‘The Good Wife’ Season 6 Episode 20 Recap: “The Deconstruction”

“The Deconstruction,” the latest episode of The Good Wife‘s tepid sixth season, is a perfect encapsulation of everything that’s wrong with the season as a whole. Made up of three plots, each a train wreck in their own special way, the episode is nothing if not a completely underwhelming, yet apropos send-off for Kalinda Sharma, a character the show never had any clue how to utilize properly.

Kalinda’s plot, most important if only because it brought some level of finality to the episode, is exactly what one might have expected approximately halfway through the season. Put in a situation she cannot escape from, Kalinda sacrifices herself for the benefit of both Diane and Cary, and steals evidence to use against Lemond Bishop. In the process, she frames one of Lemond’s main associates, a cover almost immediately blown by a well-meaning, if blundering, Cary. As such, Kalinda is forced to bounce with only a vague phone call to Diane and an unspecified note to Alicia left in way of a goodbye.

It’s been clear for awhile that Kalinda’s exit from the show (due to Archie Panjabi moving on) would somehow be related to Lemond Bishop but the plot managed a few surprises still, though some for all the wrong reasons. For one, Kalinda wasn’t killed, meaning that, theoretically, there’s a chance she’ll resurface at some point in the show’s future but the other surprise from the plot suggests that fans may not want to hold their breath in anticipation. Hands down, the most surprising and really entertaining thing about the entire episode was the fact that The Good Wife managed to send Kalinda off without having her and Alicia share a scene. So much so that Kalinda was inside Alicia’s apartment with Grace, yet Alicia was conveniently absent during her visit. The reason this is astounding is the fact that this episode makes it a full 50 episodes since Archie Panjabi and Julianna Margulies shared a scene in which they were in the same room. No one has any idea what happened to spur such drastic measures on the show but you have to imagine it’s pretty severe if they couldn’t even convince the two to share a stage for a metaphorical “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” scene.

Meanwhile, Alicia finds herself embroiled in the worst, most hackneyed sitcom trope of all time: the comic misunderstanding. Hoping to return to Lockhart, Agos, and Lee after being forced to resign her position as state’s attorney, Alicia speaks to a client on the phone and gathers that the firm is opting not to invite her back to work, despite them assuring her that they were. The situation escalates out of control and a misunderstanding that could have easily be cleared up if anyone at all had just stopped to ask someone else, “Wait, what’s going on?” Instead, it spins its wheels for 20 minutes before everything is happily cleared up.

Except it isn’t. It doesn’t end up working out because resident pain-in-the-ass client R.D. nixes Alicia rejoining the firm, claiming that he only works with people who have integrity, despite Cary nearly going to prison a few months ago, Diane nearly being disbarred last week, and David Lee being, well, David Lee. He goes on to detail that the Florrick name as a whole is sullied and that he won’t be associated with it, to which everyone pretty much shrugs and says, “Welp, what are you gonna do?” This is an issue for many reasons, not the least of which is that R.D. has no discernible purpose on the show, other than to be a conservative foil for Diane’s liberal leanings, leaving them bickering and talking over each other like a rerun from one of The West Wing’s terrible seasons. The plot goes nowhere and Alicia is left in the exact same position she started the episode in.

Also in this episode, Diane represents a little old lady who’s busted for drugs when she’s caught unknowingly mailing MDMA for her grandson. Diane tries a lot of different ways to negotiate around the mandatory minimum sentence looming for the woman before Kalinda magically saves the day at the end because apparently no one knows how to do their job and Kalinda has been single-handedly propping up the firm since day one.

The loss of Kalinda is a significant one for The Good Wife and not just because Archie Panjabi has always been capable of so much more than the material often provided for her. For too long, Kalinda has been an easy patch the show could use to smooth over tough story elements, as she functioned much like a slightly nefarious fairy godmother, granting wishes and making magic with little regard for the legal system. Without that, plots holes will be that much harder to write around and season six has left a lot to be desired on that front. Kalinda may be free from the chains of The Good Wife, but the rest of us aren’t yet so lucky. There are two episodes left in season six, still plenty of opportunity to go out on a strong note and leave audiences looking forward (ideally) to a stronger (ideally) seventh and (ideally) final season.

Here’s hoping.

Quick hits

  • The opening scene featuring Alicia’s resignation was a conscious mirroring of the opening scene of the show’s pilot, in which Peter resigns from office. It was quite effective in its execution.
  • Alicia and Grace watching To Kill a Mockingbird was great insight to how Alicia is really feeling at the moment about practicing law and maybe politics altogether.
  • Kalinda stealing the files was super tense and made me a little sick to my stomach.
  • “I wanna get this horse off my back.” “Monkey.” “Huh?” “Monkey off your back.” “No. Horse.” Okay, that exchange between the old woman and the pre-sentencing officer (the returning Linda Lavin!) was pretty great.
  • Peter is really solid in this evolving sort of husband/sort of not role. I’m hoping that doesn’t rule out smooches for Alicia and Finn, though.
  • Alicia might write a book because sure.
  • Kalinda’s note made Alicia sob. What do you think it said?
  • Now I miss Marisa AND Robyn.
  • Opening credit appearance: 10:21