I watched "The Good Wife" tonight because Josh Charles told me in an interview last week how moving he found his last moments on-camera as Will Gardner to be.
I wanted to see if the power he felt in playing that last scene of Will calling Alicia to say he wanted to be with her came through onscreen.
It did, it did, and then, it did some more.
The poignancy of that last message and moment of tonight's episode cut to one of the great truths about the pain felt by those who survive the death of someone they love: the incredible sadness for what might have been and the desperate realization that the relationship is truly over and you can never go back, retrace your steps and try again. The world really is a darker and scarier place now that you know the possibility of taking that path with someone is forever ended.
That was a powerful moment, and you couldn't help but be reminded what superb actors both Julianna Margulies and Charles are. Her reaction to the taped sound of his voice throughout the episode was Margulies at the absolute top of her game, which is as good as TV, movies or theater gets.
The second thing I loved about the episode was its total commitment to dealing with death in its cruel, random, existential darkness — without one bit of sugarcoating.
Alicia's daughter takes her mom's hand and says Will is in "heaven," and instead of mom giving her a little smile and agreeing, Alicia says, "What does that even mean? ... He's with angels?"
Alicia then tells the daughter what she really thinks about death, and it is not exactly the kind of thing expected to comfort an adolescent who is rattled by seeing her mom so sad.
But God bless the producers for speaking what they see as the truth about death, and letting the emotional and religious chips fall where they may.
Watching that scene, I was reminded why I wrote during the series' first season that "The Good Wife" is the only drama on network TV that can stand toe to toe with anything on HBO, AMC or FX.
I am really going to miss having Charles on weekly television. But I am guessing he'll be back in another role before too long.
And his performance in "The Good Wife" is something that is not going to be soon forgotten — even with our mosquito-like attention spans these days.