Sunday, April 15, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Good Fight' - The Firm Consults on the Trump Impeachment Case in 'Day 450'

CBS All Access' The Good Fight - Episode 2.07 "Day 450"

A Democratic National Committee consultant, Ruth Eastman, approaches Reddick, Boseman and Lockhart to develop a confidential impeachment strategy for the DNC against President Trump, leaving the firm's partners at odds. After an impromptu visit from Colin's mom, Lucca is left feeling suspicious of her motives. Maia is intrigued by Ruth's assistant, Carine.

The Good Wife and The Good Fight have always been at the forefront of the law and politics. They understand that the two concepts are often entangled with one another. Laws can change based on a shift in political mood or advances in technology. These shows have always been so smart in addressing how these various systems are changing over the years. It has always presented a murky case towards the law where it's easy to understand the arguments for both sides. This season of The Good Fight is inherently more political because it's the show writing with the Trump presidency in mind. The first season featured that a little bit by revealing Julius as a Trump supporter. But this season has really delved into how this new political atmosphere is changing the way that people can craft their arguments in order to win. As such, it could also be interesting to see how this current environment also changes the way that people run for office. The Good Wife featured so many campaigns across its seven seasons. Peter Florrick ran for state's attorney, governor and president. All of those campaigns basically felt the same but still required Alicia to refer her role as the good wife. It was the simplistic view of the world that she still cherished even though she was evolving as a character. In the end, she still decided to support him while turning her back on her colleagues and associates. The Good Fight really doesn't need a political campaign. As such, it feels like the creative team repeating past patterns for stories that have worked in the past. This time there are new characters involved. Now, Colin might be running for office and Lucca is being asked to be the campaign wife simply because she's pregnant with his baby. It's a changing world and the show understands that. "Day 450" is easily the most political episode of the season. But again, it does enough to distinguish itself while presenting a well thought out argument for its various stories.

It's not surprising in the slightest for the Democratic National Committee to be thinking about impeachment. Again, there have been so many examples and precedents for these charges to be filed against the president. Congress has just failed to act because he is able to give them the exact agenda that they want. It seems so obvious that he is a corrupt and despicable human being. The show definitely treats him as such. The characters can all make passionate arguments about how horrible he is at this job and the damage he is doing to the country both internally and to the rest of the world. Adrian can write out a whole list of potential arguments that can be made should these charges be filed. There are countless options for the law to explore when it comes to bringing him up for impeachment. The question is actually the strategy. Ruth Eastman is the consultant for the DNC. She is interviewing firms to figure out which lawyers have the most passion and represent the best chances of actually winning this case. It's all being planned out under the assumption that the Democrats will win the House and Senate in the 2018 elections. That's not a guarantee even though the majority of races that have been held since Election Day 2016 have gone blue. It's also operating under the belief that the country would be demonstrably better if Mike Pence were president. That's the current line of succession. Right now, the discussion is just about getting Trump impeached. But that would still subject the country to some potentially destructive leadership until 2020. These are some of the nuances missing from this debate. And yet, that was to be expected as the show still wanted this episode to be relevant by the time it aired - which it is.

It's also extremely fascinating to see what the reaction is to Adrian, Diane and Liz as they are making these arguments. Ruth played a significant role in Peter Florrick's run for president during the final season of The Good Wife. It was a campaign that didn't really go anywhere and led to new charges being filed against him for corruption. But Ruth always presented herself as someone deeply in touch with the realities of the political system. She still presents that way here. It's always such a delight to see Margo Martindale pop up on television. Right now is certainly a boom for her as well with this, Amazon's Sneaky Pete and FX's The Americans. Ruth is mostly the moderator who is sitting back and listening in on these debates. She is just the representative interacting with the firm in Chicago. She's the one monitoring them and trying to help them win this contract. She is in communication with the heads of the DNC who are watching this meeting and seeing which personalities they like and which firms actually bring a solid strategy to this case. Liz is the one who is quiet for a long time then speaks up with a suggestion to use a mountain of accusations in order to turn public favor against Trump. It's a strategy that infuriates Julius because he is a Republican who sat through the eight years where his like-minded friends wanted to do the same to President Obama. But Diane has sympathy for the case because she sees the world as broken. She has no more fucks left to give. And so, she too delivers a powerful speech about needing to fight back by using the same tactics. It may be demoralizing. But she also figures that taking the high road has only created more problems. They should be willing to go low as well in order to get the job done. It's a moment where she potentially ruins the firm's chances of getting this client. But it also turns out to have the opposite effect.

Of course, there was always the sneaking suspicion that Ruth would ultimately pull the plug on this whole pitch. It's the show being tuned into real events. It's commenting on them when they are still prescient. And yet, it would be too complicated to suggest that Reddick, Boseman and Lockhart would be the firm representing the DNC as they impeach Trump should that happen when Ruth wants it to. As such, it felt inevitable that something was going to happen that would present a different future than the one that Adrian, Diane and Liz were envisioning. At times, it feels like the "Kill All Lawyers" plot would somehow intersect with all of this in order to ruin the firm's chances. It is seemingly confirmed here that Adrian, Liz and Diane are being targeted by this cause. Marissa found a deck of cards on an alt-right website that brandishes their faces with the suggestion to kill them. It's a dark realization that forces all of them to reflect on if they should take it seriously. Adrian does. But Diane and Liz still feel protected because Diane has a gun. That's something that the rest of the partners learn for the first time here. Diane proudly declares that it's in her desk. At first, it just feels like passion to prove her point. But it's also the true reality of her life that she feels she needs it for her protection even though it may not be completely secure in her desk. But none of this ultimately ruins the firm's chances. Julius is asked out of the meeting. Ruth tells the remaining partners to amp up their passion by embracing some uncomfortable stereotypes. In the end though, only Liz is invited onto the legal team. The DNC has decided to just pursue specific lawyers instead of employing one firm. That may be a smart strategy as well because it will allow for the best people to be on the case. It just means that Adrian and Diane feel left out while Liz is surprised.

Elsewhere, it's clear that Maia's story is heading towards tragedy. The season has focused more on her professional life since her trial for fraud. That was probably for the best because the first season didn't really focus on her as a lawyer at all. It was too distracted by her family's scandal. And now, the show may be trying to find the best of both worlds. She can be a competent lawyer while still having a complicated personal life. And yet, it's just so boring whenever the show returns home to her and Amy. Amy has only ever existed as Maia's girlfriend. She's a lawyer as well who is preparing for a case this week. But she is never seen in that context. She is just positioned as the girlfriend who doesn't quite understand Maia's world and her new group of friends. Maia and Amy go out on a double date with Marissa and Drew. It's a moment that potentially shows that Drew may not be a good romantic match for Marissa. He seems to just punch a guy at random. He has a reason. But no one can really confirm if that's actually what happened or if Drew just wanted to punch a guy. It was still a major turn on for Marissa. It's clear that that relationship is running hot and heavy. They are very passionate for each other. Marissa is growing up so much this season with a job and boyfriend that actually seem to be sticking around for awhile. And yet, Amy has her concerns. She doesn't want to hang out with them again. Maia does because Marissa is her friend. That leads to her going out dancing and ultimately getting very intimate with Ruth's assistant. The two of them flirt at the office. Things are awkward for a little bit after revealing that they are both children of scandal. But it's still a story that ends with the two of them having sex in the conference room while the tapes are still recording everything. That's a little annoying. Carine knows that there are cameras in that room. She knows who has the potential to see the footage. And yet, it mostly feels like a plot contrivance to make things even messier for Maia and Amy after this becomes a huge new scandal for her to deal with.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Day 450" was written by Tegan Shohet and directed by Frederick E.O. Toye.
  • Lucca receives a surprising visit from Colin's mother. It's another chance for Andrea Martin to visit the show and be such an endearing presence as the meddling mother-in-law. She really sees the value in Colin and Lucca getting married. She's ready to dote over her future grandchild. She is gifting presents to Lucca that she doesn't know what to do with. Again, Lucca doesn't want to be perceived as anything other than a lawyer right now - though she is taking care of her health and doing everything right by her baby too.
  • Michael Ian Black also pops up as the political consultant for Colin. He's a fun presence because he first appears teaching Francesca how to use Twitter in order to goad Lucca into responding. But it's also just a blast that he wants to come up with an official story that Colin and Lucca can stick to when discussing this unplanned pregnancy.
  • The show made a point in not showing the moment in which Colin and Lucca hooked up again after Maia's trial. They were on opposing sides and things got very heated. Lucca bluntly shares that it was a hot hookup in the bathroom at the courthouse. Francesca's reaction to that is absolutely priceless. It also just shows that there is still some need for refinement when it comes to Colin and Lucca presenting a notable front to the potential voters.
  • Lucca loses a client for a little while because he perceives her as a pregnant woman who can't meet the demands of his case. He voices those concerns to the partners who also treat Lucca as a pregnant woman experiencing mood swings. It shows the other main characters in such an unflattering light because they aren't actually listening to Lucca's side of the argument. They really aren't handling things well even though Lucca's newfound fame leads this client to return.
  • Adrian pulls Liz aside to tell her that she shouldn't pursue this passionate argument about spreading disinformation. The firm needs to present a united front when making this pitch. She is angry about him trying to tell her what to do. She feels he is only doing that because of their former relationship. He wouldn't do the same thing to Diane. And then, the action requires him to pull Diane aside and get a good reading on what's going on with her.
  • It's so completely unexpected but absolutely delightful that the hour ends with a Schoolhouse Rock-style video that explains how impeachment proceedings actually work. It's made exclusively for the show which allows it to name drop all of the previous presidents who've been impeached as well as the corruption that Trump embodies. There are just so many wonderful lyrics in it. It's a blast from start to finish.