It’s a bloodbath, metaphorically speaking, in the fifth instalment of the award-winning TV drama, The Good Wife. Relationships are strained by chancy ambition and leverage becomes the holy grail in the legal playground at Lockhart & Gardner and the overarching political world. Debashine Thangevelo gets Julianna Margulies’s take on what is to come as the series also celebrates its 100th episode this season.
JULIANNA Margulies has been blessed in her television career. With the critically acclaimed ER under her belt, she has made tsunami-like waves as Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife. And she still managed to maintain her creative reach on the big screen.
Her sterling portrayal of a conflicted politician’s wife has bagged her a plethora of awards since the series first aired in 2009.
And if history has proved anything, it is that politically charged offerings with tantalising trimmings of sex, scandal, corruption and drama are the holy grail of profit for the networks.
On The Good Wife making it to season five, the actress said: “It doesn’t feel like the fifth season. I have more excitement about this season than I have any season, to be honest. The first season I was so overwhelmed by it all and the second season you’re trying to keep the momentum going, you know, and then all of a sudden… you’re in year five and the writing is even better. I feel like I just landed in a pot of gold.”
With the series reaching its 100th episode this season, she said: “It’s a milestone to shoot that many episodes and I remember the feeling on ER, thinking, ‘100 episodes, that’s crazy’. You know, we are talking 84-page scripts, so if you look at a feature-length film, they are usually about 125 to 130 pages, maybe a little longer, and we shoot that amount in eight days and, thank God, it’s quality writing and work. So it’s something definitely to be proud of and I’m over the moon we’ve made it this far. I think audiences really have responded in an incredibly positive way to the show and I do think it’s just getting better and better.”
To quickly recap, season four ended with Alicia making a decision about joining Cary and forming their own firm.
Margulies shed light on the first episode of the new season: “Alicia chooses to leave her firm because she knows as long as she is there she will always be – her heart will always be – with Will and she can’t live like that, not after recommitting to her husband. And she starts her own firm, or talks about starting her own firm, with Cary.
“It picks up that exact night. We open the episode and you see Alicia and Cary on their second bottle of wine in her kitchen, getting a little drunk and realising this could be the best thing that’s ever happened.”
Obviously this decision will create serious ripples at Lockhart & Gardner. Partially buying into Cary’s belief that they are the new Will and Diane, Alicia seems to be temporarily placated. However, they don’t leave immediately as it would mean forfeiting their bonuses.
In the meantime, Alicia, while watching Will and Diane and how they work together, realises she Cary don’t share the same kind of relationship.
Talking about the big changes in her character’s life, Margulies said: “Her husband is elected governor, she is now the first lady, and she is going to figure out how to leave the firm. They have to steal some clients. It’s ugly and it gets really ugly and it’s going to be a very tense season because of it.”
Thankfully, her new status has incredible perks, too. She laughed: “Being the governor’s wife gives her tremendous status as a lawyer and it has completely opened the door for her. It made her a partner at Lockhart & Gardner. They could have chosen anyone – she was much more valuable to them as the governor’s wife.”
Given her feelings for Will, the decision to expropriate major clients to her new firm will cause irreparable damage to their relationship.
“The three biggest clients she is taking with her is such a blow to Lockhart & Gardner. She takes Chumhum, the drug kingpin Lemond Bishop and Sweeney – that’s at least $44 million a year in business for Lockhart & Gardner. So it’s not just that she is leaving the firm to start her own, she is stabbing them in the back and even though I truly do believe Alicia doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, it’s the cruellest thing she could do to two people who were there for her when she had no one.
“It’s a bloodbath. If we were Game of Thrones there would be a lot of actual blood, but because we’re lawyers in pretty clothing, there’s just a lot of really smart words and emotions.”
And then there is Diane. The actress admitted, “it’s going to get very, very horribly tense and it’s going to be pretty devastating”.
As for her relationship with Eli Gold, the gatekeeper to all things scandalous and the new chief of staff of the governor’s office, she noted: “The only people who know about Alicia and Will are Eli Gold and Diane. And Diane doesn’t really know the extent of it. Eli knows. And it will elevate his character; he kind of knows all my secrets, so it elevates the friendship as well and I think it’s going to be pretty beautiful and pretty devastating.”
• The Good Wife, on M-Net (DStv channel 101) tonight at 8.30pm.