Claire in "Girlfriends"
The episode "Girlfriends" is not one of the more memorable offerings of season 6. But it provides some welcome characterization, especially for Claire. Frequently, we see her under attack, being questioned or questioning herself about her role as a DA. Seeing Claire's turmoil in episodes like "Censure," "Pro Se," "Savages" and "Aftershock" one might wonder why she sticks with the job, or with Jack. "Girlfriends" gives a glimpse of Claire at her best. She is happy, confident, successful in her work and enjoying the company of her colleagues.
A striking encounter occurs in the scene where Jack and Claire are reviewing the case file together. As they work, Jack mentions seeing a familiar name on the list of the shoe company's clients. Claire quickly looks and discovers a vital connection: the entertainment expenses for the shoe buyer were in fact services from the daughter's escort service. She realizes that they can use this as leverage against the father, since he was involved in the prostitution. Jack takes Claire's realization a step further, pointing out that the shoe business can be sized for enterprise corruption.
As she explains this to Jack, Claire's eyes light up. She is clearly happy, proud to have found a vital connection and to be sharing it with Jack. In return, Jack watches her intently, proud of her accomplishment, and immediately taking her conclusions a step farther. They maintain eye contact throughout this scene, their smiles intense. Each clearly enjoys working with the other, and their discussion turns into intellectual foreplay. It is clear why these two are together: with each other they can accomplish things which would be difficult separately, and they both love the experience of working together.
A few scenes later, we see Adam, Jack and Claire discussing the case in Adam's office. Adam and Jack talk about how the prostitution was a way for the girls to rebel. But Claire comments that "there's a school of thought that if a woman owns her body for procreation or pleasure, why not to sell it?" Now, this theory, while not obvious to Adam and Jack in this context, is one that they would be familiar with. It's a standard element in the feminist debate on prostitution, and both men are well versed in all types of political theories.
Claire's comment is clearly intended as a bit of a joke, a way for her to shock the two men. She is smiling as she says it, happy to be scoring a point in the debate. Claire is clearly enjoying the chance to argue about the law and morality, and is holding her own with two vastly more experienced men. Again, it shows a bit of why Claire enjoys working in the DA's office.
This conversation ties in neatly to an earlier comment made by one of the prostitutes to the grand jury: if men are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on a date, why not just skip dinner and take the cash directly? It's a sentiment which any woman who's suffered through a dull date with a man with only one thing on his mind, can empathize with. It also adds a private meaning for Jack and Claire to Claire's statement made to Jack and Adam. She's teasing Jack a little, hinting that maybe she doesn't have the same problem with the girls' choices that he does. Has he been wasting his time and money on expensive dinners? Does Claire really not see much difference between letting him pay for dinner or taking the cash? She isn't saying.
The Jack and Claire relationship is significant in "Girlfriends" because it provides an alternative to the cynical world of dating as seen by the young prostitutes. On the surface, their relationship mirrors the circumstances of the girl's prostitution. An older, powerful, better paid man. A young woman who may just be using sex to get ahead. Instead, we see that, for Jack and Claire, friendship, trust and respect are more important than the power dynamic.
The Claire we see in "Girlfriends" is confident in her job. She is happy in her relationship with Jack, where the obvious power dynamic between an older man and younger woman provides an opportunity for a caring and mentoring relationship. She even enjoys the company of Adam, with whom she can banter and joke. As an episode without deep moral and ethical issues to raise conflict among the prosecutors, "Girlfriends" gives us a glimpse of their everyday interactions and attitudes. And it lets us see Claire at her happiest and best.