THE GOOD FIGHT Review: “Self Condemned”

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The penultimate episode of THE GOOD FIGHT’s first season is tightly focused on two storylines. The first is Maia’s proffer session with the FBI, and the second brings the return of everyone’s favorite “alleged” wife-killer and resident sociopath, Colin Sweeney.

Jane Lynch (Glee, Hollywood Game Night) guest stars as FBI agent Madeline Starkey, who questions Maia about her knowledge, or lack thereof, of the Rindell Ponzi scheme. Starkey is written with the kind of quirkiness that Lynch excels at, but it’s also nice to see a slightly toned-down version of Lynch’s humor. Yes, the scenes are filled with casual remarks about birds flying into the windows, and offers of See’s Candies, but there’s also an underlying seriousness to Lynch’s performance here. Starkey is smart, and she knows that both Maia and Lucca, who is representing Maia, are smart too. Her questions are thoughtfully tailored to trap Maia in a lie, which she ultimately succeeds at. The episode ends with tears welling up in Maia’s eyes as she realizes she is going to be prosecuted along with her parents.

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Throughout Starkey’s questioning of Maia, we get a series of flashbacks as Maia remembers her teenage years. It’s interesting to see the younger, more naive Maia. One can’t help but wonder if being exposed to so much lying by her parents is perhaps what ultimately pushed her towards a in law. We also learn that Maia’s girlfriend, Amy, is several years older than her, and was beginning law school around the time Maia turned eighteen. We’ve seen very little of Amy this season, and due to the nature of Maia’s story, Amy has served primarily as a one-dimensional sounding board for her girlfriend. One thing I’d love to see in season two is a deeper exploration of their relationship. How does Amy feel about the scandal? How has her life and their relationship been affected?

Over the course of the questioning, Maia begins to realize that she did know about the scandal. She remembers her eighteenth birthday party and hearing Diane comment that Bernie Madoff’s wife didn’t know about his Ponzi scheme only because “she didn’t want to.” This resonates with Maia. Perhaps she wasn’t privy to the details, but as she recalls numerous interactions with her parents and her uncle Jax, she begins to realize that everything was right in front of her the whole time.

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While Maia is being questioned by the FBI, Diane and Adrian are tipped off to a police brutality case involving the same officer from the original case that brought them together, Andrew Theroux. They rush down to the precinct, and begin talking to a young, black man in holding who they quickly realize is not their client. Their client is the one and only Colin Sweeney. Colin asks Diane if Alicia sent her. He mentions calling Alicia, but having her say she couldn’t take his case. I love that the writers haven’t ignored Alicia’s presence in the world, even if we never see her.

Despite Sweeney’s reputation, Adrian sees the case as an opportunity to finally get Theroux kicked off the force. However, as anyone who watched The Good Wife knows, working with Colin Sweeney is never easy. On the night in question Sweeney was on his way to a “chem sex” party, which is pretty much the Sweeney-ist storyline ever. His date, an Israeli woman, accuses him on the stand of punching the officer. Sweeney tells Diane and Adrian that she’s lying because she had drugs on her, and a felony possession charge could get her deported. Unfortunately, the officer’s dash cam footage is useless. It shows the officer asking Sweeney to step out of the car, and then both of them walk out of frame. Of course, that in itself, is telling, but it’s not evidence. Jay works his investigator magic to find a real witness, but the man refuses to testify.

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Finally, Adrian realizes that the man they originally met in holding is the key witness. Theroux had pulled him over prior to Sweeney, and charged him erroneously with possession. The charges were eventually dropped, and the witness that Theroux has a reputation for planting drugs, and then arresting people. It’s enough to sow the seeds of doubt, get Sweeney released, and get Theroux kicked off the force.

Diane tries to convince Sweeney to stay on for a larger civil suit the firm is putting together, but he refuses. In another Sweeney-esque moment, he says he’s trying to get appointed to an ambassadorship to the Vatican.

Final Thoughts:

When Starkey questions Maia about the Rindell Foundation, a charity started by the Rindell’s as a gift to Maia to fight malaria in Africa, Starkey that the board only met once. Maia seems confused at first. It’s striking to me that Maia, who seems via her memories to care about the issue, wouldn’t have at least attempted to be more active in the foundation. It’s a revealing moment about Maia’s naivete and privilege. The Good Fight has presented Maia, from the very beginning, as highly intelligent, but this moment undermines that. Was she really so disconnected from her own foundation that she didn’t question the fact they never met?

While the return of Colin Sweeney is a nice callback for many fans of The Good Wife, he seems a bit shoehorned into this season. With only one episode left, spending a full storyline on him seems like a distraction from the major plots of the season.

It appears that Adrian has a little crush on Diane. He very casually mentions they should “get dinner sometime” towards the end of the episode. While Adrian and Diane certainly have chemistry, I’m still rooting for her and Kurt to work it out.

TB-TV-Grade-BSeason 1, Episode 9 (S01E09)
The Good Fight streams Sundays on CBS All Access

Read all of our reviews of The Good Fight here.
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A.R. reads and writes YA, watches too much , and serves at the pleasure of her cat.
Follow A.R. on Twitter: @ARWasserman

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