It took until season 4, but Alicia Florrick finally has the self-confidence to say what we’ve known all along: “I’m good.” As in: good at her job, good at organizing her life, good at deciding how much she wants to support Peter’s political ambitions. The firm’s financial turmoil rolls on and Peter’s campaign for governor heats up — and Alicia’s starting to realize she can play the game on her own terms.

Yet as Alicia begins to relish her increasing power — personal, political, and professional — Kalinda is heading down a disturbing path with husband Nick. Is this the same woman who once took out a rival with a baseball bat?

Crucial Evidence

Here’s what you need to know about this week’s episode, “And the Law Won”:

Welcome Mat(tie). Alicia apparently wields power she never knew she had. For one thing, bankruptcy trustee Clarke Hayden repeatedly asks for her opinion of other young associates, many of whom are on the chopping block as the firm cuts back. Alicia refuses to “play Thunderdome,” as she calls it, and won’t bad-mouth anyone. Curiously, people she compliments keep their jobs.

Next, we learn the firm must renegotiate its lease with the new landlord — a wealthy software magnate named Mattie Hayward (played by Maura Tierney). Rather than deal with Diane, though, the politically active Mattie makes it clear she’s intrigued by Alicia, particularly because of her complicated relationship with Peter. She asks Alicia to bring by the lease proposal, offers to back Peter’s campaign and even asks Alicia to have drinks after work someday.

Although the lease proposal falls through (which means L&G will lose an entire floor of their building), Mattie still seems sold on our gal. It’s a mixed blessing. On one hand, Diane is jealous of her fourth-year associate’s clout-by-marriage. On the other, Eli and Peter can’t be grateful enough to Alicia for getting Mattie on board, despite Alicia’s bafflement at a near-stranger’s support.

Will is Baaack. After six months in lawyer purgatory, Will finally returns to the courtroom as more than just an observer. Diane makes it clear the firm needs a lucrative win to keep the money flowing. No pressure!

The case is a wrongful death suit against the city of Chicago over the fatal stun-gunning of a young protester. It seems a sure-fire winner at first, and the city offers to settle for $800,000. But Hayden wants L&G to bring home a bigger payday, which almost ends in disaster as evidence surfaces that makes the victim look culpable in his own death. Thanks to sleuthing by Kalinda, however, it turns out the cop who killed the boy had targeted him as a troublemaker by mistake. Will takes a $3.5 million settlement offer. Bigger payday, indeed.

Fifty Shades of Kalinda — Part 2. Speaking of our favorite mystery woman, Kalinda disappears on her bosses for a day to hang out with her creepy-yet-curiously-compelling husband, Nick. Ignoring calls from Will and Alicia, doing weird things with soft-serve ice cream, acting zoned-out about Will’s wrongful death case — this is not the Kalinda we (sort of) know and (definitely) love.

She finally confesses to Alicia that Nick (who is, after all, Alicia and Cary’s new client, too) is her husband, and possibly dangerous. Yet that doesn’t stop Kalinda from having more sexy-time with him after he threatens her with a gun. Which I believe — and correct me if I’m wrong here — Christian never did to Ana. There’s kinky doings between consenting adults, and then there’s a violent guy with a gun.

Expert Witnesses

TGW hasn’t lost its genius for casting guest stars. Maura Tierney (looking better than ever after her recent battle with cancer) has a natural chemistry with Julianna Margulies that makes me look forward to more Alicia-Mattie interactions. In fact, the chemistry is strong enough that Alicia initially thinks the wealthy benefactor is hitting on her when she invites her out for a drink. (Awk. Ward.)

But no — Mattie confesses that she has few friends, because she always fears people are trying to get something from her. Alicia gratefully accepts the invitation. And I love the fact that TGW once again acknowledges the important role friendship plays in women’s lives. 

Even the small parts are well cast, such as James Urbaniak as the Harvard-obsessed judge in Will’s case and Frank Wood (who will always be The Flight of the Conchords’ hapless Greg to me) as the medical examiner. 

My only complaint is that they haven’t given Nathan Lane, as trustee Hayden, the chance to really cut loose. He’s amusing in his one-on-ones with Alicia, Will and Diane, but there must be more coming, right? Some scenes with Eli (the underused Alan Cumming) would be great, for example. 

Just a thought: let’s have these two Broadway musical stars liven up the L&G holiday party with a few choruses of “Hakuna Matata” Who’s with me on this?

Summary Judgment

This was a strong episode on many levels. The case-of-the-week held my interest, and it’s satisfying to see Will back where he belongs, leading the litigation team. Maura Tierney‘s character appears to be an excellent addition to the plotline. 

I especially appreciate that TGW has focused so strongly on the title character this week and last. Even the small moments count in Alicia’s journey. Take just one example: when Alicia and Peter kick off their shoes on the campaign bus, we can see that she’s really grown comfortable in her own skin. She’s not just Peter’s supportive wife, or the kids’ devoted mom, or even the eager new kid on the block at the law firm. She’s Alicia Florrick, and happy to be herself. 

But what about Kalinda? What’s going on inside her skin? And where’s a baseball bat when you need one?

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV