To say Diane Lockhart has had her hands full this season on The Good Wife would be an understatement.
First, she had to deal with her firm partner, Will (Josh Charles), sleeping with a subordinate, only to see him receive a six-month suspension from the law altogether. In his absence, she has had to lead the firm solo in addition to keeping its power-hungry staff at bay -- David, Julius and Eli, we're looking at you. But while her work husband is away, Diane Lockhart is going to play.
"This is the one episode where you see Diane say, 'Screw it. I'm just going to find a little time for myself,'" Christine Baranski tells TVGuide.com with a laugh. "And then it gets a little bit more complicated than she anticipates."
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What causes this sudden wild streak? The return of not one, but two of Diane's suitors: process server Jack Copeland (Bryan Brown) and "Marlboro Man," ballistics expert Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole) this Sunday (9/8c on CBS). "People so often ask me about [Kurt]; when he's coming back and is the relationship still alive," Baranski says. "I've had the embarrassment of riches of having not one, but two fabulous guys on the show."
This peek into Diane's love life is something Baranski appreciates. "A woman over 50 who is at the top of her game and still feminine and there's still guys knocking on her door — I think those are a lot of things that we just don't see portrayed in movies or television," she says. "Diane is a rather new creature and a groundbreaking character."
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This has made for what Baranski calls her "strongest season," a sentiment shared by show bosses Robert and Michelle King in a recent interview. "I've really loved Season 3 as an actress. Diane just became such a strong presence in the show and in the firm you could feel that she really had to step up to the plate," she says. "It just afforded the character a lot of opportunity to show her strength and her colors. That's why I think at the end of the season to have some handsome guys show up to wine and dine Diane is kind of fun."
Baranski says some of her favorite scenes this season have been Diane's interactions with The Good Wife's many strong male characters. "She can comfort them. She can pull them in line. She can drink scotch with them. She can laugh with them. Diane's got a great sense of how to live in a man's world and talk to men without being condescending or being a shrew or being a b---," she says. "I'm always thinking of Mrs. Clinton out there in the world dealing with world leaders. She can play ball with the best of them."
Watch Diane lay down the law when the fight for Will's corner office heats up in this clip from Sunday's episode:
This season has also finally capitalized on the promise of a Diane-Alicia (Julianna Margulies) mentorship first mentioned in the series' pilot episode. A mentorship that could go both ways. "Diane really has come to rely on Alicia and really would like her to be a part of the firm because she can see how gifted she is," Baranski says. "This is a woman who somehow managed against all odds to survive a highly publicized scandal, protect her family and manage to also work and be her own person."
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"Diane recognizes that Alicia has truly extraordinary qualities not only as a lawyer, but as a human being."
However, Diane's most stable relationship of all may just be with Will. "That was maybe my favorite moment from last season, when we slow-danced after we got the firm back. Then when Will was [not indicted this season], I said to Robert King, 'Hey, why don't we dance at the end,'" Baranski recalls. "We're never going to be lovers, yet when you really work closely with people, it's an intimate relationship and dancing is a way of holding somebody in your arms without it being sexual."
So was there any dancing on the set this past week to celebrate the series' Season 4 renewal? "We're just happy to be working," Baranski says. "We'll celebrate later."
The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9/8c on CBS.