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The Good Wife Recap: Will to Go On

Any remaining shreds of denial we were clinging to — maybe last week was a dream? maybe Will had a secret twin who took his place at the courthouse during the shooting? — were demolished in this episode. Will is dead, and it’s time to process that.

And before we move on with just that, a quick note: I’ll be stepping in as your recapper and grief guide for the remainder of this season. (You can find me on Vulture also recapping The Mindy Project and on Twitter here.) I’ll do my best. I assure you that I loved him, too.

I do love The Good Wife, too, particularly when it takes on tough plotlines like this one. We can always count on this show to avoid the clichés — no dramatic outbursts or fabric-rending breakdowns here, just quiet moments of confusion, denial, and suppressed rage. That first drive we take with Alicia after she gets the news beautifully conveys her experience — the deafening silence, the thoughts of Will, the flock of birds, and, finally, the big cry.

The Lockhart Gardner meeting captures even more great tiny details of dealing with this sudden tragedy. When Diane walks in, everyone’s operating in “normal” mode, while she’s already switched over to grief. They’re upset that she’s late until, of course, she drops the news. Even David Lee sobs, though he finds a private room in which to express his actual feelings. Some overdramatic secretary or paralegal or something, who’s only been there a week, is bawling in the hallway, prompting Diane to fire her on the spot. Then Alicia arrives, and Diane embraces her without hesitation. And when Alicia hears the shooter was Jeffrey Grant, she endearingly calls him “our client,” as in, a client belonging to all of them, as a group, as if she never left Lockhart Gardner. “I loved him,” Diane tells Alicia. “He loved you.” Everything about this is perfect. I love loving Diane, and this bodes well for getting many more chances to do so. Later, she even fires a client, ostensibly for not seeming to care about Will’s death enough, and she calls Cary to make sure Florrick Agos won’t take him on, either — clearly there is a new world order here.

Carrying on with the intricacies of how tragic news is received, phone calls become a key through line. When Alicia tells Cary that Will is dead, he expresses his shock by saying, nonsensically, “What do you mean?” Alicia finds that she has three messages on her cell phone that she hasn’t heard: one from Kalinda and one from Diane, obviously both calling to break the news to her; and, most important, one from Will. Devastatingly, it’s not clear what he was calling about or even how he was feeling when he called: It’s a clipped greeting interrupted by him addressing a “your honor” and then saying he’d have to call her back. She fixates on the “Call Back” option offered by her iPhone next to the message. She looks at the time he left it, 11:32 a.m. She listens again. She imagines the most wildly dramatic options for what he could have been calling to say: “This feud is stupid. I care about you too much to let it go on.” “Are you kidding me? Leave my clients alone, Alicia, find your own.”

As Kalinda infiltrates the police investigation of the shooting with help from her ex, Jenna, we learn some important facts: In the courtroom, the witness was shot, Will intervened, and when he was shot, the prosecutor dragged him out of the line of fire and stayed with him the whole time, also getting hit, though not fatally. Hannah Horvath’s mom is Jeffrey’s lawyer, and she’s arguing that not all of the bullets fired were her client’s; some were from officers responding to the incident. In addition, Luke Wheeler from Nashville/Joe DiMaggio from Smash is one of the cops investigating.

Around this time, we start to see hints of how Will’s death is going to play out for Peter. That is to say: poorly on a personal front, better on the professional front. He tries calling Alicia to offer support/condolences/whatever, and she doesn’t pick up. But when he uses Eli’s phone to call her, Eli insists “it doesn’t mean anything”: “What, if she picks up your call but not mine?” Peter says. “That won’t mean anything?” Of course, it does, and of course, she does. But she doesn’t want Peter coming to be with her, which she claims is because his presence will cause a commotion, but we know is really more than that. As Peter hands the phone back to Eli, he can see that Eli recently called Nelson Dubeck, that guy investigating Peter. This prompts Peter to observe helpfully of Will, “Now that he’s dead, justice has no case against me.”

Maybe so, but this whole thing appears to be headed toward reminding his wife that she still has a grudge or two against him. Determined to find out what Will was calling her about, she tries to track down Finn, the prosecutor who was with him as he died, played by the spectacularly appealing Matthew Goode. Waiting at the hospital, Alicia imagines a version of what we’ve all imagined in the wake of Will’s death: Him showing up to tell her, “It was all a mistake, can you believe it? They thought it was me because the body was shot in the face.” In reality, however, Alicia gets only gut-wrenching news: Finn’s assistant says she was under the impression that Will was calling someone to express his displeasure that he or she had stolen his client. Alicia and Cary had recently poached the client that Cary was now representing in a deposition under duress — the woman who claims she was fired for being too pretty.

As Cary worked through his anger phase there (“I said sit the hell down”), Kalinda and Jenna found out from the coroner that Jeffrey did, in fact, fire the shot that killed Will. Kalinda takes a call from Alicia, who asks, “What are you going to do?” When Kalinda says she doesn’t know, Alicia says, correctly, “It sounds like you do know.” She does: Jenna gets the jailhouse guard to abandon his post for ten minutes while Kalinda has a talk with Jeffrey, who’s on suicide watch. “You want to die?” Kalinda asks him. “I have your belt. The guard will be away for ten minutes. You have enough time.” But she’s just there to torture him: She won’t give him the belt. She wants him to live with what he did.

In a scene heavy with portent, Grace tries to comfort Alicia by telling her that Will is in heaven. Alicia won’t take this offering from her daughter without comment; she refuses to believe in God or heaven. Grace asks how disbelief makes things better. “It’s not better. It’s just truer,” Alicia says. Grace responds: “Maybe always believing the bad, maybe that’s wishful thinking, too.”

In a second scene weighed down with significance, Finn summons Alicia to his hospital room, where he tells her, under the influence of serious painkillers, the story of Will’s death. We don’t learn much new, but it’s good to have it all finally laid out for Alicia, and we do find out that he was trying to speak as he died, but he couldn’t. “He really had me in the trial,” Finn charmingly adds in tribute. “I was losing.” He also possibly, sort-of sets Alicia’s mind at ease that Will was not, in fact, calling her to complain about her stealing clients; he was mad at “Damian something” for that particular offense. (That’s Damian Boyle, that rogue lawyer played by Jason O’Mara.) And one more clue: Right before calling Alicia, Will had asked Finn about his family, whose pictures Will saw on Finn’s phone. This scene also contained a Lost-ian Blatant Book Placement; Finn’s assistant had given him a book about Cicero, which might simply be a nod to the show’s enduring ties to the Roman philosopher and lawyer. (Or something more?)

Alicia chooses, in the end, to hang onto the sketchy connection between Will’s call and his discussion with Finn about family. As Peter hugs her when she gets home, she’s thinking about one more possibility: that Will was calling to say he wanted to be with her forever.

Photo: CBS