Every episode of CBS’ The Good Wife typically ups the ante of the one that came before it, but last night’s hour, cheekily titled “Ham Sandwich,” blew wide open the drama’s already knotty atmosphere: Dark, violent investigator Blake (Scott Porter) revealed the shocking news that — SPOILER ALERT — his mysterious nemesis Kalinda (Archie Panjabi, right) slept with her best friend Alicia’s (Julianna Margulies, left) husband, former state’s attorney Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), when she’d worked for him years before (see Ken Tucker’s take). The revelation is more than your typical twist for several reasons, but mostly because it almost transforms two of the show’s most crux-y relationships — the romantic one between spouses Alicia and Peter, and the friendly one between coworkers Alicia and Kalinda.
How long has this revelation been planned? Was it intended as a reboot? Can anything else this season possibly top this? Why not wait until the finale for such a bombshell? We tapped Robert and Michelle King — the married co-creators and co-executive producers of The Good Wife — to answer those burning questions and many more here:
How long has this revelation been planned? Since the show was conceptualized. While the actress only learned of Peter and Kalinda’s indiscretion halfway through shooting this season, the Kings had been planning this particular collision since the pilot was written. Originally, the pair wanted to introduce it quite early in the first season, but the network urged them to wait and ramp up the Kalinda-Alicia relationship first. The Kings got on board and realized the longer wait only deepened the repercussions for Kalinda and Alicia’s friendship. “We had so much invested emotionally with Kalinda and Alicia,” Robert says, “that it was feeling kind of dangerous. It almost made the hairs on the back of your neck stick up and go, Well, should we do that?”
Was the move intended as a reboot? Sure, in a way. Robert likens it to season 3 finale of Mad Men that saw Don (Jon Hamm) and Co. leaving behind the old agency to launch their own, new firm. In essence, it reset everything. “What it gave it was a reboot quality,” Robert says. “That was the intent with this.”
Were there clues that would have pointed to this happening? “I don’t think so,” says Robert. “What we really wanted to do was have these bigger, more operatic things going on, where you’d think those things might be Kalinda’s secret, and so that it would take you off the scent of the real vulnerability that Kalinda is not in some bigger Spy vs. Spy thing.”
Why would Kalinda befriend Alicia after she did such a thing? “A lot of Kalinda’s actions toward Alicia are founded on this backstory that you didn’t know about until now,” teases Robert. “That’s part of the justification for the friendship.” More will be revealed soon about Kalinda’s motives. Promises Michelle: “There is sincerity from Kalinda, which is part of what makes it heart-breaking. It deepens the betrayal and deepens, frankly, the sadness for both of them.”
When will Alicia find out? Right now, Blake, Kalinda, and we viewers know the truth, but Alicia will find out sooner rather than later. “We don’t want to say when,” Robert says. “Tune in and you’ll see!” But Robert did reveal that it will be well before the season finale.
How does this revelation affect the rest of The Good Wife world? This triggers all the other story lines to come together. “This is kind of their meeting point,” Robert says. “Now we’ll head into what would be called the third act in screenwriting. In a movie, you tie up all the loose ends in the last 30 minutes. This is the season’s third act. How do these different threads that were running on different planes suddenly crash and start affecting each other? Everything then kind of bumps up against each other a little bit more the further you move on from here.” That includes Alicia and Will’s (Josh Charles) simmering romance; Cary’s (Matt Czuchry) career trajectory; and Peter’s campaign to get re-elected as the state’s attorney.
Why not save this secret for the finale? “I always feel bad when a year ends on a TV show that I love, and it’s kind of like, OK, now I have to wait six months until the drama starts up again,” Robert explains. “What we wanted to do was involve it within the year itself where you actually see what happens. The biggest disagreement after the decision was made was where we should do it.” Adds Michelle: “After all the arguments that we had, I am completely confident we made the right choice.”
Can anything else in the rest of this season possibly top this? “The very short answer to your question is: Yes,” says Michelle. Robert elaborates: “There is probably one or two more reveals of the equivalent, but I think what’s more important now is the kind of deeper emotional resonance about how all the plots start interweaving. There are episodes that we’re writing now that, humility aside, I think do top it. The last three or four are great.”
Pick up the coming issue of Entertainment Weekly — on stands this Friday — for more dish about this latest twist from The Good Wife‘s creators and stars.
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky