Losing a main character is never easy and for fans of The Good Wife, losing Will Gardner was devastating. Will wasn’t just a main character, he was Alicia’s one true love.
Like many fans, after I realized what was happening, I felt a flood of emotions. I was shocked, heartbroken, mad (okay, really mad) and in the heat of the moment vowed that I would never watch the show again. I felt betrayed that the show would take the possibility of a happy ending away from both Alicia and the viewer. I thought Will and Alicia’s relationship was the center of the show, so what would be point to keep watching now that he was dead?
Then I had a revelation: I had been watching the show wrong. The Good Wife isn’t a ‘will they or wont they?’ show, it’s a show about Alicia, the good wife. The story of the show isn’t their story, it’s her story. Thinking back on this past season, I realized how much the show was trying to tell me this. When Alicia decided to leave Lockhart and Gardner and betray Will, honestly, I didn’t get it. Here was this perfect guy who loved her genuinely and wanted to promote her to her dream job, yet she left it all to start her own firm.
It wasn’t until I watched the episode before Will’s death (“A Few Words”) that I finally understood what she was thinking. Way back in the pilot when Alicia was a disgraced Governor’s wife looking for a job after 13 years as a stay-at-home mother, Will gave her a chance. He saved her. She wasn’t qualified, she wasn’t confident, but he saw something in her that she couldn’t see in herself… and he was in love with her. She didn’t earn this life-changing moment; it was just given to her. To me, that was what “A Few Words” was about: Alicia figuring out that if she walked into her office today, she wouldn’t have given her the job.
Throughout the show, the two men in Alicia’s life have been giving her unfair advantages. Peter has helped her through his political power and by the simple fact that she has his last name. Will helped her get the job and then helped her keep it over the years. That’s why Alicia needed to start her own firm and leave Will behind. She finally needed to step out on her own and make her own identity, one that she could feel responsible for. In order for Alicia to keep growing, she needed to leave Will behind, something that is now a permanent move in the wake of his death.
I think it will be much harder for her to leave Peter. Not only is he currently her husband, but her name, her face, her whole identity is linked to him. When she started her own firm, certain clients joined simply because she was Peter Florrick’s wife. When she appears in front of judges or meets other layers, they all already have a preconceived idea of who she is.
In truth, I’m not sure if she can ever break that bond, especially if she stays in the relationship. His power and persona will continue to stand over her and minimize her own accomplishments. And as much as Alicia has grown since the first episode, she still uses who her husband is or the bond she shares with Will to win cases when she needs to. I can’t wait to see how Will’s death affects Alicia’s relationship with Peter.
Even though I now think of the show in a different way, I am still heartbroken over Will’s death. He was an amazing character who showed Alicia and viewers like me that there are still decent men out there. And while I’m sad that Alicia and Will won’t end up together, I now understand that was never the point. I know that a woman’s happiness should not be dependent on a man, but on herself, yet I kept thinking that Alicia wouldn’t get a happy ending if Will wasn’t by her side. And for that, I apologize. I take back my earlier statement that I will never watch the show again. It was said in the heat of the moment.
I will watch the rest of the season faithfully to see how Alicia grows from this tragic, life-altering event. I will watch because I want to see more of Alicia’s journey and to see what happens to the good wife.
Jessica Richards is an actress and writer living the dream in Burbank, California. When she’s not working, she’s either watching soap operas, eating cupcakes or playing with her dog Charlie–although sometimes she does all three. Follow Jessica on Twitter.