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postmortem

The Good Wife Showrunners Answer Vulture Readers’ Season-Four Finale Questions

Earlier this week, Vulture asked readers to come up with questions for The Good Wife showrunners Robert and Michelle King. And you did! The Kings couldn't answer every single one, but they did respond to more than a dozen frank inquiries. Needless to say, spoilers aplenty if you have not watched the season-four finale, but read on to find out about their original designs for Nick; the elevator plans for Florrick, Agos and Associates (hey, you asked!); and almost everything you could possibly want to know about the state of the Alicia-Will-Peter love triangle — and why in Alicia's mind it's over!

What exactly did Alicia mean when she said "it would be worse" in reference to being with Will again?  —WONDERWALL
It “would be worse” for Alicia in purely an ethical and moral sense. It would be doing wrong.    

Before, when she was with Will (the beginning of season three), it was on the heels of her separation from Peter. She could completely justify the affair with Will. But now Alicia and Peter are on the mend. She has agreed to recommit to him. She is taking Peter seriously again. To sleep with Will would be, to her mind, cheating. We’re not saying Alicia is right or wrong to think that, by the way. Obviously Alicia has been tainted by her mom’s blithely applied situational ethics. This has made her a bit stricter in her own sexual morality. She tends to hold herself to a higher standard. Anyway, that’s why it “would be worse.” It would be harder for her to think of it as not cheating.

Once and for all, will the voicemail of love [that Will left for Alicia at the end of season one] ever be addressed or should we give up on that forever? – KBMT1025
Well, forever is such a big word. Let’s just say “for the moment.” We felt we addressed the content of the “voice mail of love” in season two, episode eight. This is when Alicia hears a wiretap that catches Will mentioning the content of the message. We also felt the upshot of season two answered the dilemma of the voice mail: Alicia and Will started an affair. 

The only thing that hasn’t been addressed, to our minds, is Eli’s duplicity in erasing the voice mail. We’re not saying we won’t return to this. It’s one of our open story lines. It could go the way of the frozen Russian in The Sopranos or come back like the … something that comes back.

Julianna Margulies said recently that we haven't actually seen what ties Alicia to Will, besides their physical attraction. They have undeniable chemistry and the unrequited, forbidden love is romantic, but are you considering exploring how they fit? —CHRYSSI
We’ll probably explore more ways how Will and Alicia “fit,” but we tend to only like characterization when it is necessitated by action. Characterization in a vacuum, to us, is information, not entertainment. Luckily, the plot will be veering back toward Will and Alicia in a big way, but not as lovers — as enemies. But that’s just as good a way to explore characters. In fact, sometimes it’s better, and definitely it’s more interesting. Love only gets you so far dramatically. Hate is a great engine for carrying you the rest of the way.

Can we get some backstory as to what exactly Alicia and Will had at Georgetown and why she fell for Peter? —JUSTSOUTHOFBOSTON
Well … the backstory exists. The only way we can write characters is to know what happened to them. But the backstory is boring without some dramatic rationale for its regurgitation. It needs a pressing need within the plot. To use an example: There was a lot of what you might call backstory in the John Noble episode about his character, but what made it not play as backstory was that there was a pressing need for it: Alicia needed to review her time with John Noble to find out who the killer was. That’s a long way to explain [that] we’d rather not go into the backstory right now because it might matter for a future episode and then it will be baked into the story. Sorry.

No one liked him, but WHAT happened to Nick? Did Kalinda kill him? —IRMACMD
So much of Kalinda’s character requires a degree of restraint and discretion. We’d rather not delve into this because there’s a chance the whereabouts of Nick may come back. If it does, it will hopefully be played for entertainment value. 

What was the original intention of Nick? Was he supposed to be an equal adversary to Kalinda, someone who gave as good as he got? An abusive husband, showing us why Kalinda is the way she is and her struggles with intimacy? A way to show Kalinda in a more fragile light? If you had longer on the storyline what would you have liked to explore? —SEASICK
Yes, he was supposed to be an equal adversary to Kalinda: someone who was intended to be Blake-plus. (Blake was the opposing investigator in season two.) We feel Kalinda plays best when there is something that makes her vulnerable. Otherwise she tends to be too much a Superwoman. 

We like the idea of mixing the operatic and prosaic: going big but within the constraints of something traditional. In this case, it was mixing Dashiell Hammett into a marriage. But clearly we let theme lead plot — always a mistake. We were looking for some key thematic parallels between what Kalinda was experiencing in her perverse marriage and what Alicia had experienced in hers. This would allow Kalinda to understand Alicia better. 

Why is Kalinda so obsessed with making more money? It seems like she's doing fine financially. Is there something going on we don't know about? —MIMI52000
It always bothers us when characters on TV don’t seem to care about money. It feels untrue and more about trying not to alienate an audience. Doctors on TV are idealistic and human, and cops do it because they love it. And all workplaces are just extended families. Yet, in reality, we know very few people who aren’t concerned about their salaries.

Anyway, Kalinda, to us, is someone who is the height of practicality. She is Sam Spade reborn. She is independent and has a core of purity, but she also has a strong sense of her own value. And yet she is not paid as much as most of the lawyers at the firm — even though she’s the one who wins cases. It feels real to us that she would push Lockhart/Gardner for more money — especially now that she sees the firm doing quite well.     

Will we ever see Lana again with Kalinda? Will viewers ever find out how Leela became Kalinda Sharma or is the history of Kalinda something never to be addressed again now that Nick is gone? —ROSECATS
Oh boy, would we ever love to see Lana with Kalinda again. We love Jill Flint. We just need to see where everybody lands after pilot season. It’s very sad to see how much we pray for other people’s pilots to fail. It’s not healthy.

We definitely want to keep opening doors on Kalinda’s backstory — it hasn’t at all been killed by Nick. Again, the problem we run into is how boring and tedious informational backstory is without some entertaining construction to give it meaning and drama. But it is our intent to open more doors into Kalinda’s background.

Will the new offices of FA&A have another sentient elevator like L/G? I love that elevator and miss it. It was another character on the show. So much good stuff happened in that elevator. —TNGUHL
We are discussing the set in the next few weeks, and you read our minds about the elevator. Elevators are very good comedic constructs: Everyone’s trapped in a small space for a short period of time — and yet they don’t undercut action: Everybody is rushing on to their next adventure. 

Will the voter-tampering be addressed in Season 5? Can we expect more of the dirty politics from Peter's camp? And what about Eli in Season 5? —KBMT1025
Yes, the vote tampering will most certainly be addressed in season five. If there’s one constant in the world of the show and in the world of politics, it’s the investigation mill. 

And, yes, on the dirty politics. So much of the show, to our mind, is the nexus between private and public behavior. Can people be good in the private lives and dirty and corrupt in their public positions? Or will the corruption always seep into the private lives? That is the struggle of almost all the characters so, yes, the governorship will only make corruption more prominent. After all, four of the last seven governors in Illinois went to prison.  Peter Florrick is in good company.

How could Peter and Eli give [Jackie’s nurse] a 25K check w/o making sure he would leave town? —HARRYTHEK
Well, it didn’t feel like they needed to “watch” him leave town, because they had the threat of his illegal behavior. They had both a carrot and a stick. Yes, Cristian cashed the carrot, but he still didn’t deal with the stick (of his past behavior). That’s why Eli thought he would leave town. Of course this isn’t over. 

I'd love to see an Elspeth spin-off (easy for me to say) - have you considered developing any spin-offs given your huge roster of recurring characters? I'd also accept an Eli or Kalinda one, naturally. Maybe all three in one! —LEAPDAY_WILLIAM
We love Elsbeth, too. Carrie Preston is a dream, and she deserves her own spinoff. One of the difficulties we have with Carrie is that she was committed to True Blood, and therefore we could only use her three times a year. We have to be very careful in how we spread her out.

Will David Lee chuck the world greatest tantrum when he hears about Florrick Argos? —KITERUNNER
Yes. One of the most exciting things about this plot turn, for us, is how much turmoil it will create in the Lockhart/Gardner world. What’s lovely about David Lee is not just how angry and mean he gets, but how smart he is. And the more he feels wronged, the more smart he is.

We were led to believe the triangle was going to be over in the finale, but it didn't exactly look that way. Yes, Alicia kinda chose Peter, but she never actually talked to Will. Is there still room for that, or is this decision to be with Peter definitive? And why did you guys decide to bring back the W/A dynamic in the last episodes of the season? —FLORSHEKER
To our minds, Alicia has one love in her life, and it’s unfortunately not her husband. We always knew this season would open a door again to Alicia’s desire and that she would have the hardest time closing it. So we really didn’t think we were returning to the “W/A dynamic” in the last episode. 

We tend to build and then write the year into two halves. Twenty-two episodes is just too many episodes to fill with one long story. So we have the first half of the year tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end. The first half of this year told the bankruptcy story. It ended around episode thirteen. Then the second half of the year was going to be about Alicia’s splitting off. But we built in a bit of a misdirect so the viewer would think the second half of the year was about the love triangle. So many of the years ended with some reference to the love triangle, we thought it was easy to push the viewer down this path again.

But, to our mind, Alicia’s splitting off did answer the love triangle. That’s hopefully how the surprise ending is organic and not just a stunt. Alicia is obsessed with Will. She worries about not being able to close the door on their passion. She sees him at the election party. At that moment, she would probably run off with him. It turns out not to be him. She realizes she has to stop this. She tells her husband she needs to freshen up because she’s feeling “unfresh.” She decides who she has to call. In the moment, we think it’s Will. But she calls Cary. 

She needs to leave the firm. Yes, she thinks she can create a more ethically pure firm. But she also knows she’ll end up in bed with Will if she stays. And if she leaves, Will will never feel kindly toward her again. He will feel betrayed. Why? Because she’s taking some of their top clients. This will not be a pretty situation.

Photo: Jeffrey Neira/CBS