I love THE GOOD WIFE. Season One is one of the best seasons of television, period. And the best thing about this show has always been the relationship between Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) and Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi). Unfortunately, two decisions made by the writers have irreparably damaged this relationship, and consequently the series. First, at the end of Season Two the writers decided to reveal that Kalinda slept with Alicia's husband during her stint at the State's Attorney's office two years before the show began. This undermined the friendship that had grown between these two very different women. And second, in Season Four, they brought in new character Nick (Marc Warren), Kalinda's long-lost abusive husband. This guy shows up in the first episode of Season Four as a thug with a criminal record attempting to use Lockhart Gardner to help him get a towing contract from the State. But his real motive is to move in on Kalinda again and get his hands on some money he believes she stole from him.
The problem here is that Kalinda has always been portrayed as a strong and self-sufficient woman. Yes, she was "mysterious," and it was obvious from the start that she had secrets she was hiding, but it seems totally against character to portray her locked in a love-hate battle with an abusive lunatic. While things are left a bit murky as to what Kalinda's relationship with Nick really is, they are shown punching each other, going full-on martial arts with each other, pulling guns on each other, and having what can only be called sadomasochistic sex with each other. In fact, their first "sex scene" looks very much like rape, although it is left up in the air as to whether or not Kalinda was into the whole rape scenario.
This storyline permeates the first half of Season Four, and the first ten episodes are undeniably marred by its presence. By mid-season, however, the writers seemed to get it (fans were not happy), and Nick was abruptly written out (although his story was left open-ended).
I didn't really begin enjoying Season Four until episode 11 ("Boom De Yah Da"), which is the first without Nick's appearance. There's also a great scene in that episode between Alicia and Kalinda that recalls their relationship in the first two seasons. Julianna Margulies has said that she herself could never forgive a friend who had done what Kalinda did (sleeping with Peter), and I think the writers have been influenced by her feelings about the storyline. That's unfortunate, since I've missed the Alicia/Kalinda friendship and hope to see it get back on track in Season Five.
There are some good characters in Season Four, including the return of Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox), Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston), and Mike Kresteva (Mathew Perry). Notable new additions include Clarke Hayden (Nathan Lane), a trustee appointed to help Lockhart Gardner avoid bankruptcy, and Maddie Haywood (Maura Tierney), a wealthy woman who befriends Alicia and then becomes competition for Peter. THE GOOD WIFE has always been adept at using guest stars to great advantage, and Season Four is no exception.
Overall, if you're a fan of the series (and I most definitely am), you won't want to miss Season Four. There's plenty of drama as Lockhart Gardner tries to survive an impending financial crisis, and Peter's run for the governorship is equally compelling. Just be aware of the weak first half. I'm also disappointed in the writers' decision to continue with the on-again-off-again Alicia/Will romance. While believable, a romantic relationship between these two characters makes Alicia seem weaker, and more vulnerable to the same kinds of things she dealt with in her marriage to Peter. That said, the conflict in Alicia's mind between her very understandable sexual attraction to Will and her commitment to her husband and children is compelling. The final moments of Season Four set up a scenario for Season Five that may or may not mean she has finally chosen one path over the other - but the writers leave it brilliantly inscrutable. Will Alicia jump back into a passionate liaison with Will, or will she recommit to Peter and her family? It's a delicious dilemma, and I, for one, can't wait!
First half of Season Four: 2 stars
Second half of Season Four: 4 stars
Overall: 3 stars