Warning: This article contains major spoilers from “Dramatics, Your Honor.”
The Good Wife gave fans a shocking death that I still cannot wrap my head around. After five seasons, Will Gardner, played by the excellent actor Josh Charles, left the series in the most permanent fashion.
As often is the case on The Good Wife, the characters are complex, and their choices are not portrayed as black and white. Will was a good man, but he also had failings and flaws. Maybe that was why he was such an interesting, and inherently likeable, character.
The Good Wife Recap: A Beloved Character’s Shocking Exit>>>
In honor of Mr. Gardner, let’s take a look back at his most memorable moments.
Near the end of the first season, it finally happened. Alicia went to Will’s office to comfort him after they lost a particularly difficult case. Will felt that he let down their client. Alicia placed her hand on his shoulder, and their eyes locked. After waiting for an anticipatory moment, he grabbed her face and kissed her. When Will pulled away and tried to apologize, Alicia kissed him and they embraced passionately. It was the beginning of their love affair, which went on to be cursed by both bad timing and Alicia’s family obligations.
While it lasted, their steamy affair gave fans a tease of the life that Alicia could have had, and it was a good one. Will loved her deeply, but now their relationship, for better or worse, is in the past. I, for one, am in mourning.
Will Under Investigation
In the third season, Will’s friendly basketball games with some friends who also happen to be judges raised a few eyebrows at the State Attorney’s office. Wendy Scott-Carr began investigating Will for corruption and bribery. Will didn’t actually bribe the judges to get more favorable results. In the past, he was guilty of withdrawing funds from a corporate account, but he replaced it right away. Once again, not Will’s best decision.
When the special prosecutor failed to get an indictment for bribery, Will is reported to the Illinois Bar Association. He is suspended from practicing law, but is able to provide background information, which isn’t much of a consolation prize for Lockhart-Gardner. Will was not happy about his situation, and was chomping at the bit to get back to being a lawyer.
Burying the Evidence
In season 4, on election night, Kalinda showed Will a video of one of Peter’s campaign staffers bringing in a stuffed ballot box. Will, still in love with Alicia and remembering their stolen kisses of late, went to talk to Peter. Peter was pretty angry that Will brought him the evidence, and he knew nothing about the scheme. If the fraudulent votes came into evidence during this legal game of ping pong between federal and state court regarding the suspicious ballots, Peter would lose the election.
Peter told Will to make the choice himself. I think that Will opted to protect Alicia, and he buried the tape. I think it is safe to say that Will’s decision handed Peter the election. Once again, Will’s decision is a bit murky, but if it was an act of love, who can blame him?
Betrayal and Rage
Will didn’t believe Diane when she told him that Alicia and Cary Argos were leaving Lockhart-Gardner with the fourth year associates. He was able to comprehend that Cary was leaving, but Alicia? In Will’s universe, it just wasn’t possible.
He went into her office to confront her. He demanded to know if she was leaving, and if it had been in the works for a while. Alicia confirmed Diane’s suspicions, and Will erupted. He hurled himself against her desk and slammed everything to the ground. Will bellowed at Alicia, “I hired you. I pushed for you. You were poison!” His reaction was almost primal.
Will’s rage at his ex-lover was unexpected, and the scene was difficult to watch. For Will, Alicia’s betrayal, both professionally and personally, pushed him to try and best the fledgling firm. He didn’t hide his contempt for Alicia, and they are, for most of the rest of the season, bitter rivals. Will’s raw anger made the scene unforgettable.
Will’s Last Case
Which brings us to what is Will’s most memorable, and heartbreaking, moment. Will and Alicia shared a brief conversation at the courthouse that finally opened the door for them to one day become friends. Moments later, Will was at a sidebar with the prosecutor and judge, quietly talking. Will’s client grabbed a guard’s gun and began shooting. In the chaos that followed, we don’t know who has been injured.
Kalinda got inside the court room and saw a man’s shoe. When she finally got closer, she saw Will on the floor, with only one shoe on, bleeding profusely. At the hospital, Kalinda noticed a closed curtain and a doctor leaving after pronouncing a patient dead. She saw a man’s stocking foot protruding from under the sheet. With anguish, she pulled it down and we saw Will, pale and covered with blood. It was like a punch to the gut. Diane and Kalinda were in shock, along with the rest of us.
It was especially jarring because Will was happy, and was having a good day at court. He had a fairly pleasant exchange with Alicia. One minute it was just a normal day, and the next minute Will was gone forever. The Good Wife creators Robert and Michelle King chose a great way to drive home the message that death can happen anywhere, anytime. Sadly, we have to say goodbye to one of the show’s main, and most interesting, characters. We will surely miss you, Will Gardner.
What did you think of Will’s death? Do you think the writers should have handled Will leaving in a different way? Sound off in the comments.
The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9 pm on CBS
(Image courtesy of CBS)