For a series that’s been wordy with legalese, stump speeches, sarcasm and courtship, The Good Wife‘s 156th and final episode sure came with a pithy title.
It’s fitting, though.
After seven seasons — the first five of which were brilliant, the last two which were a little less so — Alicia Florrick and her cohorts have to be channeling Mary J. Blige on her greatest hit, ready to explode with a refrain of “I’m tired of all the drama!” They’ve experienced love, lust and heartbreak, faced imprisonment, political humiliation and horrific loss, and clung to their little scraps of happiness.
Nevertheless, I’ve got to admit to some shock — and more than a little disappointment — with the concluding chapter of one of my favorite network dramas of all time. In fact, I’ll have a separate essay expanding on these feelings, which will post tomorrow morning right here at TVLine. But for now, let me give you a “just the facts” recap of Season 7, Episode 22.
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* Just as Alicia and U.S. Attorney Connor Fox have hashed out a plea deal putting Peter behind bars for two years, the jury comes back with a question: They want to hear the 911 call in the case where Peter’s been accused of pushing for a mistrial in a murder case of a wealthy donor’s son. Just like that, Alicia, Lucca, Jason & Co. are in Classic Lockhart-Gardner Frenzy Mode — looking for a loophole to keep Peter out of jail. And much of it hinges on a ringtone buried beneath the scary tape of the victim’s pleas for help.
* Lucca pushes Alicia to thank Jason for figuring out the ringtone clue — “you tend to confuse responsibility and love,” she points out, asking her pal who she truly wants to come home to at night. When Alicia is done with her day, she fantasizes about arriving in her kitchen and finding Jason… Peter… Will? Oh yes, Will. Their kiss is the hottest thing we’ve seen on this show since Kalinda’s boots walked off into the sunset. The two of them reminisce (in Alicia’s mind, anyway) and it’s sad and beautiful and sexy all at once. “Nothing’s ever over — remember that,” he tells her of Peter’s case, but maybe about everything. And it makes me desperately want Alicia to end up as a single woman when the hour is over — holding out for this kind of easy, breezy chemistry, rather than something politically convenient or enigmatically short on words.
* Meanwhile, as Peter meets with a top donor to quell his nerves, he learns Eli’s been pushing all of their big-money contributors to send their cash to Alicia’s coffers — since her approval ratings remain high as ever. (Remember when Courtney Paige paid to fund that study in the first half of the season.) Peter’s enraged, but Eli reminds him he’s damaged goods no matter how the trial ends, and it’s hard to argue against. The only problem is Alicia has no idea what’s afoot.
* The best scene of the hour finds Connor Fox trying to appeal to Alicia’s softer side — he shares how many years ago, when they met at a conference, they shared an easy repartee, and now there are few laughs to be had. Alicia is infuriated by the direction in their conversation, and reminds the U.S. Attorney that he’s got her husband on trial. Give him a one-year plea, she says, “and I’ll work up a demure smile for you.” Her example of said expression might land Julianna Margulies an Emmy nod for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series — I kid you not!
* The most upsetting scene of the hour finds Alicia and Diane in a brutal showdown. After they learn the bullets in the case prove Peter’s donor’s son was actually guilty, it behooves them to discredit Diane’s husband Kurt on the stand. Diane says it’s a strategic mistake, Alicia argues it’s the only way to zealously defend Peter, and Diane’s response is, “Then have Peter fire me.” Instead, Alicia has Lucca blindside Kurt on the stand — bringing up his affair with Blonde Ballistics Chick and prompting Diane to exit the courtroom in tears. Is this the all-female partnership we’ve been hearing so much about? Blerg!
* Peter agrees to take Connor’s one-year probation deal — but with the caveat that he must step down from office — and asks Alicia to stand by his side during his press conference. She quickly agrees, but in another fantasy sequence with Will, he tells her to go to Jason, make it work… except Scruffy McNoncommittal isn’t answering his cell. Alicia tells him “It’s over” — that Peter’s taking a deal, Grace is going to school and she needs to see him.
* At the press conference, Alicia thinks she sees Jason in the shadows, and as Peter reaches for her hand to end his moment in front of the media, she heads straight for the alleyway to find her man. Except… maybe he wasn’t there at all? Maybe it was just a guy from catering. Peter’s calling to her, but she’s not listening. When she turns around, standing in front of her, it’s Diane, who offers a crisp, brutal slap to her sometimes protege, sometimes partner. Alicia is devastated physically and emotionally, then adjusts her jacket and strides back toward her uncertain future. Architects, please hold the order on that “Lockhart-Florrick & Associates” signage.