As viewers of “The Good Wife” already know (or are about to be very surprised to learn), Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) and Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi) haven’t appeared on screen together since the middle of season 4 — more than two years. With Panjabi’s run on the show almost up — her character departed last week, but reappeared in flashbacks this week, and showrunners Robert and Michelle King have said she’ll make an appearance in the Season 6 finale — speculation has grown about whether Margulies and Panjabi will kiss and make up on screen. I hope they don’t.
No one outside of the actresses’ inner circles knows the nature of the presumed rupture between them — and, almost incredibly for an industry where scandals leak every day, there aren’t even any noteworthy rumors. (I thought I’d heard one, but on further investigation, it turned out to be a plot from “The Good Wife.”) The situation is unusual to say the least. We’ve all heard plenty of stories of actors who worked together harmoniously but hated each others’ guts off set, and of supporting players bounced from a series because the star didn’t want them around. But an actor continuing on a series for more than two years without once being in the same room as the show’s protagonist? That is, as far as I know, unheard-of, and deeply, deeply odd.
Without ever commenting on the situation beyond asserting that Alicia and Kalinda’s friendship had run its course, dramatically speaking, the Kings have exploited the bizarre situation for diegetic impact: When the two spoke after Will Gardner’s death, the scene carried extra weight, even though the conversation took place entirely over the phone. But in attempting to give Kalinda a worthy send off, the show has been backed into a corner, and not always handled it gracefully. Kalinda dropping by Alicia’s apartment to leave her a farewell note was a nice touch, but the newly shot flashback of the two of them clowning around in totally separate shots felt awkward and forced. The show repeated the trick this week, with one brief flashback to a scene from the first season’s “Hybristophilia” of the two sharing a drink at a bar, and a new conversation conducted entirely in close-ups — again with no shot of the two actresses occupying the same physical space.
On the one hand, it seems ridiculous for Kalinda, who, whatever paths their lives have taken them down since, was once one of Alicia’s closest friends, to leave the show and Alicia’s life without so much as a hug. But at this point, putting the two women together would feel even stranger than keeping them apart, and would make avoiding questions about why it hasn’t happened for so long unavoidable. Another movie-magic encounter between them is likewise undesirable, especially now that “The Good Wife” has used up the small bag of tricks available to them. It’s a shame Kalinda’s storylines have suffered so much over the last couple of years; it’s not easy to come up with plots for a character who can’t share scenes with the show’s protagonist. But it’s over now, and unless Alicia’s going to bid a tearful farewell to a mop in a leather jacket, it’s time to let the relationship die.