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'The Good Wife' Reminds Us Why We Cared

By Lord Castleton | TV | May 3, 2016 |

By Lord Castleton | TV | May 3, 2016 |

There’s only one episode of The Good Wife left and instead of marking the departure with a lot of fanfare, the show is mercifully fading away.

Last week, the show was truly awful, going through a litany of goodbyes to ancillary characters that felt as wooden as the acting. On Sunday night, the show (thankfully) got back to basics.

Two things that have always paid dividends for The Good Wife are Peter & Alicia’s relationship and a courtroom-based episode. This week, we got both.

We’ve paid a lot of attention over the years to the rumors that Juliana Margulies is difficult to work with, largely because it really seemed to affect the on-screen results we’d see every week. I have no idea if Juliana and Chris Noth get along outside work, but the Alicia and Peter chemistry has always been there. It has always just worked.

There was a scene this week where Peter decides that he needs to take the stand in his own defense in a trial that’s kind of going against him. Diane, Alicia and Cush Jumbo all point out that once he’s up there, everything will be on the table, all of his past indiscretions are fair game. Peter nods. He knows it.

After a break, it’s just Alicia and Peter in the room, practicing his cross.

It begins innocently enough, Alicia asking him about tit-for-tat campaign donations, giving him pointers on being less belligerent and more dignified, with answers befitting a governor.

The next question she hits him with is “As a man who was convicted of using state funds to pay for prostitutes, why should we take your word for anything?”

Peter replies “My conviction was overturned and I was fully exonerated.”

Alicia: “So are you saying that you never paid for prostitutes, never cheated on your wife, haven’t broken every promise you ever made?”

And Alicia sits down at his answer, where he talks about hurting his family and wife. They’ve never really discussed it.

“At what point are we playing husband and wife here and what point lawyers?” Peter barks.

“All points!” Alicia replies. “Because here’s the thing: you get up on that stand and every past indiscretion will be determined admissible! You sleeping with Geneva Pine. You sleeping with Marilyn Garbanza. You sleeping with Ramona Litton-“

“And you sleeping with Will Gardner and you sleeping with your investigator!” Peter growls back.

“I’m not on trial, buddy.” Alicia says.

It’s a scene we could have used in Season 5, to be honest. The scene was a good one, and gave us a little perspective about their relationship and allowed the two of them to clear the air a little bit. They needed it and so, frankly, did we.

It allowed for an even more charming scene later in the episode, where Peter asks if he can make a confession. It’s just the two of them alone in her kitchen, and she’s pouring him a glass of wine and the air is pregnant with tension. “Sure.” says Alicia.

“I never liked wine. I only drank it because you liked it. I was always a scotch guy. I guess I inherited that from my father.”

Alicia smiles. “Well, I can fix you a scotch …”

“No.” Says Peter, raising the glass and taking a sip, “it’s grown on me.”

Yep. We, the die-hard The Good Wife audience. We get it, Peter. Once upon a time, it was must watch-night-of-the-airing TV. Now, with only 44 minutes left of The Good Wife, we wonder how many of them will be filled with solid writing, and how many with things like a crew of construction workers demolishing a high-powered law firm’s entire suite of offices “by accident.” Dudes just came in and started sledgehammering walls. I couldn’t help hut laugh when I saw an actor pretending to be a construction worker choked-up like a Tee-ball player on that heavy 20lb head. It’s like the writers have never actually been into a high-powered law office before. Believe me, that’s the last place on earth you’d want to swing anything.

We saw a subplot where Diane begs Kurt to sort of exaggerate the truth and it comes back to absolutely humiliate him in court, and possibly to ruin his career. Thanks Diane! And thanks showrunners! Because Kurt is one of the few people we really like on the show. We appreciate you smearing him on the way out the door. That really served a purpose …

Cary was able to hold his head high and tell the truth on the way out the door. It still was kind of a shoulder shrug for a character who should have been more meaningful than he ultimately was.

Now we come back to the well one more time to see if Peter goes to jail. As much as I’ve enjoyed the never-unbeautiful face of Jeffrey Dean Morgan, I’m kind of all set with the Jason Crause character. At first he was this wild-card. Alicia called people who knew him and they were like “he’s a sociopath — stay away from him.” The show teased us with some camera work that suggested he was hiding something, and that never materialized. Last week we found out that he likes space. Cool. And this week Cush decides that he’s in love. Sappy shit. He’s no Peter. He’s no Will. The show needs to end on a beat between Alicia and Peter. Hence the name The Good Wife.

And end it will. This coming Sunday. Will the all-powerful Frank Landau make one final appearance, since he was basically the prime mover in Season 6? Ahhhh I kid. I kid. The song is about to come to an end and we will tip our caps to a show that lasted seven seasons on network TV. Certainly not an achievement to scoff at. Just kind of a bummer when, for so long, it felt like it could be so much more.

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Lord Castleton is a staff contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.