Oh, The Good Wife.
While other shows moving into season six are starting to feel a little tired, a little less must-watch than they used to be, The Good Wife Season 5 rejuvenated the show and, judging by The Good Wife Season 6 Episode 1, the series is as strong as ever.
Shockingly, much of the action in the premiere revolved around the sudden arrest of Cary Agos on what seems to be bogus drug charges - but with criminal Lemond Bishop involved, it’s going to be more complicated to spring him from jail and move forward with his life. A
lso, there’s the matter of Diane joining Florrick/Agos and Eli’s intention to get Alicia to run for the State’s Attorney office.
What a perfect time, then, to talk to series creators Robert and Michelle King, right? The married writers provided much insight into Cary’s journey, Alicia’s potential romance with Finn and a whole lot more as we move into fresh episodes this fall...
TV Fanatic: First off, what’s tougher for you as writers? The season finales or premieres?
Robert King/Michelle King: (together) Premieres.
RK: Premieres are difficult. It’s weird. You’re trying to set up so many things and, you know what, it has the same pressure as a pilot. A pilot has to feel delicately calm and yet it has to set up so much so I think the problem with the premiere is you want to entice the audience that there’s more story to tell so that means opening with a lot of questions…I think this is one of our more open-ended premieres.
MK: The difficulty with premieres is that often you have a lot to set up that you don’t to feel like a set up.
TVF: So tell me about Cary’s journey this season since a lot of the premiere was centered around him.
RK: Matt Czuchry has been so good on the show and has never really been the center of the show much so we were intent this season on correcting that. Look, I find it fascinating when the world seems to look at you as a criminal so that was the idea of that line. Matt is on one side of the line in that hallway and it’s like we don’t recognize him, almost like we can’t even see him. If you’re on the other side of that line, you’re seen as an upstanding citizen.
MK: Of course, what’s also intriguing for us with the Cary storyline is how it all impacts Alicia. He’s her law partner, she’s the Governor’s wife, she’s being pursued to run for State’s Attorney. It really brings into question how much she can afford to be loyal to Cary, how much she might need to distance herself and how does she function in the capacity?
TVF: I love that moment where Cary is in the hallway walking with the other inmates and Kalinda walks by and doesn’t see him and he can’t even call out to her.
RK: It’s that nightmare feeling. I think the worst parts of nightmares are not monsters or bugs or things like that it’s when you’re screaming at someone in your nightmare and they don’t even see you. I think that was a living nightmare, obviously for Cary and hopefully for the audience, that you’re seen as one of the criminals and nobody sees you again. That’s why there are all those scenes about him being stripped naked. He’s being pulled apart in many ways by the system to be made just one of the guys who is a criminal.
TVF: I want to ask about Alicia and the Finn relationship. You want them to have that romantic spark but it looks like their work is going to get in the way, which we see in the premiere. Is that what we’ll see in the coming episodes?
RK: Yeah, we really felt with Finn we went back to the beginning of his part in the show which was being across from Will, Josh Charles, and how much fun it was to see two people that were at the top of their game kind of using wits to get over each other in court. So we wanted to return to that kind of fight so it wasn’t Finn as best friend or a potential love interest. Finn is someone who is very good at his job and can unsettle Alicia.
TVF: So much of last season was the battle of the firms and with Diane possibly heading to Florrick/Agos, what will we see and how won’t it repeat what we saw last season? I mean, I love seeing Michael J. Fox and Zach Grenier kind of twirling their moustaches and plotting!
RK: You’re right to use the word repeat. The show doesn’t really want to repeat itself and for a little while that’s going to recede a bit and pop up in things. We love Zach Grenier, who plays David Lee, and Michael J Fox, who seems to be willing to do more episodes, but we also want to break with the idea of them as Snidely Whiplash guys so occasionally they’ll be in a story that won’t have to do with them as antagonists or villains.
MK: What’s also fun in the idea of repeating ourselves. obviously we would like to avoid it as people who work on the show but the characters don’t want to repeat themselves. They see what other folks have done and they are willing to do things in a new way.
TVF: Let’s talk about Kalinda. I love what she has with Cary but Kelli Giddish is also back for the premiere. Will Kelli be around more?
RK: Kelli Giddish is amazing.
MK: For Kelli, the issue with us is always her commitment to SVU. So as much as we can pry her out of Dick Wolf’s hands, that’s when you’ll see her!
RK: She’s only in one episode at this point but what I think this new development in the first episode does is it puts [Kalinda] into more of a voyeur mode. There are two things I like about Archie as the character of Kalinda and one is her as superhero in many ways and the other is when she’s vulnerable through her relationships or vulnerable through her competition like Lemond Bishop, the drug dealer.
TVF: You have such a great corral of actors and characters like Carrie Preston or even Mike Colter, who we see in the premiere as Bishop. When do you dip into that corral? It sometimes seems almost random how some pop up but I’m guessing it’s really not.
RK: It’s not random in that we really can only write when we know we have the actors. Like, for example, we knew that Mike Colter had done brilliant work on Halo, based on the video game, and we knew we could do this plot line and could only get him for seven or eight episodes so we had to make it agree with him
Carrie Preston was a problem only up until this year because she was on True Blood and we knew we could get her for two or three episodes so we were always making those episodes as a feature of Elsbeth but this year we might use her more because we can. We have her for two episodes already, episodes five and six, and our hope is to use her again.
The year is plotted out based on our original understanding of our questions and answers for the year and what those peaks are to answer those questions but then those peaks are moved around based on availability of actors.
TVF: Talk to me about Eli this season. A lot of the premiere is setting up Alicia to run for State’s Attorney but he’s also always having to keep tabs on Peter. What will we see with him this season?
MK: First of all, Alan Cumming, you never think he can get any better but then he does. We love the fact that in season six we’re going to get to see more of Eli and Alicia as well as Eli and Peter. It’s just so fun to watch the comedy and the sparring.
RK: I think the key this year is Eli has a problem since Alicia has said definitely no to running and Peter has said definitely no to running and his first mission is having to convince those two people who are instrumental to her running that she should run, which puts Eli completely in scheming mode, which is always obviously fun to see.
What we hope with Eli this year is that he‘s the go-between in a power couple. He is involved in a relationship that is basically not centered on love anymore but centered on the ability to gain power for each other. So how can Eli maneuver because he needs these people to be good with each other?
The Good Wife Season 6 airs Sundays at 9/8c on CBS.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.