“The Good Wife” returns for its fifth season on September 29. Though the show will become a member of the rarefied 100-episode club this season, it has never felt fresher or timelier. Executive producer Robert King summed it up: “At times, it feels like we are basically the old kid on the block, looking at all of these new, relevant shows coming up. And then Anthony Weiner sends a text, and Eliot Spitzer’s madam runs against him for comptroller.”
This season on the serialized CBS drama masquerading as a procedural, all hell will break loose when Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Cary (Matt Czuchry) break away from Lockhart-Gardner to launch their own law firm. Alicia has also gone from scorned wife to governor’s wife.
Here are five things you need to know about the upcoming season that will change every single thing about “The Good Wife.”
1. Lockhart-Gardner Versus the NSA. Edward Snowden’s revelation that the NSA is monitoring the communications of numerous United States citizens is the perfect issue for “The Good Wife” to tackle. Fortunately, the prescient show already planted the seeds for what will become a major plot in the fifth season. ”One of the things we’re doing is this NSA storyline, which kind of offers a framework for the year,” King reveals. “In the third [season], the law firm represented a terrorist sympathizer named Danny Marwat, and what they haven’t realized is they’ve been listened to all this time because they’re one hop way from a terrorist. So we’re using that as framework this year, and it’s going to bend and shape itself based on how the NSA’s ‑‑ let’s not call it a scandal yet ‑‑ the NSA discussion opens up during the year.”
2. Civil (Litigation) War. Will (Josh Charles) and Diane (Christine Baranski) will not take Alicia and Cary’s exit from Lockhart-Gardner, taking along several of its major clients, lightly. Says King, “We kind of want to get the audience whetted with this difficulty of betraying your firm. We’ve been interviewing a lot of partners and agencies, too, not just law firms, about what it’s like when they leave and take clients, and it’s a sh*t storm. So what we want is the quiet before the sh*t storm.” According to Julianne Margulies, Alicia is motivated by more than a desire for professional autonomy. “I think she’s leaving the law firm because she knows, if she stays there, in her ‑‑ in her peripheral vision — will always be Will, and she can’t move forward with her commitment to saying yes to becoming First Lady of Illinois and trying to make a go at this family as long as she and Will are working together.”
3. Alicia the FLOI. Alicia is suddenly one of the most powerful people in Illinois. She is well aware that she is no longer the long-suffering woman who smiled bravely through adversity. Her loyalty to Peter has been rewarded. She is aware that the clients who flock to her are doing so because they hope she can open doors for them, not because they believe she is brilliant. Says Margulies, “I think she knows very clearly that she changed her status in her professional life by being the governor-elect’s wife and then the governor’s wife. She’s very aware that she’s choosing a slippery slope that might not really be natural to her.”
4. New and Returning Guest Stars. “The Good Wife” has created many memorable guest roles, from quirky attorney Elsbeth (Carrie Preston) to ballistics expert Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole). Fortunately, they, and several other favorites, are back. Elsbeth will appear in multiple episodes. McVeigh returns at the beginning of the season. “McVeigh and Diane are still on the brink of getting married, so we’re going to see if Diane will sacrifice that for the judgeship or go with him,” King teased. Natalie Flores (America Ferrara), last seen in Season 2, will also return and possibly rekindle her flirtation with Eli. “She brings a case to Alicia’s law firm that involves immigration and the person who crosses paths with them is Eli,” says King. Several new guest stars will also appear. Talia Balsam will play a reporter. Melissa George will play a woman who may tempt Peter to stray. Ben Rappaport will be an attorney at the new firm and Jeffrey Tambor will play one of the show’s always-amusing judges.
5. A New Love for Kalinda. Most fans disliked the Season 4 storyline in which Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) ended up in a kinky relationship with her violent ex-husband. King admits, “Look, I kind of take it as a personal failing because it was something I grabbed at. And then I looked back on it and said, okay, my problem there was I went after theme and not character… I thought it was an interesting theme, how it would kind of parallel Alicia’s relationship with Peter but on a more Kalinda-ish operatic plane.” This season, he plans to make up for that misstep by exploring Kalinda’s relationship with Holly (Juliet Rylance), a State’s Attorney. “What we really imagine is someone who is this wild party girl who out-wilds Kalinda and also feels Kalinda’s closeted, that you should be a little more up front than you are. We love this idea of someone who tries to pull Kalinda out of herself.”
The fifth season of “The Good Wife” premieres Sunday, Sept. 29 at 9/8c on CBS.