This season of The Good Wife has pushed all the characters into uncharted territory. Cary went to jail and is facing an arduous legal battle thanks to his dealings with Lamond Bishop. Diane bailed on Lockhart Gardner and is now a banner member of Florick Agos Lockhart. Alicia’s long-standing claim of hating politics seems hollow now that she’s running for State’s Attorney. Kalinda has no comfort zones and is merely a human leather jacket with eyeliner. It’s pretty good! There’s a decent amount of yelling and everyone looks snazzy, and Eli appears to be wearing eyeliner all the time, and it’s, you know, Good Wife–y. Solid. But no matter how snappy the bickering gets or how tangled the legal arguments become, it’s never quite enough for me. There’s a Will Gardner–shaped hole in my heart, and I guess it will be there forever.
The Peter/Alicia/Will love triangle has become the Peter/Alicia/Finn love triangle, and that’s okay, but Will and Alicia had history. A lot of it. Finn’s very smooch-worthy, and he and Alicia should crank up the NPR and go to town, but he represents something a lot less substantial than Will did. Will stood for a whole alternative life for Alicia, her big what if; what if I had never married Peter in the first place? Finn represents moving on — which she should do, definitely, but anyone can be the Guy You Move On With. Only a select few are the Guy From Your Past. The show told us over and over that Will was Alicia’s great love, which is something no one else can compete with. No matter how ethical or legally gifted or charming Finn gets, is he ever going to be we’ll-take-the-penthouse thrilling?
To make up for the less-exciting sexual energy on the Florrick front, TGW has promoted the Cary-Kalinda romance from a scarcely seen maybe to a front-and-center bone bonanza. That’s lovely for them and their open relationship, but very little is at stake for these two. Kalinda still seduces her many contacts throughout the greater Chicagoland area, and Cary still gets to be Zack Morris Lawyer. They have to stay 30 feet away from each other, but that just makes the sexting so much sweeter. Alicia and Peter, Alicia and Will, even Diane and Kurt (miss you, Bingo Bob) — all these people have something to lose by getting together. For Cary and Kalinda, there’s no risk, especially since they’re not exclusive, nor does either seem like a big define-the-relationship person. No one’s compromising his or her livelihood, no one’s going to be forced to reevaluate how they see themselves. This makes for terrific sexy-times, but not for terrific narrative intensity times.
Last week’s episode found the FAL crew moving into the newly vacated Lockhart Gardner offices, and for a moment, Alicia and Diane hesitated over who would take Will’s old office. I got a little teary; it was a terrific moment for the show, a sign that TGW hadn’t totally forget Will’s death. That’s a relief, especially since lots of other dramas tend to fall into that pattern, but it’s also cold comfort. Given that Josh Charles wanted off the show and Will’s absence at this point was an absolute, I still think TGW would be better off if he’d survived and simply closed up shop and moved away. I’d rather see Diane and Kalinda and Alicia deal with the rejection and confusion that comes from someone walking away from your shared life rather than watch them seemingly move on completely from Will’s murder.
I still like The Good Wife. Heck, I love The Good Wife, even though it is just not possible for anyone in Cook County to care that much about a State’s Attorney race. (Alderman? Sure.) Will’s absence still stings a little, but it’s especially relevant now that we know Kalinda is also on the way out. Is she going to be murdered, too? Will she be briefly grieved and then relegated to fleeting mentions? If this is how the show is filling the Will void, what will it do to make up for the loss of Kalinda?