The Good Wife Season Finale Recap: “Running”

‘The Good Wife’ Season Finale ‘Running’: TV Recap

Speakeasy HOME PAGE By Susan Toepfer Source: Wall Street Journal
CBS
Alicia and Ari

In the grand tradition of season finales, we end with a cliffhanger. Will Alicia stay or will she go? We still don’t know. Neither does she.

But the episode is still a standout, with show creators Robert and Michelle King adding depth to their most intriguing characters against the backdrop of a startling legal case.

The cloak and dagger opening—in the garage of the Lockhart, Gardner building—hustles in FBI agent Lana Delaney and a covert couple, cop Jack Arkin and his wife Mindy.

Arkin has hired the firm to help him get immunity and a place in Witness Protection in exchange for ratting out his corrupt drug task force. Snotty as usual, Agent Delaney is reluctant to save him, and is especially miffed that Peter Florrick might benefit from the prosecution of one of Childs’ pet projects. To avoid even the appearance of conflict, she asks Alicia to step out.

Whereupon Alicia gets hit with another nasty swipe when she encounters Giada Cabrini, the provocative law student Will met a couple episodes ago. Giada sizes her up—and isn’t threatened.

Back in the conference room, though, it’s Kalinda who’s getting the biggest jolt, when her sometime boyfriend, Detective Burton, is fingered by Arkin as one of the corrupt cops. By the time she meets him for a drink, it’s with full suspicion.

The Florrick family is enjoying a much needed break, laughing and reminiscing at an Italian restaurant when a pol stops to congratulate Peter. Then the waitress slips him her phone number. “No thanks,” he says, “No dessert.”…  READ FULL RECAP

‘The Good Wife’ season finale recap: ‘Running’

It was couples-night on the season finale of The Good Wife: Not just Alicia and Peter and Alicia and Will, but also Will and law-student Giada, Diane and Gary Cole’s McVeigh, Kalinda and FBI agent Lana, and even Eli Gold and Peter’s mother, who proved to be two peas in a pod, give or take a little veiled antisemitism. How did you react to the Alicia-Will-Peter cliffhanger?

Me, I thought it was just dandy. I don’t mind being teased into next season, not after all the rich conversation we were given leading up to the hour’s final moments. Will had a few gulps of wine to give him the courage to call Alicia at the very moment she was to go onstage and play the Good Wife beside newly-announced States Attorney candidate Peter Florrick. That call yielded Alicia-style eloquence that was thoroughly believable, even under her stressed circumstance.

“Show me the plan,” she said bluntly. Will was caught off-guard. A romantic single guy, he was hoping the allure of sweet talk and nostalgia for What Never Was But Might Still Be would prove sufficient to persuade Alicia to come a-runnin’. But Alicia has learned: “Poetry is easy; it’s the parent-teacher conferences that are hard.” In other words, put up or shut up, buddy; I’m in the midst of a life here, and I’m open to suggestions, but you’ve got to be serious with me. This is the kind of thing that lifts The Good Wife into another level of domestic drama; you just don’t see adults grappling with such a familiar nighttime-soap topic with the sort of terse realism that somehow makes the entire scenario seem even more romantic.

Well, let’s get down to business. You don’t book Amy Acker for a guest spot and not expect her to prove to be significant to the plot. Sure enough, the former Dollhouse/Angel co-star played the wife of a cop, clients of Lockhart, Gardner. Her husband was killed while in the process of exposing police corruption. The case managed to get Kalinda to do some investigative work with the FBI agent, leggy Lana, and their investigations included examining each other’s eyes closely, in an amorous manner. When episode director James Whitemore, Jr., and a Good Wife camera shot contrived to hide what we presumed was a kiss between them, the coyness was punctuated by a very funny-in-context line from Will, who called Kalinda soon after and said, “You sound like you’ve been running.”

Did I think The Good Wife would wait until next season before having Cary, who only last week joined the States Attorney’s office, go toe-to-toe with Alicia? Foolishly, I did. Happily, the producers plunged right in, with a crackling deposition scene in which Matt Czuchry was so intelligently oily, I thought for a moment Logan Huntzberger had reinhabited his body and he was looking around for a Rory Gilmore to seduce.

And the characters just kept on coming. Squeezing Gary Cole’s gun expert McVeigh back in to provide antagonistic testimony only to be met with equal antagonism by Diane ended up turning the pair on. Having Alicia’s mother-in-law Jackie pay a visit to Pastor Isaiah and tell him to back off from her son with all this God-talk was hard to beat… and then it was beaten, by the scene between Jackie and Eli (“Mr. Golden, is it?”), in which the two sparring partners (the WASP-ish matriarch, the Jewish wiseguy) realized they had to unite to get Peter to announce his candidacy quickly.

But in all this, let’s not short-change the stars. Chris Noth moved through the episode like a sleek shark. It may have looked as though his conscience was making him waver, but his killer smile and his killer instincts made sure he kept moving toward his political goal. Still, his Peter also mingled ambition with sincerity when he told Alicia, “I want to be a great [state’s attorney] and I can’t be without you.”

And Julianna Margulies’ Alicia was pulled in every direction while maintaining her mask of composure (except when sharing beer and pizza with Will — who could not giggle at the charms of pizza and Will? ). The Good Wife reminded us of Alicia’s high standards when she was repelled by the outcome of the legal case: client Amy Acker proved to be a villain, but still walked away with a half-mill settlement, thanks to Will and Diane. “At what point is our job wrong?” Alicia asked them, and yet the character never comes off as priggish or naive.

And for viewers, the bigger, unstated dramatic question — “At what point is our flirting wrong?” — remained the rapidly-beating heart of The Good Wife. Our hearts will be with it until the show returns next season.

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