While notable when a show reaches 100 episodes, it’s a landmark for it to also be at its finest point, as is “The Good Wife.”
CBS’ compelling drama marks its 100th episode at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, and its makers allowed Zap2it a rare set visit during that taping. This was just after the series-changing episode when Alicia Florrick and Cary Agos (Julianna Margulies, Matt Czuchry) were fired.
Starting their own firm revitalized the show. Though set in Chicago, it’s created in an industrial section of Brooklyn, where quiet efficiency prevails. However at Florrick/Agos, which resembles a forgotten municipal department, there’s the frantic chatter of worry.
In the 100th episode, Alicia expects to meet with the acerbic David Lee (Zach Grenier). Instead, Colin (Jason O’Mara) arrives, explaining Alicia’s former partner “would rather negotiate with the devil. Me? I don’t care who I negotiate with.”
Colin foolishly expects her to sign without reading her exit contract, and he tries to chat her up, oozing Irish charm. Annoyance crosses Alicia’s face.
While the crew prepares for the next scene, Margulies kicks off killer heels and reflects on the show.
“What I love about playing her is it’s uncharted territory,” she says. “What I love about my character is it allows me to grow with her. In theater and film, you come with a full knowledge of the beginning, middle and end.”
During the five seasons, Alicia went from a political wife embarrassed by her husband’s dalliances with prostitutes, his downfall and imprisonment. She had stopped practicing law to raise their two children, and when she returned, it was to Lockhart/Gardner. She had an affair with senior partner Will Gardner (Josh Charles), with whom Alicia has a history going back to law school.
Cary, too, evolved. He began as a newly minted law school graduate. He was fired, worked for two state’s attorneys, returned to Lockhart/Gardner, was promoted and is launching a firm with Alicia.
“I’ve always looked at this character as ambitious and competitive and wanting to do what it takes to get to the top,” Czuchry says.
Alicia, who rarely makes a misstep, is showing the same qualities. She’s savvy, political and very smart. She’s a great mom, and despite her husband’s tawdry behavior, they have a solid marriage, or at least one of understanding each other.
Governor-elect Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) loves and respects his wife and is in a position to help, to reciprocate for her being a good wife.
“What does it mean to be a good wife, a good employer, a good lawyer?” asks Rosemary Rodriguez, who’s directing the 100th episode. “She has her own interpretation of what that means.”
Margulies sees Alicia as a great mom and wonders if the character would have advised her daughter to leave a marriage like Alicia’s.
“She is constantly exploring who she is,” Margulies says. “People have been asking since the beginning, ‘Why do women feel so akin to Alicia?’ She’s not flashy. And with her marriage, when you scrape the bottom of the barrel, there is nowhere to go but up.”
Alicia loves the challenge of starting a firm. It’s more than she has no fear of fighting Lockhart/Gardner; she relishes it.
“The firm going forward is going to have struggles,” Czuchry says.
Gardner’s mission is to obliterate Florrick/Agos while taking Lockhart/Gardner national. But the new firm won’t surrender easily, which is clear in the 100th episode.
In a director’s chair, Czuchry smiles as he mulls the intricacies of the plots and what viewers have invested over five years.
“The audience members who have followed along get a payoff for your time,” he says.