The Good Fight
Christine Baranski, Cush Jumbo, Rose Leslie
Michelle King, Robert King
CBS All Access
We gave it an A-
I’ve said this before, but The Good Wife/Fight creators know that a theme is only as good as the plot in which it’s being explored. That means you can’t prioritize the former at the expense of the latter. On The Good Wife, if Robert and Michelle King wanted to talk about NSA surveillance, they found a damn good story that could support it and involved the characters in a believable way. The Kings showed off this skill — balancing their more intellectual and political impulses with the need to create entertaining television — once again in “Day 450” of The Good Fight. The episode followed the firm as it tried to come up with a strategy to impeach Donald Trump at the behest the DNC, which is auditioning 10 firms to handle Trump’s impeachment in order to win the midterm elections. The Good Fight has done a good job of not getting lost in politics this season, but I was still worried going into this episode because it’s such a treacherous premise. Clearly I was wrong to be concerned, because the show pulls it off here. “Day 450” is an entertaining hour that deals with this hot topic without losing sight of its characters.
Democratic political consultant Ruth Eastman (Margo Martindale), who handled Peter Florrick’s presidential bid in The Good Wife’s final season, sequesters Diane, Adrian, Liz, Julius, and a bunch of silent extras into a conference room and asks them to get to work on coming up with a strategy. Obviously, they can’t agree on one. Adrian wants to go after Trump for foreign emoluments; Diane, taking into account the precedents set by Clinton and Nixon’s impeachments, favors obstruction of justice; and Julius, the firm’s token Republican, opposes all this because he believers the voters should just wait until 2020 to change their minds. As I mentioned above, I was partially worried that this episode would turn into The West Wing, where the characters would stop being people and turn into walking political-science essays or mouthpieces. But the script never lets that happen. They never get too far into the weeds.
During this first meeting, Liz remains noticeably quiet until the end, when she presents her out-of-the-box strategy: going on the offensive. She thinks they should just throw accusations at Trump (whether they’re true or not), and if and when they’re challenged, quickly switch to another charge instead of defending the previous one. “It’s not about truth,” she says. “It’s about who’s backtracking and who’s attacking.” Her entire strategy is inspired by the fact that truth and logic aren’t the powerful weapons they used to be in this new world. Adrian is rather annoyed about Liz going off book like this, and the next day he tries to reign her in because he wants this client and believes the best way to get it is to present a united front.
When they meet with Ruth again, Adrian and Julius switch their support to Diane’s obstruction charge. But Diane calls an audible and lends her support to Liz because she’s tired of “When they go low, we go high” and the left being forced to be the adults in the situation while the right gets away with metaphorical murder. What’s amazing about her grand speech is how personal it feels even though she’s talking about Supreme Court nominations and gerrymandering. The writers have put so much effort into making it clear just how much the state of the world is affecting Diane, and her exhaustion is palpable, visceral, and relatable here — from the pained look on Christine Baranski’s face when she has to admit that lies might be more effective than the truth, to how her voice cracks and Diane’s stately composure completely disappears, to when she opens up about how our reality TV show-like reality has made her feel like she’s losing her mind. Diane Lockhart is a potent and moving avatar for Trump fatigue. (Next: Liz is Wonder Woman)