Usually, a television show starts showing signs of age during its fifth season. Not so much with “The Good Wife,” which wrapped up a tremendous Season 5 on Sunday night with even more turmoil and one big cliffhanger.
This season began with chaos as Alicia Florrick and Cary Agos officially split from Lockhart/Gardner to start their new firm; it continued with the brutal death of Will Gardner; it ramped up as Alicia and her husband, Gov. Peter Florrick, decided to call it quits; and it ends as Diane Lockhart decides to jump ship to Florrick/Agos, and Alicia gets a shocking offer to run for state’s attorney.
Seriously, did Eli Gold, campaign manager to the stars (well, Alicia’s husband) just offer Alicia the chance to run for state’s attorney? Indeed he did, and let’s just say the hour took some twists and turns on the way there, when it happened in the last 10 seconds of the episode.
The finale kicks off with an overwhelming TV teleconference call between Lockhart/Garner and Florrick/Agos, as both firms are being sued by the woman whose adoption went awry earlier this season. That’s really all a ruse so we get the episode’s main story: After the conference, Lockhart/Gardner inadvertently leave their camera on, so Florrick/Agos suddenly has an inside window into everything their enemy is planning.
And oh boy, do they learn a lot. Besides the fact that two Lockhart/Gardner lawyers appear to be having a torrid affair (who just starts making out in a conference room before a meeting is about to start?), new partner Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) is doing some intense scheming with the evil David Lee to shove Diane out of the firm. Though there’s a brief argument between Cary, Alicia and Clarke Hayden (Nathan Lane) about whether they should even be watching this accidental but incredibly helpful footage, they’re all captivated when they also overhear that Lockhart/Gardner plans to destroy Florrick/Agos in the next 48 hours. Apparently, they want to frame Alicia for something in a case gone wrong, which will be the downfall of the fledgling firm.
Uh oh. Assuming the plot has something to do with the adoption case, the Florrick/Agos lawyers frantically start reviewing all the documents to make sure they didn’t miss anything. (Unfortunately for them, the plan has nothing to do with that, and everything to do with a plan involving the wife of Florrick/Agos’s biggest client, Neil Gross — guess we’ll find out more about that next season?)
Meanwhile, Louis and David also start making comments about the possible Lockhart/Gardner and Florrick/Agos merger that Diane was trying to orchestrate. This is a sensitive subject because Cary, watching them via camera, has never wanted to merge. It gets even worse for him when Kalinda — investigator extraordinaire and Cary’s latest fling — promises she’ll check in with Cary. After all, she’s exploited him this way before.
Cary’s stung by hearing this and isn’t the same after that. He didn’t want the merger before, but now is absolutely furious that people consider him to be such a pawn. He has a tense argument with Alicia, accusing her of wanting to merge firms just for her own benefit. When Alicia refuses to back down (arguing that the merger will make them the biggest firm in Chicago), Cary goes behind her back and meets with Louis Canning, warning him that the merger is a terrible idea. Things gets even worse for poor Cary when he watches the Lockhart/Gardner camera again and sees Louis tell David Lee that the “kid” from the other firm warned him about the merger.
Alicia, also watching the footage, flips out when she finds out Cary went behind her back and tried to ruin the merger. “If you think so little of our partnership, we should quit this now,” she yells. “You should cool down,” Cary warns her. “You should take this more seriously,” Alicia fires back, fuming. (Clarke interjects to say they never should have been watching the footage in the first place, which is just poor timing on his part.)
Things aren’t much better for Diane over at Lockhart/Gardner. She’s well aware of the plan to oust her from the firm, so she tries to get as many votes as she can on her side. We see Diane’s brilliant ways once more as she gets the firm’s kookiest and least effective partner, Howard Lyman, on her side with a bribe: Allowing him to conduct a deposition, which no one ever lets him do because he’s crazy. The deposition winds up being against Alicia in the adoption case, and leads to this wonderful exchange when Howard tries to get her to read a transcript claiming she’s at fault.
Howard: (triumphantly shoving a piece of paper across the table) “What is this?”
Alicia: “A Xerox of a takeout menu.”
Anyway, Diane gets the votes, but Louis still has the upper hand: He wants to be managing partner. And through a complicated loophole involving one of Will Gardner’s former schemes (may he rest in peace), Louis has the power to dissolve the firm if he doesn’t become a managing partner.
Diane’s stuck, so it seems — until she gets a phone call from Gov. Peter Florrick, who happens to need a new candidate to endorse for state’s attorney. Finn Polmar — the ASA who tried to save Will — has to drop out of the race due to a questionable decision he once made that now looks like bribery. (Hey, we’re still rooting for him to be Alicia’s new love interest next season.) Peter and Eli want to tap Diane for the spot — she’s already been vetted, thanks to that time he almost appointed her to the state Supreme Court.
Diane can’t decide what to do. Hand the reins of her firm over to Louis? Watch the firm dissolve? Try to run for state’s attorney, a position she doesn’t really even seem to want? Finally she thinks of another plan: Join Florrick/Agos. Bring her $38 million a year in client billing with her. And watch David Lee’s head explode.
While we don’t get to see how or why Florrick/Agos accepts her plan, we pivot over to the Florrick residence, where Eli has just received a phone call from Diane turning down the state’s attorney option. “Why is everything so difficult?” he wonders out loud. Alicia’s thinking the same thing. Not only has all this madness happened during the day, but Zach is graduating from high school, and is out of the house and on to Georgetown before the ink on his diploma is even dry. (Hmm, wonder if his dysfunctional parents have anything to do with that?)
At the very end of the episode, the house is finally quiet. No sign of Alicia and Peter’s respective mothers, who spent the day cooking for Zach’s graduation dinner, drinking wine and bickering over who was at fault for the impending Alicia/Peter split. Now, Alicia and Eli are sitting in the Florrick’s dining room after the dinner. Alicia stares off into space “It’s been a weird day,” she says. “Yeah. Weird year,” Eli replies. Suddenly, he looks over at Alicia, who’s absentmindedly sipping a glass of wine, and something clicks into place.
“Alicia?” he asked. “Would you want to run for state’s attorney?”
Alicia had only one response to that question — the final word of the episode, one that both sums up this season and leads us into the next one.