Okay, wow. Three episodes left and we’re finally getting a clear picture of the two big, juicy arcs — besides the election — that will take us through to the end. Commenters, you’ve been doing some excellent work these past few weeks around Alicia’s motivations in staying with Peter: She’s calculating, she’s risk-averse, she’s repressed and keeping up appearances and enjoying the platform Peter’s political status confers. But what do we make of her lonely almost drunk-dial to Will in the final scene of “The Wheels of Justice”? What was she going to say? Just when we thought the Willicia thread had made its exit against the backdrop of a dozen drunken cops and Irishmen, Alicia’s subconscious fantasy life brings it right back to the forefront. Paging Dr. Freud! (Sidebar: Did anyone else think for a second that when Alicia picked up the phone the Voice Mail of Love was about to make its triumphant return?)
Was it all just a groggy moment of weakness after a tiring stretch defending Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker)? Is it the threatening fact that she thought Will could be with Laura, someone she considers a friend and potentially a good fit for him? And is the Peter/Alicia relationship really just about appearances? Bus sex aside, do these two do anything together outside of political events? Peter and the election were entirely absent from this week, and why is Alicia always sleeping alone?
It all just raises the question: Who is the real "will-they-or-won’t-they?" couple of TGW season four: Willicia or the Florricks?
And, of course, the second BIG question: Diane, Diane, Diane. Will it be love or the Supreme Court (and the loss of L&G) for Ms. Lockhart? And why can’t a girl just have it all?
On to what happened: We open on Alicia’s movin’ on up brand-new partner office (sidebar: a $10,000 decorating stipend for a 200-square-foot space! Wowza), which wouldn’t be all that notable except that we see Cary getting a new office as well. It’s smaller, but Diane assures him he’s valued at the company and there might be a partner spot opening up soon. Hmmm, and whose might that be? In the meantime, she’d like him to manage the hiring of a new associate. Cut to a bunch of funny scenes with Cary and Robyn interviewing an Über-cocky candidate (Michael Esper — favorite line: “I built my own canoe.” Cary: “Is that a metaphor?”), who is clearly not a fit, until he lets it drop that he’s clerking for conservative Supreme Court Justice Wallace and just wrote his majority opinion in the Miles case. Cary puts two and two together and rushes to warn Alicia at home that the opinion that is about to drop could mean big trouble for Colin Sweeney in her case of the week.
Seems everyone’s favorite felony creepster is in trouble again because of a gunshot fired at a sex party, and even though this is a misdemeanor, if he gets convicted, the new third-strike ruling could put him in jail for life. Cheeseball cold open aside (Alicia: “We’re going to have to run the fastest trial in history!”), this all makes for some swift and entertaining court scenes, with the delightfully abrasive Judge Johnny Sack Politi (Vincent Curatola) on the bench, and Will and Alicia facing off against a frequently ruffled Hellinger. There’s some dirty stuff with Sweeney’s girlfriend Isobel (Homeland’s Morena Baccarin) and Sweeney doing his best to intimidate Will into sharing details of his burgeoning relationship with Hellinger (“That’s why I love this place. Everybody sleeps with everybody else”), but really it all serves as backdrop for the return of ballistics expert Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole). They need him to help analyze the trajectory of the bullet from the Sweeney case, and, of course, timing being what it is, Diane’s great love of the past few years (decade even?) would come back at the exact moment where she’s also up for the biggest career jump of her life, and of course those two things don’t stay separate for long.
Diane’s tapped Kalinda to vet her in advance of the Supreme Court campaign, and what she uncovers isn’t easy to stomach. It starts out funny — Vampire Diaries fan fiction written by her housekeeper on her computer — but edges closer and closer to home, from her dear old dad naming names during the McCarthy era, to Kurt’s right-wing yahoo gun speeches caught on video. Kalinda advises her to cool it with the relationship, and of course that would be the easier way to spin things and what serious career women are supposed to do, right? But damnit if those two crazy kids don’t have good chemistry. I was impressed with Kurt’s sensitivity in the scene where Diane’s absorbing the news about her dad, and so was she, obviously, because then she lets it slip that she’d like to get married. WHAT?! It was yet another classic performance for Christine Baranski, and she carries that steely vulnerability right through right to the end when Kurt stops by her office after the Sweeney wrap-up to tell her they should probably wait on that marriage stuff. But Diane doesn’t want to! You go, girl.
In the end, Sweeney gets off (pun, um, intended?), Will and Hellinger are not to be — fake boyfriend back in town, who? — and both Will and Alicia are left alone with their drinks. As wistful as this might have been in the near term, I found it hopeful for what’s to come, as a sign that the Kings could give us a sign-off from season four that shows as much promise as the one from season two. And on another upside, we’ll have at least another year to watch this all play out. Onward!