With The Good Wife's first season coming to a close, the partners at Stern, Lockhart & Gardner must finally decide between hiring junior associates Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Cary (Matt Czuchry) permanently.
"There are some big changes that are going to happen with the relationship between Cary and Alicia," Czuchry tells TVGuide.com. "They are each going to do whatever it takes to get that spot through manipulation, making deals, and so we are going to see these characters' level of competition for that one spot come to a height."
After first learning they were competing for a single spot at the firm in the series' pilot, the relationship between Alicia and Cary has evolved greatly over the course of the season, from competitors to trusting co-workers with a mutual respect for one another. However, looking forward to the season's last five episodes, Czuchry says that bond will be broken beyond repair, at least for "the foreseeable future."
"There's always been that underlying competition there and now that this story line of who's going to win comes to a head, that competition is taken to the next level," Czuchry says. "Both with the competition coming to a close and the new story lines that develop out of that, the competition between them is taken further than we've ever seen before."
The junior-associate rivalry will also give viewers new insight into Cary's life outside of the firm. On Tuesday's episode, airing at 10/9c on CBS, he will get a past from the blast in the form of an old flame. "A big piece of that episode is an old relationship comes back into Cary's life in a unique way," he says, "and that relationship ties into the competition storyline as well."
Czuchry can't divulge who the winner will be. The result of the contest was changed three times, but he believes fans will appreciate the new ending and thinks it will do the season-long arc justice.
"This most recent story line was a shock to me. It's a big risk. The best part about it is that the audience is going to feel like, if they've been watching from the beginning of the season and they've been following this particular story line, that there's a payoff for it," Czuchry says. "These last episodes have been really fun to play because it's really risky and it changes the show in a big way."
Czuchry credits these risks to The Good Wife's overall success. "This show, with the success that it's had, continues to take risks with their characters and story lines," he says. "When you have a show that you finally get grounded in success, often times you could play it safe, but that's not the case with this show and that's what I love about it."