While the screwed over coders go to the National Labor Relations Board to argue that they were in the process of unionizing (which they weren’t, but which is the only loophole that will prevent them from being fired), Robyn and Kalinda meet with a dude from the Department of Labor. They don’t learn a ton about the case, but everyone learns something: Kalinda discovers that Robyn’s getting health care benefits and she isn’t, and some of Lockhart Gardner’s overworked assistants corner the Department of Labor dude on his way out after realizing that some of the shitty things the coders are disputing in this case are things they live under at Lockhart Gardner, too. Wuh oh, trouble in the roost.
Indeed, the assistants bring their concerns to the partners, and David Lee is rankled to the depths of his black soul. “These assistants, they think we need them!,” he huffs and puffs. Later, he threatens to fire them all to their faces. Diane says they can’t afford across the board raises for the assistants; Alicia says, well, we can if we don’t take increases ourselves this year. To which David looks at her as if she’s suggested relocating to the moon. But really, I just feel like she’s getting her soul back. At so many points in this season, we watched Alicia as she was pushed to edge of compromising what was right and what her job required, to the point where many of us wondered if she would eventually reach a breaking point. These labor disputes seem to direct her back onto the path of Being a Good Person and further and further away from One Day Becoming David Lee. And I love it.
What do they think they are, human beings?
Kalinda’s angst over Robyn’s better benefits, meanwhile, fits perfectly into Cary’s desire for her to go with them and the fourth years to their proposed new shiny firm. She says, sure. He says, exclusively. She says, nope.
A similar conversation ensues between Kalinda and Will, as she uses Cary’s pursuit to once again fight for her worth at Lockhart Gardner. He rolls his eyes at her, because she knows why she doesn’t have benefits: she can’t get them without exclusivity. It’s the price of her freedom. Kalinda then uses the elusive idea of her exclusivity to counter financial offers between Will and Cary. By the end, it sort of seems that Cary’s on top, perhaps because Will doesn’t believe Kalinda’s serious, but it’s hard to say.
I feel slightly torn about this entire situation. On the one hand, I’m leaning more and more towards the idea of Cary’s revolt actually working, and it’d be interesting to see Kalinda break ranks, too. She and Alicia hardly talk anymore, and it’s clear that Lockhart Gardner has never truly given her what she deserves. The entire thing could prove for a lot of tension, and an interesting fifth season.
At the same time, I’m unsure why Kalinda is even pretending she would promise her loyalty to Will or Cary. Perhaps realizing that after one month, Robyn has more benefits, resulting in pretty much the same pay and respect after Kalinda’s been there five years, has pushed her into realizing she needs more. But still, her freedom is so inherently linked to who she is, I couldn’t help but be disappointed if she actually did agree to exclusivity, anywhere.
Plus, if she went with Cary Agos and Associates, we wouldn’t have any more Robyn and Kalinda times, and those times are so good! And they’ve just started! There could perhaps be interesting (and sexy) conflict as they investigate against each other, but I sort of like them being on the same team.
In any case, this is all still a smart move on the writers’ part, because seeing what happens with Kalinda (and also, actually, Cary) is currently the number one thing that’s truly keeping me curious and eager to keep watching next season.
More jackets like this would also help.