May 11, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “The Good Wife”


In its 6th season, THE GOOD WIFE continued to delightfully flout every depressing lesson the rest of network television tells us.  Under the remarkable stewardship of Robert and Michelle King, the series turns out seasons that are distinctive, moving, sharply funny, phenomenally intelligent and have an eye for the bigger moral and political picture, proof that it can be done despite network TV’s 22-episode workload, standards departments and commercial breaks.

Season 6 wasn’t the equal of its immediate predecessor, which was fueled by the shocking death of Will Gardner and its aftermath.  This season’s departure of Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) was far lower-key, both because Panjabi’s departure was well-known months in advance, and because the character had never quite recovered from the ill-fated attempt to introduce her ex-husband a few seasons ago, and had been mostly on the sidelines ever since, although this final season had her embroiled with deadly drug dealer (and loving dad) Lemond Bishop (Mike Colter), and tonight saw the return of Bishop’s utterly unexpected henchman Charles Lester (Wallace Shawn).  The season did, however, give us an exhilarating run for Illinois State’s Attorney by Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies, as superb as ever).  Although The Good Wife has always had its nose in politics, since Alicia’s estranged husband Peter (Chris Noth) has gone from State’s Attorney to Governor, this season put it in the thick of a race.  As usual, the wonderful regular cast was joined by amazing guests, including Steven Pasquale as Alicia’s campaign manager and David Hyde-Pierce as her opponent.

There are few things the Kings enjoy more than pulling the rug out from under viewers (and Alicia), and after months of election drama, she was forced to resign from the race after winning a tainted victory.  The same taint prevented her return to her home firm.  That made for a surprisingly subdued final few episodes, which were more of a pure courtroom drama than the series had ever been before as Alicia decided to start her own small firm, handling only clients she truly cares about.

The underlying story of The Good Wife, though, may pretentiously be described as the saga of Alicia’s morality, as it changes from naively principled to something more complex and (sometimes darkly) ambitious, and the Kings had another left turn in store for tonight’s season finale, which they wrote (and which Robert King directed).  Alicia fought the good fight and got her client’s confession thrown out when she proved it had been coerced during his imprisonment in what amounted to an outrageous secret Chicago jail where those arrested were neither read their rights nor given access to an attorney.  And she did it alongside Finn Polmar (Matthew Goode), who has long been the subject of her flirtation, and who was primed to become her new partner.  Meanwhile, though, even as Alicia coped with that and said her last farewell to Kalinda (over tequila, of course), there was an odd little B story cooking, as the partners at Alicia’s old firm decided to fire the wife (Susan Misner) of Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) when she went to work for them as a paralegal, because of their paranoia that she would disclose firm secrets to her husband.

The plotlines patiently played out and intersected at the season’s very end, at which point, Finn having decided not to partner with Alicia (their almost-relationship jeopardizing his attempt to get together again with his ex), Louis Canning arrived at her door and asked her to partner with him.  That will certainly make for a different kind of practice, and season, especially since Canning had responded to the firing of his wife by threatening to burn his ex-firm down.  And in case that wasn’t enough, it’s pretty clear that despite Alicia’s disapproval, Peter Florrick is going to run for President, or at least Vice-President.

The Good Wife doesn’t do well in the ratings, although its appeal to upscale, educated female viewers has kept it on the air.  (It’s still not officially renewed for next season, however much it’s expected to return.)  Every season it manages to survive is another little miracle, a confirmation that excellence can exist amid the decline and fall of broadcast television–and on CBS, of all networks.  They say only Nixon could have gone to China; perhaps only CBS could have put, and kept, The Good Wife on the air.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."