The Good Wife: We Need to Talk About Kalinda
Archie Panjabi | Photo Credits: Jeffrey Neira/CBS
We're just going to say it: What the hell is going on with Kalinda?
Since the Season 2 revelation that Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) has an estranged husband on The Good Wife, viewers — including us — have been waiting with bated breath to meet him. We got our wish with the introduction of Nick (Marc Warren) this season — and now we wish we could take it back.
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In just three episodes, between their elevator throwdowns and 50 Shades of Ice Cream rendezvous, the weird, toxic, twisted dynamic between these two have turned a fan-favorite character into a frustrating, potentially loathed one. Worse, it's becoming increasingly hard just to care. About Kalinda. About Nick. About all of it.
Kalinda has always been the most enigmatic and sexualized character of The Good Wife, but since Nick's arrival — whether by poor design or perhaps pressure to live up to fans' expectations of their relationship — the writers/producers have been overdoing it with the subtlety of an anvil. That infamous ice cream scene, buzzed about for so long online, was laughable, awkward and not the least bit sexy. (Don't even get us started on how he was able to navigate his way there from that position.) And then there was Sunday's equally perplexing breakfast fiasco: Nick threatens Kalinda to make him an omelet before smearing the egg yolk all over her chest. Oh, yeah, she tries to retaliate with a pan and they draw knives on each other. Seriously.
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If the show is trying to portray some dysfunctional, two-way abusive relationship in which two people just can't stay away from each other, it is failing miserably. There is nothing compelling or remotely appealing about any of their hyper-violent, hyper-sexual and clearly calculated (e.g. Kalinda allowing Nick to see her at Lana's apartment and later telling him that Lana [Jill Flint] is an FBI agent) interactions, which at this point seem more like the show's desperate attempt to be edgy just for the sake of it. Kalinda is so mysterious and undefined that Miss Boots of Justice can be used to do whatever they want to do with her, character depth be damned.
The true culprit, though, is the characterization of Nick, or lack thereof. This is someone who's supposedly so dangerous and menacing that Kalinda had to change her whole identity, but Nick just comes across as a wannabe thug. Does cracking eggs and downing a glass of mineral water in someone's face scare anyone? Are we supposed to be scared of him or worried about Kalinda? Because we're not, and Kalinda certainly isn't scared of him, judging by how often she gets the last word and the fact that she has not shown any intention of severing ties with him.
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And why is she still putting up with him? There is no apparent emotional connection between them. Does Nick have some intel on her that he can use as blackmail? Was she complicit in some crime of his? Nevermind the fact that we still have nary a clue why he was in prison. The purpose of introducing Nick — as Panjabi said herself — is to pull back the curtain a bit on Kalinda. But through three episodes, we have learned absolutely nothing about Kalinda that we didn't already know: She inexplicably excels at every form of fighting known to man and uses others sexually. There is no progession of anything, really, but rather just this endless loop of physical and sexual power games — the reason for which, as with everything in this story line, is still unclear. Kalinda has gone from an intriguing, strong woman to a one-dimensional master manipulator.
The show may have an end game in mind for this exasperating side plot, but it's not doing even a halfway decent job of getting there. All we know is, the sooner it ends, the better, and maybe, hopefully, the Kalinda we knew and loved the past three seasons will be salvageable.
Kalinda once told Alicia (Julianna Margulies) about her secretive past, "I didn't like my life before, so I changed it." Let's hope she does the same thing now.
What do you think of the Kalinda-Nick storyline?
The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9/8c on CBS.