Screen / The Good Wife

The Good Wife Ends “A Weird Year” With A Weird Finale

“A Weird Year” begins with Florrick/Agos in the middle of a teleconference with Lockhart/Gardner regarding that adoption suit for which Alicia is being sued (The Good Wife does love its technology). When the feed is left on at Lockhart/Gardner’s end, Florrick/Agos takes the chance to listen in and learn that Canning and David are close to sinking the firm. There are a bunch of red herrings involved from the adoption suit (quickly forgotten) to Mrs. Chumhum (briefly mentioned and then forgotten), but it all comes down to a merger between Lockhart/Gardner and Florrick/Agos.

Regular readers of these reviews will remember that I’m not a fan of the merger idea. It’s cool that it was brought up because it would certainly be suggested, but the thought of the show going through with it and undoing a lot of the work of this season has always left me with a bad taste in my mouth. So when the subject was dropped, I was relieved so imagine my irritation when it was brought up again and actually seemed like a possibility!

Narratives work best when they remain true to characters even if that means they’re at cross purposes. It works even better when you can see all sides of the conflict at hand and even pick a side but still know where everyone else is coming from. This is where The Good Wife failed with Louis Canning’s senseless vendetta against Diane, but this is where it excelled in Cary and Alicia finally butting heads and engaging in a screaming match over the subject of the merger. Alicia wants to merge because Will’s death has gutted her and has left her unsteady and uncertain. Combine that with the struggles of being a start-up firm, and she’s more than ready to give it up for the security of Lockhart/Gardner. Seeing as how the season began with Alicia and Cary deciding to go their own way, it doesn’t feel as though enough time has passed to give up on Florrick/Agos entirely which is why Cary’s annoyance with Alicia’s willingness to merge made the most sense. Since Cary still wants to fight the good fight, and is feeling the sting from his relationship with Kalinda being outed as at least one-part manipulative, he goes dark side to put a stop to the merger and tells Canning.  There was a lot of moral relativism packed into this episode. For one hour The Good Wife certainly made the most of it from Hayden’s aversion to using the teleconference feed to their advantage to Alicia looking to merge despite the price their firm, and its employees, would have to pay). But it’s Cary’s act that leads to the big blowup at the firm, the first time we’ve ever seen Cary and Alicia get really angry with each other.

Earlier I mentioned Canning’s weird conflict with Diane, and that’s only part of what’s made it such a weak story this season. Also at play was how Diane seemed absent from so much of the season following Alicia leaving as Will was ushered to the forefront. His death brought her forward again, but Canning’s obsession with either having or destroying Lockhart/Gardner has never drawn the same interest. Perhaps its because Canning is supposed to be a villain through and through rather than one of our “heroes”. Whatever the reason, Diane’s weak story managed to pull itself together to be the strongest point of the finale.

Despite all Diane and Kalinda’s best efforts, Canning and David come out on top as Canning tells her of his plans to dissolve the firm entirely unless he ends up with the managing partnership. (Once I decided that I no longer cared about why Canning was doing any of this, it worked a lot better.He’s just an asshole.) With his promise to destroy the firm altogether Diane has some options to consider: allow Canning to take over the firm, watch Canning dissolve the firm or run for State Attorney at Eli and Peter’s request. I was really into the idea of Diane being State Attorney, even though the episode’s ending cliffhanger was easy to track and guaranteed that Diane would not be running. But what we got instead was way better: Diane offering herself and her clients to Florrick/Agos.

Obviously Florrick/Agos would be stupid not to take her up on her offer. Diane’s a huge name with a huge client list, and she’s willing to work with them. It would certainly help the firm out of their start-up slump and screw what remains of Lockhart/Gardner in the process. But if Diane switches sides, does that mean no more screentime for Lockhart/Gardner? David Lee’s a regular character, but I have no interest in watching him navigate the day-to-day at the firm, and Michael J. Fox’s availability isn’t a guarantee (and I wouldn’t want to watch Canning either). If The Good Wife‘s constantly trying to reinvent itself, this alone would have been a good step for the show to make, shaking it up just slightly going into next season. But then there’s the episode’s cliffhanger.

As far as Alicia running for State Attorney, it’s weird, just like this finale. It’s unlikely next season is going to pick up with her having run, won and now moving into a new office, but it’s strange. Why would Alicia, if she’s so burnt out already, want to be the State Attorney? Especially when the position is as politicized as it is? If there’s anything Alicia Florrick doesn’t like, it’s politics. She can’t stand people being in her business. Since season one she’s been resisting the way Peter’s political ambitions influence the way she has to live her life, pulling against Eli’s campaign strategies and the like. This certainly draws politics back into the fold in a way that it hasn’t been in a while, but it doesn’t have the same natural feeling as last season’s decision to have Cary and Alicia go out on their own despite all the dominoes that had to fall (Finn, Diane) to get Eli to suggest it Alicia. It’s too early to say how it’ll all unfold, but a campaign alone would bring up a lot of opportunities for the show even if Alicia doesn’t end up winning the race.

The Good Wife‘s big on reinventing itself. This season in particular has been an exercise in how far the show can deviate from its model while also remaining true to itself (first with putting Alicia and Cary against Will and Diane then killing off Will), and it’s done a good job of it. But this finale didn’t have the natural feeling of last season’s finale where everything seemed to fall into place because that’s where the characters had been heading all along. Diane’s arc had this, since her fight with Canning and Lee has been a hard one from the start so it makes sense that she’d end up drawing out of it completely. But Alicia’s is one that hasn’t been as cohesive. But perhaps that’s because Will’s death has left her so shattered. She’s been spiraling and uncertain of her desire to stick with the law ever since (I guess, sometimes it was hard to be sure), so if she decides to run for State Attorney as I assume she will I don’t know how that gels with her uncertainty. Or maybe it does gel. Maybe Alicia’s flailing?

I assume The Good Wife gave Zack’s graduation and impending departure for an internship so much focus to drive home this next chapter feeling, but all it did was slow down an otherwise tense episode. It did its job of giving this season a timeframe, sure (which by the time the finale ended made me think that’s all it was there for), but the Florrick kids are hard to care about when they are onscreen and Zack being off so much this season didn’t help. Even Jackie and Veronica cooking and getting drunk together the party together felt unnecessary, however amusing the two are when they’re butting heads. I guess Zack leaving is supposed to be some sort of indication that Alicia also has to move on, though I don’t know why State Attorney is her new destination. It feels more like Alicia’s just grasping at something, and her hand just so opened to fall on State Attorney.

Stray Observations

  • Cary’s WTF face when Carey said he heard “waif”.
  • Everyone’s faces as Howard Lyman deposed Alicia.
  • You know, I don’t really have anything to say about Kalinda/Cary. I’m 99% positive the Kings don’t know what they’re doing with Kalinda most of the time now, and I yearn for the days when Archie Panjabi got Emmy-worthy material.
  • It’s kind of hilarious that it took a year for everyone to realize that Florrick/Agos needs walls. Will it be another year before they realize they need lights?
  • Also, where’s Robyn been all this time? I know I didn’t really notice her being missing, but once I saw her again I realized that it was weird she hadn’t been around.
  • Kind of disappointed there wasn’t more Finn especially since his having to withdraw his candidacy for State Attorney was such a huge part of the episode’s events.

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