Lawyers are experts at keeping secrets. But some secrets are too hard to keep, as The Good Wife's Alicia and her co-conspirators are on the verge of learning.
But before we get to the big reveal, "Outside the Bubble" treats us to a fast-moving peak into the workings of Lockhart & Gardner, the governor's office and Diane's love life. Plus, two of the best words on television: Elsbeth Tascioni.
It's probably inevitable that Diane's rise to prominence caused some ruffled feathers. Unfortunately, her old frenemy, Viola Walsh (returning guest star Rita Wilson), takes the envy up a notch by representing a Lockhart & Gardner paralegal in a lawsuit against the firm.
The young woman, Chrissy, has leveled accusations against nearly everyone at L&G. She claims she faced sexual harassment -- and worse -- from Diane, Alicia, Cary, Will and even old Howard Lyman. This is serious stuff, which means they need serious representation.
Welcome back, Elsbeth Tascioni! Emmy winner Carrie Preston returns to reprise her role as the quirky but brilliant lawyer whose ADHD is exceeded only by how cunning she is. Despite facing a formidable opponent in Viola, Elsbeth manages to take apart Chrissy's charges one by one. Several of the accusations are almost laughably easy to explain away, but others carry more weight. (I can't really blame her for taking offense at Howard's habit of napping on his couch without either trousers or underwear. Yuck.)
One of the strongest of Chrissy's complaints involves Will. She accuses him of having sex with underlings in his office, which created an unsavory work environment. Will provides an affidavit that, yes, he had sex in the office, but only with Tammy, the sportscaster. (Remember her? Is she still living in London? The Olympics ended more than a year ago, didn't they?) But Tammy didn't work for him, so that invalidates Chrissy's charge.
Alicia reminds Will that they carried on in his office, too. Doesn't that mean he lied under oath? He reminds her in return that, actually, they fooled around in his executive bathroom, not the office. In other words, no harm, no foul. They share a secret smile at the memory. I guess they're in a good place now. Or just enjoying the memory.
Elsbeth deals the final blow to the case when she brings Kalinda in for a deposition. Funny thing, Chrissy didn't call out Kalinda for any wrongdoing, despite the fact they worked together frequently. It turns out the seemingly demure paralegal didn't accuse Kalinda because she liked her. A lot. In the copy room. In the law library. In Kalinda's office. You get the picture. Case closed.
Friend of the Court
Given the unfriendly atmosphere between Diane and the other partners, she's understandably been avoiding the office. She'd rather practice target shooting with her now-fiance Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole), the ballistics expert and erstwhile Sarah Palin supporter.
After snuggling at the gun range, they're eating out when a couple Diane describes as her "oldest friends" stop by their table. Lyle and Francesca enjoy seeing Diane's happiness but aren't so cool with her choice. As Diane takes a call from Will about the paralegal's lawsuit, we can hear them argue with Kurt in the background.
Later, the couple visit Diane's apartment to talk to her. Why Kurt, they wonder? He's against gun control! He supports Sarah Palin! He's chilly about global warming! Diane warns them to back off. Francesca reminds her that years ago, Diane advised her and Lyle to make sure their love could survive "outside the bubble." (Episode title name-check!) She's now offering that advice back to Diane.
Kurt and Diane do some soul searching. He understands if she's having second thoughts. And after meeting some of his friends -- a group of attractive, 20-something "ballistics experts" that she's worried he's slept with -- their continuing romance appears doubtful.
Will she leave Kurt at the altar? Or should we say, at the Chicago marriage office? The suspense lasts all of about 30 seconds. Here comes the bride, all dressed in ... a pretty blue sheath dress. Congratulations to the happy couple!
Personal note: I interviewed Robert Klein, aka Lyle, for my college newspaper years ago following his stand-up comedy show. Can't imagine a nicer guy. Glad to see him on my favorite show.
Will the Real Mrs. Florrick Please Stand Up?
Eli's in the thick of planning Peter's inaugural festivities. He's having labor troubles because Alicia demanded that the inaugural ball occur at the governor's mansion, not a union-approved hall. But she didn't request anything, "Mrs. Florrick" did. Ah ... that Mrs. Florrick.
Jackie's back, baby! We haven't seen Peter's mother since last season, and it's great to have her on The Good Wife again. Especially since she and Eli are still doing their little love-hate dance. He tries to reel her in, and almost has her under his thumb until he finds she might help him end the labor dispute.
Apparently, she's old buddies with the food-services union leader. We don't know what kind of relationship they have, but it must be close. One visit with Jackie ends the labor troubles but at a price. Eli has to yield control over the inaugural ball planning, and she gets to decorate Peter's new office. This wouldn't mean much except she's decided to replace the state seal of Illinois with a huge portrait of Peter in the lobby, which annoys Eli no end. (Bad optics, you know.)
Oh well, a small price to pay for peace on Inauguration Day.
The Secret's Out
Throughout the episode, the fourth-year associates work their hardest to gather the records of clients who've promised to come to Florrick, Agos & Associates. But someone's installed a firewall to prevent them from downloading the files. Only Alicia, as a partner, can get the goods.
This might have gone unnoticed, except Diane catches Alicia messing in one of her client files (electronically). It's for a case Diane wants to finish before taking the judgeship. Will has agreed to this part of the settlement, but Alicia doesn't know about it. A suspicious Diane confronts Alicia, who claims she made a mistake opening the file.
Still suspicious, Diane takes the client out for a drink. She's fishing, expecting the woman to tell her that other firms have been trying to take her business. When the client lets it slip that she's going to a new firm with "the new governor's wife on the letterhead," Diane can barely keep her composure. She has a decision to make about what to do with information.
The first thing she does is get married. With that out of the way (and still wearing her wedding ensemble), she heads to the office she's been avoiding.
"Alicia's leaving the firm with Cary, and she's taking our top clients," she tells Will. Well, that cat's out of the bag -- and about to start clawing the furniture.
The most recent Entertainment Weekly advised viewers they should be watching The Good Wife instead of a certain show about zombies that airs in same timeslot. I couldn't agree more, and "Outside the Bubble" just proves it again.
Great guest stars, crisp dialogue, smart plotting and subtle acting all come together to bring us to the moment we've been waiting for: the big reveal about Alicia leaving L&G. We've no doubt just seen the last friendly encounter between Will and Alicia for a while. (Clever of the writers to include that special moment.) We're about to get fireworks, and not of the romantic variety.
Speaking of romance, congratulations to Diane and Kurt. I'm thinking of getting them his-and-hers monogrammed hand towels -- in camo, naturally.