The Good Fight s1 ep 10

Season one of The Good Fight marches triumphantly off into the good night both literally and figuratively, with the finale’s case of the week focussing on a cyber-terrorism plot to hack the Chicago power grid and cause a blackout, for woolly reasons not dissimilar to those old-school 24 villains used to have – “things need to change, save the country from itself” etc. How turning the lights out is going to achieve that any time soon remains somewhat vague, but I assume it’s a very long game.

The plot brings back both Bitcoin Boy and NotMilo, and causes all sorts of trouble for Colin, Lucca and everybody else with lots of dashing from court to court and angry lawyering going on all over the place. Not that the lawyering always needs to be quite so angry – was I the only one thinking it was somewhat counter-productive for Adrian (much as I love him) to attack Colin on the stand in the way he did? The guy was DESPERATE to tell the world Lucca was innocent – why not let him?

But attack mode is the order of the ep, with the partners finally telling Maia she needs to be “more bold” and Maia finally – DEAR GOD – actually doing it. Her defence of Lucca is as spirited as it is unexpected, so good for her. Especially since she may need to use this new-found boldness to defend herself now Papa has done a runner and the Feds are coming after her instead. While apparently ignoring Lenore and Jax who could not be more obviously guilty if they held up signs saying so? Hmm.

The other big news is the return of Gary Cole’s Kurt McVeigh, being as irresistibly Kurt McVeigh as he can possibly be, and winning back Diane at last, even if it only takes a carjacking, an act of heroism and a short hospital stay to do it. I love Diane, I love Kurt, and I love Diane and Kurt together, so hurrah for that. Just don’t mess it up again, dude, FGS.

And that – give or take a bit of jealousy on Barbara’s part which might well cause trouble for Diane later – is pretty much it for a great first season. It took me a little while to warm to it, but once I was in, I was in deep. Following the TGW house style in wit, intelligence, legal quirks, thought-provoking interest in technology and general awesomeness (before it lost its way) as well as a gallery of fantastic familiar characters and fantastic new ones, TGF has performed the impossible trick of giving us not just a worthy follow-up to one of the best tv shows ever made but a genuinely terrific one in its own right. Like its parent show, it’s not without its flaws (Maia, Lucca’s love life, Maia) but it’s also smart and thoughtful, and its cast, both regular and recurring, is to die for. I can’t mention everyone, but my gosh, Delroy Lindo’s Adrian is magnificent. Sarah Steele’s Marissa makes everything better, and her partnership with Nyambi Nyambi’s Jay is tremendous fun. Cush Jumbo is excellent as Lucca, even if Lucca is the new Kalinda. And, at the heart of it all, Christine Baranski’s Diane is, of course, peerless. As Jed has pointed out, there are some narrative drawbacks to a season as short as this one, but one advantage is that it leaves this viewer, at least, wanting more, and thankfully we’re getting it. Bring on season 2.

The Good Fight s1 ep 9

Even with TGF’s undeniable skill at the TGW trick of playing with the accuracy of memory and perception, half an episode devoted to what is, essentially, a three-way argument about a calendar isn’t really my idea of a good time, especially if it’s in service of the Rindell storyline and What Maia knew. Credit to the writers, director, terrific guest star Jane Lynch and the ever-reliable Cush Jumbo for making it significantly more watchable and amusing than it could have been though. And credit to everybody for livening up the rest of the episode with the return of Dylan Baker’s incorrigible Colin Sweeney, who is a terrible human being but a more than welcome diversion. Baker working with Christine Baranski and Delroy Lindo is something of a dream team, and throwing in Mark Linn-Baker as Judge Linden an unexpected boon. Is it really wrong to want Maia to go to jail, so we can clear space in season 2 for these other, much more fun characters instead?

The Good Fight s1 ep 8

The Rindell storyline takes a surprisingly compelling turn – for the first time I was genuinely interested in what happened to Henry – which is all to the good, but the big news (and the big fight) in this week’s episode is Reddick v Boseman, as Louis Gosset Jr. pops in to try and take back the firm he started – the vote is surprisingly close, considering how completely awesome Adrian is – and brings a particularly tricky case of the week with him for good measure. Fisher Stevens is a somewhat unscrupulous opponent, and the client’s initially on the ropes, but Marissa’s on hand to work it all out, which is becoming something of a habit and would be harking back to Super-Kalinda Solves It All territory, were it not for the fact that it’s impossible to dislike Marissa (she is ace) and Lucca currently has dibs on any character traits Kalinda might have left lying around.

Colin’s parents and their friends’ behaviour was hilarious in a completely mortifying way, but I’ve had more than enough of Lucca’s incomprehensible and frankly stupid skittishness. Girlfriend, if you want Colin (and why wouldn’t you? He’s great), you can very clearly have Colin, so what the hell is your problem? And if you don’t… well, never mind that, you obviously do. So get over yourself.

The Good Fight s1 ep 7

What a completely magnificent hour of tv this was.

The cases of the week were basically Kresteva vs Boseman et al, and vice versa, as TGF’s biggest, baddest villain so far tried to bring down the firm in the Grand Jury room, and Elsbeth, Lucca and co fought back in civil court, which sounds boring, but was anything but. The wildly, joyously funny script hit almost every mark with panache and wit, managing, in particular, the incredibly difficult trick of weaving race into the story in a way that was both laugh-out-loud hilarious and insanely clever. Adrian, especially, was punch-the-air amazing, and Marissa’s sly swipe at the racial politics/make-up of TGW as smart, self-aware and, crucially, funny as it was meta. Elsbeth was an unmitigated, exuberant delight. Jay was quietly, unobtrusively great. Colin gets better and better by the week. Even the finance guys were fun. And watching Kresteva hoist by his own petard will never not be awesome. If I have one complaint, it’s my usual one – Maia is still too dull and passive to hold her own with such a fantastic bunch of characters, but, as usual, everybody else more than made up for it. This was just amazing.

The Good Fight s1 ep 6

After several weeks flirting with similar themes, the most tech-savvy drama on telly tackles social media, censorship and the rancid cesspool of hatred that passes for online discussion these days in earnest this week, as Neil Gross tasks Diane and co with writing terms of service for his various media platforms (essentially Facebook, Twitter and Reddit with less catchy names), and it all goes haywire. Or not, depending on your perspective – I suppose, if you’re Neil Gross, it goes entirely to plan.

The story gives everyone a chance to do a lot of slightly artificial talking/ yelling – I’m looking at you, Julius – in order to illuminate/ educate the audience on the issues involved, and it’s all exceptionally intelligent, thoughtful and balanced in a way that’s still clear about what’s right and wrong (unlike far too much news media nowadays). Unfortunately, it also, of necessity, means the audience having to sit through a lot of nastiness in the form of various deeply unpleasant alt-right talking heads and some “f***ing asshole” called Staples whose appeal to the Reddick and co panel takes up about a third of the episode, and is brilliantly done but, as a result, drove me absolutely nuts. I can’t emphasise enough how much I admired this episode and what it achieved, but the truth is that Staples and his ilk are so repulsive and so depressingly realistic that, despite plenty of humour, his scenes aggravated me significantly more than they entertained me. I swear that’s a compliment – this clearly wasn’t supposed to be a simple, entirely easy episode to write or watch – but it doesn’t make it an episode I’d be in a hurry to watch again. Even if Diane and Adrian are absolutely awesome.

As, in fairness, were Carrie Preston’s Elsbeth who, along with Lucca’s beau Colin – who frankly deserves better than her Kalinda-lite hot’n’cold schtick – is currently performing Herculean feats by redeeming the Rindell story, and Marissa and Jay who are an adorable investigating team and need to do everything together forever from now on, thank you please. If anyone’s looking for another spin-off….. J&M Investigations? Just a thought.

The Good Fight s1 ep 5

Ok, so now Kresteva’s definitely on the wrong side of annoying. But since the quid pro for that is the return of everybody’s favourite TGW eccentric REDACTED and since she’s on joyous, hilarious form and I’m delighted to see her kicking his ass, I don’t mind too much. Especially given how tremendous the case of the week is, covering as it does the “epidemic of Chicago shows,” the very real pressure being brought to bear on media outlets and First Amendment freedoms in general by the current incumbent of the White House and his cronies, and this.

Not that the fun ends there, either. Throw in the return of Gary Cole’s Kurt McVeigh (whom neither Diane nor I can resist); Diane herself getting her mojo back (if it was ever gone); Lucca getting a little sugar of her own; and all the usual awesomeness too, and we have another wildly entertaining, wonderful episode of The Good Fight. If I had to come up with a quibble, I’d say that what I assume is the running gag where any question about how or what Alicia’s doing is met with some sort of deflection or change of subject may pall in due course, but it’s early days yet and Adrian’s face when Ada interrupts this week is priceless so we’ll worry about running gags another time. TGW may have fallen off its game by the end but, right now, TGF is at the top of it.

The Good Fight s1 ep 4

This week on The Good Fight, Diane and Lucca went to bat for a client trying to recover her long-lost eggs; Mike Kresteva returned to wind everyone right up; and perpetual victim Maia was the subject of a particularly nasty, virulent strain of social media harrassment. All of which added up to a terrific episode, and a wildly entertaining one at that.

As far as the case of the week goes, I don’t know whether they were entirely correct on the law throughout and the shady director of the fertility practice got off way too easily, but overall, the story was intriguingly complicated, sensitively-handled, and leavened with a great deal of humour, as the best ones are; the judge – “Oh God, I HATE this.” Hee! – was a grumpy delight; and the gradual but unmistakable thawing of Barbara’s relationship with Diane genuinely heartening to see.

The Mike Kresteva side of things was slightly trickier to pull off, since he can be very funny, but also very annoying, and a couple of years ago I would have been saying “there’s no way someone in politics can lie so often and so brazenly, and keep getting away with it.” Real life over the past year has taught us I was wildly wrong about that, though, and the writers did keep the Kresteva story just the right side of infuriating, this week, at any rate – his scene in Diane’s office was great fun, even if the Grand Jury business seemed a tad unlikely (for now). Still, it tied in beautifully with Maia’s story and one of the main themes of the week (and of 21st century life) – the abuse of the Internet and social media to create fake news and destroy people with it. Maia’s ex-boyfriend is obviously a reptile, and what he did unconscionable, but it’s notable that, yet again, Maia was entirely dependent on the rest of the cast to fix her problem for her – a problem that she didn’t even know she had, in fact, till, yes, somebody else explained it to her. But no matter. It was an absolute joy seeing Marissa, Jay and Ayesha help her give the ex what was coming to him, and as for the awesome Adrian channelling Will Gardner and stepping in during the confrontation by the lifts – well. I love love love this show now, and that single scene was the highlight of my week.