Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"The Deconstruction" of THE GOOD WIFE

Article originally written for Seat42F.

This week’s episode of THE GOOD WIFE, “The Deconstruction,” begins with a scene mirroring one from the pilot, this time with Alicia (Julianna Margulies) making an announcement in disgrace, Peter (Chris Noth) the supportive presence behind her. Remembering what a catalyst that event is for the entire series, it should come as no surprise that this hour marks another huge change for the show that refuses to stay stagnant, though somehow the ending still feels unexpected.

Much of “The Deconstruction” involves Alicia warring with Diane (Christine Baranski) and the firm, not because they actually have reason to go to war, but because David Lee (Zach Grenier) is playing them again, always the slimy one. It’s frustrating to watch two long-time friends who just want to be partners again furious with one another once more, and viewers will yearn for resolution. Thankfully, Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) ensures the errors are cleared up, just before R.D. (Oliver Platt) torpedoes resolution.

One cannot blame for Diane for choosing R.D. over Alicia, nor R.D. for not wanting the stink surrounding Alicia, justified or not. R.D. is making the firm huge amounts of money, and Alicia could drive away clients in her current state, not attract them. I’m just grateful Diane and Alicia can still be friends, not holding a grudge from an ugly death match. It’s too bad that David Lee gets away with his secrets intact, as he will probably cause more trouble in the firm, but the situation is wrapped up as satisfyingly as it can be with Alicia still on the outs.

Any other show would have returned the cast to status quo. THE GOOD WIFE makes the opposite choice, casting Alicia adrift with no idea as to what she wants to do next, and only two hours left in the season. One might assume she’ll be a public defender, given how she is attracted to the passion in the movie she is watching and how much she respects Prady (David Hyde Pierce), who will take the job she vacated. But Alicia is also a pragmatist, needing to make more money than that position offers, and while she offered Prady a job, there is no guarantee he will do the same. Since her exit package with the firm is void, though, she may be able to negotiate enough of a pay out to do what she wants, when she figures out what that is.

One person not around to help her any more is Kalinda. Kalinda tries to put Lemond (Mike Colter) away and pin it on Dexter (JD Williams). This seems neat in her mind, as even if Lemond kills Dexter, Dexter is a criminal who won’t be missed much. But Cary (Matt Czuchry), not realizing her plan and ever playing the noble knight, nixes that idea by telling Dexter he himself is the rat, which causes Kalinda to flee, presumably after letting Lemond know that she is responsible.

Kalinda’s goodbye in “The Deconstruction” is a sad, yet fitting, one. She gets to say her farewell to Cary, Diane, and, in a note, to Alicia, even as none of them realize what she’s doing. She’s always been a bit of a shady character, but her last act before exiting is to engage in self-sacrifice, giving up her life and her love to protect the people she cares about. Her lingering over Alicia’s photographs reveals the depths of her feeling, and Panjabi sells the moment. I hope one day we’ll see what happens to Kalinda, but I’m relieved she isn’t dead, at least not yet, and leaves on her own terms.

I don’t think Lemond will come through Cary to get to Kalinda. He should be smart enough to know that if Kalinda is going to disappear, she’s going to do it thoroughly and hurting Cary won’t bring her back. Besides, with the evidence that Kalinda gives Geneva Pine (Renee Elise Goldsberry), Lemond will be in jail. Who knows how much influence he’ll have left from behind bars?

As all this happens, THE GOOD WIFE makes time to have Diane help out a grandmother (The Big C’s Phyllis Somerville) caught with E, bringing back Joy (Linda Lavin) and introducing Reg E. Cathey (House of Cards) as a judge. This subplot is not huge, but it highlights how deep THE GOOD WIFE’s bench is and the supreme talents they can bring in, even for one-offs. Plus, the case is thoroughly engaging and exposes yet another part of the judicial system that is just not fair.

I can’t believe only two episodes remain in THE GOOD WIFE’s sixth season. It has not been renewed yet, but signs are positive that it will be. I can’t imagine the story stopping now, and would mourn it greatly if it did not come back. Every single installment, “The Deconstruction” included, is excellent and inspiring.

THE GOOD WIFE airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.

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