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. 

The Good Fight s2 ep 8

*SPOILERS*

Gosh. The case of the week starts off being about cops and race – a white cop shooting an undercover black cop. A few sharp, perfectly-pitched turns later, however, and it’s about cops and corruption, Facebook and the power of disinformation, and the end (?) of Diane’s marriage and Jay’s patience with a system where the right thing to do can be so very, very wrong.

There are plenty of laughs to be had from the micro-targeting story and Diane having a rare old time running rings around Judge Trig Mullaney, but it’s the more serious stuff which has the most impact this week. Christine Baranski is magnificent, the look on her silent face during the courtroom scenes in particular saying more than reams of dialogue could. And Nyambi Nyambi and Delroy Lindo are terrific too in a confrontation between Jay and Adrian teeming with suppressed rage.

If I have one quibble, it’s that the show might be in danger of falling into Clarissa Marissa Explains It All territory – the same character magically coming up with the answer every week became a real problem for The Good Wife and Kalinda the Magic Sexpot. Since Marissa is much funnier and much sunnier than the morose Kalinda ever was, though, and watching her solve problems is always a delight, I don’t think I’ve really got anything to complain about.

The Good Fight s2 ep 7

If this week’s TGF doesn’t quite hit last week’s heady heights for me, it comes very close – it’s only because I don’t care about Maia’s love life and I don’t quite know yet what the show’s trying to say about Marissa’s that it falls short at all. Those quibbles aside, though, everything in the other two main stories – both political, both handled with aplomb – is as awesome as we’ve come to expect from The Good Fight.

The magnificent combination of Christine Baranski, Delroy Lindo, Audra McDonald and Michael Boatman is joined by tv royalty Margo Martindale as the visiting DNC rep, and the ensuing battles about the rights and wrongs and how-tos of impeachment are dazzling: as witty as they are smart, and as sharp and pointed as they are fantastic fun. And they manage to get an Avengers and Justice League reference in there, which makes one half of unpopcult very pleased indeed. Heh.

As the partners duke it out in the conference room, meanwhile, Lucca is pulled into a different political campaign entirely with Colin’s unstoppable mum successfully luring her into his run for Congress. (I really like Colin – have I mentioned that?) Running for office storylines could sometimes be a mixed bag for The Good Wife – when they worked, they worked brilliantly; when they didn’t, we got Alicia’s campaign for DA – so it’s maybe too early to say how this one will pan out. But on the strength of this first outing, with the intriguing, amusing political director; the hilariously shameless Francesca; and a singing rabbit reminding me of this, it’s all looking pretty great so far. Maia’s love-life or not, “Day 450” is superb.

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 2

Week 2 of Not The Good Wife, and we have more of the Good Wife Gang jumping aboard, as it turns out, firstly, that Julius – JULIUS! – Cain is a partner at Reddick Boseman too, which is great, because I love Julius, and then Marissa – MARISSA! – moxies herself into a job as Diane’s assistant there as well, which is great, because everyone loves Marissa, except that…. Well, Diane, like Peter Florrick before her, might think employing people because you “know” them has nothing to do with race, but TGF is trying to be more aware than that so it’s very obvious, even just from the expression on Barbara’s face that, in bringing with her a Caucasian associate and selecting a Caucasian assistant she knows (like Peter picking Cary for promotion over Geneva or Matan) over a roomful of African-American candidates recommended by the senior partner, makes it look very much like Diane is happily creating a Caucasian clique in a proudly African-American firm, and that does have something to do with race, whether Diane realises it or not.

Yes, Marissa is a terrific assistant, and Maia might one day reach the dizzy heights of a thoroughly mediocre associate (more on that in a moment) but since a hefty dose of privilege is what got them anywhere near Diane and the jobs they eventually landed, it’s difficult to say they earned everything have on merit alone.

And it’s even more difficult to say that when, as I said last week, Maia is so wet. Of course, she’s inexperienced and she’s in the middle of a horrendous family crisis, but she has no personality to speak of beyond “constantly terrified”; watching her cower through each scene is bordering on uncomfortable, as opposed to entertaining. Yes, she takes on a case off her own bat this week, but at every stage Lucca has to step in – and since Lucca has all the fire and presence Maia does not, it just makes the newbie look worse. Normally, I would root for the plucky underdog, but this is a show not tell situation – it’s no good for Diane or Adrian or whoever to tell me Maia is plucky and smart and a fighter, Maia herself has to show me (like those other newbies Alicia and Cary did before her), and so far she hasn’t.

What she has given us by taking on this week’s case of a man accused of theft by his employers, though, is a chance to get to know Delroy Lindo’s Adrian. He is awesome, reminding me a bit of Will in temperament and humour, and in turn, he gives us the gift of another chance to hang out with Denis O’Hare’s fabulous Judge Abernathy, another member of the Good Wife Gang who pops in this week with trainers and prescription sunglasses and, as usual, steals the show. I love that guy. Even if his ruling this week made no real sense, but there we go.

Characters old and new aside, however, this was a very good episode which felt a bit more like a show in its own right than last week’s did, even if it’s always going to have the usual TGW markers: this week’s including arbitration, sneaky Christine Lahti, an interesting and topical case, computer technology taking over every aspect of modern life, and such like. I enjoyed it a lot.