“Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode”???
Oh, CBS, The Good Wife publicity team, Julianna Margulies (you are, after all, responsible for that end-of-episode voiceover) and creators/showrunners Robert and Michelle King, as Tom Petty once sang, “Don’t do me like that!”
I mean, we end the show’s penultimate installment with a cliffhanger bigger than one of Diane Lockhart’s chunky necklaces, and you’re gonna pretend for a second that next week is business as usual? Why not just hurl me into a tank full of ravenous sharks and then tell me I’m really gonna enjoy the live dolphin show coming up at noon?
OK, OK, I might be overreacting just a bit. But with my Sunday night ritual coming to its sad, inevitable, but probably right-on-time ending — next Sunday, May 8, marks the series finale of this universally acclaimed drama — we’re all allowed to get a little emotional, right?
I wish I was feeling more optimistic about where Alicia is headed in the show’s final hour. But that hand-squeeze with Peter (for the jury’s benefit) and the downward glance after being caught texting during his trial felt like the two steps back to her one step forward of demanding a divorce from her long-estranged husband. Jason’s reticence, meanwhile, to step up and declare his feelings for the woman he supposedly loves, also leaves me with an un-peaceful, uneasy feeling.
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The bigger issue, though, is that I’m not sure what constitutes a happy or satisfying ending for our complicated protagonist. It can’t be a linear conclusion of “Alicia + Man =Everything.” Oh, Lord, I hope not. (We went down this road in Sex and the City‘s series finale, and it still stings me. They should’ve ended with the baby shower and the gift box of Manolos, y’know?)
With that said, let’s break down the action from Season 7, Episode 21, “Verdict”:
* Diane takes over Peter’s defense, and we see his trial play out like a rollercoaster, with the inevitable ups and downs. Peter actually takes the stand, and defiantly tells U.S. Attorney Connor Fox — dude gives off bad vibes, yes? — that he was hyper-vigilant in his second go-round as a State’s Attorney because he never wanted anyone to unjustly spend time in prison the way he did. The Illinois Governor sells it, but he’s not sure a majority of jurors bought it. So, in the end, just as Peter tells Alicia he’s decided to take a reduced two-year plea deal, she learns that the jury has come back with a decision. And that’s when the credits roll. Slow clap for the Kings: That’s a cliffhanger I wasn’t expecting.
* It’s hard to tell who’s been lyin’ when they oughtta be truthin’ (as Nancy Sinatra so poetically put it). Cary Agos, Matan Lewis and Geneva Pine all give pretty damning testimony against their former boss Peter — and there’s a stack of affidavits claiming Peter and Geneva just ended a lengthy affair. (What the WHAT?!) Peter denies it all, maintaining his innocence in a case that accuses him of getting a wealthy donor’s son off on murder charges. But when Cary dejectedly tells Alicia his testimony is not about perjuring himself to spite the Florricks, that he’s simply shown up to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, it’s almost impossible not to believe him. (And deep down in her heart, I think Alicia does, too.) We know Cary. He’s savvy about looking out for his own interests, but I just don’t think he’d send an innocent guy to jail for simple payback or even to save his own hide.
* Alicia and Jason continue their dance of not quite saying what’s on their minds as they mix their torrid affair with their awkward professional obligations. He tells Lucca he’s worried that if Peter goes to jail, Alicia will never divorce him. But Lucca sees it differently: “Stop playing it cool,” she says (as I cheer wildly from my couch). “You want her? Go to her and say it.” See? Lucca not only deserves her private office but also the right to stand next to Diane as they contemplate the Great Lockhart-Florrick Stair Presentation of 2016! (Nobody wants to work in an Apple Store Circa 2009, after all!) Still, I have my doubts about Jason: He’s hot and smart and hard-working, but has he really ever shown Alicia in no uncertain terms that he wants to be the 27th Floor to her 28th? I don’t want to be a cynic, but I fear there’s a load-bearing wall within him that’s not as sturdy as it should be. Think about it: His brusque “I think I’m done” is the height of insensitivity. Yeah, I know he meant it about working for Peter, but his delivery — combined with the context of the conversation — made it sound like a breakup salvo. Not cool!
Side note: We can all agree Ms. Margulies gives her best line-reading of the season after Alicia comically scrunches up and boo-hoos after insidious Louis Canning hands her those affidavits about Peter’s affair with Geneva. “Did you want me to cry Mr. Canning? Oh my God, I thought my husband no longer cheated!” Alicia “weeps,” face scrunched up. To which the deeply cynical Mr. Canning replies, “Wow. God, I love you.” Alicia’s parting shot? “I know.”
* Lockhart-Agos-Lee is undergoing not-as-funny-as-I-presume-they’re-supposed-to-be renovations — which were supposed to take place at a different firm. Is this arc a way for the Kings to show us the series’ time-honored sets being ripped apart? Diane takes the opportunity to interview/court scads of female attorneys, but David Lee not having gotten into a fight with anyone for approximately 120 minutes, serves Diane with an EEOC complaint, complaining the firm is inhospitable to men. (But what about nasty little lizards, I ask!)
Finally, Kurt (AKA Diane’s husband) (AKA the last person to officially handle the missing bullets in that botched case from Peter’s past) gets caught in the crossfire of the trial when his preliminary findings are dismissed as “oversold,” when he’s impugned as someone with a “reason to spin his results.” Kurt forgives Diane, but I still wonder if this is the end of their involvement in the series’ central activity, or if this was merely the calm before Hurricane Peter.
Your turn. How did you feel about The Good Wife‘s second to last episode? Is Peter actually guilty? And what will be the jury’s decision? Sound off below!