Elsbeth Tascioni and Mike Kresteva face off, while Adrian and Lucca try a case inspired by the shelved Donald Trump episode of 'Law & Order: SVU'

By Chancellor Agard
March 12, 2017 at 01:33 PM EDT
Advertisement
Credit: Patrick Harbron/CBS
type
  • TV Show
network
  • CBS All Access

Much has been made about this episode’s ripped-from-the-headlines case, which is inspired by NBC delaying Law & Order: SVU‘s Donald Trump episode twice; however, that’s definitely not the main attraction of the episode. In fact, it might be the least compelling part of this busy — and, as a whole, very interesting — episode. Like some of The Good Wife‘s best hours, “Stoppage: Requiem for an Airdate” finds The Good Fight spinning multiple plates as the show moves seamlessly between the personal and the professional.

If anything, my favorite part of this episode was watching Carrie Preston’s endearingly zany Elsbeth Tascioni give the viperous Mike Kresteva a run for his money. After witnessing Kresteva meeting with Maia to discuss those fake news articles and the two times she visited her father, Diane suggests that the firm hire outside counsel to defend the firm. Diane, Lucca, Barbara, and Adrian meet with a hilariously obnoxious white male lawyer who quotes Immortal Technique at them — their reactions are priceless. That failure of a meeting, however, convinces Lucca that they need “someone unorthodox” to handle their case. Enter Elsbeth Tascioni.

One of the most disappointing things about The Good Wife‘s final season is how Preston was only available for a couple episodes and wasn’t the lawyer to defend Peter Florrick, so I’m incredibly grateful to have her back because Preston is bloody brilliant in this role. Her characterization of Elsbeth disrupts the rhythm of both the show and the characters in a way that’s incredibly engaging. For example, look at her first meeting with Kresteva during lunch. She puckishly reveals that she’s listening in on his conversation before inviting herself to join him at his table. Kresteva is immediately thrown off because he’s never met someone with quite so much nerve, and it really gets under his skin. “You go after me professionally, I’ll go after you personally, and I tend to win,” Kresteva warns her. But Elsbeth is far from fazed. Instead, she ups her game in another one of this show’s “nevertheless, she persisted” moments.

When Kresteva gets home that night, he walks in on his wife, Dierdre, having ice cream and wine with none other than Elsbeth, who charmed her way into an invite to Kresteva’s home after “running into” Deirdre at Trader Joe’s. Kresteva is stunned because he’s never had someone come after him like this. Moreover, he’s even more troubled by the fact that Elsbeth went into his study. He escorts her out of his home and threatens to tell the bar what she did, but Elsbeth reveals that she recorded him threatening to ruin her personally. This is the first time someone has ever actually had definitive proof of Kresteva’s lies. This is one foe that Kresteva won’t be able to beat with his usual tricks.

The one thing Elsbeth learns from her interactions with Kresteva is that he pulled some strings to get Henry out on bail, which means Henry must have given him something. When Elsbeth finds out about the Schtup List — a list of clients that Jax did illegal things for — Maia gave to her father, she suspects that Henry may have actually turned on his daughter. With Kresteva’s investigation and Elsbeth’s introduction to the story, Maia’s plot with her parents is starting to feel less isolated from the rest of the show. That being said, I do wish we’d get more chances to see Maia work as a lawyer.

While Elsbeth fights for the firm, the firm goes up against a conspicuously unnamed network that runs one of those “Chicago shows.” This week, Adrian and Lucca defend a TV writer who wrote a Trump-inspired episode for a Law & Order: SVU facsimile and leaked it after the network delayed it indefinitely because of pressure from the Trump administration. None of the firm’s partners think they can actually win the case, and Julius is against them taking it because he doesn’t want them to look like the anti-Trump firm. Does the show use this as an opportunity to explain why Julius is a conservative? No, it doesn’t, which is disappointing. Adrian takes the case because he wants the firm to branch out into entertainment, and this will be a way to impress the networks. At first, Adrian and Lucca present a clever fair use argument before Good Wife Judge Tom Galt, but that doesn’t work.

The show’s case is about censorship, but it feels rather meta because it’s just broadly about how Trump’s election has affected entertainment, which is very relevant to The Good Fight. Lest we forget, the show made some adjustments to its pilot after Trump won the election, and I suspect that if Hillary Clinton had won, the show wouldn’t necessarily be so heavy on the Trump mentions. Naturally, The Good Fight isn’t the only case of Trump’s presidency driving or changing entertainment content. In a recent interview with Vulture, CNN’s Reza Aslan revealed that he was creating a Muslim family comedy for ABC, but that project was “just simply thrown aside” after Trump won the election because “at the highest level, there was a real decision to start to figure out how to appeal to what they erroneously saw as some new wave of red-state Americans.”

While the case itself isn’t much to write home about, it works because of how it informs and affects other stories being told in the episode. First, it furthers the ongoing flirtation between Colin and Lucca. Colin watches Lucca kick ass in court one day, which gives way to some flirting, à la cheer-sex in Bring It On. Lucca and Colin eventually go on that milkshake date they discussed in last week’s episode, which leads to them sleeping together. Colin points out how Lucca never talks about herself — which feels like an acknowledgment of the fact that we didn’t learn that much about Lucca in season 7 of The Good Wife. So, Lucca, in a rare moment of vulnerability, reveals to Colin that she doesn’t have that many friends because she’s scared of getting hurt, referencing her friendship or lack thereof with Alicia Florrick without mentioning her name.

More importantly, however, the case helps Diane achieve a professional victory by the end of the episode. Chum-Hum CEO Neil Gross catches wind of the firm’s case and approaches Diane about becoming a client. He loves the fact that they’re fighting the man and the idea of having predominantly black lawyers. “I just have a bunch of old fat white guys who don’t how to fight. You guys know to fight, so let’s fight,” he says, with hints of benevolent racism.

Adrian, Diane, and Lucca were considering settling the case since it was really wasn’t possible for them to win; however, Neil Gross’ offer moves them to keep pushing for a win, whatever that may look like. It just so happens that the next day in court, President Donald Trump unintentionally does them a solid and fires off a tweet saying that someone should investigate the types of writers the show hires, which turns the whole case into a First Amendment issue. With the tables turned, Amber, the network’s lawyer, agrees to a settlement in which the writer doesn’t have to apologize. That counts as a win, right?

The relative win in court secures Neil Gross’ Midwest business, and Diane uses this success to improve her position at the firm. Before agreeing to go through with signing Gross, Diane makes the partners agree to two things: First, her capital contribution needs to come out of the millions of dollars Gross brings to the firm; and second, she needs to made a named partner. Adrian, Julius and Barbara agree to her terms, but once she leaves the room, Barbara says, “She’s going to be trouble.”

That isn’t all Diane got up in this episode. Her estranged husband, Kurt, asked for help with a speech he has to give to 500 police officers. The personal and the professional intersect here, too. The two of them edit his speech over glasses of wine in Diane’s office. This scene was one of my favorites of the episode because of the palpable history between Diane and Kurt. There’s an effortless chemistry between Gary Cole and Christine Baranski, and you get the sense that even though these characters are separated, they still respect each other. The next day, Kurt’s speech goes off without a hitch and the two of them celebrate by hooking up. The next morning, Kurt notices Diane is packing up her things and invites her to move in together, but Diane turns him down. Instead, she goes to the office and locks down that Gross deal because she’s determined to control her own fate. This reminds me of Diane and Barbara’s conversation about how work gives life meaning in last week’s episode.

Sidebar:

  • The episode, which doesn’t really critique the NBC or Law & Order: SVU for delaying this episode, nodded toward SVU by opening with an SVU-esque titlecard.
  • Fun fact: Gary Cole played the politician accused of rape in SVU’s Trump-inspired episode, so it’s weird to see him featured here.
  • The episode’s title also refers to the SVU episode, which was called “Unstoppable.”
  • Lucca actually mentioned Alicia’s name when she took Adrian to meet Elsbeth for the first time.

Episode Recaps

The Good Fight

type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 3
rating
network
  • CBS All Access

Comments