We open where we were last week, as Diane -- nauseated -- immediately runs to Will's office to tell him what she's done. But what we thought was just a general disavowal turns out to be a lot grosser: She fessed up about the embezzlement that lay at the heart of his near-disbarment last year and her part in it. Which is fine for her -- a mea culpa at worst -- but wrecks not only Will but the very name of Lockhart/Gardner itself, when you consider that's both name partners that let this lie for ten years.
By the time Will storms out, setting Kalinda on Diane's ass, Diane's got the message from Eli that none of it was necessary, but of course within hours reporter Mandy Post's fact-checking calls have put every high-level client on high alert, meaning that what was meant to be a simple disavowal has struck at the integrity of every lawyer still working in the firm. Which is, of course, when David Lee shines: Both he and Will Gardner come across fairly beautifully, as they respond to this with seemingly rational damage control plans that involve various meetings in various abandoned offices and eventually a series of severance packages that Diane rejects and rejects, in a sort of desperate attempt to squat in her own office.
Alicia -- who is pinpointed, as the only person to abstain from Diane's ouster vote, the tiebreaker partner -- can barely think about any of this, conflicted as she is about her own place in the firm and each partner's life. Will offers her the chance to be the second managing partner, which gives her pause, until Cary notes that abandoning Florrick Agos for a hot job is the exact same thing Diane's doing, in her turn. Of course, the difference is that everybody knew and knows about Diane's change of venue, while Alicia -- a more sainted saint than Diane ever wanted to be -- hasn't told anybody. By the end of it, she's so cornered that she tells Cary it's time to leave immediately. As is, the end of the week.
But you and I both know we're still two weeks from what they're calling the Red Wedding, so she's got drama to tide her over: An intensely parallel surrogate-mother case that calls all kinds of abortion rights into question and will probably make the recap one thousand pages long (tricky when you're a gay dude who barely has the right to type that word at all), and her discovery of the Grace Hotness storyline that may well undo us all. Not to undersell, I mean it's a great storyline about a surrogate who decides not to terminate a bad pregnancy despite the wishes of the parents (who include Janel Moloney, being super awesome and intense and great, which if you don't know I won't bother explaining why that is a big deal, except nobody reading this doesn't.)
In other news, ethical circumstances have conspired such that Marilyn Garbanza of the Smoky Eye is invited back into the Governor's Office, with "unfettered" access to each and every one of Peter's appointments and employment decisions. Surprise, a million conflicts of interest -- including a situation with Florrick Agos's bedamned office space -- put her right in Peter's sights, where neither Eli nor Peter want her, because she is hot and because Melissa George has never been on a show where it didn't end in horror, which is why we love her.
It's even more foundation-rocking than you might think, to see Lockhart and Gardner at each other's throats this way -- even if everybody ends up looking pretty rational and respectable by the end. But it's hard not to empathize with Alicia's impossible situation there, plus her actual case which is super fucking intense... And then there's Ms. Sharma, whom I've been incorrectly assuming was aware of the plan and Alicia's involvement: Instead we get a more abject, sad replay of Alicia learning that Kalinda isn't coming to the new firm, when Robyn Burdine accidentally tells Kalinda about Alicia's plans to leave -- which rattles Kalinda a shitload more than she will ever, ever show.
All in all, a stunningly stressful hour -- which seems to be the show's mandate this year, and I couldn't be happier, because what's better than the best show on network than the best show on network blowing its own self to hell, if you trust them to do it well, which we do -- that manages to parallel a legal-quandary forced abortion storyline with the idea of Will and Diane calling quits on their primal relationship... And putting Alicia, horrified, at the center of both. A taut episode that gives you everything we love about this show, if you've been paying attention, and plenty to stress about even if you haven't.
Next Week: Mommy and Daddy still fighting, which is revolting to watch, but possibly interrupted by inconvenient in-fighting about firm misconduct. Diane shoots a gun. I'm looking forward to it, and all, but the week after seems like when the shit is going down. Or Alicia drops the hanky and we all move on to the new firm and all we are is best friends and Cary is there and Alicia is there and Kalinda is there and Carey even is there being adorable and there are so many hugs and you can barely see the smoke rising from what was once Lockhart/Gardner, Howard Lyman's idiotic smoke rising to the sky. But somehow I think it'll just be one more in a series of the beautiful, horrible bloodbaths that seem so far (or, I would say, hopefully) to define this season. Because the only thing better than watching the best show on CBS is watching it redefine itself so fearlessly.
I guess we're just doing Previouslies now. Good. This show should treat itself like what it is, especially now that it's more what it is than it maybe has ever been. So previously, Peter and Eli "promoted" a hot ethical officer out of range of Peter's junk, and Grace is now a famously hot political tween among the creeps of the internet. Meanwhile, Alicia and Cary were stuck on exactly when to make their move to start a new firm -- but now that Eli's helped Diane disastrously mismanage her own exit, every option is back in play. We ended on a "Gift Of The Magi" situation in which Eli told Diane to screw Will over in an interview with muckrakin' Mandy Post, and later fixed the problem... milliseconds after she'd already done so.
Diane looks small, still, in those huge chains; before she even gets the call that it was all horribly for naught, she stares at Will through the glass walls of the house they built and is ashamed of herself. But because she is Diane, she straightens her back and walks directly to him.
Will: "My life is taken up with client maintenance these days. Why's everybody so unhappy?"
Diane: "Different petty reasons, usually, but in a very short while, just one big one."
Will: "Did David Lee slap another infant?"
Diane: "I just talked to Mandy Post at the Law Advocate. About, um, you."
Will: "Me specifically what? I got a lot of skeletons."
Diane: "Remember ten years ago when you embezzled $45,000 to cover your gambling debts? And I helped you cover it up for over a decade? Is that ringing any bells?"
His heart breaks. It's a very different silence than usual: His intense thinking frown is something else. He leaves without a word, and she drifts out back into the office.
Diane: "I boned, you bro. I mean, the second I finished talking about it I realized I must have been temporarily insane, but the Chief Justice had me rattled, and I... Anyway, it's probably the worst thing I've ever done. I have scorched the fields and poisoned the well, all on my own."
Secretary: "Ms. Lockhart? Eli Gold just called and said don't worry about the interview, he figured something else out for you to do."
Eli watches as Alicia perches in Peter's office, cameras snapping and snapping while Peter answers some kind of aggressive questions in his charming, quick way.