Heart still racing? Check. Eyes dry from not blinking for the last 10 minutes? Check. Jaw sore from dropping multiple times? Check. Stomach in knots? Check.
The best television produces physical reactions in us, and tonight’s game-changing episode of “The Good Wife” did just that — to an exponential degree.
The entire season has been leading up to this moment: when Will and Diane find out that Alicia and Cary are leaving the firm and taking their top clients. And even more specifically, how would Will react to Alicia’s betrayal?
Will went into commando mode, first arranging to vote out Alicia as a partner and having her escorted out of the building. He then rallied his troops to keep their clients by spreading rumors about Alicia.
But Alicia has come too far; she isn’t the vulnerable woman she used to be. She attacked Will in return, and by the end, managed to win over at least one major client. It’s enough for Florrick/Agos to spread their wings.
Watch a key scene from tonight's "Good WIfe" right here:
The law firm’s “divorce” has been long in the planning, executive producer Robert King told reporters last week, as a way of separating Alicia and Will.
“It felt like there was a slight sense we were repeating ourselves. Once you have this love triangle, it's kind of a monkey on your back in many ways, because there are only so many ways to tell that story afresh,” he explained. “And so it seemed more exciting to see the reverse side of it, what happens when you throw a bomb into the middle of that relationship.”
Star Archie Panjabi described “Hitting the Fan” to Yahoo TV as a kind of “reboot” for the series.
The firm’s rupture will have lasting consequences for all the characters and their relationships — not just Alicia and Will, but Alicia and Kalinda, and Cary and Kalinda. In the episode, Kalinda chooses to side with Will, and even digs up some dirt using Cary.
“Alicia didn't tell her she was going, so I think she felt very betrayed by that. They've had a very solid friendship, and to find out through the other investigator hurt her,” Panjabi said.
As King noted, “It's the kind of betrayal we all face, which we make a promise to one friend, and then we find out, in the end, ‘Oh s--t, by making that promise, I've really hurt this other friend.’”
Alicia’s move will also have major ripple effects on Peter, her husband and the governor-elect. Already, Peter has taken actions that could be considered ethically questionable — a big problem spot for his administration. He’s already been to prison once, and it’s certainly a possibility he could end up there again.
[Photos: Flip Through Pics From 'The Good Wife']
“Peter, one of his Achilles' heels is ethical infractions in defense of his family, which is what other characters will point out later, because it's kind of ironic because he can hurt his family all he wants, but if anybody else tries to do it, he goes absolutely tribal,” King said.
Not only that, but the past could come back to haunt Peter. If you recall, Will helped cover up the Florrick campaign’s voter fraud. But now Will has little reason to shield Peter.
“All the alliances that go into Episode 5 are now shaken up… The reasons people kept secrets had a little to do with their personal connections, and obviously with the professional worry about keeping their jobs,” King said. “Now a lot of those calculuses, let's say, have been thrown asunder.”
And so where do we go from here? Alicia may have won her battle this week, but the road ahead isn’t going to be easy.
“What you're going to see is an Alicia who wants to do it better, who wants to do what happened over the last four years better,” King explained. “That's a struggle for everybody — you start with great idealism, and then you begin to realize, well, the rent has to be paid.”
However unclear and unknown the future is, Alicia is a fundamentally different person that she was four years ago, and even last week.
“The next episode after [“Hitting the Fan”] — what we really want is kind of a warrior princess,” King laughed. “There's this kind of gauntlet that's set down between her and Will that makes her a more competitive person, and she's sent off on a warpath, so it's very much a change."
“In fact, in the writers' room, we found that we had some stories that we had to completely rebuild going off into the future, because suddenly it was a different Alicia, an Alicia that was a little more ballsy, that was kicking ass, and kind of enjoying kicking ass.”
"The Good Wife" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on CBS.