The Good Fight s3 ep 7

*SPOILERS*

I’ve been increasingly confused and a little distressed by the way this season’s Good Fight has very quickly changed from the best show on TV to… something else, so I don’t know if the new uber-wackiness has just worn me down and I was just relieved to get a reasonably traditional episode, but I really liked this?

Of course, when I say “reasonably traditional”, we did still have Lucca in a fledgling romance with Gary Carr from Downton Abbey playing Gary Carr from Downton Abbey (or so TGF and IMDB tell me, I don’t watch Downton Abbey). I didn’t quite understand why this was happening, to be honest – I mean, Rose Leslie was also in Downton Abbey and I know she wasn’t in this ep, but surely the fact that they specifically chose another person from Downton Abbey and not, say, some dude from Call the Midwife (I don’t watch that either) wasn’t a coincidence? What point am I missing? My distress levels are rising again….

Still, Cush Jumbo made it work and the very meta “wallet” scene was cute, so, despite my unshakeable suspicion that not only was something going over my head but it was all a bit unnecessary, that sub-plot worked out ok. It was very much a side dish to the bigger, better storylines of the week though, which, probably for the first time, wholly successfully married up the arcs involving the Book Club, the work and history of the firm’s characters, and the unspeakable Blum in a way which felt organic and meaningful, as opposed to gimmicky and weird.

Essentially, the firm took on a class action about dodgy voting machines; it turned out to be a cover for the next phase of the Resistance, giving Liz and Diane not only their now-weekly conflict of interest but an astronomically-high stakes moral dilemma too; and, in the midst of all of that, Blum started sniffing about threatening to air the dirty Reddick laundry if he didn’t get a permanent gig at the firm. (NO. JUST… NO.) Great scenes included Adrian shoving Blum up against a wall, and, at one point, when Blum was splayed across the window ranting about horned beasts and revenge or something, everyone turning round and completely ignoring him. Heh. And Diane actually getting to be a lawyer in court again – as opposed to an axe-thrower or whatever – for the first time in weeks and being fantastic at it was fab too. MVP for the night, though, was Audra McDonald’s Liz (with Christine Baranski assisting) – her scene explaining to Diane exactly why history isn’t one of the things they share was both utterly devastating and absolutely tremendous, as well as a reminder of why we’ve stuck with the show this season, wackiness and all.

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The Good Fight s3 ep 6

*SPOILERS*

Blum is camped out at Reddick Boseman, ingratiating himself with Adrian and Julius, and even getting under Marissa’s skin, much to the frustration of Diane, Liz and yours truly. Lemond Bishop drops in to raise my hopes that we might be going back to some Good lawyering, only to dash them again by giving the show more excuses to keep Blum around. (Mike Colter’s Lemond is terrific, do something non-Blum-related with him please.) And Lucca is consulted in the most bizarre, roundabout way about a potential celebrity divorce. Whose? Jay thinks it’s REDACTED and REDACTED, but turns out it’s actually EVEN MORE REDACTED and REDACTED. Or maybe it isn’t. I think by the end of the episode we’re to understand that EVEN MORE REDACTED is a fake, but by then I just wanted it over with.

The initial stuff with Wade V and Zelda Raye, the hatbox of phones, everyone’s excitement that it might be the people it turned out not to be – all that’s fun, and Cush Jumbo battles valiantly to try and keep the rest of it on the right side of strange. Unfortunately, though, she’s saddled with a storyline that’s just a bit too weird and arch to work. Also, I’m no fan of the individual portrayed, but the “short” of the week is just obnoxious too. So it’s an episode best forgotten as far as I’m concerned. And everybody can just knock it off with the talking to camera, just STOP.

The Good Fight s3 ep 5

It was too much to hope that we might be done with Blum by now: he’s back this week, somehow having stolen twenty-one clients from Reddick Boseman et al, and jump-started their multi-million dollar class action without them noticing anything at all. Anyway, I still hate him but he’s significantly more bearable this week because – like Diane – Adrian can handle him a lot better than Maia did. The suggestion is that that’s because Adrian is a bit of a Blum himself, which is a gross insult to Adrian if you ask me, but never mind. If this caricature has to hang around (another two episodes this season, apparently), anyone who can keep him from derailing the season entirely deserves all the hi-fives in the world.

Not that hi-fives is exactly the right word to describe the, um, “rewards” Adrian is getting. His new girlfriend reminds me a lot of Will’s old ex who also liked to live dangerously during the working day. (Tammy? Maybe?) I’m somewhat dubious about the idea that a judge would risk all sorts of consequences by interrupting another judge’s ongoing hearing just for a little afternoon delight with counsel, even if Boseman is a very attractive man, but the story feels like it might be going somewhere beyond the odd cheap thrill so let’s see how it plays out.

At the other end of the legal ladder, meanwhile, Maia is feeling hard done by, blaming everyone else and turning up her nose at any help offered. That’s not going to do anything for me. Which leaves us with Jay and Lucca who have been sent off partly to act as poll observers and partly to get them the hell outta Dodge while the partners try to work out what to do about the intra-firm warfare Jay kickstarted last week. The poll stuff is terrific, with TGF’s signature elements of intelligence, humour, sharp socio-political commentary, a keen sense of the ridiculous, and, er, another catchy “short” all in evidence. There’s even a little bit of a love triangle! The only issue I have with it is the break in the fourth wall at the end, which suggests that the show doesn’t trust the audience to work out for ourselves what the inspiration for the episode was, but it’s still far and away the best storyline of the week and more than made up for issues with the others.

The Good Fight s3 ep 4

After two weeks of the wretched Roland Blum ruining everything, I was beginning to worry about The Good Fight. Lucky then that this week’s ep is the Blum-free “One Where Lucca Becomes a Meme” which not only gives us a break from his gurning, but reminds us, or me at least, of why we fell in love with TGF in the first place. What a fantastic piece of tv this is.

An unhappy collision between Lucca’s sense of humour and a busybody in the park leads to internet infamy, which would have been more than compelling on its own, but turns out just to be the appetiser. The main course is the unflinching, powerful look at the firm’s internal racial politics which it leads to, with Jay at the epicentre (a terrific performance by Nyambi Nyambi) and Maia and Marissa caught in the aftershocks. (Although Maia’s lucky she wasn’t REDACTED long before now, if you ask me, and she more than deserved it. We’ll just see if it sticks.)

The story is brilliantly written – clear-eyed, insightful and brave – and beautifully acted, and it’s not even all since, by way of dessert, we also get an incisive and almost as tremendous look at What Diane’s Resistance Group Did Next, (inspired by this and the history leading up to it) with questions about the ends, the means, and at what point you become as bad as the people you’re fighting writ large throughout. Superb.

The Good Fight s3 ep 3

Another week with two thirds of a great episode and one third of an awful one. Storyline of the week belongs to Liz, Adrian and Lucca, with Jay on supporting duties, as Reddick asking for a divorce leads to a hilariously mortifying discussion with Boseman as her alleged paramour and Lucca as her attorney who would rather be literally anywhere else on the planet than in that moment, followed by an equally awkward court hearing. All that is terrific.

The little sub-plot with Marissa and wannabe Judge Julius is entertaining enough as well, although it’s early days for it yet. Diane, however, is out on her own again, fighting for democracy, which is all very well, and somebody absolutely has to do it, but remember when she had clients? And billable hours? I miss Diane’s lawyering! Still, her new group (including a woman who doesn’t speak but looks and dresses so much like Alicia Florrick it has to be intentional, and is particularly intriguing given this) has a decent, amusing first outing and it gives us the “Russian Troll Farm” song, which is fantastic, and the return of the NSA guys which is worrying – I am terrified for Jay and his precarious immigration status – but still welcome, because any time spent with those guys and the #Resistance is time not spent with Roland Bloody Blum. He is still the worst, and the only scenes of his which are remotely bearable this week are, strikingly, when he’s with Diane because she’s almost completely ignoring him. There’s a lesson in there about neutralising self-aggrandising blowhards and liars by not giving them the attention they seek, if any media outlets in the US, UK or indeed anywhere else care to learn it, but I suspect they won’t.

The Good Fight s3 ep 2

Much as we loved The Good Wife, occasionally the show did like to take a chance on a deliberately provocative, abrasive character who either massively outstayed their welcome or didn’t work right from the off. Unfortunately, it looks like The Good Fight is doing the same thing this season with Michael Sheen’s cartoonishly evil attorney-from-hell Roland Blum.

Lest we think his combination of face-pulling, drug-peddling, trouser-removing, witness-tampering and bare-faced lying are just too outlandish to be believable, the show is desperate to make sure we appreciate that at least some of his antics might not be all that far removed from reality: the episode is called “The One Inspired by Roy Cohn”, we get another one of Jonathan Coulton’s wonderful “Good Fight Shorts” telling us a little bit about Roy Cohn, and Blum himself has a long chat with Maia about his mentor – guess who – Roy Cohn as well. Ok, writers. I googled Roy Cohn, I read up about him, I shuddered. Mission accomplished.

As we’ve said before, most of the time, the show‘s portrayal of American politics, and race and gender issues deftly balances socio-political commentary, satire and despair in a way that’s honest, intellligent and nuanced but still entertaining and often hilarious. Even this week, there’s plenty of evidence of that in Diane’s ongoing (if one-sided) feud with the First Family and her trips to the fundraiser, the dojo and the axe-throwing range(!); and even in the Liz/Lucca story about who should take over the firm’s matrimonial practice. There’s a wealth of fantastic, funny, even profound stuff in both of those storylines and, if anyone needs any more light relief, Francesca is a joy. Unfortunate then that the Blum business is so mind-bogglingly, teeth-grindingly infuriating, every scene he’s in is like nails down a blackboard.

I should say this is not the hugely talented Sheen’s fault at all. I understand that he’s meant to be this outrageous and I understand exactly what the show is trying to say with Blum. I still hated every second of them saying it, though, and his recurring role is going to be a real problem for me this season. I don’t know if pairing him up with Maia is yet another attempt to liven her up but it neither improves her nor takes the edge off him: they just make each other seem even worse. Judge Richard Kind and the return of Matan (with a surname and everything) are more than welcome bright spots, but even they can’t save that storyline or rehabilitate the other two, which means this was two-thirds of a very good episode, but the third actually inspired by Roy Cohn was the pits.

The Good Fight s3 ep 1

The Good Fight comes storming back onto our screens with an unapologetically apocalyptic opener: REDACTED is a serial rapist and sexual abuser. In the manner of these things, this manages to be both a massive shock and, given the world we live in, not a shock at all, so there are reactions, recriminations and lots of terrible implications to contend with, and suddenly the very foundations the firm is built on are stripped away. What should they do? How should they do it? And how much did OTHER REDACTED know?

All these complicated questions are explored with the show’s razor-sharp intelligence and wit, underpinned by profound empathy, and peerless acting. A lot of tv shows are trying to cover #MeToo issues but I’m yet to see any of them handle it with the fearlessness, skill and bone-deep understanding of this one. Audra McDonald, in particular, is magnificent this week, and her scenes with Delroy Lindo are terrific. As is almost everything else. I mean – the NDA video! “Diversity in…. abundance”! Lucca, Julius and the breast-pump! You guys!

I do have a couple of quibbles, though. I’m not terribly keen on the very strange scene of Diane talking about how much better “real” men were in the old days (come on, Diane) to a wound on Kurt’s shoulder which talks back in the voice of Donald Trump. Really? You know I adore Diane, Christine Baranski is never less than majestic, and I’m very, VERY glad Kurt turned out not to be doing what it looked like he was doing, but that scene was a bit too bizarre for me. And since we’re nit-picking, even Marissa and a fantastic pair of sunglasses aren’t going to make me interested in wet blanket Maia. But none of that matters. “The One About the Recent Troubles” was absolutely terrific and I loved it.