Sunday, April 16, 2017

REVIEW: 'The Good Fight' - The Firm Battles Cyberterrorism While Henry Makes a Major Decision in 'Chaos'

CBS All Access' The Good Fight - Episode 1.10 "Chaos"

Diane takes on a new client who is accused of cyber-terrorism, resulting in unforeseen repercussions for the firm, especially Lucca. An accident brings Diane and Kurt together. Henry reveals new truths about the scandal to Maia.

"Chaos" feels climatic in a number of ways. It elevates the stakes not just for the characters but for the entire city. The story of the finale is literally the firm in a race against the clock to stop a cyberattack from knocking out the city's power grid. It's a very timely story as hacking becomes more and more of a serious issue. It also gets into the social ideology of the characters that has been present for so much of this season. It highlights the different ways people react to certain things. Some revel in the chaos and anarchy while others hold out hope that it will knock the entire corrupt system down. In the middle of all of it are the characters from the firm as they all reach the personal climaxes of their stories from the season as well. There is a lot going on in this finale. In some ways, ten episodes has proven not to be enough for this show. But in others, it's clear that some stories should have hit these plot points a long time ago. But overall, this is a solid way to close out the first season while also doing a strong job setting up the second.

Answers finally come to Rindell scandal as well. Henry confirms that he was in charge of a Ponzi scheme and that Jax and Lenore were a part of it too. That has been a major mystery this season. Because the show treated it as a mystery though, it wasn't that engaging as a story. And here, the story is still primarily concerned with Henry going back-and-forth on what to do. Will he take the plea deal and spend 35 years in prison? Will he flee the country? Will he be able to say goodbye to Maia and Lenore? Those are the big questions. It's the story that provides the show with its devastating final beat as well. The season ends with Maia being arrested as a part of the Ponzi scheme. It's an action that the feds do because Henry flees the country instead of turning himself in. It's a tense way to end the season. But it also felt inevitable. Otherwise, there would have been absolutely no purpose for the show to spend all that time with Jane Lynch's character in the previous episode. Maia had to deal with some of these consequences. It's nice that the mystery is seemingly wrapped up for her. But the scandal is still going to be defining Maia in the immediate future.

That's unfortunate as well. Maia became a stagnant character because of her parents' scandal. She hasn't been able to focus and evolve as a multi-dimensional human being. She's still pretty one-note. Plus, this finale proves that she is just so much more interesting to watch when she's actually in the courtroom as a lawyer. She started this season graduating from law school. And yet, very few of her stories were actually about her as an associate at the firm. Most of the time she was off during something connected to her family or the investigation into the scandal. At least the show is seemingly aware of this though. In a review of the associates, Adrian and Barbara say that she needs to be more forceful and confident. All it takes is a few comments like that for her personality to shift and for her to be more determined as a lawyer. She's the one who is there for Lucca when this whole mess goes down as she's charged with being a co-conspirator to cyberterrorism. That's a friendship that has been engaging to watch and see grow over the season. They even celebrate in the end too. Yes, it's weird that Lucca is there when Maia is arrested and Amy isn't. But it still sets things up perfectly for Lucca to repay Maia for everything she does in this episode for her.

Of course, this is a tense episode for Lucca as well. It should be a big deal that the client for the week happens to be one of the lawyers from the firm. It's a lawyer that Adrian, Barbara and the rest of the partners have a lot of respect for. They are confident that she should be on the partner track. She is a key asset for this firm. But the main story of this finale is much larger than the firm needing to drop everything to represent Lucca. And thus, it does get a little lost in all of the plot mechanics and urgency. Of course, the tension is fun and thrilling to watch. In contrast though, the state of the Lucca-Colin romance feels like an afterthought. Colin is forced to take the stand to testify against Lucca. He does so to get a promotion to the job he has always wanted. Plus, his boss has the evidence to prove his claim of a conspiracy. Everyone is right not to trust the Jason Biggs character because he's up to no good at all. Lucca is simply collateral damage. Colin feels bad about it. And yet, this isn't leading to a romantic reunion between the two. That's probably for the best considering everything that happens in this hour. But it's also a little too forced as well.

Conversely, the big moment between Diane and Kurt is very genuine and moving. She is rightfully busy with everything going on at the firm. She needs to be because the feds are descending upon the workplace and threatening to ruin one of their best associates. And yet, she also needs to be there for Kurt when he finds himself in the hospital. It's such a perilous and anxious moment when she gets that call not knowing what happened to him. In the end, it was just minor injuries he sustained from rescuing a baby from a car jacking. That shows how heroic he can be. It still shows that he's a good guy who runs into danger when he sees it. He's a decent human being who helps when others are hurting. Is that enough for Diane to forgive him for what he did to her? In the end, it seems to be. She spends the night with him. Throughout this whole story, she still refers to Kurt as her husband. She still has so much love for him. That's been apparent throughout the whole season even though she wanted to handle all of her problems on her own. She needed to find herself again. This season was just as much about her coming into her own at this new firm as it was about bringing these two back together. It's still great that they do. But it's also fascinating see Diane and Adrian share a moment together discussing the importance of the law in these ever-changing and chaotic times. The city is completely black around them. But their friendship still shines through the darkness. That's a very nice moment that shows that there is still hope in this world despite the darkness.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Chaos" was written by Robert King & Michelle King and directed by Robert King.
  • Is the show setting up a rivalry between Diane and Barbara over who's the better partner for Adrian? That moment between Diane and Adrian ends with the camera pulling back to reveal Barbara listening in. Does that make her envious of their dynamic? And yet, she has a perfectly strong dynamic with Adrian as well.
  • Barbara never appeared in a courtroom scene. It felt very purposeful that the show was keeping her out of that environment for some reason. It would be revealed why at some point. But nope, that's not it at all. They just never told those stories. She appears in court here to argue Lucca's release and it's played as not a big deal.
  • Lucca questions her break-up with Colin as well. She wonders if they really did break up. Is this just a way to get him to do what she wants in regards to the files? More than likely, yes. But it feels very manipulative of Colin and the audience as well.
  • Marissa makes her intentions of becoming a private investigator known to Diane. She's a little too busy to really listen to what Marissa has to say though. Plus, Marissa is now worried that the firm doesn't have the money to afford two investigators. That adds a nice wrinkle to her dynamic with Jay.
  • John Cameron Mitchell's first episode this season wasn't my favorite. And yet, he is such a hoot as Felix Staples. Yes, he's broad and over-the-top. But that's the point too. He's a guy who simply enjoys putting on a show and being a part of the chaos. Plus, him referring to Diane as "mommy" continues to be so amusing.
  • I'm not quite sure how this show will play on the awards circuit. The Good Wife was a perennial nominee at the Emmys. And yet, the CBS All Access of it all has me worried about this show. Is it a strong enough platform to get voters to actually watch the show? This first season could probably get a few performances nominated - Christine Baranski, Cush Jumbo, Carrie Preston, Matthew Perry, Jane Lynch, John Cameron Mitchell, etc. I'm just not sure it's generated enough buzz or attention though.
  • Of course, the show has already been renewed for a second season. That's not surprising. Again, CBS All Access simply needs content in order to build its subscription base. It needs shows right now. So, the renewal was inevitable. Though I'm intrigued to see what happens next. Will the creative team learn from any of the mistakes in regards to the Rindell scandal? Or will it continue down the path that's already been laid out?