Thursday, September 8, 2022

REVIEW: 'The Good Fight' - Diane Experiences Deja Vu After Moving to a New Position at the Firm in 'The Beginning of the End'

Paramount+'s The Good Fight - Episode 6.01 "The Beginning of the End"

After being promoted to top partner at the firm, Liz is forced to accept Ri'Chard Lane as a new name partner brought on to help manage her staff and client load. Meanwhile, Diane experiences deja vu as she navigates her way in her new bullpen office, downstairs with the associates.

"The Beginning of the End" was written by Robert King & Michelle King and directed by Robert King

All of this has happened before. All of this will happen again. That's the cycle. It goes on and on. It's inescapable. Nothing ever changes. All progress is an illusion. It's up to each person to find a way to cope with that certain reality. They must submit no matter what. The streets of Chicago are abandoned as Liz and Diane walk to the office. That mirrors the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic and its many impacts on the workplace. Just outside the building, the lawyers hear the constant detonations of tear gas grenades. They don't have any clarity on the message behind the protests. They don't know who is driving them forward. The police are acting violent. They've all been through that before. That includes the blackout throughout the city. Their access to technology is no longer reliable. Their lives are threatened because of their profession and the clients they choose to represent. It's traumatic. Diane seeks out ways to break free of this pattern. She's consumed by the news. She remains absolutely engaged and horrified. The doctor she finds only wants to start her down a path of microdosing once more. So much of this journey is familiar. That's the point. Diane expresses it through a sense of deja vu. She has experienced these days all too frequently throughout her career. Liz is even being told by the other partners that Diane is formulating a move to oust her from power. No one genuinely believes Diane is happy in her new office on the associate's floor. It was Diane's decision. She was still reluctant to return home following her vacation. She's engaged in the work. The firm is finding new ways to apply the law to ever-changing technology. These flourishes remain fascinating. It's been a decade of exploration at this point for the creative team. They have spent a lot of time in this universe with this collection of characters. They have certainly evolved. Each season presents new challenges and obstacles. And now, everything seems to reset to the same path. It's the same battles they have fought before. That's the entire point. Diane and Liz once had a vision of managing a female-led firm. They could break new ground in the legal world. And now, Liz is once again forced to accept a male partner. Her frustration isn't even based on anything Ri'Chard Lane does in his initial moments at the firm. He wants to completely redecorate and redesign. He professes a reluctance to make anyone uncomfortable. And yet, he boldly enters the space willing to dictate the terms of how he will occupy it. He does so without consulting anyone because that's the power he wields. Those are the expectations he has for the position given to him by the men who oversee the bottom line of the firm. In that regard, nothing has changed. Diane lifts Liz up. She wants her to take credit for her achievements. Even that recognition isn't enough to break free of these patterns. The people in charge still only want to see the world in their image. Even proven success has to fall within that preset formula at a certain point.

All of this could be terribly boring for the start of a new season. It's the show covering ground it has already amply explored. That's true to an extent. The show wants to make that the point of its narrative without losing sight of the evolution of the characters. The monotony is meant to make them feel a certain way. It may not always be successful. Carmen finds herself right back in a story of defending a criminal who looms large over the entire city. Charles Lester has long been the broker for those introductions. He represents the power players of the underworld who need crafty and skilled lawyers to avoid any significant consequences. They refuse to be held accountable. Carmen continually proves her worth in those cases. She thought she had to be tough all the time in order to prove herself. She had to be perfect in everything she did. The firm isn't expecting perfection from its new lawyers. It's still a major mistake when Marissa fails to argue for a continuance in court. She's thrown off her game because she's intimidated by the expectations of the profession. She's no longer arguing in a fake court that doesn't actually matter. Of course, the story of Hal Wackner's courtroom still ended with major consequences and violent extremism. That was unavoidable because the power it provoked was too intoxicating. Marissa slips back into the world of the firm hoping to be uplifted in the same way. She blows her chance to prove herself. That's debilitating and sends her to her father for the first time in years. Her life is so remarkably different now than the last time Eli Gold was a major player in this world. That has to be acknowledged as well. Moreover, Carmen is dismissive of her friend just reaching out for help. It's still a lot. Marissa places that emotional burden on Carmen. She needs to vent to someone and ramble about what she needs to do to make the situation better. She inherited that mentality from her father. There is always something more that can be done. The fight is never really over. Even the legal cases can never be seen as complete when the verdicts are made or the settlements are reached. Some new obstacle will always present itself. Carmen figured out one of Ben Baruch's trusted employees was a criminal informant. His death was inevitable once that declaration was made. This powerful man was protected. Carmen made that happen even though this isn't necessarily the lawyer she wants to be. She always finds herself in these situations. She has proven to be reliable in that regard. She's still in the elevator just like Diane, Liz, Marissa and Jay. Their lives converge in that climactic moment. It can offer hope in some regards. It's terrifying as well. They could have been killed. They may receive no closure on who made the threat on their lives. They are expected to move on and find a path forward. This world remains inherently tragic. It's inescapable. The coping mechanisms have to evolve. That shouldn't be a pleasant experience. They have to remain present throughout it all too. They can't simply be going through the motions not recognizing the evolution around them. That perspective remains abundantly central in the show that continues to have its pulse on the reality of life in 2022.