Wrestling with your feelings about a finale in the immediate aftermath of its airing is always a challenging situation, particularly when it’s an episode like The Good Wife season finale, which was a mess to say the best.
Given that Robert and Michelle King have hit us with so many “real life” episodes, like in season 5 when after Will’s death the show mined that grief for all its dramatic potential, I was not shocked that this episode didn’t tie up the series in a nice bow. I’d argue that the finale left us with way more questions than answers, to the point of those questions actively working against the show.
In the past two seasons The Good Wife has continually set up storylines for fans only to rudely pull the rug out from under us in a way that’s not dramatically interesting, let alone satisfying. How after this episode is the all female partnership going to work, when Diane slapped Alicia? You’ve spent 21 episodes building to this conclusion and then in one tear the entire thing down. While this is not as asinine as the corruption of Alicia’s State’s Attorney run, this felt to me like equally as silly in that this crazy turmoil didn’t feel earned. Other questions such as Where is Jason and will him and Alicia solve their issues?, What happens to Kurt and Diane’s relationship?, and What was the verdict in Peter’s trial? all just hang over the finale.
This ultimately led to an hour that felt centered on Alicia, yet was funneled through so many other vessels. Peter’s never-ending trial, Lucca’s unnecessary involvement in Alicia’s love life, and for the second week in a row, we have had to watch one of Alicia and Peter’s kids treat college as if it was an outfit to try on or not with Grace deciding not to go to Berkeley because her dad might be going to jail (as a now two-time college graduate, this is the most preposterous turn of events for her kids). Spending time on these things, none of which got real resolutions just bogged down the episode. Also bogging down the episode was the return of one Will Gardner, whose first appearance discussing a relevant case that morphed into a conversation with a dead lover felt genuine. But the more he popped in to deliver exposition and spurn her into action felt as annoying as it did when George Clooney was the reason Sandra Bullock decided not to asphyxiate in Gravity.
Where the disconnect truly was for me with this final episode was with how the Kings viewed Alicia vs how I, as a fan, viewed the character. In all honesty, I don’t mind Diane slapping her if they did indeed want slaps to bookend the series. I do mind that the creators of this show felt as though Alicia was becoming more Peter like over the course of the series and thus deserved some sort of comeuppance in the form of another character seeking retribution. Far be it from me to tell a creator what their art is supposed to mean, but I feel that the way the show ended was just factually inaccurate based on the episodes we had seen before. The way Alicia handled the fact that Diane didn’t want to cross-examine Kurt was amazingly cut throat and if I was Diane, I’d have slapped her too. However, what struck me wrong about this finale is that Alicia isn’t becoming more Peter like, she’s just adjusted to her surroundings. She’s developed a killer instinct that she needed to survive her husband’s scandal, becoming a lawyer, and all of the trials and tribulations since then. To have the finale boil down to this slap, and this concept of the victimized becoming the victimizer seems hollow. For what it’s worth, I felt Alicia’s journey was one of a woman who didn’t know her own strength rebuilding her life to the point that even when she was doing things to help her husband, everything was on her terms. Having Alicia leave Peter at that podium (without the image of Jason to run off to) feels more conclusive to her story than trying to tie back her making a prudent decision on behalf of her husband to her becoming her husband.
This is a woman we’ve seen victimized at every turn and in a season where she finally seemed to be breaking out of the shackles, the show seemed to throw them back on her. Yes, Alicia strides out of the hallway composing herself, but the character and the show, feel a bit in tatters, kind of a let down from the promise the show has always had and a far cry from the greatness it was able to achieve.
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