It is truly impressive (and a testament to the quickfire storytelling of this show) that Diane Lockhart’s world unraveled as quickly as it did. Do we think Will’s actions represent a dispassionate and reasonable reaction to Diane’s damaging interview or is he driven entirely by self-preservation? Maybe it’s impossible to divorce Will’s self-interest from the firm’s interest at this point. At any rate, to her credit, Diane confesses the nature of the interview she gave Mandy Post to Will immediately. She didn’t even take time to change out of her overly large and symbolic chain necklace. Of course, like the twist of a knife at the end of an O. Henry story, Diane gets a call from Eli’s office saying the interview she gave Mandy was unnecessary and that he and Peter found another way (a.k.a. bullied Justice Ryvlan into submission).
The Kid’s Quorum: First of all, I really love that Alicia was called out of a First Lady of Chicago press conference in order to deal not only with the surrogate pregnancy case, but also the drama surrounding Diane. Meaning she had to spend the first half of the episode in her First Lady of Chicago press conference dress. Alicia always dresses beautifully, of course, but her wardrobe here only highlights the difference between Alicia Florrick and her merry band of fourth year associates. Forget Cary 1.0’s deeply disturbing lingering look at Grace Florrick. Forget Cary 2.0’s childish “I’ll count to ten” game and look no further than the bright salmon pink baseball tee on the fourth year nearest Alicia. This is not a wardrobe that screams power move. The upshot? They’ve officially picked their firm’s new font. Trajan Pro, I was rooting for you.
Getting Out From Under Will: The question facing Alicia isn’t even a big fish/little pond one. Will has offered her Diane’s gig as managing partner. She’d be the second biggest fish at, what, Florrick Gardner and Associates? But Cary absolutely nailed it when he said she’d never get out from under Will. (Apparently Cary has also been watching the hypersexualized promos for this show.) In the partner quorum, Alicia looks much more the part, but, if it’s possible, even less at ease. Will bullies her onto the negotiating committee, and when you rewatch the episode in light of Cary’s comment, it becomes clear that it would always be this way. Will and Alicia would never be the new Will and Diane.
The Precious Commodity: I had to double-check to make sure the Case of the Week wasn’t a continuation of an earlier episode. As we mentioned last week, The Good Wife is excessively fond of bringing back old clients. But they’re just as fond of throwing us right into the middle of the case and assuming we’ll catch up. (The death row case from the season premiere worked the same way.) Respect for audience intelligence is only one of many reasons why this show is a cut above the average legal procedural. The most familiar face on the guest-star roster this week was Janel Moloney (The West Wing) as Kathy, a mother who discovers that the fetus inside her surrogate Tara (Genevieve Angelson) is at a high risk for Patau Syndrome. And (because of their own tragic backstory), she and her husband decide they want the fetus aborted. Tara resists. Faster than you can say “Juno,” Alicia finds herself working the case pro bono, defending the girl against the parents and their counsel (Smash’s Christian Borle, a welcome, fast-talking addition).
When Did Robyn Get So Stupid?: Now, admittedly, Kalinda plays her cards close to her fitted, leather vest, but Robyn’s inability to read a room in this scene was uncharacteristically dim. Robyn may be endearingly goofy, but dim she is not. Kalinda’s heart looked like it broke in two when she found out Alicia was keeping secrets from her. Which, well, Kalinda should be one to talk about keeping secrets. My favorite bit about this scene, however, was the silent, worried glance Kalinda gave Will. She knows just how much worse this schism is going to be if Alicia and Will are on opposite sides. And, to borrow an evocative phrase from David Lee, given that Will is scorching the earth and poisoning the well when it comes to Diane, he’s going to have very little left to hold on to. Possibly just Kalinda. But returning briefly to Robyn and her big mouth, let’s quickly run down who knows about Alicia’s move: Robyn, Kalinda, Cary 1.0, Cary 2.0, the rest of the fourth years, her mothers (sort of), Peter, Eli and, oh yeah, that Garbanza woman.
Unfettered Access: Ugh, these Garbanza Scenes. We already know the eyeliner and the shiny hair spell trouble and I can accept that. I can accept that every day for this woman is a Pantene/Maybelline commercial. But put your damn arms in your blazer, woman. Are the sleeves fettering you? Is that the issue? After Eli tried his best get rid of Marilyn, she’s back and more invasive than ever. Presumably it’s her unfettered access that grants her the insider information about Alicia’s upcoming defection, but I can’t help but feel that the Water Board/landlord plot this week served a dual purpose. (1) Of course, we got to see her spar with Eli. Always fun. I most appreciated him smacking her down for calling Peter by his first name. (2) We know she knows about Alicia. I can’t see how this could possibly be good for Cary and Alicia’s secret.
“Tasty Biscuit!!!!!!”: The Grace Florrick/Hot Politician’s daughter plot comes home to roost this episode with Alicia taking note of her daughter’s changing demeanor and dress. Zach Florrick (that narc) shows his mother the troubling website and I could watch Alicia Florrick worriedly chew yogurt and read misspelled Internet catcalls all day. Unless, of course, that meant I didn’t get to see her tell off hot pastors. I imagine this isn’t the last we’ll see of this plotline, but I wish it were because that final scene between Alicia and Grace contained the best performance I’ve ever seen from Makenzie Vega. The dialogue wasn’t exactly stunning (“just let me be pretty”), but Vega’s vulnerability and Margulies’s stricken reaction made this entire plot feel earned. That’s how you do a teenage daughter scene. Take note, Homeland.
The Honorable Judge Solomon, Presiding: The writers didn’t exactly try to hide the King Solomon theme this week. The Honorary Timothy Stanek said something along the lines of “splitting this ... uh, dilemma.” So we have two mothers, one advocating life and one death/termination with the Big Issue hiding in this week’s case being, of course, abortion. I particularly appreciate the nuance of the players this week with Janel Moloney’s character claiming to be pro-choice, all the while pushing her choice on Tara. Unlike most procedurals that circle the drain for an hour with red herring suspects and false leads, The Good Wife always keeps us on the hook with circuitous and stratified legal arguments. A victory for either side is inevitably followed by a new line of arguments from the other. So we get “breach of contract,” “viability of the fetus,” slander of Tara’s good (good-ish) name, and, of course, David Lee’s larger malpractice agenda. How much do we love Zach Grenier’s increased role on the show this season? How delightfully unctuous was David Lee when meeting the governor? In the end, owing to some crack investigation from Robyn (see? not usually so dumb), Alicia and David Lee discover Tara is further along than everyone thought, rendering the fetus viable and the victory theirs. I’m not sure I understand the brief, tossed-away plotline of Tara extorting money/blackmailing Brian and Kathy. Possibly the writers wanted to further muddy the morality waters. But Tara’s insistence on having a baby she had no desire to keep was plenty muddy for my taste.
Come Back With Your Shield, or On It: But, for me, the most compelling story was Diane’s. I think it was incredibly smart of the writers to start this season with the death-row case, which showed Diane at the height of her power both with her sharp legal mind and her compassionate human-rights-advocacy heart. That was the Diane Lockhart we’ve come to know and revere. To see her plummet after one (admittedly large) mistake is heart-breaking. Watching her fight back, however, is inspired. The other partners aren’t wrong in saying that their move against her isn’t completely heartless. She chose to leave when she accepted Peter’s offer. The partners are just accelerating the process. Will asking Kalinda to look into Diane’s track record is the worst part about the whole conflict. But Diane’s steely resolve, her demands to get what she deserves and her constant challenge for them to call the security guards to escort her out? That’s the hard-nosed Diane we love. I can’t believe she’ll actually leave. Maybe Alicia’s “betrayal” will cause Will and Diane to close ranks. All I know is that I miss their late-night victory dances. Everyone hates it when mom and dad fight.