First we lost Will. Then we lost Lockhart/Gardner. And now, we just found out that season 6 of The Good Wife will be Kalinda’s last. It’s a shocking loss for longtime fans of the show—yet its impact isn’t as bad as it could have been. Or rather, it isn’t what it would have been just a few seasons ago.
When The Good Wife premiered, Archie Panjabi’s Kalinda was one of the show’s most interesting characters, if not the most interesting. She chose to wear tight leather jackets and knee-high boots to work at the city’s most prestigious law firm, and they let her. Why? Because as an investigator, she did whatever it took to discover the truth, and quite frankly, because no one could make Kalinda do anything.
Kalinda didn’t mind blurring the line between right and wrong, particularly because it was evident that she was hiding a few (possibly literal) skeletons in her closet. She stood up for herself, and she stood up for her friends. Plus, she was by far the best professional on the show. Without Kalinda, Will and Diane would’ve lost nearly every case they took on. She was morally questionable, unpredictable, yet fiercely loyal at the same time. Combined, those qualities made her unlike anyone else on television, much less any other female character on television.
But somewhere around season 4, when the show attempted to answer a few questions about her past, the intrigue of Kalinda started to decline. With the arrival of Kalinda’s husband Nick and the exploration of that twisted relationship, Kalinda slipped further away from being the strong, no-bullsh– woman she once was—even if her wardrobe never changed. And when she “took care” of her husband by the end of the year, the Kalinda we’d come to know and love had become a thing of the past.
By season 5, it felt like even Kalinda was self-aware enough to realize that there was nothing left for her in Chicago. She had grown tired of the same old routine and was planning to leave town when Will was shot. And in the aftermath of the shooting, Kalinda was able to return to the forefront of the show—but not in the same way that she had been in its first few seasons. It’s almost as though the series knew her exit was coming.
By killing Will, the show cut a very important tie to Kalinda, and by keeping her removed from Alicia—literally, the two of them haven’t shared a scene in more than 30 episodes— it set up walls around her character, isolating her. And after a very odd relationship with Cary and Diane’s move to Florrick, Agos & Lockhart, where Robin already works, Kalinda isn’t as necessary as she once was.
I’m not saying that the news of Kalinda’s impending exit isn’t upsetting. She’s still a lovable character, and considering that her relationship with Lemond Bishop is one of the show’s most intriguing, it’s hard not to think that season 6 could’ve revived her character in some way. But despite it all, the saddest part of Kalinda’s impending departure is that it’s not as upsetting as it should be. It’s not as upsetting as it would have been back when Kalinda was the person we tuned in to watch every week.
So yes, we will miss Kalinda. But in a way, we’ve already been missing her for years.