THE GOOD FIGHT is a complicated show. It rides a very precarious line between intelligent, complex storytelling and frustrating convolution, a balance that is on full display in this week’s episode.
The case of the week has Adrian and Lucca defending a television writer who posted an episode of a popular legal drama he wrote online after the network decided not to air it. The writer believes it went unaired due to the network’s fear of angering the Trump administration. The episode featured a “ripped-from-the-headlines” story about a politician raping a young girl—not unlike accusations against Trump.
Initially, Adrian wants to take the case because Chicago is offering tax breaks to film and TV productions, and he wants to use the case to give the networks a chance to see the firm at work in hopes of expanding into entertainment law. He expects to lose until Diane pops in suggesting a “fair use” defense.
Meanwhile, Diane’s capital contribution is still outstanding, and Adrian passes the buck to Barbara to address it. If Diane can’t come up with the money by week’s end, she will become “in counsel” rather than a full equity partner. Diane reconsiders giving up her apartment, but is resistant to downsizing to the “affordable” studios she sees online. Diane’s unwillingness to give up her hard-earned luxuries is telling. Diane is a woman who has worked hard. She’s fought against sexism in the workplace, and risen to the top of her field . . . but, she’s also a woman who’s become accustomed to her privilege, and is loathe to give up even a fraction of it.
Also, Mike Kresteva returns this week to interrogate Maia, fake news stories in tow. Kresteva, like Trump, is a bold liar and gaslighter. He even wears the same smug expression. At times I felt as uncomfortable watching him on screen as I do every time I see Trump speak. Maia knows she is telling the truth about the fake news stories, but Kresteva posits that they wouldn’t have been picked up by legitimate publications if they weren’t true. It’s that kind of circuitous logic that has entangled our entire political system in the U.S.
The firm needs a lawyer of its own to fight against Kresteva, and Lucca knows just who to hire . . . welcome back Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston)! Adrian, like every person who’s ever met Elsbeth, is skeptical at first, but Elsbeth does Elsbeth, and we know she’s the right woman for the job. She follows Kresteva to lunch, and annoys him into threatening to go after her personally if she goes after him professionally. She then befriends his wife, and leaves her business card in his home study. When he threatens her again, this time with disbarment, she plays him a recording of their earlier conversation. He counters that the recording is illegal until she reminds him that it’s not if it’s used to disprove a lie. Checkmate, Tascioni!
Diane catches a lucky break when she runs into Neil Gross (John Benjamin Hickey), another familiar face. Neil Gross, for those who didn’t watch The Good Wife, is the wealthy owner of ChumHum, a Google-esque search engine. Neil is considering changing firms, and he’s interested in working with Diane again, especially now that she’s at an all African-American firm. He wants a firm who knows how to “fight,” and he’s particularly intrigued by their current case against the TV network, which he views as a resistance to the Trump administration. Realizing that winning the case and signing Gross will do more for the firm’s bottom line than the entertainment law expansion, Adrian changes strategies. He refuses to settle the case. Adrian and the client get a lucky break when The President tweets his approval of the network’s top executive for “standing up to another Hollywood crybaby.” The case instantly becomes a First Amendment issue, and Adrian wins. Both sides agree to call it even. No public apology. No damages.
Winning the case also means winning Neil Gross’ business. Adrian, Barbara, and especially Julian are over the moon about landing such a massive client. Diane leverages her sway over Gross to negotiate not only the issue of her capital contribution (which will be taken from Neil Gross’ retainer), but also to get her name on the wall.
In Rindell-land, Kresteva visits Henry in prison, and shortly after their clandestine conversation, Henry is released on bail. It is Elsbeth who determines that Kresteva’s pursual of Maia and the firm may have been strengthened by Henry turning on his own daughter. Poor Maia. That girl needs to know when to cut her losses and run from her toxic family.
Kurt attempts to win back Diane by asking for her help on a ballistics speech he’s giving to the police union. He also gifts her with a gun that appears from her reaction to have some significance. They spend the night together after his speech, and he asks if she wants to move in, but she refuses.
Lucca and Colin finally have their milkshake and sex date. Once again, Alicia is the elephant in The Good Fight’s room. Lucca is reticent to open up emotionally to Colin, and it’s clear that she misses her friend. Even Elsbeth mentions Alicia, but we still don’t know where she is. Will the Kings continue to tease us, or will we eventually learn what happened to her?
This episode was great TV, but it was incredibly complicated. Just trying to write this review, I found my brain bouncing around trying to figure out how to write cohesively about it. There are so many plot threads and characters. Not to mention the show’s heavily meta nature. Every scene brims with political and social subtext that could take thousands of words to unpack. The think pieces on this show could be endless . . .
Season 1, Episode 5 (S01E05)
The Good Fight streams Sundays on CBS All Access
A.R. Wasserman | Contributor