'The Good Wife' season finale postmortem: Creators talk season 4
SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t yet seen tonight’s season finale of The Good Wife stop reading now. We asked creators Robert and Michelle King to dissect the hour, which Robert directed, and tease where we’re headed in season 4.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with Kalinda. She described her sexuality to Alicia as “flexible.” Is it flexible when she needs something, or flexible because she truly enjoys both men and women? What should we believe?
Robert King: I think what you want to believe, anyway, is that she can’t distinguish between enjoyment and need or manipulation, that the two are kind of synonymous with her. The enjoyment is mixed in with the manipulation. I think you’re gonna see more of that next year with Kalinda — her with someone where love and fear are kind of combined. That’s something we haven’t seen from Kalinda before, because even with Blake last year, there wasn’t so much fear as the sense of who was gonna be the top dog in that relationship. Here, I think it’ll be a little more lurid.
Michelle King: But what I think one should also believe with Kalinda is that attraction and pragmatism plays exactly the same with women and men. It’s not like, Oh, she’ll do it if she has to with a woman or with a man. It plays exactly the same for her.
Though we heard Kalinda’s husband’s voice on the phone, you’ve yet to officially cast the actor who’ll play him when we finally meet him in the flesh. (UPDATE: Here’s our pick.) Will that be a long arc in season 4?
Robert: Yes, that is intended to be a long arc. We’ve been wanting to do this since the second year, and we haven’t felt we had the right actor yet. So this is something we really want to see — Kalinda’s past life colliding with her newly firmed up friendship with Alicia.
And from what you said earlier, I take it we’ll see some heat in Kalinda’s relationship with her husband, but at the same time, they may very well want to kill each other.
Robert: [Laughs] That’s a very good way of putting it. Yes. It’s not exactly Fifty Shades of Grey, but the spirit of sexual dominance mixed with who’s dominating who. It just sounds like a fascinating way to see Kalinda.
It does, because Archie Panjabi is so good at playing badass and vulnerable at the same time — like in the end scene, when she loads the gun sitting in front of the door but has that uneasy look on her face.
Robert: She really is. I mean, it’s a hard dance to dance. It’s a character the audience knows so little about, and Archie always makes you kinda lean in toward the character.
Moving on to Alicia’s final scene: For a second, you actually had me worried that she might walk out of the house and get shot by Kalinda’s husband in some kind of a drive-by, because that’s what happens in movies after the mother tells her son he’s getting big and she loves him. Were you trying to make viewers nervous?
Michelle: No! Where were you when we were in the writer’s room?
Robert: [Laughs] No. Alicia lives on the level of most people in the viewing audience, and Kalinda lives in a slightly more operatic world. What we wanted to see was family played out in both those worlds. That might be what gives you the sense of impending doom. That knock, knock, knock in Kalinda’s world is supposed to intrude a little bit on the more day-to-day world of Alicia.
The last shot was Alicia considering whether to join Peter and the kids for dinner in their old house or leave. What can you tease about where her head will be when the show returns?
Robert: In many ways, we felt the second half of season 3 was the tug of traditional. Look, Alicia is very much a modern woman who’s making her own way in the world, who’s making her own income. But at a certain point, there was this tug of wanting to be in the house with the kids, with the dinner table. Norman Rockwell is a way to patronize it, but the tug of the traditional always seems to be there. I would say that Alicia is a little caught between whether to be Hillary Clinton — meaning a woman who will make all the right efforts to get her husband elected because she believes in what he believes in — and someone who isn’t sure whether what’s best for the kids is that she stay removed from the house.
What was Peter’s motivation for telling the truth about being separated from Alicia in the deposition? After seeing her office, was he thinking about how far she’d come in her career and how he didn’t want her to lose it?
Robert: So many people lie in the show, it’s funny that we all think of what the motive is. But he was really just being honest. He was in a deposition. Probably it was a good secondary aspect that it helped Alicia, but that wasn’t the driving force behind it.
Will news of their separation now get out?
Robert: Yes. That is gonna cause problems.
But Peter will still run for governor?
Robert: He will still run for governor, but it obviously gets mixed up in a kind of Clinton-esque way in the election, and obviously, that makes Eli’s life harder.
The scene with Eli and Jackie in the hospital… [All laugh]
Robert: They are so funny together. One of the things we’re looking forward to next year is having Jackie more in the show, ’cause there were so many lovely scenes with Eli and Jackie in the second year. So this will push them in the same orbit more, too.
What movie was Jackie watching?
Robert: It was Whistle Stop, an old film noir from the ’40s. We looked hard through the catalogue.
You just wanted a scene where someone was being shot?
Robert: Yeah. And there’s the sense of whether she’s really seeing it, or she saw it the first time and the second time maybe she’s imagining it. You just want the slight sense of, is there dementia going on there?
And how will the campaign heating up affect Eli and his place at the firm?
Robert: It will probably feel a little closer to the second season where Eli created this kind of cobweb of relationships that were involved with the campaign — that now involves Alicia, Jackie, and Peter, and also Cary. So a lot of the campaign is going to be now elevated to a new area where Eli has other challenges.
Robert: Can we leave it as we really want to see him more in season 4? [Laughs] We did anticipate that Go On might go on. So we’re seeing what we can do.
Let’s talk about Lockhart/Gardner’s continuing financial problems. How long ago did you know the season would end with the dream team Louis Canning and Patti Nyholm trying to bankrupt the firm?
Robert: We didn’t know whether we could get them until probably a few months ago. In fact, it was very nice of Michael J. Fox. He kinda shortened a European vacation to arrive back in time to act with Martha Plimpton. We knew we could get Martha, but we thought it would be for the second to last episode. So it took a little bit of scheduling. We actually asked David Paymer [who guested as Judge Richard Cuesta in the penultimate episode] if he could move up an episode, because his was supposed to be the last episode. So it didn’t start coming together until about two months ago, and then we were thrilled. Martha and Michael were so fun on the set together. They hadn’t acted together since an episode of Family Ties, like 30 years ago. You haven’t seen the last of them. They’re coming back.
Michelle: We adore them.
Patti and Andrew Wiley turning and walking toward Kalinda with their strollers may have been my favorite shot of the entire episode.
Robert: So much of the show is playing with Kalinda following people who are usually dangerous, and being involved with drug dealers, and so on. And it always felt fun that the villains of this year were really people who are parents, and really good parents in many ways: Wendy Scott-Carr, Wiley, Nyholm. Once we got to this playground, if you just widened the shot out slightly, [Laughs] you got this great sense of these villainous people kind of encroaching on your space with these strollers that were almost like weapons. The more we thought about that, the more it created the comic flavor for the villainy of this episode.
Patti tried to suggest that Lockhart/Gardner being awarded $7 million more than they even asked for in the case at the top of the episode had to do with Will’s friendship with the judge. That was a large enough figure to make me question it. What do you want viewers to think at this point?
Robert: I think you should leave it as an option. I think some of the corruption, or the minor corruption, in Chicago is more of the “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” what friends do for each other variety. That doesn’t mean that the judge didn’t decide over what he thought was a worthy case. It means corruption comes in all sizes and shapes, and at what point is Will’s good guy, one of the jock friends, weekend warriorness corruption? So I think we leave it a little vague, but in a vague way that is closer to reality.
And that issue will continue next season for Will?
Robert: Oh yeah. The dilemma with Will is, will he come back from the suspension as someone who’s turning over a new leaf or someone who is willing to cut the legal corners? I think that is the tension with a lot of the guys in our show: How wholesome are they, and how much is wholesomeness not allowed in this kind of world they’re in?
The firm’s financial problems led to some fun maneuvering this season by David Lee and Julius. Will that continue when the show returns?
Robert: There’s gonna be a new element brought in at the beginning of the year that will have a circling the wagon effect, but we’d like to leave that a surprise.
Patti and Louis brought this fraud suit as a distraction, so they could steal Lockhart/Gardner’s top client, the Zuckerbergian Patrick Edelstein. That will come into play in season 4?
Robert: That will, because one of the things we love is this whole Internet world as it’s being run by massive CEOs and billionaires. We want to show that this battle for the future is still playing out.
Lastly, let’s talk about Will’s love life. Do you anticipate him continuing to see Callie Simko?
Robert: Some of that is about casting, so we can’t say at this point. [Ed. note, Josh Charles would be up for it: “I love Julianne Nicholson, and I like the idea of two characters with sort of addictive personalities connecting,” he tells EW. “I was kinda excited about the possibilities of where that could go. I would love to see it, but I have no idea what Julianne’s schedule is or what the Kings have in mind.]
I loved the farcical Will-Peter elevator scene, but it was appropriate that we got another Will-Alicia elevator moment in this episode, since an elevator played such a crucial role in last season’s finale. What did you want to communicate through that scene?
Robert: Most of the difficulties that came out of this year came out because of that affair. So I think Will is truly in love with Alicia, and Alicia — if it were another time, another place, and she didn’t have two kids and a campaign that was being kicked off — she would reciprocate in the truest way. I think that is the tragedy of that relationship: They caught each other a little too late in life. That is all playing through their heads, and that is why Will asked, “Do you think it was a mistake?” He’s really asking, “Was this affair a mistake?” I think both of them are being as honest as they could at that moment.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about the finale?
Robert: We were just thrilled with what all the actors did. It was fun to bring so many actors back. Martha Plimpton is always such a treat, and Michael J. Fox just elevates every scene he’s in.
Michelle: The dream team of the title is not just Martha Plimpton and Michael J. Fox, but really the entire cast that we were getting to work with. “Dream Team” wasn’t just story related, it was cast related.