SPOILER ALERT: We’re about to talk about the May 8 series finale of CBS’ “The Good Wife.” If you haven’t seen this episode yet, please go watch it and come back later.
Sometimes, you just have to know when to walk away.
The creators of CBS’ “The Good Wife,” Robert and Michelle King, decided the answer was now, after seven seasons and five Emmy wins (the show did have 39 Emmy nominations and might still earn more). Even if “The Good Wife” had gone on for another season, the Kings had announced they were leaving after this season.
Fans were surprised when the show’s end was announced in an ad during the Super Bowl, which aired Feb. 7 on CBS. That night, the Kings reached out to the show’s fans via Twitter (@GoodWifeWriters): “Telling the story of the Education of Alicia Florrick is the creative dream of a lifetime. It was always our plan to tell it over 7 seasons. We wanted the story to have a beginning, middle, and an end — that’s the only way actions can have real consequences … .”
But what about Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), did she FINALLY walk away from her husband, Peter (Chris Noth), who had certainly done enough over the years to deserve it?
OK, LAST CHANCE TO GO AWAY IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE FINALE YET.
First, let’s talk about what happened in the finale. If you take away anything from this finale, it’s the tough woman Alicia has become. (And Jon Snow isn’t the only guy who came back from the dead during May sweeps. We’ll get back to that in a minute.)
When the Florricks hear the jury is coming back in Peter’s corruption case (he was accused of throwing a murder case to help a donor), it looks like Peter will take a plea deal involving prison time. When the prosecutor tries to get more prison time in the deal, Alicia refuses to back down, especially when he talks about the stress on her family:
“You think you can play the emotional card with me? You think I’m going to break down and cry?”
Good for you, Alicia.
We saw a similar scene in a recent episode where fellow attorney Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox, my favorite “Good Wife” guest star) is impressed by how much she’s changed.
As for Peter, he’s tying up loose ends. He’s shown comforting his daughter, Grace (Makenzie Vega), and apologizing to Eli (Alan Cumming) for how he treated him during the presidential race.
Oops, wait a minute.
A plea deal was in the works, but jurors hadn’t reached a decision. Now they want to hear the 911 call, which investigator Jason (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Alicia’s boyfriend, figures out had picked up an odd-sounding ringtone (“ratchet”). Who else might have been at the murder scene?
Back at the office, Alicia remembers a former case that might help.
Meanwhile, colleague Lucca (Cush Jumbo) tries to counsel Alicia about her personal life: “You tend to confuse responsibility and love.”
“Who do you want to come home to? Every night?”
Home alone, Alicia pictures a future with Jason vs. one with Peter. But let’s not forget about Will Gardner (Josh Charles). It seems Alicia hasn’t forgotten about her colleague and former lover, though he was gunned down in a courtroom two seasons ago. (Rumors had been floating around that Will would return in the finale. Sometimes, rumors are true.) We’ll see Will a few more times in the finale as Alicia tries to work out a few things through “conversations” with her dead friend.
Back at work, Alicia searches for files that can help with Peter’s case (U.S. vs. Nunez). It’s time for another “chat” with Will, where she imagines discussing a note on a case and talking to him about how things are now. Little by little, it feels like she’s making peace with her past with Will so she can move on.
Back in court, Jason tells Alicia she needs to ask for Cary’s (Matt Czuchry) help to get access to the prosecutors’ work in the Locke shooting case. Diane talks about an expert on U.S. vs. Nunez who will impress the judge. Diane (Christine Baranski), who’s leading Peter’s defense, buys time by dragging out the questioning.
Meanwhile, Peter is meeting with Dwight, one of his contributors, and tells him this isn’t over. Dwight tells Peter that Eli told him and other donors to move “their investments” to Alicia. Peter is stunned. The concept: Alicia divorces Peter, she runs for office and contributors back her.
Alicia and Jason go to see Cary, who’s teaching. Alicia thanks Jason for helping with Peter and tells Jason that Lucca thinks they should talk. Alicia asks Jason to “wait for me,” then they go to see Cary. Jason asks about the missing bullets in the Locke case and why there wasn’t a full search for them. Cary says Peter wouldn’t sign off on it. Jason thinks the missing bullets are still in the evidence room.
Alicia’s view on the case (whether or not Peter is guilty): “I want to know what happened either way.”
The long questioning of Diane’s expert ends as Alicia returns to the courtroom.
Grace says she’ll put off going off to college (Berkley), which upsets Alicia. She tells her mother she’s putting it off for a year.
Another possible witness in the Locke case is brought to court (remember that weird ringtone?), but it seems like things went off the rails and the judge dropped the testimony from the record. (Did somebody decide to shorten a scene?)
Cary now pushes Matan, his former colleague at the State Attorney’s Office, to search for the missing bullets. That Cary, he can be a crusader.
The prosecutor in Peter’s case is now recommending one year of jail time for Peter. Alicia says no. Alicia is getting colder and brasher with each encounter.
Away from court, Peter confronts Eli about telling donors to give up on him and move on to Alicia. Peter and Eli clash over what Eli’s strategy. If I’m so tainted, why am I not tainting her? Peter asks.
Eli: Because she will divorce you.
And by the way, Alicia doesn’t know about this plan.
Peter gets a call, saying they found the bullets.
The defense team argues to get the bullets tested and entered into the case. It turns out they show that they came from Locke’s gun. This news comes from Kurt (Gary Cole), the ballistics expert who’s married to Diane. This poor guy just can’t get away from the Locke case. If you watch the May 1 episode, “Verdict,” you’ll understand why I’m saying that.
Alicia tells Diane she doesn’t know if she cares anymore. Diane’s reply: You have to, because Peter is your client.
Knowing the truth, Peter’s defense team hems and haws when the judge asks about making the case for the bullets.
Afterward, at Alicia’s apartment, Peter tells Alicia that he didn’t do anything wrong, but he asks Alicia if he should take the one-year term.
Back in court, Kurt’s former protege testifies, saying the bullets were from Locke’s gun.
Alicia and Diane clash over calling Kurt (Diane’s husband) to testify, but then, the prosecutor is the one to call him.
Diane and Alicia clash again, because the good of their husbands is at odds. In court, Lucca cross-examines Kurt about the ballistic results, which gets a little too personal and ultimately results in Diane walking out of the courtroom.
Alicia and Diane have clashed over the years, but this one seems like it could put an end to their plans to lead a firm together.
Alicia is seeing visions of Will again. He tells her : “Things were never simple.”
So true, Will, so true!
The latest deal after the bullet fiasco: one year probation and Peter resigns from the governorship.
Alicia urges Peter to take the deal. No jail vs. his career is over. (She thinks it’s over anyway.) Peter will take the deal but asks Alicia to stand by his side when he announces it.
“Go to him. You’re done with Peter.” One last chat with Will in Alicia’s mind urges her to go to Jason. “Go to him. It’s not too late.”
Alicia has to track down Jason when she can’t find him at the office. She calls to tell him that Peter is taking the deal and Grace is leaving for school.
On Friday night, I rewatched the “Good Wife” pilot from September 2009, which showed the first time Alicia had to stand next to her husband in front of the public eye when he was in trouble (and later followed her as she started to re-establish her career as a lawyer). I was curious to see in what ways the end of the series would circle back to its beginning. Before I even saw the finale, I realized the judge Alicia faced in the pilot — Judge Richard Cuesta (David Paymer) — was the one overseeing Peter’s trial in the last few episodes of the series.
But the last part of the finale specifically circles back to the pilot.
In the last few minutes, Peter and Alicia join hands for the press conference. Peter announces his resignation and the plea deal.
Alicia stands by his side looking self-assured (unlike her dazed look in the pilot). When Peter reaches for her hand at the end (like he did in the pilot), this time she rejects it to go off, thinking she has seen Jason. (Has she? I wasn’t sure.)
Then there’s a scene in the hallway leading out of the press conference. Diane slaps Alicia, reminiscent of how Alicia slapped Peter after the press conference in the pilot episode.
It takes a moment for Alicia to recover from Diane’s slap. But after seven seasons, it’s a strong Alicia who quickly dusts herself off and keeps moving to face whatever is next.
Is Jason waiting for her somewhere?
We can only guess. The show just ends, not in a “Sopranos” (did my cable die?) sort of way, but without a warm, fuzzy ending.
If you’re looking for answers, check out this video. It is an interview with the creators, the Kings, that was posted when tonight’s show was over. I think it does a great job of telling you what they were hoping to accomplish.
Of course, there wasn’t enough time in a one-hour series finale to say goodbye to EVERYBODY we would have liked to have seen again. For some of the show’s characters, you’ll get a little closure if you go back to the April 24 episode called “Party,” which brought together much of the show’s cast. For now, you can find that episode for free on cbs.com.
Tell us what you think about the series finale of “The Good Wife.” Did it do what it needed to do? Do you wish there had been another season (even without the show’s creators at the helm)?