Thursday, June 24, 2021

REVIEW: 'The Good Fight' - The Show Provides a Quick Summary of 2020 for Diane and the Rest of the Firm in 'Previously on...'

Paramount+'s The Good Fight - Episode 5.01 "Previously on..."

A flashback to 2020 reveals how the team at Reddick, Boseman & Lockhart experienced the year's major events.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 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 Paramount+'s The Good Fight.

"Previously on..." was written by Robert King & Michelle King and directed by Brooke Kennedy

The creative team treats this entire premiere as one big "Previously on..." segment. The title sequence doesn't even occur until the end of the episode. It delightfully features animals playing around now instead of office supplies exploding. That has the potential to represent a significant change in the direction of this show given the overall changes in the world at large. But first, this premiere has to tie up a number of loose ends left dangling from the previous season that was cut short due to the pandemic. It mostly highlights how the fourth season had interesting ideas but not the execution to live up to those expectations. Some of that is to blame on the pandemic as the creative team didn't get to fulfill their vision of the mystery over Memo 618 and the influence of STR Laurie over the firm. In fact, the multi-national firm that took over the office isn't mentioned at all here. Sure, that influence is the only reason why Diane, Liz and Adrian have to cut down their workforce. And yet, it's convenient for them to do so when the pandemic shuts down the entire world. It holds no real consequence for the viewer anyway. It's more significant that Adrian and Lucca are leaving. That was the plan for the characters last season. The actors fortunately both returned to the show for this episode to offer an explanation as to what is happening with their characters. Adrian is being encouraged to have presidential ambitions. However, he feels constrained by the Democratic party telling him how to fight and be outraged as a Black man in America. He still leaves the firm though. He instead chooses to start a new life in Atlanta. It's all a little random. He falls in love with the idea of Black identities taking ownership and prosperity in the South. He sees the appeal in that. And yes, it is part of the ongoing conversation of population growth in this country. It's not really an earned character moment. That comes when he shares Charlotte's emails with Diane in the hopes of helping Julius' bribery trial. That too is a story mostly contained to this episode. Julius becoming a judge was a big deal. Memo 618 was a crucial part of his story. And now, the show is clearly tying all of that up without having to do much onscreen to suggest a changed world. Julius is pardoned by the end of it. Of course, the world is changing. Diane and her colleagues feel that acutely. They are dealing with a pandemic and a racial justice reckoning. They are also comforted that the guardrails of the law remained intact despite all the corruption of the Trump administration. They see the chaos and destruction through the insurrection on January 6. They still see peace and comfort within the law. Of course, they each have different ambitions regarding the future. Diane wants to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court. She also loves the idea of a women-run firm. The legacy of this firm though is as a majority Black business. That legacy is important. Liz should be the one making the decisions. Her identity is connected with this place. It means something to her that isn't always apparent with everyone else at the firm. She respects Diane. She knows her colleague will fight to remain a name partner. She also knows the other partners are worried about the firm's culture. Everyone believes that the Biden administration will be better for their business. They will prosper once more. They will no longer have to deal with turbulent waters. And yet, Jay is seeing recurring visions of Frederick Douglass as a long haul COVID survivor. It's an amusing way to bring Ben Vereen into the proceedings. But it's also a reckoning within these characters that explores how each of them fights for their place in this world. Lucca leaves because she knows that Bianca respects her worth much more than the firm does. Diane and Liz have financial limitations that Bianca doesn't. That is what life is like for Lucca at the moment. She says goodbye not intending to give up on these friendships. They may be destined to fade away though because she is now living in London. All of this business must be dealt with before the show can advance with its new story to define this season. Shortcuts and narrative workarounds are made to suggest depth in what happened previously. It's also messy in the name of getting things out of the way to enjoy freedom in the future. It's topical and insightful without staying in one moment for too long. Again, it's a summary of events. That can never amount to the same emotional impact this show can have in its best episodes. The execution is fun. But the stage still needs to be set for whatever comes next - beyond Liz and Diane vying for the direction of the firm and Marissa suddenly going to law school.