Archie Panjabi and Mark Warren
"You don't give James Bond a girlfriend." That's how The Good Wife co-creator and co-showrunner Robert King defines what went wrong with the introduction of fan favorite Kalinda's (Archie Panjabi) estranged husband, Nick (Marc Warren). The story line has left fans of the critically acclaimed drama surprisingly split after three seasons of following the seductive and mysterious private investigator's every move. "Some characters you actually don't want to see that much backstory. We're adjusting," he tells TVGuide.com. "No matter where we went, this was not a place where the audience wanted to go." But as King and his wife, co-creator and co-showrunner Michelle King, prepare to send Nick packing sooner than expected, The Good Wife (Sundays at 9/8c on CBS) will also welcome a formidable new political opponent to Peter (Chris Noth). Find out what's coming up:
The last episode ended with a blogger telling Eli (Alan Cumming) he was going to run a story about the accusations against Peter. What is coming up with the allegations about the affair?
Robert King: We wanted to follow the trajectory of these pseudo-events in politics, like McCain and his lobbyist in 2008. There always seem to be these rumors and then usually, in our research, often what happens is that sometimes it is explored by mainstream press and maybe the mainstream press gets a little gun-shy and how these scandals are pulled into the public eye is through bloggers. So Eli and Peter and Alicia are going to have deal with how modern scandal is dragged back into the public eye which is usually through bloggers dragging it around. ... Our people know there's a lot of falsities in this story, but it becomes a story anyway. That will be to put Eli through to the test.
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How will far will Eli have to go?
Robert King: The difficulty he'll run into is he did not expect a Democratic contender. In many ways, they thought that their real problem would be Mike Kresteva once it went to the general election. But now it's not only having to deal with the scandal, but dealing with an opponent who can use that scandal that causes problems. How far will it go? Eli is a very smart Machiaevellian strategist who uses everything he can to undercut the story. He's going to burn one or two bridges.
What can you say about this new opponent?
Robert King: Well it's not going to be someone out of left field. It's a surprise, but it is someone in our universe. It is someone unfortunately who would have a lot of dirt on Peter through Alicia.
How will Alicia (Julianna Margulies) handle being back in the public eye?
Michelle King: Season 4 Alicia is a rather different person than Season 1 Alicia. In the same way that we're seeing more sophistication in the courtroom, we're seeing more sophistication on a campaign — that she's just more sure of herself and more comfortable.
Robert King: She's protected herself against emotional shock and bumps. The difficulty is you never know quite where they are going to come from in a campaign. You can protect yourself against everything you anticipate, but what about the things you don't anticipate? Alicia is much more comfortable in the public eye, much more protective of herself and her children, but she's going to be surprised by where and when the bumps come from.
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How will it affect her relationship with Peter? They've appeared to be in a pretty good place so far this season.
Robert King: I would just say that they're going to be in each other's spheres probably more than they were last year. The difficulty is that the two are riding a bit of an emotional roller coaster. They're trying to present a public persona for the voters and meanwhile, how much are their emotions in line with that public persona and how much is it battling with it? That is what I think they're struggling with. ... They're doing a great job this year at really suggesting that ambivalence. One thing I don't think TV handles well is ambivalence. So much of what we do is not 100 percent passion, not 100 percent love or hate. It's somewhere mixed up in between.
Another big question about the campaign is whether Eli will ever find out about Peter and Kalinda? That question has come up this season.
Robert King: Part of Eli's problem is that, like every campaign, you need to know where the land mines are to avoid them, and Eli doesn't know that there's about a half-dozen land mines he doesn't know.
Alicia is going to have several new friendships this year, such as Maddie (Maura Tierney). How will these new relationships affect her?
Robert King: Often these friends point the direction towards the friendship that is important more than any. There are probably no more two different people than Kalinda and Alicia, yet that is the core friendship that will survive the test of time.
Michelle King: What's nice is you see that Alicia is not as guarded as Alicia had to be Season 1, so she is allowing herself to be a little more open to these other friendships.
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Will we see more interaction between Alicia and Kalinda then?
Robert King: You can't go back to the river you were swimming in before; it always changes. What we've always enjoyed is seeing the two together so you're going to see a lot more.
Switching gears, The Good Wife writers room account recently tweeted: "For those missing kickass Kalinda, stay tuned! Our girl will be back." What can you say is coming up for Kalinda that will return her to her old self?
Robert King: One of the things we've done is we've accelerated that story a little because we didn't feel the viewers were responding to it as well as we thought. We're not complete dilettantes when it comes to storytelling. When your audience is either a) falling asleep or b) provoked, you kind of want to continue the story you're telling, but pace it up a bit and finish the story earlier than you thought originally. But what we've always wanted to do is show a side of Kalinda that actually propels her further into Alicia's world. ... I think one of the things we want the audience to see is a story that probably concludes a little earlier than we anticipated and keeps Alicia and Cary in the mix because obviously we feel the characters are better when it's a full work family of characters.
How will Cary (Matt Czuchry) and Alicia come into the fold regarding Kalinda and Nick?
Robert King: Alicia and Cary have such an interesting relationship on the show and we felt we really moved our chess pieces well that they're now in the same office. The bottom line is that that creates a lot of difficulties for the Nick-Kalinda-ness of things obviously because Cary has unresolved emotions towards Kalinda that are romantic and Alicia because she doesn't think that Kalinda may have the best objectivity about Nick and what he's doing. The bottom line is because this is a very tight-knit family even though they have different reasons for being tight-knit, they have the same worry about an alien agent acting upon one of their friends.
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Were you surprised about the reaction to Kalinda's story line?
Robert King: Speaking for myself, I was and looking back at it now, I probably shouldn't have been. I think I was because I always feel like Kalinda is this thing we can go out on a limb with. I think a) people just don't want Kalinda to go there, which I think is a worthy response that I never thought of and b) I think that it was pushing buttons that are not really healthy buttons to push, which are about domestic violence and dominating men and things like that. I thought it would come across as Kalinda was giving as good as she got, but it's not coming across that way.
Michelle King: Speaking for myself, I was surprised that there was resistance to the story line. The part that did not surprise me is that no one is saying negative things about Marc Warren's performance. Everyone is agreeing that he's doing a fantastic job portraying character, in fact maybe so fantastic that people are upset that Kalinda would be connected to that.
Do you have any regrets about doing that story line?
Robert King: One of the things we've always done is try to avoid repeating ourselves and the difficulty is you didn't want Kalinda to be a character like Fonzie where it's an established joke and you keep doing variations of the joke. We did want to see another side of Kalinda because we know in Archie we have an actress that can handle almost anything you throw at her. But I do think the audience teaches the storyteller and this is a case of the audience teaching the storyteller the bounds of where they think Kalinda's universe is. We tried to push the boundaries of that when we had Kalinda sleep with Peter. We were worried that that was going out on a limb, and the audience seemed to respond well. So we went another step here. ... I hope the audience won't think this year that they can demand anything and here we go. We were surprised and intrigued by what the audience reaction was and we want to give Archie the best work we can to show all of her talents.
The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9/8c on CBS.