The Good Fight recap: 'The Schtup List'
The titular good fight isn't always going to be easy
Three episodes in, and The Good Fight is already revealing itself to be as intricately crafted as its predecessor. This week’s episode, “The Schtup List,” smoothly moves between a compelling and twist-filled case of the week, Maia’s problems with her parents, and the power dynamics at the show’s center without missing a beat. So without further ado, let’s dive into this very entertaining episode, which reminds us that the titular good fight won’t be easy.
We pick up right where last week’s episode left off: with Maia walking in on Lenore and Jax hooking up. Maia runs out of the house in disgust as her mother follows, trying to reason with her by saying she was busy talking some sense into Jax. “What kind of sense requires him to take his shirt off?!” asks Maia. “What kind do you think?” says Lenore rather matter-of-factly. However, something doesn’t smell right in this situation, and it makes Maia suspicious about whether or not her mother had a role in her father’s current imprisonment.
The next day, the partners hold a meeting to go over the books. The meeting ends up being a rather stressful one for Diane because Barbara reminds her that she still hasn’t paid her capital contribution. For some reason, one of the firm’s clients, a cell tower company, still hasn’t paid the retainer. If that money doesn’t come in soon, each partner will end up having to pay $300,000, which Diane can’t currently do given the state of her finances. Thankfully, a case comes along to distract her from her money woes.
Diane’s client, Dr. Randolph Picot (Happy Endings‘ Zachary Knighton in an uncharacteristic big-boy role), was just arrested for terrorism. Dr. Picot is a world-renowned heart surgeon who spends some of his time helping Syrian doctors perform complicated heart surgeries through Skype. His latest Syrian patient, however, ends up getting him arrested because the patient is a terrorist, which means he’s violating a law that prohibits Americans from providing material support to terrorists. Diane expects to handle the case by herself, but Barbara assigns Lucca as her second chair because she wants to remind Diane of her place at the firm and make sure Lucca know that she’s needed there. Basically, the power struggle between Diane and Barbara is just heating up.
The case in question is twisty and very interesting. It draws on some of The Good Wife‘s favorite things — technology and the U.S. government being shady — and introduces us to one of the show’s main characters: Colin Morello (Jason Bartha), one of the government’s best ASAs, whose chemistry with Lucca is palpable from the first time they start flirt-arguing in court. Colin is there to argue against Dr. Picot being released before trial, because they don’t want him to finish the surgery. However, the hearing becomes even more complicated once Good Wife alum Judge Suzanne Morris learns that Tariq, Dr. Picot’s patient, only has four hours left to live. There’s a clock on this case.
Diane and Lucca receive some good news in court when Colin’s witness lets slip that Tariq is an ISIS fighter, which forces Colin to reveal that he’s actually an American citizen. Marissa and the firm’s investigator, Jay, go looking for the Tariq’s mother, who requires some coaxing before she takes the stand for her son.
In court, Tariq’s mother explains that her son only flew to Syria to bring his brother Aimar, who actually joined ISIS, home. Unfortunately, this actually damages Dr. Picot’s cases because Tariq planned on giving his brother a plane ticket home, which violates the aforementioned “no providing material support to terrorists” law. And Judge Morris’ hands are tied because of a Supreme Court precedent, which means she has no other option but to rule that Dr. Picot has to be detained until trial.
While Diane and Lucca race against the clock, Maia, ignoring her lawyer’s advice, meets with her father in prison to subtly warn him about what’s going on between Jax and Lenore. Seeing an opportunity, Henry tells Maia how to access Jax’s computer for evidence he needs. You can bet that Henry and Maia’s respective lawyers aren’t too pleased with this, either.
NEXT: Adrian and Barbara try to save a lucrative contract
Maia puts the information to use and pays her Uncle Jax a visit, which is fairly awkward given their last encounter. Jax is very nonchalant about his affair with Lenore. Maia flat-out asks why he’s sleeping with her mother, but Jax doesn’t answer because he receives a phone call from Marissa, whom Maia recruited to distract Jax long enough for her to steal a file from Jax’s computer called “The Schtup List.” Later, Maia gives her father the list, which turns out to be the key to taking down Jax — and maybe Lenore.
Marissa and Jay call Dr. Picot’s Syrian contact, Yusuf, via Skype to let him know the bad news, but during the call, Tariq’s brother Aimar enters the room and threatens to kill them all unless they complete the surgery. Jay records the video chat, and Diane and Lucca present the video to the Judge Morris, who reverses her ruling since the risk of the entire medical staff being slaughtered far outweighs the chance of one terrorist getting a plane ticket. Clearly conflicted, Colin allows his confident façade to drop for the first time and decides not to argue against letting Dr. Picot finish the surgery.
That night, Lucca meets Colin at a bar since they made a deal that loser would buy drinks. Unfortunately, their not-a-date is ruined by a news report that says wanted terrorist Aimar was killed in an airstrike. It turns out the government only told Colin to pursue this case so that they could draw out Aimar and kill him, and Colin had no idea he was being used. It’s a very cynical ending that reveals the show’s distrust of the government, and though the case was interesting on its own, this ending elevates it — having the firm lose yet another case is an effective reminder that this so-called “good fight” will be hard. In fact, it’s more than likely that Diane and Lucca will lose more than they win because doing the right thing is always harder. This flips the script on The Good Wife‘sformula, which saw Alicia, Will, and Diane win almost all of their cases.
The episode also deals with politics in a subplot that is mostly played for laughs until the very last scene. While Diane and Lucca are dealing with this case, Adrian and Barbara try to find someone on staff who voted for Trump because one of their clients is thinking about leaving them for a pro-Trump firm. Eventually, Julius admits that he voted for him, which surprises Adrian and Barbara. Most of the humor comes from Julius begging them to promise him he won’t be ostracized for being open about this, as well as from Delroy Lindo and Erica Tazel’s hilarious reactions to the news. Both of them rationalize it by reminding themselves that Kanye voted for Trump, but Julian corrects them and says Kanye only said he would have voted for Trump if he had voted.
In the end, the ploy works, and Julius manages to save the contract. Julius is met with applause and praise when they return to the firm victorious; however, his good mood is quickly dampened when Andrew Hart — the named partner of a pro-Trump black firm in Chicago — pays him a visit and warns that this cheery welcome is only temporary. Pretty soon, Julius will start noticing that people keep their distance from him, says Hart, who also leaves his business card for Julius to use on the day that happens. We’re three episodes in, and the show is already sowing plenty of seeds of tension inside of the firm.
While this plotline is mostly comic relief, it also brings some nuance to show’s world. By introducing Andrew Hart and revealing Julius’ politics, the show acknowledges the fact that the black community isn’t a monolith and there were actually people who voted for Trump. If there’s one complaint I have about how this was handled, it’s that it would’ve been great to hear why Julius supported Trump, which would make him an even stronger ideological foil to Diane, Adrian, and Barbara.
Overall, I really enjoyed this episode, which nimbly kept many plates spinning in the air. Justin Bartha is perfectly slimy and charming as Colin Morello, and I’m interested in seeing how his relationship with Lucca develops. Looking ahead, I hope next week’s episode returns to Diane’s current financial problems and comeback, which remains the most interesting part of the show.