I’ve spent the last 36 hours or so discussing with friends (mostly my sisters) our thoughts on the series finale of The Good Wife. My first response to my final hour with Alicia Florrick, moments after watching it, was “I really liked it.” As time passes, I realize more and more how much I truly loved it.
Before I dive into why, I will stipulate that series finales are almost always disappointing because they are still only 44 minutes and it is nearly impossible to get to every character and tie up every loose end. I would have loved a scene with Cary and Alicia. With all the delving back into cases at the State’s Attorney’s office, it would have been so easy and so fantastic to see Kalinda one more time. There are always going to be a few elements that could have made me just a teeny bit more satisfied, but when it comes to the big question of Alicia Florrick, I think the show wrapped up masterfully.
I understand why people may have been disappointed. Alicia Florrick was a beloved character who fans have been rooting for for seven years. It makes sense that they’d want to see her come away from this journey with a victory, especially after the brutal season 5 loss of Will Gardner. The last image we have is a teary-eyed Alicia, smoothing her designer suit, once again summoning the courage to take one more step forward. It doesn’t feel like a win.
And yet, I felt tremendously hopeful. These seven years have been about one thing: Alicia Florrick choosing over and over again to be the “good wife.” In these last few episodes, even with Alicia emotionally invested in Jason — even after she’s filed for divorce — we’ve seen Peter ask her to stand by his side and we’ve seen her say yes. Each time there seems to be a flicker in her eye where she considers turning him down, but she cannot figure out a way to say no. No matter how much growth she has had, she has not been able to truly distance herself from that role. It is only fair that there would be consequences to that.
We’ve seen those consequences throughout the series. Alicia’s entire relationship with Will could have been different if she’d just decided to walk away from her role as Peter’s wife. Since Will’s death, it has felt like Alicia has moved away from being Mrs. Peter Florrick, but what we’re reminded of here is that she never truly severed those ties. We’re aided in coming to this realization — and others throughout the episode — by Alicia’s conjuring of Will Gardner. I knew Josh Charles would be back for this episode and I was unsure about how they would work him in, but these scenes packed the episode with a much-needed emotional punch. The show has done such a good job of creating new compelling relationships for Alicia that I had all-but-forgotten how special the Will/Alicia relationship was. Seeing these two together again was exactly the kind of nostalgic callback that works so well in a series finale.
Will’s presence also served to highlight how stuck Alicia has been all these years. People often describe Alicia Florrick as a strong female character, and in many ways she is, but she never actually found the strength to choose herself.
This series finale didn’t feel like an ending to me. It felt like a beginning. We may not get to see the next part of Alicia’s journey, and it breaks my heart that ultimately her allegiance to Peter destroyed her relationship with Diane, but whatever comes next is finally going to truly be her own. Professionally, Eli has her poised for great things in the political arena. Based on her immediate and stunning sexual chemistry with every man who has crossed her path, there is no doubt that she will meet another man and finally be able to pursue a relationship without the strings of her marriage pulling her back.
I can’t say I didn’t want to see Alicia end up with Jason. I adored their relationship and hoped and prayed it would work out for them. But this ending felt more authentic. This is what the show has been leading up to since it’s inception. The parallels to the pilot show us exactly how far Alicia has come, but also how she seems to have been standing still this whole time. Despite all the quick wit and the impulsive decisions and the sexual deviation, Alicia has never broken free. Peter began destroying her life when he cheated on her with prostitutes and though she believed that at some point she took control, she has allowed him to continue destroying her by being there for him as his partner whenever he’s asked. Not anymore.
A hunched-over crying woman who has just been slapped in the face is hardly a vision of victory, but there is no question that the moment Peter reached for her hand and it wasn’t there was Alicia Florrick’s biggest win to date. I couldn’t ask for anything more.