Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"Wanna" Watch THE GOOD WIFE

Article originally written for Seat42F.

The title of THE GOOD WIFE’s season finale, “Wanna Partner?,” seems to refer to Alicia (Julianna Margulies) asking Finn (Matthew Goode) to start a law firm with her. But in the delightfully twisty hour, that doesn’t end up being what the quote is lifted from at all, and as much as this installment doesn’t feel like a season ender, it does indeed push a number of things forward.

First of all, as most people have known since last fall, “Wanna Partner?” serves as Kalinda’s (Archie Panjabi) final episode on the show, at least for now, most probably forever. Charles Lester (Wallace Shawn) comes looking for her, threatening Alicia, Cary (Matt Czuchry), and Diane (Christine Baranski) in the process. Still, it’s a surprise when Kalinda shows up to confront him in the frozen pizza aisle, and even more of one when Alicia burns Kalinda’s confession right in front of Lester. Kalinda is off to who-knows-where, her friends are decently protected, and the Lemond saga is over. For now, anyway.

Before Kalinda leaves for good though, THE GOOD WIFE decides to finally give fans what they’ve been longing for: a Kalinda / Alicia drink. For three years, these former best friends have barely been on speaking terms, and have not been sharing scenes together like they constantly did in the early days. The behind-the-scenes conflict between the actresses does dampen the moment slightly, but for the characters, apologizing and declaring their feelings for one another (sort of) feels right and the perfect way to say goodbye to the badass investigator. She will be missed.

Kalinda is far from the only thing on Alicia’s mind. Peter (Chris Noth) tells her that he wants to run for President of the United States. Well, technically he’s angling for VP. At first, Alicia is happy for him. But after realizing this means she gives up any chance for happiness and fulfillment on a personal level, Grace (Makenzie Vega) reminding Alicia that she will have to continue pretending to be married to him, she turns on the idea. Eli (Alan Cumming) pushing for it and “massaging” Alicia’s memoir doesn’t help, either, the campaign manager finally going too far.

Let’s be honest: Peter has no realistic shot at the White House. He’s spent time in prison, he cheated on his wife, who is herself implicated in voter fraud, and the two live apart. No matter what Eli does, Peter could not succeed in the real world. But THE GOOD WIFE, as grounded as it usually is, does make leaps from time to time, and this may just be its biggest yet. How far will they take it?

Alicia also has work to worry about. Finn does initially accept her partnership offer, and two go on a crusade to free Jacob Rickter (Seth Gilliam, The Walking Dead) – a client last seen on the show four years ago. They attack a bad cop (Danny Mastrogiorgio, Gotham), manipulate a good one (Kevin Bigley, Sirens), and finally prevail, only to have Finn back out of the arrangement.

It makes sense for Finn to do so. The reason he wants to work with Alicia is the same reason he can’t. She threatens his tenuous relationship with his ex-wife, whom he is trying to get back together with. The electricity between the lawyers is too intense and cannot be ignored. Finn doesn’t trust himself around Alicia, and as regrettable as it is for him to step away, not doing so would definitely have led to some bedroom scenes next season that might not have been a good idea for either one of them, especially if Peter runs.

“Wanna Partner?” ends much the same way THE GOOD WIFE concluded season four, with a knock on Alicia’s door from a potential new partner. This time it’s Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) instead of Cary, sadly, but might Alicia take him up on the offer? She doesn’t want to work alone, and she’s always had a strange kind of friendship with the slime ball. Is that enough to tempt her?

There’s a very real chance Louis is coming for Alicia because he sees her as a way to get even with Diane, Cary, and David Lee (Zach Grenier), whom he feels wronged his wife, Simone (Susan Misner), by firing her. Whether Simone was a corporate spy or not (she probably was not, but Louis may have tried to trick her into being one), her tears are genuine, and Louis wants revenge. Alicia is on good enough terms with Diane and Cary I don’t see her willingly participating in their downfall, but Louis is a master manipulator. How far can his scheme go before Alicia is clued in to the truth and ends their sure-to-be-temporary partnership?

While “Wanna Partner?” may not feel conclusive enough to close the sixth year on, it is a very good episode with a lot of interesting stories and some threads that are just getting started. The hour is yet another brilliant example of how the writers on this show juggle a lot of balls at once, letting them pass right through one another, and keeping them in the air for a very long time. CBS had better bring the show back.

THE GOOD WIFE has not yet been renewed, but a decision from CBS is expected no later than Wednesday morning. Chances currently look slightly better than even.

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