The Good Wife: Dramatics, Your Honor (?)

E: Spoilers.

I don’t believe that happened.

No, really.  I don’t believe that happened.  I can’t even cry, I’m just so stunned. Of all the senseless, stupid, wasteful things a show could do to fans who spent 5 fricking years invested in these relationships, in a show that seemed to root, from the beginning, for – God, I don’t even know what.  I’m not coherent.  It’s just, they threw away the foundation of the show.

Now, okay.  The show is about Alicia and not simply the love triangle.  Her life isn’t about whether she was going to choose Will or Peter.  But oh my God.  Maybe I’m not as much of a feminist as I thought I was, because I cannot imagine this show anymore.  You took her choice away, damn it!  We’ve been waiting for five damn years for her to pick somebody for real and you bastards took her choice away!  How could you freaking DO that?

I was just writing in the comments for last week’s episode about how I never know where this show is going, and how I love that about it.  Well.  I was right about one thing.  I had absolutely no idea this was what tonight’s shocking event was.  Not even the teeniest tiniest little clue.

And I hate it so much.

Honestly, I don’t think I can recap this episode.  Maybe I owe it to the show and character, but I’m just too furious right now.  News seems to be coming out that Josh Charles wanted off the show.  And I guess the collective weight of millions of viewers can’t decide how to live his life for him.  I suppose I am over invested.

So of course this is all over the web and social media right now.  Some people, they think this is brave, killing off a main character.  Others are impressed that the writers had the balls to murder a lead character when clearly they could so easily have sent him to jail for refusing to break attorney/client privilege instead.

But I’m sorry. What it feels like to me is cheap dramatics, to borrow a term from the title.  Cheap and easy and rotten and mean.  Maybe there’s nothing that could be done – maybe they’d only have gotten Josh for the rest of this season and lost him for the sixth.  But this?

BUT OH MY GOD.  Didn’t they always say the show had a five year plan?  Stick with the five fricking years, then!  You couldn’t have gone out on top?  You couldn’t have just left it at five years?  You couldn’t have talked Josh into finishing out this season, per his contract, and just ended it there?

Because you spent five damn years – alright, correction, four and a half – on that damned love triangle, and now we will never have closure.  Now whether she stays with Peter or leaves him, we will never feel like she got to make her choice.  You stole her decision!  This isn’t Game of Thrones.  This isn’t a medieval war zone.  You don’t have a cast of thousands.  What you’ve destroyed tonight can never be replaced. It can never be undone. Whatever cool thing happens next, it will be a new show.  It will not be the show I fell in love with.

Even posting this feels very – emotional, private, unprofessional.  Maybe tomorrow I will be embarrassed that I spent so much time flailing my tiny ineffectual fists at the uncaring universe, and I will take this down, and find a way to write something else.  But right at this moment, I can’t pretend that this was okay.

I don’t think I want a sixth season at this price.

35 comments on “The Good Wife: Dramatics, Your Honor (?)

  1. Ashleigh says:

    OMG. I clicked on the wrong episode. Now I don’t want to watch it! D:

  2. kestraTroi7 says:

    Hi. I just want to say I agree with you. I hated that he died so much. Can’t believe it. The Good Wife was probably one out of many shows I watch where I thought they would never kill a character like that. It was just such a complete shock.

    I wasn’t planning on watching this episode today but when I saw that you’d written this immediate reaction I watched it right away. I just can’t believe they did that. Senseless, like you said. I especially agree with this that you wrote, so completely: What you’ve destroyed tonight can never be replaced. It can never be undone. Whatever cool thing happens next, it will be a new show. It will not be the show I fell in love with.

    I just completely agree with what you said there. It’s just going to be hanging over the whole rest of the show. Will died. Will isn’t ever going to smile at any character again, or chuck his baseball around or date some annoying girl again. He’s just gone. (Maybe that’s what they were going for, but it’s just really shocking). And however the show deals with that it’s just going to be such a complete change in the atmosphere of everything. I don’t know if they can ever do something amazing like last weeks episode where they balance the heavy and light stuff. (For instance – I loved last week’s episode. LIke from last week too – I love Elsbeth – but how does her quirkiness and fun fit in to a world where Will is dead. I just can’t process how they can get the feel of the show remotely close to how it was before ever again – all the fun characters that popped up and made me laugh… Like an episode like Hitting the Fan where it was just a joy to watch – devastating but amazing and also kind of hilarious in moments that just made me realise I loved the show so much. I don’t know if they can do that again. Well, they probably can, but I don’t know if I can enjoy it like I did then.

    Will was not even close to my favourite character, so I don’t know how people that really liked him feel now, or A/W shippers. I’m sure next week’s episode will be so devastating (I think there will be flashbacks? but I’m not sure).

    Anyway, I’m so sorry for rambling. Final thing – have you seen the letter the Kings wrote to the fans about it? I think that’s the link.

    Sidenote: I”ve read your reviews of The Good Wife for a while and really enjoyed them and I always planned on commenting sometime to say how much I enjoyed them and I’m sorry it had to be now. Also, that episode was so devastating, that as much as I enjoy your reviews, I’d totally get it if you didn’t want to watch it again. It would be painful to read even.

    • E says:

      Yeah. I suppose after Josh decided he was going to leave, they didn’t have any good choices. They certainly made the most dramatic and impactful choice they could – in a realistic way, yes, that succeeded in shocking the audience, yes. Bully for them. Of course it feels like this is them acknowledging they couldn’t make the two-firm structure work, which I hate, but whatever. No matter how rational any of it is, none of it changes the fact that the show as we knew it is gone.

  3. Kate says:

    It was definitely very upsetting. I felt quite shaken up and sad for hours afterwards. Awful! I did have a premonition that JC would be leaving when I saw the sneak peak (and actually also when I saw Alicia’s beautiful closing smile at Will last week) – it was as though the writers were trying to get some closure to their relationship (some degree of peace) before removing Will from the picture. Plus I knew JC hadn’t renewed his contract for another season. But I didn’t think it would be such a violent irrevocable exit! Also it is terribly sad (for Alicia) that things were left so unsettled and messy but I like that it is going to force her to reevaluate the choices she has made in her life.

    Did you read the Kings letters to the fans? Did it help at all? It did make a lot of sense from the writers’ perspective (to have the character die rather than move away or go to jail). I guess I felt Alicia made her choice in both season 3 and again at the end of last season – she didn’t want to be with Will – so I’m not so upset from that regard and I am interested to see how she copes with his death given the last 6 months…

    I’m still pretty speechless though! What a shock!

  4. Kiki says:

    I hope you are feeling better E,I feel like a lost a friend. I still feel numb. And I didn’t even care about Will nearly as much as I care about the other characters. But lord that was a punch in the gut, I still shaken.

    I guess the reality is that it wasn’t 5 years about Alicia making a choice. It was 5 years of the evolution of Alicia Florrick and the people that come into and out of her life. But I get you, most people see it as the Will and Alicia romance. But the reality it never was, everyone always thought thy were end game. But it wasn’t about A/W being happy at the end but about Alicia find her inner strength and how she changes. What happens to Alicia now? How does she power through this and can she?

    I respect Josh’s decision what I have a hard time understanding is why death. Probably shock, probably they didn’t want to deal with answer A/W endgame question. Or maybe they thought this would really rock the show to its core and affect them all.

    This doesn’t make it any less sad. And I will probably never watch that episode again.

    • E says:

      Yeah. I’m trying to write something else, but it’s not going to be the kind of thing I usually do, because I just don’t think I can deal with the minutiae of this one.

  5. Lady F says:

    Dear E,
    like one of the other readers of your beautifully written, concise and entertaining recaps before I am awfully sorry, too, that after having read each and every of your recaps with great pleasure for years now this is now the first time that I am actually writing a comment.
    I feel like I need to comfort you and send you a hug and a ‘chin up’. I was shocked, too, and I think I still am, but honestly this was again another proof of the superior writing of TGW. Too many times have I already seen how they ‘offed’ leading characters of a show in such an incredibly bad way and then later even have them magically resurrect. I am sure this would never happen in TGW. And Will’s death had everything you would expect from a quality show like TGW, it was absolutely shocking (and totally unexpected), thrilling to watch and highly emotional. It made me cry.
    Seriously, E., this is as real as life, these things can happen in anybody’s life and force you to re-evaluate and struggle through a hard time in your life because it’s pulling the rug out under your feet. Awesome how these genius writers dealt with all the different angles.
    Yes, I also agree that (re-)watching this episode is painful and maybe the next will be even more difficult to deal with. But I want to know how each of my so beloved characters is going to get through this crisis and maybe form new alliances and find new friends and partners in life. I am not going to hold a grudge that they killed one of my favourite characters although I have come to enjoy Cary’s development more and more.
    This show is still the best entertainment American TV has to offer (I so hate this silly vampire and zombie stuff, it’s the only tv drama I love to watch) and it is so good because it is so authentic and absolutely believable, it just never gets old and boring.
    I really do hope that you get over your shock pretty soon because I simply would not like to miss out on your wonderful recaps, I would really regret that more than even killing off another leading character. Keep going, E.

    • E says:

      Dear Lady F,
      I’m sorry to meet you under these circumstances as well, but I’m so grateful that you wrote in and were so nice about my little temper tantrum.

      You’re certainly right that sudden deaths are a fact of life – but we’re dealing with narrative and choice, not real life. I suppose I feel what I would feel when someone I cared about died in real life – cheated of what his future would have been. But I also feel, I don’t know, very deliberately cheated by the show. They set up expectations. I feel duped. When I watch Game of Thrones, I know not to get attached. The fact that everyone is vulnerable gives a tremendous thrill to that show – but The Good Wife has always been the story of a small set of people through time. That doesn’t make it any less epic to me, but it makes it different. I feel like not only is the going to be different from here on out, but that perhaps those relationships were never as meaningful as I thought. It leeches the joy out of the past as well.

      I rather envy you and the roughly half of fans who’re inspired by this twist. I wish I felt so up for the new show that they’re creating for the second time this season. The Good Wife is dead – long live The Good Wife!

      More to come from me soon – but again, I apologize for being so gloomy, and I appreciate more than I can express you de-lurking to cheer me.

  6. dashalerin says:

    I just finished watching this episode and all I can say is “wow, I surely didn’t see THAT coming”.
    They’ve kept it all under wraps and the episode was so beautifully directed that Will’s death came as a complete surprise.

    Frankly, I’m not mad at Josh for his decision to leave the show: he’s an actor and he’s right in wanting to try different things, to not remain “frozen” in one single role – which, sadly, happens to many actors and actresses who became known for one character and then spend the rest of their career trying to shake that character off.
    So no, I’m not mad at Josh. I’m mad at the Kings for cutting off Will in such a brutal way. I understand what it means to lose someone you love because I lived through it and I don’t need a freaking tv-show’s producer to talk to me about “irredeemability of death”.
    I get why they HAD to get Will of the show in some way – changing the actor who portrais the character would have been a complete and utter injustice both to Josh and to the show’s fans – but I sure as hell wouldn’t have done it like that.
    The Good Wife may be “a show about human behavior and emotion” and death may be “a part of the human experience” that Robert and Michelle wanted to share, but not like this and certainly not at this point of the story.

    So, yeah… Sorry if I’m rumbling, but this just throw me so completely off I’m not even sure what my point is.

    • E says:

      I’m trying to write up a more nuanced response to this episode – I just can’t do a normal recap, but I feel the need to do something – and I definitely have to talk about that “irredeemability of death” comment.

      I really can’t decide who I’m madder at, the Kings or Josh. I keep going back and forth. Of course they couldn’t replace him, and of course he has the right not decide not to renew his contract – but – but – but! I say this as someone who loves the show completely – I would rather they ended the show this season than have it try to go on without Will. I don’t know where the balance is going to be! Oh, I’m sure it’s going to be incredibly moving next week. I’m not going to stop watching, and I’m hopeful that I can pull it together to go back to regular recapping next week. I feel like a rambling mess too. (Thanks for writing in, Dashalerin. It’s nice to meet you, even under these circumstances.)

  7. Heather says:

    I just saw the episode online and came here immediately – I need community to deal with these emotions. What? Will? Why? I know why, but. why you know?
    There is also something really strong about his death. How Alicia spent all that time running from Will and her feelings about him. I think that, the missed opportunity, the what could have been, will haunt her. I know it will haunt me.

    • E says:

      Heather, thanks for writing in! Because exactly – I know why, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it! Haunting is exactly the right word. I’m devastated that she’s never going to get the chance to figure herself out with him there.

  8. Angee says:

    E! I am in total shock and two days later I still can’t believe The Good Wife killed Will Gardner. E my first thought after this happened was how is E handling this tragic event. I agree with you I don’t know how or why they are going to attempt another season without Will Gardner. This is the second time CBS has blindsided me with the unexpected death of a favourite character. I watch Person of Interest and they killed off Joss Carter in November and just as I am finally coming to the acceptance stage with that unexpected death, Will Gardner dies. It is just hard, I miss Will so much. I will miss him with Diane and Kalinda more than I will miss him with Alicia. But the reality is unlike Person of Interest, Josh Charles has wanted leave The Good Wife since last season and unlike Joss Carter on Person of Interest I don’t know how the writers of The Good Wife could simply just write him out. I hope The Good Wife handles Josh’s departure and Will’s death better than Person of Interest handled Taraji’s departure and Joss Carter’s death. I know it will be hard to write but I am looking forward to your review of this devastating episode.

    • E says:

      Angee, big virtual hugs.

      The more I think about it, the more strongly I wish they had just finished out this season and ended the show. The loss of Will unbalances everything – particularly, as you said, Kalinda and Diane – and I just don’t see how the chemistry of the show itself recovers.

      • Kiki says:

        Oh boy E, you are taking this harder than I thought. Ending the show? That’s crazy! I couldn’t imagine my show ending, nothing gives me more calmness than knowing S6 is coming. Sorry 😦

        • E says:

          Blasphemy, right? I want to believe that they can do this, but I just don’t know.

          • Kiki says:

            Keep the show going without Will? You mean the balance? I think TGW is excellent at this. Keep faith. There is still a lot of story to tell for Alicia.

            • E says:

              Yeah. I don’t just mean the balance as far as the romance.

              You know, we should all do a shot for him before the next show or something – sort of a fan wake.

  9. MMGF says:

    So interesting! Me, I loved this episode. Well, to be fair, I wasn’t loving it while I was watching it, because so much of it was focused on the trial that it didn’t seem like the stories we care about were progressing. Where was this “must watch!”-ness of this episode? Were we really just going to get some bombshell at the end of the show? Turns out we kind of did, but in a very different way than we’d expected. It was so clever to have Will under fire professionally week-after-week, so that even those of us who knew Josh Charles hadn’t renewed his contract thought the stunner would be something around him going to prison, being disbarred, etc.

    I think the way it played out was excellent. We saw real emotion from Kalinda. We even saw a moment of personal-over-professional from Eli. We’re going to get to see Alicia dealing with her feelings. We’re going to get some *great* new Alicia-Peter scenes. We’re going to get to see Diane (hopefully!) rise up and make some hard decisions. And who knows now how the voter fraud thing will play out, without Will there to be pressured on it. (In fact, we don’t even know if he already cracked and made a deal with the feds and ratted Peter out.)

    I think I’m not reacting the same way as a lot of others because I’d kind of closed the book on Alicia and Will. I’d felt like she’s already made that decision. It may have been wishful thinking on my part. (I never liked Will, and I *love* Peter.) But that felt finally complete to me. My only complaint is that, yes, the way it happened was pretty sensational. I know it’s not buzzy to kill him in, say, a car crash or something. But for realism purposes, it would have made more sense. I DID like, however, that we weren’t left at the end of the episode on the edge of a cliff, not knowing if he was a victim, not knowing if he was alive. The entire last 5 or 10 minutes of the show, I kept expecting it to end, and leave us hanging. (Especially since, thanks to March Madness pre-empting, I had no idea when the hour was up!) But no. They showed him shot. They showed him under the sheet. They showed Kalinda telling Eli that Will was dead.

    Can’t wait to see how next Sunday’s hour plays out!

    • E says:

      I guess it’s a testament to how well written this show is, and how deep the cast of characters, that people can have such different responses to something like this.

      I don’t know. I feel like an idiot. I was so happy with last week’s episode, so excited to see what the twist would be this week, so annoyed with March Madness and the pre-emption. I feel played, and emotional, and cheated.

      Because I didn’t think the book on Alicia and Will was closed – you don’t run like that from someone you’re indifferent to – but I suppose this has finally put paid to it. And, you’re right, we will finally see Alicia deal with her feelings, so I suppose that’s some small consolation? It’s not that for what it was, it wasn’t done well. I was well and truly shocked. I didn’t remotely think he could be dead. And it was the best Kalinda episode in ages, even if her trying to quit was utter nonsense engineered to give her a touching moment with Will before he left (as was the rot of Alicia not going after a client and then telling him he was the better lawyer, even if she was consciously trying to mend fences).

      BTW, I don’t think he ratted Peter out. First, he wasn’t about to give up practicing law, and breaking privilege would have gotten him disbarred – and no judge would have made him do it. Second, as much as he hated Peter, he hated being backed into a corner more.

      With those other two tapes (a shocking enough revelation that got lost in the melee) it doesn’t seem likely that Javert is going to stop coming after Peter even with his preferred witness out of commission.

      • MMGF says:

        I loved the way it kind of made the rivalry just disappear, if just for the moment. Kalinda instantly thought, “I need to call Alicia.” She and Diane both went right to try to call her. It was very reminiscent of the opening of season 2, when Alicia didn’t get Will’s call while she was on the stage with Peter. This time, Eli gave her the call.

        Will Diane try to woo Alicia back? Offer her Will’s partner position? The promos make it seem like Louis Canning is being offered that position, but maybe it just seems that way by the line. (Something along the lines of, “I’m the new Will?” Could mean anything, even though it implies him being in Will’s job.)

        And apropos of nothing, other than thinking about guest stars, I hear we may get more Elsbeth next year, since True Blood won’t be taking up all of Carrie Preston’s time next year. (YAY!! Ain’t nobody don’t love *that* news.) But, can I put in a meager request for a return for Nancy Crozier?? Come back, Mamie Gummer, come back! (Or Patty Nyholm, even?)

        • E says:

          That has to be a joke on Canning’s behalf, right? He has his own firm. Why would he join Diane’s? Now Patti? Her show just got canceled. (I know MJF’s did too, but the idea of him trying to fill Will’s shoes makes me a little sick. Kind of like Kalinda.)

          You’re right, the parallel with Will’s voice mail and Eli is very – cool? Moving? Painful? And I loved seeing Diane and Alicia rush to each other and hug.

          • MMGF says:

            Yeah, I agree. I think it’s a ruse, too, with Canning. His meaning maybe being something like, “I’m the new Will” as in “I’m the top dog in this city now.”

            Speaking of Diane (who’s gotten the short end of the stick this season, alongside Kalinda,) I cannot WAIT to see her go up against David Lee. And damn do I hope she takes him down, or at least gets him in his place!

  10. Alicia had made her choice though…She left Will at the beginning of season 5. And these are the consequences. She made her choice to distance herself from Will and now he is dead. How will she cope with this? Look, I am sad and shocked and I was a Willicia shipper from day one. But if Josh Charles wanted out then I prefer this to having him move to another city. l I won’t miss him so much in relation to Alicia, actually I think his death will have a very deep impact on her (like a few months ago her betrayal had on him). What I will miss the most are his interactions with Diane and Kalinda and his passion about everything.

    • E says:

      I definitely don’t see it just as a loss because of the romantic angle, although along with lots of other people I pretty much always assumed that Will/Alicia was the Kings’ endgame. It’s a loss over all – for the court scenes, for the L/G workplace dynamics, just in general.

  11. Starli says:

    I’ve been trying to deal with these for a little more than twenty-four hours and I still feel a little like this is all some messed up dream I’m gonna wake up from. Even when Kalinda pulled back the sheet, I was so sure that this was all gonna turn out fine, despite the fact that somewhere in the back of my head I remembered reading something about Josh maybe wanting to do something else. I mean, they can’t kill of Will. You said it so well, when you talked about what kind of this show this was and how it always focused on these five people. For all it’s twist and plots it was, for a lack of better word, a stable show. And we didn’t even get a heads up. That’s unbelievable impressive in one way, but it means that it really feels like a hit in the stomach in the worst way.
    It’s so funny, because I was watching the beginning of 1×02 last week and there’s that really great scene where Will calles “the other Will” and it made me remember that I really liked that guy, despite plenty of ups and downs. And then the episode came and I was a little bitter and resentful for a number of reasons and just not liking the case and suddenly he’s dead and I can’t wrap my head around it and, wow, do I wish I could have watched his last moments differently.
    I think I could accept it easier, if he hadn’t died like this. The shooting doesn’t feel like ‘The Good Wife’, at least not to me, allthough I’m really glad they decided to show it from the outside with Diane and Kalinda, rather than from the inside even if they filmed that part. The point is that just thinking about how it all played out, Will on that table, feels like an entirely different show to me that I can’t seem to connect with the rest of it, which I suppose is true now. Certainly even more than after 5×05, as much as that felt like giant shake-up.
    I’m trying really hard to not be mad Josh, because I know it’s his life and no one’s got any business meddling with it, but it’s hard to see it that rationally emotionally and I can’t bring myself to be mad at the writers either, despite really wishing that had killed him in something like a car accident if he had to die. And I can kind of see that he had to, even if that’s completely awful. So now I’m just kinda pissed at the universe, which ironically got absolutetly nothing to do with this.
    I’m feeling so mixed about season 6. I have no idea how this show is ever gonna feel like the show I loved and watched every week again, but I want to see those other characters pan out and see what they go through, other than grieving for Will for the forseeable future, and I would have felt cheated if I hadn’t. So I guess this show was just always going to screw me over. Yay.
    This probably sounds all disjointed, but I’m kind of using this as a sounding board to try and understand what the hell happened and why I’m feeling so completely suckerpunched by it, so that hopefully I can deal with it, because clearly telling myself that’s it’s a freaking TV Show and I shouldn’t take it so seriously isn’t going to work. I don’t think I wanna know what that says about me. But either way reading through other people’s reactions and opinions here helps work through it, so thanks E and everyone else.

    • E says:

      It doesn’t sound disjointed. It makes all the sense in the world. I think, honestly, I am grieving the show as much as I am grieving Will. I’m pissed, too, but not in the way that I’m going to swear off the show – I just can’t imagine ever being happy with it again the way I was last week. I hope so, but I can’t imagine it.

      I’m glad you and the other posters are here talking about it with me, because yeah. I feel like an idiot for letting myself care this much about a tv show. Which makes me think it was the wrong way for the Kings to deal with an admittedly crappy situation, because do you really want your audience to be LESS invested? But that’s what I feel like. Suckerpunched is exactly right – and I definitely feel like I was taken for a ride, as it were, before then getting punched in the gut.

  12. E.L. says:

    Haven’t posted here in awhile (although I still read your recaps), but after this episode, I really needed to commiserate with other Good Wife fans. I understand intellectually why this is a smart decision on the part of the writers, given the situation with Josh Charles and the dramatic possibilities, etc. but … but, I don’t know. I think I’m going to need to watch more episodes before I know how I really feel about this authorial choice.

    I’m not on social media, so like you, I went in unprepared and was completely taken off guard. Yeah, this in its own way freaked me out more than the Red Wedding (not just because I’m a GoT book purist who’d already read about everything first before anything aired on TV), because Good Wife, you’re a legal show!! About lawyers!! Who come up with deadly legal strategies, but no one goes around chasing serial killers or vampires or anything supernatural! So WTF! It really made me stop and wonder if this was the same show I’d been watching every week for the past 4.5 years. Because as masterfully handled as it was, this just didn’t seem like you, Good Wife! You’re not Scandal or Game of Thrones! I’m not a hardcore Willicia shipper, but Will and Alicia are more than a romantic couple, they are also old friends and colleagues. He’s one of her oldest and most loyal friends, and we all know Alicia doesn’t have any of those left! There’s a familiarity camaraderie between them such that there are sides to Alicia that we only see when she is with Will, like how there are some sides of Alicia we only see when she is with Owen. And like others have mentioned, Kalinda without Will?! DIANE without Will?!! Yeah, maybe I will get over this in a few weeks, but right now, … still … kind … of … upset.

    • E says:

      Oh my gosh, E.L., yes. Yes exactly. Though sudden deaths are realistic, they’re not what you expect for the main character’s of a character show with a tightly woven core.

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