The Good Wife: The Last Call

E: If  “A Few Words” was about the narratives we make out of progress, was our best self-promotion, then “The Last Call” is about the narratives we try to make out of tragedy, our search for meaning and reconstruction. How do we face a suddenly unimaginable future?  How do we make sense of the unthinkable?  Yes, it was an exercise in anguish, but it felt true to the way we experience grief. Every thing I’ve ever said in the wake of a shocking death gets said in this episode.  That dumb sense of disbelief that comes over you when a pillar of your world gets taken away; we see a lot of that.  In some ways, there’s more sleepwalking than tears.

Which is all to say, the pain isn’t going to end any time soon.

Appropriately for an episode entitle “The Last Call,” we begin with the back of Kalinda’s head as she dials Eli to get to Alicia. Though it’s not the official last call, it is the last call of life as Alicia’s known it – the last few seconds of her life with Will in it.  “Eli, I need to speak to Alicia. Is she there with you?”  Slowly, the camera spins around Kalinda. “She’s on the dais,” Eli scoffs, “she can’t come now. What’s wrong?”  And it’s clear that something is wrong, would be even if you didn’t know about the shot heard round the entertainment world.

“Eli, I need to speak to her,” Kalinda repeats.  “Kalinda!  She’s in the middle of the Correspondents’ Luncheon!?”  The camera pulls around so that we see her enormous brown eyes, water standing in them.  “Eli,” she explains slowly. “Will is dead.”

For once Eli is without words.  He jerks his head back, looks around him at the happy banquet hall where some comedian stands behind a podium at the head table.  How does this room, this event, exist along side this news? “There was a shooting at the courthouse,” Kalinda goes on. “and he got caught up in the crossfire.  I need to speak to Alicia.”  At this, Eli inhales deeply.  He nods.  “Yes,” he relays his understanding, his voice gravelly, and I tear up again because you just don’t think of Eli being moved. “Just a second.”

Lips pursed, Alicia looks bored and a little irritated, sitting near the speaker and surveying the assembled correspondents,  failing in her attempt to appear engaged.  Gently, Eli places a hand on her shoulder. “There’s a call for you,” he whispers.

“Now?” she whispers back, looking up in surprise. He nods, knowing that she’s going to protest. “Yes, you have to take it,” he insists with such exquisite tenderness that she’s immediately alarmed.  She stands, and the comic – noticing – makes a joke we don’t hear about her absence.  The audience titters.   Ushering Alicia to the edge of the head table,  Eli hands over his phone, which she takes with some trepidation, before scooting forward to shield her from prying eyes. Even that little detail – that kindness – breaks my heart.  “Hello?” Alicia says, cautiously, and the compassion on Kalinda’s face breaks me again.  Surrounded by the chaos of a busy emergency room hallway, Kalinda inhales deeply.

“Alicia, it’s me,” she prevaricates.  How can she possibly say what needs to be said?  “Yes, Kalinda, what’s wrong?” Knowing just how brutal a blow she’s delivering, Kalinda hesitates.  “Will’s been shot,” she says.

Eli stares back at Alicia, his worry etched into his face. “He … what do you mean?”  Alicia blinks. “There was gunfire at the courthouse and … he was shot.”

“Will … I don’t understand, by who?” Alicia asks, shaking her head.  Over her shoulder, Eli watches, his eyes wide. “His client,” Kalinda says. “I’m in the hospital.”  Alicia’s jaw drops, and then we see Kalinda’s face as she searches for the strength to utter the horrible words, and then the tears rush back up into her eyes, because this makes it real again, this repetition. “Will is dead,” she spits out the words, her tone constricted, her face contracting.

Alicia freezes.  Back in the ballroom, the audience laughs, and Alicia opens her mouth.  And closes it. And opens it again. Each word is a new start.  Each word is a failure. “I.  Can’t.  I.  Um.” Somehow Eli hears the tears that threaten to fall and swoops in, putting a hand on her shoulder; immediately she steps away from his consoling touch. “But I just saw him yesterday,” she pleads, because it makes no sense in that moment that he could be here, could exist, could smile and laugh with her and then suddenly be gone.  It’s absurd; this is how we think when the shock comes. At the hospital, Kalinda hears the crackle of a police radio, and cranes her head around to see Diane talking to an officer. “Alicia, I’ll call you back. I need to speak to the police,” she decides. “And then I will call you back.” She nods, not wanting to end the call. “I’m sorry.”  After trying to respond, Alicia closes her mouth and hangs up; any word, even a goodbye, would let the floodgates open.

“I’d like to introduce the First Lady of Illinois!” the comedian proclaims, causing Alicia to turn in horror. “I’ll introduce Peter,” Eli shakes his head. “You go.” Her eyes go wide, because Alicia Florrick doesn’t back out of anything because it’s too hard. “You’re in no condition,” he insists, “Go.”  Like a sleepwalker, she does.

“And the First Lady had to step outside,” the speaker notes. “Ah, Mr. Gold, do you want to do the honors?”  Steeling himself, Eli takes a deep breath and steps into the breech. The audience claps politely as Eli steps up to the podium; we see two clear screens with blue writing only visible from his side.  “Thank you, Bobby,” he begins, straightening his back under the Chicago Correspondents Club sign. “It’s my honor to introduce the man I’ve shared my…” he reads smoothly from the teleprompter, until it spits out “shared my bed with for the last 18 years.”  Um, that seems unnecessarily personal, no?  Not that we don’t need the funny now, but I can’t actually picture Alicia saying that.  “Aaah, many campaigns with,” Eli corrects.  Meanwhile, Peter and his entourage arrive at the hall.

“We’ve had good times, and bad,” Eli reads, gripping the podium with both hands, grimacing over at his mystified boss.  “And we’ve had our share of disagreements. Who takes out the garbage,” he reads, and it’s a mark of how thrown Eli is that he can’t ad lib his way out of this script at all. “Who changes the … diapers.” The audience smirks up at him. What is he doing, Peter wonders. “Which brings me to a funny story about how I chose this… ”  Stopping short of calling his suit a dress, Eli recovers only a smidgeon of his verbal facility. “… outfit.” The way he waves his hand over his clothes, Vanna White-like – well, it would be funny if things were different.  Where’s Alicia, Peter asks his flunkies, who have no idea.

I guess we don’t really either.  It’s a leafy street in Chicago, and Alicia’s driving in total silence, her face devoid of emotion, a zombie in the wake of catastrophe. She gulps; Will surges toward her, smiling in her memory, hands in his pockets, boyish.  His smile is affectionate, fond.

Then he’s yelling at her, bending down in her face the day that her escape plan hit the fan. She swallows, looking up to keep the tears from coming.  Through her windshield, geese fly across the sky in a tight formation.  Is she stopped at a light, or just stopped?  The world becomes so strange when someone you love dies.  Stop all the clocks, you think – but they don’t stop. The geese keep flying, graceful, elegant, effortless.  In Alicia’s mind a towering criminal in an orange jumpsuit (shaved head, pointed beard) ruthlessly trains his gun on Will and fires without hesitation.  Looking away, trying for a distraction, Alicia sees a mother on the street reach out and stop her young son from walking into traffic; once she’s sure he won’t step into the street on his own, she releases him and takes his hand instead.  And this act of protection – the way no one protected Will, the way Alicia protected her children by leaving Will – sends Alicia’s emotions over the edge, and she begins to sob loudly, her whole body shaking. Even alone, she can’t bear her own weakness, and clamps a hand over her mouth.

When the elevator doors ding open at LG, Diane’s greeted by happy chatter.  It feels more cheerful than a regular day – I’m sure on purpose, but it feels apt. It feels like life before. Diane is quiet, composed – she’s not sleepwalking quite as badly as Alicia thanks to a little more time, but she’s close.  The assistant of the week pops up from her desk between Will and Diane’s offices. “Is everything alright?” she asks, perky. “I need to speak to the partners,” Diane answers, her voice low. “Yes, they’re ready,” the assistant replies, nodding in the direction of the large conference room.  What?  “They’ve been wondering where you were.  It’s the vote on the L.A. office,” she explains.  Oh.  That.  That’s the kind of vote that belonged in the old world; Diane can’t imagine it.  Exhaling, her voice even lower, Diane asks the assistant to tell them she’ll be right in.

I’d say she was taking a moment to compose herself, but that’s not really the effect sitting down at her desk has, because though she fixes her hair and breathes in there’s no solace to be found here, not when she can see his empty desk across from hers, and when she bites her lip and lets out a tiny suppressed squeak, the tears come, to her and to me and everyone else.  She’d curled her hand around her desk phone – to call Kurt, perhaps? – but thinks better of it.  No.  The partners.  She wipes her tears and heads to the conference room.

The moment she walks into the room, David Lee lets out a typical complaint. “I thought this meeting was at two, I have a client waiting.” He’s standing, arms crossed defensively. Why would they schedule a 2 o’clock meeting on a day Will had a trial?  “Margery, did we decide?” Howard Lyman asks, sounding (typically) as if he just woke up.  “We didn’t decide anything,” David sneers. Diane stares down for a moment, standing at the podium.  “What is going on, Diane, we’re late here!”

Her head snaps up, and she stands straight, alone at the front of the room. “Yes, I’m sorry,” she acknowledges David before taking a deep breath. “We’ve had a situation.”  Her sad eyes sweep across the whole room. “At the courthouse.”  “What?  What? What’d I miss?” Howard wonders aloud. “Will was shot,” she tells them, and the whole room gasps except David Lee, who fixes his eyes on Diane, not blinking, but not understanding either. “He – he was what?”

“I’ve just come from the hospital,” Diane goes on. “Will?  Will Gardner?” Howard looks for confirmation, because it’s just so damned ridiculous, because she can’t possibly be talking about our Will.  “Yes,” Diane replies quickly, compressing her lips before delivering the desolating blow. “He’s dead.”

As ever with a partner’s meeting, the room collapses into individual conversations.  “Will’s dead?” Howard asks, and for once his confusion doesn’t feel funny. This old man has seen so much change, but surely this was one piece he is never expecting. His mouth hanging open, David spends a moment immobilized – but then his lips close into an angry pout, and he stomps from the room in what looks like a fury.

As he walks down the hall – one hand in his pocket, the other swinging – we hear a television report about a shooting taking place at the courthouse. Somehow, seeing the assistants bending over to check out the news makes him even more livid.  Stalking into one of the smaller conference rooms, he barks at the women sitting at the table with characteristic grace. “Get out.  Get out!”  They do, closing law books and scurrying out of his way.  He stands with his back to the glass wall.  The moment the door closes, his bottom lip begins to quiver, and now I’m really done for, because nasty, brutish David Lee is crying out loud, sniffing back sobs and wiping his eyes.

And then we hear someone wailing like we pretty much all want to at this point, uncontrolled, anguished.  As David turns to look, Diane’s assistant – we’ve seen her before, right?  – brings news of a phone call from a client who heard about the shooting. “Who is that?” Diane snaps, glaring at the young blond woman sobbing so hard in the hall that she’s unable to catch her breath.  “Gail,” the assistant grimaces. “The new intern.”  How long has she been here, Diane wonders.  A week.  Well.  That’s a bit overboard, then – especially given that there are other girls now comforting her.  (Please God do not tell me she slept with Will.  He wouldn’t, right?)  After sharing an incredulous look with her assistant, Diane sails over to Gail, looking rather more like her usual self.

Also, she looks incredibly pissed.  “Are you done?” she demands of the young girl, her head up, anger coming off her in icy waves. “Excuse me?” the girl gulps.  “Are you done crying?” Diane asks more politely. “I… I don’t know,” Gail gasps, shaking her head. “Get your things and go home,” Diane instructs her.

“What?” Gail bleats, bewildered. “Take your things from your desk, leave here, go home, and don’t come back,” Diane orders.  Well. That’s a bit harsh.  She’s calm and collected, and Gail quakes under her gaze.  Ducking her head, the girl goes – leaving the sight path clear for Diane and all of us to see Alicia wander off the elevator in a dignified daze, hands in her elegant pockets.

The two women catch sight of each other and stop, staring through the glass. Blinking just once,  Alicia seems at the point of collapse; she can’t bring herself any further, and so Diane strides quickly through the office, trying to reach the younger woman before the tears come, reaching out with both arms to embrace her former subordinate and current, despised competitor.  The two women cling together, sobbing into each other’s shoulders.

And damn, I’m done, again.

Happily – if anything can said to be happy here – we pull away from this excess of emotion and instead find ourselves at the courthouse, now swarming with police, crisscrossed with caution tape.  There’s police chatter over a radio for a soundtrack.  There are even SWAT cops in body armor, far too late.  In her teal leather jacket, Kalinda alone stands out against the brown walls and black clad-police.  “Can you confirm that Will Gardn…” we hear over one radio.  Kalinda reaches the end of the hall, where a hulking behemoth of a cop blocks her, guarding the door she wants to go through. So she pulls out her phone, and when we hear the other phone ringing, I’m momentarily terrified she’s calling Will’s line, but no. “Yup?” a grouchy voice asks on the other end. “Um, I’m here, I need your help,” Kalinda confesses. “Yeah, I see you,”grunts dear old Detective Jenna.  Damn it.  I mean, I guess Kalinda needs her police contact now, but I was happy to be done with this creep.

“Thanks, she’s with me,” Jenna says, flashing her badge at the hulking behemoth, and so she and Kalinda slip inside the door. “And what happened next?” someone asks in a book-lined alcove.  “I was just standing there, and I turned around, and he had a gun.”  Ah. “Who had a gun?  The defendant?”  Yeah, Jeffrey Grant, the court officer tells a detective; he’s sitting down, surrounded by cops getting his story – one of who is Detective Doug Young from “Death of a Client” (full circle, damn it), better known as Will Chase of Nashville and Smash.  (Oh, and?  I just noticed this delicious fact on imdb – he played Roger in Rent on Broadway, opposite our own Renee Goldberry.  That’s right.  Maybe I’m the last to know, but it seems that Geneva Pine can sing. Now I’m starting to freak out at how fitting that is, what with the tragic romance and all.)

The court room officer is the only one sitting down. “He had your gun?”  “Yeah, but I don’t know how,” the cop answers. “Witness said he saw you on a cell phone,” A tall man with authority informs him.  “I got a text, I looked at a text,” he explains, his tone filled with self-justification, regret and confusion that this one tiny normal choice could have allowed the destruction of at least one life. “My girlfriend – she’s pregnant,” he admits, head down.  “Do you usually text during court?” Doug Young sneers. “I didn’t,” the cop reiterates. “I got a text.”

“When you heard the first shot, what did you see?” the man in authority asks. He totally reminds me of Lt. Fancy from NYPD Blue (another show highly skilled at devastating its audience by killing off important characters).  “The kid,” he answers. “He was…”  Young cuts in. “Did you try to get your gun back?”  Embattled Court Cop looks up at him, ashamed.  “No,” he admits, frowning and hanging his head. “Why not?”  Jenna frowns in the background. “What, are you kidding me? You weren’t there.  The kid was firing everywhere.”  What did you do, Young wonders, and the deep voice of the Authority has an answer. “Witness says you dove behind the first bench in the gallery.”  Kalinda’s had enough.

Brow furrowed, hands plunged into her pockets, Jenna follows Kalinda out. “You okay?”  What a ridiculous question.  Kalinda doesn’t even bother to answer it. “Where’s Jeffrey Grant?”  she demands.  Uh oh.  This is not a woman you want as your enemy.  ‘They’re holding him,” Jenna frowns. “Here?”  “It’s not gonna make a difference,” Jenna insists stupidly.  “Jenna,” Kalinda replies, because even she isn’t truly that dumb.

And no one can resist Kalinda.

“Jeffrey Grant,” Alicia repeats, astounded, sitting with Diane in the latter’s office. “Our client?”  The murder trial, yes, Diane explains, her voice so patient and gentle in the face of their true shared grief that my throat knots up painfully at the sound, and Alicia tries to process it all, shaking her head because the facts just don’t fit together. “Yes, but, that was supposed to be my case.”  Ah.  I’ve been wondering how this would hit.  Whatever I may think of this storyline, it’s been plotted with pristine beauty.  For once Will steals a client from Alicia, and it proves his undoing, because even though he was ready to win the case, his client unraveled.  And what was one of Alicia’s biggest jobs at Lockhart/Gardner?  Hand-holder in chief.  She was the one that they called when a client couldn’t cope.  If she was still at Lockhart/Gardner, the likelihood of this event decreases immensely.  And if Will hadn’t be angry and took a call meant for Alicia, she would have been the one in the courtroom, either talking Jeffrey off the ledge before he got there or facing the gun. It has been a long road to this moment. And from here it is a very easy road from here to paralyzing regret.

Just as Alicia turns back to Diane, ready to speak, David Lee pops his head in and asks for the sole remaining name partner’s attention.  She wilts.  I’ll just be a minute, she says.  David Lee holds the door open, a stiff jawed gargoyle.  To my surprise, he turns back before shutting it. “I’m sorry, Alicia,” he says.  She nods, and I’m dying, because for David Lee of all people to acknowledge her as a primary mourner … God.  What kind of upside down world is this?  We’ve landed in Oz, and the Wicked Witch is offering Dorothy tea and crumpets.

As soon as he leaves, however, Alicia’s plagued by a new image – Jeffrey Grant in a suit, standing tall and shooting Will down as coldly as the skinhead of her earlier musings.  She closes her eyes against the vision.  And that’s when her phone begins to bleat.

It’s Cary.  Oh, man.  This won’t be easy, for all of Cary’s complicated feelings about Will.  She accepts the call immediately, but takes a moment to compose herself before saying hi, wiping at her eyes, her voice (like Diane’s) far lower than normal. “Alicia, where are you?” Cary asks, urgent. I’m at Lockhart/Gardner, she confesses, and he loses it.  What is she doing?  “The deposition is now!  We promised to give Candace our full attention – you can’t just…” And then the peculiarity hits him. “What’re you – what’re you doing at Lockhart/Gardner?”

“Cary,” she says gravely, using her mom voice. You can see through all the tiny muscles in her face the effort it takes to get the words out for the first time. “Will is dead.”

At Florrick/Agos, Cary says what we were all thinking last week – yet another one of the uncomprehending answers that we give in times of complete shock. “What do you mean?”  And of course he’s asking what we’re all thinking; you have to mean something else, because what you just said cannot be true. “He was shot during his trial.  He’s dead.”  Her voice is colorless, water that runs off Cary without sinking in. His brows draw down, and his mouth flaps, unable to form words. “We have to delay the deposition,” she says, again without inflection. “I, I, I just, um, I, um…”  I have to go, she tells him, because she can’t have this conversation yet, because the tears have broken free again. “Alicia, are you alright?”  No.  No one is. “I’ll call you back, alright?” she says instead, and hangs up without letting him answer.

Slowly, Cary turns around to seek out the very comely Candace, sitting in the waiting area. “Is she coming?” Candace stands. Is that – it is, right?  That’s the girl Alicia was meeting with during “Hitting the Fan.”  “Where is she?”  Setting down the phone, Cary stands before her. “I, ah,” he stumbles. “We have to delay the deposition,” he tells her, helpless. She smiles, disbelieving. “What?”

“I have to call Will’s clients,” David Lee tells Diane.  Speaking of disbelief. “It’s not yet out that Will is dead, but when it is, the clients will be looking around…” Unable to stand it, Diane rounds on him. “David, please,” she begs. “But more importantly,” he continues, “other firms will be poaching…”  “David!” she snaps. “My best friend just died.”


“I’m sorry,” he dials down his tone.  “I don’t want to be doing this any more than you do, but the car is moving, and someone has to drive. I’m just asking your permission to break it to the clients.”  As he talks, she’s nodding.  He’s right, and she gets it, even if it feels incredibly disrespectful.  “Alright,” she says, reaching out to place her hand on his shoulder; in one of the most nicely calculated moments of the episode, he leaps back to avoid her touch.  Sometimes that physical affection is the thing that breaks us down, but how striking that David would react with the same aversion to comfort as Alicia.  No sympathy, please!  “You… do what you do,” Diane sighs, the light glinting off her enormous chain necklace.

In her former boss’s office, Alicia’s left holding her phone – and she notices that she’s got three messages. She clicks on the most recent missed call, from Kalinda. “Alicia.  Please call me as soon as you can. There’s something I need to tell you.”  Her voice shudders as the sentence ends; in her black coat, Alicia looks so pale, so lost.

The next, earlier call is from Diane, and Alicia listens like a stone statue. “Alicia.  It’s Diane,” the formidable lawyer says, her voice catching. “We’re trying to get a hold of you.  Please call.”  She clicks the last and earliest of the three messages, and the words “Will Gardner, mobile, 11:32AM” appear on the screen.  Her eyes goes wide, and his name – or maybe just a sigh – leaves her mouth. She breathes in, preparing herself, her hand hanging in the air before she finally clicks and returns the phone to her ear.   “Alicia,” begins Will, and then in the background we hear the dulcet tones of Judge Politi. “Mr. Gardner.  Are we about ready here?” “Hold on, Your Honor,” Will says – what? – and then just as quickly changes his mind. “I’ll call you back,” he says, and hangs up.

Wait, what?  Alicia can’t believe it.  I can’t believe it either.  That’s just beastly.  She simply cannot believe it.  She turns to look back into his empty office, just in time to see a man stride in, and suddenly her face is alive with terrible, terrible hope because the shape of the man’s body is familiar, and when he turns and of course it’s just some associate on a routine task, her lips quiver and the tears spill over.  And so she’s drawn back to her phone, to the sound of her ex-lover’s voice saying her name for the final time.  “Alicia. I’ll call you back.” Click.

Alicia’s face is made of stone. “I  have no idea why he would call,” Diane replies to a question we never hear. Together they establish that he must have been on a break in court. “Was he upset?”  Alicia asks, hesitant. “At?” Diane wonders. “Me,” Alicia admits.  They had apparently just poached Candace, who was Will’s client officially. “Will had dealt with all of that,” Diane insists.  How can she be so confident?  “You sure?” Alicia asks, not able to believe it any more than I am. “You can blame yourself for anything you want,” Diane offers, “but Will was … he was moving fast on a lot of fronts, he was…” She shakes her head, drawn down into her own grief once more.  (Please tell me that doesn’t mean he was having a baby with Isabelle or had secretly married her!)  Alicia can’t watch Diane’s grief, too polite or too pained, and turns away, taking in an unsteady breath.

Oddly, when we see her next Diane is composed, even smiling. “I loved him,” she tells Alicia, and now I have to take a deep breath to steady myself.  Alicia’s tears do spill over, but with a smile. “I know,” she agrees, her voice trembling. She swipes at a tear. “He loved you,” Diane says, more quietly, and Alicia’s eyes flicker to her face.  This is territory they’ve never covered and Alicia cannot handle it, her face twitching, more tears threatening.  When she stands her hand somehow ends up on Diane’s shoulder; I don’t know if Diane grabbed it or Alicia put it there on her own, but Diane holds it down.  You know you can stay here as long as you need, she says. “No,” Alicia demurs, but kindly – the two women grasp hands for a moment before Alicia rushes to the door and off into the elevator, collapsing against the wall as the doors close, so weary.

“Alicia,” says the Will of Alicia’s imagination (and how much does it hurt to see him there, so full of life in the courtroom hallway?). “This feud is stupid.  I care about you too much to see …”  Alicia shakes her head to clear it.  Too easy.  This would never happen. The real purpose for the call could never be so positive.   “Alicia,” Imaginary Will tries the call again, “are you kidding me? Leave my clients alone, Alicia. Find your own!”  You can see that his anger is easier for her to take; it feels truer. Or maybe it’s just easier to think he hated her than to feel like they could have still had a chance that was so cruelly taken away.  Her chin trembles, shivers as she struggles to control her face and with it, her inner torment.

The courthouse still crawls with uniforms, too late, too late.   Two men on either side of a hallway wave Kalinda and Jenna through; Jenna’s following Kalinda, just trying to catch up. “But you do admit to taking the sheriff’s gun?” Detective Young asks Jeffrey Grant in a holding cell.  Grant is sitting, rocking back and forth.  He doesn’t answer.  He seems incapable of speech. “You were angry about Dr. Delaney’s testimony?” Young continues. “His false testimony,” a motherly woman grips Grant by the shoulder, and I  – oh.  It’s Alma Hoff who we met last season in “Battle of the Proxies.”  I thought she was a small town lawyer from outside the city?  Not that she wasn’t competent, of course, I’m just surprised to see her.  Her motherly energy fits nicely in the scene, though, and the fact that she’s played by Betty Anne Baker, Colin Sweeney’s real life wife?  It adds to the depth here.  “We’d rather hear it from your client,” The Authority insists, bending over to peer at Jeffrey’s face. Holy crap, it actually IS Lt. Fancy!  “You were angry about Dr. Delaney’s testimony?”

Desperately Jeffrey gasps for breath, still rocking. “The accused nodded his head in assent,” Young barks. “He was lying, right Jeffrey?” Alma’s focuses is solely on her client.”  His anguish is terrible. “I just…” he begins, his breathing labored, jagged – he’s crying to hard for the words. “I didn’t kill her, I didn’t kill Dani.”  But Professor Delaney did, Alma insists, doing her level best to save him. “Why’d you kill your lawyer?” The Authority asks, and Jeffrey bends his head back, howling, the cut on his cheek still jagged, his teeth bared in unthinkable remorse and pain.

“I don’t think that’s been proved,” Alma snaps. Huh? “Why did you shoot at your own lawyer?” The Authority/Lt. Fancy badgers Jeffrey.  As Jeffrey rocks in her arms, Alma holds up a finger. “I want to make it clear – I have been hired by the Grant family to represent Jeffrey’s interests. There’s no evidence that Jeffrey was the cause of Mr. Gardner’s death.”  Oh.  That’s interesting.  Riveted, Kalinda has her hands wrapped around the mesh that separates her from Will’s presumed killer. “According to witnesses there was a hail of gunfire from other swat and sheriff members on the scene.”  Huh. “Now the bullets that killed Mr. Gardner may have…”

And that’s the point where Jeffrey Grant’s weeping becomes so pitiful that Ms. Hoff can’t stand it any longer. “Gentlemen,” she says, rising, “Let’s step out for a moment.”  Now Jeffrey’s doubled over completely, clutching his stomach, his body wracked by painful sobs;  Ms. Hoff walks out of the cell into the holding area, and the many law enforcement officials step back to make room.

“I want to say my client has been wrongly accused,” she says.   Um, how do you figure that?  “He was placed into a corner by faulty DNA evidence from the Cook Coun…”  She stops and glares over her shoulder at the cops ringed tightly round her.  “Could you back up a bit?” She continues to glare until they’ve backed out of her personal space, and though she’s defending Will’s killer, I’m just impressed by her.  How could you be a fan of this show and not appreciate her skill as a defense attorney or understand his right to that staunch defense?  It’s just odd, being on the other side of the contest. There’s an irony here, at any rate, in this quick and zealous advocacy. The clocks don’t stop. “We anticipate a suit against this jurisdiction.”

“Your client killed two people in that courtroom,” Detective Young thunders.  Two people?  Who was the second?  We know the prosecutor lived, so – the judge?  “In a fit of uncontrollable rage,” she replies, uncowed.  Rage?  More like despair. “He’s not getting off,” Young barks. “By reason of insanity,” Hoff finishes.  Well.  I could almost buy that.  With all those beatings, he was in terrible shape.  How funny that the Kings have written Jeffrey and his circumstances so well that I’m not mad at him for killing Will – just at them.  “Don’t question my client outside my presence.”

Kalinda, on the other hand, seems pretty damn mad at Jeffrey.  (I guess that’s the difference between being a character and a part of the audience.)  She storms off, her heels stabbing up against the floor, Jenna rushing after her.  Where are you going, she calls out.   Kalinda doesn’t answer.

At the Chicago Correspondent’s Luncheon, Peter’s got the crowd eating out of his hand like he always does.  “Ah, no, no, all joking aside,” he reels the laughing crowd back in. “Illinois only works if we can put aside our differences and work together.  I mean everybody.”  That’s sort of funny coming from Peter, isn’t it?  I mean, we haven’t seen him work with the legislature or anything, but he’s been a bit of a sharp elbows type as far as a lot of what we’ve seen him do. “It’s really that simple. And, that’s what I plan to do.” Eli looks on, clearly stressed. “And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find out what Eli Gold meant by changing my kids’ diapers.” Ha ha.  The audience seems to find that funny, though I really don’t.  They get he was reading Alicia’s speech, right?  I guess they don’t need to look too closely behind the curtain. Poor Eli nods and smiles miserably at the laughing reporters.

“Eli, what’s going on?” Peter asks immediately. You have to greet the press, the chief of staff insists, trying to put off the inevitable. “No, you need to tell me what’s going on right now.”  Eli aptly points out that if he tells Peter what’s going on, Peter will not want to talk to the press. “This about Will?” Peter asks, giving Eli a suspicious look, and the question just wipes Eli blank. “What?”  Eli’s astounded by this guess until he realizes Peter’s still living in the world that was. “This is about Will!”  No, Eli protests out of habit, before asking what Peter means by the question. “Alicia’s gonna talk to him and convince him not to testify against me,” Peter nods, convinced of his rightness.  “Peter,” Eli shakes his head, “I can tell you quite definitively Alicia’s not gonna talk to …”

And that’s where he chokes up.  And that’s when Peter must know something is really, really wrong.  “Will is dead,” Eli whispers.

Disbelieving, Peter squints at Eli. “There was gunfire at the courthouse. Will was shot by a client.” Peter opens his mouth in wordless surprise. Eli nods, confirming the truth of it. “You have to talk to reporters,” he gulps.

Yeah, it’s way, way too late for that. Peter’s shaking his head. “I have to – I have to call Alicia.”  He fishes in his jacket pockets for his phone.  I don’t think that’s a good idea, Eli tries to stop him.  Ya think?  Alicia needs space to deal with this.  It would be a very unusual husband who could let her have that space, however, and Peter is not that man. “I need to speak to my wife,” he insists, and rushes off, leaving Eli with a sour look on his face.

Kalinda must have been at the police station, or some basement where the holding cells are, because there’s no one at all outside the crime scene when Alicia arrives there. Pale and wan, she presses her lips together, trying to prevent emotion from leaking out.  That’s when Peter calls.  For a long, contemplative moment she stares at the screen of her phone.  And then – ever so predictably – she declines the call.

At the Correspondent’s Club, Peter stares at his phone, trying to parse his wife’s silence. In the courthouse, Alicia stares at her phone as well, trying to understand Will’s last mysterious call, staring at the message list in her in-box. She presses play, slowly raises the phone to her ear, listens to the non-message again.

And it seems she’s more than just torturing herself – she’s knocking on Judge Politi’s door.  I’m pleased and surprised to see him answer –  I was expecting him to be the other casualty.  “Mrs. Florrick,” he sighs, leaning on his door, his tie loosened. When Alicia asks if he has a moment (attempting a slightly brighter tone than we’ve heard from her all episode), he stumbles over his word choice. “I was about to go home,” he finally confesses, leaning further into his door. It’s about Will, she whimpers, and he relents.

“We’re just asking for a 48 hour delay,” Cary tells the lawyer sent to depose Candace.  Our sudden relocation to Florrick/Agos is a little jarring. “A delay in the deposition,” Other Lawyer repeats dumbly.  Yes, apologizes Cary, there’s been an emergency. Wow is that going to sound like a line, especially since Candace is sitting right there next to him.  “The deposition that was already delayed?” Other Lawyer raises one eyebrow. “That was by another law firm,” Cary explains. “Alicia Florrick has had to deal with a death close to her.”  Candace looks down into her lap. “Oh,” says the Other Lawyer, kind of shrugging. “Well, I’m sorry.  We’re not giving you 48 hours. We have a window now.  Take it, or wait another six months to depose.”

Blinking, Cary shoots straight. “Don’t be a schmuck,” he frowns, really not able to understand that this looks like tactics to his opponent.   The handsome young man draws down his eyebrows, amused.  “Here’s the thing,” he almost laughs. “I am a schmuck.  Tell her if she wants to go to a funeral, go – but there’s a price. Wait another six months to depose.”  Cary stares at him, disbelieving. So okay, he is being a schmuck, but I get it. Just as with Alma Hoff, we have a great example of another lawyer doing what they’re paid to do.  The clocks don’t stop. The job goes on.

Wait, what?  Other Lawyer leans in toward the pretty blond. “Or, Candace, you could settle this right now.”  He sets his briefcase down on the table in front of her. “Five cents on the dollar.”  Yeah, cause that sounds so appealing. Does he actually think that’s a reasonable settlement of anything?  He can’t possibly.  She rolls her eyes over at Cary.  “What’d you wanna do?” Other Lawyer asks.  Oh, dude.  You should be very mistrustful of that look on Cary’s face. “Let’s do it right now,” he says, his eyes red.

“It was a recess. Mr. Gardner and Mr. Polmar thought they could reach a plea bargain, so,” Judge Politi shrugs, “I recessed just before lunch.”  A plea bargain?  I thought that Jeffrey was innocent and we were about to prove it?  Why would Will go for a plea bargain – especially given that Jeffrey’s already become a target for abuse and threatened suicide?  The SA’s office had nothing except the DNA evidence – the idea that Jeffrey and Dani may or may not have met in a club is hardly motive for murder.  And Kalinda proved Jeffrey really couldn’t have lifted the cinder block murder weapon. That kind of upsets me.

Um. Anyway.  It’s all irrelevant now. Alicia doesn’t have any such questions; she notes that Politi must have passed them in the hall, and the judge agrees that he had. “He left me a voice mail,” she explains, “on my phone.”  I can’t even make fun of her for that – where else would he leave a voice mail? – because she’s just so lost and broken.  I didn’t hear, he says.

And then you can see – he can see – that she wants to say something, but hesitates. What, he asks, and it takes a second for her to look him in the eye. “What happened in court?” she asks, and it’s clear that she fears knowing as much as she needs answers.  We all know how much I loathe this storyline, but the way they’ve set it up is so smart. The show’s been praised for backing away from the gore and flash of showing us the shooting (something for which we’re probably all profoundly grateful) but that dramatic choice emphasizes once more for us that the show is about Alicia – that Will’s death is significant largely through the way it affects Alicia and then the remaining characters.  She wasn’t there; she has to be told.  We know what she knows.  “Why’d you wanna know, Mrs. Florrick?”  Judge Politi wonders, but she has no words to answer.

Her little wince and shrug must have been enough, somehow – maybe it’s the tears in her eyes, her inability to speak, her obvious heartbreak – because suddenly she’s walking through the judge’s entrance to the courtroom. We can see the caution tape, the evidence numbers on the floor, furniture over turned.  Will’s single shoe, God help me.  That damned shoe.

As Alicia stares in horror, walking into the aftermath of a nightmare, Judge Politi follows her, and explains events in his flat voice. “The accused got a gun, from the sheriff.” It fascinates me that he refers to Jeffrey as “the accused” – at first I thought wow, habits die hard if he’s giving Jeffrey the judicial benefit of the doubt despite watching him commit the crime, but then of course I understood he meant it in terms of the trial that had been going on. It seems I’m not the only one having trouble transitioning to the new reality. “We were at a sidebar at the bench.  He… hit the witness.”  OH.  Interesting.  He didn’t just shoot at Will?  “Killed him.”  Oh.  Dr. Delaney is the other fatality. After closing her eyes in horror, Alicia looks over at the massive blood smear on the floor behind the witness box. “Mr.Gardner tried to intervene and take the gun.”

Oh my goodness.  Of course he did.  Will, our gambler, our risk taker, died a hero – or at least in the attempt to be one.  He died not as a random victim of a disbelieving client, but trying to prevent harm to others. I have to stop and settle myself again.  I find it just as relieving to know he wasn’t the target – after the focus on his laughter (and earlier stress), I had assumed he was. Alicia looks less touched and more like she wished he had just hidden to keep himself safe – or maybe I’m just projecting that because it feels like what she would think.

“And he was hit next.  Mr. Polmar covered him with his body.” Alicia’s lost, and the shell-shocked judge has to confirm for her that Mr. Polmar is the ASA on the case.  It’s so clear that neither of them sees the empty room they’re standing in, instead replaying the tragic events. “He’s new, he was brought in from New York. And he stayed with Will the whole time, he, ah, dragged him over to the table.  There was gunfire all over.”  We see the bloody streaks across the floor. “The sheriffs were firing back at the accused, and Mr. Polmar was shot dragging Will out of the crossfire.”  We see Finn grabs Will’s forearm, dragging him, inching across the floor on his belly.  We see him drop.  We see the large slick of blood behind the prosecutor’s table.

“Polmar stayed with him the whole time?” she asks. “Yes, till the paramedics arrived,” the judge adds, his rich voice still colorless.  “He kept talking to him and holding his hand.”  Unable to decide whether to smile or cry, Alicia ends up doing neither. “Do you know what hospital he’s at?” she turns to ask, her voice thick.

In C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, two demons exchange comic, philosophical letters discussing how best to tempt the humans assigned to them.  One of their more fascinating discussions revolves around war; the older demon cautions the younger that while war seems a beautiful boon for temptation (filled as it is with pain, death, corruption and destruction) it can at the same time call out the best in human nature.  The sudden narrowing of choices can produce tremendous bravery and self-sacrifice.  It’s not a new notion or in any way exclusive to Lewis, but that’s all I can think – there was beauty and heroism through the horror.  They gave Will a good death after all – and more, one that was fitting and complex, not merely random but perfectly expressive of character in his striving as well as (perhaps) his failure to connect.

“It’s being noticed,” Eli informs Peter, who seems to be hiding in a cushy alcove at the wood paneled club, hunched over on a tiny love seat under a window, phone in hand.  So let people know there’s a family emergency and get him out of there!  Exasperated, Peter looks up at Eli.  “Let me have your phone,” he demands.

Uh oh.

“Why?” Eli snaps, but he knows why. Coolly, Peter turns it into a joke. “Because I’m the governor and I’m asking to use your phone.”  Without another word Eli hands it over; Peter stands to take it.  Apparently he’s out of practice. “Show me how to dial Alicia,” he commands.  (Seriously? I know you have flunkies to carry your phone, but that’s embarrassing.)  “It won’t mean anything,” Eli protests. “What,” Peter tells him, “if she picks up your phone and not mine?” He gives Eli a long look. “That won’t mean anything?” That’s what you’re ignoring your job for – worrying about whether your wife’s ignoring you? Poor Eli; he knows Alicia’s going to fail this test.

Alicia’s phone rings as she walks into through the ambulance bay (surely not the place they encourage visitors to enter, but definitely reminiscent of Julianna’s  er days).  Eli Gold, the caller i.d. says.  (Funny that he needs to be identified by last name but no one else has.)  She picks it up, her jaw tense. “Eli, not now,” she snaps.  We see the sag in Peter’s shoulders before he turns to face Eli and the camera. “No, it’s not Eli.  It’s me.”  Poor Eli.  “I, uh, tried you on my phone, I couldn’t reach you.”

I am trying to be sympathetic, but I sincerely hope that if Mr. E lost someone from his past I would allow him room to grieve, room to have had a life that wasn’t always focused on me.  And yes, I understand that Peter’s worried about Alicia’s emotional attachment to Will as it is right now, not in the past, but badgering her – trying to one up Will even in death – is not the way to win her heart back.  Alicia stares, her mouth agape.  “Sorry,” she says, once again trying to sound less lost. “I’m, um – I had my phone off. I just took it out, now.”  For all that she was rude to Eli, at least she doesn’t have to lie to him – but she can hear Peter’s hurt and jealousy through his words.  He sighs. “I just called to tell you that I’m sorry. I heard about Will.”  Which you could have said in a voice mail.  Even though I get it, I’m kind of furious at him for making this all about him.  She blinks. “Thank you.”

After waiting for her to say something more (she doesn’t),  he asks where she is.  She looks around a little. “I’m at … Chicago General Hospital.”  A tribute to County General, the home of er?  So strange to see her standing in front of the flashing lights looking so unlike Carol Hathaway. “Is that where he is?”  Peter’s voice is low, but not from grief. “No,” she shakes her head, “Ah – I don’t know.”  So who’s there, Peter wonders. Diane?  Alicia explains about Finn Polmar. “It’s terrible, terrible,” Peter replies, and even though it’s just one of those things you say when life makes no sense instead feeling particularly sincere I’m thinking how weird it must be for him since he was the State’s Attorney, because a few months ago it would have been his job to be out in front of the press explaining this, how upsetting it would be even though he doesn’t know Finn, when he goes and ruins it all by asking when she’s going to be home.  Damn it!  Annoyed, she closes her eyes. She has no idea.

“Well, I’m gonna come to  you.”  No, she barks, and then immediately looks upset at herself for the display of emotion.  This shocks Peter enough that Eli notices his distress. “Alicia, I’m coming to you,” he repeats, more emotionally and emphatically. “Peter,” she sighs, “I’m fine.  Please – I’m, I’m fine.”  I can’t decide what bothers me more, that he’s forced her to lie or that she’s incapable of being honest with him.  “I’m your husband and I should be there.”  There it is again, staking his claim.  Does he genuinely think his presence is going to ease her burdens? What does he want out of this scenario, to comfort her or to control her grief?  “Yes, and you’re the governor,” she bites back. “Where ever you go, there’s an entourage, and I can’t deal with that right now.”  Maybe, but it’s more likely that this is just a plausible lie to put him off.

It works, though. “Yeah, okay, you’re right,” he frowns. Eli watches everything with concern. “I’m so sorry,” Peter finishes, and Alicia thanks him, her voice quavering. “Goodbye,” she whispers, and hangs up.

“Is she alright?” Eli asks.  Bless you, Eli.  Maybe it’s due to a life of playing second fiddle, but you would have handled that a lot better. Sighing, Peter extends his hand to return Eli’s phone – but before he makes the hand off, he notices a certain name on Eli’s called list; the infamous Nelson Dubeck.  Oh for the days when I thought you were the greatest threat to my beloved characters, Javert! “You talked to Justice?  You called Agent Dubeck about a half an hour ago?”  His voice quiet and grave, Eli answers in the affirmative, and Peter doesn’t like it. “I’m just doing my job,” Eli grumbles.

“No, you’re not,” Peter guesses. “This is about Will being dead, and now that Will’s dead, Justice has no case against me, right?”  He half smiles.  Really?  Is that true?  Hmm. I guess Will was the only one who could prove that Peter knew anything about the tape, so yes?  That doesn’t mean that Justice doesn’t have a case, though, it’s just going to be against Eli now.  It’s been totally overshadowed, but I’m completely horrified by those other stuffed ballot boxes we learned about in the Episode Which Cannot Be Recapped.

Nervous, Eli agrees with Peter’s optimistic assessment, and Peter rounds on him. “Can we just take a minute? Can you just stop, and not think about the angles right now?”  What, because you’re actually broken up about Will’s death?  This conversation worked much better between Diane and David. “Don’t scold me for trying to protect you,” Eli declares, and you can see that he at least is deeply upset. “You don’t think that I want to be doing something else?”  Well, you could have just left it to the wire tap; Dubeck probably knew that Will was dead as soon as you did.  Not that Eli knows about the wiretap.  I couldn’t help wondering after how Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, our evil audience surrogates, would react to this news.  Is Dee sorry that Will and Diane will never get together now?  I wonder if we’ll ever find out?

Er. Sorry.  Eli’s breathing heavy, he’s so upset, and Peter actually hangs his head in shame. “No.  You’re right. I apologize.”  Would that he and Alicia had a relationship this functional!

At County – sorry, Chicago General, Alicia asks a desk nurse what room Finn Polmar’s in.  They must have really wanted the emergency room backdrop, because every hospital I’ve ever been to has a visitor’s desk at a lobby like a hotel staffed by people who aren’t also trying to save lives.  The nurse, predictably, answers the desk phone instead of Alicia, holding up a finger to have her wait.

And as she waits, there’s a hand on her shoulder, a man’s thin fingers. She turns.

“It was all a mistake, can you believe it?” Will grins, impeccable in a dark suit.  God, I want to hide every time I see his face. “They thought it was me because the body was shot in the face.”  Alicia turns back – or no, I suppose she never turned at all – and stares, blinking, off into the distance.  She looks a little embarrassed, but collects herself to repeat Finn’s name when the nurse gets off the phone.

“You’re looking for Finn?” a young woman with short blond hair and a cup of coffee asks.  His wife, I wonder?  “I’m Maria, his assistant,” the girl introduces herself, free hand tapping her sternum. “He’s in surgery right now, but he should be out pretty soon.”  Oh dear. “You’re?” Alicia introduces herself hastily. “I just wanted to see if he was alright.”  Um, no, but that’s okay to start with I guess. “Mrs. Florrick,” Maria nods, with this interesting note in her voice. Recognition, but not simply that. “He’s much better now, thanks.   How did you know Finn?”

“I … don’t, really,” Alicia tips her head to the side, endearingly awkward. “I knew Will.”  Knew, not know. Sigh. And yet again, she looks like she’s going to break down. “Oh my God, of course,” Maria says, setting her coffee down on the nurse’s station. “It was so weird, to be with him today, and now this.”  You were with him, Alicia asks, excited. “You were in court?”  No, the plea bargain, Maria corrects, crossing her arms.  Oh.  Okay.  Maybe Will went into the plea bargain before he had Kalinda’s evidence from the hospital?  Because with it, I really don’t understand why he would have even thought about sending Jeffrey to jail.

Single minded Alicia’s not thinking about that. “Did Will step out to make a call during the plea bargain session?”  The hope on her face is agony.  I understand this focus – because God, she needs something to focus on, the way she threw herself into her work during Peter’s scandal – but this phone call could never have been as important to him then as it feels to her now, sanctified by his death.  You don’t start your day thinking “these will be my last phone calls, I better make them count.”  It’s not how it works. “Yeah,” she nods, remembering, and Alicia jumps on her words. “He made a phone call? Do you know why?”  “Yes,”  she says, “but it wasn’t good.”

Alicia’s face falls.

“What do you mean?” she asks. “He was angry,” she recalls. Really pissed.  Someone was stealing his clients and he was calling them about it.” Alicia’s lips begin to tremble. “I had to go out and interrupt him,” Maria continues. “I, I told him that Finn was ready.  It was sad.”  Alicia nods, devastated, not thinking that Maria isn’t on the recording. No, she can only think that Will died angry with her.  Blinking back tears, Alicia rushes off. “Want me to tell Finn you stopped by?” Maria calls after her, and still heading for the ambulance doors, Alicia turns. “No, that’s alright!” she declares, trying to hide her devastation.  Hands plunged into her pockets, red lights flashing and reflecting off her face, she slips out through the sliding doors.

“There’s one problem,” David paces in front of Diane’s desk. “I called Bob Klepper.  He wants to hear from you before he considers staying.”  Oh dear God, Diane sighs in disbelief.  “I wouldn’t have bothered you with this,” David nods, “but he’s one of Will’s…”  Top clients, I know, Diane agrees. She stands. “I will see him tomorrow.”

“He said today, or he’ll start making calls,” David admits, embarrassed to have to pass this on. That’s another expression I’ve never seen on his face; it’s an episode of firsts for him. Diane’s eyes flare.  “Ever think we chose the wrong profession?” she asks, weary.  For this, David has no answer. “I’ll ask if he’ll take a call,” he offers, finger pointing up to ask her to wait. “No, tell him to come in,” she decides, and when David looks back, surprised, she nods and looks away. “That’s what Will would do,” she says, her voice low.

“So, this was all an unfortunate misunderstand, Dr. Levine?” Other Lawyer asks.  Dr. Levine, a curly haired man perhaps in his late fifties or early sixties, leaps at the chance to give an enthusiastic yes, but all we see is Cary’s shell-shocked face.  “I fired Candace because of performance. That’s all.”  Right. Candace compresses her lips in anger. It’s clear what real life case they’re referencing, but this doesn’t really make sense of the 5 cents offer, does it?  “Thank you, Doctor. Anything, Cary?”  Cary continues to stare blankly. “Mr. Agos?” the Other Lawyer asks, leaning down to catch his eye. Has he been paying attention at all?

“When was the last time you had sex with your wife?” he asks suddenly, turning to Dr. Levin. Relevance, Other Lawyer snaps, surprised. “The fine, upstanding doctor said he was happily married and that’s why he didn’t fire my client because she was too pretty.”  Candace smirks; Cary has been paying attention. “I was just examining the truth of his contention.”  It’s pure harassment, his opponent asserts; Dr. Levine blinks behind his glasses, too astonished to answer. “When was the last time you had sex with your massage therapist?” Cary follow up, which, yikes. The discussion descends into claims of outrage and irrelevance. “From Beverly Jenson, admitting you had sex on five separate occasions,” Cary says, passing a document over to Dr. Levine.

“The deposition’s over,” Levin’s lawyer proclaims, standing. “Let’s get the judge on the line,” Cary brays. “Dr. Levine has a patient, so, we’re gonna have to delay this after all.”  Not so fast, bub. “You’re the one who went to the judge insisting that the deposition could only be today,” Cary yells, still sitting, slamming the desk with his finger. “So let’s get the judge on the line!  But I don’t think he’s going to be in a giving mood.”  The other three look at each other awkwardly. “What do you want?” Other Lawyer asks, presumably inquiring after a settlement.  Cary looks up at him, seething. He shrugs. “I wanna get out my anger and my aggressions by destroying your client,” he announces. “Now sit down.”  He flips through his papers as they exchange more awkward glances; Candace looks pretty thrilled. “I said sit the hell down,” he adds, quiet but forceful.

Oh dear God.  Kalinda stalks down a tiled hallway; an orderly pushes an empty gurney down the hall toward her.  Please no.  Not the morgue.  We saw this in last week’s previews, but dear God.   Jenna struggles to catch up as Kalinda finds the doorway she’s come for; it’s Jenna who knocks, and Kalinda who stands back, eyes wide.  Waving in recognition, the coroner steps back from his charge and greets them at his door.  “Hey Jenna, Kalinda,” he says, before jerking his head back toward his room. “Sorry about this.”  Deep breaths, people. Jenna tosses her hair. “How many wounds?”

“Three,” he answers decisively, perhaps relieved to be on scientific grounds rather than emotional ones.  “All Glocks, G19.”  Kalinda looks ready to cry.  She looks like a three year old, really.  “Same gun?” Jenna asks what Kalinda would ask if she had words left, but there’s no way to know at this point.  “G19 seems to be the sheriff gun of choice.”  Looking back into the room, Kalinda sees the sheet folded back, a head and chest and shoulders visible.

“What’s goin’ on, Kalinda?” the coroner asks.  With a quick look, Jenna realizes she needs to answer this too. “We’re trying to figure out how Mr. Gardner died.  Was it from Jeffrey Grant, or the crossfire.”  It’s probably an understatement to say that I’ve never taken to Jenna, but I appreciate this.  And I like the way her jacket suggests armor; there’s a textured Samurai warrior feel to it with stiff, starched lines. Right now, I’m going to take enjoyment where I can.

I’ll have my report tomorrow, the coroner tells her. “We don’t wanna wait,” she replies, giving him a shrewd glance.  Um, what if he won’t actually know until tomorrow?  He flutters his eyes, circling through the information he might have that could help.  “The bullet to the thorax was the one that killed him,” he explains.  “The other two shots, the one to the right shoulder and to the stomach, they were survivable.  It was the first.”  It looks like Kalinda is being tortured. “And who shot the first?” she speaks for the first time. “Why?”  “Because I wanna know,” she insists, a sharp edge in her voice. He lets out an uncertain breath (can this possibly be good for her?) but Jenna gives him the go ahead, so he tells what he knows. “The shot to the thorax was from close range. Close range meant it came from the accused, Jeffrey Grant.”

Okay, thanks, Jenna tells him, but Kalinda’s not done. “Let me see him,” she insists. “No need,” he tells her, and part of me thinks good God, please no, and the other part thinks, don’t you patronize her and tell her what she’s not capable of handling.  I’m the one who can’t handle that.  “I have the family coming in for an i.d.”  God, seriously?  Do they do that with everyone?  I mean, people knew who he was when he was brought in.  “Kurt, just let me see him,” she insists, stepping up toward him, and with a look to Jenna, Kurt the coroner backs into the door, opening it for her to slip through.  She looks down, and I’m gripped with fear because I just don’t want to see – but no.  An eye, the side of his nose.  Lips, unmoving.  That’s all.  It could be anyone on that table. From a distance, we see Kalinda slowly unfold the sheet and pull it over Will’s head.  She steadies herself with a great shuddering breath, hands on the stainless steel table, and then walks out, crying.  In the hall, she leans against a set of stainless steel doors – probably a refrigeration unit – so wrecked.

“Hey Kalinda,” Jenna begins, preparing to join her former lover in the hall. “Jenna, could you just give me a minute?” Kalinda asks weakly, and Jenna silently complies.  But circumstances conspire to prevent Kalinda taking that moment; her phone buzzes in her jacket pocket, and wiping her sniffling nose, she answers. “Yeah?” she says, leaning against the metal doors.  “I’m going crazy,” Alicia whispers, sitting in her car, looking old and drawn and devastated.  “I know,” Kalinda nods. “But… I don’t know what to do, Kalinda,” Alicia pleads, her voice skipping, her lips icy pale.  Somehow, this galvanizes something in Kalinda. “I have to go,” she declares suddenly, looking over her shoulder to see if Jenna’s still ensconced with Kurt.  She’s not.

“What’re you going to do?” Alicia asks, fully alert. “I don’t know,” Kalinda replies, breathy. “It sounds like you do know,” Alicia declares, frowning. Yes it does. It sounds like her need to protect has surfaced and given her purpose. “I’ll see you later, Alicia,” she says primly, and hangs up with a frighteningly excited look on her face, turning to wait for Jenna’s attention.  When she gets it, she indicates she’s ready to go, and Jenna immediately comes out, staring.  Kalinda, what are you going to do?

“Thank you, Mr. Klepper, for coming in,” David Lee begins the proceedings in Diane’s office while the queen sits silently on her throne.  Or behind her desk, if you want to be technical about it. “You can understand this has been a difficult day.”  Oh, he certainly can.  “I loved Will,” he claims. “He was my lawyer for 8 years.”  Does one usually love one’s lawyer?  Sorry. I keep thinking I must have heard that wrong. “Diane, how’re you doing?”  (No, he didn’t say it like Joey from Friends, thank God.  He’s quite dry, passionless. Just, why be such a dick and be there at all?) “Not good,” she admits, and she sounds it. She’s got her glasses on, which pretty much only happens when she’s going to take them off dramatically. “I’m sorry,” he says. “Thank you for seeing me on such short notice.” (Again, if you’re sorry, why be a dick?)

He takes a deep breath, clearly enjoying holding court. “Let me be clear up front. I wanna stay.  But, with this product manufacturing lawsuit, I need to know where we stand.”  Okay, seriously.  Why the hell does he think a new firm would be more up to speed on this than them?  A new firm would need time to review the materials; Diane will need time.  If he doesn’t think Diane’s up to it, fine, hire another lawyer, but to insist on her proving it today, in person? It’s heartless, pretentious nonsense from a jerk just wanting to feel important.   (Hee.  This is actually making me way more upset the second time around.)  “Diane is best to talk to that,” David declares, hands clasped like a good butler.

“Good,” Bob Klepper says, turning to her, “So? You’ll be able to take over for Will?”  “I will,” she says, hand to her chin.  It’s a bit of a James Bond villain look, actually.  He relaxes into his seat.  Seriously, you couldn’t get that over the phone?  She takes off her glasses dramatically. “But instead I’m going to fire you as a client.”

David Lee looks up in shock.

Bob Klepper looks up in shock. “What?” he asks, all incredulity. “You’re no longer our client here,” she explains, her voice sharp and clipped. “I”m not?” he asks dumbly – rather like all our characters hearing about Will’s death. “You’re not.”  Ha!  She so did not clear this with David; I love his bewildered reaction. “I can go to Lake & Tordelo,” he waves a hand. “Yes, I know that,” she agrees. “That’s why I talked to them.”  Something close to a smile graces her face. “They won’t take you.” He huffs in shock, then chuckles. “They will.”  “No.  They won’t,” she tells him. “They don’t like the way you’ve … handled this.”  Damn.

He’s not ready to blink yet, however. “Florrick/Agos solicited me,” he tells her. “Yes, I know,” she says evenly. “And I just talked to Cary, he won’t take you either.”  Now Klepper is well and truly shocked.  “They liked Will.  They don’t like you.”

Okay, he says, shaking his hands in defeat. “I’ll give you a few days and then we’ll talk.”  He looks to David, but the smooth butler simply looks away. “No, you’re fired, Mr. Klepper,” she repeats, standing and walking  toward her door. “You don’t belong here any more as a client.  We’ll transfer your files to your home.”  Understand that he’s been dismissed, he stands, stunned. “This is insane!”  She holds the door open for him; he stops to look her in the face. “Do you know how much business I bring in here?”  She smiles right up at him. “I do. That’s what makes this so difficult.”  Funny, cause it doesn’t look difficult at all. “It’s not what Will would do,” Klepper aims low.  “If I were dead,” she informs him, her voice near a whisper, “it’s exactly what Will would do.”  She closes the door behind him with a satisfying thud.

She’s so pumped full of adrenaline you can almost see it; she breathes in, trying to contain it, before looking over at David. “That felt good,” she realizes.

“Turned me on,” he says, smirking his gargoyle smirk, which, ew!  I so do not want to think about that.  And that’s such an inappropriate thing to say to your boss. Or colleague.

But also kinda funny when we really needed funny.

Alicia sits at her kitchen island, palms on the counter.  If David is stone made flesh, Alicia looks like the reverse.  Her head is twisted awkwardly, and she’s just empty.  “Mom?” Grace’s quavery little voice sounds, soft and tentative; Alicia looks down to see that her daughter’s brought her a glass of water. “I’m so sorry,” she says, tenderly taking her mother’s limp hand.  Deep breaths, E, deep breaths. Slowly, Alicia turns her eyes to her daughter’s face. “I know you don’t believe it, but he’s in – he’s with God.”  The girl, still in her school uniform, smiles in the vain hope that this will make some sort of difference.  Yep, that’s done it for me.  Where are my tissues?

Alicia tilts her head slowly.  “What does that mean, Grace?” she asks, her question clinical. “He’s in heaven?  With angels?  And clouds?”  Grace laughs, looks away. “I don’t know,” she admits, letting go of her mother’s hand and walking around the kitchen. “I don’t think you can really picture it.”  I’ve always thought it was futile to try, really. “But you believe it?” Alicia presses, still hard.  Leaning against the sink, Grace looks down, nods.

“Why do you think Will is in heaven?” Alicia wonders. Grace shakes her head. “He was a good person, wasn’t he?”  You’re old enough to know that isn’t a simple question, Grace, especially given what you’ve been through with your Dad.  People who are good to us, people we love, can also do bad things. I was thirteen when my grandfather died, and I remember thinking that while he wasn’t exactly a nice person (terrible temper) but I don’t want any part of a God who would keep someone I loved out of heaven.

For someone who doesn’t believe in God, Alicia gives the question a lot of thought. “He – he did some bad things,” she confesses, looking like she’s going to cry.  Looking like she wants to be able to say he was a good person but doesn’t know what that means anymore. “But he did them because – because he wanted to be good.”  God, I’d love to know which bad things for good reasons she’s thinking of.  The money he stole?  The devious tricks he used to help clients?  Sleeping with her while she was technically still married? “Well then he’s in heaven,” Grace replies, easily convicted.

“I can’t believe that, Grace,” Alicia replies, looking down at her lap.  “Why?” her daughter wonders. She sighs, deeply, and when she finally looks up her eyes are filled with tears.  She considers the answer carefully. “You think God is good,” she says finally. “I don’t find any good here.  Kid picked up a gun – didn’t even mean to shoot Will.”  Her voice breaks, and Grace’s eyes fill up with tears, and so do mine. “It’s just some stupid accident,” Alicia sniffles. “What does it mean?”  Hands flat, she wipes at her eyes, her movements sharp and angry.  That’s been her question all day.  What does the voice mail mean?  What does his death mean?  Where is the order in the universe?

“What does it mean if there is no God?” the young girl shrugs, and yes.  This.  This. “Why is that any better?”  “It’s not better,” Alicia complains, her head thrown back looking up at the ceiling as if she could stop the damn tears. “It’s just – truer.  It’s just not wishful thinking.”  Yeah.  I get that part of it too.  She tries to compose herself, wipes at the tears again. “Well,” Grace suggests, “maybe you always believe in the bad. Maybe that’s wishful thinking too.”

And wow, that’s probably the smartest thing that’s ever been said about Alicia’s atheism – that she can’t bear to hope that there’s meaning.  Because she cares too much.  Because she can’t believe Will was calling her from love, only from anger.  Because it matters too much to hope.

She stares at her daughter, and her lips start shaking again, and she has to look away.  “Mom,” Grace says, moving back to her. “I just want you to be happy.”  There is no happy today, Grace. Alicia swats a hand at her daughter, who’s hugging her from behind.  “I will be,” she says without any enthusiasm. “Eventually.”

And that’s when her phone rings.  (Damn, that was such a great scene.)  Alicia sniffles, and clears her throat, and makes Grace back off so she can take the call.  “Mrs. Florrick?” comes the voice. “Yes?”  “This is Finn Polmar.”  Whoa.  Irrelevantly, I wonder how he’s possibly gotten her number.  I’m sure it’s unlisted, given her high profile. The office, I suppose?  None of that matters, not considering the longing that suddenly animates her whole body. “Oh, ah, yes!  How are you?”  A bit loopy, he almost laughs. “The painkillers… Ah, Maria said you wanted to talk to me about Will, about our last conversation.”  Oh God. “Yes, but that can wait until tomorrow,” she says, her tone uneven and low. “I’ll – why tomorrow?  I’m up all night.”  Her eyes flicker toward Grace, terrible with a sort of hope.

The courthouse is quiet.  The crime scene has not been touched. Downstairs, in holding, Jeffrey Grant lies on a bench, and a night guard plays with his phone in the gloom.

“Whadda you need, Jenna?” he asks, gruff, as our least favorite Detective darkens his desk top.  “Ah, just stretching my legs,” she lies jovially, tossing her long ponytail over her shoulder as she looks back at Jeffrey.  Forget what I said about liking her jacket.  Uck.  (Alicia’s coat, on the other hand?  Swoonworthy.)  “What about you?  Why they gotchu here?” He barely looks up from his phone, swiping with a single finger. “Suicide watch.”  Oh.  It’s nice that you’re so interested. “Every thirty minutes.”  “Kid who shot up the court?”  Yep. Anyone else stuck here, she wonders; there are a couple people down the other end, it turns out.

She chews on that for a minute. “Why don’t you go take a look?”  Now she’s got his full attention. He shakes his head. “It’s my responsibility,” he admonishes her, suddenly serious. “No,” she claims. “It’s mine.”  And so much for responsibility, because with one sober look, he’s gone.

Oh my GOD.

Kalinda’s already standing down by the cell, where Jeffrey lies on his side, his eyes unseeing, the red slice on his cheekbone in sharp relief. Finally, he sees her staring at him.  He must know who she is, why she’s there.

“Why’d you do it?” she demands, face pressed up near the mesh. He just stares back, though we can hear his sharp breathing. “You killed my friend,” she nods. “I didn’t mean to,” he replies, plaintive, and goes back to staring at his wrist, as if wondering whether he can kill himself by gnawing at it.  “You didn’t mean to, but you shot him,” she repeats, and his face wrinkles up, his control slipping.  She stares him down, leans into the mesh.

“You wanna die?” she asks, and again, his face contorts. He wants to die.  He wants it, he nods, crying.  He wants to die so bad, and my mind goes back to the scene in the courthouse where he’s crying, back to the judge’s bench, Glock pressed under his chin, the rounds used up.

She pulls something out of her pocket. “I have your belt,” she teases, holding it up, brown leather coiled round like a snake. He can’t believe it.  Sniffling, he pushes his body off the bed. His blond hair is rucked up on the side, flattened from lying down, and the bed head makes him look even younger and more vulnerable. “I took it from Property,” she claims. “The guard will be away for ten minutes.  That’ll give you enough time.”  Oh my God, what?  You can’t do that, Kalinda!  You’re not going to do that!   He staggers to his feet, limps to the mesh wall of the cell, where Kalinda grins, holding up the belt, and oh my God.  Will would never want this, Kalinda.  Will would feel the pity that the audience feels.

The belt mesmerizes Jeffrey Grant; grunting, he shuffles toward it, reaches out and touches the edge of it with his pink tipped fingers.  Fixes his eyes on it like it brings his salvation. Caught up in a vile hunger, she stares at his face as she inches the belt back.  He edges back so he can see her face, his disbelief plain. “What’re you doing,” he begs. “No, you’re gonna live with this,” she insists, savoring the words, savoring the way his face crumples, the way the tears fall.  “You know Will was a good man,” she tells him, her English accent never more clear. “And I loved him, and he was trying to help you.” He twists in agony. I need another tissue. “So you live with that.”  She stuffs the belt back in her pocket.

“No,” he begs. “No, no, please!”  She backs away, never taking her eyes from his face. “Oh no!  Please!”  He slumps against the mesh as she coolly, cruelly walks away.

Ah, so much easier to be the audience here and know who to blame.  This poor kid, this instrument only, the vehicle of Will’s destruction.

Two quick raps on the wall and a breathy hello announces Alicia’s entry into Finn Polmar’s hospital room.  “I’m Finn,” he says (gee, really?), slumped into a chair, a bathrobe over his hospital johnny, his left arm in a cast as we saw last week.  (You’re a good assistant and friend to think of the robe, Maria.)  What a pleasant voice he has, Matthew Goode.  “Alicia,” she tells him, hands in her coat pockets.  Gosh, it’s a beautiful coat. “I guessed,” he says. “I would ask you to sit, but I am sitting in the only chair,” he notes, then realizes that the bed could serve as a seat.  Somehow this embarrasses her, and she blushes and says she’s fine.

“Are you in pain?” she asks next.  “No, not tonight,” he replies, his voice rich with humor, “but tomorrow will be interesting.” Woozy, he chuckles.  Hm.  Maybe he’s not wearing a johnny after all; maybe what I thought was a johnny was bandages and the strap of the sling, because I can see a lot of his chest right now. He blows out a breath in frustration. “Sorry, the painkillers,” he excuses himself, looking away.  No, don’t be sorry, she replies, walking slowly toward him.  She’s ready to know. Were Will’s last thoughts of her angry and unforgiving ones?

First, however, she’s distracted by the book sitting next to him.  “You’re reading Cicero?”  No, he demurs, that was a joke from my assistant. “I have no idea what it means, but I will be asking her tomorrow.”  The oddness of this makes Alicia smile.   (The Catiline Orations, in case you were wondering, detail an aborted rebellion in the Roman Senate; it starts with an anti-corruption law and devolves into assassination attempts, private armies and executions. I can see how there might be an obscure joke in there somewhere, and my respect for Maria just keeps rising.)  Then he breaks away from their conversation, humming with sudden pain, frowning fiercely.  “No, we’re good,” he declares a moment later, his features smoothing out.

“So, ah – you knew Will?” he asks, trying to clear his head, to remember why they’re having this conversation. “I did,” she whispers, not able to get the words out at full strength. “I liked him,” he declares, and you feel like he means it. It makes Alicia smile, that sincerity. “I liked him a lot.  He really had me at the trial.”  I wonder if this is the first of many such conversations Finn will have – with Will’s sisters,  with Diane?  He smiles to himself. “I was losing,” he remembers, and his eyes bug out.

“I heard you tried to save him?” Alicia prompts. “Yes,” Finn remembers, then looks up at her, a rueful smile on his face. “That wasn’t too smart, was it?”  Thank you, she says, and their eyes meet. “Yeah, he kept, um,  I don’t know,” Finn scrambles for the words – no.  Not just the words, the right memories from the jumble in his head. “Ut, uh – could you pass me the water?”  She brings him a plastic cup from beside the bed, and he thanks her for it.  “Yeah, he kept moving his lips like he wanted to talk.”  Well of course he did.  Who isn’t going to?  Especially Will, for whom words were all. “I was right over him, and he kept staring up at me, and he kept opening his mouth.”  You can see so clearly ; all Alicia wants to know was if those last words, those last thoughts, were about her. “I don’t know, maybe he didn’t see me there.  I don’t … if I start making sense, will you tell me?”

“You’re making sense,” she says, and there’s little to distinguish her tone from crying except that there are no tears on her face. “Thank you,” he replies, before going back to the courthouse in his mind. “And he reached up – he could still move his hand –  and he grabbed mine.” Oh, her face. “I asked him if he was alright, and he just kept holding my hand, kept squeezing it, while we were waiting for the paramedics to arrive.”  They’re both crushed by the thought. “It’s really pretty awful, isn’t it?” he realizes, and she nods. “Yes,” she whispers, holding down the tears so fiercely.

So she changes the direction of the conversation. “Um, Maria said that he was angry during the plea bargaining, that he stepped out to make a phone call?”  This is why she’s come, after all. “Ah yes,” he says, his eyes practically rolling in his head as he searches for the memory. “Some guy he needed to fire.”  “Some guy?” Alicia asks, revitalized. “Damian something. He stole some clients.”  Though I won’t say that my relief is as profound as Alicia’s – she wobbles to the bed and sits, finally –  I’m still pretty thrilled that Damian will not, therefor, be the “new Will.”  “I’d offer you a seat,” he repeats, “I really would, but…”

“No, I’m fine,” she says, and the miracle is that he has truly lightened her burden.  Then he makes me laugh. “Do you want food?  There’s food.”  Alicia looks down at the foam cups and bowls on his dinner tray and declines graciously.  Then she composes herself, arranges her features so she can ask the question she came for. “Will called me at 11:30, just before your bargaining session,” she starts.  She can’t look up.  She can’t find the right words, so she blows out a breath and just asks it plainly. “Do you know why?” Finally, she lifts her eyes to his.

“No,” he says.

“He didn’t say anything?” she presses, and her voice goes high instead of low as she fights to control it. She nods, understanding that he didn’t. “I had some pictures on my phone – my wife, my son, he asked me about them,” Finn remembers. “What did he ask?”  Their names, Finn remembers.  This is the answer, I think.  There’s nothing momentous about that last call; it’s common place.  When Will knew he was dying, he had no breath for last words, and before, no need.

Noticing that Finn’s eyes seem to be closing on their own volition, Alicia startles out of her revery, tells him he should get to bed. “I really should, shouldn’t I?” Of course he makes no move to rise. “Could you tell the nurse?” he asks as she gathers herself to go; of course she will. “Thank you, Finn,” she adds, trying to put all the weight of her gratitude into the words. “I wanted to tell you something,” he muses, frustrated. “What?” Again, she’s alive with hope, when it’s probably nothing momentous.   “I’m sorry.  I really am.”  Is that what he wanted to tell her?  She nods, because the tears are coming and won’t be stopped this time.

She opens the door to her apartment as if she were a zombie; the action is mechanical.  She’s not present in it. She tosses her keys, but walks forward in her coat.  Although she should have expected it – I’m sure everyone in the audience did – she doesn’t notice Peter until he steps toward her, and then she turns, her gaze cold and uncomprehending. “Are you alright?” he asks, and I want to smack him a little for his stupidity except there’s really nothing to say. Dignified, she looks around for an answer. “I don’t know.”

He walks toward her but doesn’t embrace her as I expected, instead putting his hands in his pockets and giving her a sharp, questioning gaze; she folds, looks away under his scrutiny. He starts to stroke her arm, and she looks back, and I wonder if this will do her in, his sympathy. “I’m sorry about Will,” he whispers. “I know,” she nods, staring back at him, and to my surprise her voice is steady. He shakes his head, perhaps bewildered by all of it, and then he does pull her in, wrapping around her first with one arm and then the other.

She is still and straight in his arms, her head pushed back at an awkward angle, the effort of not crying clear in her face.  He looks down at her back, noting that she’s not returning his embrace and wondering just how much it means.

“Alicia,” Will speaks into her voice mail, saying what he never said – will never say – in life. “I’m sorry.  I want what we had. I want to be with you. And only you. Forever.  Call me back, please.”  He hangs up with a soft smile on his face.  In her apartment, Alicia looks like an animal trapped within her husband’s arms.

Well.  Good lord.  There is a lot to say. Oh my goodness, there is a lot to say.  I’m not even sure where to begin.

Maybe it should be here.  My sister C and I have been talking a lot this week about TV heartbreak.  She’s wrecked because the How I Met Your Mother team set themselves up for a perfect happy ending to the series – and instead went for something else.  I don’t have to tell you all why I’ve been upset.  The two situations give us very different forms of pain, however.  As C observes, few shows get to finish on their own terms: HIMYM did that, but fell down on producing an ending that satisfied fans, instead using footage from a plan they’d conceived 7 years ago but somehow failed to write to.  They were able to control the ending, but did so in a way that didn’t feel true. The Good Wife, on the other hand, chose to explode their original structure when faced with circumstances beyond their control.  I have a lot of trouble imagining that killing off Will Gardner was ever part of anyone’s plan for this show, let alone part of the much vaunted 5 year plan we heard so much about in the early days.  It’s still a similar problem. Most fans thought Will and Alicia were the show’s endgame, even if they were divided on whether that was a sustainable goal; HIMYM turned out to be about a different relationship than most fans assumed.  Both decisions color the lens through which viewers see everything that’s gone before.

I will say, however, that the Kings really did write this ending.  No, I don’t think Will and Alicia had a fair shake at a relationship.  They had sex in season 3, not a relationship, something that I found kind of painful because it was such a small portion of what they could have been to each other.  Not that I think Will didn’t have lots more to contribute to the show.  Not that I have any clue of how the show can function without him once it’s out of crisis mode.

BUT. I am in awe of how this was written, how it’s come together.  The entire arc involving Jeffrey Grant and the break up of the firms – wow.  Sure, Nelson Dubeck could have put Will in jail, which makes Will’s death all the more painful in its finality.  But the Kings correctly assessed that the only way to sink the ship – the only way not to have Will haunt Alicia’s future on the show – was to kill him.  And they’re right. The audience would never have given up on this option.  Whether being forced to exclude it can produce a better show than the one that we’ve had from the beginning is something we’re never going to know.  I am frustrated that I won’t get to see the show’s original vision.  I am frustrated with where this leaves Alicia and the show.  But still, I can’t help noticing, as I watched and rewatched this episode, how perfectly the pieces fit together – the care with which they were crafted.

Alright, so. Alicia tries to spin a narrative out of the tragedy of Will’s death, tries to impose some sort of control on it.  She doesn’t seem to be thinking about Will himself, or the future; only the question of how he might have been feeling about her when he died.  That last aborted phone call – the perfect epitome of their “bad timing” – obsesses her past all reason.  At first I was a little annoyed by this – it felt like a gimmick to impose order where none could exist, a way to turn the episode into a mystery, for Alicia to guide us through exposition, through the story of Will’s death we were mercifully spared viewing last week.  But the more I think about it, the less it bothers me. It’s easy to understand why she would want confirmation that he wasn’t still angry with her (which, let’s face it, we know he was despite his protestations) but it’s so painful to see her hope that Will might have been on the verge of confessing his love.  Now that he’s gone, it seems like her emotional barriers are too – like she wants to see this in the worst possible light, as if they had a future together.  As if she knows what she wants, and it was Will.

Which makes it pretty clear that when she made the choice at the end of last season (stay with Peter, start her own firm), it was her head talking, and not her heart.  Does this mean that she doesn’t love Peter as well?  No.  Does this mean it was somehow wrong of her to follow her principles instead of her passion?  No.  It just proves what the Georgetowners felt; that Will and Alicia were not done.  Which is why Will had to die.

For the record?  Will’s actual love confession from season two was a lot more romantic than the one she put in his mouth.  There’s something touching, in a way, about her lack of imagination there; it’s so basic, so stripped down.  Such basic, unvarnished wish fulfillment. For Alicia, Will has always been her “do over” – a chance sort of chance not only to imagine what her life could have been if she’d been with him in the past, but what her life could be in the future.  He virtually authored her career do over by giving her a job.  So yeah.  No wonder she’s afraid of wanting too much; his death feels like the show saying that no, you can’t go back.  You can only go forward.  And while that’s true, it also leaves the pessimists with the feeling that we can’t transform the future, and in contrast to Will’s buoyancy, Alicia has always been the pessimist.

Speaking of which, the show hasn’t produced a better scene about religion, or a better insight into Alicia’s character, than the one we saw between Grace and Alicia here. I mean, wow.  For Alicia, expecting the worst can be a sort of wish fulfillment  – she can’t let herself hope for good things because she’s afraid her heart would break with the longing.  I think this has been true of her not simply since Peter’s scandal (though no doubt that was a huge part of it) but since her parent’s divorce and her father’s death.  I’ve always felt a little surprised by just how strongly she judges those with religious faith, and that seems to be a great explanation for why; if she lets herself believe the soft option exists, then she’s just setting herself up for more anguish by admitting she wants it.

And Peter.  Oh, Peter.  It looks like Will’s death is going to force a truly honest conversation between the husband and wife, which is a much needed thing.  For me, the love triangle has always been as much about Alicia’s choices for herself as it’s been about Peter and Will.  Alicia has always needed to choose Peter for reasons that have nothing to do with which man may or may not be better for her or who she prefers to spend time with.  When she chose him, she chose a vision of herself.  She chose duty over personal fulfillment.  She chose to be the one that stays.  But she has never chosen to look within that option for a way to make herself happy; she’ll commit to Peter, but has their renewed relationship been anything more advanced or intimate than the sexual fling Alicia shared with Will?

At any rate, it’s all a perfect wreck now.  Immediately, Peter inserts himself into Alicia’s mourning.  Yes of course he has a right to be jealous of his wife longing for her lover, but it’s hardly a smart move. If he were able to give her space to get over Will’s death on her own, she might be more easily able to do so.  After all, she’s chosen Peter already.  But by insisting she hash out her feelings with him…  I don’t know.  Maybe this conversation will be healing, but maybe it will involve terrible pain because of their heightened state.  This could go in a number of fascinating directions, and in several this will have proved a really bad move for Peter’s bid to be Alicia’s one and only.  Peter can be a very shrewd communicator, but he’s ruled by his emotions with Alicia (especially in regards to Will) in a way that doesn’t serve his ultimate goals at all.

Quick thoughts, less thematic: oh my gosh do I love Finn Polmar.  Matthew Goode, if you wanted to be the new Will, I probably would not mind it.  Not that anyone can be Will, but you know what I mean.  I could see him as a regular addition to the show, filling in a decent portion of the gaping chasm left by Josh Charles’ exit.  That’s probably not going to happen, but it seems a far preferable thing than, say, Michael J. Fox.  I like Louis Canning as a guest star, but come on.  He’s got his own firm.  Though I’ve never liked Jenna (how do you like someone who forces a main character to sleep with them?) , I wasn’t as offended by her presence as I might otherwise have been.  I’m almost bemused by Kalinda’s wrath, because I only ever felt pity for Jeffrey Grant. Maybe that’s because of how sympathetically he’s been portrayed by Hunter Parish, or maybe it’s just that as a viewer I have other targets for my own rage. Perhaps her fury mirrors my own anger at the Kings.  Judge Politi made a saddened, diminished version of his usual brassy self.  And Zach Grenier absolutely tore this up.

I wrote two weeks ago that one of my favorite things about The Good Wife is my inability to predict what’s going to happen next.  Recent events have truly tested my mettle in that regard.  I’ve said many times the writers follow the dictum of one of my favorite novelists – figure out what the worst thing you can do to a character is, and then do it.  I admire that.  I just never thought they would take it so far; it turns out that The Good Wife as a series tells a different story than we thought, and like Alicia I am still struggling to adjust to the new narrative, to make sense of it.  I can praise the show’s ability to bury Will, and to mourn him.  What remains to be seen – what we may not even know this season – is how the show can live without him.

And I want to believe that it can.

P.S. – Thanks for holding hands through last week.  It helped.


20 comments on “The Good Wife: The Last Call

  1. Kate says:

    Thank you for another lovely review – I was comforted to see you writing! I found the episode very poignant with so many perfectly captured moments. I think I’m still in a bit of shock and denial myself (I loved the way the show captured the numb, surreal feeling that comes with shocking news – that silent driving scene with Alicia was spot on although I have no idea how she managed to drive in such a state!) I’m keen to see what happens next – as the shock gives way to deeper grieving for Alicia and how it may lead to new choices and developments.

    • E says:

      I thought it was a beautifully written episode too, Kate, and exactly, it brought us that numb, surreal feeling that follows a death perfectly. It’s going to be very interested to see how this works out in the short term – I’m far less worried about that than the future, if that makes any sense.

      It was easier to restart than I thought it would be. Maybe over the summer break, I’ll have enough distance to be able to recap Dramatics, Your Honor. It feels wrong to skip an episode!

  2. kestraTroi7 says:

    Such a sad episode. Your review is amazing as always. I think last week’s episode was so shocking but now it’s starting to make a bit more sense as a viewer, though not for Alicia and Diane and Kalinda for a long while yet, I’d imagine…
    Thanks for another amazing review 🙂 TV has made me sad lately (Good Wife and HIMYM – I’m wrecked right along with your sister), and this one line in particular of your review just made me laugh for like a minute: ‘She’s got her glasses on, which pretty much only happens when she’s going to take them off dramatically.’ So true but also very funny 🙂 Thanks 🙂

    • E says:

      Ugh, Kestra, I can’t imagine how lousy it’d be to be a fan of both these shows right now!

      And yes, I’m starting to reconcile myself to the changes now. I’m glad I was able to make you laugh. 🙂

  3. Shalini says:

    Wow, what a great and insightful review. So glad I stumbled on this blog.

    As shocking and painful as Will’s death was, I do think it was the right move. He was rather like a classical Greek hero – inherently tragic. And something of a fantasy figure. Think about it – he was a smart, gorgeous, vibrant playboy who secretly (and not so-secretly) pined for his one true love -Alicia. Who betrayed him. And inexplicably, he continued to be devoted to her. To me it would have been fitting if Alicia’s bid to free herself of Will had resulted in his emotional liberation from her! But since the Kings didn’t give him that happy-ending, I’m glad they at least granted him a different kind of freedom, bitter and devastating as it was.

    As for Alicia, I don’t quite know what she’s mourning? The loss of an old friend, professional mentor, or as I think most likely, an option? Because I don’t think Alicia ever loved Will. Had great affection for him, respected him, desired him, but love? She’s certainly never given any indication or acknowlegeded (even to herself) that she loved him. Indeed, isn’t it interesting and revealing that while both Diane and Kalinda(!) were able to admit their love for Will out loud, Alicia couldn’t…and didn’t. For such an analytical person, I’ve been struck by what an unexamined life Alicia leads. The Kings have said that the show is about the “education of Alicia Florrick”, but that education seems to be entirely external. Alicia has become more wordly-wise over that last 4.5 years, but not self-wise. Will Will’s death finally propel her to face some truths about herself and what she truly needs and wants? Based upon the preview for “A Material World”, I’m not holding my breath. Introspection doesn’t seem to be her strong point. I’m eager to be proven wrong though.:-)

    • E says:

      Oh my gosh, Shalini, I’ve always been astounded by the same thing – how can such a smart, perceptive, insightful woman know so little about herself? She absolutely leads an unexamined life – I’m pretty sure I’ve used that phrase here a few times.

      I do think she loved Will, and I do think his death will force her to come to terms with that. And you’re right – not only has she not acknowledged this, but she explicitly told Owen that she didn’t love Will, wasn’t in love with him. I can’t take her at face value, though. It’s exactly what you said – she’s grown in enormous ways through the season, but very little in her ability to form true personal relationships. She won’t let herself be vulnerable. She won’t let herself feel. And heck, in her – what would you even call it, affair? relationship? dalliance? with Will, she had a strict “no sentiment” policy. Which seems weird – if you’re going to have a fling that’s just about sex, why have it with someone you have such a complicated history with? – until you realize that she could never have been so free with him in that way if she didn’t have deep trust and emotional beneath it. She just can’t look at the emotional component or acknowledge it – she worked hard to keep it ostensibly casual. (The same is true with Peter, I think, or at least in a similar way – the sex is possible because of all the other stuff underneath, the weight of their history together, their good times, and her determination to stay with him.)

      What’s most frustrating to me about Will’s death is that I can’t imagine this was where the Kings’ originally planned to go with the story, and we’ll never know where they wanted to achieve with him. But given the situation, I think they did the best they could with what they were given. They gave Will a good death. And they gave Josh a beautiful variety of things to play in his last season or so. Perhaps it really will be the impetus that forces Alicia to finally deal with all the things she’s been repressing (you get the impression from the way that letter to fans was written that it will shake her up tremendously, anyway), although it will be a sad irony if it is.

      • Shalini says:

        “…she’s grown in enormous ways through the season, but very little in her ability to form true personal relationships.”

        Very true. I think Alicia doesn’t know what real intimacy looks like anymore – it’s THE casualty of Peter’s infidelities.

        On the endgame, the romantic in me would like to believe that the Kings intended for Alicia and Will to be together, but the more enlightened me hopes that Alicia rides off into the sunset happy and… uncoupled.

  4. kathysclowns says:

    What struck me about this episode was the cruelty that was a consequence of Will’s death, and also the generosity. Cruelty: The last phone call that caused Alicia such anxiety, Kalinda’s offer of the belt, and her refusal to surrender it to the suffering Jeffrey, LG’s client’s insistence on meeting with Diane to “check that she’s on board”, and her reaction to cut him off, and make sure he can’t get represented by any (2) other firms, Diane firing the intern because she was too dramatic, Cary’s statement that he would take out his anger on the opposing council’s client, Peter’s insistance on inserting himself into Alicia’s mourning. Generosity: Diane and Alicia’s embrace, Eli all the time, Grace’s conversation with Alicia on God, Alicia and the judge, and most importantly her conversation with Finn, who gave so much in trying to save Will’s life, ease Will’s suffering, and Alicia’s as well, even though he was fresh from the operating room, recovering from wounds he would not have gotten had he not tried to help. The contrasts gave me whiplash, and made me keep thinking about this episode all week.

    • E says:

      Kathy’s Clown, you made me tear up. You’re totally right, it was an episode of extremes and opposition.

    • E says:

      BTW, I think a lot of the cruelty came from people trying to assert control over a situation that’s fundamentally outside human control. Like, Diane can’t bring Will back, but she fire the client and the intern. Cary can’t prevent the deposition from going forward, so he’s sure as heck going to make the other side regret not giving them a break. What’s brilliant about this show is that you can see the drama coming organically out of the character’s emotional state – nobody’s being mean just to be mean.

  5. Kiki says:

    Hey E!!!

    Glad to see you back in the swing of things! It was a lovely episode, the laughs actually broke the tension for me. I came into the episode super stressed about how sad it was going to be. But the laughs made me feel better and made me not be as tense.

    The episode was so well written and acted. Everyone blew me away! I am looking forward to what is to come and how the show goes on from this!

    Great review as always!

    • E says:

      Thanks, Kiki! It’s always so good to hear from you.

      BTW, I’m wondering now if Jill Hennessey’s presence wasn’t a little hint. After all, she did die violently when she was a lawyer on L&O with Chris Noth…

      • Kiki says:

        EEK!! I never saw L&O…..but that is kind of creepy to think of. And not at all surprising since the Kings have been planning this for like a year.

        • E says:

          Well, exactly – I keep thinking there are probably little winks all over the place. (She was assistant to Sam Waterston’s DA; they were driving and hit by another car in the season finale cliffhanger.)

  6. Heather says:

    What struck me is that Alicia felt loss, but was still numb rather than processing feelins of greif. How is she suppose to process her feelings of loss without processing how she felt about him. How is she able to process how she felt when she has dissociated herself from those emotions? It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

  7. E says:

    Oh yes. I don’t think it’s remotely hit her yet – how could it? I think for most people, reaction to a sudden death takes a while to get out of that numb, shocked stage; how much more so for Alicia, who never allowed herself to think about what Will truly meant to her? That’s why it would have been so much wiser of Peter to just back off and let her go through this alone; I can’t help thinking that pressing her now isn’t going to be in his self-interest at all. It is absolutely going to be fascinating to see where this goes from here. I still hate it, I’m still mad, I still wish it didn’t happen, but it’s certainly going to be a fascinating ride.

  8. […] this episode, I assumed that it would pick up (as we so often do) with the end of “The Last Call.”  That this would be where Alicia and Peter had the fight hinted at in the previews.  As […]

  9. […] Annoyed and appalled, Alicia lifts the glasses off his face. “Mr. Sweeney.  If you don’t sign these documents right now, the merger will be off.”  Well.  A merger and a marriage?  That’s ironic. “You know what LD50 is?” he asks, causing her to half collapse on the desk in frustration. “It’s a 50% lethal test design by Klaxon/Brandt to discover the toxicity of their pharmaceuticals. If it kills less than 50% of it’s test subjects, it’s a success!” he fake-cheers. Wait, what?  He’s engineered this delay for an actual reason and not just to toy with her? “Suddenly you’re concerned with animal testing?” Alicia sneers, waiting to see what the angle is. “What, I can’t have a heart?” he wonders.  (No, obviously not.)  “Mr. Sweeney, what do I have to do?”  she asks flat out, and he hunches over and gives her a very evil glare. “Convince Renata,” he says. “Who’s Renata?”  “My fiancee,” he replies. “Do you really not follow my life?  I follow yours!  I’m hurt.”  As he’s blathering, Eli calls, and even though it’s ridiculous of her not just to let him go to voice mail it’s almost a gag at this point that she always takes Eli’s calls. […]

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