Season Finale — The Good Wife, “Closing Arguments”

After a season in which The Good Wife expanded its narrative scope dramatically (so much so, it’s been rightfully discussed as the broadcast follow-up to The Wire), sometimes to its own detriment (let’s just pretend that Hugo Chavez episode didn’t happen, shall we?), it was kind of nice that the season finale dials things back and focuses almost primarily on an entertaining, twisty case. I know this isn’t true, but it felt like Wife hadn’t done an episode like “Closing Arguments” in a long time. From all the different angles and gimmicks they’ve employed this season, the series still has the ability to tell a compelling procedural case.

Of course, there are some other things going on here, many of which serve as a final look in on a character or serve as set-up for the journey The Good Wife is going to take in season three. Alicia and Kalinda have a little moment that suggests a reprieve in the former’s hatred of the latter. Cary and Kalinda share a moment of their own where she and we are reminded that he does really care about her and her relationship with Alicia. Peter gets to be a flat-out dick to Will because he assumes that Will is screwing his sometime-soon-to-be ex-wife, which technically true or untrue. Hell, even Owen gets a few scenes here just to keep it in mind that he exists and is of course, awesome. Each of these moments is small and rapid, but well-executed. It allows the episode to take stock of some the season’s relationship developments without pushing them towards a substantial cliffhanger.

Other scenes set up next season without hitting them too hard, which, again, is a welcome development. For all its quality and all the praise the series has gotten, this is still a CBS procedural that appeals to old(er) people, cliffhangers are not particularly necessary. The possibility of Eli bringing his campaign team/firm to Lockhart/Gardner and Alicia getting a promotion to be an integral part of that transition is an interesting one, but it does trouble me, if only a little. I am a bit skeptical of how much further the series can really expand his scope with the political elements, but that’s not going to stop them from having Peter run for governor.

For the record, it’s not that I think they cannot write those kinds of episodes, it just felt like the writers lost the thread with the DA election a few times during the season. Wendy Scott Carr basically disappeared, Childs wasn’t around too often, etc. I understand that diving full-boar into the political element might dramatically alter the series’ DNA and move away from Alicia, but the series feels to be sort of odds with itself. It wants to dip its toe into all these other pools, but it really can’t without doing those substantial changes, at least on an episode-by-episode basis. That’s when things like Scott Carr’s disappearance happen and it feels like if the series goes even further into politics, those kind of issues could happen more often. Nevertheless, Alicia’s scenes with Diane and Eli were really well done and I’m sure that I probably will end up eating my words as far as the series’ scope is concerned.

“Closing Arguments” is definitely powered by Josh Charles’ Will. He’s heavily involved in the case, which is always a good thing. Will is the character most willing to do “whatever it takes” to get the correct verdict, and a case with possible Childs-related subterfuge is a perfect fit for him. He spends a lot of the episode running around, trying to convince the bailiff and the judge of various things, which gives the case a certain amount of immediacy and urgency.

And of course, Will and Alicia finally do their thing. Their relationship is oddly divisive among critics and fans, with people either really, really loving them or really, really hating them. I’m somewhere in the middle. I understand that it’s a big part of the series’ DNA and storytelling engine and often find their chemistry appealing, but don’t really care if they are together or not. I think this season has done a little too much to keep the two of them apart, so it was just generally relieving to have them finally hook up. Although CBS ruined the climax with their promos (both in content and direction), I still found the final 10 minutes of the episode to be very well done, especially how the two of them reacted to the constant roadblocks in their way. Most importantly, their decision to have right timing, if only for an hour, will probably mean some really terrible things for next season — and that’s good.

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