The producers of The Good Wife weren’t kidding when they named “Hitting the Fan” one of the five must-see episodes of the series so far. There’s yelling, scheming, papers (and accusations) flying. Who do you trust? Who will you crush? 

Alicia’s secret is out at Lockhart & Gardner — let the chaos begin!

Interview: Archie Panjabi on Defeating Polio and Why Kalinda’s ‘a Work in Progress>>>

Hostile Witnesses

Picking up exactly where we ended last week, Diane tells a stunned Will that Alicia’s leaving Lockhart-Gardner with Cary to start a new firm. Worse, they’re trying to take many of L&G’s clients with them. Will accepts that Cary might leave, but Alicia? He’s speechless.

That is, until he reaches Alicia and confronts her with his new-found knowledge. When she admits that she needs to try to build something of her own — just as Will and Diane did before her — Gardner’s rage is scary to behold. He sweeps everything off Alicia’s desk in a fury of pain and betrayal. Now it’s Alicia’s turn to be stunned as her ex-lover reminds her that he “took her in” when no one else would. 

Despite her protestations that this isn’t personal, he tells her “You’re awful and you don’t even know how awful you are!” And she’s fired, too. And he’s keeping her personal cell phone until he learns all he can about how many clients she’s trying to steal. (Will picking up her phone becomes a running gag throughout — pretty much the only levity of the episode.)

This move rouses Alicia to begin fighting back. He can’t fire her — he needs a vote of the partners. Unfortunately, Will and David don’t have much trouble getting the others to agree with them, although Diane hesitates before condemning her former protegee. Will calls Security to escort Alicia out of the building immediately. 

Looking for all the world like she’s doing a perp walk, Alicia steps onto the elevator. Will ignores her attempt to apologize again. As the doors close, she begins to sob. Those two certainly have a history of fraught moments in elevators, don’t they?

Expedited Trial

In the hour before partners make Alicia’s termination official, she and the departing fourth-year associates race around the office trying to scoop up any case files they can. One by one, the young attorneys get their walking papers from David. He seems to be having just a little too much fun booting them from the firm. 

When Will queries Kalinda about where she stands, she says she’s staying with L&G. Apparently she’s not as friendly with Alicia as she thought, since her former BFF didn’t tell her about her imminent departure. Whether because of loyalty to Will or hurt feelings (or a little of both), she uses her friendship with Cary to learn some key information: the location of the new Florrick-Agos offices and the fact that the new firm is trying to take top client ChumHum with them. 

David uses that insider info to call in the health department on the new office space (suddenly the building needs fumigation for two months). So where will the new firm meet? How about the name partner’s nice big apartment? 

No Restraint in Sight

Things continue to go downhill between Will and Alicia when he gets a restraining order to stop the new firm from meeting with Neil Gross of ChumHum. Will claims it’s about restraint of trade, which Alicia and Cary hotly dispute. You usually don’t see lawyers calling each other liars at the top of their lungs in open court, but there are exceptions to every rule.

Interestingly, Diane refuses to testify about whether Alicia and Cary are stealing their clients. What’s up with that? Could she be worried about her judgeship or just wistful about the collapse of her workplace family? Maybe a little of both.

One of the fourth years, Beth, who has defected back to L&G, admits that she’s only there to testify against Florrick, Agos because suddenly Will has offered her a partnership. Although the judge agrees that something’s fishy, he won’t agree to lifting the restraining order yet. That means the new firm can’t talk with ChumHum, which might mean they’re sunk. When a furious Alicia starts to walk out of the courtroom, David hisses that she’s a “Judas.” 

Bad move, David. Alicia’s on fire now. “We’re coming after you,” she says to Will, Diane, and David. “All your clients. Every single one we worked to make happy, until you swept in at the last minute to take credit. We’re taking them. And then you know what you’ll have? A very nice suite of offices.”

I love it when Alicia gets mad. I love it even more when she gets even. Calling in a favor from one of the judges tainted in Will’s bribery investigation, she gets a restraining order against Lockhart & Gardner. Now no one can solicit ChumHum’s business.

Peter in the Middle

Peter finds out that Will has orchestrated the firing (and perp walk) of his wife. He also learns that L&G partners are calling their current clients to blacken Alicia’s name by insinuating she’s involved in financial impropriety. 

The new governor — reaching Will on Alicia’s still-confiscated phone — reminds Gardner that he’s never forgotten Alicia and Will’s affair. “You don’t want me as your enemy,” he snarls.

There’s no snarling when Peter arrives at Alicia’s apartment to discover a passel of attorneys in the living room along with his ebullient wife. Despite the threat of losing ChumHum as a client, she’s happy that she’s making her big move. He’s happy she’s happy. They suddenly get very turned on and sneak into the bedroom for a quickie. (“We only have about 10 minutes,” says Ms. Florrick. “Otherwise everyone out there will start making bad decisions.”) 

When Alicia comes back (after a fast return to the bedroom to retrieve her panties — oh, you Florricks!), Diane awaits. She’s trying to broker a peace. The offer: both sides drop their respective restraining orders and give separate pitches to Neil Gross. Cary and Alicia agree to it.

Turns out that Gross wants to stick with L&G anyway. Not because of the chaos of Alicia and Cary’s departure, but because Gross worries that Peter’s goal of running a completely ethical administration will cause him too much agita. Things look pretty bleak for the fledgling firm, and the fourth years didn’t even get their bonuses. 

Peter rides to the rescue. At a press conference, he tells reporters that he’s looking into the advantages that Internet companies have when it comes to paying taxes. Suddenly, Alicia being the governor’s wife looks very attractive to Neil Gross. And it’s Florrick, Agos & Associates for the win!

But the real loser may turn out to be Diane. Despite Eli’s objections, Peter asks his chief of staff to draw up a list of other possible State Supreme Court candidates. She may be out before she even gets a chance to be in. 

Summary Judgment

Wow. It really happened. Alicia’s striking out on her own. She’s partnered with Cary and at war with Will. We’re only five episodes into season five, and The Good Wife has moved like a freight train to a storyline that seemed impossible just a year ago.

Although everyone’s talking money and the legality of client poaching, most of the characters are acting out of emotion. Will’s clearly less concerned about losing clients than dealing with what he sees as Alicia’s betrayal. Diane’s trying to walk a fine line between her affection for Cary and Alicia and her loyalty to her firm. Kalinda throws her lot in with Will, based on a combination of friendship with Will and hurt feelings. Despite what Alicia says, this isn’t just about business. It’s always personal.

Speaking of personal — please join me in learning a little about what makes Kalinda tick from none other than Archie Panjabi herself. I had the pleasure of interviewing her a few days ago about her work with Rotary International to eradicate polio and her take on Kalinda’s future.

The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9 pm on CBS.

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(Image courtesy of CBS.)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV