Considering Archie Panjabi left the show at the end of the sixth season and she and star Julianna Margulies have a — how can we put this — icy relationship at best, we didn’t get any closure on Kalinda Sharma’s story line in Sunday night’s finale of The Good Wife. Since we’re never going to find out where Kalinda ended up, we decided to imagine an ending for her ourselves. It goes a little something like this.
The doors of the courtroom slammed open and she burst through in the middle of a trial, a manila envelope tucked under the arm of her leather jacket, her boots making loud clacks against the hard floors of the quiet courtroom. Walking right up to the defense attorney’s table, she handed over an envelope. “I got it,” Kalinda Sharma said in her soft purr, as a triumphant smile washed over her face like a burst of cold water.
“Kalinda, you’re amazing,” the attorney replied, taking the envelope with one hand and resting her other on top of Kalinda’s, which was sitting on the bar that separates the attorneys from those watching the trial. Kalinda pulled it back reflexively, and the expression on her co-worker’s face soured a bit. The lawyer turned and stood up, pushing her chair back with a squeal. “Your honor, some new evidence has come to light, if it should please the court.” Kalinda didn’t need to stick around. She knew what would happen next. The case would be dismissed, or the jury would come back with an acquittal, or the DA, suddenly realizing she had no case to begin with, would drop the charges.
Chicago was harder to leave than Kalinda imagined. Well, it was easy to leave — all that took was a rented car, fake credit cards, and the open road. But being untraceable was difficult. She drove to Indianapolis first and hopped a flight to Mexico City. Padma Chakraborty, her new Canadian passport said. From Mexico City she took a flight to Cuba and holed up in a crumbling hotel for a week while laying low and drinking beer under an umbrella in a café, never once removing her sunglasses. It was easy to disappear there, in this place that history forgot, where it was still hard for Americans to get into, and almost impossible for Lemond Bishop to have any spies. He was in jail, sure, but he was everywhere, like the smell of dust and burning diesel in Havana. Then it was off to Kingston before arriving at her final destination: Miami.
Where to settle was a hard choice. It had to be someplace big that she could disappear into, where she wouldn’t have any connections. New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco were out because she would know too many people from her Lockhart Gardener days — especially San Francisco. It seems like everyone who worked at ChumHum had seen her face at least once. Miami was nice. Her Spanish was rusty, and she often sweltered in her jackets, but it was warm and international and large enough that there were plenty of cracks for someone looking to live in them.
She just wanted to be blank again. There were so many names floating around her — Leela, Kalinda, Padma — and she didn’t know which one she was anymore. That’s why she went back to the law, to something familiar. That was always where she was at her best. She might not have always been doing the right thing or getting it the right way, but she was always winning, always in service of those closest to her. She thought that’s what Alicia would want. Kalinda still thought of Alicia often, of what it had been like to be that close to someone, that vulnerable. To know the love of a woman that was more than physical, that transcended it somehow. That’s why she’s here now, in exile for those dearest to her.
After driving home from the courthouse, Kalinda parked in the garage and took the elevator up to the 38th floor. She lived in one of those large glass towers by the beach, the ones that are empty most of the year, full of snowbirds and vacationers, the kind that don’t pay attention to anything but the glinting blue sea and what Hawaiian shirt they should wear that day to sip margaritas at an outdoor bar while reggae played in the background. God, she hated reggae.
In reality, she dreaded coming home. She hated the nondescript furniture. She hated the satchel of money she kept hidden behind the drywall in the hall closet. She hated the expansive view that made her feel so exposed. But most of all she hated opening that front door. Every day, not knowing what was on the other side, if all those things from her past would come back to seek their revenge or to claw her back, making her pay for the compromises she made to protect herself — to protect Alicia, Diane, Cary.
She thought about ordering dinner on Seamless and sitting in the apartment. It was always wisest to hide out, but being alone in the dark with her thoughts was always a dangerous place. She decided to go out to dinner to her favorite spot. That was also dangerous — being a regular anywhere meant people knew her face. But that was as close as she could get to anyone. The familiarity of the bartender knowing her favorite tequila brought an odd comfort.
Kalinda saddled up to the bar and the shot glass appeared. She didn’t say anything as she toasted the bartender and raised the glass to her lips. She looked around at the diners, so happy in their conversations in the dim room of this half-full Mexican restaurant. She lowered her head and looked down at the bar when she felt a tingling across the top of her body.
“You’re a hard woman to find,” a man’s voice said behind her.
It was like someone unleashed the sluice gates in her gut as a horrible rushing invaded every part of her body. She wanted to bolt, but she knew she couldn’t get away. She turned around and he was standing there, looking satisfied in a Hawaiian shirt.
“Cary!” she said, excited but apprehensive. “You can’t be here?”
“Why not, Kalinda?”
“That’s not my name anymore,” she said. “Bishop is still after me. If you found me, then they can.”
“Bishop’s in prison. He was sentenced to life this week,” Cary said, sitting down next to her. “I’ve been looking at all the firms that could afford you in the 25 biggest cities in the country for months now. I finally found one that dramatically started clearing more cases starting around the time you left. Allen, Norton, and Blue was the only one. I figured it was a long shot, but I knew there had to be a reason they were winning so much more dramatically.”
“I don’t know whether to be flattered or scared.”
“Maybe a little bit of both.” Their knees touched and she remembered all those nights together, heating the sheets together in the Chicago winter, all those glowering glances through the glass walls of Lockhart Gardener. Then she remembered all the danger she put him in, all the compromises she made so he could be free.
“Listen, you can’t be here,” she said, her hands trembling. “I’m a different person now. I’m just trying to stay here and do what’s right and not get killed. I can’t be close to anyone, Cary.”
“That’s not my name anymore.” He slid an Oklahoma driver’s license across the bar. It had Cary’s picture, but the name David Lee.
“You’re joking, right?”
“No. I’m out, Kalinda. I’m out for good. I have a bunch of money and nothing to go back for. So, what do you say,” he said, putting his hand on her shoulder. She didn’t move at all, loving the weight that was keeping her in place. “Why don’t we disappear again? Together.”
She put her hand on top of his, knowing the answer before she could even feel it rushing to escape her mouth.