• Mon, Mar 24 - 10:00 am ET

We Need To Talk About Last Night’s Episode Of The Good Wife, And It’s Gotta Be Now

Josh Charles as Will Gardner in The Good Wife (season 5, episode 15)Ugh, thank god you’re here. I’ve needed to talk about The Good Wife with someone ever since I saw last night’s episode, but none of the friends that I texted in a frenzy had seen it yet, so I feel like I’m about to burst from spoilers. (Which this post will be full of, by the way, and they’re starting right now.)

When it aired on the east coast, the timing got all jacked up with March Madness stuff, so The Good Wife started over half an hour late and went into The Mentalists slot, meaning that a lot of peoples’ DVRs only caught the first half and have no idea that…

(Bigtime spoiler alert — if you haven’t seen the episode, then peace right on outta here.)

…WILL GARDNER DIES. He dies. The secondary main character, played by Josh Charles, the guy that many of us were still hoping would end up with Julianna Margulies‘ character Alicia Florrick, just up and died. He got shot in a courtroom by his extremely overwhelmed and unhinged client Jeffrey Grant, and he effing bled out AND IS DEAD NOW. No big deal, I’ve just had a crush on him for five seasons, I’m sure I’ll get right over it.

Some people are desperately grasping at straws, saying that maybe his death is just a delusion of Hunter Parrish‘s and that they won’t watch another episode if Will’s really gone, but it’s time to man up guys, because this is real. Not only has Josh given an interview to TVLine explaining his departure, but the show’s creators have written and published an open letter trying to address the concerns of fans mourning one of the most out-of-the-blue deaths ever to grace television.

Here’s what we’ve learned.

It was Josh’s decision to leave the show; he wasn’t written off or anything, and he didn’t leave on a negative note. He just decided last year he was ready to go and do something new with a little less of a time commitment, given that he’s newly-married and hoping to start a family.

“It wasn’t anything bad. Creatively, I was just ready to move on to the next chapter. After having a long conversation with Julianna, and with [series co-creators] Robert and Michelle [King], I liked the idea of coming back and doing a finite amount of episodes. It all sounded like positives for me and for the show, and that turned out to be true. Once the decision was made and we knew what we were doing, it made it very special for me because I knew going into this season that this would be my last year, that I would be doing these 15 episodes. And it gave everything a real heightened quality for me.”

He also supported the way he was written out, saying, “I was very supportive of it. I thought it sounded really powerful and strong and shocking.”

And yeah, that’s the main takeaway here. Michelle and Robert have some big brass BAWLS on them, and I love it. As much as I’ll miss Will, and know that the next few episodes are gonna be really tear-jerky for me, I respect a show that doesn’t mind throwing its weight around to shake things up for major characters, Game Of Thrones style. In their own words:

“We could ‘send him off to Seattle,’ he could be disbarred, or get married, or go off to Borneo to do good works. But there was something in the passion that Will and Alicia shared that made distance a meager hurdle. The brutal honesty and reality of death speaks to the truth and tragedy of bad timing for these two characters. Will’s death propels Alicia into her newest incarnation.”

He will be in one more episode, the next one, and that’s where you’ll see the flashback scene that’s described by Josh as the one of the most emotional of the whole series for him to shoot.

“There’s a moment at the end of the episode where Alicia is dealing with her memory of the day that it happened… Let’s just say that there was a phone-call moment that I had [which was] the last piece of real acting that I did on the show, and that was a very emotional moment for me. I think we did about five or six takes. And as each take progressed, I found myself getting more and more emotional, because I realized this is the last time I’d be talking as this character. This emotion came from some sort of deep place inside of me. And I had to kind of contain it somewhat. But that was when it hit me. That moment was one I will remember for a long time.”

We’ll miss him, but the sooner you can give everyone involved some massive props for last night’s incredibly-crafted episode and start looking forward to the changes latent in the rest of the season, the better.

PROPS PROPS PROPS PROPS FOR DAYS. (And a few tears.)

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  • Sara J

    Alexis! I love this article. Can we be friends again?

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Yes! I would love it!

  • Kathy

    Nice article Alexis! I’m of 2 minds about Will Gardner, and I’m sort of glad this character is off the show now. Josh Charles was great as Will, but the show needs to move on to other stories. Alicia was never getting back with him, and it became increasingly awkward whenever they had opposing court cases. If the writers were stuck in that mode I probably would have quit watching the show. So Josh Charles, all the best to you. Thanks for a great 5 years, and I’ll still be your fan on something else. But the Good Wife is Julianna Margulies and I want her story to continue.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Well said!

  • guest

    WHOA WHOA WHOA! I just watched it last night and I couldn’t believe he died! Obviously with everyone freaking out I knew there was going to be a big “thing” happening last night but I did not think it would be this! Props for everyone involved for keeping it such a secret. I had no idea that he wanted to leave- I thought he was fantastic as Will Gardner and loved that character but am glad that Alicia can start to move on from that relationship. She probably never would have if he was still around. This show is so incredible- I wish more people would watch it!

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  • Chaya

    I thought this episode was absolutely brilliant! Forget about Will’s death for just a second. There was so much other stuff happening. The setup to the shooting was perfect. Carrie and Alicia’s burgeoning partnership and their trust in each other will be really important as the season moves forward. Kalinda and Will’s last moments together were amazing. Hunter Parish, Matthew Goode, and Max von Essen all gave wonderful performances.

    The shooting itself couldn’t have been better crafted. When Diane heard those first two shots I thought “OK, Jeffery shot the teacher (who actually murdered the girl) and then himself”. The brief delay between those two shots and the next set was what got me. It wasn’t until then that I thought something was really wrong. The shot of Matthew Goode holding Will and Hunter Parish in the background out of bullets was heart wrenching.

    Through all of that and through the hospital I kept it together. It wasn’t until Kalinda got Alicia on the phone that I totally lost it bawling my eyes out. That was what made the episode so perfect. That delay in emotion is exactly what happens when a tragedy occurs. The way the Good Wife mimics reality has always been one of its strongest attributes and with this impossible twist the raw emotion of the show will be even more present.

    Yes I will miss Will and the show is going to be really different without him, but this was by far the best killing off of a major character I have ever seen on TV.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      Well said. Honestly, this is so great, because it’s exactly how I feel. You’re like bargaining with yourself and the show about how he can’t possibly be dead because he and Alicia have unfinished business.

      Like…they’ve never really decided what they mean to each other, and now they never get the opportunity to make that decision as a couple, and Alicia has to move through it alone, with all the regrets that it entails. So much like the real life grief process, it’s really quite well-crafted. And obviously ballsy, as I’ve mentioned before.

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