The Good Wife's very strong season finale had a lot going for it — a great ripped-from-the-headlines case for Finn and Alicia, the return of Wallace Shawn, a solid and surprising cliff-hanger — but it will likely be remembered most for being Kalinda's (and Archie Panjabi's) final episode. I'd actually thought Kalinda had left the series for good when she quietly skipped town a few episodes back, but I'm glad she was back on last night's episode to truly say good-bye. Skulking out the back door is not Kalinda's style.
Kalinda comes back because she knows Lemond Bishop is out to get her and will intimidate and maybe harm Alicia, Cary, and the firm in order to learn her whereabouts. She confronts Bishop's lawyer Charles Lester (played by Wallace Shawn, whose perfection we'll unpack in a second) in the frozen-foods aisle of a grocery store. She declines his request for a frozen-pizza brand recommendation but agrees to meet with Bishop at the prison to explain herself. And because she's Kalinda, she steals Lester's phone. What I love about Shawn here is that he's the same diminutive, charming force that he is in most of his roles, combined with just enough menace to make you understand why Lemond Bishop would hire him.
But then when Kalinda's appointed meeting time with Bishop rolls around, she's not there; instead, she's surprising Alicia at the bar the two of them used to go to after work. Here's the weird part: Anyone who's watched an episode or two of Orphan Black — or even just seen The Parent Trap — knows enough about how split screens work to be suspicious of the scene. It seems probable (especially given the long-standing rumors about trouble between the two of them, fueled by the fact that it's been years since they shot a scene together) that Julianna Marguiles and Archie Panjabi weren't in the same room together when the scene was filmed.
It's not worth dwelling on, really, although I'd love to know every single scrap of behind-the-scenes gossip, but it's worth mentioning, if only because it's so surreal. If you have two actors who truly don't want to work with each other, cheating them into a scene together seems like the most bizarre solution possible to that problem. But regardless of the awkwardness — hell, regardless of who's in what room with whom — both Marguiles and Panjabi's work feels honest and emotional, and it's a good ending to Kalinda and Alicia's relationship, albeit very bittersweet. Both express regret at the crumbling of their friendship, and Alicia finally asks, "I'll never see you again?" Kalinda says she doesn't think so, and Alicia responds, very sadly, "That's too bad."
We see Kalinda for the very last time at a phone store, returning the phone she stole from Lester to him — and convincing him not to tell Bishop where she is. He's blustery and disgusted at her (and retroactively at Alicia), asking, "What is it with all these tough-talking women? You know a word you don’t hear very much anymore? Demure. How about bringing that one back?" He then recants and asks Kalinda to go into business with him, and she, in what has to be an obvious nod to the title of the show, says, "No. I'm good." And then, sunglasses and leather jacket on, she struts down the street and off the show. At least this time she's leaving in style.
Meanwhile, Peter and Eli approach Alicia at a meeting that starts with catering and a "We want to respect your time," which Alicia should've correctly interpreted as a sign of trouble ahead. Peter tells her he's been asked to run for president, and she laughs out loud. He goes on to explain that he's been asked to run so that he'll be considered a viable candidate for vice-president, and that it's something he really wants. Can you imagine? Clinton/Florrick? Alicia says she'll talk it over with him and the kids, and the four of them do sit down together. Zach is excited, but Grace asks if it means Peter and Alicia will have to keep pretending to be married. Peter tries to shut that down with a little, "What do you mean, pretend?!" bluster, but Alicia straightforwardly says yes, they'll need to continue the charade. Alicia tells Peter that if it's truly a family decision, her answer is no, and he backs off, but this is Peter Florrick we're talking about. He can't be taking no for an answer.
Back at the firm, Diane's forced to fire Louis Canning's wife, who was hired for a paralegal position using her maiden name, and she's direct and compassionate about it — it's a lovely little scene, even if it's mostly just there to advance the story. (Canning is furious, of course.) But I'm calling the moment out to highlight the fact that Christine Baranski was not given enough to do this season. Not by a long shot. Cary got prison and Alicia got her campaign, so I'm hoping there's something big in the works for Diane in season seven. Fair's fair.
Throughout the episode, Alicia and Finn work a case that mirrors headlines from three months ago about Homan Square, a "black site" operated by the Chicago Police Department. Alicia gets a frantic call from her client Jacob Rickter, whose iPhone she traces to a warehouse in Chicago; when she enters, she asks the police officer on duty to see Rickter, and while he initially says Rickter was just brought in, he quickly amends that and claims he's not there. Alicia and Finn go down a labyrinth of bureaucracy to try to free Rickter (both through the police and the judicial system), and it's especially complicated because there's no record of him actually being arrested or charged — he's simply being held by the police. Secretly. If it weren't based on actual events, it's the sort of story that would feel contrived or over-the-top. Instead, it just feels very, very scary. The Good Wife definitely exploits the seedier side of Chicago politics at times, so it's good to see the show even the scales a bit by portraying a local issue that absolutely deserves national attention.
But Finn realizes all the will they/won't they between him and Alicia is untenable, because he's trying to make things right with his ex-wife. He ultimately tells Alicia he can't be her partner anymore. I'm assuming that's a decision being made because of Matthew Goode's ongoing obligations to Downton Abbey, but either way, it might be for the best. Alicia's most interesting when she has a foil — she and Finn have so much in common ideologically that they wouldn't make for the most riveting TV together, long-term.
The show ends with a knock at the door — The Good Wife is reliably fond of cliff-hangers at the end of its seasons — and Alicia's sure it's Finn, back to say he made a mistake and they should still practice law together. My theory was that it was Peter, back to try to get Alicia onboard with him running for (vice-)president, and I assumed Finn's rejection would galvanize Alicia to say "Why not?" and give Peter her blessing. But Alicia and I are both wrong — it's Louis Canning. "Want a partner?" he asks.
I mean, I'd watch that. See you next fall.