The Good Wife Season 5 Finale Review: Watch This

By Noel Kirkpatrick

May 19, 2014

The Good Wife S05E22: "A Weird Year"

The notion of surveillance has been a running concern of The Good Wife's this season, primarily with regard to whether or not it's an ethical act. Do the ends justify the means? Is it ethical? Is it legal? Is it okay, as long as no one finds out? At what point should you stop? We may not like being watched, but we'll accept cameras being posted at intersections to catch drivers who run traffic lights. We've turned surveillance into entertainment with The Real World and Big Brother—and all the connotations that accompany both titles—so it wasn't a surprise when Carey sat down to watch the Lockhart/Gardner & Canning teleconferencing feed with some snacks and a beer. At first it was just going to be fun to chuckle at the meatheads from the old firm who were too stupid to understand how technology works, and then it became something much, much bigger.

One of the differences between the NSA and the folks at Florrick/Agos is that the NSA contractors didn't care about the information they collected through their wiretaps. It was entertainment for them. David Lee and Louis discussing the destruction of F/A would've been a sudden plot twist for the NSA contractors; for everyone at F/A, it became a matter of survival, the same reason the government used to justify its many different levels of surveillance on its citizens, legalities be damned. It was also mined for humor as three lawyers apparently couldn't decide whether or not it was illegal to watch and listen to a teleconferencing feed that'd been left on.

The act of surveillance brought out the worst in the folks at F/A. Alicia, as the client, opted to keep the feed going, and she later manipulated Louis, Diane, and David to stay in the conference room by pausing to look at Will's office—thereby shamelessly using their sensitivity to her loss—in an effort shake the tree limb to locate potentially secretly kept documents in the adoption case she's being sued over. Five years ago, Alicia would've agonized over that. Now? Not so much. Urgency was added to the equation when they all suspected that Neil Gross's wife was there, under false pretenses, though they couldn't be sure it was her. But what if it was her? What if she really was a threat? Well, they'd have to keep watching to be sure, wouldn't they?

One of the other differences between F/A and the NSA is that, while the NSA has oodles of secrets, its secrets aren't about itself. Sure, it's embarrassing and compromising when knowledge of the organization's operations comes out, but it can keep chugging along. That wasn't the case for Cary, as everyone found out about his and Kalinda's relationship, and that Kalinda has only been using him for information, as a thing to be "exploited." I didn't read Cary's reaction to this as surprise or shock—he knew. Instead, he was horrified that this information was coming to light in front of his colleagues and his employees. Cary may not want doors and walls in the F/A offices, like the secret-keeping den of L/G had, but he still kept a few tidbits to himself.

The cracks forming in Alicia and Cary's partnership were decidedly unpleasant to watch. Lately, screaming matches have been much more common for The Good Wife than they used to be, with Will in Alicia's office in "Hitting the Fan," Peter and Alicia in the kitchen a few weeks ago, and now Alicia and Cary outside their building and then inside of it. Those scenes were intense, quickly bringing the pair to one another's throats as Will and Diane occasionally found themselves over the seasons, from that time Will was ready to force Diane out in Season 1 to that time Diane thought she was being forced out by Will and Derrick Bond in Season 2 to that time Diane was actually forced out in Season 4. 

My quibble with all of this—Cary going to Louis, and those heated exchanges and icy glares as Diane had herself a Last Supper-esque sitdown with F/A to ask them to take her in along with her $38 million in clients—is that the plot essentially coasted on so much of the history of between Alicia and Cary. It relied on the construction of their positive relationship; there was no strife between them, really, up until this point. We'd never seen them really running the firm, dealing with employees or other colleagues, or displaying contentious differences in styles. Hell, Cary even gave her a day off! So either their partnership was always this fragile and neither of them cared to admit it—which seems false to me—or The Good Wife was so (understandably) focused on making sure that the momentum was there to carry us to and through Will death's that the nature of Alicia and Cary's partnership was given a comparatively shorter shrift. 

It all landed quite hard, in no small part because I like Alicia and Cary as a duo that takes on the world and has one another's backs, and because Julianna Margulies and Matt Czuchry just brought it in their scenes. Czuchry, especially, was on fire, seemingly pleased to finally have something to sink his teeth into, while Margulies continued to relish letting Alicia off the chain of polite sainthood and releasing all of the emotions Alicia has kept in check for so long. Even if I had wanted more narrative to really ensure that the arc could succeed on that level, they both made sure it still worked on an emotional one.

The Good Wife has enjoyed a terrific Season 5. It shook itself up not just once with the law firm defection, but twice with Will's death. It didn't shy away from either of these events, tackling both of them head-on and allowing their ramifications. Yes, there were times when it seemed like we were dwelling too long on the Feud Between the Firms, but it ended up serving the Alicia-and-Will storyline in ways that were necessary for the fallout of Will's death to ring true. The show hit new heights at a time in its run when many other shows would be content to just settle in and cash the syndication checks. It further developed its visual language with its memory pop sequences, and in doing so, gave us new access to Alicia's headspace, something we'd previously lacked. It never felt like we lost any of the complexity as a result, either—a real feat. If anything, it only served to further enrich one of TV's best characters.

Season 6 seems poised to follow Season 5's lead, and we should all be thankful for that. The idea that Diane would end up at F/A has been floating around these reviews for a while, and given Canning's threat to destroy L/G & C if he can't have it all to himself, it seems very likely that Diane will ultimately join this little startup that reminds her so much of when she and Will were starting out with Jonas Stern. It neatly solves the divided firm problem while creating new tensions with regard to Diane's possible new role at the firm. Certainly, Cary's going to have feelings about bringing on the woman who fired him twice.

The bigger question is whether or not Alicia will run for State's Attorney. Elections always seem to be happening on The Good Wife, so I don't know how much time she has to decide, but my initial impulse is that she'll think Eli's suggestion—and how great was Eli while thinking through the idea? Epiphany, followed by dismissal, followed by "This could actually work"—is the dumbest thing she's ever heard. I love the idea of Alicia campaigning and getting into politics, and it certainly sets up a path for The Good Wife to follow, as no one stays in the State's Attorney's office all that long before running for something else. Alicia the mayor of Chicago? Alicia a senator from Illinois? 

Here's hoping Season 6 is just as unexpected and exciting as Season 5.


– "I see where Alicia's drinking comes from." Oh, Jackie and Veronica. I'm sure that lasagna was delicious, what with all the passive-aggressive seasoning you added to it.

– Annnnd I just realized that Alicia is alone with Grace now. Oh no.

– "We're like a banana republic here."

– "Who's the replacement going to be?" "For Jackie? I can make up a list."

– The biggest delight to come out of Will's death, as this episode demonstrated, was the way Diane and Kalinda gelled so quickly. I loved it, and I want more of it.

– "I just want to build consensus and blah blah blah blah blah blah."

– No, Damian, we're not going to talk about you. The Good Wife pretended you weren't really there, so we're going to do the same. Season 6, you've got a great conflict between Kalinda and Cary now. Don't you dare waste it.

– Best/favorite episodes of Season 5: "Hitting the Fan," "The Decision Tree," "Goliath and David," "The Last Call," and "A Weird Year." How about you?

What did you think of "A Weird Year" and Season 5 as a whole? Where do you think Diane and Alicia will end up next season?

  • Comments (94)
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  • marialourdespazzarza Aug 25, 2014

    por otra parte me encanta la serie eta subiendo de tono bien por UNIVERSAL CHANNEL...felicidades

  • marialourdespazzarza Aug 25, 2014

    alicia ama a will y solo esta por obligacion con peter que mala onda

  • marialourdespazzarza Aug 25, 2014

    no puedo creee que haya muerto will garner sisempe pense que iva a quedar al final la protagonista que triztesa

  • al2sf Jun 03, 2014

    I hope that Alicia stays on Florrick, Agos and Associates. The firm has so much more narrative power in it than going to be kinda running for office, like we saw so many times on the show (and I LOVE Politics), but that would be too much of another musical chairs that we don't need.
    I also LOVED (yes, in all caps AGAIN) this season. I just feel that the last episode has too many things in it, things that could have been in a two parter instead of, what felt rushed.
    And I really hope that Cary will step into Kalida's face (I dislike her character more and more).
    Best season so far. my opinion.

  • cngoncalves May 24, 2014

    I loved ur review! I agree about a lot of things. The interaction between alicia and cary waaas very good! It was hard see them fighting! I kind dont like kalinda and cary plot they were friends and I was rooting for a relationship but I still thinking they gonna sort things out. The line mr canning : "I just want to build consensus and blah blah blah blah blah blah." was very cool jaja I loved

  • noelrk May 21, 2014

    Have you longed to hear my voice? And for it to say things about The Good Wife? Good news! I was a guest on Sound on Sight's Televerse podcast, hosted in my segment by Kate Kulzick and joined by Sonia Saraiya from the AV Club. Kate's even kind of enough to tell you where the segment on Good Wife begins so you can just skip to my (not in any way) melodious voice.

  • Zilly94118 May 21, 2014

    Now that Zach has goine off to college, it hits me that I can't remember seeing one scene where Peter and Zach (father and son) were alone together doing something or even just having a talk. Am I right?

  • Madeline35 May 21, 2014

    Peter and Zack had a private talk in Season 3 when he admitted cheating on Alicia with someone else besides the hooker. That is the only one that comes to mind.

  • JaneEliot May 20, 2014

    I really enjoyed the finale and I was at the edge of my seat for the most part. But after I had time to think about it, I must confess I was disappointed. The writters seemed to have thown in all the ideas "Maybe if we detonated a bomb every 5 minutes the viewers won't notice the lack of morality of the lead caracters".

    I used to love the show but now I find it very hard to watch as the characters become more and more selfish.

    Lets take the story of Finn's running for State's Attorney. A few episodes ago, when he become a candidate by chance, it seemed like the universe aligned to give the office to a good man. Alicia and Peter seemed to me to be corrupted by their deelings in politics and the fact that they supported Finn who had nothing to offer them was a nice surprise (let's not forget that when Alicia found out about the faked votes she said to Peter to fix it! and she didn't care what he did or who he would hurt as long as she didn't know about it and wouldn't be involved in another scandal!). And now the idea that Alicia would consider running for public office is making me sick. "Let's keep all the influence in the family". Alicia is becoming an immoral character and I don't understand anymore why the show is called "The good wife". Where is the "good"? She is only looking to make money and win casses regardless of the truth or the right thing to do. When is the last time that she had an innocent and defenseless client?

    The fight between Alicia and Cary and them being so agressive with one another was very unpleaseant to watch.

    And Cary being humilliated once again by Kalinda... I can't even... i just don't want to see her character anymore. After Peter, she is the more disgusting character. And the rest of the cast seemed to follow them. I am not happy with Cary's behaviour this episode either. They should just pull the plug on that affair and not let us hope that there might be something real between them.

    I don't know if I am going to watch season 6.

  • mipharell87 May 20, 2014

    Can I say this final was a orgasmic to my eyes, ears ...

  • hjantti May 20, 2014

    God i hope this show gets an emmy nomination for the best drama series.. It really deserves it.

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