For all the Good Wife fans who spent years wishing for more of Diane Lockhart, welcome to THE GOOD FIGHT. In typical Kings-ian style, The Good Fight opens with a black screen and a voiceover of Donald J. Trump’s inauguration. We then see Diane Lockhart sitting in a dark room staring into the camera in complete disbelief. She shuts off her TV, drops the remote, and leaves the room.
A brief montage introduces us to Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie) as she sits for the Illinois bar exam, and follows Diane as she tours a villa in Provence, France. Next we see Maia obsessively refreshing the bar results webpage. She yelps in glee when she finally sees “PASS” appear on the screen and wakes her sleeping girlfriend to celebrate.
We return to Diane in the conference room, and it’s clear from the large oval table and floor to ceiling windows that Lockhart & Lee have updated their offices since we last saw them. Diane informs the partners that she’s announcing her resignation and retirement in two weeks when she finishes out her current case. She rationalizes that the firm is top heavy with eight name partners—clearly office space isn’t the only upgrade. After her announcement, David Lee privately celebrates.
Out in the lobby Maia waits with the other new associates of what is now Lockhart, Deckler, Gussman, Lee, Lyman, Gilbert, Lurie, Kagan, Tannenbaum, and Associates. Say that five times fast. Hearing the receptionist answer the phones in the background with the firm’s new and absurdly long name becomes a running joke throughout the episode. Apparently, since the end of The Good Wife Lockhart & Lee has merged with two other firms to become the “largest civil litigator in the mid-west.”
David Lee gives Maia preferential treatment as he doles out assignments, and we learn why when she calls her mom (Bernadette Peters) about a large flower arrangement sent to the office for her. Maia’s parents try to convince her to accept special treatment at the firm, and offer to call Diane on her behalf despite Maia’s protestations.
Diane gifts Maia, her god-daughter, with a leather-bound legal pad that was given to her by Pearl Hart, the first female public defender in Chicago. She tells Maia she’s ready to pass the baton. Diane invites Maia to take notes in her deposition, and it’s against . . . Lucca Quinn! Lucca has gone to a new firm. Diane asks if Alicia went with her, but Lucca says no.
The Kendall case is a police brutality case, and like The Good Wife often did, this one is ripped from the headlines. Three white officers beat a black man, permanently disabling him. However, it is Diane who is representing the Cook County police officers, which seems uncharacteristic for our bleeding heart liberal. It’s clear Diane has become cynical since the end of The Good Wife. When Maia expresses concern that they are on the wrong side of the case, Diane warns her that people aren’t always as they seem. It’s clear she’s thinking about Alicia’s betrayal.
At Diane’s retirement party various friends lament her leaving the law, and suggest they would love to have her at their firms should she ever decide to return. A photo slideshow plays in the background, and a photo of Diane and Will tugs at her heartstrings and ours. Maia’s parents, Lenore and Henry, arrive at the party. Diane asks why they haven’t yet responded to her accountant’s calls about the villa in Provence, and Henry blows her off, saying her investments are doing well and she should consider a loan for the property instead of divesting. It’s clear something’s up.
As she’s leaving the party, Maia notices a blinking blue light on one of the cars outside. She remembers seeing the same model vehicle in the video evidence for Diane’s case. She realizes that the car in the video would have recorded the entire incident.
Maia receives a call from her girlfriend who tells her the F.B.I. has a warrant and is searching their apartment. Maia frantically calls her Dad. Meanwhile, Diane gets pulled out of her deposition for an urgent phone call from her accountant. Maia races to her parents’ house where she sees her father being arrested. Diane turns on the TV to see what is happening to the Rindells in real time. Maia’s father is being called the new Madoff and being arrested for a vast Ponzi scheme. “Son of a bitch!” Diane shouts into the phone.
We jump to see Lucca and her lover watching the same news. Maia and her girlfriend go to her parents’ house to see her mother. Her parents’ lawyer tries to get Maia to look at and initial a folder of documents, but Maia and her girlfriend are smart enough to realize he’s not Maia’s lawyer, and they leave.
Diane meets with her accountant, Glen (Anthony Rapp), who explains the truly dire nature of her financial situation. Diane expresses her shock and guilt at pushing others including Emily’s List to invest with the Rindell fund. Glen suggests Diane delay her retirement, sublet her apartment, and formalize her divorce! It seems that after Alicia’s betrayal at the end of The Good Wife Diane has separated from Kurt.
Diane returns to the firm, and explains that she wants back in not just for financial reasons, but also because she loves to practice the law. David Lee and Howard Lyman shut her down citing her earlier reasoning of the firm being “top heavy.” Distraught, Diane seeks out the same friends who lauded her at the retirement party only to be turned down by them as well. No one will hire her. Her association with and promotion of the Rindells has made her “poison.”
Diane goes to see Kurt, and tells him he needs to divorce her in order to protect his financial assets. He asserts that he didn’t leave her, and she reminds him that he slept with his student. Diane finally breaks down over her losses, but composes herself, commands him to divorce her, and leaves.
Diane returns to the firm the following day to continue the Kendall case depositions. Maia tries to apologize, but Diane blows her off. Lucca’s boss thinks that Diane’s personal issues gives them an opening in the case, which Lucca seizes by calling out Diane’s unhappiness in the the middle of questioning. Diane balks and leaves the room.
In the lobby Maia is verbally assaulted by a man ruined by her father’s financial scheme. Lucca follows Maia into the ladies’ bathroom and gives her a pep talk on how to ride out the storm.
Diane’s assistant brings her the key video in the case, which clearly shows the officers tackling the Mr. Kendall unprovoked. Diane’s opposing counsel (and Lucca’s boss), Adrian Boseman, comes to see Diane and offers her a job. He suggests she return to the “right side of things.” When Diane asks about her association with the Rindell scandal, Boseman explains that the fund was “invitation only,” and that “they never invited black folk.” He suggests it’s Diane’s turn to screw over the people who screwed her, but since this is now CBS All Access, they use stronger expletives.
Boseman and his partner, Barbara Kolstad, argue about his offering Diane a job without consulting the other partners. Barbara pulls Lucca into the debate, but Lucca surprises her by standing up for Diane.
Diane announces to the partners at Lockhart, Deckler, Lee . . . that she’s going to Reddick and Boseman. David Lee threatens to sue. Diane hands over the video file and the Kendall case to Howard, telling him all too cheerfully that Cook County will be stuck with a $6 million payout. Diane finds the legal pad she gave Maia in her office, and goes to return it to her, but sees David Lee firing Maia. Diane calls Boseman, and tells him that the associate who found the key evidence that turned the Kendall case in his favor was just fired. Diane finds Maia outside, and says, “Let’s go . . . It’s not over yet.”
I love seeing the inimitable Diane Lockhart finally getting her due, and it’s great to see a show featuring three diverse women in the lead.
There seems to be some confusion over names of the new characters. IMDB lists Boseman’s first name as “Robert,” but Diane calls him “Adrian” several times in the episode. Also, Maia’s father, Henry, appears to be called “Paul” multiple times at the beginning of the episode. I was confused. Hopefully, that will all clear itself up as the season progresses.
The Kings have never backed away from controversial topics, and they go all in with this first episode, not only by using a police brutality case, but by reinforcing the racial divide visually by having all of the victim’s lawyers be black and all of the officers’ lawyers be white.
I love that the Kings continue to use Broadway veterans as guest stars . . . if only they would do a musical episode.
CBS All Access gives the Kings more freedom with content and language, and I’m excited to see where this season will take us.
Season 1, Episode 1 (S01E01)
The Good Fight airs Sunday at 8PM on CBS All Access
A.R. Wasserman | Contributor