What is particularly striking to me about Cal and Gillian's relationship, however, is the subtlety and restraint they display. I'm remembering the scene in Sacrifice (at least I think it was Sacrifice), when Gillian tells Cal about Alec's cocaine problem, and realizes that Cal thought he was having an affair.
“You thought he was having an affair.”
“I was afraid you were going to get hurt.”
“You were protecting me?”
“Something like that, yeah.”
Then she tells him she thinks it's best if they respect the line. My shippy heart was both sad and glad. I think Gillian knows that things could get messy between her and Cal. She knows, and she wants to remain committed to her marriage. Her integrity is one of the things I love about her character. Cal doesn't argue with her. He accepts what she's said and then he walks out of the room and down the hallway. Except there's this moment when he pauses; you only see him from the back, so his expression isn't visible. It doesn't need to be: the pause says it all. He accepts Gillian's request. Because it's the right thing to do. But he's sad, too.
Fantastic, subtle acting. Not only that, but their entire exchange feels so mature and so shockingly real. It doesn't feel like it's played for drama. The mutual caring and emotion is evident, but there are reasons why they can't get (more) involved. So they don't.