The Good Wife Recap: Uncomfortably Numb

The Last CallCatharsis. Closure. Comfort. These are just three of the things we chase in the face of unspeakable tragedy — even if, deep down, we know the best we can achieve is a temporary state of numbness.

In that same spirit, tonight’s installment of The Good Wife chose to focus on the desperate minutae of its characters reacting to the sudden, senseless death of [MAJOR SPOILER ALERT] Will Gardner at the hand of his mentally unstable client, rather than to give us a false embrace that promises — as the old reggae ditty goes — everything’s gonna be all right.

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Yep, the mourning of Alicia Florrick — good wife, enviable mother, powerhouse attorney and lover with a Gardner-shaped hole in her heart — is not going to be a wham!-bam!-experience that’s dealt with in an episode or two. Its reverberations and recriminations, we came to realize during “The Last Call,” will be felt all the way to the end of Season 5, if not further. To paraphrase the great philosopher Janet Jackson, that’s the way barely requited, tragically murdered love goes.

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On that somber note, let’s try to pithily break down this week’s proceedings for each major character affected by the horror of Will (Josh Charles) being gunned down by his unhinged client, Jeffrey Grant (Hunter Parrish) in the middle of the courtroom and later, being pronounced dead at the hospital:

ALICIA | To my brain, the most profound message of Alicia’s journey this week is that the universe — no matter how much we demand/wish of it — rarely gives us the Big Answers we seek. Whether you’re like Grace, and believe that God’s plan is always in motion, or like her mom Alicia, who has faced the senseless and determined that a higher power can’t be in play, there remains a murky inevitability: Sometimes, life shrugs its shoulders, and there’s no one to make sense of awful events. From the opening seconds of this week’s episode, with Alicia’s speech to the Chicago Correspondant’s Club being interrupted by a reluctant Kalinda’s phone call about Will’s passing, executive producers Robert and Michelle King reminded us that even the most inconsequential moments can be rocked by tragedy.

Alicia’s movements after learning the man she’d truly loved — the man she’d clashed with after leaving his law firm — was gone, were fascinatingly void of intense emotions, and instead, existed in an odd state of autpilot. Sure, Alicia showed up at her old offices at Lockhart-Gardner and shared a long, tearful embrace with Diane (a devastating Christine Baranski), but after that, Alicia got bogged down in making sense of an enigmatic, trivial voice-mail Will had left for her on the morning of his death. That journey brought Alicia to a clumsy phone call with estranged pal Kalinda, to the scene of Will’s death, to a meeting with the judge who’d presided over Will’s last case, to a series of inevitable daydreams/flashbacks, to a final trip to the hospital to see Will’s opposing counsel, Finn Polmar (Matthew Goode) who’d been wounded trying to save Will’s life. But Finn, woozy from a heavy dose of painkillers, had very little of significance to share — even though several times he came dangerously close to remembering some detail, some fragment of conversation that might’ve let Alicia know once and for all that Will died not angry, but with affection for her in his heart.

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We also had an intense — and unflinching — conversation between athiest Alicia and her religious daughter Grace, a conversation that didnt have a “winner” or a “loser,” a conversation that respected its characters points of view without ever disguising their limitations or biases or frailties. “What does it mean if there is no God? Why is it any better?” asked Grace, after her mother said she saw no meaning in what happened to Will. “It’s not better — it’s just truer. It’s not just wishful thinking,” argued her mother. But Grace wouldn’t let it drop like that. “Well, maybe always believing the bad. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, too,” she contended.

Meanwhile, her repeated efforts to keep Peter at arm’s length while she made sense of her grief, ended in a fascinating final scene where Alicia arrived home to find her Governor husband waiting for her. It’s hard not to think Peter had a dual purpose: Comforting his wife upon the death of her colleague while also gauging how deeply she’d been cut by the loss of the man with whom she’d dabbled romantically. Alicia’s frozen response to Peter’s embrace, her desire to be alone — not to be held — in this brutal hour, may be the most clear-cut tipoff to her heart’s desires as we’ll ever see. Yes, she’s a good wife — steadfast in loving her kids, knowledgable about how her marriage affects her and her husband’s political ambitions — and yet still, her heart is shattered, despite all her efforts to keep it whole.

DIANE | Oh, Diane, just because you weren’t romantically linked with Will doesn’t mean you didn’t adore him any less. In fact, isn’t it interesting that Diane was the one who said out loud that she loved Will — and who shared that Will loved Alicia — while his soulmate was unable to express the emotions brewing inside? Diane, of course, got a better platform to vent (not just in firing the firm’s overly weepy intern), but when Will’s biggest client insisted on a face-to-face meeting following Will’s death, with no regard to the mourning process of his attorney’s colleagues. I’ll admit I didn’t see it coming when Diane brutally fired the client — and told him she’d gotten him blacklisted with all of Chicago’s other major firms — but damn, it was the most satisfying moment of the episode. Thankfully, in true Good Wife fashion, the show’s writers didn’t flinch at finding humor in the moment, thanks to this exchange:

Diane: “That felt good.”
David Lee: “It turned me on.”

Oh, David Lee, you make me throw in this sidebar: How incredible was Zach Grenier, making a bloodthirsty bid to call Will’s clients, because it was all he could do to hold it together, then flinching from Diane’s touch? Yowza, the bench is deep on this show.

KALINDA | I’ll admit, Kalinda’s story was the hardest for me to understand this week, but isn’t her character the hardest to know, anyhow? She spent the hour tracking the case of Will’s death, trying to figure out if her boss/buddy had been killed by police crossfire or by a shot from his client Jeffery Grant (Hunter Parrish). After seeing Will’s corpse one last time, and learning that, yep, frail Jeffery had done the unforgivable deed, she got cop pal Jenna to get her a minute alone with the guilty party. “You wanna die?” she asked, holding out Jeffery’s belt as a tool for suicide. But then, as the wild-eyed college student reached for the tool of self-destruction, Kalinda pulled it away…condeming the guilty party to the hell of his own existence, rather than a quick escape. Yikes, yikes and yowza. But then again, is this a real shock given how Kalinda “ended” (or rather, possibly “ended”) her relationship with her ex-hubby? She’s not one to tread lightly, and her grudges run deep.

CARY | Can I get a “Hell, yeah!” for Cary’s vicious behavior this week? Heading into a deposition with sexual-harassment plaintiff Candace (remember her from “Hitting the Fan”?), our Florrick-Agos shark found his opposing counsel unwilling to delay the proceedings — despite the death he and Alicia were reeling from. Cary’s final, seething response — “I wanna get out my aggressions and my anger out by destroying your client: Now sit down!” — may be one of the most delicious moments in Good Wife history. Can we please see more minutes per episode of this character for the remainder of Season 5?

With that, I turn things over to you. What did you think of this week’s Good Wife? Sound off in the comments!