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[Warning: Major spoilers ahead from Sunday’s episode, “Hitting the Fan.”]
The Good Wife threw everything into the fire in Sunday’s episode, “Hitting the Fan,” when Will Gardner (Josh Charles) and Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) caught wind of Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) and Cary Agos’ (Matt Czuchry) plan to leave Lockhart/Gardner and take the firm’s top clients, causing a flurry of chaos.
But don’t expect the aftermath of Alicia and Cary’s expedited departure to be swept under the rug. In fact, the next three episodes take place the following day, the following week and the following month after their split. Though Alicia and Cary may have been victorious poaching a major Lockhart/Gardner client, Internet search engine Chumhum (thanks in part to Alicia’s husband, Peter), the battle for dominance between Lockhart/Gardner and Florrick/Agos is just beginning.
“All the alliances going into episode five are now shaken up,” executive producer Robert King told reporters on a recent conference call. “Now their ‘calculuses,’ let’s say, have been thrown asunder.”
Robert King and executive producer Michelle King discuss the aftermath of Sunday’s game-changing episode, including the repercussions of Alicia and Cary’s split from Lockhart/Gardner and the troubles that lie ahead.
1. The episode showed a new side to Alicia. How does Alicia change as a result of splitting off from Lockhart/Gardner?
Robert: The next episode after is the next day. What we really wanted [to show] is a warrior princess Alicia, that there’s this gauntlet set down between her and Will that makes her a more competitive person. She’s sent off on a warpath. In fact, in the writers’ room, we found we had some stories we had to completely rebuild going into the future because it was a different Alicia — a ballsy Alicia who was kicking ass and enjoying kicking ass. You always hate when there’s an end of something and there’s a depression that accompanies that.
2. Why does Alicia say “It’s not personal” to Will after he fires her? Is it personal?
Robert: One of the things we were playing with was the cliches you tend to spout when you’re in the stressful situation of being fired. She’d catch herself; she’d say things like, “I have to try something new.” She knew right when she was saying it that it was a cliche. They can’t talk about the personal without Alicia confessing that that’s the real reason she’s doing it.
Michelle: In her head, she’s trying to convince herself that it’s nothing personal. She wants to believe that it’s actually a professional decision.
3. The fundamentals of the show have now been changed. What does the world look like post-split?
Robert: Will’s conversation with Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) is illustrative of where we’re going. Will is really a man reborn. I hope you saw it in the episode. One of the things we wanted to avoid was too much of the tragedy of a breakup like this. Will is finding a new dedication to his passion for building [up]. Some of the disputes between him and Diane in other years were about how fast to grow and how in this economy you don’t want to overextend yourself. Will’s unbound. Once we saw the dailies, we realized, nothing can go backward. It really is this new day, a new paradigm for the show.
Michelle: Basically what we told ourselves was any story we could have told before this episode, we have to take out because suddenly that no longer fits.
4. Peter does some ethically questionable things during the episode to nudge Alicia along on her new venture, even when she states that she wants have an ethically sound firm. With an ethics person overseeing him, will those actions come back to hurt Peter?
Robert: It’s a possibility. For Peter (Chris Noth), one of his Achilles heels, is his ethical infractions in defense of his family. As other characters point out later on, he can hurt his family all he wants, but if anyone else tries to do it he goes absolutely tribal. Bottom line is, as we pointed out in the beginning of the year, Illinois has a bad reputation of their governors going to prison, so that is always a possibility.
5. Why is Kalinda more loyal to Will at this point?
Robert: She’s more loyal to Will because she really feels guilty about being disloyal to Will. It’s not really even about the fact that she knew about Alicia [leaving the firm] for a week; it’s about the fact that she knew about Cary for three months. Kalinda is a fascinating character this year, who we’ve underplayed. She’s a very pragmatic person who finds she has emotional ties that keep surprising her. … We make a promise to one friend, and we find out in the end, “Oh shit, by making that promise, I’ve really hurt this other friend.” That’s what Kalinda’s going through and one of the reasons why she’s showing her dedication to the firm where she’s staying.
Michelle: She is friends with all these people. We love playing the struggle in her of where she should make her alliances, where her allegiance should be.
6. Is Will suspicious of Kalinda’s intentions?
Robert: The only reason he trusts her today is because he got her something. As soon as she brought back that [Alicia and Cary] didn’t have these files, it was like, “OK, I’ll trust you for another day.” That leaves a lot of doors open for us too.
7. How does Diane fit into the world now that she’s out of Lockhart/Gardner and is no longer an option for the judgeship? Does Will have forgiveness for the interview?
Robert: That’s not a question for one episode. It’s an arc that we’re [working toward]. … It’s a marriage with a bump in the road. The question is, how long? We’re trying not to rush forgiveness.
8. Now that Alicia and Cary are starting up Florrick/Agos, what challenges will they face as they start up their new business?
Robert: [Alicia] felt she made a lot of ethical compromises during her four years at Lockhart/Gardner, whether it was cleaning up a crime scene or just saying things in court she knew weren’t true or taking cases she didn’t believe in. As with anyone who starts a new venture, you start by saying, “We’re not going to make the mistakes of the people we pulled away from.” One of those is ethical and the other is how to run a business. What you’re going to see is an Alicia who wants to do the last four years better. That is a struggle. … Alicia is going to find all the difficulties in what is the best way to preserve idealism in the face of business.
9. Why hasn’t Alicia renewed her vows with Peter?
Robert: There is something holding her back. Alicia is someone who, when that scandal happened four years and three months ago, found herself in a vulnerable position because she had given up her career for her husband. The arc for her over the past four years was about never getting into that position again. It was a conversation with Cary, where he said, “You have to leave because you’ll never get from under Will.” You can’t trade off Peter for Will, and you really have to stand on your own two feet.
10. Will Kalinda still have a love interest this season? (Juliet Rylance’s character was cut out of the season premiere.)
Robert: We have an overabundance of caution [following the aftermath of Kalinda’s husband storyline] and we worried that there wasn’t the chemistry, and we didn’t have the time in the episode to build up the chemistry. What we said was, OK, put a pause on that. Juliet Rylance is a wonderful actress. There was just difficulty with the first episode servicing that chemistry. It’s not going away. We just didn’t want to make a mistake again.
11. Will there be a balance between Lockhart/Gardner, Florrick/Agos and the governor’s office moving forward?
Robert: Once you open this new land, it actually creates a whole new world of stories. The different worlds dovetail and clash with each other. As much as we love our guest stars, who were great antagonists for our leads, now you have antagonists who are among the main cast, which is more fun for me because you never quite know who you should side with. If anything, we wish we’d done it earlier.
[Editor’s note: The piece was compiled from a conference call and a screening Q&A.]
The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on CBS.
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