Sunday, March 5, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Good Fight' - The Firm is Targeted by a Special Prosecutor in 'Henceforth Known as Property'

CBS All Access' The Good Fight - Episode 1.04 "Henceforth Known as Property"

Diane and Lucca represent an ovarian cancer survivor looking to obtain custody of her previously donated embryos. Maia is the victim of a fake social media account. Mike Kresteva pays a visit to Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad.

The Good Fight started with a police brutality case. Diane represented Cook County police while Adrian represented the victim. It was Diane's last case at the firm she helped build. She was on the wrong side of the case. She was no longer fighting cases that aligned with her moral beliefs. Instead, she was largely focused on how much money the new client would bring to the firm. Adrian welcoming her to his firm after the scandal is seen as her getting her life and morals back on track. She's learning how to fight "the good fight" again. It's a fascinating story arc. So, it's only fitting that police brutality cases are a recurring element of this season. Adrian took Diane in because he believed she could help with strategy against her former firm. But now, they have a new adversary in Matthew Perry's Mike Kresteva. That was a character who was compelling to watch in his few appearances on The Good Wife. Sure, scheduling conflicts meant the former show couldn't use him as much as they would have liked. But now, it's clear The Good Fight is setting him up as a new antagonist for the new firm. One who has an interesting perspective that easily frustrates the characters and the audience. His motives are constantly shifting and mysterious. It's only once he reveals himself that it's clear just how big a threat he will be to the firm. That's exciting.

Mike Kresteva was always a more interesting and complicated character when he was a lawyer instead of a politician. He ran and lost for Governor. That's the last the audience saw of him. So, it's very good that his debut on this show is as a special prosecutor. He's looking into police brutality cases. At first, that feels like a celebration because it's clear his hiring means the state knows it has a serious problem it needs to address. Adrian has the suggestion to send violent cops to jail. That would help fix the problem. And yet, Mike takes a different approach to make the statistics appear better. It's the kind of solution only a weaselly white man would think of doing. Instead of investigating the underlying causes of police brutality and institutionalized racism, Mike is attacking the firm that brings the most police brutality cases to court. He sees them as profiting off of a serious issue. He also sees that as the easiest solution to this problem. That could be the case. Police brutality has become more important and seen because of technology. It has changed the world. These problems always existed. They just weren't seen as much as they are now. So, perception is everything to Mike.

Of course, the show gets into some interesting racial politics as well. When Mike has to defend his plan to his boss, it's a scene with three white man talking about targeting a majority African-American firm. Colin is in the meeting as well. He's there on Lucca's behalf in order to stop Mike's inquiry. He puts the pressure on Mike to make this investigation on Adrian and Barbara's firm more than police brutality. Something that he is able to do as well. Not because of anything that any of the characters actually do but because of something that once again connects back to the Rindell scandal. This episode is so good by not defining Maia by the mystery of her parents. Henry and Lenore don't appear at all. Instead, Maia is defined by her relationships with her co-workers. And yet, the scandal is still affecting her life. It's probably the weakest story of the episode. Maia is the target of Twitter bots and clickbait articles on the Internet. It's something that gradually consumes her life. However, it's pretty broad as well. Maia and Marissa are a fun character pairing. But all of the stuff with the ex-boyfriend who is a photographer and a hacker just doesn't really work at all. It's all suppose to build to the big moment of "just learn to ignore it." It's a happy and simple ending. If the show left it at that, it wouldn't have been worth the amount of time spent on it. So, it's great that Mike uses these stories to help build his case against the firm. Sure, it could probably fall apart easily under close examination. But it's fascinating to see in the era of fake news, how people can just take any story they find online and use it to make their point no matter how wrong it may be.

Elsewhere, it's interesting to see just how quickly Colin and Lucca are getting close to one another. He was just introduced in last week's episode. And now, they already have a rapport. Plus, the firm sees him as Lucca's contact in the AUSA office. And yet, their dynamic is tense with sexual chemistry. It has a nice back-and-forth quality to it. Sure, getting burgers could be to this show what doing tequila shots was on The Good Wife. However, that's perfectly fine. It's a ritual that was established in the previous episode. And now, the two of them are building on that. She is using him for what she wants and vice versa. They are two complicated characters who think they know each other but are mystified by each other as well. Colin is nicer and more cooperative than Lucca was expecting him to be. He attributes it to the drinking which makes him a better person. The audience may see it simply as him wanting to sleep with her. That still feels like the direction all of this is going in. Lucca is able to resist him for now. She doesn't want anything to seem like a "quid pro quo" situation. She doesn't want to trade sexual favors for helping her firm stay in business. But a date is still set to go get a milkshake. That's a simple premise that the two of them have a lot of fun with. Will their dynamic ever become more than all of his previous casual relationships? That's unclear. But it's fascinating to see them continue to learn more about each other.

And then, there is the case-of-the-week which centers on a complicated fertility issue. Diane's client donated her eggs for money but now wants them back. Her contract says that she can. And yet, shady business interests have led to the eggs being sent elsewhere and largely destroyed. The only remaining egg has already been fertilized and is awaiting implantation for another couple. So, the case becomes a fight over who has ownership of this fertilized embryo. It's a nice back-and-forth in the courtroom with the show getting into some of the new science in this field. The couple only wants this egg for its genetic markers. They are undergoing a procedure that isn't exactly legal in the United States - at least not yet. It's a compelling case filled with unexpected moments - like the judge ultimately ruling against Diane's client. But then, it reaches a happy ending when Diane makes the British authorities aware of the details of this case which leads to the client getting the embryo. The client is this happy and determined woman. So, it's great that she is victorious here. But it also feels right that the other family hates her for everything this case has done to them. And yet, the most interesting scene of this story is when Barbara and Diane are consoling each other after the loss. They are reflecting on their own lives. Diane reveals that she does regret not having kids sometimes. That was never really a subject covered on The Good Wife. But here, it's fascinating to see her wonder what her child would be like with Kurt. All of this reflection lets her come up with the brilliant idea to win the case later on. But it's moments like this that help build the dynamics between the characters. That's very important as Diane is becoming a bigger part of this firm.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Henceforth Known as Property" was written by Joey Hartstone and directed by Alex Zakrzewski.
  • After the loss, Diane also calls Kurt. She hangs up before he answers. But it's also clear that she misses him in her life and wants him back. And yet, she's still not ready to forgive him and open up to him again after everything that he did. She's still not there yet even though she needs comforting at the moment.
  • That's also a huge scene of growth for Barbara and Diane. So far, Barbara has seen Diane as a troublemaker who'll complicate her firm. She's proven herself to be trouble as well. But it's also just nice to see two women supporting each other in a moment where they both need it.
  • Similarly, Maia and Adrian also get closer. And yet, that is a lot less subtle. At first, he barely knows enough about her to consider firing her. And later on, he's there to protect her once her ex-boyfriend shows up at the firm in a rage.
  • It's so naive for Maia, Marissa and everyone else to believe that the ex-boyfriend was the only person causing all of this trouble for Maia. It would have been absolutely ridiculous if all of these problems would just go away as soon as he stopped running his programs. Fortunately, they don't.
  • Will Colin continue to help Lucca once he learns just how Mike plans on attacking her firm? It should just be fascinating to see how far he is willing to go to help this woman he is suddenly attracted to and who likes to tease him.