Performance of the Week #9: Josh Charles
The Good Wife
“Hitting the Fan”
Betrayal is a terrible thing. It takes relationships and rips them to shreds. It turns those affected into angry, upset shadows of their former selves. It changes everything. In this week’s magnificent episode of The Good Wife, betrayal swirls through the air at Lockhart Gardner and leaves a trail of catastrophe as it goes, like a hurricane forcing its way down a residential street. Everything changes, and for Will Gardner, it proves to be a devastating day.
From the episode’s opening scene, a direct continuation of last week’s closer with Diane informing Will of Alicia and Cary’s covert plan to leave the firm with a selection of their top clients, it’s clear that the oncoming storm is going to have especially huge consequences for Will. He championed Alicia when nobody else wanted to. He brought her into the firm and gave her the chance to flourish and thrive. He shared a connection with her that went far beyond professionalism. Josh Charles portrays Will incredibly in the scene, managing to display several dozens of emotions in mere seconds, from hurt and anger to surprise and bewilderment, showing us the full force of what this means for Will. And it’s something that continues for the remainder of the episode.
Josh Charles has always stepped into the shoes of Will Gardner every week with immaculate precision, but with an episode as game-changing as “Hitting the Fan,” he gets the chance to soar. It’s not difficult to root for Alicia and Cary’s plans, as the opportunity to see them running their own firm is incredibly exciting, but it’s also hard not to feel sympathy for Will. He’s been betrayed by somebody he thought he could trust without a doubt, and Josh Charles manages to portray Will’s anger and disappointment in a way that doesn’t make us see him as a bad guy. There are no real villains in the story, only good people doing things that are construed as bad.
Josh Charles is so good in “Hitting the Fan,” in fact, that it feels like you’re watching the assembly process of his Emmy submission reel for next year. Whether it’s in the episode’s opening moments, the dramatic courtroom showdown, or Will’s clashes with Peter Florrick, Charles’ work is simply exquisite. There are many, many scenes in this one episode alone that should allow Charles to clinch a nomination next year. And if they don’t, well, the level of injustice will be astronomical.
It’s beyond a shadow of a doubt that Will, and the firm, will never be the same again after Alicia’s departure, but I’m ridiculously excited to see how all of the show’s characters reconnect with one another after such an enormous divide. But in particular, I’m eager to see how the show’s actors deal with such radical changes to the dynamics between their respective characters. After all, the character dynamics are something The Good Wife has held dear for years, rarely challenging them with situations as huge in magnitude as this. There are new areas to explore, new storytelling avenues to navigate, and if “Hitting the Fan” is any evidence, it’s going to be spectacular, both for Josh Charles and for everybody else.
Masters of Sex – “Catherine”
Masters of Sex is a wonderful show being led by two very capable and excellent actors, but this week was Michael Sheen’s chance to stand in the spotlight and shine. Masters’ usual stoicism and impenetrable exterior is poked at and strained during “Catherine,” and in the episode’s final moments, when Masters takes off the mask and allows his true feelings to be put on display, Sheen proves just what a phenomenal actor he is.
The Good Wife – “Hitting the Fan”
Josh Charles is easily my choice of MVP for this week’s episode, but there’s no denying the excellence provided by his co-stars, particularly Julianna Marguiles. The storm at Lockhart Gardner is just as huge for Alicia as it is for Will, and Marguiles kills it in the exact way everybody expects her to at this stage. Alicia goes on an extensive journey throughout “Hitting the Fan,” and Marguiles’ acting never lets up pace.