Sunday, May 20, 2018

REVIEW: 'The Good Fight' - Diane and Liz Fight to Protect Jay After He Is Arrested in 'Day 485'

CBS All Access' The Good Fight - Episode 2.12 "Day 485"

Jay is arrested on a fraudulent charge while driving Maia and a witness in a case involving Colin Sweeney's fiancée, Naftali Amado, to court. The firm rallies to help Jay when they realize U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is involved with his arrest and may have ulterior motives.

Over the last few weeks, this presidential administration has been making so many headlines with its new immigration policies of being perfectly fine separating parents and children who are illegal residents of this country. It's absolutely horrifying and cruel. And now, The Good Fight is once again extremely prescient in presenting a case that plays out through immigration law. This hour should make everyone who watches it enraged and furious about just how complicated and non-sensical this all can be. It's an ongoing debate over who ultimately has jurisdiction. Does federal law actually overrule state's rights? Or do the states have the right to figure out their own policies? It's a case that sees Diane and Liz running all over town arguing in various different courtrooms. It's such a hassle to determine the future of just one man. And in the end, it seems like Jay is only allowed a visa to stay in this country because of the hard work and skills of his friends at the firm. He only avoids the worst possible scenario because he happened to work at a law firm. He's very fortunate in that way. They are able to use the law to their benefit and craft numerous different strategies of attack to really annoy the ICE agents who are targeting Jay because he is an illegal who must be deported immediately. Diane and Liz understand that they need to keep Jay out of ICE custody. After that, there will be nothing that they can understandably do. That's horrifying and shows just how messed up this entire system can be. There is no unifying policy or ideology. The beliefs of individual judges ultimately determine the fate of these cases. Jay has some allies and some enemies. It's a very complicated system that is mostly preferential to those capable of affording good legal representation. If Jay didn't have these connections, he would have easily been snatched up by ICE and sent back to Nigeria. Even if he had a competent lawyer appointed to him, it seems unlikely that that person would be able to navigate all of the various complications of this story while also juggling a bunch of other cases just like Jay's. It's an overwhelming system that the show uses for comedy while also being such a bitting indictment of the entire process. That's what makes "Day 485" such a success.

It's also so crucial to point out that the United States government was perfectly fine with Jay when it came to him paying his taxes and voting in elections. But as soon as he is arrested for having unknown drugs in his car, then ICE is immediately able to present a damning case against him. It shows that this system makes even the smallest infraction life-threatening to those whose lives hang in the balance. Jay has never been to Nigeria. He has always seen himself as the son of proud immigrants who came to America the right way with all of the proper paperwork. Sure, he doesn't have all of those official documents himself. But he has a trusted sister who has a box full of everything should anything happen to anyone in the family. Jay's parents are no longer alive to offer up some explanation for what they did. Here, it's revealed that they simply copied his sister's birth certificate and told them that they were twins. That means Jay is a year older than he thought he was. He doesn't even know his real name. ICE is able to present a true copy of his birth certificate. Diane and Liz don't believe it until Marissa presents the evidence of forgery. This is a huge shock to Jay. He has never had to worry about his immigration status in this country before. He has had plenty of run-ins with the police simply for being a black man. He believes he was only pulled over in the first place because the officers saw a black man going just a little over the speed limit. And now, this one arrest has the potential to change his entire life. It's so crushing to him because it's completely reframing his entire life. He understands that his parents wanted him to have the best life he could have in America with them. And yet, it was a huge mistake not to tell him. He is only just now dealing with those consequences.

It's fascinating that the show chooses now to present all of this as well. For two seasons, Jay has always been presented as the very capable and smart private investigator at the firm. He does a solid job with a number of cases. He was able to solve the mystery of who shot Adrian even when he was furious about the direction of the firm and the desire to just go after lucrative cases. He was taking job interviews elsewhere even though the rest of the world largely looked at him as a diversity hire. At this firm, he is valued as an individual who is so necessary to the foundation of the firm. That's what makes everyone so willing to fight for him. They need him at work. Yes, Marissa has proven herself as a very capable investigator. And yet, it's also more beneficial to have the two of them working together because they can uncover new evidence that compliments each other because of their unique perspectives on the world. They have made a very effective team. As such, it's a shock to the audience as well to learn about his immigration status. Sure, it could also present as the latest way the show could potentially be writing off the character. The season already did that once with him quitting the firm. That didn't stick for very long though with him still appearing in every episode. This one could have been even more serious because he's the one at the center of the case-of-the-week. He's just simply driving Maia and a witness to court to help with the case involving Colin Sweeney's new fiancée. That case ultimately doesn't go anywhere. There's no explanation given as to what the firm is trying to do or why this witness is so important. It's just vital to understand the circumstances for Jay's arrest and that he did nothing wrong. He is completely innocent but still being targeted by these ICE agents. That's so scary and grueling to watch even when the show is playing the story for the comedy.

It is a little lame that Enrico Colantoni's ICE agent is mostly a one-note character here. He presents as the latest adversary that the firm has to face. He's a familiar actor so the audience knows that he's about to play a huge role in the upcoming story. He's the one speaking on behalf of ICE throughout this episode. He's the one targeting Jay for deceiving the government. And thus, he deserves to be sent back to Nigeria. He just sees a man who broke the law by coming to this country illegally and then again when he landed in criminal court. There is no validity to his charges. He should be released. But the story is ultimately about Jay being bounced around from freedom to state holding to federal holding. His charges are dropped but he gets to stay after the sympathetic judge holds him in contempt of her courtroom. He is transferred to the federal level because ICE is hoping him being called as a witness there will grant them easier access. It's a battle to keep him in one place. It's such a powerful image to see the two sides of officers butting against one another trying to say that they are the ones who have proper custody of Jay. It's these armies of officers fighting with each other for one man. This one case somehow deserves the man power of all of these individuals. Diane and Liz are doing their best to fight in every court they can present this case. They get opposing verdicts in state and federal courts. Diane isn't able to manipulate Trip's naivety as a judge to her benefit like she did earlier this season. But Liz does win her battle. She presents an order to the state officer who was working with ICE in the past. It's such a huge headache that only creates further chaos. That's what this system can easily boil down to. It's a lot of screaming over morals and differing orders while the fate of one individual hangs in the balance.

It's when the story gets the most personal that the episode shines the most. Diane and Liz need to present an argument for why Jay deserves to be issued a visa to stay in this country. They could argue that he has been employed for many years without any problems while also voting and paying taxes in this country. And yet, it seems like a much easier win could come from them arguing for an Einstein visa. That's the phrase termed for the visa issued to those who can make a cultural significance and contribution to the world if they stay in this country. It seems like such a long shot. Those visas aren't given out with much frequency. And yet, the firm is working extra hard to ensure that Jay is able to stay with one. It once again shows just how crafty and insightful Marissa can be. She is the one who is able to collect all of the evidence of Jay's impressive artwork as well as track down the one person who has actually brought some from him. She then uses her new tools of microtargeting to try to influence the judge. She makes it seem as if Jay has already had his first show in a gallery where these images were proudly displayed. It's all a complete lie. And yet, the firm is willing to use it to their advantage because it will ensure Jay's safety. It's all completely ridiculous. It once again embodies Diane's new mission statement with her life. The world has gotten so insane. The best way to deal with it is to try to make one's life as sane as possible. This case is still insane. The firm tries these ridiculous tactics in order to win. And yet, they are ultimately successful. They get this visa issued for Jay by presenting a compelling case to the judge while showing that it doesn't have to be geniuses who can have this type of visa. This is the visa that Melania Trump was issued because of her modeling career. As such, there is precedent for Jay to be recognized in such a way. And that's what makes it such a freeing and joyful image when the final shot of the episode is him simply walking out of the building and enjoying his continued life in this country. It's an experience that many people can probably relate to and aspire to.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Day 485" was written by Jacquelyn Reingold & Marcus Dalzine and directed by Ron Underwood.
  • Is this the shortest episode that The Good Fight has ever produced? It certainly seems that way. It clocks in at just 40 minutes. That's including the title credits and the end credits. That's weird and much shorter than what the show typically operates with. It's even shorter than what The Good Wife did as well. And yet, the show has the freedom to experiment with running time because it airs on CBS All Access.
  • Again, there's no real explanation or resolution to the case that Adrian and Julius are working on. It seems to be important because Colin Sweeney's fiancée is their client. She made a point in saying that she wanted Maia to be her lawyer a few episodes ago. But here, Maia isn't in court presenting her case. It mostly just seems like things go horribly because their witness never shows up. He does have a prescription for the drugs he was carrying. But he was still put on a plane back to his home country.
  • Of course, Julius proves himself to be important to Jay's case as well. The case he's working on is being argued on the federal level. When Jay is called as a witness for no reason whatsoever, it's Julius' responsibility to ensure that he isn't taken into custody by ICE. But that also presents a new offer to him through a Republican fixer. This guy can make Jay's problems go away. He just needs ChumHum's files in return. That's a deal the firm just can't make though.
  • It's because Julius is just teasing this Republican fixer along that it seems like the firm is creating even more enemies from the government. Julius is in a fascinating position because he's a lifelong Republican working and fighting for a liberal firm. He has always expressed his opinions and fought to keep the business working as smoothly and efficiently as possible. And yet, that makes his Republican peers worry that he's not on their side with blind support and loyalty for the government's policies on a host of issues.
  • Did this season really bring Monica Timmons back just to be the opposing counsel to Diane on numerous cases where she knows that Diane is using trickery to win her arguments but still loses to her anyway? That doesn't seem like a good use of Nikki M. James at all. In fact, it mostly makes her feel like a useless government drone who will support numerous policies that the audience is suppose to reject. That's different than how she was presented in the final season of The Good Wife in calling out the firm's racial bias.