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Lisin

Will Gardner: Taking it Personally

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I just started watching TGW this season.  I was hooked when I saw Will's cold, steely glare following Alicia out the door as she left for FA.  I hadn't seen a man with such blood in the eye since JR Ewing.  I thought, that's it, that's a character, that's a relationship I want to know more about.

So I binged on old episodes all winter, trying to figure out what made Will tick (and what in the world does he see in Alicia?).  While I don't feel like I understand the character, when watching Will I was always wondering what he would do next, what is he thinking, how will he react to this situation?  Sadly, I am not given to deep, insightful analyses of tv characters, especially such complex characters.  So complex that now, all these episodes later, Will is still an intriguing enigma to me.

Back in college English, I struggled with the concept of realism vs. naturalism.  In watching Will and Alicia, it suddenly became clear;  Alicia is a portrayal of a realistic character (realism).  Will isn't a portrayal, he IS a real character (naturalism).  Finally, clarity!  Twenty years too late.

Ah, Will, I hardly knew ye!

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I like the title of this thread because I'm taking Will's death personally.  I really hate that they killed Will.

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Me too! I almost sort of kinda understand where they are coming from with Alicia and the Will/Alicia when the Kings explain but I highly disagree with it. I really believe they should have come up with anything other than killing him off.

Good luck to Josh Charles though! I'm very glad this exit wasn't "storyline dictated" like the soaps always say when they can someone.

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Inquisitionist (great s/n & avatar, btw): I was just coming over here to post that.  Really brings home how much I miss JC saying Sorkin's words.  And, also that I need to get Netflix to watch The Newsroom.

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JC was hilarious on Amy Schumer, and I did a total double-take at seeing him there, especially so soon, but I still couldn't help but think "he left Alicia for this??"  I hope he's got some more in-depth projects in the works!

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Will's exit was probably the biggest TV moment of the year for me.  And I hated it.  I respect the Kings and I understand their decision, but I have no interest in seeking more of Alicia and Peter torturing each other.  So I'm out as a viewer.

 

The strange part is, I was never fascinated by Will or loyal to him as a viewer.  I just don't think the show is worth watching with so much never to be resolved.

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By the fifth season, I realized I watched for Will. Unlike Abra, I felt like I understood his character even if I couldn't predict his next move, which at times, I did. I just understood his thinking and motivations. I literally cried when he died. :'-( I think I might watch this swoon, but I'm not ready to yet--it'll be weird without will there.

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I joined the show viewers not long ago, and so the death of Will is still a shocking news for me.

 

I think the story line of Alicia and Will  was one of the most charming and touching romances, I have ever seen on TV. With so much tenderness and care, and delicacy, and humor, it was a wonderful cocktail of friendship and attraction and doubts and priorities’ conflict. When these two were in one room, no matter, where – even in the court or an office – there was such an astonishing chemistry between them! The way they looked at each other, their rare touchings, their discussions and even quarrels – they were perfect in everything they did together. Their story was the soul and the core of the whole film. And now everything is gone.

 

I still can’t believe they really did it – really killed Will. They cut off this beautiful romance with such a fierce brutality, such a ruthless finality, without even giving them a chance to say goodbye or at least to look at each other one more time. His death was senseless. He didn’t die to save or protect somebody. He was killed accidentally by his own client, he was the only one to believe. The authors left Alicia, Kalinda and Diane – and us, the viewers - in shock and grief and tears.
Why? Why the creators of the show were so cruel to their own characters and to us too? I know that Josh Charles wanted to leave the show, but why his leaving had to be so terrible? Why could they not just let Will go somewhere far away – to Australia, or England or wherever else? He could then reappear in the film some day in future – or at least we could hope for that. He could be even in a terrible quarrel with Alicia, or get married, or stop being a lawyer but he would stay ALIVE, and when life goes on there is always hope for “good timing”. The death stops all the clocks.

Of cause, the creators had their reasons to do it this way, but I do not find their explanations convincing. And I am so upset and angry!

 

I know that the sixths season of the show is going on now and Alicia is even in love with someone else now, but I am not interested. For me the death of Will Gardner was the death of “The Good Wife” TV show. Anyway, it’s just my opinion….

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You know - watching Cary's trials - they could have done this to Will. Might even have worked better - them going against Will. Alicia would have been extra fired up, Will is shadier than Cary (who was a State's Attorney!), everyone's stakes would be so much higher. And at least this way there would have been a way for Will to come back. For him to not be dead. 

 

Hmm. On the other hand, there's no way Will would please guilty, I guess. 

 

But either way, I guess my point is that this brings back to me why I am still annoyed with the Kings. They didn't have to kill Will. There were many other ways for Will to disappear without his death, that would have led to the same consequences the Kings wanted. 

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What were they? Josh Charles wanted to leave the show. Given that, what other options are there?

 

1. Will goes to England or Australia. I don't think that's believable. He's passionate about the law firm he runs. It's his whole life. Why would he give all that up to move to another country he knows nothing about where he would have to learn a completely different legal system, wouldn't be able to practice law right away (it could take years), and wouldn't have the power, career, prestige, or ability he does in Chicago? Why would he leave the L/G and Diane like that? And for what? We can't say it's to get married. Will's only ever had casual girlfriends who don't ask anything of him.

 

2. Will moves to NY or LA. This is more believable storyline-wise, as it is in character for Will to move there to set up branches of L/G. But there's the same problem. Josh Charles isn't on the show. Would it be realistic that Alicia or Diane wouldn't contact him? If they can't get Josh Charles to commit to a recurring part (and apparently that wasn't an option) then it would be as though everyone was acting like Will didn't exist, even though he's a short plane ride away. And he would still be unavailable to be Alicia's love interest, except it would make no sense why.

 

So, as I see it, Will has to die. It doesn't have to be a brutal murder, but it has to happen.

 

And I actually think, given they had no choice, the Kings did something interesting. Remember that the episode before Will's death was "A Few Words", the one where Alicia goes to NY and gives a speech about opt-out moms. It made clear what Will means to Alicia. She had two paths after Peter's scandal. She could take up Jackie's offer for help, forgive Peter, give up trying to be a lawyer, stay in the suburbs and turn into Jackie. A woman with nothing going on in her life who derives all her identity from her son's accomplishments because that's all she has. A woman who doesn't control her own fate.

 

Will offered her escape from al that. Will was literally the only person in Chicago who believed in her. The other law firms wouldn't even consider her for an associate's position, but Will did. He backed and trusted in her ability, when everyone else saw her as a middle-aged mom, and he was right. But now Alicia can't depend on that kind of emotional support. She has to make her own way without someone in her corner who believes in her ability. It creates an avenue for character development for the main character of the show .

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I don't understand this assumption that JC had to die because he wouldn't appear at all. That's patently untrue! He was back the very next episode (or in the next few?) to direct. He didn't want to be a regular anymore, but there's no reason why, had he moved to NY or LA, he couldn't come back for a cameo or two. 

 

And we've seen now a legitimate reason for Will to have run. Or even gone into Witness Protection. He'd even be a more believable target than Cary. So, I think the 'he had to die' explanation works if this is a Dan Stevens situation where the actor refuses to appear (though was that the DS situation? I forget). But where the actor is open to appearing later, I don't find any justification in killing him off. Especially when the reason is something ridiculous like it had to be to force Alicia to finally denounce Peter - which she has yet to do. 

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Will could've went to NY/LA without them ever showing JC. All they'd to do was mention him in passing or show briefs conversation of Diane talking on the phone or saying she just saw him or whatever.

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Will Gardner was my favorite character and the show is not quite the same without him, in my opinion.  However, I think it made sense to kill the character when the actor decided to move on.  1) The Will/Alicia relationship was played out.  I loved them together, but it was clear for a while that there was more commitment on his end than hers.  That storyline had to end.  Even if Will moved to another city, got married, etc., there would always be a contingent of us that hoped they would get back together.  I think it was good to close off that option so that Alicia could explore new relationships.  2) I think that the shock of the death was good for the show, though I do agree that it would have made more sense for it to have been in the context of Peter's political shennanigans or something related to Lamont Bishop.  The death helped the characters put aside their fighting and created an avenue for Diane to reunite with Alicia and Cary.

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I don't understand this assumption that JC had to die because he wouldn't appear at all. That's patently untrue! He was back the very next episode (or in the next few?) to direct. He didn't want to be a regular anymore, but there's no reason why, had he moved to NY or LA, he couldn't come back for a cameo or two.

He directed one episode after he left.

 

And this week's episode made it pretty clear that JC won't come back, even when it makse sense (like in an imagine spot). That was the blatantly fakest body doubling I have EVER seen and you would think a slick show like this one would know better. Even keeping him in shadow and facing him away from the camera could not hide that Will was played by someone else - different nose shape and drapier neck, for a start. And BIG mistake to have him talk. Whoever did that voice didn't sound remotely like him.

 

I suppose that settles that. Having Will move to LA or something only works if JC would be willing to return occasionally (and even that's a big stretch), but if the actor is gone the character has to die. Ugh, those fantasy sequences were community-theatre level. If you can't get the actor, use footage you already have or write something else.

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But we don't know that JC was asked back, right? Did the Kings say that? He's always maintained that he didn't want to be a regular anymore, but he was open to coming back occasionally and I see no reason to disbelieve him. I see this episode as the Kings being cheap. 

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Honestly, I think that Will and Alicia were supposed to end up together because I believe they said that his departure threw a wrench in their plans. Even if they weren't endgame, I think there would've been an actual relationship. But, relationships aside, the storyline was good for the moment, but in the longterm, it doesn't hold up well for me. Will added humor and charm and he also challenged and encouraged Alicia. But, I loved his character because he made no excuses about who he was or pretended to be better than he was. He wasn't perfect, but he wasn't this "evil" lawyer either. Even though his death brought them together, I think they would've "gotten" back together (Alicia, Cary, and Diane) regardless. I mean, keep in mind why Diane was upset with Alicia and Cary--that was pretty big thing. 

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Everyone was pretty clear it did. I don't remember where I read it but it was widely reporteds that Josh Charles wanted to leave at the end on season 4 when his contract ended, and Julianna Margulies begged him to stay for an extra 16 episodes.

 

And I thought it was obvious that Will and Alicia were the Ross and Rachel. The Jim and Pam. The Buffy and Angel. They were constantly on the verge of having an affair. The show never gave Will any serious love interests, just a series of disposable babes who were either idiots or horrible people, and Will wasn'r especially nice to them, so there's no real threat to Alicia. She never got any love interests either, unless you count her attempts to make it work with the father of her children. (Compare that to Diane, Cary and Kalinda, who had real relationships even though they were far, far, less-developed characters in general).

 

It matters that the episode before Will died was "A Few Words". We learn that Will hired her at L/G because he loved her, and they had a chance to sort of make up. That scene in the diner was as close as a classy prestige drama could get to making a happily ever after for the OTP when one actor is about to leave. It also shows the audiences the two paths Alicia could have taken: either stay in her old life as a suburban mom, and turn into a scared, wimpy, dowdy, Jackie. Or take the job at L/G and become cool and smart and stylish. In the first she's with Peter. In the second she's with Will. That seemed pretty clear what the show was trying to say.

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What were they? Josh Charles wanted to leave the show. Given that, what other options are there?

1. Will goes to England or Australia. I don't think that's believable. He's passionate about the law firm he runs. It's his whole life. Why would he give all that up to move to another country he knows nothing about where he would have to learn a completely different legal system, wouldn't be able to practice law right away (it could take years), and wouldn't have the power, career, prestige, or ability he does in Chicago? Why would he leave the L/G and Diane like that? And for what? We can't say it's to get married. Will's only ever had casual girlfriends who don't ask anything of him.

2. Will moves to NY or LA. This is more believable storyline-wise, as it is in character for Will to move there to set up branches of L/G. But there's the same problem. Josh Charles isn't on the show. Would it be realistic that Alicia or Diane wouldn't contact him? If they can't get Josh Charles to commit to a recurring part (and apparently that wasn't an option) then it would be as though everyone was acting like Will didn't exist, even though he's a short plane ride away. And he would still be unavailable to be Alicia's love interest, except it would make no sense why.

So, as I see it, Will has to die. It doesn't have to be a brutal murder, but it has to happen.

And I actually think, given they had no choice, the Kings did something interesting. Remember that the episode before Will's death was "A Few Words", the one where Alicia goes to NY and gives a speech about opt-out moms. It made clear what Will means to Alicia. She had two paths after Peter's scandal. She could take up Jackie's offer for help, forgive Peter, give up trying to be a lawyer, stay in the suburbs and turn into Jackie. A woman with nothing going on in her life who derives all her identity from her son's accomplishments because that's all she has. A woman who doesn't control her own fate.

Will offered her escape from al that. Will was literally the only person in Chicago who believed in her. The other law firms wouldn't even consider her for an associate's position, but Will did. He backed and trusted in her ability, when everyone else saw her as a middle-aged mom, and he was right. But now Alicia can't depend on that kind of emotional support. She has to make her own way without someone in her corner who believes in her ability. It creates an avenue for character development for the main character of the show .

As a woman (who incidentally is not a stay at home mom - I work and have two sons), but who has certainly thought about staying home full time, it always offends me when people talk about women who don't have a career in really insulting ways - as if they are pathetic, have "nothing going on other than their children's accomplishments", etc. If I were to choose staying at home, is that how people would talk about me? There is nothing "small" about spending your life servicing and loving other people. And a mom has no less of her "own identity" than a guy like Will who derived all of his identity from his job but didn't feel like his life actually mattered to anyone. And after your kids get old, you could fill your life with meaning - volunteering for various organizations, being active in a church, who knows what. Or helping with your son's campaigns. What's wrong with that?? Why do we get to judge what makes a life meaningful. The problem with Jackie isn't that she devoted her life to her kids. It's just that she's a bad person. She doesn't listen to what other people want and she's disrespectful and meddlesome. Alicia would have never been Jackie if she didn't return to the law. When people talk about this kind of life as inevitable for any woman who chooses staying at home, it's not female liberation - it's just a new form of oppression (women are feeling pressured to do a certain thing whether they want to or not because or how they will be judged). If Alicia wanted to work, fine. More power to her. But she seemed like her situation forced her back into it and she wasn't necessarily miserable not working when she jumped back in, and I am sure her life would have been fine if Peter hadn't had the affair and she hadn't been forced to do so and she remained a mom (she wasn't doomed to be Jackie and live a meaningless existence). It's just insulting to women who don't work to talk about it this way. Sorry. It's just always bothered me. Welcoming women into the workplace should just give women who want to work more options, it shouldn't result in women who want to spend their lives working for their families being disparaged.

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It's not me saying that Alicia had a choice between turning into Jackie or being awesome, or that there's something wrong with being a stay at home mother. The show is.

 

I don't know if you ever watched "A Few Words" but it's told largely in flashback and imagine spots. Alicia remembers trying to go back to work after Peter's press conference. She's frumpy, in awful clothes and a terrible wig. She gets rejected by every law firm, none of the interviewers take her seriously, and she just lets hereslf get pushed around, pouts and is sad. Jackie appears to her in her imagination and tells her to give up, take Jackie's offer of money, and keep being a housewife. With the implication that's all Alicia can do, that she's not good enough to make it without Peter's family.

 

Then Will gets her an interview, she buys a nice suit and gets a new hairstyle (which Jackie disapproves of), and gets the job. And that's the implicit message. Either be like Jackie, or be like someone Will is attracted to. Will represents the opposite of all that.

 

And I'm going to have to disagree with you on Jackie. I think she show has consistently showed that her identity is wrapped up in her own status as Mother of the Governor. She hates Alicia and only cares about being prim and proper and impressing people with her son's status. She's close-minded, freaking out when she thinks Zach is dating a Jew or a black girl. She snoops. She listens to men and doesn't respect women. And then we later learned her husband cheated on her with an accomplished woman with a career. She is every bad cliche about rich, proper housewives. And certainly in "A Few Words" there was the idea that if she didn't get a good job, Alicia would end up like her.

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It's not me saying that Alicia had a choice between turning into Jackie or being awesome, or that there's something wrong with being a stay at home mother. The show is.

I don't know if you ever watched "A Few Words" but it's told largely in flashback and imagine spots. Alicia remembers trying to go back to work after Peter's press conference. She's frumpy, in awful clothes and a terrible wig. She gets rejected by every law firm, none of the interviewers take her seriously, and she just lets hereslf get pushed around, pouts and is sad. Jackie appears to her in her imagination and tells her to give up, take Jackie's offer of money, and keep being a housewife. With the implication that's all Alicia can do, that she's not good enough to make it without Peter's family.

Then Will gets her an interview, she buys a nice suit and gets a new hairstyle (which Jackie disapproves of), and gets the job. And that's the implicit message. Either be like Jackie, or be like someone Will is attracted to. Will represents the opposite of all that.

And I'm going to have to disagree with you on Jackie. I think she show has consistently showed that her identity is wrapped up in her own status as Mother of the Governor. She hates Alicia and only cares about being prim and proper and impressing people with her son's status. She's close-minded, freaking out when she thinks Zach is dating a Jew or a black girl. She snoops. She listens to men and doesn't respect women. And then we later learned her husband cheated on her with an accomplished woman with a career. She is every bad cliche about rich, proper housewives. And certainly in "A Few Words" there was the idea that if she didn't get a good job, Alicia would end up like her.

I don't think we are actually disagreeing on Jackie. I said she was a bad person :) She is meddlesome and close minded and doesn't listen to what other people want. And I agree she is obsessed with her son's status as governor which is just shallow. My point was that devoting her life to her son and family (as opposed to pursuing another career) wasn't her main problem. Her problem is that she is insensitive, status-obsessed, close minded, and shallow. She'd probably still be all those things if she pursued some other career. I think we are agreeing on Jackie's character - I was just saying that being a stay at home mom isn't her main issue, nor does staying at home doom a person to all those horrible character traits, nor would Alicia inevitably become Jackie if she had gone that route.

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I didn't know where to put this but it seems relevant here....I came into TGW late so I've recently started watching it from the first episode. I'm midway through season2 right now.

That being said, I now understand the irritation levels of Will being killed off. I didn't get it before...I get it now. Their love story or attraction story is the premise of this show...so far it's permeated the first 2 seasons. To never have resolution is just baffling.

I'm not sure what will change by the end of season 2 and into seasons 3 and 4 but now I'm just sad/mad that they don't get together, stay together....I mean really....they could have gotten them together and then killed him off in some twist and turn that at least would make sense to the central character. They had an entire season...

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I didn't know where to put this but it seems relevant here....I came into TGW late so I've recently started watching it from the first episode. I'm midway through season2 right now.

That being said, I now understand the irritation levels of Will being killed off. I didn't get it before...I get it now. Their love story or attraction story is the premise of this show...so far it's permeated the first 2 seasons. To never have resolution is just baffling.

One of the reasons that this is such a good show is that they kept it plausible that Alicia and Will wouldn't just run off into the sunset together. Usually, OTP relationships are so irritating because the guys in the main couple love each other and are wildly attracted to each other ,and the reasons they never get together are total bullshit. But the show was careful to make it clear why Alicia never leaves Peter. Because of the kids, because she feels she has to be responsible, because it's hard to just walk away from a marriage when the other guy is trying to make it work, because the aftermath would be messy, not just personally but for Peter's career. I mean, a guy running for Governor can't have his wife leave him in an election. (Or SA, which is a huge, high-profile job in this world). And then Will never makes her a firm offer either. We don't learn if HE loves Alicia enough to want to risk a real relationship where she risks everything in her life just to be with him. He wants to be with her but I don't think he ever talked about her leaving Peter. 

 

So while it would be satisfying to the audience to see Alicia and Will be happily ever after, I'm not sure how they could have made it work. Given the timeframe, Alicia would have to leave Peter right after he became Governor, a season and a half after they'd reconciled and had a pretty solid marriage. After Peter hadn't been cheating on her, but had been supporting her. And Alicia and Will had barely any romantic contact since early in season 3 by then. AND Will is involved in covering up Peter's ballot-stuffing. There would be tons of drama, but I don't see how the show could plausibly have them decide to run away together while they're both so tangled up in Peter's life, and without totally retconning Alicia's character. She's not an impulsive, risk-everything-for-true-love person. And then what? Will still dies (because JC wanted to leave), and now Alicia's alone, only Peter's her enemy.

 

Honestly, I still don't get why they couldn't have worked something out with Josh Charles and made him a recurring character. 

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Well at least where I am in the series, Will did make her a firm offer to put together a plan and she didn't get the voicemail because Eli deleted it. And then when she finds out there was a deleted voice mail and confronts Will about it, she mistakenly refers to it as the first voicemail, where in fact it was the second voicemail that was deleted....so he confirms something incorrect. Also at least to this point, she is standing in the wings when Peter was announcing he was running for office but when talking to Will tells him point blank that she needs a plan. So she commits to leaving Peter if there is a plan. That's actually the cliffhanger between seasons 1 and 2.

Like I said, I only know what happens at the end, not quite how messy it gets in the middle but at least to this point I'm rooting for them. I understand...she's the good wife.

I agree I wish they could have kept will as a recurring character because it's the finality that really bugs me now.

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