In the latest episode of The Good Wife, Alicia faces both an old nemesis and an age-old question: Can you go home again?

But before we get to the heavy questions of professional integrity and women’s life choices, let’s discuss this week’s case. Be warned that some of the details are a little unsavory.

The Case in Evidence

Welcome back, Colin Sweeney! Alicia’s creepiest client ever, played to perfection by Dylan Baker, returns once more in “The Long Way Home.” Having beaten a wife-murder rap (among other things), he’s now trying to win back control of the company he founded. 

At the proxy fight against the current CEO, the Lockhart-Gardner team stands by to support Sweeney’s bid. Everything seems to be going their way until a comely woman, Isobel Swift, comes forward and says that before he went to jail, Sweeney sexually harassed her at work and fathered her young son. Sweeney loses the proxy fight to his rival, Dresher — the current CEO. Our legal eagles have 72 hours to prove that the charge of harassment is false and that Dresher is behind it.

In court, Sweeney states he never had sex with Swift — she’s lying. Unfortunately, Kalinda uncovers evidence that he’s the liar. When pressed, Sweeney admits to Alicia and Caitlin that he had oral sex with the woman, but he couldn’t have fathered the child. This puts Alicia in the position of having to work around perjured testimony. Will advises her that she must act in the best interest of her client but she can’t ask him questions that might elicit more perjury. It’s a fine line to walk.

Ms. Swift’s lawyer, Victoria Adler, recalls Sweeney to the stand (something Alicia had hoped to avoid). Alicia does a masterful job of dancing around his testimony, reinforcing her stance that the whole case rests on a “he said/she said” foundation. But then Sweeney goes beyond his initial statements, embellishing his lies just enough that Alicia risks disciplinary action if she questions him further.

Conspiracy Theories

Things look pretty hopeless when David Lee arrives with the news that Sweeney really is the father of the little boy. Sweeney stands by his earlier statements — he couldn’t be the father. David raises the possibility of contraceptive fraud, otherwise known as the “turkey baster defense.” They want to accuse Ms. Swift of taking a payoff from Dresher to use Sweeney’s sperm to inseminate herself without his knowledge or consent. (Sweeney isn’t the only creepy person on this episode.) 

The real kicker comes in court when Swift insists she never discussed how to use a turkey baster to become a mom. Her attorney, with a stunned look on her face, backs off from asking further questions. Apparently, there’s more than one perjurer in the house. So which of the liars gets the win?

Turns out everyone does — except for Dresher. The L-G team couldn’t be more surprised when Sweeney comes into the office with Isobel Swift and her little boy. The suddenly happy couple tells them that Isobel has admitted that Dresher paid her off to get pregnant so he could retain control of Sweeney’s company. And now they’re going to raise the boy together. 

As the threesome go off, Alicia looks positively ill at the idea of Sweeney being a dad.

Double Standard, Double Jeopardy

Eli warns Peter that someone has been blogging about improper sexual activity at the State’s Attorney’s office. Peter assigns Cary to find out who’s been violating his “zero tolerance” rule when it comes to sexual conduct. Cary discovers that one of the senior attorneys did indeed have a tryst in the office with one of his subordinates — a definite no-no.

When Peter fires the lawyer, a disgusted Geneva points a finger at Cary, who had a relationship with Dana without Peter knowing it. And — look at that! — everyone that Peter has recently fired or demoted is African American. That doesn’t look so good. Cary goads her into telling Peter about his time with Dana (now over). She refuses, saying that’s up to him. When he demurs, Geneva laughs and says, “That’s right — it’s a bad economy for ideals.” 

Cary ultimately goes to Peter and fesses up. Peter tries to sweep it under the rug, saying that Cary showed great character by coming to him. Cary won’t have it, saying that no one will respect either of them if he’s not disciplined in some way. Peter says he’ll think about it.

Change of Venue

Alicia gets notice that her lovely, fabulous, amazing apartment is going condo. She can buy it for more than a cool million or else move in 90 days. Worried that she can’t swing the financing, Alicia works with her real estate agent to find an alternative. One possibility: her old house in Hyde Park, which is suddenly on the market again. The kids would love it, but can she afford it? 

The whole issue of what’s important to her is emphasized when she discovers that Caitlin is resigning. Though the young associate has really excelled at work, Alicia wasn’t sure if she was trustworthy, especially because Caitlin seems to be hiding things from her. David Lee even accuses Alicia of driving his niece away by being a “mean girl” mentor.

In fact, Caitlin is leaving because she’s just discovered she’s pregnant, and she’s getting married. All her secretive behavior? Turns out she was addressing wedding invitations.

Though Diane and Alicia explain how she can work and be a mom, too, Caitlin makes it clear she’s happy with her decision. She wants to be a wife and mother, period. No doubt Alicia’s constant multitasking between home and office reinforced her thinking, though Diane wryly notes that women didn’t break the glass ceiling for this. Alicia says that maybe they did.

With all this running through Alicia’s head, she visits her old home, now being shown to prospective buyers. Though she’s trying to be level-headed and unemotional, she clearly feels nostalgic walking through the house. The episode fades to black as she discovers the old height chart of her kids, penciled onto a closet door. She backs away from the door, choked with emotion. 

Summary Judgment

How appropriate that The Good Wife gives us an episode this week that’s all about sex, sexual propriety and the role of women in the workplace. In the case of the Sweeney accusations, I have to agree with the judge, who says, “I’m both disgusted and intrigued.”

The very twisty nature of the case, with all the perjury, double dealing and — ahem — turkey basters, kept me riveted. And besides Dylan Baker, the guest star count was through the roof–Homeland‘s Morena Baccarin as Isobel Swift, Grey’s Anatomy‘s Kate Burton as her attorney, and Frasier‘s Bebe Neuwirth as the judge. 

Meanwhile, the resolution of the Caitlin storyline — with Alicia coming down firmly on the side of working motherhood but (sort of) understanding Caitlin’s desire to ditch her law career underscored a continuing refrain of the show: In the real world, nothing is as simple or cut and dried as it might seem. Peter’s desire to protect Cary, despite his “zero tolerance” policy, also reinforces the theme.

And we haven’t seen the end of Alicia’s all-important decision about buying her current condo or her old home. She must make some tough choices related to her financial and professional future. In a related development, Louis Canning (AKA Michael J. Fox) is still after Alicia to join his more family-friendly firm. What’s a working mom to do?

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV