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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The fight gets messier in an occasionally off-the-rails The Good Fight

Illustration for article titled The fight gets messier in an occasionally off-the-rails The Good Fight
Image: The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
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More and more on this season of The Good Fight, characters are turning to decidedly morally bad tactics in order to win their battles. Playing dirty is the name of the game in “The One Where Diane Joins The Resistance,” and everyone is making bold moves that immediately have consequences in order to win their respective fights. It’s a tense, energetic episode, but it’s also a reiteration of some of this season’s shortcomings. The Good Fight’s boldness has long been one of its assets, but this episode often does way too much and could stand to exercise some more restraint, hitting its themes and messages so hard that it’s starting to feel a bit like a game of anti-Trump whack-a-mole instead of a cogent and potent legal drama.


For Diane, playing dirty looks like joining a group of wealthy white women who want to do more to fight Trump than standard means of protest and activism. The Good Fight is cynical about liberal organizing, showing Diane in a meeting of activists arguing over a dumb video that will certainly not be the undoing of an empire that they think it is. She’s courted by a woman with seemingly similar values and goes down the rabbit hole, eventually conspiring to plant a fake news story in order to take down...a fake news farm. They literally fight fire with fire, and Diane experiences the thrill of it working, but it’s unclear if The Good Fight seems aware that this victory doesn’t really mean anything. What’s taking down one of these farms really doing?

The Good Fight sharply weighs the different options for dissent, questioning the efficacy of taking the moral high ground while also revealing that playing dirty has real consequences, too. Diane’s on a watchlist at the NSA, bringing in the wiretap weirdos who have been a strange source of comedic relief in this universe ever since they first came into play on The Good Wife in its final few seasons. She’s also confronted by the reveal that the woman who brought her into this group isn’t at all who she says she is. She’s just a grifter who targets women like Diane, and it’s kind of funny but also prescient that the way she needles her way in with these women is by bonding with them over their Trump hatred. It’s effective! But it leads to Diane making yet another decision to lie. She sees that these other women have been galvanized, so she keeps that going. It is, to her, a necessary and ultimately insignificant evil.

A lot of the moral corruption of these characters this season orbits around the introduction of Michael Sheen’s nefarious Blum. He is immorality personified. And that’s exactly what I’m talking about when I say that this season is hitting some of its themes too hard. Here’s a character who literally represents immoral decision making and playing dirty in the most extreme ways, and it’s like he has infected everyone else. Blum’s late-night visit to Diane gets her thinking a bit like him. He gets so in her head that we’re treated to a hallucinated musical number? It’s way, way too much and also kind of just seems like an excuse to get Sheen to sing, adding little. And on that note, those Schoolhouse Rock-like animated shorts interrupting episodes aren’t quite working either. The one in this episode is actively bad. That kind of narrative hand-holding is borderline self-righteous. Sometimes, the fact that The Good Fight feels like political fanfiction is very fun. Other times, it’s so on-the-nose that it takes away from some of its own power and nuance.

In order to defeat Blum, Maia becomes him. But even before that, she is barely even pushing back on him anymore, just accepting his crooked tactics like he’s a train she can’t stop and, hey, she might as well jump on if it gets her client off, too. It’s off-putting, and I don’t quite buy it. That said, Blum as a true adversary for Maia, which is what happens by episode’s end, is a bit more compelling. She sells him out, doing no doubt exactly what he would have done to her if he hadn’t been incapacitated. And when he tries to threaten her into submission, she meets him at his same level of madness. Now, they’re locked in war, which definitely is the kind of storyline that The Good Fight is well equipped to tackle. But Blum just doesn’t feel like a real character, more like a concept, an embodiment of Trumpian codes of conduct.

In the case of Adrian and Liz’s subplot, it’s more Liz’s husband who’s playing dirty. He pressures Liz into nulling the prenup and giving him full custody of their kid by alleging that she and Adrian slept together after Adrian was shot. There’s palpable tension here that makes it seem quite likely that Adrian and Liz are lying and really did have an affair. But a well placed and shot flashback reveals they’re telling the truth, which makes matters much more interesting.


Then, they are forced to play dirty when a piece of supposed evidence surfaces. Opposing counsel suggests that a series of payments were made to Liz by the firm. In truth, those payments were the hush money paid to Liz’s father’s abuse victims. But to clarify that would be to expose Liz’s father, and both Adrian and Liz are determined to protect his legacy. There are deep consequences here to the firm’s decision to silence women, and The Good Fight thankfully isn’t glossing over those. We’re already starting to see those ripple effects. Lucca is rightfully appalled to learn about the silencing and the assaults, saying that she joined the firm because of Reddick.

The Good Fight is taking a hard stance on NDAs and the gross abuse of power they represent. This likely isn’t an issue that’s just going to go away, and the characters are going to have to face the choices they’re making to protect someone who shouldn’t be protected while silencing the women he assaulted. “The One Where Diane Joins the Resistance” sets up a lot of long-term consequences for its characters, further complicating the fight by pushing them to use tactics that certainly are not good.


Stray observations

  • These first few reviews of the season were an experiment to see if we’re going to bring back regular coverage of the show, so stay tuned on whether these reviews will continue after this week.
  • My guess is there will be no consequences for Maia breaking a window at work, which seems absurd?
  • I miss Maia and Marissa’s friendship.
  • I’m not really sure where this Julius and Marissa storyline is going, but I do enjoy watching Marissa be very good at her job.