On Will



So, I definitely cried. I didn’t cry when Kalinda found him bleeding because I still didn’t think he would die. I didn’t cry when Kalinda removed the sheet covering his corpse because I thought it might be a weirdly timed dream sequence. I didn’t cry when the preview showed Alicia breaking down in Diane’s arms. I cried when the show was over, and Person of Interest or something was starting, and it hit home that Will was really gone.

“What…how…? But he’s a lead!” I said to my boyfriend.

He kindly suppressed mocking laughter and suggested that later tonight we go watch my favorite Will episodes.

Maybe it’s stupid, but for me departing television shows or television characters can really feel like a loss. Obviously it’s not on par with real-life loss or grief, not even close, but television is a unique medium in that shows run for so long and we get to know characters so well that they sometimes seem more present in our lives than characters from another form of art. There are certain characters that you just want to hang out with. For my mom, it’s Meredith and Christina and especially George, in the early seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. She’s seen the episodes many times over, but periodically I’ll log onto Netflix and see Grey’s in the Recently Watched window. Those characters in those specific seasons are her go-to, her television happy place, to borrow a phrase.

I love a lot of TV, and a lot of TV characters. I love Jesse Pinkman. I love Sawyer and Juliet. I love Faith. I love Christian Troy and Ron Swanson. I love the Bunk. I love Will Graham. I don’t necessarily want to revisit those characters in my downtime though, like when I’m washing the dishes or cleaning my bathroom and want some virtual company. For me, there are only a few TV people I turn to on those occasions: the Gilmores, Coach and Mrs. Coach, Don Draper and his office-mates, and Will Gardner.

I watched The Good Wife from the beginning, and Will was my favorite from the beginning. Since the show is grounded in Alicia’s point of view, I was probably initially drawn to Will because she was, and unlike some Good Wife fans I never tired of their relationship or of Charles and Margulies’s chemistry. But I also could have watched a Will spinoff without Alicia (though probably not without Diane; if Charles and Margulies had great chemistry, Charles and Baranski’s may have been even better). Will was great because he was many things: funny, unpredictable, charming, brilliant, flawed, driven, ruthless, generous. Perhaps most valuable, on a show where the main character is often emotionally distant, at times even cold, Charles played Will as unfailingly passionate—about winning, about the law, about Alicia. I’m happy Charles stuck around for season five, which allowed him the opportunity to put Will’s pain on full, glorious display in “Hitting the Fan” and “The Decision Tree.”

In tonight’s episode, Will’s passion was front and center once again. In his last conversation with Diane, Will shrugs off the assertion that he’s “lost perspective” as he doggedly tries to get his eventual killer (as far as we can tell) off of rape and murder charges. Diane and Kalinda worry that Will’s client is in fact guilty, but Will believes wholeheartedly in his innocence. It’s a fitting case for Will to go out on for, as we saw in last Sunday’s episode as well, he was always willing to stand by people he believed in. Though Will’s death and Josh Charles’s departure will be a loss for the show, I’m glad that we got vintage Will Gardner in his final (non-flashback) episode. Since the Kings were apparently working up to this moment since the beginning of season 5, it will be interesting to rewatch the season and find the foreshadowing, and also admire Charles’s skill in playing his character as living in the moment when, as an actor, he seemingly knew Will’s fate well in advance of getting the script.


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