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Can The Good Wife Survive After Sunday's Shocking Death?

Josh Charles

[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Sunday’s episode of The Good Wife. Read at your own risk!]

“Willicia” is dead. No, really.

Sure, in one sense of the word, the will-they-or-won’t-they dynamic between Julianna Margulies‘ and Josh Charles‘ characters on The Good Wife was laid to rest in October when Will discovered that his former lover and longtime colleague was leaving the firm to start her own. (You know, the episode where he called her “poison.”) But their long-running and extremely complicated personal and professional relationship came to a sudden and stunning halt on Sunday’s episode when Will’s client (Hunter Parrish) went on a shooting rampage in the courtroom that left his lawyer dead.

When The Good Wife first teased it’s “most shocking moment ever” earlier this month, it seemed (almost) implausible. How can a show that already broke up the relationship between its two central female characters by revealing Kalinda’s affair with Peter (Chris Noth) and orchestrated one of the most grand workplace walkouts in TV history have yet another trick up its sleeve? Oh, wait. This is The Good Wife. Anything can happen.

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Although the show tried to add in a nice — and convincing! — red herring when Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) told Will that she was done being a private investigator, Charles’ exit from the series is sad but not unsurprising, particularly because it was no secret that the actor had adifferent year-to-year contract. After Sunday’s episode, Charles toldTVLine that he had decided last year that he would leave to pursue other creative endeavors, and worked with Margulies, and co-creators and executive producers Robert and Michelle King to formulate his exit arc. But can the show go on without him?

On one end of the coin, The Good Wife is about two people who missed their chance. A young Alicia became pregnant with Peter’s child, they got married, she became a loving mother and housewife. She only re-entered Will’s orbit 13 or so years later when she needed a job in the wake of Peter’s scandal. It did not take long for her and Will to rediscover their old rhythms and by March of the drama’s first season, they shared a passionate kiss and had ignited a passionate ‘shipper fan base. By Season 3, when they were actually together, it seemed like they could actually make it work. Almost.

Alicia’s love for her children, and her inexplicable need to help/protect/boost her husband eventually got in the way and they parted ways. If the two weren’t going to be together when Alicia was still fuming from the revelation about Kalinda and Peter, then maybe it was a sign that they were never going to overcome the odds and really make it work. In the years since, there had been random, but passionate, kisses here and there, but their relationship languished in the aftermath, living in a perpetual state of flashbacks — or should we say “memory pops” — and heated courtroom exchanges.

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But now is the time for the good wife of The Good Wife to really shine on her own. As the Kings said in an open letter to fans after Sunday’s episode, “The Good Wife, at its heart, is the ‘Education of Alicia Florrick.'” The show has never been, and should never be, about Alicia and Will, or Alicia and any other person on the planet getting together. It has been and will always be about Alicia coming into her own as a strong, independent woman in the wake of a Earth-shattering scandal. In Season 1, she insisted that Peter sleep in separate quarters. In Season 2, she kicked him out of the apartment they once shared. In Season 3, she started dating Will. In Season 4, she chose to venture out on her own with Cary (Matt Czuchry)  in the finale. But as loyal fans of the series know, all of these events were tied to Will in one way or another. Now, we can see what Alicia can, and will, do completely on her own.

Will’s death is not the ideal scenario. Wouldn’t it have been nice to see Alicia sitting alone in her apartment with a big glass of red wine having just picked neither Peter nor Will? Having just decided that her roles as a mother and as a kick-ass lawyer meant more than choosing between one man or the other? It was also good to see Will and Alicia finally move past the anger stage of their relationship in the episode prior when they agreed to disagree, or at least something like that, in New York, and it would have been interesting to explore that part of their relationship more now that they were working for opposite sides.

Will grief make Alicia work harder? Or will she just scale back and spend more time at home, and by Peter’s side, as a result? Will she and Cary join forces with Diane (Christine Baranski) now that she is without her longtime firm — and dancing — partner? Will Alicia recommit to her marriage in a new way now that she can no longer be distracted by thinking of what the alternate life with Will could be like? Or will she just swear off the opposite sex altogether for a little bit while she regroups? These are all questions that will almost certainly be answered in due time, and in an fitting manner.

As almost horrible as it is to write, it might be almost better in a way that Alicia will be forced to let Will go so that the show, and her evolution, is not so closely defined by the will-they-or-won’t-they aspect of their relationship. Wouldn’t that be a shame if Alicia came out from under one man just to change and move onto another? Alicia Florrick is a much stronger, and better, woman than that.

So while it pains us — and Isabelle and Giada and Tammy and Callie and Laura — to say goodbye to Will, it may be as best a time as ever to say goodbye. #TeamWill for life.

The Good Wife airs Sundays at 9/8c on CBS. What did you think of Sunday’s episode?

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)


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