The Good Wife Season 5 Review “The Last Call”

Handling the death of a major character is typically a place where shows can really thrive. As television viewers, we become accustomed to the cast of a show greeting us in our homes every week. When an integral part of the cast is taken away in a shocking fashion, viewers become in the grieving process right along with the cast. As a result, death can produce some of a show’s most fruitful television. If handled appropriately, a show can embrace the audience in the grieving process without manipulating them into feeling bad about it. Despite the fact I was a little annoyed by all the back-patting the Kings were doing in their press storm this week, I have to give credit where it is due. This was an incredibly powerful and well-constructed hour of television.

We’ve watched months of fighting and squabbling as two firms struggled against each other. Now, in one shocking moment, everyone arrives in the same place. The death of Will Gardner affects everyone. Granted, everyone handles it differently, but everyone feels it. Will was never a saint, but he was a guy who played a role in the careers of most of the people in both Lockhart/Gardner and Florrick, Agos, & Associates. Cary was never good friends with Will, but Cary’s reaction to his death is still smart and memorable. His takedown of an opposing client and lawyer who refused to allow the grieving process to settle in was impressive work by Matt Czuchry. Czuchry has really come into his own this season, but his work in this episode will really stand out.

Though Alicia’s story carries the bulk of the emotional weight in this episode, I felt a stronger connection to Diane’s grieving process. The episode allowed Christine Baranski do Christine Baranski things, while effectively reminding us that Will was more than just Diane’s partner. Alicia may trouble herself over what might have been, but it’s Diane who has to go work everyday and look at an empty office. Their relationship is one of the pillars the show is built on, and now it’s taken away. Regardless of how you felt about Josh Charles on the show, it is going to be odd to visit Lockhart/Gardner without seeing Will. Alicia’s grieving process will likely burn hot and fast; Diane’s will not.

Naturally, the episode centers around Alicia’s search for information on the final ambiguous phone call from Will. I was pleased she never got a clean answer on why he was calling. If it’s the dramatic profession of love she imagines at the end of the episode, then that’s just a straight stomach punch from the Kings to every Will and Alicia ‘shipper. Since television creators aren’t in the business of antagonizing their viewers, I like the idea of leaving Will’s final call ambiguous. It continues the idea of “What Might Have Been”, and puts Alicia in another interesting place. Without her top love interest/mortal enemy, Alicia has the option to spin in a number of different directions. There is plenty of immediate aftermath to wade through, but once that gets settled, Alicia Florrick has a lot of options at her fingertips. They just may not be the ones she wanted the most.