It’s been 51 episodes, but The Good Wife season finale finally gifted fans with what they’d been waiting three years for: Julianna Margulies’s Alicia Florrick and Archie Panjabi’s Kalinda sharing another scene together.
OR DID THEY???!!!
Especially after last week’s offensively obvious camera trickery—ridiculous zooms, angles, and head doubles—to make the two actresses appear to be in a scene together, even though they so clearly were not, Good Wife conspiracy theorists, fans, and cynics were having a hard time believing that the bar scene between Alicia and Archie in the finale was real.
For those who have no idea what all this blabbering on is about, here’s the background.
It was announced at the beginning of this season of The Good Wife that Emmy-winner Panjabi, who plays skilled, sexually fluid, mysteriously terrifying, and often badass investigator Kalinda Sharma, would be leaving the series at the end of this season. It had been roughly 40 episodes at that time since Panjabi and Margulies, who played on-again, off-again best friends on the show, shared a camera frame together.
At one point, there were rumors that this was because Margulies and Panjabi didn’t like each other. But after an exhaustive Internet search, I couldn’t really find hard evidence—or even a first report—of those rumors, just constant speculation about them. So take those rumors as… rumors.
The fixes to perpetuate sequestered camera time even though the actresses’ characters were very much still intertwined story-wise included a number of laughable conceits: Kalinda conference calling into meetings for no reason, calling in from her car (lots of calling, really), or only interacting with firm work when it had to do with the other lawyers.
Kalinda’s exit was written so that she’d be fleeing the wrath of Lemond Bishop, the drug lord who she turned on to save, in different ways, Cary (Matt Czuchry) and Diane (Christine Baranski) from jail. Before she left, she and Alicia had one last drink at the bar, where all their best scenes together were years ago. The two appeared, at least, to be sharing the frame.
The psycho theories as to why they might not have been? For one, there was still an awful lot of close-up one-shots for most of Alicia and Kalinda’s dialogue. And when they did share the frame, if you observe closely, neither actress ever actually crosses the middle of the screen. There was a clinking of shot glasses, but it was actually done in Alicia’s one-shot, and very easily could’ve been a double holding what was supposed to be Kalinda’s glass.
Are we all being maniacs? Maybe. But a split screen, in this day and age, wouldn’t be an insane thing to do. I’ve seen The Parent Trap starring Lindsay Lohan and Lindsay Lohan so I know it’s not that hard to pull off.
Most recaps of the episode are operating under the assumption that the scene was shot by the actresses together, which is fair because that is what the intention of this scene, with these characters, was.
And as Mic writer Kevin O'Keefe reminded all of the Good Wife fans on Twitter who were in hysterics trying to gauge whether the scene was, once again, CGI trickery: For all the talk of whether two actresses appeared in a scene together, there’s no denying the monumental nature of the scene between the two characters they played.
Kalinda is supposed to be at a life-saving meeting with Bishop and his henchman Charles Lester (Wallace Shawn, playing the most unlikely frightening character on TV), but skips to surprise Alicia at their usual bar. She asks Alicia why he didn’t give Lester the mysterious note she had left two weeks ago—which ended up being her confession to turning in Bishop.
Alicia admits that after having to concede the election for state’s attorney she “gave up: anger, jealous, caring what people thought.” And she missed her time with Kalinda.
For her part, Kalinda tearfully says, “My time with you as your friend was the best I ever had. And I’m sorry—I’m really sorry that things got messed up.” Then, Alicia: “I wish we had the chance to do it over again.”
The layers in this conversation were candy for viewers. Some had to do with the frustrations over the whole scene-sharing fiasco, and how the dialogue echoes those. But mostly it was a beautiful punctuation on what’s been, up until the last 51 episodes, at least, the most complicated and rewarding female friendship on TV. Even during these last weird years with the two of them, their relationship continued to be one of the show’s highlights.
Kalinda gets up to leave. “I’ll never see you again?” Alicia asks. “I don’t think so,” she says.
In an interview clearly conducted before the finale aired, Entertainment Weekly asked Panjabi why Kalinda and Alicia hadn’t shared a scene together in years. Her answer, expectedly, was vague bullshit.
“I think that’s a question you need to ask the producers,” she said. “What is great is that [the] relationship between the two women is one of the best relationships on TV, in terms of it being the most honest. Hopefully, you may see something of that before I leave.”
The “ask the producers” answer is similar to the one Matt Czuchry, who plays Cary, gave me during an interview at the beginning of this season. The producers have said nothing beyond that the relationship between the characters had run its course (which doesn’t really account for the way last week’s scene was shot).
But, really, Panjabi? “Something of that”—is that intentional wording, to indicate that she and Margulies did “something” like film that finale scene together? Is there a reason she just didn’t confirm or deny whether they did? Will this ever stop torturing fans of The Good Wife?
Like the answer I pray to god Alicia gives Louis Canning to his request that they become partners, the answer to that, too, is “no damn way.”
This was a busy finale of The Good Wife, including but not limited to the shocker of a final second referenced above. We were teased in promos that we “wouldn’t believe” who was behind the door in the final seconds of the telecast, and it turns out to be Michael J. Fox’s Louis Canning, longtime pain in Alicia’s ass, asking if she wants to become his partner.
It's good timing, considering that Matthew Goode’s Finn just left her professionally—and, in a way, personally—stranded by dropping out of starting a new firm with her. Earlier, he had wondered whether getting back with his ex-wife, meaning an end to their flirtations, would affect their working relationship as new partners? Has Finn not watched this show?
As it turns out, the chemistry between the two of them is too much for Finn to handle. And so, again, Alicia is alone—at least until next season, when we find out what she says to Canning’s surprising offer.
It’s still up in the air how the fabulous Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) and Cary Agos (Czuchry) will fit into Alicia’s sort-of-free agent professional life next season. We have faith that show creators Michelle and Robert King will find a way to.
We are obsessing about one annoying sort-of controversy with this Alicia and Kalinda stuff, but it’s worth noting that the Kings crafted a surprising, sophisticated, and bold season—words not usually associated with a procedural drama. Alicia’s state’s attorney's race was captivating and unexpectedly emotional. The prospect of Cary facing jail time gave the first half of the season an addictively unsettling pulse. And Christine Baranski nailed everything because she is a goddess on earth.
It’s a shame that, amid all that, we’re sitting here studying every single inch of a minute-long scene to determine if two actresses actually filmed it together. But, honestly, DID THEY??? I REALLY NEED TO KNOW.