Written by Matt Taylor
And just like that, The Good Wife is no more. After seven seasons of intelligently written drama, Emmy-worthy acting and the occasional poor plot twist. This week’s episode, “End,” may not have been the most suspenseful or dramatic note to go out on, but it was a satisfying one that provided some great character-driven moments and a welcome return of a long-gone favorite.
Despite last week’s cliffhanger implying that Peter’s court case would reach an early conclusion, the episode actually devoted much of its runtime to some last minute twists that made Peter’s innocence more questionable than ever, and dragged some other characters down into the dirt even more. Its devotion to this storyline was a tad bit disappointing, since it sacrificed screen time that could have been spent on other characters. Truthfully, it felt more like a season finale, not a series finale. But, at the same time, this was a well-written subplot that brought Alicia’s character growth to a logical conclusion. While the final scene was not what I expected for the ending at all, and it was much more upsetting than I would have wanted for these characters, there was a certain beauty to it – Alicia has, in one way or another, exerted her independence, and, since the final scene of the series called to mind the very first, it was fascinating to show how much she has changed.
But, in this final hour, Diane was also given her chance in the spotlight. In fact, a surprising amount of the series finale revolved around Diane, and Christine Baranski really gave the episode her all. When Kurt was inadvertently thrown back into the Florrick courtroom drama, a conflict between Alicia and her former mentor ensued, and it wasn’t long before another man on The Good Wife was accused of infidelity. While that plot twist was a bit out of left field, the writers, wisely, left the details ambiguous, and the scenes were acted out perfectly. Again, it would be nice to see Baranski finally clench an Emmy. While this may not have been her best episode, it was certainly a surprising way to conclude her character’s arc, and one of the episode’s best twists.
Speaking of surprises, the return of Josh Charles as Will provided some of the episode’s most sentimental moments, as Alicia consoled an imaginative version of her former flame to decide what she should do about Jason. While I didn’t quite buy that Alicia would be that concerned with whether or not she should date her latest suitor, these scenes were all well written, and Charles was as effortlessly charming here as he was during his five years on the series. These last two seasons have been dark and bleak – his light-hearted sense of humor was sorely missed. And, most importantly, the show reaffirmed that Will is the true love of Alicia’s life. While fans knew this to be true, it was nice to be reminded of this fact, especially in the show’s last episode.
Overall, “End” was darker than I expected, with an ending that’s somewhat bittersweet. A lot of loose ties were left dangling, and it’s upsetting to know that, due to some of the final plot developments in the hour, Alicia has burnt a lot of bridges. There are also some questions that have now gone unanswered: What will happen with David Lee’s accusations of sexism against the firm? Or Zach’s impending marriage? Will Cary and Alicia ever make up? I’m not sure if these questions were intentionally left unanswered, or if it was simply a combination of sloppy writing and a lack of time. But, regardless, “End” was a mostly satisfying conclusion. Not the strongest episode of the season, but a decent ending to a solid final season.
And, regardless, it’s nice to know that The Good Wife has ensured that its reputation remains untainted. For seven seasons, it represented the high mark for network television – a legal drama that ran for 22 episodes a year, with morally ambiguous characters and surprises that were unexpected but realistic. Sure, there were a few weak points (let’s never mention Kalinda’s husband again). And, sure, this ending wasn’t the show’s peak, quality speaking. But the series ended at just the right time – there was nowhere else for these characters to go, and they all ended up in just the right place.
Overall episode rating: 7 out of 10