Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop in 'The Good Wife' Finale

In just a few days, TV viewers will know whether everything comes out all right in the end for the long-suffering Alicia Florrick.

A scene from 'The Good Wife.'
Michael Parmelee / CBS / yes

There was this guy who got himself a nice flat in an apartment building. He had plenty of spare time (some are born rich, some achieve riches, and some – lucky bastards like this one – have riches thrust upon them, in this case by his uncle’s will). He would use this time carousing until the wee small hours of the morning. Returning home properly inebriated, he’d grope his way upstairs and once inside his apartment would hurl his shoes, one after the other, at the first wall in his blurry sight.

A neighbor bumping into him on his way home from an evening shift (our reveler was still sober, and off to the local bar) dared to request, in the name of the other residents in the building, that he give up the grand finale of the shoe cannonade.

Our guy apologized abjectly and promised to be as quiet as a mouse from then on and tread lightly on other people’s dreams. However, that very night, coming home somewhat under the influence, he stumbled upstairs, shed one shoe, hurled it, and only when he heard the resulting thump remembered his pledge. He left the other shoe on his foot and sank into slumber, to be rudely awakened about 10 minutes later with banging on his wall and shouts “for f---’s sake, throw the other shoe already so we can all go back to sleep!”

As an avid follower of the fames and misfortunes of “The Good Wife” for the last couple of months, I’ve been experiencing the anxiety of the neighbors mentioned above, suspended in the quiet hiatus between the thud of the first shoe and the imminent dropping of the other. Rumors about the approaching demise of the series started at the beginning of its seventh season, with the creators – Michelle and Robert King – letting it be known that they do not intend to be there forever. The fact that the creator is willing to let go of his or her creature in order to attend to other matters does not necessarily spell the end of a phenomenon created in TV land. In the case of “The Good Wife,” with Sir Ridley Scott as one of its executive producers, the series and the wife could have lived on and on as long as ratings permitted.

But in this case the rumors were borne out and the verdict was delivered: The 22nd and final episode of the 7th season and the 156th and last episode of the entire series will be broadcast in the U.S. on CBS on May 8, this coming Sunday, (which is also the 71st anniversary of V-E Day, most probably a coincidence). Yes Stars Drama will channel it in Israel a mere two days later (Tuesday at 18.15). So the suspense will be over concerning the two main questions hanging in the air, the first being: Can Alicia Florrick (played with inimitable composure by Julianna Margulies) still be referred to as “The Wife”? The second question is: What does the adjective “Good” mean by now, in the current context – especially compared to what we thought seven years ago, when we first saw her standing on the dais next to her then disgraced husband, former State Attorney of Cook County Peter Florrick. He is being played until the (bitter? happy?) end by Chris Noth (Mr. Big of “Sex and the City”) and is a recurrent character in the series, as opposed to his wife, the main character.

Relegated to ‘recurrent’

That character distinction – main vs. recurring – means a lot in terms of billing and pay for the actors. But in this particular series, with its plot and title, it acquires an added meaning: There can be no wife without a husband, but it is her story, not his. It is about her, but the plot concerns mainly what she is doing (and how) when faced with what has happened or is happening to him. The trigger for the series, and the inspiration for its title, were real-life press conferences by lapsed politicians. That may be a tautology, but I refer to males on the public scene, mainly in politics, facing the music for their corruption, marital infidelity, or both, like Eliott Spitzer or Bill Clinton. Their faithful, forgiving, understanding wives stand next to them, maintaining a very stiff upper lip. So it just sounds right in these current post-feminist days of ours that the wife, a woman, is the main character, with the husband, the man, relegated to recurrent status.

I will not be guilty of any spoilers here for the very simple reason that I don’t know more about how it will end. I do know there is going to be a scene in the last episode in which Alicia stands next to Peter in a situation that is supposed to remind us of where they were when it all started. Since then he was in jail and out, ran for governor of Illinois and won, and tried to win a presidential nomination and gave up. Their marriage by now is an empty shell; they are de facto separated, both keeping up appearances while planning to get a divorce. Now here is a possibility for a surprise. She had a couple of affairs or quasi-affairs (he had many), and one of her love interests, Will Gardner, was killed off in season 5 – will he be resurrected for the finale?

Reflecting on the arc of the series – a good woman sacrifices her own life and career for the sake of her no-good-husband, and now has to fend for herself, without him and yet with him around – one cannot help concluding that it has been a long, twisted and perfidious plot by the creators of the series, against their own female protagonist. The life of the series (and the wife) depended on “the good wife” needing to clear the hurdles placed on her independent way; again and again she has had to pull herself out of the mire they dragged her into.

So here’s hoping that this good wife will end up finding herself in a better place than when it all started. When she was good, she was not very good, actually. But then, she was never really horrid. It was good while it lasted, but already she is as good as gone. And we can all finally go back to sleep.