Alicia's first big management task in the firm regards reining in Lemond Bishop's legal team fees in a way that will look good to the client: That means bigger partner hours, less hours for the associates that are actually doing the work. And suddenly, all that fourth-year rabblerousing means Alicia's created an army of haters all her own. Once Diane explains that pandering to the rabble will only end making them hate her more, Alicia pulls it together, knocking Cary's feet out from under him once again as he tries to figure out her game -- which she is still figuring out as she goes -- secondhand.
The bulk of this whip-quick episode, though, concerns the burgeoning weird romance between weirdos Elsbeth Tascioni and AUSA Josh Perrotti: In order to determine the federal case against Eli Gold, Elsbeth takes Perrotti to court for defamation regarding a blind item in which someone -- that no-goodnik Frank Landau of the DNC, turns out -- was overheard telling Josh about Gold's supposed votes-for-discounts scheme. A dizzying array of witnesses (including Jackie Florrick herself) is called to the stand before Elsbeth wins the day -- and deepens Josh's conviction that Elsbeth is a creature like no other.
The Jackie stuff, bizarrely, ends up softening Eli a great deal once she admits on the stand that after her stroke she hardly ever knows what the fuck is going on. Softens him so much that, once Alicia steps in as a sort of bromance matchmaker, sees him nearly weeping with yearning to be back at Peter's side... And by the end, having given Peter a narrow edge in a Maddie Hayward debate, welcomed back into the fold. This part was crazy touching, which is not something you could have predicted going in. What it means for Jordan Karahalios's continued presence on the campaign, I don't know. But I worry.
In other firm news, Will and Alicia shared a cold with their kiss recently, but it doesn't cause too many eyebrows to raise -- and in the end, they decide they can handle spending time with each other without degenerating into sex monsters. Helping with this transition out of perdition is ASA Laura Hellinger, back with a hot new hairdo and running interference during an audition for L/G to handle some of the SA's business. While it looks like she's being disloyal, she's really only asking hard questions (Lemond Bishop-type stuff) to keep Geneva Pine from going for his throat. In the end, Hellinger and Will get every bit as flirty as Elsbeth and Muad'Dib, which I'm sure won't bother Alicia at all, even given Peter's cutie-pie attempts to court Alicia out of treating him like a series of one-night stands.
Next Week: I'd say it's been long enough since our last tuxedo fistfight. In this corner, Mike Kristeva -- who we'd nearly forgotten was linked to the tarnish-Eli plan in the first place -- and in this corner, Peter Florrick, who frankly deserves to let off a little steam after the rough ride Maddie's been giving him. Will there be pretty red dresses, Alicia? You know it! Will Cary try to kiss Kalinda? Why, of course! On Tuxedo Fistfight Nights, all bets are off.
After much business and underhanded nonsense, Alicia is an equity partner at Lockhart & Gardner. Is that a great thing? Not even Alicia really thinks so, at this point, but it's the new status quo. It'll be interesting (read: scary) to see exactly how the name partners are lookin' to break her in -- especially since they're aware she and Cary started a revolution last week to manipulate them. Peter's in a state, since his wife's just using him for sex and his Eli's keeping his distance. Luckily, he has Jordan Karahalios to brighten up the place, and Eli's got an entire show's worth of castmembers blowing up his own voter-fraud storyline. In other news, I miss Kalinda Sharma.
Diane's watching a Maddie Hayward soundbite on her local CBS affiliate and, hilariously, repeating her words back to her in an acid mocking tone.
Maddie Hayward: "I'm still beating the drum on Peter's diversity issues, which is ironic since they actually exist, but even more ironic is the fact that I'm talking about them by talking about how I'm not gonna talk about them..."
Diane: "...'Because I'm a big stupid stupid-head lesbian who was mean to Diane Lockhart at an Empowered Businesswomen function for Women In Business Who Are Empowered...'"
Alicia comes in there, sneezin' up a storm with a cold she's got going.
Diane: "How's it feel to be an equity partner? Power surging through you yet?"
Alicia: "Something is surging through me, I'll tell ya that much. Does power feel like you're too hot and too cold at the same time, and also a little nauseous?"
Diane: "Yep. Along those lines, thanks for coming in. I just wanted to let you know that I've designed a little management test for you that will hopefully turn your brain inside-out, make your virtues into liabilities, split your fourth-year coalition brutally in half, and burn every bridge you ever built with your compatriots. You will also feel self-annihilating shame no matter what you do. I hope you don't have anything else going on today."
Alicia: "That sounds like a problem. Wait, I mean an opportunity."
The rules of the game are thus: Cary's team is in charge of Lemond Bishop's defense (remember, Alicia hung out at his house all day and now he's in jail?), but their hours are coming in "a bit high," according to Diane. On the one hand, he needs to feel catered to, because he's a huge client, but on the other hand, they can't look like they're padding the bill. The management game here is twofold: First, figure out how efficient they're being without making it look like the Inquisition, and second, figure out how to make sure the bill looks like they've concentrated the hours on top-level employees. Alicia doesn't see the second part yet, but it's pretty obvious: Even with meticulous accounting backup proving it's legit, you still want to see partners -- like Alicia -- working on the case.