Sunday, April 29, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Good Fight' - Diane and the Firm Try to Determine If Their New Client is Telling the Truth in 'Day 464'

CBS All Access' The Good Fight - Episode 2.09 "Day 464"

A Russian student asks Diane to protect her from deportation, claiming she was one of the women filmed with President Trump in the alleged "Golden Shower" tape. Maia and Lucca suggest an unconventional lawyer to represent Jay's friend, Craig Savador, at his upcoming appeal. Colin meets with the Cook County Democratic Committee.

It continues to be so eery to see just how closely to real life the events of The Good Fight have been this season. The talk of impeachment has been on the mind of many people for months. As such, it was always smart for the show to tackle that story in an episode. But it was even more prescient when the show did an episode about microtargeting ads on Facebook the same week that Mark Zuckerberg was testifying in front of Congress. And now, that trend continues with a story about the infamous Golden Shower tape happening the same week in which flight records finally proved that President Trump was indeed in Russia at that time in 2013. It's an increasingly crazy and chaotic story. So much of it has just been allegations that haven't hindered the public perception of the president one bit. The people who hate him still hate him while his supporters aren't affected by it whatsoever. It continues to highlight the divide in this country where every opinion is allowed a voice and they can just only listen to or watch the people who agree with them. It's chaotic and mysterious times. The Good Fight has been very political this season. It started with Diane talking about just how insane the world has gotten while the show was making fun of the various types of scandals that have plagued this presidential administration. Here, there is another news story about the White House sending a press release with massive typos in it that is blown up into such a big deal despite how silly it all seems. At one time, it was easy to laugh at a story like this. But it is no longer funny to Diane just like it is no longer quite as funny to the audience. Instead, it just further proves that the respect for this country is no longer what it was once. The public perception has been lowered and that affects so many walks of life and it will continue to do so for many years - even when Trump eventually leaves office. As such, this is a more melancholy hour that still happens to delight in the absurd of the situation.

This story puts a human face on the Golden Shower story. It takes this abstract story that the country now knows about and makes sure that it has personalities attached to it. So far, it has just been allegations that could be quite damaging because they could prove the Russians are blackmailing the president to be aligned with them and their interests on the global scale. But here, it's important to look at the context of what this story has potentially done to the women who also appear in the alleged tape. No one knows who these women are. The real world doesn't know if they are still alive or still in Russia. This story posits that one of them is actually in Chicago on a student visa. She is at risk for being deported for political persecution. She claims she is being targeted because of her association with this potential scandal. She believes she will be killed if she should return to Russia. That's a genuine fear because so many people associated with speaking out against Putin eventually turn up dead. It's a pretty scary place over there with its state-run media shaping the narrative of the story. Here, the show delights in always finding a way to find a new complication to this story. It's a ton of back-and-forth over whether this woman is actually telling the truth. In the beginning, Diane thinks the firm is being set up by Project Veritas simply because of the way their new client is holding her purse. Marissa does some initial digging and it seems unlikely that she could have been in Moscow at the time. But the more the characters dig into her claims the more and more real they become. They all eventually become convinced that she is one of the sex workers hired by Putin to urinate on Trump in the same bed that President Obama stayed in during his trip to Moscow. It's so crazy. And yet, there appears to be the evidence to back up these claims.

The show even delights in producing the tape itself. Of course, it's also completely unknown if the women in the tape actually have a copy of it as well. That would certainly afford them some leverage to ensure that they could benefit from remaining quiet about this scandal. It's all a major convenience to ensure that the characters of this show are faced with the truth. They actually witness the video and are able to authenticate it. Diane refuses to watch it. In fact, the show probably over-stylizes that moment a little too much with the golden illumination of the screen as the video plays. But it's also important to note what the actual possession of this tape would do for this story both in this women's deportation case and to the world at large. The story brings back Ruth Eastman as the representative from the Democratic National Committee. She doesn't believe calling public attention to this case would do any good. It would just make it seem like the democrats are grasping at straws in the hopes of attacking the president. She wants to devote her attention to winning back Congress and starting the impeachment proceedings. In the end though, Ruth does get a copy of this tape. She locks it away with the message to only use it in October 2020. That could be seen as a very cynical approach to this scandal. She is holding onto it for when it could inflict the most damage. She thinks it should only be utilized if it can rock his presidential campaign in 2020. Before then, she wants to focus on the other endeavors to get him out of office and reverse his agenda. Meanwhile, the women in the tape is only allowed to stay in the country for fear of political prosecution by admitting that the tape was fake. It's such a grueling moment. She can only stay if she lies. It's a brutal moment but it's freeing as well. It brings clarity to the situation while also making a difference in the world at large.

Of course, the stories that are solely happening within the world of The Good Fight can be just as entertaining as well. They don't always have to be connected to real-life politics. Sometimes, they can just be compelling by pointing out the flaws in the criminal justice system. It's the show continuing to pursue Craig's case from last week. He was the man in jail for a trumped up gun charge because the arresting officer planted the weapon on him. It was the case that made Jay so passionate and angry that he was willing to quit the firm because Adrian was more focused on the money. And now, Jay is continuing to work it. Lucca and Maia are still willing to give their help as well even though they can no longer represent Craig due to their firm's conflict of interest. They know exactly how to get him out of jail as well. They know the truth about the circumstances of his arrest. But they can't use that information without being disbarred. It's such a complicated situation. It leads them to approach another lawyer in the hopes that he'll serve as just a puppet in court who can represent Craig while using Maia and Lucca's arguments. It's a case for the show to bring back Fisher Stevens as Gabe Kovac. He's a lawyer in practice by himself who really isn't a skilled attorney at all. He appeared in one episode last season. Of course, that case-of-the-week story wasn't all that entertaining. Here, he is allowed to show more of his personality. It's just unfortunate that that side of him is mostly a creep. He's unable to adequately represent Craig. And yet, he still manages to pull off a couple of surprise victories with legal precedent no one thought he knew about. He can be impressive. But he's not the reason why Craig is released from prison.

Instead, that resolution comes from Lucca deciding to help Colin with his chances of becoming the Democratic candidate for Congressman in his district. Right now, he is meeting with the chairs of the committee in the hopes of explaining to them why he is the right person for the job. It's basically down to two options. They are less inclined to pick Colin though. It's not because he is unmarried and expecting a baby with Lucca. In fact, everyone continues to be so impressed with Lucca. This isn't what she signed up for. She didn't want to be very cooperative in helping with the political campaign. And yet, she also sees herself caught up in this story and needing to not blow it for Colin. Instead, the issue comes from looking at Colin's record as a prosecutor. It appears that his numbers suggest that he is biased against the African American community. He will often plead out his cases involving white defendants but will almost completely see the maximum punishment for the defendants of color. So, it ultimately doesn't matter that he has Lucca by his side to prove that he isn't racist. His track record is a scandal that the democrats just don't want to support right now after all of the problems the state has had over the years. All of this is important backstory to have so that Lucca knows exactly what to do to help both Colin and Craig. She can simply tip Colin off to this officer who has a pattern of using drop guns to increase jail time for black arrestees. Colin reopening all of those cases and overturning some of those convictions would be a huge boost for his public perception. It can all start with getting Craig out of jail. It's a major victory. As such, it's such a rousing and heartwarming moment to see Craig and Jay embrace knowing that the future looks bright once more.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Day 464" was written by Robert King & Michelle King and directed by Michael Zinberg.
  • Just last week I was saying that this show typically borrows from the recurring cast of the previous show to fill out its roster of guest lawyers and judges. And now this week, the show brings back two of its own creations in those roles with Jane Lynch and Fisher Stevens. Both of them are delightful actors who fit into the world of this show well. Lynch is just playing the far more interesting character even though she's a type these writers have employed before.
  • And yet, it's just so fascinating to see Madeline Starkey always working both sides of a conflict. She can make it seem like she is being so supportive and understanding only to throw one vicious twist out that could lead to a conviction. Here, she presents as a friendly face to Diane until she reveals that she is committed to preserving the secrecy of this tape for the current administration.
  • Gabe agrees to do this case as the puppet for Lucca and Maia mostly because he has an instant and creepy crush on Maia. He is doing this in the hopes that it would lead to an epic love story between them. That's just not okay. Maia shouldn't have to encourage these beliefs until Craig is released. That's ultimately what happens. But it's even more uncomfortable when he says it's not a problem that she dates women.
  • It's a little surprising that the sudden return of Ruth Eastman doesn't also bring with it the new sex tape scandal that is looming on the horizon of this show. The last time she appeared she put cameras in the conference room of the firm. Those cameras recorded Maia having sex with Ruth's assistant. It's possible that Ruth has seen that tape and knows it can't get released knowing the individuals are already children of notable scandals. But it still seems like something that will blow up eventually.
  • Jay continuing to appear in this episode basically proves that the show isn't writing off the character even though he's no longer working at the firm. In fact, it's a surprise to both Lucca and Maia when he tells Craig that he quit his job. They apparently didn't know that which is odd considering he quit in the middle of a pretty public fight with Adrian. But it's also understandable why Jay appears here. It should be fascinating to see how he continues to be included in the future.