Sunday, March 12, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Good Fight' - Lucca & Adrian Defend a TV Writer While Diane Helps Kurt in 'Stoppable: Requiem for an Airdate'

CBS All Access' The Good Fight - Episode 1.05 "Stoppable: Requiem for an Airdate"

Lucca and Adrian defend a TV writer-producer in a copyright infringement case with ties to the President of the United States. Mike Kresteva takes aim at Roddick, Boseman & Kolstad.

"Stoppable: Requiem for an Airdate" is an incredibly meta episode of The Good Fight. It's absolutely delightful as well. It's the show doing a "ripped from the headlines" episode about a "ripped from the headlines" case that goes awry. That's a setup that only this creative team would think to do. It's the show taking note of the current problem NBC has with an episode of Law & Order: SVU that takes its inspiration from Donald Trump. Things get even more meta if you know that Gary Cole appears as the Trump-like character in that episode and he also pops up here once again as Diane's husband, Kurt. So, this episode as a whole is working on so many different levels. It probably could be analyzed many different ways. But for me, it's just a really solid episode of television for a show that is getting stronger with each passing hour. This show was already operating on a really high level as the best legal drama currently airing on television. And now, it has established itself as more than just a continuation of The Good Wife. It's forming its own identity that is just as unique, powerful and engaging to watch. This case is complex and nuanced. But it's also playful and timely as well which really helps it resonant.

Of course, the case is an uphill battle for the firm as well. They don't believe there is a way for them to win this case. The writer of the episode posted it online in its entirety. He did so believing the network would never air it with Donald Trump now as president. So, it's fascinating to watch Diane and Adrian come up with different strategies to use in court that will better their case. Diane's idea to argue fair use is what gets the firm onboard. It's up to Adrian and Lucca to actually argue that though. It's a losing battle simply because of the merits of the case. The episode is keenly aware of that fact. Adrian and Diane are fighting this case for personal reasons instead of believing they have a chance of winning or faith in their client. In fact, the writer comes across as arrogant and privileged whenever he actually speaks. Overall, the show has an over-the-top playfulness with its depiction of the entertainment industry - with different executives taking the stand to deliver some kind of testimony that they may not be well-equipped to talk about. Again, it's a very meta episode. But it gets into an interesting discussion about damages and intent as well. Adrian miraculously wins in the end too. That's a surprise. It comes from a last second twist of Trump actually tweeting about the case. That may push the meta details a bit too far. But it's an exciting and thoughtful take on the subject matter as well.

And yet, there's no clear indication of this case opening any doors for the firm in the entertainment world. That's the reason why Adrian wants to take on this case. He believes it could show that the firm is tough and well-versed on these types of issues. That would make them enviable to the media companies out there who would want the firm working for them instead of against them. Of course, Adrian can only take this case so far without ruining these potential connections for good. For him to make his point, he would have to lose this case. He would just have to prove himself as someone who knows how to fight and when to fall in line as well. Someone who wouldn't embarrass the media elite at the top of these companies. Of course, he chooses to keep fighting and does so until he gets his victory. That means the firm probably won't be expanding to this new business any time soon. But the firm still comes out on top because Diane is able to use this case to impress another client. A client that has a long history on the old show: Neil Gross.

Now, it's frustrating to see The Good Fight once again fighting over representing Neil Gross just like the many versions of the firm did on the original series. He always seems ready and willing to jump ship as soon as something goes wrong. He gets bored after awhile and his character is still just as broad as before. And yet, his introduction here gives Diane a way to take power at her firm. At the start of the season, she was content to just be a partner at Roddick, Boseman and Kolstad because they were the only firm to welcome her. Her connection to the Rindell fund made her toxic. Adrian and Barbara weren't scared away even though they knew she would be trouble. She has been pretty tame so far. She has helped with strategy and proven herself to be a strong addition to the firm. But by landing Neil Gross, Diane is taking her power back. This is a thrilling episode for Diane for so many reasons. She and Kurt get the spark back in their relationship simply through working on a speech together. She's supportive and critical of him while the show gets back to the playful roots of their dynamic with him gifting her a gun. It's electric to see the two of them as sexual beings. But it's also wonderful and nuanced to see Diane not welcome him back immediately and use him as the instant fix to all of her problems. Instead, she is choosing to face all of her problems head on. That makes her a strong, independent woman. That's wonderful to see even though it could create trouble at the firm now that she's confident enough to demand to be a name partner.

Elsewhere, there is significant progress made on Lucca and Colin's relationship. Part of it seems like tying up loose ends from the previous episode with him letting her know that he spoke to his boss about Mike's investigation. Of course, she already knows better. Mike is still targeting the firm. His focus has just moved onto the Rindell scandal and not just police brutality cases. But honestly, that's the least interesting part of Lucca and Colin's interactions in this episode. It's just fun to watch them mocking each other while in court. He steps in to see Lucca in action and playfully teases her along the way. It could be seen as annoying and cocky. But instead, it's charming because Lucca can fire back at him while still making her argument. That's the passion in this dynamic. Lucca is a strong woman who doesn't get hurt because of boys. However, she also finds herself drawn to Colin. She actually does sleep with him after saying she wouldn't in the previous episodes. She is falling for his charm. And yet, it's still clear that her guards are up. Colin recognizes that as well. He can be perceptive too. He sees that she doesn't talk about herself. She is still a mystery in a lot of ways. That seems to be the point as well. She's independent because she wants to be but also believes there isn't much to say about her past. That's a unique identity for a character that should be fascinating to see play in the context of a romantic subplot for the season.

As if all of this wasn't enough to make this a memorable episode of The Good Fight, this hour also marks the triumphant return of Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni. That character really broke out on the original show. When it was first announced there was going to be a spinoff, many understandably wanted her to be included. She's not a regular but it's great that she's continuing to recur as the oddball lawyer who always knows how to get the job done. Now, she's hired to be the firm's lawyer against Mike Kresteva. That's another meta moment in this hour. When Elsbeth and Mike first sit down, she notes that it's odd they don't know each other after being in the same circles for years. But it's also just great seeing these two really go at each other. He doesn't even pretend to be nice to her in the diner because he foolishly sees her as this strange woman harassing him during his lunch break. Of course, the audience knows you should never underestimate Elsbeth. She always delivers a winning strategy. Whenever one of the regular lawyers is in trouble, she's the one to call. She may be unorthodox but she gets results. She also doesn't fall prey to Mike's dirty tricks and lies. She's able to catch him in the act while also making her presence known. She can get to him in personal ways just like he can get to everyone at the firm. He's working under the guise of Henry Rindell hopefully naming his daughter on a criminal list. He doesn't have it yet and Elsbeth uses that to her advantage. So, it seems like he has been silenced once more by another great female lawyer who is just as cunning and smart. That's just so fantastic to see.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Stoppable: Requiem for an Airdate" was written by Marcus Dalzine and directed by Ron Underwood.
  • There isn't a whole lot of movement with the Rindell scandal in this episode. Perhaps that's why it's my favorite of the season so far. Yes, Henry is released on bail because he works with Mike Kresteva. And yet, the mystery of whether Henry and Lenore are criminals just isn't as exciting or engaging as the rest of the show.
  • Of course, Elsbeth is able to liven up any story. It's great to see her point out to Maia that she's the one causing so many problems for the firm and that she's right to be paranoid and suspicious right now. Of course, that just proves that Elsbeth is a great lawyer and that Maia still has so much to learn.
  • Elsbeth was becoming a bit broad as a character by the end of The Good Wife. The episode that took the audience literally into how she sees the world was pretty weird and awkward. Her first scene here that reveals she works out of a dentist office has that quality as well. But seeing her in action again makes up for all of that.
  • It was pretty interesting to see the personality shifts the opposing counsel, Amber, took throughout this case. In front of the judge, she was sweet and courteous. When dealing with Adrian in negotiations, she was cursing, forceful and blunt. It once again shows the faces lawyers point on in order to win their arguments in front of judges.
  • Diane largely just tolerates Marissa. She can be so chatty. She frequently says whatever is on her mind even though it could be seen as offensive. It's great that she suggests taking notes when Kurt arrives. But it's also great when Neil Gross actually asks her to stay as well.