SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details from tonight’s series finale of The Good Wife.
CBS’ The Good Wife ended its seven-season run the way it started, with the final scene in the closer mirroring the opening scene in the pilot — Illinois politician Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) announcing his resignation over corruption charges, with his wife, Alicia (Julianna Margulies), by his side.
The recreation was almost exact, from both scenes opening with a closeup of the Frorricks’ hands as they enter the press conference, to the camera focusing on Alicia while Peter is making his announcement, to a slap in the very same hallway when it’s over, and Alicia picking herself up and walking away.
The difference — Alicia refused to take Peter’s hand when they were leaving this time, and it was Diane (Christine Baranski) who slapped Alicia vs. Alicia hitting her husband in the pilot. (In both cases, it was well deserved; somewhat out of character, Alicia humiliated both Diane and her husband in court to help her man’s case.)
Like the pilot, the finale was written by The Good Wife creators Robert and Michelle King, who discuss the idea behind beginning and ending the show with a slap and other key elements in the finale in a post-mortem interview. And once again, it featured Alicia and the two men in her life, Peter and the late Will Gardner (Josh Charles), who played a major part in the finale.
The Good Wife — the most critically acclaimed broadcast drama of the last few years — provided one of the biggest shockers in recent TV history when male lead Will Gardner was gunned down in Season 5 in a plot twist kept firmly under wraps that caught viewers completely by surprise, a rare feat in today’s era of social media where secrets are almost impossible to keep. It was only fitting that fans were reminded of the memorable moment with Gardner’s return for several scenes (and one farewell kiss with Alicia) in a dream sequence. “It’s just really good to see you again,” said Alicia.
Will proved to be Alicia’s sounding board and advisor as she questioned her job and mulled her personal future, helping her with Peter’s legal case and telling her “Go to him (Jason)” when she asks “What do I do now?”
Alicia hung onto the Wife moniker in the title til the end… barely, as she appeared determined to finally divorce her husband. Will Gardner remained the love of her life, as the finale reminded us, but she had her suitors after her death. Ironically, the hottest prospect after Will, Matthew Goode, who played Finn Polmar, went on to be the one Downton Abbey‘s Lady Mary ended up with. His successor, Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s PI Jason Crouse, and Alicia came close to a happily ever after but the Kings did not tied the bow in the finale, instead leaving Alicia on her own.
The Good Wife also will be remembered for the rather messy exit of original co-star Archie Panjabi last May. There was no Panjabi cameo in the series closer, and unlike many finales, there was no parade of popular recurring characters — even standout regular David Lee (Zach Grenier) was MIA — with the story driving the proceedings. (Though there was an amusing guest appearance by uber lawyer David Boise as himself on the stand.)
The finale kept the focus where it has been throughout the show’s seven seasons, on the evolution and education of Alicia Florrick, from a scorned housewife whose husband was caught sleeping around with prostitutes and subordinates, to a strong, independent (and increasingly cunning and ruthless) professional woman who wouldn’t let setbacks, like her botched run for the State’s Attorney office, let her down.
So there she was in the final seconds of the finale, picking herself up after possibly losing her new love, Jason, and being hit by one of her best friends, Diane, whom she betrayed to defend her soon-to-be ex-husband. Alicia, by herself, facing the future.