‘The Good Wife’ Season Finale Sets Stage For 2016 Campaign (SPOILERS)

In a way, this entire season of “The Good Wife” felt like extended foreplay, building toward various climaxes that didn’t quite happen. The central character engaged in a spirited, extremely entertaining political campaign for an office that she didn’t wind up holding, setting the stage for Sunday’s finale (and SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t watched), which hinged on a romance that wasn’t and a potentially juicy partnership in the season to come. The program also dipped a toe into national politics, which does raise some tantalizing art-imitates-life prospects for next season – again, gratification deferred – with a presidential race looming.

In perhaps the most satisfying thread, the finale did provide an element of closure for the departure of Kalinda (Archie Panjabi), the intrepid investigator who had crossed the wrong drug dealer. As a resourceful, sexually omnivorous international woman of mystery, there was something very appropriate about Kalinda leaving on her own quiet terms, even if you wished more of the episode were devoted to that exit.

Instead, that was just one small part of a closing chapter that allocated too much time to a standard cops-abusing-their power arrest plot, as well as questions regarding the future of Alicia (Julianna Margulies), both in terms of maintaining her sham of a marriage to the governor, Peter (Chris Noth), and whether she would once again play “the good wife” if he mounted a run for president.

Finally, there’s the issue, also once again, of where Alicia will be practicing law, and whether her personal flirtation with Finn (Matthew Goode) could be managed enough to let the two of them work together. Ultimately, he balked, setting the stage for Louis Canning, Michael J. Fox’s insanely competitive attorney, to waltz in and propose a professional marriage in the final reel.

As “Good Wife”-level twists go, that one – from showrunners/writers Robert and Michelle King, with the former directing the hour – was about a six on a scale of 10, which is still better than one will find on most episodic dramas. Moreover, the program continues to exhibit inordinate smarts and wit while casting even smallish parts to the hilt — making the series a pleasure to watch even if it feels like it’s idling. Seriously, where else can one see Wallace Shawn hamming it up as a sleazy attorney?

That said, assuming Peter plows ahead into presidential politics it’s difficult to see why Alicia would have any incentive to maintain the ruse, what with her own campaign behind her and the children grown and aware of what’s transpiring. Then again, the Kings have demonstrated themselves to be pretty masterful about writing their way out of such corners before.

Criticizing “The Good Wife” can’t help but sound like nitpicking given its abundant charms, but for a program that displays such savvy in the courtroom, the sixth-season finale didn’t exactly play like a convincing summation; rather, it felt like a somewhat anticlimactic opening argument for the show’s 2015-16 campaign.

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