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.
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.
HONORABLE 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.
HONORABLE 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!