THE TV SHOW: The Good Wife
THE EPISODE: “The Last Call” (aired March 30, 2014)
THE PAIRING: Will Gardner (Josh Charles) and Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies)
THE MOMENT: Alicia fantasizes a romantic declaration from Will in his last phone call.
Tragedy nevertheless, although hard to read or watch, can be just as romantic as a happy ending.
For all you Good Wife fans out there, probably most of you agree that the past couple of weeks of the show have been devastating, tragic, and just plain heartbreaking. But in the midst of heartbreak, sometimes romance seeps through in shattering ways. I know my own heart has been shattered in the wake of Will’s death coupled with this past week’s closer in which Alicia fantasizes the last phone call Will would have made had he not been gunned down by his client. Tragedy nevertheless, although hard to read or watch, can be just as romantic as a happy ending. Think Romeo and Juliet, Jack and Rose, Cathy and Heathcliff, and Tristan and Isolde. Romantic tragedies will always play with our emotions if done right, if the tragedy feels earned. Can you imagine Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending? The story would have been lost to memory because that wouldn’t have been the right tale to tell.
While Will and Alicia aren’t exactly comparable to the greatest tragedies in literature and film (though certainly well written), I do believe (I hate it at the same time), that killing Will off was earned because of the show’s theme about “bad timing” between these two thwarted lovers. Something always came between the two of them. Consider as far back as season 2, in the episode, “Closing Arguments,” when Will and Alicia meet up in a bar:
WILL: We’ve always had bad timing, haven’t we?
ALICIA: We have.
WILL: What if we were to suddenly have good timing, just for… an hour? What would that look like?
ALICIA: I think that would look like an exceptional moment.
It seems “an exceptional moment” was all that they would ever truly have, their “bad timing” even coinciding with the shocking, early demise of Will Gardner. Sure, they pursued a relationship for a while but that really was no more than what seemed to be a moment in time. Alicia had to do what was right. She was still married to Peter, the man who had cheated on her with prostitutes using state money, and children to think of after all. I agree these two shouldn’t have been cheating for two wrongs don’t make a right. That didn’t stop me though from secretly rooting for them, yearning for Alicia to dump her weasel husband and move on. The timing continued to remain wrong and Alicia chose duty over love.
To free herself from temptation, Alicia even did the unthinkable: she deserted Lockhart and Gardner (the only law firm to give a stay at home mother a second chance thanks to Will) to start her own firm (taking some of their clients with her). Will rightly saw this as a betrayal and so for this past season, the last season of Will, the two bickered and fought over clients. Romance, it seemed, was dead.
Then, just recently mind you, the tension started to thaw. The two shared a handshake and smiles. They would have eventually found their way back to one another, right?
Timing would once again prove us and these two lovers wrong when Will abruptly is killed by a distraught client who couldn’t bear the thought of solitary (this being all the more tragic, considering the young man turns out to have been innocent). The ringing sound of the off-screen gun shots still sound in my head, making his unexpected demise all the more powerful. We didn’t see it happen just like Alicia didn’t see it happen. What were Will’s last few moments like? Did he say anything at all?
Death in The Good Wife, much like real life, doesn’t make much sense. It’s messy and that is partly what makes my choice of scene for romantic moment of the week all the more memorable. It is a scene that stays with you long after the episode airs, forcing you to think and agonize possibilities the same as Alicia. The romantic moments ask us too to fantasize the last possible interaction between Alicia and Will.
Once Alicia learns the terrible truth that Will had died, she runs back to Lockhart and Gardner to speak with the woman (Diane) closest to the man she loved. “He loved you,” Diane told Alicia. But had he forgiven her for her past actions? Did he die thinking only angry thoughts of the woman he loved? In a a way, the tragedy of it all also boils down to Alicia leaving the firm. This was supposed to be her client. If she had stayed, would things have ended so tragically?
Checking her voicemails, Alicia realizes she had three missed calls, one from Will.
Hesitantly, Alicia raises the phone to listen only to discover that Will’s message had been cut off; he had been cut off before he could tell Alicia why he had called in the first place. What follows is Alicia’s quest to discover why Will called her.
She had nothing left to do but imagine her own romantic scenario; the power of fantasy stronger than that of truth…
She visits the courthouse in hopes to expound truth and witnesses nearby, including the opposing lawyer who had tried to save Will’s life, courageously getting shot in the process as well. Did he call because she had been stealing clients? That turned out to be Damien, another, shall we say, seedy lawyer. Still, by the end of Alicia’s quest, she was no less the wiser on Will’s call. She had nothing left to do but imagine her own romantic scenario; the power of fantasy stronger than that of truth because it reveals Alicia’s own heart, the heart she had for so long covered with ice.
At the end of the emotionally grueling episode, Peter arrives at her place to give her ‘comfort’ (all the while testing Alicia’s devotion to Will), giving her a hug. Alicia’s face shows no emotion.
She doesn’t hug Peter back either, telling him everything he wanted to know about his wife’s deeper feelings for Will.
Alicia’s eyes then well up (outside Peter’s scrutiny) and she fantasizes Will’s final phone call:
WILL: Alicia. I’m sorry. I want what we had.
WILL: I want to be with you and only you. Forever.
WILL: Call me back please.
Fantasy Will hangs up the phone as Alicia stands there in Peter’s arms now alone, the bad timing becoming the actual “forever” she would ever experience.
Their romantic tragedy closes with the shutting of Alicia’s heartbroken eyes.
What did you think of Will’s sudden death? Do you find this last scene as romantic and heartbreaking as me? Sound off in the comments…
Photo Credits: CBS
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