It's terrible to describe an episode that included a sexual harassment/hostile work environment lawsuit as "the fun before the storm," but that's pretty much what "Outside the Bubble" was. We got Elsbeth, we got Elsbeth on a treadmill desk, we got Viola, we got Kurt, we got Diane shooting guns, we got Diane and Kurt getting married, we got an all-too-brief Sonja Sohn appearance, and we got Diane figuring out that Alicia is leaving because of a file snafu and Sonja Sohn blabbing, but mostly because Alicia stopped decorating her office.
David Lee is going to kick himself for missing that very obvious detail. Then again, the reason Diane was able to piece it together was that, as her office was being stripped bare, she just couldn't help but notice that Alicia had yet to finish furnishing hers with new carpeting and modern art. It's such a great idea to use something that's been staring them—and us—in the face since the season began as the ultimate tip-off about the departure. Alicia accessing Diane's client files could've been explained away with ease, thanks to the potential of Will using Alicia to keep tabs on Diane's clients, but nope. In that moment, flimsy excuses about an error and files basically just boiled down to Alicia's a crap liar.
And that big-eyed stare that Diane gave Alicia right at the end! So much shock and betrayal expressed in just one deafeningly silent look. I've often felt that Alicia and Diane's connection to one another isn't as strong as it should be, especially after the show gestured toward a blossoming mentorship between the two during the whole Caitlin thing in Season 3 and then it never fully paid off, but that doesn't negate how Diane felt about this. Although she's of course putting aside the fact that she totally threw Will under the bus last week to secure her State Supreme Court nomination; she should hardly be one to be dismayed and indignant about treacherous behavior for professional gain.
Overall, though, Diane was pretty busy this week. In addition to the law firm plot, Kurt was back, and on the eve of the nuptials! The nature of their relationship, and whether or not it survived, isn't of too much consequence to me, though I do like the two of them together, and I adore watching Christine Baranski and Gary Cole's screwball-esque flirting. So the dramatics of Diane's intolerant-but-well-meaning liberal interventionist friends and Diane's jealousy over Kurt's buddies being a trio of female twenty-somethings from his ballistics classes made for good character work and balanced out the episode nicely. However, sort of like with Will's non-Alicia dalliances, I'm just not particularly invested in how they play out... even if I did let out a small sign of relief when Diane showed up at the city hall marriage, complete with that kickass dragonfly pin of hers.
The legal case was about as light as you could get, given the subject matter. Indeed, much of it felt like an Ally McBeal-esque plot, though instead of Kalinda discussing how much Chrissy like-liked her, Chrissy would've ended up in a compromising position in a unisex bathroom stall while Elaine took pictures. Bygones. Howard's pantsless and underwearless naps aside—but seriously, who does that?—"Outside the Bubble" did highlight the casual nature in which sex is used in a variety of ways, and how it can influence a professional environment. This aspect of the episode might've landed a bit better had the lawsuit not been largely frivolous, since it seemed more like Chrissy had simply gotten fed up with being disrespected, dehumanized, and mistreated as a paralegal (no one knew her name but Alicia). She was merely looking for some vengeance, and found Viola in the mood to stir up some trouble for the firm as Diane was leaving. It also didn't help that Chrissy increasingly became a non-entity in that story, with Rita Wilson and Carrie Preston getting all the juicy bits.
Over at the governor's office, Jackie resurfaced to engage in yet another turf war with Eli. I'm so over these sort of plots between the two of them, even though I do enjoy watching them snipe at each other. There's not anything really all that new or fresh about it at this point, apart from Eli participating in a seniors' jazzercise class, which was amusing. Somehow, Jackie's activities here could come back to haunt them, but between the lingering issue of the stuffed ballot boxes and Peter being tempted by Marilyn's presence—I loved how he ran to Alicia last week in a rush to renew their vows after he flirted with Marilyn over Dan Brown (oy vey)—there are significantly more pressing concerns at hand than where Peter's portrait is hanging.
All of that will have to wait, though, since next week everything hits the fan.
– Sorry about no review last week. I was on vacation, and the hour-longs just weren't possible to get in on time. It was a really good episode, though, yeah?
– Real talk: They need to fire Howard. As amusing as he is, he's a lawsuit waiting to happen, "It's like McCarthyism all over again." You can bring back Julius Cain! I'm not giving up on you, Julius!
– I sometimes wonder if Cary and Alicia regret taking the fourth-years with them. I only say this because they've proven themselves to be totally and completely inept at every single turn of this covert departure.
– "I keep asking questions until they make sense." I love how Alicia and Will just roll with Elsbeth now. Then she made David Lee a fan, which I also loved.
– "I wish my hair would behave. It just flops."
– "They show clips on Jon Stewart!" Pretty much sums up many a lefty's perception of things sometimes.
– "That was weird, wasn't it?" "Talking about two years ago? Yeah, that'll be on my mind for the rest of the day." "Just the rest of the day?" Hang onto that line for next week, folks.
What'd you think of "Outside the Bubble"?
AIRED ON 1/31/2016
Season 7 : Episode 13
AIRS ON 2/14/2016
Season 7 : Episode 14