Alicia spends the entire -- on-time! -- episode roaming from asshole to asshole, being appalled by them, and then ping-ponging her way into the next horrific encounter. And of course it is riveting, best of the season so far-type stuff -- disregarding Cumming's bizarrely over-the-top tic collection and Noth's orange spray-tan, of course -- while setting up some new vectors for the rest of the season.
That jet class action they've been teasing finally comes down: Celeste and Diane are working together on it, until Kalinda figures out that good old Colin Sweeney (!!!) was involved with the manufacturer's IPO, so of course they have to send in Alicia, because Colin and Alicia totally love each other, no matter how much Alicia pretends to deny it. Cary agrees to give Sweeney his freedom if he testifies against a white supremacist prison-buddy, and then Peter ups the ante to a full-blown wire conversation. In the end, Colin wins his freedom and the class is settled.
Alicia's been given the opportunity to bring in a first-year associate of her choosing, and she winnows the candidates down to two: The eponymous Martha and Caitlin. You know it's going to be Caitlin because she's played by the very wonderful Anna Camp (!!!), but the fix is really in when it turn out she's David Lee's niece -- and Alicia's new mentee. (Normally it would be very exciting to see David Lee, but frankly he's a prick in this episode so he gets zero parenthetical exclamation points.)
He screams at Alicia about hiring Caitlin, in front of Celeste of all people, and then does a secret vote behind her back to invalidate her decision against. Turns out that Will voted with David in the secret vote, but for the best possible reason: A couple years ago, when Alicia was the Caitlin and wouldn't have gotten hired if David hadn't agreed to vote Will's way.
Meanwhile, Grace's weird tutor situation has gotten so untenably annoying that Peter and Alicia have to have a conference about how to get rid of her, Alicia takes her to lunch and learns she is twenty-two years of age -- Grace is fourteen, okay -- and tells her to stop making lewd dance videos on the internet with a future governor's daughter. Grace throws a massive shit-fit about this, and Grace and Alicia simultaneously realize that neither of them have any friends whatsoever.
On the Eli side of things, he uses Kalinda to find dirt on the DNC's anointed keynote speaker, but once Kalinda figures out she's working for Peter by proxy, she does the Kalinda equivalent of putting a stewpot on her head and running around banging it with a spoon while shrieking, so Eli goes to Peter to find out why Kalinda's so weird about him, and Peter does the Peter equivalent of showing off his new chest tattoo that says I FUCKED KALINDA SHARMA and the whole thing is a massive debacle, so when Eli gets coffee with a (really neat) DNC lady and promises her that he will fix Alicia and Peter's marriage, you kind of want to throw up from fear. He is one Will Gardner away from ruining everybody, which means we need to keep Celeste on an entire other floor of the building until after elections.
And speaking of Celeste, she's really kind of awesome. She takes Alicia out drinking and immediately levels that: She wants to break up Alicia and Will, but not really; Will embezzled $45K and then gave it back this one time; and she honestly likes Alicia and thinks she's a pretty great person. Of course, then she runs off to have anonymous sex with a stranger from a hotel bar, so Alicia sits back and just kind of wonders where the hell Celeste even came from. Just when you think this show's gonna zig...
Next week: Cary gets righteous, Alicia bitches out a judge, and proximity to Parker Posey will probably cause Alan Cumming to put on a clown suit or nose-and-glasses and jump around screaming, "Get it? I'M DELIGHTFUL!" and wiggling his eyebrows at everybody and twitching his nose like a rabbit on coke and doing some kind of leprechaun jig. Or, alternately, the director will get a grip on him and we can go back to adoring everything he does, like usual.
As agreed, Celeste and Diane have split the survivors of that plane crash that happened while all those little cheese kids were barfing and dying all over the place: Celeste has the crew's families, while Diane got the passengers'. They've decided to combine their cases, since they both allege the same negligence on the part of the plane's manufacturers, so the opening scene is all about bouncing back and forth between their opening arguments... And the purposeful movements of a dude who bought a gun today.
Diane's other point to make is that the jetliner is pawning it off on pilot error, which she smartly calls "blaming the victim," which is rarely what it sounds like but always pisses people off. Everything's going swimmingly, because both ladies are intense but likeable, until they say this: "How do we know that they knew their jet was defective? Because there is a very brave whistleblower from within Hammett who's agreed to testify for us."
And, of course, as they're saying this, the whistleblower in question loses that bravery, locks a gun and shoots himself in the dang head.
Celeste: "You know I'm crazy as shit, right? So it should come as no surprise that I can definitely see an upside here."
Diane: "No, I'm with you. He did his whole deposition back when his head was intact, and they did a crap job of cross-examining him, so it's basically all footage for our side."
Dead Guy: "Like the internet, the problem was a system of tubes that malfunctioned in de-icing the wings during flight. Other boring facts also."
Diane calls it a necessary move, if ghoulish, but she doesn't like hugely care. So they decide to admit this tape into evidence, on the basis of some precedent or rule or another; Celeste calls this "falling forward," because that's the only thing she apparently knows how to do. Presumably Alicia just thinks that Celeste is a psychopath; presumably, Will's still shivering in a corner due to the shit she pulled last week.
Speaking of psychos, Grace's tutor has gotten so obnoxious that Alicia and Peter are having a phone meeting about how to get rid of her. Alicia hates the tutor for reasons that are both obvious and very hard to verbalize, but basically it's because she sucks, and Grace already sucks so why would you stack the deck against her even more.
Alicia: "...Well, that's the problem, she's a great tutor. Grace's Physics grades are the best this year. Essentially the problem, as I see it, is that she's doing a great job."
Peter: "Where did this girl come from?"
Alicia: "Where do all teenagers fucking up our lives come from? Eli Gold."