Kalinda starts the day tailing Damian Boyle, a job that ends suddenly -- after an amazing car chase that starts with a bright white 100 mph in honor of the episode -- at the doors of Florrick/Agos. David Lee has dispatched Boyle to get Alicia's signoff on her exit contract at the old firm. But between his twitchy evilness, Alicia's quick thinking, and some ace moves from Clarke Hayden, it's quickly uncovered that Matthew Ashbaugh -- our beloved John Noble-played eccentric -- has left Alicia a solid twelve million.
What you might think would be a replay of LG aggression and bitchiness turns into something radically other, though, almost immediately. They do jump in to represent Matthew's widow in contesting the will, and it's partially because of what it would mean to Sweet F/A, but the only LG partner that plays into the story meaningfully is, of course, Will Gardner. Seems he's not the only one who associates Ashbaugh with their passionate affair, and so we get some sexy flashbacks even in the midst of the ugliness.
And it is ugly. In a bravura -- even by Season Five standards -- performance, Will dives deep into his crazy, imagining a cross-examination of a (white-garbed) Alicia Florrick about exactly how much she knew about Matthew's feelings for her, how willing she was to use them, and how much of a manipulative bitch he needs her to admit she is. It's dark, it's sad, and it is very, very beautiful... Not to mention one of the most experimental turns the show's ever taken, and certainly the best executed.
In the end, it amounts to nil: While Will is a godlike litigator, Alicia's still the smartest person on the show, so she gives him just enough rope in his attempted blindside to express his rage fully, and on record, before cleverly turning the semantic tables at the last second. The details aren't really important for tonight, but it's masterful work on both their parts, and by the time four more romantic-gesture wills turn up and the whole thing's moot, Will's been given enough closure that they're both back to at least that chilly tenderness we saw during the original schism five episodes ago.
As for Kalinda, her hot pursuit of Boyle continues, on into some delightful flirtation and a random hookup with a cop of Boyle's acquaintance, the charming Jordana Spiro, in a continuing storyline that seems to be pointing toward an intersection of the Kalinda stories that have worked best in the past: Hot chick detective lover, triangulated against a sketchy smooth-talking love interest, in what hopefully will end in massive fireworks.
What else? Marilyn sucks, of course. Jackie's still on an insanely effective mean-girl campaign against the world, this time using Alicia's highly compromised invite to the F/A holiday party as a way of fucking with Veronica Loy, who is coming ever more undone.
The party proves a neat catch-all for all the tertiary and guest characters, actually: Eli's concern that Peter will attend and run into no-show Colin Sweeney, which Marilyn ignores, ends up blossoming insanely when Team Gov, Donna Brazile and Lemond Bishop all show up instead. It's mostly effective as a way of seeing Alicia deal under pressure, but the episode's cheeky last shot -- Eli's spit-take as Marilyn admits she's thinking of naming her unborn son "Peter" -- is worth the entire hour of low-key, stressful setup.
It's always lovely to see Matthew Ashbaugh, whose existence critiques Alicia's in a way nobody -- not Eli, not Colin; not even Will -- can quite get to. And of course, MVP goes to Will for turning that effect into a raw exploration of his own sense of betrayal and heartbreak after F/A. What is, and continues to be, intriguing is our confirmation that Will still has no idea whatsoever why any of this has happened, which is a great reason to turn into a feral animal. The titular "decision tree," in fact, comes to us as he's planning out his drunken attack for the cross-examination: All the things she might say, all the ways he can hurt her, all the ways he can spook her into finally revealing herself. It's incredibly effective.
While at the time it seemed awful to have Owen Cavanaugh explain the Will-adjacent reasons for Alicia leaving so openly, in retrospect it's helped provide a stronger picture of Will's incapacity to fathom her reasons for doing anything. Including a rooftop fuck two years ago in which she whispered, "This is the happiest I've ever been in my life." What still echoes there isn't that she wasn't telling the truth, of course, but that she was -- and was correct in saying so -- and that's something she'll never be able to explain to him, and thus something he'll never know. Bad timing strikes again, and in the oddest and most terrible places.
Next Year: No idea whatsoever, but it's the halfway point of the season so I would expect at least a couple high-profile reversals. Just cross your fingers none of them involve Marilyn fucking Garbanza.
LG, née Lockhart/Gardner, is taking over the map! And doing this by any desperate means necessary, now that the roguish vitality lent its name partners by the events of five episodes ago. That means iffy associates -- like the formerly firmless Damian Doyle -- and even iffier practices, as taskgroups work to alienate Florrick/Agos's clients and find bigger, scarier ones of their own. Governor-Elect Peter Florrick's upcoming inauguration is overshadowed by Eli's secret wars against First Mother Jackie and Ethics Queen Marilyn Garbanza, but now that Sweet F/A has some scruffy offices to call home, Alicia's staying out of it (unless it helps her out).
Kalinda, to the sound of holy choirs, guns her engine through the streets, following a very savvy Damian as instructed by Diane during his accelerated hiring process. We don't really see him during this chase, grinning his mad Irish grin, but rest assured he knows what's happening. Imagine his delight, then, when she comes careening around a corner to find him dashing across the street... To the former t-shirt factory that is now home to Sweet F/A itself.
Kalinda: "Damian's doing something weird."
Diane: "What else is new. What crime family is it this time?"
Kalinda: "Not the Gerraghtys. As far as I can tell he's done with them..."
Diane: "So then who? What hive of villainous scum is he..."
Kalinda: "It's that law firm we don't talk about."
Diane: "Do you think he's jumping ship? You know how those dicks are."
Kalinda: "I'll stay on it."
Will: "Diane! Diane Diane Diane! New York City is nearly a go!"
Diane: "Yes, it's very exciting. You know where your boy Damian is right now?"
Will: "My 'boy'? I think you mean 'our newest partner,' or possibly 'Will's latest fantastic idea.'"
Diane: "Well, right now he's fantastically chilling at that law firm we don't talk about."
Will: "He's probably just doing some David Lee mind games bullshit to prove his worth. He's kind of like a housecat that brings you mouse heads, have you noticed that?"
Diane: "Yeah or like tiny mouse furniture."
Damian: "I have arrived! Not to steal your mouse furniture but to practice law!"
Alicia: "No. Get out of here. I hate you, and I hate that you've usurped my #1 MOM status with your strange Gaelic magic. My meeting is with David Lee."