The Good Wife, Season 6, Episode 22: “Wanna Partner?”
Written by Robert King and Michelle King
Directed by Robert King
Airs Sundays at 9m ET on CBS
So…what went wrong?
Plenty of digital column inches have already been dedicated to the subject of The Good Wife’s troubled sixth season, especially given that it follows what most viewers consider to be the series’ best ever. While the litany of reasons listed in that Salon piece make for an excellent overview, it’s worth remembering that some of the season’s most obnoxious problems – eg. The Alicia/Kalinda Dillemma – have been percolating for quite some time now. To put it simply, this season could have been forgiven a lot of its most glaring flaws if the season’s stories – either on an episode- or season-level – had been worth a damn.
Season five was powered by events that had built up over nearly 100 episodes of backstory and character relationships, bolstered by two massive series upheavals that the Kings and their writing staff handled with sensitivity, attention to detail, and almost supernatural levels of craft. Season six, meanwhile, has mostly lingered in second gear, content to follow a couple of initially intriguing plot threads until they sputtered out arbitrarily. In the space of another 22 episodes, we learned almost nothing new about any of our favorite characters or what they were capable of, instead being treated to mere reconfigurations of old ideas.
“Wanna Partner?” is both the name of the long-awaited (in an unfortunate way) sixth season finale and the final line of the episode, spoken by Michael J. Fox’s Louis Canning as he proposes a team-up with former rival Alicia. Setting aside the fact that this season has already tried to wring pathos from Canning’s health issues, which appear to have cleared up just fine since his last appearance, this feels like a dull retread of the cliffhanger that ended last season – teasing a seemingly major plot development that has an initial appeal, but doesn’t have a whole lot genuine promise going forward.
Of course, much of the episode is given over to Alicia’s attempt to court Finn as a partner in yet another new law firm, an offer he all too happily accepts, only to accept later in the episode that the chemistry between them is too palpable to try and ignore – a problem, given that he’s attempting to start over with his unseen ex-wife. While it’s a laudable move for a character whose ethical standards have always been higher than basically anyone else on The Good Wife, it’s disappointing that Alicia and Finn have been retreading the same ground for virtually an entire season, with Alicia still being unable to simply cut Peter loose, despite the fact that it’s become increasingly difficult to accept that their divore would have any lasting political consequences. (Also in this episode: Peter plans to make a pitch for Vice President. Cool, another campaign! Zzzzz.)
Of course, the biggest insult in “Wanna Partner?” is the feeble attempt to put a bow on the Kalinda-Alicia situation, with the aid of One Last Scene in which they say a proper goodbye. The only problem: the sequence is awfully fishy, suggesting that Margulies and Panjabi still aren’t physically in the same room for the scene, which is immensely distracting, especially given that we’re saying our final goodbye to someone who was once one of the series’ most integral characters. The only people we know for sure we can blame for these shenanigans are the Kings, whose statements have suggested we should all be satisfied with this resolution. A faked toast and a lackluster remembrance of times past simply isn’t good enough, and the way the back half of this season rubbed viewers’ noses in the bizarreness of the situation was misguided at best and insulting at worst.
With the series’ ratings at a low ebb, it seems highly doubtful that CBS will renew The Good Wife for more than one full season; I wouldn’t be surprised if they opted for a truncated 13-episode run, for that matter. The series’ immense critical love has long kept it alive, but as the ratings slip further and the series’ creative vision grows stagnant, the writing has to be on the wall. Sadly, it might take a definitive ending to provide the sort of kick in the pants needed to make the series creatively viable once more, given just how much of a systemic disappointment this season’s been.
Wallace Shawn and Susan Misner guest. Both are reliably fine, though the latter just made me wish I was still watching new Americans episodes.
The case of the week ties into domestic quasi-“black sites,” which should be an awful lot more interesting than it is, or at least worthy of focus in a less distracted episode.
With Alicia so solidly on her own, how on earth are we ever going to care about the goings-on at Lockhart Agos Lee or whatever it’s going to be called by next season?
This concludes my watch on The Good Wife. Needless to say, I did not pick the most fruitful season to cover, even if it hasn’t all been awful.