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The Good Wife Bosses on Alicia's Struggle, Avoiding Love Triangles and Kalinda's "Emotional" Exit

Plus: The firm's "dark period"

Kate Stanhope

Alicia and John's shocking kiss. Her confrontation with Diane and Cary about her run for State's Attorney. Kalinda's move to falsify information in Cary's case.The Good Wifehas a lot of unfinished business to attend to when the CBS drama returns on Sunday (9/8c, CBS) for the first of seven new episodes. To preview what's ahead, creators and executive producers Robert and Michelle King spoke with about Alicia's "struggle," the firm's "dark period," her romantic future, and Kalinda's upcoming departure.

Alicia has begun to struggle with the conflict between trying to be a good candidate and trying to be a good person. How will she deal with that contradiction as election day nears? Robert King: You're exactly right.
Michelle King: You've hit the theme exactly and that's precisely what we're going to see her struggle with. That's going to be the thrust of it.
Robert: We've always felt the show is about how good is the good wife? How much does Alicia's job and Alicia's own instincts for power and success? How much are they changing her as she goes? How much are they allowing her to more willing accept cutting ethical corners.

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Alicia's campaign has now caused a big conflict with Diane and Cary. How will her relationships with each of them change as she steps away from the firm more for the campaign?
A lot of that is coming up. People are sort of feeling betrayed sometimes. That's what Diane feels - is feeling that Alicia kind of helped create this firm and then is stepping back without so much consultation them. I think at a certain point, it's a family that has a rip down the middle of it and has to be sewn and cured in some way. I think ... what they're struggling to find is a way where they can find their way back to each other. Because they really do, one of the most fun parts of the show, is when everybody supports each other. I think they're in a little bit of a dark period where they're not on great terms and the question is can they find their way back to having great terms.

A huge watercooler moment was Alicia kissing John. Was that always the plan for those characters? How will their dynamic change going forward?
First of all, we love that moment in part because Steven Pasquale and Julianna [Margulies] are so terrific together but we also like the fact that there's not just chemistry with that character. There's also chemistry with Matthew Goode's Finn character. So you get the sense that Alicia is just enjoying her place in the world in terms of men as opposed to feeling that she has to commit to one thing or another.
Robert: Just for storytelling purposes, what we enjoy this year is not falling into a trap. The love triangles can be easy. They start putting storytelling on automatic pilot because you can just kind of have audiences salivate when you suggest there's a love triangle because it plays with regards to love but also with regards to competition. One of the things we wanted to try to do this year was showing how much more complicated life can be. It doesn't necessarily fit into cute little love triangle ways. It can create a smorgasbord of options and Alicia is struggling with that fact.

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What can you say about her relationship with Finn going forward?
It's good because Matthew Goode and Julianna Margulies have a really good chemistry and so that is something that is going to continue. There are a few episodes where he won't be in it because we had some scheduling difficulties but other than that, we love the relationship that they've developed so far and we're going to continue along that route.

Another huge development was Kalinda falsifying information to help get Cary off. What kind of obstacles will Kalinda face in the wake of that?
To put it most briefly, plenty of them. We're going to see that and more play out in the second half of the season.
Robert: What we like about the show is that things that matter for one episode never really go away. They kind of follow like a bad tail, so that isn't going to go away either.

What can you say about Kalinda's journey for the second half of the season? What is her head space now that she's done this?
I think Kalinda's going to have too many other distractions, a lot of it having to do with Bishop but also having to do with the whole firm. In other words, there's probably too much happening in Kalinda's life for her to be distracted by any one element.

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We're getting closer and closer to Archie Panjabi's exit. How has it been figuring out the end game for this character? Is it something you always had in your mind?
We did have in mind an exit. The complication for us is once it became known that she was leaving, you really couldn't pull out the Will card.
Michelle: Not that we would want to.
Robert: But you couldn't surprise the audience.
Michelle: It couldn't be a shock.
Robert: So a lot of it is the intervening months have been about trying to toy with how that exit might happen.

What can you say about Kalinda's exit? Is it something that will reference past stories? How do you think the fans of that character will react to the way that she leaves the show? Robert: For us, it's emotional so my guess is that for the fans it's emotional too. I think Will's was a shock followed by the emotion. I think it might be the reverse here. I have a feeling the more you start counting down to those last days with her, the more someone that was so instrumental to the show from the beginning and that we've grown so fond of as a character and so excited whenever she's on screen, it's an emotional loss of a major element of the show.

Now that you've already dealt with Josh Charles' departure and the loss of the Will character, does that give you faith for the post-Kalinda era of The Good Wife?
What's nice is that there's no choice so you have to view it as a challenge and an opportunity as opposed to something that's going to be detrimental to the show. We're very fortunate in what a deep bench we have in terms of characters and acting talent. So we'll certainly miss Kalinda, but there's no doubt in my mind that there are a lot of other terrific stories to tell.
Robert: The death of Will Gardner on the show was a real singular moment in that it's not really what our show does. We've never really had a gunshot fired in anger on the show. There's been target practice and things like that. It's probably one of the few times the show went in a very operatic direction. We don't want the audience to go, "OK, how are they going to top that?" We can't have helicopters crashing into the law firm and killing people or mad gunmen running down the hall shooting people because we try to, in general, stick closer to life. That's why Kalinda's leaving is very different from Will's leaving.

So is it safe to say Kalinda won't be leaving in a body bag?
[Laughs] It is not safe to say anything except that one should stay tuned.

The Good Wife returns Sunday at 9/8c on CBS. How do you like Kalinda will leave the show?

(Full disclosure: is owned by CBS.)

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