Kalinda’s goodbye turned out to be a red herring, which the Kings seemed very tickled about in an interview because they said this preserved some element of surprise with an exit that had none. But the use of her in this episode was pretty unsatisfying and now the cat is out of the bag that she might also be in the finale, so… some twist. I’m also curious why it was impossible for the show that kept Josh Charles’ exit under lock and key to do the same with Archie’s. It must have to do with her new overall deal with CBS.

Summing up the case of the week: Alicia is contacted by an old client, Brett Tatro — no one we’ve seen before, but who was supposedly from her first year — whom she, with Cary’s help, successfully got off on a charge of attempted murder for beating a man in a parking lot. The man, these years hence, dies of a brain hemorrhage, so the SA’s office decides it can now prosecute a second time and call it murder.

14. Alicia’s Ghostwriter

So, apparently Alicia is pressing forward with the “relaxing” process of writing a book, and Eli has hired her a ghostwriter. She gives him less than nothing, spending more of her time staring off into space or dodging him altogether, and he’s about as assertive as milky tea. Besides, Alicia is too mentally and emotionally fried to tell her story, and too close to everything to place it in any useful perspective anyway. OBVIOUSLY any book by her is useless until she divorces Peter and can write freely about what a nutwagon he is.

13. Amber Audrey

Played by Aya Cash of You’re The Worst, Amber is Brett Tatro’s current attorney — a rookie who is prone to losing her train of thought, misspeaking woefully, and spontaneously objecting without knowing on what grounds. “On, um, gimme-a-sec grounds,” she fumbles at one point. She’s also a Florrick fangirl and generally proves herself pretty useless, if well-intentioned, which is basically the opposite of most guest lawyers on the show, who are highly useful and yet wily. This show likes to play with images of ditzy women. You have Mamie Gummer, who plays innocent; this girl, who is legitimately in way over her head; and Elsbeth, who unintentionally comes off like a total dingbat but is a secret genius.

Anyway, Amber Audrey looks perfectly fine, has the name of a porn star, and contributes nothing except nice comedic timing. Of course, the girl had almost NO help from her sudden co-counsel, Alicia, who shows up to court the morning after agreeing to take the case, tells Amber Audrey she has to run this ship because Judge Kurt Fuller hates her, and then says, “Okay, here is our strategy,” TWO SECONDS before they all rise for the judge’s arrival. How about calling a meeting half an hour before court? Whatever happened to preparing for things? Why are you doing all this with ZERO advance notice to a rookie who sounds like she chose her own names when she was thirteen? BAD LAWYER, Alicia. Bad.

12. Diane

She only appears in one of the false flashbacks. But she looks damn good in it. Of course. She’s also doing Crouching Brooch, Hidden Necklace. I hope she spins off into her own show, The Best Wife, when this one ends.

11. Zach and Jackie

They are a largely forgotten pair of people, but Alicia discovers some evidence they accidentally recorded over, and listens to Zach practicing an oral report, and Jackie talking about Peter as a young boy wanting to help people and gushing over her grandson. It’s enough to make St. Alicia misty and want to call the son she basically wrote off because his girlfriend had an abortion. She at least leaves poor Zach a message this time, even though it’s deeply abrupt — basically, “Hi, it’s Mom. We haven’t talked in a while.” Not even a goodbye. SAY GOODBYE. ALICIA. YOU LOST WILL. SAY GOODBYE AND I LOVE YOU TO PEOPLE EVEN WHEN YOU ARE MAD AT THEM.

And of course, Alicia cleans out his room and turns it into a home office about three seconds before he returns the call and announces he’s coming home for a visit. Zach, don’t get upset about this. I am reasonably sure your mother either loves you, or doesn’t entirely dislike you.

10. Actual Paper

Alicia has to call every last person on this list to thank them for whatever they gave — a directive that came via this oddly cheery and impersonal Post-It from Eli, which is attached to what we in the Old World refer to as Paper. That’s a very thin solid that holds the markings of ink and lead, onto which information can be conveyed and passed around by actual human hands. It’s neat technology. It also makes excellent planes, fake snowballs, pleated fans, and if you roll the way I do, alternate light sabers and pretend telescopes for when you are on lookout in your pirate ship.

She makes the calls, and it’s tortuous, and a lot of them express their hearty disappointment in her. But one of them is Brett Tatro — mistakenly on the list, because he didn’t donate, but has been trying to reach Alicia to get her to take on his new case. See? PAPER. If it were e-mail, she might have deleted it, or written back something fluffy and poorly sexual about Will Gardner’s prowess. But paper? Paper is mightier than the delete key. Even if you put it in the garbage can, it will REMAIN, and it will MOCK YOU every time you glance in the can thereafter. PAPER: GET WITH IT.

9. Mr. Brody

Welcome back, O Smuggest Antagonist. He is, of course, prosecuting Tatro on this new murder charge, and indicates that it’s a slam-dunk this time because he’s found a hole in the original case. When Alicia’s curiosity gets the better of her and she decides to peek in on the proceedings, he taunts her into taking the case — “It’ll get easier. Everyone will forget. JUST like Peter” — and then smarmily assures the judge, “We do not hold the recent election scandal against Mrs. Florrick at all.” To which Judge Kurt Fuller snorts, “Of course. That’s why you brought it up.” MIC DROP. You lose, Brody.

8. Brett Tatro

Congratulations, good sir, on beating this same basic charge in court TWICE, and for drawing Alicia out of her funk and back into law. I’m sorry it required you admitting that you used to be a drug dealer, but… you know. Own your choices.

7. Evidence Walls

Anybody who read my Pretty Little Liars recaps — during that brief but intense period in that tangled web — may remember that I LOVE a handy evidence wall. I tend to prefer it when there are also push pins and notes and trails of string, but since Alicia just taped these to her boring but surprisingly thorough collection of identically framed paintings of plants, pushpins aren’t an option. She had to improvise. It’s the PRESENCE of the wall that counts.

6. Door

It’s unclear to me WHICH door in this vast apartment Alicia has decided to refinish. Unless she whittled it herself and then plans to install it somewhere. But during her early episode depression, this was her project. And what a handy impulse it was, because when Alicia decides to go lawyer herself again, apparently she has NO OTHER SURFACE which she can use as a makeshift desk, and a very large door-shaped space in which she can balance said door on two end tables and turn it into a home office.

What ho, convenience! And hello there, future evidence wall! Listen, Alicia doesn’t cook. Ever. Right? I think we’ve seen that happen twice. She really could’ve used the dining table and nobody would have been angry at her, but whatever. The ver real threat of splinters must have been too alluring.

Later, it is her desk in The Room of Her Displaced Child. (Don’t worry, I know it’s not actually inappropriate for parents to repurpose their kids’ rooms. This just happened a bit quickly, considering Zach only just went off to college, and also she SCORNED HIM quite recently. OUT OUT DAMNED ZACH.)

5. Cary

He is haunted by visions of Kalinda. However, he does Alicia a massive solid by delivering box upon box of old Stern, Lockhart, and Gardner files to her, which detail their investigation into Tatro the first time. He even goes over to chat to Alicia about it over many glasses of wine. I really like the way their friendship has evolved — the episode juxtaposes flashbacks of them being put on the Tatro case competitively, with their current mutual respect — and so I assume the two of them will work together again someday. Maybe season seven of this show can just be everyone switching firms with everyone else every single week. Like how kids trade best friends in fourth grade.

4. Cassettes

Kids, gather ’round, and let me tell you about the miracle of plastic casings that had extremely sensitive brown ribbon inside it, onto which you could imprint the sounds of music or voices. Oh, sure, they might melt if you left them on the seat of your car, or get caught in the mechanism of the tape deck and then unravel faster than an episode of Murder, She Wrote, but they were OURS and we loved them. And here, Alicia uses all her old recordings to dig back into the case; they are the focal point of her investigation, and the show does a nifty thing where it “flashes back” to show us the scenes, but uses the audio that Alicia is hearing from the tape recorder. Whenever she remembers switching off the recorder, the audio in the scene switches to normal, because now it’s from her memory and not the official record. This show loves its tricks, but this was a clever one. All made possible by CASSETTES! Get yours today.

3. Alicia

You know it’s bad when she’s in jeans, a hoodie, and a ball cap. She even wore this out to see Finn, as if it made her in any way inconspicuous. Even the dude at this hardware store was like, “Girl, please.” She should be lower on the list for that alone and what it says about her shambolic mental state, but honestly, she looks good in her grubs.

I think she had like seven glasses of wine in this episode. She and Olivia Pope have SO MUCH TO DISCUSS on their next Blabernet Sauvignon podcast. Alicia can complain about how she was pushed into politics and then bullied out of it, and Olivia can be like, “SOMEONE SOLD ME TO RUSSIAN TERRORISTS FOR TWO BILLION DOLLARS but turns out it was just my friend,” and Alicia would be all, “So… you won, though. I lost.” And Liv would be like, “Wait, hang on, the guy in my closet with the duct tape over his mouth is making noise and stepping on our audio. He’s one of my dad’s assassins. We nail sometimes.” And Alicia would be like, “There’s a totally nice and helpful and dreamy lawyer I could have sex with but for whatever reason I’m just letting the bud of our lust die on the vine,” and Olivia would give her a ten minute speech about standing in the sun and wearing  a white hat and then they’d stop and each admit they have no idea what they’re talking about and uncork another bottle and discuss Outlander instead.

Alicia does seem to enjoy herself, though, even in this weird clown-adjacent collar. There is an interesting moment in which she talks to Kalinda — SORT OF — about the virtues of honesty, in which Kalinda points out that lying under oath is not acceptable and then the rest of the time truth is malleable. So Alicia tells Amber Audrey that it’s not immoral that they argued Tatro’s old alibi into evidence because they didn’t know it was false when they did it, and thus, they’re under no moral requirement to disclose that they NOW know it’s false. “I have a lot to learn from you,” gushes Amber Audrey. “No, you don’t,” Alicia almost reassures her, and she seems to mean, “Don’t follow where I lead because down that path MURKY PERSONAL ETHICS LIE.”

But, this all convinces Alicia that she should start her own firm — again, a decision she also came to last week and then abandoned — and that she should only take on cases that she really digs. Good luck paying the bills, given that recently you were griping about how insufficient the SA’s salary was vis a vis college tuitions, and now, you’re making NO salary and may not have gotten a better buyout from your firm. Grace actually asks if she can make money doing that, and Alicia shrugs, “I don’t know,” so I guess we should just assume her financial concerns are as phantom as her libido because WHAT FINN WHY NOT ALICIA JUST DO IT.

2. Finn

He seems to find Alicia’s incognito costume very charming. He also does not pull punches when implying that she needs to stop acting ashamed of herself and just go out and BE herself. I love you, Finn. You are her Get-A-Grip Person. This also might mean you’re her new Kalinda, which makes sense, unless it means she slides you into the Friend Zone instead of The Bone Zone.

Finn not only prods Alicia into reclaiming her agency, but he also gives her a key piece of information that she can use to win her case — albeit “anonymously.”He risks himself for her. He is probably a real American hero.

And THIS is his tasty face when Alicia tells him she’s starting her own firm, and asks if he’ll come with her. She probably means to her firm, but WHAT IF SHE MEANS SOMETHING ELSE. MEAN IT. But if you mean it off-camera, Alicia, then we may never speak again.

1. Kalinda

I’m going to give this to her because we got a few scenes of Kalinda acting like her old bad-ass self, plus she saves the day in a sense because when Alicia is forced by the judge to reveal her source for the underground information that saves her case, she can use Kalinda’s name and not Finn’s. Because Kalinda can’t be found, and thus, no blowback. It’s a mighty passive way for Kalinda to save the day — and essentially adds up to, Thanks For Getting Out And Staying Out, Pal — but whatever. I missed the Kalinda of yore and I missed their friendship. As evidenced by this one flashback:

It’s a lightning-quick moment in which Drunk Alicia tries to hang onto her phone, and Kalinda yanks it away. Did this happen in an actual previous episode — meaning, are they using real footage from Before here, or perhaps an outtake even? Because the other new scenes with the two of them involve the usual phone conversation, and then there is one in a bar that’s shot ENTIRELY in singles. No two-shot. Nothing proving they were ever in the same room. TV Line asked The Kings about it, and their response was to point out that all of Alicia’s memories are shot in that way — to which I would respond, her memories are NOT shot that way; it’s her FANTASY sequences that are — and then basically cackle and hoot about how HILARIOUS it is that they’re clearly nudging at fan suspicions, without actually answering the question. So of course, I do think they shot that separately and then stitched it together — I think if those producers had successfully gotten Archie and Julianna in the same space, they would have shot the SHIT OUT OF IT to prove it — and their jovial HA HA HA non-answer is basically a YES OF COURSE THEY WERE NOT TOGETHER ARE YOU CRAZY BUY OUR EVENTUAL BOOK SOMEDAY.

But yes. Let’s give Kalinda one moment on top. She helped. Directly or indirectly, she helped. Of course… this episode does also imply that what Kalinda REALLY assisted with was teaching Alicia some shady moves, Will Gardner-style, that have turned her into a great attorney but also perhaps one that groans at her own slickness. Still. Three cheers for what once made Kalinda great.

Next week: THE FINALE. And a wrap on Kalinda for real this time.