Sunday, May 6, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Good Fight' - Tragedy Hits the Firm and Forces Life into Perspective for Everyone in 'Day 471'

CBS All Access' The Good Fight - Episode 2.10 "Day 471"

Reddick, Boseman and Lockhart is left in disarray after a partner at the firm becomes the latest "Kill All Lawyers" victim by an unknown assailant. The Chicago police chief causes a stir when he goes after the firm's high profile clients Lemond Bishop and Colin Sweeney as potential suspects. Amidst the chaos, Colin is reminded of his true feelings for Lucca.

Diane's life has already been touched by senseless gun violence. Her former partner, Will Gardner, was shot in the courtroom by his own client. He died from those injuries. It was one of the most shocking moments that ever happened on The Good Wife. It's still one of the most emotional and stunning deaths I've seen on television. As such, The Good Fight needed to tread very carefully with its "Kill All Lawyers" subplot this season. That has been a significant recurring theme throughout these ten episodes so far. It's largely been in the background but has added so much paranoia to the lives of the characters. Lawyers around them are being killed. It's a story that keeps being played on the news. Because of the frequency of those mentions, it became pretty obvious that that story was bound to have a personal impact on the firm at some point this season. It seemed inevitable because that's the way stories like this pay off in a dramatically satisfying way. Sure, it also robs the audience of the surprise of the initial moment. Part of the success of Will's death was watching it live and having no clue that Josh Charles was leaving the show. Here, the audience was probably guessing who was most likely to be targeted. The show has teased that Diane, Adrian and Liz could be walking around with targets on their backs. And now, one of them is actually shot in "Day 471." It's Adrian and it happens right before the cut to the opening titles. It forces a significant chance to the score of that sequence as well because of the uncertainty and tension that rises up because of that moment. It happening so early in the episode ensured that this would remain a more stunning story where Adrian doesn't die to the initial injuries right away. As such, the tension is still able to be surprising and high because the audience truly doesn't know if he will live or die just like the characters. Everyone is left in limbo. And yes, the show doesn't even resolve this case in the end to show just how little progress the police have actually made in stopping these murders.

The show is already compiling a list of likely suspects who could be the mysterious assailant on the elevator. Adrian is just going about his business when the elevator doors open and a single bullet is shot at him. The world around him keeps going about their days as well. There isn't a loud gunshot to alert everyone that there is danger nearby. Instead, Adrian has to reveal the huge blood stain on his shirt just in order to be taken seriously. It's such a provocative visual. Marissa is able to quickly jump into action. But there's little the security of the building can do because the paramedics still need to use the elevator in order to get to Adrian and treat his injuries. It's an attack that brings Jay back to the firm. He is completely devoted to finding employment elsewhere. Then, he hears what happened and springs into action. It seems inevitable that Jay and Marissa will be the ones to solve this case. As such, it's so thrilling to watch them work. They basically boil it down to five suspects - Colin Sweeney, Felix Staples, Keith Fisk, Dylan Stack and Frank Gwinn. All of them are white men who could have a vendetta against the firm. The show is mostly just dropping little clues as to who the attacker could be. An answer isn't given here. That means this will probably be an ongoing mystery for the remainder of the season. This episode naming those five suspects basically ensures that one of them will actually be the culprit. Otherwise, it would seem like such an immense red herring that adds no value to this hour. It's noteworthy that Adrian didn't recognize his attacker and that it's likely that the shooter just fired at the first person he saw after the elevator doors opened. So, Adrian may not be the intended target. But he is the victim. Him being in the hospital forces everyone to rally and question just how far they are willing to go to protect this firm and the people who work there.

The police have been so ineffective in curbing this new craze of killing lawyers because they aren't able to get a viable suspect list from the victims. Lawyers simply can't hand a list of all of their clients over to the police. The person responsible is more than likely one of them who is disgruntled about the outcome of their case. It feels so personal because Adrian was attacked at work. There's very little evidence for the police to go after. And so, it seems like Liz's husband, Ian, is simply going after the most high-profile clients with shady business dealings in the hopes that it will lead to new cases being filed against them as well. As such, it allows the show to bring back Mike Colter's Lemond Bishop, Wallace Shawn's Charles Lester and Dylan Baker's Colin Sweeney. All three of those characters have been effectively utilized in the past. Bishop and Lester didn't appear in the first season of this show but Sweeney did. That means it's a little awkward to see this firm representing them considering Alicia and Kalinda were frequently the lawyers interacting with Bishop and Lester. Plus, the show runs into the problem of trying to find new ways of basically telling the same story with these characters. Bishop is a drug dealer just out of prison and is remorseful of the time he missed with his son. Sweeney is getting married again and needs a prenup drawn up. Lester continues to be such an intimidating presence who has no problem threatening those who are targeting Bishop. All are wonderful characters that fit into the world of this show well. But it ultimately isn't a story about them. It could be any of the firm's clients being targeted by the police and other firms. It just happens to be these three which could severely alter the firm's public perception.

It's much more exciting to learn that another firm is trying to steal clients while Adrian is in the hospital. That's such a despicable move. It means that Diane and Lucca spend the day running around trying to get ahead of this while ensuring that their clients are happy with their representation. And yes, there is a significant amount of back-and-forth. It's up-in-the-air whether Bishop and Sweeney will stay at the firm. Then, Diane gets confirmation that it is Solomon Waltzer making these moves. That brings such an exciting and refreshing new dimension to this story. This is a universe where the characters have always spastically been trying to keep clients happy or move with them to their new firms. There were a lot of shakeups on the original show. There have been shakeups here as well - most notably at the start of this season. So, this really isn't a new story being told. As such, it's important to have Solomon's perspective through all of this because he's a new creation who has just recently come into Diane and her colleague's lives. Here, he presents the firm with a merger option. It's immediately suspicious because the last time he saw these lawyers he was telling them to "go fuck themselves." That doesn't inspire optimism about the future. It feels like Solomon is doing this purely to boost his diversity numbers after talking a big game about inclusion for decades. It's a way for him to look good and continue to maintain his reputation. And yet, it's because he goes after these specific clients that he risks losing the respect of the liberal world. Diane is able to masterfully play the game against him and win. It's so much fun watching her flip him off. But it's also just as satisfying to know that she has the connections to actually make Solomon hurt where it counts.

This is quite a pivotal episode for Diane as well. It trusts that the audience understands just how personal and traumatic this experience is for her. Yes, it's still very dangerous for her to feel comfort by retrieving the gun from her desk before leaving the office. That's been a threat throughout this season as well that could go off at any moment even though she's a responsible gun owner. But it's also a powerful moment when she decides to throw her drugs down the toilet. This show has been more subtle with the changes to Diane's personality because she was microdosing. It made it seem like everything was perfectly normal simply because she was having these crazy reactions to an increasingly crazy world. These aren't normal times. And so, she hasn't been acting normally. At times, that has been alienating to the rest of the firm. She has no fucks left to give and will simply do whatever is best for her. A lot of the time that still aligns with the firm's future because she is still passionate about the law. She sees it as the clarity needed during these times of confusion. But now, it takes a personal impact like Adrian almost dying for her to realize she doesn't quite have the clarity to be her true self while taking these drugs. In fact, she sees that as an opportunity to form a new connection with Liz. The two of them started off well as new friends until Liz betrayed Diane's confidence. Diane has never really gotten over that moment. But now, there's the hope that all of this will lead to a more unified firm. This season has shown the power that comes from these characters working together to overcome even the most ridiculous and political cases. But it's also highlighted just how subtle the divisions can be as well. It has made the characters complicated through their imperfections of not always having the best reactions in any given situation. They are still improving and learning even though it's easy to side with them against the real world.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Day 471" was written by William Finkelstein and directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan.
  • Lucca is asleep when the shooting happens and everyone at the office is panicking. She is only woken up by Colin running into her office terrified that something horrible has happened to her. This episode also puts things into perspective about how they feel about each other. It brings them together again in the end. That's a significant move because it means they may be willing to raise this baby together and become a happy family.
  • Of course, Colin also gets the democratic support for the congressional race. He will be the candidate running against a neo-Nazi in this district. His victory is all but inevitable. As such, the show probably shouldn't spend too much time on a campaign. Instead, it should just inform how it affects Lucca and Colin's relationship. Here, it's beneficial because she can simply have him call Frank Landau to tell him about what Solomon has been up to.
  • Maia is the one asked to manage Colin Sweeney while he and his new fiancé are bickering over a prenup. There is a moment where it seems like she is flailing around and contributing to the firm losing a notable client. But in the end, she proves herself as an attorney. It continues to be important for this season to frame her in a professional context. She even manages to impress the fiancé so much that she's willing to hire her for another case of hers.
  • Marissa and Jay are basically making the argument that it was Felix Staples who shot Adrian. He was a vendetta against the firm because their actions led to his book deal being dropped. Marissa sees him as the kind of guy to wear a red scarf to this moment. Plus, he's been tweeting about more Chicago lawyers needing to die. And yet, it seems like the show is putting too much emphasis on it being him. As such, it seems like a massive misdirect. Moreover, didn't Adrian interact with Felix last season? And thus be able to recognize him now?
  • So if it isn't Felix Staples, then who is the shooter? It simply could be a hired hitman doing the job. If so, that leaves Sweeney in contention despite him being at another law office at the time. Meanwhile, Frank Gwinn and Keith Fisk were just minor characters in their previous appearances last season. Dylan Stack could be a solid option because he is out on bail. Hopefully, this mystery won't take the rest of the season to be solved.