Tuesday, May 10, 2016

'THE GOOD WIFE' FINALE: A GOOD WIFE NO MORE

It was what held her back, but it's also what made Alicia Florrrick the person that we saw her become. As Alicia finally broke away from being the titular 'good wife', here's what I thought of how the show ended


[Spoiler Alert! For those who haven't seen seen the finale yet]


Photos, courtesy: CBS Television Studios
If there’s one thing we’ve realized over seven seasons of THE GOOD WIFE, it’s that nothing is impossible. Even when there seemed to be nothing in sight for the show to keep a series- or season-long story arc going, something unexpected would show up. And that’s never been done in a manner to purely shock-and-awe. The understated treatment of drama in this series, infused with humor in the most originally quirky manner, is what made it unique. And while that was something we could rest assured we would get from the series finale, what many probably weren’t expecting was that the series would end just like it began—with someone getting slapped in a service corridor.

Now the showrunners, Robert and Michelle King, have said that they wanted to end the show with aslap, the way it began, when Alicia slapped Peter after the press conference through which he announced that he was resigning as Cook County State’s Attorney. This time, it was after Peter announced that he was resigning as Governor of Illinois. Now did that slap have to be landed on Alicia? Maybe it did. Maybe it was somewhat poetic. But did it have to come from Diane? It definitely reinforced a strong parallel that ran through all the ways in which things ended up for Alicia. Diane’s reaction, to Alicia making Lucca badger Kurt in court, indicated that they were done, even if it might have been temporary. However, was that reaction worthy of being the one that closes the show? I don’t think so. If there had to be a slap, it should’ve come from someone who Alicia considered close, someone who felt truly betrayed by Alicia, the way Alicia had felt betrayed and humiliated by Peter in the beginning. Yes, that might have been difficult, given how the relationships had progressed, and the final character arcs that we saw, but given what the Kings were going for, they could’ve made it happen in a more natural way. If the idea was to show Alicia’s change from victim to victimizer, I think they might have fallen short of that.

Before I saw the video in which the Kings talked about their idea of the ending, I saw the finale as being closer to something that I had already imagined it to be. I had imagined that Alicia would finally break away from being the good wife, and go off somewhere to start a new life absolutely alone. In that, I wasn’t completely disappointed to see her end up alone—without a husband or a lover, her kids off to college, her partner abandoning her, her friend, Cary, having left her side…It was all fine by me, except for how she ended up there. Now I wasn’t expecting THE GOOD WIFE to end with everything resolved and loose ends tied up in pretty bows. I wouldn’t even want it to end like that. But at the very least, I expected some closure between Alicia and Cary, and between Alicia and Diane. They didn’t have to end up living happily ever after as business partners or friends, but Alicia and Diane could’ve parted ways agreeing to disagree. And I certainly think that Alicia and Cary’s friendship, which was one of the best platonic relationships on TV, was left to wither without any care from the writers. It was almost like they didn’t even want that friendship to die a graceful death. One scene, even an open-ended exchange was all that was required to even hint that they were willing to let go and part ways without any bad blood. Even Alicia's friendship with Kalinda was scarred, and they weren't the best of friends when Kalinda left, but their parting was so graceful. I wish Cary and Alicia would have had at least that.

And then there was Jason, whom I did not like very much, frankly. However, I understand that Alicia’s willingness to have a little fun and live for herself a little was the reason why his character existed. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that maybe Jason was a figment of Alicia’s imagination all along—a way for her to escape, break free from all the pressure that she’d put on herself since Will’s death. She did break down in front of Peter back then, but pulled herself back together soon after. However, Eli’s recent confession, of having deleted Will’s voicemail, led Alicia down a spiral, which was beautifully portrayed, and saw her breaking loose, with that gut-wrenching meltdown in front of Lucca in the laundry room. I saw her as trying to be there for herself, being impulsive, and Jason’s character was only there to support that. The only thing that stood in her way was Peter’s legal trouble, and her own inhibitions. She had made her decision about not letting the former stop her from being the person that she wanted to be. She had decided that she was done being the good wife after being there for Peter this one last time. And that was good character growth. To add to that was her final internal conflict, which we saw through her conversations with Will. It was only back when Will was still around was she even willing to think of having a life other than the one she was living. And she needed to let go of the idea of Will being the only possible escape that she had. It was nicely written, and adequately nuanced. Of course, it was a pleasant surprise and a sheer treat to see Alicia and Will together again, even if it was all just in her head.

And finally, Jason was only there to vanish into thin air. His job was done. He had to help her break free, which he had. Anything more than that—to see Alicia and Jason ending up together as an actual couple—would have just been absurd. Meanwhile, Alicia’s fate at the firm remained a question mark. Would she go all out in embracing a new self, and actually start a new life on her own somewhere, as I’d imagined? Perhaps she would. But even if she were to not do anything that drastic, and continue down a path that might have led to a career in politics, we know that she would have a future, as Eli suggested. After Peter dropped out of the presidential race, Ruth telling Eli that he had his eye on the wrong Florrick had to go somewhere, and I’m glad that it made Eli invest himself in Alicia’s political future. Alicia’s rise, independent of her husband, and as her own person, would definitely be excellent to watch. It’s a direction that I, and I suspect others also, were absolutely certain this show would take, and it’s sad that we won’t see that happen. But that’s only one of the many things that make me sad about the end of this outstanding series. 



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