The major dramatic tension driving last night’s season finale of “The Good Wife” was nothing new. In fact, it wasn’t even new to the series itself. Throughout the show’s stellar four seasons the main character, Alicia Florrick has been torn between staying the faithful “good” wife to her husband Peter Florrick (Mr. Big himself, Chris Noth) who cheated, lied and broke the law and giving in to her attraction to her co-worker and old school friend Will Gardner (played with bashful, wolfish charm by Josh Charles). Though it’s not the main plot of the show, this love triangle (along with downright unbelievably great casting) has provided the fuel that’s propelled this show from a run of the mill law procedural to one of the most enjoyable Sunday night dramas in an already crowded field.
So beneath a great legal snarl (involving tampered ballot boxes, a last minute switch in arguments, an always fantastic appearance by Martha Plimpton’s Patti Nyholm and a double-shot of the show’s famously quirky judges), roiled this romantic tension. In typical network TV fashion, CBS made it clear why you should tune in.
But unlike the countless other TV triangle resolutions we’ve seen, this one didn’t end with a choice or a cliff-hanger. This wasn’t Noel vs. Ben or Damon vs. Stephan or Logan vs. Duncan or even Peter vs. Will redux. This was a woman who chose herself. And no, not in a vague, Kelly Taylor sort of way. The episode ended with Alicia waiting anxiously for who we thought was going to be Will at the door. Instead, it was her work associate and one-time antagonist Cary Agos with a new job opportunity. And though the intentional vagueness of the set-up may have caused our spidey senses to tingle, I think the bait and switch was beautifully done.
Now, sure, you can make the argument that Alicia’s decision to break off from Lockhart, Gardner and Associates to join Florrick, Agos and Associates was, in a sense, her choosing Peter. You could easily extrapolate that Alicia’s career move was less about joining Cary and more about putting distance between herself and Will. But it was refreshing, nonetheless, to see Alicia end in a position of strength and power rather than succumbing to either the “good” role (how many times has Eli Gold told her that Peter “needs” her?) or the “bad.” And it was proof positive that this show really is, at its heart, about so much more than your basic, uninspired CBS rehash and recycled love triangle shenanigans. (Though we’re all clearly on Team Will. Right? I mean Peter’s “I refuse to own this decision” and Will’s noble silence makes that choice pretty easy. Right?) Will Alicia jumping ship really put an end to the tension between herself and Will? Not bloody likely. In fact, I’d imagine them arguing across the aisle from each other will cause even more sparks than when they were arguing side by side.
But the formation of Florrick, Agos and Associates is brilliant storytelling and a fantastic game-changer. The writers already tried to build up dramatic tension in the court cases by putting Cary in the District Attorney’s office a few seasons ago. And though that worked for a while, the stakes are even higher here. And the best part about the new law firm? We get to keep Jess Weixler’s Robyn Burdine. Who is pretty much my new favorite character.
Yes all the pieces are sliding quite nicely into place for next season. My only concern, with Peter safely ensconced in the Governor’s office, is whether or not there will be a role for Eli next year. All I can say is that there damn well better be.
And, finally, in homage to Kate Arthur’s stellar, comprehensive Power Ranking of all “The Good Wife” guest stars over on Buzzfeed, here’s a quick and dirty ranking of last night’s 5 greatest guest stars. Not so fast, Bloomberg.
5. TR Knight
4. Ana Gasteyer
3. Dylan Baker
2. Denis O’Hare
1. Martha Plimpton