Last night’s fifth-to-last episode of The Good Wife finally delivered the phrase many of us have wanted to hear from Alicia Florrick for years: “I want a divorce.” There are still some balls up in the air with regard to that plotline with Peter — will Alicia stand by her soon-to-be ex-husband one last time as he’s indicted for election fraud? — but for a few moments, at least, it was satisfying to see that Alicia willing to toss aside her marriage of political convenience, and for a fuck-toy, no less.
What was arguably more interesting about the episode, however, was the potential exit they gave to Cary Agos. He will, presumably, return in one of the final four episodes in some capacity, but last night’s episode, “Landing,” saw maybe the least political and least self-serving character in the series finally throw in the towel, concede to Diane and resign from his job as a partner of Lockhart, Agos, and Lee (Lee, meanwhile, has essentially allowed himself to be bought out).
In a way, it’s an interesting gender-reversal on the ending for Joan Holloway in Mad Men, who was bounced out of McCann Erickson for complaining about the misogynistic culture of the office. She was bought out of her contract (for half of what it was worth) essentially because she was a woman.
Here, Cary Agos was also compelled to leave because of his gender. Diane Lockhart had her sights set on a female-led firm (for no real reason, it seems, except that it suited the storyline) and had designs on pushing out Cary Agos and David Lee and elevate Alicia to accomplish the goal. (Prior to the latest run of episodes, there’d been no hint of Diane ever wanting to do this, so it felt a little end-of-run tacked on).
My feelings on the plot turn is that it didn’t seem fair, and maybe that’s exactly the point. It didn’t seem fair when Joan Holloway was pushed out because she was a woman, either. The circumstances are obviously different — Joan was being propositioned by her boss, while Cary just didn’t like to play office politics — but the results are the same: A great character is being pushed aside because of gender, only in this case, it’s the women who hold all the power. It’s upsetting for Cary Agos, but it’s also refreshing, in a way. that one woman is single-handedly wresting control of a firm away from men, while another woman is leaving her political marriage so that she can bang her work colleague without being interrupted by her husband. The fact that this is happening in a drama on a network with a median viewer age of 59.9 (literally) is even more interesting in the way it demonstrates how far we’ve come in the last 46 years, at least for television characters.