My initial plan to write something on the weirdly counter-intuitive development of the Alicia/Kalinda dynamic on The Good Wife was eclipsed by the *devastating news that Archie Panjabi is leaving the show at the end of the next season.
*I’m not being hyperbolic when I say devastating but I’m also being especially subjective because I’m conscious that Kalinda Sharma, her inscrutable nature and her journey in the legal world of Chicago has not always been a uniformly loved one by fans of the show.
Writing an obituary on the character is premature with eighteen episodes left before the season’s end. With the news of Kalinda's departure next year, I’m more intrigued in examining the oft-discussed but never truly examined issue of the Kalinda/Alicia frostbite that’s plagued the show since the middle of season four, which I had intended to do since Sunday before this news blindsided me.
And, why has the Kalinda/Alicia arc been such an essential thing for fans over the seasons of the show? It's more than just the dearth of non-confrontational female friendships on the TV landscape, the way savvy Kalinda Sharma and housewife turned legal savant Alicia Florrick hit it off from their first episode together became a constant source of certainty in the sometimes turbulent world of (then) Lockhart/Gardner. Two ladies, circumspect in different ways, open up to each other and become essential to each other. Margulies and Panjabi's rapport has always been effective, so that by time the show's fortieth episode comes around (one of its best “Ham Sandwich” comes around) we get how Kalinda giving out her address is something significant.
Of course the delightful “Ham Sandwich” is the beginning of the end because the biggest bombshell of The Good Wife lands at the end of the episode when we find out that once upon a time in a time before Kalinda, she had a one night liaison with Peter Florrick. That was March in 2011, two months later in May Alicia found out. Things have never been the same since....
“I think that [the relationship] is kind of played out because of circumstance. I doubt she'll be able to trust that friendship fully. I think Kalinda's character seems to have gone in a different direction. What keeps the show interesting and sort of satisfying is to see other people come into the central character's life to open her up. She needs female friendship, but she needs to start from scratch. She can't be pouring her heart out to someone who once slept with her husband. I mean, it's just not going to happen. It doesn't seem realistic. As much as I think the relationship worked in the beginning because Kalinda is such an independent, sort of suffragette woman -- it helped Alicia to see she didn't need to be a wallflower housewife anymore -- but I think there have been too many twists and turns there. To bring it back would be going backwards instead of moving forward. And there are only so many scenes at a bar you can do. [Laughs.] I do think what it did -- which is fantastic -- is it opened up a world to Alicia where she's going to realize she needs female friendship. In a certain way, having Dallas Roberts' character on the show -- her gay brother -- gave us an inkling, sort of a moment into that. Having Stockard Channing come into her life allows us to sort of see what her life was and how she was raised and why she is the way she is.” (24 April, 2013 Huffington Post)
The way Julianna surmised that the relationship was played out always struck me as odd, for myriad reasons. Especially because, even though things had not been the same since May 2011, the show - thus far - had not made the relationship between the two impossible. Her words in 2013 seemed to be forgetting the previous year of the show. Let's take a journey back to the Kalinda/Alicia relationship after the Peter bombshell.