Performers of the Week: The Good Wife Cast

The Last CallA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMERS | The cast of CBS’ The Good Wife

THE SHOW | The Good Wife

THE EPISODE | “The Last Call”

THE AIRDATE | March 30, 2014

THE PERFORMANCES | Last week’s installment of The Good Wife wasn’t the cathartic release some fans had probably hoped for following the senseless, sudden shooting death of central character Will Gardner (Josh Charles) at the hand of his unhinged client. What it did provide was a complex, unflinching, frequently harrowing portrait of the the many moods and stages of grief — brought to vivid life by the show’s incredible cast.

RELATED | The Good Wife Recap: Characters React to Will’s Death in ‘The Last Call’

The various characters’ initial responses to the horrible news were so realistic it bordered on unbearable. Julianna Margulies, as Will’s erstwhile colleague and lover, registered disbelief, sputtering “but I just saw him yesterday”; later, as she drove pale and numb toward Will’s place of work, the realization of his passing crashed over her like a wave, and she erupted in tears. We saw Christine Baranski’s Diane carefully applying a mask of composure to break the news to Lockhart-Gardner’s partners. And we witnessed Zach Grenier’s ever-scheming David Lee flee the scene after getting the news, but instead of launching into his next plot, he stood alone in a conference room, allowed himself a few fleeting seconds of trembling grief, then got back to work.

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We also saw (rather deliciously), several key players work through their feelings of rage. In one of the best moments from the hour, Matt Czuchry’s Cary unleashed on an attorney who callously refused to postpone a deposition in spite of Will’s passing. As Cary brutally laid into the self-proclaimed shmuck’s client, the rival lawyer asked with befuddlement what Cary was doing. “I wanna get out my aggressions and my anger out by destroying your client: Now sit down!” Cary seethed, Czuchry’s eyes burning with gleeful malevolance. Baranski, too, went into punisher mode, tersley firing a new intern for putting on a showy display of waterworks and then parting ways with a client who demanded an in-person meeting on the afternoon of Will’s death. Archie Panjabi as enigmatic investigator Kalinda got in on the action, too, spending the hour piecing together the mystery of Will’s final hour, concluding it was indeed his client’s gun (not police crossfire) that killed him, and cruelly taunting the guilty party by offering, then withholding, a belt with which he could have ended his own life.

There were other subtly beautiful pieces of acting during the episode, too. Chris Noth as Peter outwardly tried to console his wife, but with a palpable undercurrent of anxiety about what her sorrow meant for the future of their marriage and even a bit of resentment, too. Matthew Goode, meanwhile, nailed his scenes as wounded, painkiller-addled Finn Polmar, delicately balancing the loopiness of morphine with the sweet decency of a guy trying to offer some comfort to Alicia, a woman he barely knows.

To be totally frank, “The Last Call” may not quite have matched the stunning intensity of “Hitting the Fan,” The Good Wife‘s high water mark from earlier in the season. But the episode nevertheless provided a necessary meditation on loss and mourning, and underscored the depth and exquisiteness of the show’s cast.

POTW_Once_MRJHONORABLE MENTION | Michael Raymond-James hadn’t had much to do in the first episodes of Once Upon a Time Season 3B, but quality outweighed quantity when it came time for MIA Neal to resurface in Storybrooke and make the ultimate sacrifice. Having been “trapped” inside his father’s body after reviving The Dark One back in FTL, Neal implored Emma to use her magic to pull him back out, knowing that, yes, it would seal his fate, but if Rumple was able to identity the Wicked Witch, everyone else — son Henry included — would have a chance at happiness. Working opposite an equally terrific Jennifer Morrison and Robert Carlyle, Raymond-James displayed a heroic selflessness, as Neal used his final breaths to not lament his mortality but wish that Henry remember him well, thank his once-estranged father for teaching him the value of a true sacrifice and encourage Emma to “find Tallahassee, even it it’s without me.” Raymond-James’ stirring swan song reminded us of what Once had, and now has lost.

Last Forever Part OneHONORABLE MENTION | Whatever your feelings about the controversial How I Met Your Mother series finale, we can all agree on one thing: Alyson Hannigan knows how to deliver a really good cry. Over the course of the hour’s many goodbyes, the actress let the waterworks go, bringing bittersweet emotion to Ted’s (non)departure to Chicago while still delivering laughs through the tears as she commented on his “really creepy” E.T. farewell. Then, during a particularly gut-wrenching moment with a disconnected Robin, she made us feel the ache that comes when life evolves and relationships change. And she did it while wearing a ridiculous, baby bump-featuring white whale costume, never once letting it take over the emotional gravitas of the scene.

Which performances rocked your TV set this week? Sound off below and let us know!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. What a week! Some shows delivered their very best this week…

  2. Jenna says:

    Lol. Indeed, Alyson Hannigan was the constant bright spot in the abysmal HIMYM finale.

  3. Command says:

    Perfect choices.
    Once has lost a significant actor in MRJ.

  4. Claire says:

    Yeah…. TGW knocked it out of the park this week. Also very good: the Nashville cast, especially Connie Britton & Chip Esten (that final porch scene) and Claren Bowen. Strong episode.

    • e says:

      GREAT point! there was lots of good stuff to choose from this week. nashville was especially fantastic.

    • Kathy says:

      I agree- Clare Bowen’s breakdown was so painful to watch as you could feel her spiraling out of control. TGW was epic in how those left behind seemed to channel Will- especially Cary. Awesome casts !

  5. Patrick Maloney says:

    Michael Raymond James can do no wrong in my book… He should maybe make a return to cable next, perhaps on Penny Dreadful?

    • Marc says:

      Or, Netflix could bring back Terriers.

      It’s funny how the characters that get killed off for “creative reasons” are often those not contractually bound for the usual six or seven years like most original cast members, either because they joined later and are year to year or because they made a special arrangement when the show began.

      • Joey says:

        Netflix won’t be able to bring it back as long as Donal Logue is going to be on Gotham, but I’d keep my hopes up. Terriers was amazing.

        • Anne says:

          I can’t think of any other show I’d look forward to returning more than Terriers (perhaps Firefly). Please, someone bring Terriers back.

  6. Shaun says:

    Kathryn Winnick for me.She’s so great!!

  7. M says:

    Yes MRJ was fantastic, he made me do something a never do cry

  8. Sean T says:

    Thank goodness! Alyson Hannigan’s cry face was brutal. While we are used to how funny she is, it’s easy to forget what a good actress she is. Her scene with Robin broke my heart. Glad you recognized her!!

    • trainwreck says:

      true.. her character as Lily had some of the most intense moments of the finale and she nailed them.. and the scene with Robin was just heart-wrenchingly honest!

  9. Rachel says:

    Thanks so so much for recognizing MRJ with the Honorable Mention. His final scene was beyond heartbreaking, and he performed it so well. I will always be mourning the loss of him, along with Neal.

  10. Regina says:

    Definitely agree with the Good Wife cast being freaking awesome this week! Also ever since her Buffy days, Alyson Hannigan crying has always broken my heart! I can hardly bear to watch it, she’s just so adorable.

  11. JJ says:

    TGW cast was just wonderful as always, and I agree with the commenter who thought Connie Britton and Chip Esten did a wonderful job on Nashville. Chip Esten is so good at conveying restrained pain.

  12. An Irrelevant says:

    I do have to give it to the GW cast this week, but I didn’t see what was so great about Alison Hannigans performance on HIMYM. Still waiting on a kudos for a member of POI cast.

  13. jerrired says:

    I definitely agree with MRJ and Alyson Hannigan. I also love how, whoever wrote MRJ’s part, worded the last sentence.

  14. chezcrisden says:

    good wife was pretty good sunday night. a shame that will had to die. it shows a very realistic side to lock hart and gardner, as well as alicia’s new law firm. maybe both firms can work together. will is going to be missed, can’t till this sunday.

  15. Summer says:

    Seriously? No love for Andrew Lincoln who had multiple career defining scenes in The Walking Dead finale?!?!?!?? I’d have been cool with an honorable mention at least!

    • azu says:

      This x 1000 Andrew was great!! There were so many nuances to that final episode that I kept cheering for him throughout!!!

  16. Georgia says:

    I would also like to mention Eric Christian Olsen’s performance in “SPOILS OF WAR” episode from NCIS:LA. “Deek’s” moral issues were played with an outstanding way by the actor.

  17. ... says:

    Nothing for Noel Fisher from Shameless? C’mon.

    • Alice says:

      agreed! His performance was outstanding!!

    • Beth says:

      This x1000! Noel was absolutely amazing last week, everyone knows who watches Shameless how important that scene was.

    • Coal says:

      Everybody was excellent on the last Shameless episode, I mean everybody, recurring actors and regulars. It actually made me wish it was the season premiere not the penultimate episode.

    • Jules says:

      I was going to say the same exact thing!!! He absolutely KILLED it this week. Actually this whole season. Every single actor on that show has stepped it up in a major way. Their performances are all hugely under-rated.

  18. Dee says:

    Great choice with the cast of he Good Wife. This show’s cast is beyond excellent in every way. Every week they deliver perfection and never so beautifully powerful and emotional as this episode. Every cast member should be rewarded for this one.

    • Sarah says:

      I love OUAT and was moved by Neal’s death, but I bawled on and off for an hour bc of TGW. The acting is reality – so truthful and honest. Not that everyone on OUAT isn’t fantastic, especially rumple and Regina, but yes – all the awards should go to TGW. It is impeccable.

      • Dee says:

        I like your description of the impeccable TGW acting as real, truthful and honest. This cast is just the best there is anywhere.

  19. Jan says:

    SERIOUSLY … if The Good Wife and several of its cast members don’t get Emmy nominations after this season, we’ll know for sure it’s all rigged. This show is definitely “Must See” stuff!

    • Dee says:

      Agree with you completely. There’s something wrong if TGW is isn’t recognized by the EMMYs this year. They are doing great work.

  20. Coal says:

    The Good Wife is always well written, doesn’t rely on sensationalism to tell its story and there is continuity in the characters narrative. With TGW less is more, they are economical with their words, emotions and gestures but it gets the desired effect.

  21. Deb says:

    Definitely Noel Fisher…and Cameron Monaghan…..Shameless…

  22. A says:

    JD on Revolution

  23. Martin says:

    Definitely right about The Good Wife – my favorite moment of the episode being Diane and the intern bit.

    But Clare Bowen from Nashville deserved an honourable mention this week. She was great throughout the episode but her performance while singing Black Roses was amazing. I still get chills when I think about it.

  24. Completely agree with The Good Wife cast. That episode delivered incredibly powerful performances from every member of the cast. Also, Alyson Hannigan was so much better than the material the HIMYM finale gave her. She continued to prove that I am incapable of not crying when she cries.

    One oversight is Noel Fisher from Shameless. He is consistently doing incredible work as Mickey and this past Sunday he absolutely blew me away. He really deserves more recognition than he’s been getting.

  25. Wouter says:

    I love MRJ, but that dying scene was just laugable in my opinion. Guess it was the writing

  26. Jess says:

    MRJ was amazing in his last episode. He will be missed. :(

  27. mskrislarsen says:

    I would definitely nominate Eric Christian Olsen from NCIS:LA. He knocked it out of the park by taking Deeks to the edge of darkness while interrogating the cleric while searching for Kensi in Afghanistan.

  28. AT says:

    Completely agree! The entire cast of The Good Wife were fantastic.

  29. Boiler says:

    Alyson best part of finale. Good choice

  30. Kelly says:

    After that amazing episode of The Good Wife I was wondering how TVline would pick a single performer of the week, so I’m glad to see the entire cast get the recognition. They are seriously the most talented cast on television, though now without the equally talented Josh Charles :(

  31. BTM says:

    Susanna Thompson (Moira Queen on Arrow) is also rocking the house.

  32. ellen says:

    I must add-my personal ‘favorite’ scene from ‘Last Call” was Alicia and Grace….comfort, conflict, anger, consolation…..and Alicia’s view of Will ‘he did a lot of bad things because he wanted to be good” an powerful summary of Will

  33. Annie says:

    Not to detract from Alyson – she’s always a pleasure to watch – and *certainly* not to give undue praise to an otherwise weak TWD episode, but I’d give the HM nod to Andrew Lincoln over Alyson Hannigan this week. He was truly stretched by the script, and he delivered the requisite raw animalistic rage with precision. Easy to overdo a scene like that and crash into cliche’d caricature, but he hit the bullseye.

  34. I have to admit I’m blown away that Noel Fisher didn’t get a mention. He has delivered a consistently stellar performance as Mickey Milkovich on Shameless this season and last Sunday was just another cherry on the sundae. I’d be willing to bet tomorrow he gives another amazing performance.

  35. greysfan says:

    I could list about a dozen or so brilliant performances this week but you summed it up quite well. I agree with all 3. The Good Wife was brilliant and yes as much as i am disgusted in the ending of How I Met Your Mother and that Ted still was infatuated with Robin, yeah moving on, the whole cast delivered a great performance none the less to the series finale.

  36. Forwardad says:

    And CBS kills the momentum with another Country Awards show this week. How many freeking Country Music Shows are there?

    • Mel says:

      Every time I see a commercial for a country music award show, my first thought is, “Wasn’t this just on a couple of months ago?”. ACM, CMA, ACA, CMT. How many times do they need to pat themselves on the back?

  37. Frank says:

    Linda Gray and josh Henderson were both incredible on Dallas this week. Fantastic scenes. Dallas is sooo underrated.

  38. azu says:

    Andrew Lincoln for HM at least**!!

  39. Jamey says:

    I don’t understand why everyone was so concerned about Alicia’s feelings over Will’s death. They all lost someone pretty special to them in their life, but yet Alicia seemed to be the one “hurt” most by his death. Yes she had an affair with him but it was over and she left the firm because of him. I know she still has feelings and all, but it was her choice to leave the firm. Diane, Kalinda and whatever his last two girlfriends should have been just as upset. I get she is the lead, but come on…He was important to a lot of people! Not just her (off the soapbox) LOL

  40. Nezh says:

    What about Neil Patrick Harris? His endgame was bad in the worst ending of sitcom history. But when he met his daughter, that performance was so good.

  41. Tina says:

    I guess if watching people die and their loved one’s reaction is what you are into, The Good Wife did the best job of ruining the show for me. Once Upon a Time was the close second. So yes, if you like unhappiness and don’t have enough in your life: Enjoy!

  42. Ella says:

    Er, never thought I’d see Alyson Hannigan in this segment. Girl can’t act her way out of a paper bag. I guess she is a decent cryer.

  43. skipper2425 says:

    Stellar episode and entire season and cast for TGW. But would like to recommend the cast performances in Person of Interest and Justified, and just everything on Hannibal.

  44. MiaB says:

    I agree with your spotlight on The Good Wife cast. I think the episode “The Last Call” was so painful because it felt numb, but I don’t think that was an accident.
    I would add that Connie Britton and Chip Esten were wonderful on Nashville. Their scene at Deacon’s cabin was definitely the best I saw last week.

  45. tara17 says:

    Alyson Hannigan is a fantastic actress, apt at both comedy and pathos, glad to see her mentioned. That moment in the whale costume was perfection. Agree that cast of TGW deserves many kudos.