They warn people not to make big decisions soon after experiencing a major death. But Alicia's ignoring that advice in a big way -- and it's Peter who's in the line of fire this time.
Will is gone, never to be forgotten. But the world doesn't stop. There are bills to pay, clients to please, opponents to beat -- and lives to be reassessed.
Friends Honor a Lost Loved One
I know a lot of fans wanted to see Will's funeral, but in "A Material World," we have to settle for post-service drinks between former colleagues Diane and Alicia. As two of the people who knew him best, they toast the memory of someone Diane calls "a real man" -- one who will be missed.
As they get drunker, they share secrets, both personal and professional. Diane says she always disappointed her mom, who wanted her to be a nurse and get married. Alicia admits to disappointing her mom, who wants her to loosen up and have more sex. The women confess to one another that their respective firms are now overextended, too. L-G's troubles stem from the buying and expansion spree Will went on before he died.
They begin hatching a plot. What if L-G and Florrick-Agos merged? Admittedly, this could be tricky. Even now, the firms are on opposite sides of many cases, including an upcoming divorce negotiation. But still, what if?
"Let's keep talking and see if we can make this work," Diane tells Alicia.
Diane Sets the Plot in Motion
Speaking of that divorce: back at F-A, Cary and his client, Carol Mercer, await a face-off with David Lee and his client, Asher Mercer. Their divorce case seems likely to be vicious, especially with David involved. Alicia comes into the office to support Cary, despite Cary's concern that she's returned to work too soon.
It seems Asher's in love with his nurse (he's wheelchair-bound) and wants Carol to agree to an immediate divorce so he can remarry. Carol's main card is Illinois law, which allows her to delay the marriage's end for six months or more. David's desire to prolong the agony gets derailed by a surprise visit from Diane. She convinces the parties to settle amicably.
When David asks her what that was about, she tells him she and Alicia are interested in cooling off the rancor between the two firms. A furious David warns her not to make big decisions while she's in mourning. There's that advice again! (And I guess David, who we saw crying over Will's death in the last episode, is a fast healer.) Diane's smart enough to know when she's being threatened. She makes her own threat -- to put David in a smaller office.
David's still fuming when Damian Boyle drops venom in his ear: he overheard Diane and Alicia talking merger. If that happens, David knows he'd be outnumbered in the partners' meetings by Diane's allies.
Alicia Warns Finn: Don't Be a Scapegoat
Alicia learns that Cary has taken a meeting with Jeffrey Grant's father. Mr. Grant wants to get Jeffrey off the hook for killing Will by charging the state's attorney's office with wrongful prosecution. In other words, he wants someone to take the blame for (in his opinion) driving his son to commit violence.
Alicia's immediate fear is that they'll come after Finn Polmar, the assistant state's attorney on the case -- and the man who cradled a dying Will in his arms. After telling Cary in no uncertain terms that they cannot take the case, she visits Finn in his office. They're looking for a scapegoat, she warns him. If your boss asks for a "friendly chat," I recommend you call a lawyer.
The trusting Finn can't believe that the state's attorney, Jimmy Castro, would throw him to the wolves -- he was best man at his wedding, for goodness' sake. He thanks her for the advice but doesn't think he'll need to take it.
Fortunately, Finn may be trusting, but he's not stupid. He soon learns that Castro's indeed investigating the case, and it might be Finn who takes the blame for the fallout. Alicia's gained a new client.
Spirits in the Material World?
Although Alicia resents that everyone keeps asking how she's holding up, she's clearly not doing well. She brings her anger and grief into the courtroom. That's part of the problem, too. The Mercer case didn't need to go to trial, but David's so intent on making sure his client "wins" that he brings in new evidence that Carol Mercer cheated on her professor-husband with one of his students. He also wants to use the video to prove Carol's an unfit mother and gain his client custody of the Mercers' son.
Alicia uses Professor Mercer's own academic publications against him. He's a "materialist," and believes that we're all just products of the physical world -- even our thoughts and emotions. If he had custody of his son, she asks, how would he teach little Nico right from wrong? When people die, are they just gone forever? What's the point?
After the judge calls a recess, Alicia wanders outside the courthouse and begins to cry. One of Grace's school buddies recognizes her and comes over to talk. Alicia tells her that she may have made a big mistake by ever becoming a lawyer. But she doesn't know what else to do -- except go home.
She heads to her apartment and crawls into bed, only peeking her head out to watch bad TV cop shows.
Kalinda Keeps Her Promise
Back at the office, Kalinda warns Diane that David and Damian are trying to force her out as managing partner. Let them, a weary Ms. Lockhart says. But that's no answer to Kalinda. Remember that promise she made to Will about always having his back? To our favorite PI, even death can't make her break that vow.
She uses her on-and-off girlfriend Jenna -- who also happens to be BFFs with Damian -- to get proof that Boyle is mixed up with a local crime family. (By "uses," I mean she seduces Jenna and takes files from her apartment.)
When Kalinda presents Damian with a newly signed L-G client agreement for the sworn enemies of his old business associates, Damian's left with no choice but to quit L-G. "Goodbye, Damian," Kalinda purrs.
With Damian gone, Diane now has the leverage to do things her way. She starts by talking the Mercers into a settlement -- he gets his quick divorce, she gets a new prenup and they share custody of their son. It's probably how it always should have been, but David's still furious at Diane. He tells her the partners won't stand for her bringing back Alicia. She scoffs at that, since she knows Alicia would bring in plenty of clients, including ones they lost, like ChumHum. Besides, you no longer have the advantage, she notes. Go and find your buddy Damian if you don't believe me.
He warns her, "You're no Will Gardner, Diane. And you'll only hurt yourself trying to be."
"Then fasten your seatbelt," she tells him, "because we're heading for a lot of hurt."
Down on the street, a cop car screeches up beside a satisfied Kalinda. It's Jenna. She hauls off and socks Kalinda across the face. K doesn't fight back -- she barely reacts. Damian's departure was worth it.
Peter is Blindsided
Back in Alicia's apartment, she's letting the kids bring her tea and screen her calls. They allow in Finn, who comes to make sure she's okay. She apologizes for missing his meeting with Castro and assures him he doesn't need a new lawyer. He tells her that she won't just get over Will and her grief -- it takes time. This looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
As Finn leaves, Peter comes in. Alicia looks terrible, and he's concerned. She missed an important political dinner. He thinks she's not handling Will's death well, but he reminds her she lost a friend -- not a child or a husband.
"I lost my husband a long time ago," she tells him wearily. Ouch!
"How many times do I have to tell you," he yells, "when I cheated, it didn't mean anything!"
"Well, then that was a waste," she spits, "because when I cheated, it did!"
He tells her she shouldn't throw away their marriage over a man whose feelings she wasn't even sure of. After calling each other names I won't repeat here, he tells her that "We're all that we have."
But no. She's done. She tells him she won't ask for a divorce, because they're too important to each other professionally. She even gives him the green light to cheat again, as long as she and the kids don't hear about it. When he asks if she wants to sleep with someone else, she throws him out.
Meanwhile, David Lee is still talking merger. But not with Alicia's firm -- with Louis Canning.
For me, "A Material World" carried a real punch. Sharp dialogue led to real emotional payoffs that have been a long time coming.
As Alicia begins to come to terms with Will's death, her reactions following the funeral rang very true. It was all there, from her reunion with Diane and her annoyance at everyone asking about her well-being to her anger in the courtroom and her exhausted collapse. And of course, they saved the best for last, with the lacerating showdown with Peter, who clearly didn't see her declaration of non-love coming. The always-amazing Julianna Margulies pulled off Alicia's range of emotions without a single false note.
And hats off to the other main players of the hour, especially Christine Baranski and Archie Panjabi. Whether or not L-G and F-A merge, I just want to get Alicia, Diane and Kalinda in a room together, maybe with big glasses of wine.
How will Alicia emerge from her blowout with Peter? Will she ever get over Will? And will Louis Canning take over L-G before Diane can stop him? It's time for The Good Wife -- the Next Chapter!
The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9pm on CBS.