‘The Good Wife’ Finale ‘End’: It’s Always Been About Will Gardner

Creators of “The Good Wife”, Robert and Michelle King, were ready with five recorded minutes of video to explain, “End”, the series finale and how it all led to that slap by Diane Lockhart. “End” was just the beginning, according to them.

It was Alicia Florrick as victimizer, seven seasons after being introduced to her as the victim of her husband’s cheating ways. She’s a different Alicia, as if we didn’t know it, and the Kings call their finale a “tragedy”.

We’ve seen the progression over the course of the show of Alicia’s path towards independence, self-confidence and the necessity of making choices that swerve over the line into dangerous ethical territory. It’s not so much the compromises in her profession that kept her path to victimizer going. It was the decisions made about how she wanted to live her life outside of the law office.

Wasn’t she entitled to be happy and what did that mean? Sometimes it meant hurting and confusing her children, her mother-in-law, her husband and yes, her lovers. If she did as she “should”, then she hurt herself, at least that part of herself she left open to change. At some point, she began to care less about all that, after years of putting others first.

She was told, more than once in the finale that she tends to look at responsibility as something she can’t combine with anything other than sacrifice, and that those two words are very different.

Alicia began by dealing with the public humiliation, the need to make a living and to keep her two children protected and healthy. That meant creating a public face, which ultimately became “St. Alicia”. Even at the end of the road, she was more desirable and believable as a candidate than her husband, who was on his way into political oblivion.

The end game for Peter was taking a plea, admitting guilt, despite him denying it privately, and resigning from office as Governor of Illinois. All jail time evaporated as the complicated courtroom drama took sharp turns throughout the episode. Alicia helped that happen and accepted the fallout and pain it would extract elsewhere.

To get to that place Alicia had to betray Diane and play a tough-as-nails game of chicken while negotiating with the U.S. Attorney who tried the case. She’s been there before, somewhere that Diane encouraged and often traveled there by herself. That would be somewhere that emotion wasn’t welcome, civility was checked at the door and a lawyer did her best for a client, no matter the fallout.

Unfortunately, Diane was on the short end this time and over her protestations, Alicia had Lucca tear apart Kurt on the stand. For him, it was no good deed goes unpunished. After the bullets that were lost were found, they didn’t help Peter’s case. They were from the gun of the defendant, which Kurt hypothesized wasn’t true when he took the stand without complete test results.

He had to be made to look like he was either a bumbling idiot, or not telling the whole truth the first time around, because he was Diane’s husband, the lawyer for Peter.

When Alicia makes a promise to take it to the end for a client, this time her husband, she does it. We’ve seen it and as seasons have come and gone, she’s made less of a fuss about the collateral damage. That damage rose up and slapped her in the face after the case was put to bed and Peter resigned.

As the Kings noted, the series began with her at Peter’s side as he resigned and went to jail, later slapping him after they left the podium. He was the bad guy, pure and simple and she was the good wife. This time, she got the slap. She also left Peter hanging at the podium to chase Jason who she was warned might beat it out of town because he couldn’t deal with the complexity of what was occurring and the future of the relationship he knew he wanted, but without all the mess that comes with it.

Alicia has no idea that Eli is plotting her future in politics, if she wants one, and we are led to believe she runs off to find Jason after she is convinced she played her version of the good wife, seven years down the line. She fought for Peter, got him the best deal possible, kept him out of prison, which meant that Grace would go to college rather than stick around and be the mini-me of Alicia.

Yes, Alicia saw that her patterns of doing what was best for others, rather than herself had stuck to Grace. Hard to look at someone and realize she is made in your likeness, particularly when you’ve just awakened to the fact that you did this to her.

What Grace didn’t see were all the small steps, behind the scenes, out of sight of the kids, that Alicia took to end up as the victimizer. Grace saw a woman who denied herself a life outside a marriage that wasn’t a real one for years, took chances in her profession and yet always kept the home fires burning for her and Zach. Everyone else saw that, including Will Gardner.

How nice of the Kings to have him return for the finale, and we got to see what real romantic chemistry is like again. That first kiss was EVERYTHING. It was after Lucca had made Alicia focus on the potential to lose Jason, as she told Alicia that she had to envision who she wanted to come home to every night, after the trial was over. So we got scenes of her walking in her front door, dropping her keys and walking into the apartment to see Peter, Jason and then Will.

“I will always love you,” were her parting words to his imagined self as the finale wrapped up. Their easy, comfortable intimacy was refreshing. She had nothing left to be fearful of. She wasn’t his employee, or even his enemy any longer. It was them at their best, without the guilt of an illicit affair. Will reinforced what Lucca said, and of course, in her imagined discussions, he knew about Jason.

He encouraged her to go to him, giving her permission and saying, “I can live with that,” after her pledge of eternal love despite running towards earth-bound happiness. The only problem, of course, is that Jason took a powder, after watching Alicia play mother hen and victimizer to get the right result for Peter.

The law firm of Lockhart-Florrick looks like it is in jeopardy after the Diane betrayal, and so does the love between her and Jason. The road is clear now. She got the kids off to college and helped them become good, young adults. She did right by her husband, who she will divorce in a nano second and she realized that Will, while still the love of her life, has given her the strength to move forward.

You might say that this season with Jason, Alicia became that person who didn’t care what anyone thought of her affair. It was triggered by the Eli confession about the Will Garner voicemail. But what we saw were two people, in one body. Alicia being angry and selfish, then back to helicopter mom and wife mode, unhappy in both situations. Guilty when cutting work to stay in bed with Jason, then fearful he won’t understand when she keeps her promise to Peter.

This latest iteration, the victimizer, understands that the two are really one Alicia. This is all new to her. Someone who doesn’t fear the fallout of tough decisions that hurt others, if there is a higher purpose. Peter realizes that too. He becomes someone who teaches, gives speeches, and writes a book. He’ll watch his wife have the wind under her wings on the political front if she wants it.

Is that what Alicia wants? It’s been seven seasons of asking that simple question. Did we get enough to answer it? I think we did, and we got a Will sighting to help us. Thanks to Josh Charles for agreeing to come back to wrap it up and damn, was he a sight to behold.

Image credit: CBS, used with permissionĀ 

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