I was all set to write about Alicia and her refusal to drag women back into the fifties but then in between rolling through every forum related to Once Upon A Time and catching up on all my programs I noticed that a lot of people and critics were find Kalinda’s thing with her husband…steamy. Did I miss something? Where I was sitting Kalinda was facing off with the man that abused her and ultimately attempting to manipulate him to protect her best friend.

I guess brawls, abuse, guns and choking is just a liiiiittle too kinky for my taste. Especially coupled with the signs previously that Kalinda had at some point been in an abusive relationship.

Kalinda is a violent woman. It’s part of her charm. Under that silky British/Canadian/American accent of hers is a woman teeming with violent urges. But she reigns them in and carefully metes them out when it will suit her best because in addition to being violent she’s incredibly thoughtful.

Then her ex arrives in town and they brawl in an elevator. It ends with his hand around her throat and when next we see them it’s post sex. “Steamy,” people say. Here’s take charge Kalinda literally going toe to toe with her ex. “Isn’t it hot?”

But no.

Besides the fact that we know Kalinda really prefers brunettes to blonds there’s the matter of her history with the man. She didn’t end things with a smile and an understanding. She fled a country and changed her name to escape him after robbing him. Their relationship is about power. He has it. She doesn’t.

Watch their interaction after they “sleep” together. He’s casual, friendly and ignoring everything she says. Acting like she doesn’t exist beyond as a prop for the play he’s written in his head. “But you stayed,” he says with a cocky grin after showing her the tattoo he got to always remind him of her. And she doesn’t respond. She doesn’t rise to contest it.

But we, the audience, know why she stayed. It wasn’t for one last romp with her husband. It was because last season as she was about to flee the city Alicia told her she was being called at home. She stayed to protect her friend.

She punches a guy in the nose just for talking to Alicia.

Kalinda isn’t getting involved with an old flame. She’s willfully manipulating her abusive husband to protect her best friend.

And in the process she’s…they’re ambiguous here. We don’t see any sex acts. We don’t see any consent given or ignored. We see some kinky throat grabbing and half-dressed people in a dark room. Maybe it’s just another Kalinda sexual odyssey. But the next day she looks at the bruises on her arms and flashes back and it’s unmistakably violent and there’s no hidden smile. Just a still mask. Kalinda is hurting–not delighting.

Yet this story isn’t the central one of the episode. It isn’t even the “B” storyline. It’s on the fringe of the episode where we’re not asked to really think about it yet. We’re just asked to absorb what we see while we watch the rest of Lockhart & Gardener flail about like every other Sunday. Will and Dianne are busy worrying about money and finally acknowledging the fact that they need to stop blaming every bad thing at the firm on a four-year old recession. Nathan Lane (who was the original Eli Gold!) is smoothly moving through the firm forcing David Lee into staying or risk losing 95 cents to ever dollar he’s invested in the place over the years. Eli Gold (Alan Cumming style!) and Peter are campaigning and suffering through pandering ads and intimate questions from Kristen Chenoweth. Matthew Perry is picking up a paycheck for doing a day’s worth of work of the aforementioned ad.

Cary also shows up to embrace his new friendship with Alicia. It came out of nowhere and I LOVE IT.

And Alicia is helping her son fight a ticket and being waaaay more patient with him then my parents ever were. That’s the story that takes up most of the hour and is the case of the week. It’s a fun look at a crazy Illinois law. It also took me back to high school when cops would pull us over for driving around after ten just because we were clearly babies. Being old has its perks.

Which Alicia might agree with (oh yeah guys that was my segue). In one of the most on the nose conversations in the show’s history Alicia sits down with Chenoweth’s curious reporter and talks about her marriage and the state of family. At first they dance. Alicia is unwilling to say much and Chenoweth is asking for everything. But she needles Alicia and after a day stuck on the side of the road with an overzealous cop Alicia’s patience is wearing thin.

So she gets honest about her marriage and her decision to stay. It’s everything insinuated for the last three seasons spelled out in case we miss it. “But how,” she’s finally asked, “can you stay. Isn’t it a betrayal to women?”

This same question was posed when Hilary didn’t dump her suave as hell philandering husband on his ass. How can a woman claim to be together and for women and family when she won’t turn out a man who hurts her. How can she betray an entire gender?

Alicia doesn’t ask the obvious questions, “how can a man betray his entire gender by cheating on his wife?” Instead she demures…as much as fiery Alicia on a tear can, and says she’s not representing all women. She’s making a choice. For herself.

Ten years ago I probably would have found her response repugnant. How dare she put herself before womanhood! But now a days I look at that last sentence and laugh because how dare we expect a woman to sacrifice her own desires at the demands of a group–any group. After all isn’t feminism about liberation from social mores and a drive towards a future of equality where a person’s choices are their own? And does one woman’s private decision really affect us all anyways?

Alicia’s certainly don’t. The sex triangles she gets caught up in are fun, a little frilly and commenting on our media’s obsession with sex and women’s nether regions.

But Kalinda’s choice…I will admit to clutching my pearls a little when I read people’s responses to her scenes with her husband. If they’re that easy to interpret as “hot” rather than “horrible” than something has gone horribly awry in the editing bay…or on the couches in front of those televisions.

Notes

  • I neglected to mention Alicia met a dog and forever more it will be my favorite image of Alicia Florrick.

  • Chenoweth’s intrepid reporter is replaced next week as Chenoweth was injured on set. Cross your fingers she may eventually return.
  • The cop you may recognize as Giovanni, my mother’s favorite character from Rizzoli and Isles.
  • Nathan Lane will be around a while and GOOD. Clearly Dianne and Will are too busy making platonic best friend eyes at each other over scotch to actually manage the business side of the firm.
  • Speaking of platonic best friend eyes over scotch. How adorable was Will getting a rise out of Dianne by saying Nathan Lane’s trust officer hates women? Too cute.
  • Next Week: Peter continues to try to bedroom eyes his way back into Alicia’s pencil skirts and Kalinda tells someone that the toolbag tow truck guy is actually her abusive and horrible husband. Somewhere on Tumblr gifs and music videos about their epic love are already being made.