'Good Wife' Creators on Alicia's Complicated Relationships, Kalinda's Exit

"We're working very hard to make it seem both inevitable and surprising," Michelle King tells THR of Archie Panjabi's upcoming departure. Plus: Watch an exclusive clip from Sunday's return.
Jeff Neumann

The Good Wife is (finally) back.

After spending half of January and all of February off the air, the CBS drama returns March 1, as the race for State’s Attorney heats up -- leaving Diane (Christine Baranski) and Cary (Matt Czuchry) to try and handle a case on behalf of Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker) -- who is suing a television show for basing a character on him -- in Alicia's (Julianna Margulies) absence.

The Good Wife creators, Robert and Michelle King, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about crafting an upcoming episode that visually showcases "how our minds work," Alicia's complicated relationships, Kalinda's exit, and more.

As you were arcing the season, was CBS able to give you a heads up about where the breaks would be so you could build momentum in? Or did you just dive into the story and try to ignore where things might land on the schedule?

Michelle King: We know the air schedule when we start. And we do build the season with these mini-hiatuses or mini-breaks in mind.

Robert King: One of the things that did change is we thought it would be 11 episodes, and then the big break, and then [another] 11 episodes. And then instead, CBS wanted to put two on in January. The bottom line is you can't blame CBS for this -- this is the difficulty of doing 22 episodes a year. You actually need the break to catch up and write and edit and shoot them. It's almost impossible to stay current without this kind of hiatus in the middle. We're not taking a break, we're not on vacation -- we'd love to go to Bora Bora, or something. But we can't go anywhere. We're here writing the next [episodes]. That's the reason for it.

Michelle: Well, that and every Sunday night there's a special event that takes precedence, like the Oscars, Grammys, and Super Bowl.

Now that the show is returning, what can you preview about what's in store for these next batch of episodes?

Robert: The first episode has some fun work with Dylan Baker. We're always finding that the beginning of the second half of the year, we do a lighter episode. Like, last year, we did one that involved a Glee-like show and a song that was ripped off. This year, we have Dylan Baker playing a few parts [as Sweeney and the actor who plays the Sweeney-esque on a television show].

Michelle: He played three different roles!

Robert: It was fun to see Dylan do that, because we love him so much. After that, things get a little bit more serious with the next episode ["Mind’s Eye"], which is one Michelle and I wrote, and I directed, which is interesting, mostly, because 90 percent of it takes place in Alicia's head. And there's drama. Obviously it's still meant to be entertaining and moving, and everything, but its an attempt to do something in visual form that represents how our minds work, and how we jump from subject to subject.

And then from there, there's still a lot to do with David Hyde Pierce [who plays Frank Prady], who is fantastic. And Alicia's run for State's Attorney, and which way that will turn out. Her relationship, which is either growing or not, with Elfman, which is the character played by Steven Pasquale. And Matthew Goode['s Finn] is someone who is adding contrast, as someone who is also possibly there for Alicia's affections. It's kind of cool. And that's just the next three or four episodes.

Where does Peter (Chris Noth) and the Florrick family unit fit into things, especially as the election grows closer?

Michelle:
There is a strain between Peter and Alicia. And yet, there is a strong bond underneath it. There's a reason they got married and had two kids together. They have a lot of the same passions and there's still an interest and an attraction there. So we get to play with both.

Robert: Another aspect to them is they're really drawn to power and how they can give power to each other. They rely on each other. At least in the fictional mind, it's a bit of the Hillary [Clinton] situation. At least in our fictional mind, Bill [Clinton] and Hillary [care about] each other a lot -- [and] they mean more together than they mean apart. And I think [that's] the same thing we're playing with Alicia and Peter.

As the show is gearing up for Kalinda's exit, what can you preview about that arc?

Robert: One of the things we've always liked about Archie Panjabi's portrayal of Kalinda is when she's made vulnerable. There are very few people in her life who make her vulnerable. One of them is Mike Colter's Bishop, who is a drug dealer and also a father-figure. We love Mike Colter, and we always thought this year would be built around a development in his character. One of the things we wanted to do was pull Kalinda more and more in his world, because obviously viewers know at the end of this season, Kalinda's character goes away, because Archie Panjabi moves on. A lot of it is the threat that Bishop offers, but also, you're also looking for themes where there's a lot of conflict and drama without physical violence between two characters. This show is only occasionally about physical violence, like the death of Will Gardner (Josh Charles). It's more often about the violence that comes from people who are in very formal settings and need to let the words be the violence. And that's what we get with Archie and Mike Colter's scenes together.

Since the audience does know that Kalinda is ultimately leaving the show, how much are you intentionally playing into that tension as viewers are watching? Do you want the audience to be picking apart her every action and wondering if that's going to be what ultimately leads to her exit?

Michelle: We are aware people are playing that game at home. We're working very hard to make it seem both inevitable and surprising.

Read more 'The Good Wife's' Archie Panjabi to Exit for 20th TV Talent Deal

Diane's husband, Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole), is returning in the March 15th episode. How has that marriage been since viewers last saw him, and what brings him back on-screen?

Michelle: We're playing the marriage is as strong as ever. These are two extremely different people with totally different ideologies and interests, and they make it work.

Robert: One of the reasons we're bringing him back is we're fascinated with the idea of 3D technology and how it's being applied to firearms, and how it's changing the rules of ballistics, which is what Gary Cole's character's day job is about. We're looking at how gun control -- and freedom of the press and first amendment rules -- change when they're combined with the fact that you can email the specs of a gun to somebody, and with a 3D printer, they can print a gun.

Which is terrifying on so many levels.

Robert: So many levels. I don't think people have explored that enough. Where does culpability lie when there are so many hands involved in the creation of a gun, in a sense.

Absolutely. Cary had an incredibly tough first half of the season with his trial -- will there be residual trauma for him, or could he have a lighter second half?

Michelle: A little is residual trauma, but a lot of it is  there's a lot going on in that law firm, and everybody feels a bit vulnerable, so they have to keep this business afloat.

Robert: He also didn't get released for the best of reasons. There was a reason there that had a bit of corruption built into it. And that could play out over the second half of the season, too. The good thing about success in the show is they're never really complete successes -- they also have little bitter tails that hit people on the way out the door.

What else can you preview about what's in store for the next few episodes?

Robert: What's lovely is Ed Asner does a fantastic job as a scumbag [Guy Redmayne, whom is a potential financial donor for Alicia or Frank]. And he's not just in the next episode, he comes back in future episodes. And Oliver Platt [plays] one of the richest men in America -- a strong Libertarian Republican who brings, possibly, his business to [Florrick/Agos/Lockhart]. We have, I think, some fascinating guest stars on the horizon, and hopefully even more we can talk about later.

Can't wait until Sunday's hour? Take a look at an exclusive sneak clip from "Dark Money," as Alicia tips off her advisors about a potential source for Frank's fundraising edge...

The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on CBS.

Twitter: @marisaroffman

 

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