In a recent review of Game of Thrones, Josh Jackson and Shane Ryan discussed the more mythical aspects of the series. Does it take the audience out of the narrative when zombies, dragons, and other strange beings appear? Or does it heighten the magic of the familial drama, and the more believable aspects of the show? Personally, I like my shows the way Buffy the Vampire Slayer liked her men—with a little bit of monster in them. That is to say, I embrace the stranger, more out-there moments. So shows like The Good Wife are more of an enjoyable experience when they play on the weirdness of things, and aren’t afraid to exaggerate reality a bit, especially in form. Last night, when Kalinda turned straight to the camera to say her final “Goodbye,” I just about keeled over with both happiness (over the perfection of that moment), and sadness, because it felt very real. We know we are really saying goodbye to Archie Panjabi, and her incredible performance over these past six seasons. I love when The Good Wife plays with its presentation like this, because it does so with amazing characters whose authenticity works perfectly alongside these stranger moments.
But the emotion of Kalinda’s farewell and Alicia Florrick’s gut-wrenching loss wasn’t quite enough to carry this episode to greater heights. Although we’ve seen a similar, manic sort of back-and-forth on the show, the “misunderstanding” between Alicia and Lockhart, Agos, and Lee felt a bit too contrived—unnecessary even. It worked to highlight the distrust that, more and more, seems ever-present among the lawyers (although it was nice to see that Cary firmly believed Alicia wasn’t poaching clients), but I found myself wishing “The Deconstruction” had focused more on Kalinda’s farewell than on this beef. In the end, all of the he-said, she-said didn’t matter. Kalinda seemingly managed to patch things up, getting Alicia and Diane to do what they should have done in the beginning—sit down, and honestly talk. And this also didn’t matter, because R.D. threatened to pull his business if Alicia returned. Overall, it felt like an attempt to give the audience the run-around, and while this method has worked in other episodes, it didn’t feel fitting this time around.
The case of the week also didn’t pull me in as I’d hoped it would, although I’m glad to see The Good Wife continuing to take on legitimate issues in modern law, like mandatory minimum sentencing. Also, Phyllis Somerville (who played Louise, the elderly woman headed for hard time after getting caught mailing ecstasy) is also an incredible actor (I always remember her as the sweet, if smothery mother from Little Children). She was beyond hilarious faking her drug addiction to Joy (who we all love and remember from Cary’s time on probation). Again, Kalinda saves the day when she discovers that Louise’s e-pills were cut in half, and she really only had 13 on her. On The Good Wife it’s always the small things, the details—two more tablets and she would have been behind bars.
We can’t close out this review without an exploration into one of my favorite words, used and abused the world over, but not necessarily in this case. Barbara Johnson’s oft-quoted definition of deconstruction is “a careful teasing out of warring forces of signification within a text.” In this case, I see “The Deconstruction” as, perhaps, a careful teasing out of warring forces within a character. Fearless Kalinda is only fearless to a certain degree. She fears so much for Cary’s involvement and possible murder that she brings Bishop down herself. And in doing so—and having framed his right-hand man—she fears for her life. But there’s also this idea that Kalinda doesn’t quite fit into this world—she never really did and that’s why we loved her. Director Ted Humphrey’s lens lingered on the living spaces of our characters this week. Sure, Alicia and Bishop had problems, but the camera would often pan out to show their immediate, immaculate surroundings. Seeing the money and privilege that was just dripping off their kitchen countertops was fascinating, especially alongside those final shots of Kalinda’s apartment, which lit’rally had a hole in the wall. Even though the space was beautiful, it was nothing like the other homes she moved in and out of. Kalinda herself as an employer, a lover, a friend, and a fighter, has been a warring force within The Good Wife, carefully teased out until the very end. Our dear Kalinda, defined by her all-black everything style, and the ability to look killers and killer lawyers straight in the eye, without blinking. Kalinda Sharma’s theme music is and always has been Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta. She had a bounce in those boots that was just too good for this world. And she’ll be missed.
“The soft-hearted liberal in her natural habitat.” I’m mad at R.D. for what he did to Alicia, but I do enjoy when he teases Diane.
Loved that flashback Kalinda had while looking at Alicia’s photos—it was a great reminder of the fact that they were friends. And that huge smile on Alicia’s face was a great reminder of the fact that Alicia really does love her work.
Of course, the big question concerns what’s next for Alicia. I love that Peter tells her to rest up and re-group; hire a ghostwriter for her book! But do we really expect Alicia to do such a thing?
I’m still amazed at how much failure we’ve seen for our hero this season. When she opened Kalinda’s note and keeled over in that final shot, it gave us the perfect image of her true, physical reaction to the recent events of her life. She has failed. It’s not the end, as Peter says, but it sure feels that way.
And that opening shot was also powerful—Alicia and Peter’s hands held loosely together as she made her way to the stage.
AH, that last kiss between Cary & Kalinda! Perfect!
Best Quotes of the Episode:
It was all Louise this week.
“I got the shakes… you know, my hands” (hilariously shakes hands).
“Oxycode-on. Roxy, I call them. That’s the street name. When I was on the street.”
“I had my man, down on the street. The street where I live. Where my man gets my drugs. I need the drugs.”
“Just so you know, I wanna get this horse off my back.”
Shannon M. Houston is Assistant TV Editor & a film critic at Paste, and a writer for Pink is the New Blog and Heart&Soul. This New York-based freelancer probably has more babies than you, but that’s okay; you can still be friends. She welcomes all follows (and un-follows) on Twitter.