'The Good Wife' Creators on Alicia's Political Quandary, Romantic "Spark" and Season 6

"We're going to go there," Robert King tells THR of Alicia and Finn's slow build
Jeff Neumann/CBS
"The Good Wife"

Will Alicia Florrick run for state's attorney?

The Good Wife picks up right where the season-five finale left off, with Eli Gold proposing to Alicia that she run for political office — a trajectory she had not previously considered. Alicia's possible move comes at a crucial time for Florrick/Agos, as a potential merger with former Lockhart/Gardner colleague, Diane Lockhart, continues to progress at the behest of Cary Agos, who embarks on his own unique journey.

That's not to say the lingering effects of Will's death won't be felt throughout the new season. (In fact, Josh Charles returns to direct an episode.) As co-creator Michelle King insists in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter ahead of Sunday's premiere, Alicia won't "have completely forgotten it, but it also doesn't mean she's going to live mired in it either."

Returning to the fray will be memorable characters such as Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston), Josh Perotti (Kyle MacLachlan) and Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox), joined by David Hyde Pierce (returning to TV for the first time since the end of Frasier), Taye Diggs, Connie Nielsen, Steven Pasquale, Samantha Mathis and feminist/activist/author Gloria Steinem. Here, Michelle and Robert King talk to THR about the new season.

For the latter part of season five, Will’s death loomed large — and rightly so. How long of a shadow does that moment cast on the new season?

Michelle King: Our hope is to lead into the psychological truth so that the shadow it casts on the show is the same kind of shadow that sudden death would cast over an actual person’s life. Just because there’s been a change in seasons doesn’t mean Alicia is going to have completely forgotten it, but it also doesn’t mean she’s going to live mired in it either. People do move forward without losing their past, and our hope is that the show will be the same.

Robert King: The first episode picks up right where last season left off — literally one second later — so the aftermath [of Will's death] which were those [last] six, seven episodes now plays out in accumulation this year. I think you’re going to see just as much comedy as drama this year.

The finale ended on an intriguing note, with Eli telling Alicia that she should run for state's attorney. Will she be grappling with this decision for a while, or will it be addressed quickly?

Robert: We thought that the transition from season four to season five worked well, when season four ended with Alicia saying to Cary, “I’m in,” meaning “Let’s open a firm together.” And the start of season five didn't start with them walking out the door [of Lockhart/Gardner] — they kicked the door down in episode five of that season. What we like is living in the reality of this invite from Eli for Alicia to run for state’s attorney, and her going through the motions of whether it’s a good idea or not. Because, first of all, I don’t like people who jump at politics; it’s better that they’re reluctantly dragged into it. Also, there’s a lot of issues. What’s fun for the first several episodes is seeing Alicia grappling with being a mom, being a lawyer and then finding there might be something in her where she wants to change the world — something she never realized before. Is that a thirst for power or an idealistic thirst?

Hypothetically speaking, if Alicia did decide to run, how prepared is she to take on that mantle?

Robert: She’s not prepared at all. The difference with her is there are people who are politicians who know what they’re in for. Alicia is best in our mind when she’s an underdog. So much has gone right for her — except for Will dying — her husband's governor, she started her own firm even though it’s struggling. What's nice is to put her into a new world where she’s a fish out of water and see how much you start to love and embrace Alicia because she doesn’t know quite what she’s doing.

That would also jeopardize or at least shine a light on Alicia and Peter’s marital arrangement. Correct to assume that?

Michelle: It’s very complicated. That’s very appetizing, always.

Robert: We like playing with the idea of power couples. How do they make it work? Their problems, their paradigm, how do two people who rely on each other for power and support make their lives work?

There was also fallout from Jackie discovering their arrangement. Is their dance with Jackie something that continues?

Robert: Yeah, Jackie is like the Eisenhower mom. She relies on tradition. She might even support them divorcing, but the whole idea of pretending to have a tight relationship — that’s enough. "How can you do this?" she's thinking.

Diane’s jump to Florrick/Agos changes the landscape of the show now that she’s on the other side, with Cary and Alicia. What’s her integration to that new firm going to be like?

Michelle: Like other things, we don’t want to play it immediately. It’s a question mark whether that is in fact going to work out, and we love the idea of playing the contrast: the idea of Florrick/Agos being this slightly ragged startup and Diane Lockhart being so polished and sophisticated, and how those two things could ever be made to fit together.

Robert: We have Taye Diggs as Diane's confidant, so he’s playing a lot with Christine Baranski. He’s this very polished lawyer who expects everybody to prepare as much as he does for court, look as good as he does and keep their environment as clean as he does. Then to see what Florrick/Agos is like, which is more of a frat house in attitude, has comic potential but also is dramatic in is this culture clash going to work?

That was going to be my next question. You've added Taye's character, who figures prominently in the Florrick/Agos/Lockhart story. What can you divulge about how he factors in?

Michelle: Taye’s character, Dean, was working as the Lockhart/Gardner New York office. So he’s been part of their world for a while, but we have not seen him in the Chicago offices until season six.

Robert: The first episode he’s in, the second episode, he comes back from the New York offices finding that there are machinations already going on for Diane to leave, and he has to decide whether to leave with her for Florrick/Agos.

This means Lockhart/Gardner as we know it may be over. Should the remaining partners be worried about the firm, in the short-term and in the long-term?

Robert: They should be, even though the audience shouldn’t be, because we have a deal with Zach Grenier, who plays David Lee, so he’s still involved, and Michael J. Fox we’re using more this year. They’re going to stay around. There was added intrigue in having these two firms that are at each other's throat. How will that play with our cast? How much will they divide up? How much will they keep fighting each other? All those questions seem fun to us.

How big of a presence will Michael J. Fox have?

Robert: We hate saying this, but we’re happy his show [NBC's The Michael J. Fox Show] is over, because we can use him more. We actually wanted to use him in the fifth season more than we did, but we couldn’t get him until the end of the year because of his half-hour. So now, NBC’s loss is our gain. Our hope is to use him as much as he’s available. He has a speaking career and I think he's developing other things, but he’s very much wanting to come play. Right now he’s in three episodes, but with a plan to probably double or triple that.

Michelle: Bottom line, we adore him.

What can you tease about Finn in the new season? Viewers had been speculating that he could be a real romantic interest for Alicia. What is your play with that character?

Robert: Sometimes Michelle and I and our writers are watching the dailies and seeing what we should write to. You don’t want to impose something. If there isn’t chemistry there, the worst thing you can do to a relationship is try to create one. You’re always trying to see where the spark is. What’s great is we found this immense spark between Julianna [Margulies] and Matthew Goode, so we’re going to go there, but we will hopefully go there in ways that are unexpected.

So Alicia will be moving on romantically at some point this season.

Robert: I wouldn’t say that with 100 percent [certainty], because I think part of what will be surprising is the way it plays out.

And what about Cary and Kalinda’s difficult-to-define relationship?

Robert: (Laughs) Cary and Kalinda become a focus of the first eight episodes this year. There are events that throw their relationship into [a place] where they need each other — not only that they desire each other. The problem that Cary has is that he’s probably taking it a little more seriously than Kalinda is. Kalinda likes to play the field, so that creates an interesting dilemma, especially when Jill Flint's Lana Delaney comes in for a three-episode arc.

What’s the overarching theme of the season?

Robert: Alicia being dragged more and more into pragmatism. How much can she hold onto ideals while being kicked around in the public arena? And thematically, for us as writers, it’s a return of the underdog status. There was a beautiful book called What It Takes [: The Way to the White House by Richard Ben Cramer] about what it costs politicians to run, and I think I would call that the theme of the year: “What it takes.” It takes everything from you: your love, your idealism, your family, and it pulls you through the wringer.

The Good Wife premieres at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 21 on CBS.

Email: Philiana.Ng@THR.com
Twitter: @insidethetube