Normally, when a network advertises a “Can’t miss!” moment, it’s just hype. But on this week’s new Good Wife, it’s not hype. It’s the real thing — painful, shocking and game-changing. And that’s saying a lot for this show, especially this year. 

Stop now if you haven’t watched “Dramatics, Your Honor.” The spoiler ahead still has my head spinning.

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Lawyer, Defend Thyself

I was going to start this recap with a joke about how Alicia’s life is so much like yours and mine, but after watching the whole episode, I’m not feeling very funny. So let’s get to it.

Nelson Dubeck is back, interrupting a juicy chat between Cary and Alicia when he tells her he’s seeing Kalinda. (Alicia’s confused: isn’t Kalinda gay? Bi, her legal partner replies.) The rep from the Office of Public Integrity wants Alicia to testify about her knowledge of the ballot-box incident. If she won’t go on the record now, Dubeck says he has an attorney who will. Or rather, who is Will. 

Eli and Alicia strategize. She thinks Dubeck is bluffing about Will coming forward; Eli doesn’t. They agree she’ll go ahead and give a deposition, if only to find out what Dubeck is really after. Cary agrees to act as her attorney.

A Touching Case

One of the best things about The Good Wife is how legal cases play out over long periods of time, which is more akin to reality than many lawyer shows. So this week, we’re back in court with Jeffrey Grant (Weeds‘ Hunter Parrish), the Lockhart-Gardner client charged with murdering a fellow college student.

Will faces off against an unfamiliar (to us, anyway) prosecutor, Finn Polmar (new series regular Matthew Goode). Jeffrey’s in sad shape, with bruises on his face from being beaten repeatedly while in lockup. The case doesn’t look good for him, largely because the dead girl, Dani, had his DNA under her fingernails. But Will won’t give up, convinced of his client’s innocence.

Even though Jeffrey and the victim belonged to the same club, he insists he didn’t know her and definitely didn’t kill her. Will’s only real shot at a not-guilty verdict relies on finding proof that the girl and Jeffrey crossed paths the day she died. That would give them reasonable doubt because of what’s called “touch DNA” — one person picks up another person’s DNA when they handle the same object, such as a coffee cup or library book. 

Diane starts to wonder if Jeffrey’s guilty, but Will won’t give up. Jeffrey’s wealthy parents, the Grants, begin to doubt Will, too. They call Alicia, asking for a “second opinion” on the case. Despite Cary’s annoyance, Alicia assures them that Will’s a great lawyer — she won’t take the case mid-trial. She also tells Cary that it’s time to start cooling off the heat between the two firms.

Just to reassure herself, Alicia drops in on the courtroom to watch Will in action. During recess, he asks her why she’s there. She lets him know that the Grants asked about the second opinion, but she has faith in his abilities. “We may have our differences,” she says, “but you’re the better lawyer.” When he agrees with her, she also notes that he’s humbler, too. 

They share a smile and a laugh that will come back to haunt her in many ways in the days to come.

A Lucky Break?

Kalinda meets with her boss during the evening. She tells Will that she wants out of the PI game once and for all and plans to give notice. He’s skeptical, noting that she says this every few months. Is it about Alicia leaving? She denies it, saying she just doesn’t want to do this work for the rest of her life.

He suggests she take a few months off, but predicts she’ll be back. You love that feeling of solving a mystery, Will tells her.

And how right he is when her sleuthing finally seems to pay off later that night. It turns out Jeffrey and Dani both ended up in the same hospital on the night she died. Though they arrived separately, the same paramedics brought each of them in — and they shared the same stretcher. Kalinda’s elated to realize she may have found the moment when Jeffrey passed his “touch DNA” to the murdered girl’s hands. 

A Deposition Inquisition

The next morning, Dubeck interrogates Alicia about the voter-fraud case. Cary insistently reminds his opponent that Alicia’s there voluntarily. 

Dubeck first wants to know if Alicia discussed the deposition with Will. Though she denies it (and we know she’s telling the truth), it seems that Dubeck had a tail on Alicia and his men saw her talking with Will. She curtly tells the man from the Office of Public Integrity that his men should come closer if they want to hear what she’s saying. 

He then tries to get her to admit seeing the smoking gun video. Again, she denies it. When he begins asking her about her relationship with Will, accusing them of being lovers — and using the present tense — she retorts that she’s been in the game long enough to know when someone is losing. If all he can do is attack her personal life, he must have a pretty weak case.

That may be true, but he has one trick up his sleeve: additional surveillance tapes of men carrying ballot boxes around on election day. Alicia says if there was a conspiracy, it didn’t involve Peter. But Dubeck’s not buying it. He wants to know: what did the governor know and when did he know it?

Before Alicia can answer, Cary hustles her out of the room for the annual Chicago Correspondents Club luncheon. 

A Shock to the System

At the same time Alicia’s talking to Dubeck, Kalinda’s delivering the promising news to Will. He tells Jeffrey to hang in there and asks the judge for a sidebar with Polmar. Will asks for an overnight recess to prepare the presentation of new evidence (which Polmar calls “dramatics”).

As he watches Will and Polmar chat with the judge, a distraught Jeffrey seems to go into a trance. His gaze scans around the courtroom, at the doors and at the sheriff’s deputy. At first, it looks like he may be planning to make a run for it. 

Suddenly, shots ring out. Diane — in another courtroom for a DUI case — hears the sound and dashes into the hallway. Kalinda calls 911 and tries to enter Will’s courtroom, though at first the cops stop her. We hear shot after shot — it’s chaos.

By the time Kalinda works her way inside, she sees Jeffrey slumped on the floor, trying futilely to shoot himself with a now-empty sheriff’s gun. She also sees a body sticking out from behind a bench. It’s Will — cradled in Polmar’s arms. He’s injured, too, but not like Will. 

At the hospital, Diane and Kalinda start making the necessary calls to Will’s family, but they can’t get anyone to give them information on their friend. He’s there, but where? 

Then Kalinda sees some doctors leaving a curtained area in the ER — someone has died. Fearing the worst, she enters and sees a body on a stretcher. It’s Will. He’s gone. He’s really gone. 

A devastated Diane and Kalinda realize they must notify Alicia. Kalinda finally reaches Eli at the Correspondents Club luncheon and tells him the horrific news. He taps Alicia on the shoulder and tells her she has to take the call. 

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Summary Judgment

What to say? What to say? It’s one thing for crazy-crazy Scandal to kill a beloved character (RIP James!), but The Good Wife? Ending the Alicia-Will story on such a tragic note — I never saw that coming, and I’m guessing most of you (all of you?) were as shocked as I am.

Now that the episode has aired, the news is spreading that Josh Charles (Will) had planned to leave the show at the end of season 4 (that is, last year), but agreed to stay on. With that lead time, producers Robert and Michelle King wanted to give his character a proper send-off. So unlike the sudden death of Mathew on Downton Abbey, this story has been in the works for more than a year. For what it’s worth, it seems to have been an amicable exit, and in fact Charles directed next week’s episode.

Amicable exit or not, I still can’t believe this is the end of Alicia and Will. Now it’s clear what the producers were up to last week — showing us their sweet beginning at Lockhart-Gardner. Their love story may not have had a happy ending, but at least we saw them parting as (almost) friends again. We’ll miss you, Will Gardner!

The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9pm on CBS.

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(Image courtesy of CBS)

Alison Stern-Dunyak

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV