SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t watched this week’s episode of “The Good Wife” stop reading now!
Emmys! Emmys for everyone. No, but seriously. Usually after a major death on a television show there is an episode where the characters grieve. Sometimes it’s the funeral, the hospital, or even six months later (a la “Downton Abbey”). However, the writers of “The Good Wife” had the episode surround the events immediately following Will Gardner’s death.
I don’t know if this is my place to say this, but this episodes is one of the greatest “grief” episode to ever be aired on television (although “All Alone” from “Six Feet Under” and “The Son” from “Friday Night Lights” still surpass it). The writers of the show have captured such an honest reaction to death and also in turn created such a beautiful episode for the character of Alicia.
Much of the episode surrounded the different ways each of the main characters dealt with the death of Will Gardner. For the sake of organization I’m going to split this review up into each of the characters’ story lines.
Cary was in an interesting position regarding Will at this point in the series. He had a respect for Will that couldn’t be taken away, but he also had a drive to take him down. That is what made his reaction to Will’s demise so surprising. With the absence of Alicia, Cary had to handle a deposition involving a wrongful termination suit that was introduced to us in the episode “Hitting the Fan”. During the deposition, which the opposite attorney threatened to delay if they didn’t do it that day, Cary went on a rant saying that he wanted to “get out his anger and aggression by destroying [the defendant].” First of all, Matt Czuchry was never one of the standouts from the series, but here he absolutely proves he can play in the big leagues. He also was fortunate to get the single greatest line of the episode.
Diane was also in an interesting position. Although she had just lost her best friend, she still had an entire firm to run. She had the uneasy task of notifying the partners of Will’s death, then also dealing with clients that were looking to jump ship. Diane made all her decisions by asking herself what would Will do, which led to some tension between her and David Lee (Zack Grenier also did a wonderful job here). When one client demanded that he has a meeting with Diane regarding his future with Lockhart Gardner, she allowed him to come in. However, it wasn’t an easy welcome. Not only did Diane fire him as a client, she also called other firms to ensure that they would not pick him up, and told him that no one likes him. Christine Baranski has always been an incredible presence on the series, but she was merely that, a presence. This episode gave her the material she needed to break out and hopefully finally win her deserved Emmy for this series.
Kalinda spent most of the episode doing what she does best and that’s investigating, however this time her investigation hit way too close to home. She tasks herself with discovering whether Will was killed by Jeffrey Grant (Hunter Parrish), or was hit in the crossfire. After listening to testimony from the courtroom officer (who is equally guilty in my eyes) and Grant and his new attorney, her investigation leads her to the conclusion that Jeffrey Grant indeed killed Will. With the help of Detective Jenn Villette Kalinda gets to the cell where Grant is being held, where in Kalinda fashion shows him his belt and tells him to kill himself, but just as he reaches for the belt she pulls it away telling him that he should feel the guilt everyday of his life. Not only does Archie Panjabi do excellent work here, Hunter Parrish is absolutely incredible. I really hope Emmy voters don’t forget about him come Emmy season.
However, Alicia was of course one of the most affected by the death. Her storyline was what set this episode and series apart from any to ever air. Most of her storyline focused on her attempts to find out what happened in the courtroom and why Will left a mysterious voicemail for her. However, before all this happens Margulies is allowed to give such a great amount of emotion and grief. Throughout the episodes she pictures why Will said in the voicemail, ranging from anger to a truce. Throughout she also has memories of Will. Nothing specific. No flashbacks, but simply images. The writers were so genius is keeping everything so real and emotional. There is one scene, when she goes to the hospital and she pictures Will coming up to her saying that they misidentified the body because it was shot in the face, but again it faded away. The writers were able to show so much of what people go through when they grieve that it feels so familiar.
The best scene of the episode was between Alicia and Grace who talk about heaven and hell and whether they exist. Such a realistic and beautifully executed piece of writing that anyone would think about following a death.
After a lengthy scene with Finn Polmar (newly minted series regular Matthew Goode), she comes to her own conclusion that Will was calling to profess his love for her. Bad news for her, she comes to this realization as she is embracing Peter. Bad news for us, that is where the episode ends.
It was truly an incredible piece of work. I don’t think any network drama attempted anything close to what “The Good Wife” just did. They showed what true grief is like and they showed it so intimately through these characters. The rest of this season is shaping up to be an incredible piece of television. (A)