Sunday, April 22, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Good Fight' - Diane's Personal Relationships Explode Because of Her Latest Case in 'Day 457'

CBS All Access' The Good Fight - Episode 2.08 "Day 457"

Reddick, Boseman and Lockhart represent an African-American undercover cop who was left crippled after being shot by another Chicago police officer in the line of duty. The case's opposing counsel is legend Solomon Waltzer, whose tactics have the firm questioning the legitimacy of his evidence. Diane finds herself at a crossroads with both Kurt and Tully.

This has been a fantastic season of The Good Fight so far. The show has found a really consistent and compelling groove as of late. It's gone all in on the crazy and just has a ton of fun with that. It understands that these are strange and mysterious times. It is using that energy to fuel its storytelling while still trying to depict people in their ordinary jobs trying to live their lives. On the previous show, the story always prided itself on being reflective of society and how certain things were changing and others were not. And now, this season is arguing that the entire system has exploded. It's no longer the same world that existed just two years ago. Everyone is playing by a new rulebook. There's been a learning curve to that. It has forced some really ugly qualities to come out of the main characters as well. And yet, it's been invigorating to watch. The show is still as prescient as it has always been. It is tackling episodic stories that are incredibly relevant to the world of 2018. Last week the firm was helping the DNC figure out a strategy to impeach the president. This week their case is being affected severely by microtargeted ads that may sway the jurors' opinions of the case whenever they visit Facebook and other social media platforms. That is an incredibly relevant story that just comes weeks after another breech of privacy information was revealed and the social media platform's lackluster response to it. This show understands how these tactics can be utilized. As such, it makes an entire story pivot around that detail that threatens to ruin democracy and public opinion while still ultimately having the case resolved by the truth coming to light - no matter how unflattering it becomes. It's still the show arguing that the truth is much more damaging than a barrage of fake news. But the mountain of accusations and the suspicion of lies is enough to sway public opinion to a damaging extent.

It's also just so peculiar that Alan Alda never guest starred on The Good Wife. That seems so strange because this world has always tapped into the talent from Broadway as well as notable character actors of all ages. It always found a way to give talented people the roles that they normally don't get to play. It just means that Alda gets to pop up here as the opposing counsel Solomon Waltzer. He immediately makes such a strong impression and is probably the best new guest character The Good Fight has created so far. These two seasons have been strong in telling compelling and timely stories. But they do often rely on involving characters who previously recurred on the original show. They are still tapping into the same actors who served as lawyers and judges in the past. Of course, who could blame the show for doing that? It's always so much fun when Carrie Preston or Denis O'Hare pop up as their respective characters. The show has still created new compelling characters whom the audience can care about too. The dynamic between Colin and Lucca is so intense and passionate. It's been fantastic to see Marissa come out of her shell and become excited and engaged by investigative work. Maia was a massive flop who is still a work in progress. But she is coming across as a more competent lawyer now. Meanwhile, Adrian and Liz are very much equals at the top with Diane. Yes, they are supporting characters in the hierarchy of the overall show. But they are partners in the firm and always have fantastic viewpoints. But when it comes to recurring new faces, only Jane Lynch has made much of an impact - and that was tied too closely to Maia's storyline. As such, it's fantastic to see Alda pop here and makes me really excited to see him continue to appear on this show - with the hopes that it would lead to yet another Emmy nomination for the veteran actor.

Solomon presents as a legendary lawyer way past his prime. He was a huge liberal activist who fought for equality for many years. Diane and Adrian respect him in the courtroom. He marvels at the firm's offices and notes that it's everything he wanted the future to be. He's proud to see a sea of diversity and open opportunities for all. But he also presents as an old man going senile. Diane and Adrian think it's strange that he's not really objecting to any of their questions. He's just sitting back and taking in the testimony hoping that the jurors will be able to discern what's true and what's not by themselves. He doesn't seem like the kind of lawyer the city's police department would want representing them in this case. But he proves to be a really crafty and insightful attorney who knows exactly how to play by the world's new rules. He asks questions that seem completely absurd and irrelevant. He asks Kurt if he's been charged with perjury and the defendant if he was investigated for conducting illegal dog fights in his backyard. These accusations have no truth to them whatsoever. And yet, he's asking them to get the thoughts into the jurors' heads so that when they see the stories on Facebook they will be ready to dismiss all of the testimony they just gave on the stand. It takes a beat for the firm to realize that that is what Solomon is doing. It's the show revealing that the tactics used to sway the 2016 election by the Russians can also be done in cases like this. This is a new way that lawyers can persuade the jurors. It doesn't have to be real. As such, Adrian can create his own fake story to rile the judge up and bring a microtargeting expert in to testify. It's really a fun concept that allows for a lot of back and forth with individuals feigning ignorance about what's going on and how these ads could affect the outcome of this case.

And yet, it's when Solomon attacks in the most personal way that the episode becomes truly destructive and memorable. He wants to discredit Kurt's testimony by bringing up his separation with Diane and his attempts to reconcile with her. Diane and Kurt are on sturdy ground at the top of this episode. She is thrilled by his testimony while surprised that Solomon didn't ask any damaging questions. Later on, the attack has some actual truth to it. The firm believes all of these stories that pop up in the ads are inherently false. But the reveal that Kurt cheated on Diane was real. It's a story the show already told once to damage Kurt in court while hurting Diane in a personal way. Lucca was at the heart of that story as well. As such, it's so intense when Kurt is facing this accusation again while also helping Lucca with her case. It's so uncomfortable for him but he is willing to offer his help because the evidence validates her claim that her client is innocent of his crimes. But it's still so damaging when Kurt's mistress, Holly, takes the stand once more while Diane just has to sit and not react to what she's saying. That is so difficult to do because Holly is saying a relationship still exists between her and Kurt. They have met in a casual setting since Diane and Kurt separated. That's completely shocking to Diane. She was ready to forgive Kurt despite also sleeping with Tully. She carried the burden of that secret. But now, she doesn't want to be that wife who forgives her husband despite his multiple betrayals. There is nothing that Kurt can say that will make this okay. This is essentially the end of their grand love story. That's unfortunate because they have always been a fantastic pairing. But it's also understandable why she can't forgive him anymore. It's also a relief to know that she doesn't go running off to start something new with Tully. Yes, she does sleep with him once more. And yet, she regrets that too because there's just no spark that can lead to a lasting relationship. He is just too radical with his ideas that the world will only change through violence. That's a line she isn't willing to cross just yet. In the end though, it appears that all Diane has left to still comfort her is her drugs. She needs to get another vile from her source. Again, it's so eery to think of Diane becoming addicted to this substance. But it's also her taking charge of her life and recognizing that she shouldn't be in these toxic relationships anymore.

The firm is still able to get a huge payday for their client as well. It all hinges around the details of the criminal case that Lucca and Maia are working on. Jay is very much intrigued by the main case of the hour because of the police officer on trial. He's accused of shooting an undercover officer because of his race. And now, Jay wants confirmation that this cop is dirty and has been planting guns on numerous suspects to get increased charges. It's a story Jay has been pursuing for awhile. He has become friends with one guy in jail, Craig, who has had his life ruined because of it. Instead of doing three years for possession with the intent to sell, he's doing fifteen because of the gun found at the scene. Kurt is able to come up with the evidence that proves the gun recovered was actually taken from a different crime scene. It must have been planted. But it also establishes a relationship between Diane and Adrian's client and the officer on trial. It establishes a working relationship of dirty cops. As such, Adrian is able to leverage that against Solomon to argue for a settlement to ensure that the police department doesn't have to reopen 20 cases. Adrian sees it as a major victory. It's a pay day that the firm hasn't seen in a long time. It's a celebration. He is completely willing to prop Marissa up for being the investigator who found out the truth about Solomon's tactics. And yet, it only creates further animosity with Jay because he sees the personal cost of the people unfairly doing time in jail because of the actions of these two cops. He sees a case of two greedy people turning on each other and one being rewarded for it. That's not right to him. It's such an epic blowup between Adrian and Jay. It may be the show writing off Jay completely because he no longer serves a purpose. Marissa has proven herself as a capable investigator who has formed personal relationships with several other characters. Jay mostly exists in a professional context to deliver expositional dialogue. Or this could also be the exact story that makes him have more of a function in the overall show. He quits here because he doesn't like the environment Adrian is creating. But only time will tell if that will stick. 

Some more thoughts:
  • "Day 457" was written by Aurin Squire and directed by Clark Johnson.
  • Diane also represents Tully in court. She is arguing for bail in his case for inciting a riot. She appears before a newly appointed judge who clearly has no idea what he's doing. It's the show continuing to criticize that this administration is nominating people for these positions who don't understand the law at all. It's then a lot of fun to see Diane use that to her advantage to manipulate the case in her favor.
  • Of course, it's also fascinating that the show brings back Nikki M. James as Monica Timmons. She had a recurring role on the final season of The Good Wife where she interacted with Diane a lot. It wasn't exactly a good story because it was the show trying to address the racial bias of the main characters in a way that wasn't all that compelling or subtle. In hindsight, it's even more awkward because of the newfound focus on race on this show. As such, it was perhaps better to forget that history and just treat her as a new prosecutor for the justice department.
  • Diane continues to be such a badass with guns this season. Early on, she was incredibly paranoid because of the amount of lawyers being killed in Chicago. She took comfort in the weapon in her desk. But last week, she revealed to her partners that it's there and she will use it if she feels threatened. And now, she is ripping Tully's weapon apart because he has illegally modified it while also joking about assassinating the president.
  • There are several more articles that Solomon apparently created to persuade the opinion of this case that Adrian mentions in passing here. One of them suggests that he was once accused of sexual harassment. That's the second time this season that the show has called out potential bias with him. Is it a part of a pattern? Or is it just a joke to show that this is just fake news? The show has already told a story about sexual assault in a reality television show and the expos√© of a sexual predator in Hollywood this season. So, it could be a pattern.
  • Lucca was very upfront about the potential conflict of interest in this case that Jay is asking her and Maia to take on. She knows that it's a problem if firms are using civil cases to advance the agenda of their criminal cases elsewhere. As such, she recognizes that she, Maia and Jay need to get out of the room as soon as the partners confront their client about the truth. But it also creates the tragedy of Lucca and Maia needing to be very mysterious about why they can no longer represent Jay's friend.