Wishful Thinking and Voicemails on The Good Wife

31 Mar

At the start of season 2 of The Good Wife Will left two voicemails for Alicia; one told her to forget his declaration of love that ended season 1. The second retracted this and instead reiterated his original “I love you” statement, reinforcing his point further by saying he’d loved her since Georgetown. The latter message is one she never heard because Eli deleted it (oh Eli) and “The Last Call” is the tragic voicemail sequel. This is an incredibly exhausting, draining and exceptional hour of television that features an endless stream of A+ performances as reaction to Will’s death vary including anger (Cary) and general disbelief at the situation. Alicia deals with a series of unanswered questions as she tries to come to terms with this news and the mystery reason behind his phone call.

The Good Wife 5.16 alicia“Alicia… Hold, hold on Your Honor. I’ll call you back.” That’s all it is, no indication of what he wanted to talk to her about and Alicia spends the episode trying to piece together what happened in Will’s final hours and the reason behind his call. The voicemail is a distraction, so Alicia has something to do while she doesn’t know what to do. It’s why Alicia calls Kalinda, but instead of turning to each other with a couple of shots of tequila they both go about their separate business in searching for a why; Kalinda with Jeffery and Will’s final message for Alicia.

With a death this sudden it leaves a lot of unanswered questions from the more grand existential ones to the more immediate like how was he feeling before he died. The previous two episodes set up a reconciliation of sorts between Alicia and Will after months of anger and animosity; first over a semi-passive aggressive beer that cleared the air in a diner in New York. This was followed by Alicia sharing some information with Will to help him (well not in the end) with his client and it was clear things were finally thawing between them.

At this point it should have been clear that something was up, but as this is a show that doesn’t tend to kill its regular characters the signs were not all that obvious. Even if Will had been celebrating his last day, I wouldn’t have seen this coming. The sudden nature and finality of it all feels like a punch to the stomach to both the characters and us as an audience and while we were privy to the season 2 declaration of love voicemail, we are just as in the dark as Alicia on this occasion.

The Good Wife 5.16 DianeAlicia asks those closest to Will in both proximity – Finn, the judge and his assistant – and emotionally – Diane – why he was calling. Diane doesn’t know, but she also doesn’t think Will was upset at her. This is one of the many bleary eyed scenes (to be honest my screen is looking pretty hazy as I type this) as Diane tells Alicia that Will loved her. Of all the reactions to Will’s death there are several moments where people recoil from a tender shoulder squeeze. Alicia rejects Eli’s attempt to reach out when Kalinda calls to tell her the news as Eli is part of her Peter world and has no place in this (even if he is of course saddened by the news) and David Lee does the same to Diane. David doesn’t want to let his emotions betray his shark like exterior as this is something he has perfected over the years. When he barks at people to leave a room at first I thought he might be thinking only of the business, to see him grief stricken for a moment is completely unexpected and shows that everyone, even David Lee has humanity. Well aside from one of Will’s clients who demands a meeting, amazing kickass reactions from Diane as she blackballs this douche to other law firms “They liked Will, they don’t like you.”

With Alicia and Diane it is different; they both know how the other felt about Will and they’ve already shown a public display of grief and unity in their lobby embrace. The hand holding/shoulder squeeze is in an extension of that and despite their recently fraught relationship, all differences get put aside. It’s also worth noting that both Alicia and Diane are wearing colors both associated with mourning with Alicia in black and Diane in purple. Alicia’s jacket is structured and armor like with its zips and Diane’s bold chain statement necklace suggests that she is unbreakable and steadfast even at a time like this.

The Good Wife 5.15 WillThere are two versions of Will that flash through Alicia’s mind when she first hears the news; the warm smiling Will who loved her and the angry Will who felt betrayed by Alicia. Maria, Finn’s assistant confirms Alicia’s fear that Will was calling to rail against her for stealing Candice as a client. There’s nothing Alicia can do to change this and a conversation with Grace about God, heaven and the meaning behind this is tainted with this belief that Will’s last message was rooted in rage. Grace tries to explain why it is better to have faith, with Alicia countering that her lack of faith is “not better, it’s just truer. It’s just not wishful thinking.”

One detail makes all the difference and that is the gender of the person who Will was angry at for stealing clients and not only does this swiftly deal with the character dead end that is Damian (so long, you will not be missed) it also gives Alicia some small comfort. While Finn can’t offer up Will’s last words as he didn’t have any – he was trying to speak but couldn’t – Will was not alone as Finn held his hand until the ambulance arrived. Even though this is the first time Finn and Alicia are meeting there is an instant rapport and I’m really glad that Matthew Goode has signed on for the rest of the season. I’m not suggesting this is going to lead to anything romantic (far from it, he mentions a wife and son for starters), but there is an immediate bond because of what went down in the courthouse. Finn is Alicia’s last connection to Will and while it’s most likely due to his drugged up state Finn shares one very important vague piece of information that is left open to interpretation “He wanted to tell you something.”

The Good Wife 5.15 middle distanceAlicia constructs the fairy tale version of Will’s voicemail while Peter attempts to comfort her; Alicia has spent the entire episode avoiding him as he’s not part of her Will world, far from it. While she stares into the middle distance this is the call she imagines with Will telling her “Alicia I’m sorry. I want what we had, I want to be with you and only you, forever.Call me back please.” It’s her own version of the other voicemail she never heard and even though she can’t be sure what he was going to say, sometimes you have to cling to wishful thinking.


6 Responses to “Wishful Thinking and Voicemails on The Good Wife”


  1. The Good Wife and Getting out of Bed | TV Ate My Wardrobe - April 21, 2014

    […] the first shot the statement necklace is less bold than we’ve previously seen and yet the chain aspect still gives the impression of Diane’s unbreakable spirit. The second […]

  2. Distraction and Memory on The Good Wife | TV Ate My Wardrobe - April 28, 2014

    […] and the first flutters of those elevator encounters. Since Will’s death the use of memory became imagined encounters thanks to the voicemail Will left moments before he was shot and in “Tying the Knot” […]

  3. The Struggle is Politics: The Good Wife and Compromise | TV Ate My Wardrobe - October 27, 2014

    […] the opposite is true as when Grace approached her mother and told her that Will was with God now, Alicia rejected this notion and the idea of why this tragedy […]

  4. Misunderstandings, Heartbreak and a Diane Lockhart Jacket Parade on The Good Wife | TV Ate My Wardrobe - April 27, 2015

    […] also discussed the Alicia/Kalinda dynamic and this show has been at its most sob worthy (aside from the obvious devastation last season) when this pair have been involved. Kalinda’s elevator breakdown stands out as […]

  5. When Meddling Goes too Far on The Good Wife | TV Ate My Wardrobe - December 14, 2015

    […] last time this show dealt with voicemails it was after Will’s death and the one he left Alicia just before he was shot and killed. The […]

  6. The Good Wife’s Big Super Bowl Announcement: Only 9 Episodes Left | TV Ate My Wardrobe - February 8, 2016

    […] Charles’ contract was only extended for this one season. The aftermath of that moment is the first time I ever cried while writing a review and those episodes are still really difficult to watch even now. I keep […]

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