to patterns of behavior by the warden. Marcy intervenes to prevent the more junior associates from helping Eli with the research, but Jordan stands up for him: "This firm does not cut and run," he says. For a second I thought I was watching Fox News.

Keith heads to the prison to take depositions, and hears horrible stories of mistreatment of prisoners -- including Mosley's account of being sent to a part of the prison where members of the Aryan Nation lived, because he complained about the lack of treatment his cellmate received when his appendix burst.

After walking Maggie to a cab after a long day, Eli has another vision of the rally in the future, where Mosley thanks a man named Darrell Rhodes and Keith Bennett. And then he sees himself, and Maggie, who's holding a baby. OK, so Team Taylor loses in the end.

In court, prisoner after prisoner recant their affidavits on the witness stand -- intimidated by the warden. Things are looking bleak until the next day, when the team calls Darrell Rhodes -- the warden's former administrative assistant -- to the stand. His testimony about the warden's treatment of prisoners, which completely squares with the stories the prisoners are telling, basically ensures a settlement from the Department of Corrections -- and, Eli insists, the warden's resignation. Mosley ends up getting his parole hearing -- and it's granted. Then the governor denies it.

Natashahenstridge_elistone_240 Back to Steve the chimp. Dowd and Taylor end up on the case -- Dowd because Eli told him Taylor was an animal lover when Dowd asked him for advice on how to score with her, and Taylor because she's an expert in family law and Dowd's argument revolves around Steve and Pete's civil rights and partnership. Taylor, of course, hates animals -- "especially gorilla-type ones," and appropriately bawls Eli out for getting her into this, and for being jealous of Dowd.

Lorettadevine_elistone_s1_240 In court, Taylor and Dowd argue that their client, Pete the chimp, deserves the same kind of protection under the law as humans, given the physiological and genetic similarities between chimps and humans. They think they're going to have to drop the case until Patti bucks them up with news about Steve's worsening condition and a diatribe about how Taylor's a "meat-eating animal hater." Now, I like Patti and all, but in this instance the spunky assistant element just feels a little bit overplayed. Maybe Erin Brockovich could get away with talking to her boss like that, but this is starting to grate; it seems just a little ... pat. Maybe I just liked her better when she and Eli got along.

On the stand, the primatologist who works with the chimps testifies to Pete's trauma in Africa as a youth, and how he never bonded with anyone until he met Steve. The two became devoted to one another -- and developed a sexual relationship, which is why they were separated. But since then, Steve has stopped eating, lost weight, developed bleeding ulcers, and suffered self-inflicted wounds.

Then -- you guessed it -- they put Pete on the stand. Aw. Koko sad. It's a cheap stunt to tug at your heart strings -- and damned if it didn't work on me. Seriously, how can you not just melt at the sight of a chimp hugging and kissing a picture of his partner, and screeching with delight when that partner comes in? Answer: you can't. It's like Forrest Gump -- you know you're being manipulated, but who cares? Which is evidently how the judge feels too, because she rules in Pete's favor, reasoning that separating the chimps causes undue harm under the theory of "chimpanzee tort protection" -- a total piece of BS that Dowd serves up with a straight face. Steve and Pete end up at a compound called Chimp Paradise, released by the zoo, living happily ever after. Koko happy!

Back to Mosley -- in the end, he remains determined to perservere, knowing that he'll have another shot at parole next year and the year after. Keith, remorseful for the way he handled Mosley's case 10 years ago, offers to come and work with him on the legal argument for his parole, and to educate him about the law.

And Eli's vision? On stage, Mosley offers a tribute to his friend Eli Stone, "whose words and deeds reminded us that there is no faith without hope, no justice without compassion, no humanity without fairness." Before joining Mosley, Eli kisses Maggie and the baby, then faces the adoring throng and waves. So we know that ultimately, if not a prophet, Eli remains an activist -- and ends up making a difference. How about that?

What did you think? Was this episode a little bit heavy on the metaphors? Did you think the chimp case ventured a little further into Ally McBeal territory than we've gone before?  Do you buy that Taylor would ever consider having anything to do with Dowd? How do you feel about the Eli-Maggie merger 10 years from now? Or was that really a vision of the future at all?