The Good Wife’s Shocking Twist: PEOPLE’s TV Critic Reacts

Diane (Christine Baranski) and Will (Josh Charles) in The Good Wife

John Paul Filo/CBS

updated 03/24/2014 AT 11:00 AM ET

originally published 03/24/2014 AT 11:25 AM ET

The Good Wife now has its own “Red Wedding.”

Sunday’s episode ended with a violent twist that can be described as either a classic OMG moment or a classic game changer, although to anyone who has followed CBS’s great legal drama through its five seasons this was also a heartbreaker.

The wallop can best be appreciated by saying that investigator Kalinda Sharma let her mask of absolute control slip and completely fall: In a hospital emergency room, she began to sob.


Everyone at home was probably crying too as Kalinda called Alicia Florrick, Will Gardner’s former law-firm partner and lover, to inform her that Will had been killed – dead in a courtroom shooting after a client lost his mind and grabbed a guard’s gun.

In Good Wife terms, this is the equivalent of the end of the world.

It means, at the very least, that the high-powered but often unstable Chicago law firm of Lockhart/Gardner, which this season has been competing with Alicia’s fledgling firm, will now be reduced formally or merely implicitly to “Lockhart.”

Just hearing the firm’s name reduced to two syllables from an august four can make a fan tear up.

The greater significance is that the always-problematic romance between Alicia, who happens to be married to the Governor of Illinois, and Will, a bachelor who had no trouble swinging from one girlfriend to another, is gone forever.

As much as I love ABC’s Scandal, by comparison that drama’s on-again, off-again, up-and-down affair between Olivia Pope and the President is something out of an old, unusually tortured operetta: Lots of trills, rain showers of tears.

This relationship, a complicated, very grownup affair that was the true emotional engine of the show, had over the years gone from attraction and flirtation and onto office romance before being channeled (never too comfortably) back into a professional and personal friendship before hitting patches of occasionally bitter rivalry.

The Alicia-Will romance never really ended despite its mutations and adaptation to circumstance. In the same episode in which Will died, Alicia was being challenged by a lawyer in a voter-fraud inquiry: “You and Mr. Gardner are lovers, isn’t that correct?”

In effect, yes. They still were.

Everyone knew that, yet this is a show in which political considerations – fear of fallout, bad spin and unintended consequences; in short, reality – often holds emotional truths in check.


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