Thursday, April 9, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Good Fight' - Diane Explores a Reality That Then Questions Her Sanity in 'The Gang Deals with Alternate Reality'

CBS All Access' The Good Fight - Episode 4.01 "The Gang Deals with Alternate Reality"

Diane Lockhart finds herself living in an alternate reality where Donald Trump was never elected and Hillary Clinton is the current President of the United States. While Diane's liberal self is overjoyed, she soon realizes how a different outcome of the 2016 election might have unexpected consequences.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of CBS All Access' The Good Fight.

"The Gang Deals with Alternate Reality" was written by Robert King & Michelle King and directed by Brooke Kennedy

The daily news and scandals of the Trump presidency have defined the last few years of American history. However, the unified reaction of strength and resilience to that is just as salient a narrative in that time as well. It's a very careful balance. Each side of the coin essentially counterbalances the other. One side informs how the other will react and vice versa. Living in an alternate reality where Hillary Clinton was elected President during the 2016 election would ultimately change so much. The show envisions such a reality in its fourth season premiere. The last few seasons have done a tremendous job in channeling the resistance to the Trump presidency in a way that provides brilliant and cutting satire as well as searing emotional drama. As such, it's a calculated risk for the show to produce an episode like this. It's out of the norm for what the show typically does. However, it has gotten much more freaky and experimental as it has gone along too. The third season produced so many musical moments after all. It would be limiting to say that this hour suggests that a Clinton presidency would have been disastrous for the culture at large. It simply infers that the human consciousness has evolved in some significant ways because of what truly happened in the 2016 election. If Clinton were elected, it would have been a continuation of the mindset that progress had been made even though that may have been nothing more than an illusion. The election showed just how broken the system truly was. Just because the American people elected a woman once to be the President doesn't then mean that sexism had been eradicated. It instead suggests that one version of female empowerment is acceptable. It's framed through whatever won't alienate or offend the male voice. It's a smart and insightful point. It's feminism as driven by the patriarchy. That has started to topple somewhat in reality. The resistance is strong because it has allowed people to be angry without that being their sole character definition. It is a part of their identity. Diane was angry and willing to channel that into action during the third season. She wasn't as extreme as some of the other members of her resistance group. As such, that draws a sinister undertone to everything that this premiere is trying to execute. The audience knows that Diane and Kurt were last seen together in bed while S.W.A.T. was ready to storm their apartment. There is the fear that something traumatic must have happened for Diane to wake up in this fantasy life. And yes, there are clues throughout the hour that none of this is actually real. The physics of this reality don't line up. Even when Diane begins to question them, she doesn't entirely remember what should be there in their place. She knows the broad strokes of what has defined her daily life in 2020. She still feels the outrage over the Trump presidency and everything that has happened since the inauguration. She uses that to warn Lucca away from going into a hotel room with Harvey Weinstein. Sure, that is the one aspect of this episode that cuts away to another character. So much of this has to be Diane's experience because she's the one unsure of what is going on. When Lucca and Marissa are at the hotel, it's mostly just to prove that all of this occurs exactly as Diane predicted. History could only change so much. The audience knew that. That inclusion allows this to perhaps be seen as a new reality and not one completely driven by Diane's traumatic injury. That would have been a wild change of pace. And yes, the show does play with the audience's emotions by suggesting that Kurt is killed when the apartment is raided. He could have easily been shot because he armed himself upon hearing an intruder. That didn't happen though. Diane hit her head. She is the one who needs immediate medical care and attention. She lets out such a joyous and infectious laugh at being asked who the President is. Politics can define life for so many out there. However, the underlying point of this episode suggests that Kurt's love is all that Diane really needs. The thought of losing that is the most devastating thing she could bear. It doesn't matter what happens outside of that bond. He is her rock no matter what. The show wouldn't dare take that away from her. It doesn't. Instead, it uses this wild fantasy to show the power of the resistance while also informing the viewer that we can't be blind to what is happening around us. We must remain diligent, compassionate and loving even when strangeness seems to be constantly invading our lives.