Will's first case is a doozy: A wrongful death civil suit about the pepper spray/stun gun death of a 99-percenter that takes turns through suggestions of drug abuse, depression, and anarchy before ending in a simple cover-up. A cop thought he'd been marked as possible trouble, and responded with more force than necessary. A blowup on the stand ends up with a $3.5M settlement on a first offer of $800K, so yeah, Gardner's done his part for the firm this week. On the way, though, we get to check with Richard Gilmore -- haven't seen him in a while -- as opposing counsel, and argue the case in front of Judge James Urbaniak, who is like one of those Doctor Who statues only instead of getting closer when you're not looking, he just gets hotter every time.
Kalinda's still off her game thanks to Fifty Shades over there, but eventually provides some modicum of help in the form of her usual fourth-act brilliance. She spends most of the episode locked in her confusing dance of death with Nick Towtruck Savarese, who is constantly breaking things and drinking Perrier in scary ways until you think everybody's going to get murdered, and then suddenly crying or taking her on ice cream dates. (Which event we've been hearing about all summer as being the kinkiest fingerbang in the history of this show that's already largely about fingerbanging, but in fact was just a little mean and mostly hilarious.)
Mostly, the episode is about a serious rollercoaster ride for our protagonista, as she's constantly and alternately treated to the highs and lows of being Alicia Florrick and all that implies. Diane tries to track down their new landlord, microcircuit multimillionaire Maddie Hayward (Maura Tierney!) through the bonds of their Emily Lister-sisterhood, but eventually realizes she's only interested in Alicia, so sends our girl in blind to fight for their mortgage. Confusingly, stalwart feminist Maddie then decides in short order to 1) contribute to Peter's campaign in honor of his wife, 2) ask Alicia to drinks, explicitly so they can be Forever Besties because she's a lonely billionaire who knows what it's like when everybody has an agenda, and 3) abruptly refuse to give L/G any relief on their demonic mortgage situation. An enraged Diane tries to pin this on Alicia and it's ... bad. Like, "Not even Will can save your ass, just get the hell out of there" bad.
Meanwhile the Trustee conducts more interviews (Hi Cary! Bye Cary!) that could be much funnier or more insightful or at least more interesting than they are, but Alicia starts to notice he's doing whatever she tells her. Like, she says she likes one chick in Mergers, and she's the only one who doesn't get fired. Absolutely confused about how to use this new power or what it is, she calls his bluff about Family Law, and he not only burns her as his HR guiding principle, but yells at her about agreeing to cut Savarese loose. So I guess we're keeping his business for now, as well, which puts us right back where we were, only with everybody a little more pissed at everybody else.
All in all, as I say, a confusing and exhausting day for Alicia Florrick. But it ends with a grateful Peter (and even more grateful Eli) taking her back (to their original) home on the campaign bus, while "Midnight Train To Georgia" plays and the Florricks have a complex but fairly adorable conversation about maybe fucking using only their eyes and sly smiles. Obviously, something horrible is about to happen, and it's moments after this episode-ending sequence that we see what it is.
Next week, Miriam Shor (LOVE!) turns up with evidence of Alicia's affair with Will, causing a major rift between herself and Team Florrick. And in other news, presumably at least one of the now three major-arc guest stars will finally decide to reveal at least a portion of their still-mysterious reasons for being on the show. Why is Maddie Hayward so fascinated by Alicia? Why is Nathan Lane so fascinated by Alicia? And what in the hell is Kalinda even doing?
A trustee came in-house to take L/G apart and put it back together; the firm unwittingly took on Kalinda's husband as a client; Will finally got off his suspension; Alicia's involvement in Peter's campaign just keeps taking on more and more surprising twists.
Hayden: "So, you're the newest member of Litigation?"
Cary: "Returning member of Litigation, yes."
Hayden: "And you've contributed, since you came back?"
Cary: "Uh, yeah. Look at me. Also, I tried 140 cases as an ASA, so I got criminal on lock."
Hayden: "Any family in Chicago?"
Lady: "Ha! No, I'm married to my work. You won't get me that way."
Hayden: "Say we're downsizing Ligitation. Why keep you over, I don't know, Alicia Florrick?"
Lady: "Well, that's odd because she's great, but... I have more transactional experience?"
Dude (John Gaultner?): "...Also more billable hours. And I don't like saying it, but some partners have some issues, with Alicia. Not to tell too many tales out of school, or make it obvious that I'm talking about myself, but... She has the biggest office. And she's the only one on the 28th floor, which puts her closest to the power center. Yeah, other people I can't say their names, they really hate that. They can be pretty competitive."
Hayden: "Okay, so why keep you over the other fourth-years?"
Alicia: "I'm good."
Hayden: "Better than, like, John Gaultner?"
Alicia: "No ma'am. Not playing that game. I'm old enough to remember what happens in the Thunderdome."
So right away, you get a weird sense that he's trying to play her off everybody else. At first, you don't notice that he's asking everybody about her, because it's on a show that is about her. But it's there. I don't know, won't know by the end of the episode, what his game is. But I only just noticed he was doing that. Also, needs more Cary generally.
Diane: "Lawyers only, on this side of the little gate. Just kidding! I came to wish you good luck on your first case."
She marvels at Will's little tabs on his notebook -- "like a good first-year!" -- and hands him a gag gift: Introduction to Trial Law. You gotta be pretty close to pull a joke like that; he loves it. Judge "James Urbaniak" Temple -- to be catalogued in your running list of judge quirks as "the one that won't quit about how he went to Harvard" -- presiding. Opposing council is Lionel "Grandpa Gilmore" Deerfield, who headed up the committee that caged up Will in the first place.