The Good Wife Season 5 Review “Dramatics, Your Honor”

I could talk about the mechanics of this episode of The Good Wife (which was excellent by the way), but we all know that’s not why you’re here. Therefore, let’s not waste the time and get to it.

David Simon is one of the brighter minds to work in television. With his work on both The Wire and Treme, Simon showcased dynamic talent that produced two very distinctive shows, and one of them happens to be 1 or 1A on the list of Greatest Shows of All-Time depending how you feel that day. A notorious curmudgeon, Simon abhors the weekly reviewing process. He claims that critics have no way of knowing what the storytellers intentions are for the entire season. He believes if a show must be reviewed, then critics should at least have to wait until the end of a season before weighing in with their opinions. Even though Simon has openly derided the business that I choose to be a part of, his argument does have some merit. After all, know one posts reviews of books or movies after only seeing half the product. Major events can happen during the course of the season, but the ripple effects of the event may be far reaching.

Which is why it is difficult to put into context what happened on tonight’s episode of The Good Wife. Here’s what we know: Will Gardner is dead. Josh Charles only signed on this season for a handful of episodes. And the decision to leave the show was Charles’ choosing. What’s left to understand is why the Kings chose to have him exit the show in such a sudden fashion, and consider what it may mean for the show going forward.

There were a few options on the table for getting rid of Will Gardner. It would have been easy to have him leave to run the new Los Angeles branch of Lockhart/Gardner. There were other options out there. The show could have announced he was leaving and slowly fazed him out before a nice send-off episode. Instead, the show opted for one of the most shocking television deaths I’ve ever seen. There was no warning. This wasn’t Robb Stark talking about how he can’t wait to teach his son to ride a horse. One minute he’s arguing in court; the next minute the kid is taking hard looks at the heat. As the shots rang out, I knew Will would be dead. What I couldn’t reconcile was the decision to do it in this fashion. Obviously, the show wants an emotional reaction from its audience, and the characters on the show. That being said, we can’t see the ultimate payoff down the road. Everyone is going to handle this death differently. How the characters react to his death may say a lot more about the direction of the show. Either way, it’s one heck of a stomach punch.

At the end of the day, it’s important to let this situation play out. Because of the suddenness, it is impossible to place this episode in an appropriate context. Let’s agree to try our best to maintain a level head and give the Kings an opportunity to steer this ship in the right direction. Given the quality of work being done over the past 18-20 months, I believe they’ve earned it.