[WARNING: This story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of The Good Wife. If you haven't seen this episode, we suggest you escort yourself away from this page immediately.]
"The path to the corner office is always sudden, and incestuous."
Those were Diane's words of wisdom to Alicia (Julianna Margulies) at the end of The Good Wife's second season. More than two years later, those words came back to haunt them both as Alicia and Cary (Matt Czuchry) finally left Lockhart/Gardner to start their own firm under less-than-ideal (read: completely hostile) circumstances.
After Diane (Christine Baranski) broke the news to Will (Josh Charles) that Alicia was leaving and taking the firm's top clients with her, all hell broke loose. Will stormed into Alicia's office, trashed her things and yelled at her before firing her and having her escorted from the premises. In her final moments in the Lockhart/Gardner elevator, Alicia did something she never does: She cried.
"It just kind of crushes your heart," co-creator and executive producer Robert King told reporters at a recent screening of the episode. "There was loneliness to the moment and an exhaustion coming off of this race. It felt like we needed to pay allegiance to the emotional side with Alicia. Yes, it's a race, but 'Oh my God, what a loss. What a loss of someone I've loved, but also really liked.'"
However, those tears were short-lived. Alicia went on the attack as soon as she and the rest of the Florrick/Agos team caught wind of David Lee (Zach Grenier) and Will's tactics to try to delay Florrick/Agos with a sudden fumigation at their new offices and restraining orders preventing them from talking to clients.
"What we really wanted is kind of a warrior princess Alicia. There's a kind of gauntlet set down between her and Will that actually makes her a more competitive person. She's sent off on a war path," King said. "In the writer's room, we had some story that we had to completely re-do coming up in the future because suddenly it was a different Alicia. An Alicia that was a little more ballsy, that was kicking ass and kind of enjoying kicking ass."
And the same holds true for Will, who told Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) at the end of the episode he wants to become the biggest firm in the country. "Will's conversation with Kalinda is illustrative of where we're going. Will is really a man reborn," King said. "One of the things we wanted to avoid was too much of the tragedy of a break-up like this."
This break-up between Alicia and the firm, and more specifically between Alicia and Will, may be eerily reminiscent of the split between former BFFs Alicia and Kalinda at the end of Season 2. Many fans have still not come to terms with the sudden end of that friendship, but King is confident they chose the right path.
"There was a slight sense we were repeating ourselves. Once we had this love triangle, it's kind of a monkey on our back in many ways because there's only so many ways to tell that story fresh. So it seemed more exciting to see the reverse side of it," King said. "What happens when you throw a bomb into the middle of that relationship? How do these people react differently?"
But just because Will was nice enough to tell Alicia that she missed a call from Grace, it seems safe to say the will-they-or-won't-they question is off the table for a long time. "When we saw the dailies, we realized nothing can go backwards. It just really is a new day," King said. "It kind of felt like a restart on what these actors could do."
Alicia's exit from Lockhart/Gardner will change both her and Will significantly, but her rise to power is already starting to bring out of some of Peter's (Chris Noth) old bad habits. First, he made a comment about taxation on Internet commerce in one of his first speeches as Governor-elect to get Neil Gross (John Benjamin Hickey) and Chumhum to sign with Florrick/Agos. Then, he asked Eli (Alan Cumming) to draft up a new list of other nominees for the Illinois Supreme Court seemingly because of Diane's involvement in Alicia's being forced out. "One of his Achilles' heels is ethical infractions in defense of his family," King said. "Which, as other characters will point out later, is kind of ironic because he can hurt his family all he wants but if anybody else tries to do it, he goes absolutely tribal."
Now that Alicia is out on her own, Peter's governorship will prove to be a "double-edged sword" going forward. "The spouse is put in this very awkward position, especially if they have a business. That favor that we see from Peter at the end can really come back and bite him, as Eli is worried about," King said. "Alicia can be bitten by the fact that a lot of clients wouldn't necessarily want to join, as we were starting to see, because all of the ethical restrictions of what is hands off for Alicia — what Cary has to handle. That was buried under a lot of levels of hierarchy at Lockhart/Gardner. It is less so when it's Florrick/Agos."
And how will The Good Wife juggle both of these firms, as well as the goings on in the Governor's office? King said there is no shortage of stories to tell in the upcoming episodes, which as the episode titles suggest, will chronicle "The Next Day, "The Next Week" and "The Next Month" after Alicia and Cary's departure.
"It actually creates a whole new world of stories, and there are so many ways where the different worlds dovetail and clash with each other," King said. "Now you have antagonists who are among your main cast which is more fun because you never quite know who you should side with. Who should you cheer when they win? We're having the time of our lives. If anything, we wish we had done it earlier."
The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9/8c on CBS. What did you think of the episode? Were you sad to see how Alicia left Lockhart/Gardner? Are you rooting for Team Alicia or Team Will?
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