Please, let the writers know what they're doing.
Sunday's episode of “The Good Wife,” called “Dramatics, Your Honor,” was truly a game-changer, ending core relationship within this superior drama and eliminating a key cast member. Stop reading now if you haven't yet seen this hour, which packed a dramatic punch but raised troubling questions.
At first it seemed a typical courtroom-based installment, with Will Gardner (Josh Charles) arguing the innocence of a young client who, the viewer was led to think, may or may not have been so innocent. The banter from the bench included the mocking observation that the proceedings were becoming Perry Mason-like, with last minute evidence arriving, dramatically, in hopes of changing the jury's mind.
It was hardly typical TV-courtroom drama from there. This was the most shocking episode ever from this reliably smart adult drama, a CBS hour that Julianna Marguiles likes to call her little cable show on broadcast TV.
Even before the shocking turn, however, the almost too kind appearance by Alicia Florrick (Marguiles) in the halls of the courthouse to warn Will that his client's parents had called her to request a second opinion raised a red flag. Would she really come to the defense of her former lover, now her competitor and enemy, with this friendly tip? Was it out of character, given what's been an extremely nasty rivalry lately? Moreover, couldn't that conversation have transpired over the phone? An awkward manipulation.
More credible was Will's heart-to-heart with Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi), the tough investigator, in which he aligned himself with her — two humans who live for their intense work, who would be bored by vacation, who will always conclude that “life is overrated.” The scene was a beautiful capsule account of his character: by turns cold, condescending, then frankly needy, and finally sentimental and soulful, ultimately offering just the right pep talk. A great last connection.
The dramatics of final courtroom scene were well played, when the accused rages inside his head, dialog muffled, music turned up, eyeing a guard's gun. Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) heard shots fired from the next courtroom. The crossfire wasn't on camera but hints of the deadly results were. The sight of shaken Kalinda and Diane at the hospital was a unnerving. The misdirection — was Will in surgery? would he make it? — was well done. The sight of Will when Kalinda pulled the sheet back, looking unlike himself, was a stunner.
How the season finale on March 30 handles the investigation into the governor, Alicia's husband Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), without the presence of Will, remains to be seen. The impact on the Florrick marriage will obviously be a key plot point.
Hand it to the writers and producers for shaking up a series that didn't seem to need shaking up. This surprise shooting death ranks with the “Downton Abbey” surprise fatal carriage accident–presumably another case of an actor getting antsy. Here's hoping the “Good Wife” team can reset for another season as cleverly plotted as the first five.