We picked up on The Good Wife Season 5 Episode 16 almost exactly where we left off following last Sunday's absolute stunner.
Instead of the screen going black when Alicia answered the call from Kalinda this time, we saw her reaction.
The contrast of a bad comedian doing the introduction for Alicia, then Eli taking her stand at the podium as she walked off having heard the unimaginable, was perfectly done. For some reason, nobody in that room learned about the shocking event taking place in their courthouse.
Everyone else was learning of the news, and characters we love were discovering new feelings in the aftermath of such horrifying news.
Diane returned to the firm she started with her best friend, knowing he would never be there with her again. That there was already a partners' meeting assembled only made the news she shared more stunning.
As they're worrying about voting on opening the Los Angeles office (one of Will's desires) and getting back to their clients on time, Diane delivered the news simply without fanfare. Howard was his usual confused self and David Lee torn between shock and getting on with business.
Diane firing the new intern making what seemed like a mockery of Will's death by hysterically crying in the hallway over a man she didn't know was telling of what Will's death will bring out in Diane.
After a momentary collapse where he couldn't hold back his back tears, David approached Diane to get permission to contact their clients. He was right, but it wasn't any easier for Diane to think about. She acquiesced and told him to "do what he does" and as she reached out to touch his arm, he flinched. It seems that could be the beginning of a tumultuous future for the firm.
The time since Will's death is very short, but it seems to have brought Diane to a place of steely reserve that allowed her to fire one of Will's biggest clients because of his inability to understand the personal side of the business situation. Why would she want to be associated with clients who didn't have the decency to honor the relationship they had with Will, put business aside and allow a short recess for grief. A brief reprieve was reached between Diane and David. It felt good.
The always complicated Kalinda was most interested in finding out exactly what happened in Will's last moments and why. She wanted to make someone pay. She did, and brilliantly. It's ironic to think the sidebar Will called was to discuss information that would most likely free his client, but Jeffrey's fear and lack of trust lead him to kill others without leaving enough ammo to kill himself.
Part of me thought Kalinda was going to let Jeffrey hang himself with his belt. I was imaging how she would explain that, but it was moot. She merely held that belt up to his cell and let him know he would pay for what he did to Will by suffering with the knowledge that he killed the one person who could have given him back what he lost. There wouldn't be an easy way out now, and what could have been fixed is forever broken.
Cary was waiting for Alicia in a deposition for one of Will's recently poached clients when he heard the news. What followed as Cary finding his footing the wake of a death of someone he respected. The way he handled the deposition made it apparent that Cary lost his innocence in that moment. He tried first to ask opposing counsel not to be schmuck. When that didn't work he decided to throw the full weight of his anger behind the deposition.
For Alicia, what was no longer matters. Only what might have been. She spent the hour putting the pieces together to try to decide what frame of mind Will was in in his last moments. He left her a phone message shortly before he died, and her fear was that he died still hating her. She imagined a man in an orange jumpsuit aiming the gun at Will until she had a face to do the job. A face that was once her client, bringing her just a little bit closer to the facts
Alicia started seeing Will everywhere. "It was all a mistake, can you believe it? They thought it was me because the body was shot in the face," said an apparition when she went to the hospital to talk with opposing counsel, Finn. Getting closure that the phone call wasn't bad news was only one step in what will be a very long process. It would make sense for her to bring up the other missed call at some point, because she's going to spend a lot of her time wondering how things might have been different if she had told Will how she felt, if they made a go of it. Would he be alive?
Finn said in his drug induced haze that he wanted to tell her something; will that eat away at her, too? Will she keep returning to Finn seeking more answers and to be near the man with whom Finn spent his final moments?
Imagining that Will called to say he wanted to be with her and only her forever as Peter finally got his arms around Alicia at the end of a very long day doesn't bode well for their future. But has anything about their future been shown in a good light? Not since their talk of a Hawaiian vacation have they spent any significant time together. Their lives are as separate as they can be.
Grace's attempt to tell Alicia that Will was with God was well meaning and ill-timed. The last thing people who don't believe want to hear about is that the person they lost might "be with God." It feels like something you say to someone when there is nothing left to say. But what could a girl of Grace's age, who is having a crisis of faith, possibly say make things better?
I did have one problem with the hour. The Correspondents luncheon where it all began. It's inconceivable that correspondents at that luncheon didn't get the news, thereby alerting Peter to what happened. Any reporter worth their weight would never let their cell phone sit idle for any period of time even if they were listening to the president.
If Alicia hadn't had an entire group of lawyers walk out on her just two weeks prior, that oversight would have been easier to comprehend. Instead, it left Peter at a real disadvantage and was the only false feeling in the entire episode. It's not stopping me from giving it 5 stars, however, because I'm betting that luncheon just wasn't on their minds much. Maybe that was the point.
There was so much more to the episode, of course. And out of it so much that can be explored. The relationships between former and current business associates as they grieve the loss of their friend seem the most rife with opportunity.
Alicia going to Lockhart/Gardner felt right. She and Diane loved Will more than anyone else and how they deal with each other as the future plays out should bring out some of the best work for both of the women. How will they lean upon one another knowing they were his greatest allies, and how will Kalinda play into it?
The series has always been about the wife, but now it seems more than ever that her story will unfold in a far more dramatic fashion than we've witnessed so far. As she imagines the future she can never have because there is no chance she can change her mind again -- Will is gone -- she will doubly scrutinize every decision she made about her marriage. Why did she stay with Peter? Did she love him; does she?
The two firms, Florrick/Agos and Lockhart/Gardner are both run by strong-willed women now. Cary seems ready to accept his place as the Will of Will and Diane, whereas before it seemed questionable if they could fulfill their respective rolls. Who will Diane have at her side? Certainly not David Lee and not Louis Canning if the previews of his attitude remain true. We saw how Diane feels about people who don't put the personal relationship as high as their business one.
Is there hope the two firms will merge again into one superpower of a law firm? It would be a bittersweet reunion, as all of the garbage that tore them apart means so little. What would become of Howard and David? It was their pull that pushed the fourth-years out by denying them their partnerships. Would they fit into a super firm?
What about the NSA investigation? The case against Peter for voter fraud? How does Will's death affect any of it? I don't know, but I can't wait to find out. Now it's easy to understand why The Good Wife was granted an early renewal. There's new life to an old story. It's no longer about Alicia and two loves, but Alicia. That's a good thing.
If you want to see it all again, or you just miss Will, watch The Good Wife online.
Whose actions after Will's death impressed you most?
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.