Liz faces off against Nancy Crozier, while Lucca reunites with her estranged her brother
Diane Lockhart was a supporting character in her own story this week on The Good Fight as she allowed Lucca and Liz to take center stage in the episode’s two main stories. “Day 429” is divided into sections: The first follows Liz’s case, and the second follows Lucca’s case and reunion with her screw-up brother, Dominic. Both cases are of a personal nature for the women, and in the interest of clarity, I’m going to follow the episode’s lead and dig into both storylines separately.
This week, Liz pulls an Alicia Florrick and takes on case that will bring little to no financial gain to the firm. When she drops her ADHD son Malcolm off at school, she discovers that his favorite teacher has been unceremoniously fired. Concerned because he was one of the school’s only teachers of color, Liz agrees to represent him in his arbitration as Marissa does some digging to find out why he was fired.
Liz finds herself facing off against Mamie Gummer’s Nancy Crozier. In case you didn’t watch The Good Wife, Nancy is a lawyer who tries to disarm both her opponents and judges (or in this case, arbiters) with her “I’m just a nice sweet girl from the Midwest act,” when in reality she’s a bloody bulldog in court. On The Good Wife, she was one of Alicia Florrick’s most formidable opponents and one of that series’ best and most reliable guest stars. Now it’s Liz’s turn to match wits with her, and she isn’t ready for it because Nancy surprises Liz by revealing that the teacher’s firing was based on an algorithm.
That night the firm holds a party, and Liz uses it as an opportunity to ask Diane for advice about dealing with Nancy. Diane isn’t the giving mood, since she’s still pissed that Liz tried to undermine her with information she confided in her. But Diane eventually has a change of heart and tells Liz to throw Nancy off her game with frequent objections. The other thing that comes out of this party is that Marissa manages to recruit the firm’s finance-algorithm guys to testify about why the school’s algorithm might not be dependable.
While Liz is able to disturb Nancy’s rhythm in the arbitration the next day, she doesn’t get the win she was hoping for because the finance bros’ testimony isn’t enough to sway the arbiter, since the school’s algorithm is primarily based on statewide testing results. This leaves Liz disheartened. But of course, that’s when she has an epiphany. While talking to her son, she remembers he scored higher on the state-mandated tests last year with a teacher he didn’t like and got lower grades this year with a teacher he loved. She examines the Scantrons and discovers that the teachers changed their students’ answers on the test in order to save themselves from being fired. Well, all of them except Liz’s client. And thus, Liz wins this case; however, it’s a bittersweet victory because the teacher informs her that he just accepted a job from private school.
The biggest gift of this storyline, apart from showing us another side of Liz, is that we got to spend some time with Maia in lawyer mode. As I lamented all last season, we only got to see Maia actually be a lawyer once — but here, she teams up with Liz to help her win a case. While she didn’t contribute that much to the overall victory, it was a still nice to be reminded that Maia was, you know, a lawyer. (Next: A surprising pregnancy)
While Liz represents her son’s teacher, Lucca reunites with her ex-con brother, Dominic, who is being sued for practicing law without a license because he created a legal site that helps inmates with grievances. The FBI shows up at the firm to question Lucca about her brother, which forces Lucca to ask to Jay to track him down. As we come to learn, the Quinn siblings have a troubled relationship because their parents loved Lucca more than her younger brother. Thus, they paid for her to go law school and had no money to help him when it was time to attend college. So Dominic joined the military for a minute and then started selling marijuana, which led to his arrest. Along the way, he forged checks and took out credit cards in Lucca’s name because she wouldn’t help him financially.
At first, Lucca believes her brother’s new site is just one of his latest scams, but then she actually takes a look at it and discovers that it’s actually doing some good. So she calls on Elsbeth to represent her brother in this case. When they eventually go into depositions, they find out that Christian Borle’s Carter Schmidt, who is representing the Department of Corrections in this lawsuit, agreed to sue them because he’s worried sites like Dominic’s will put lawyers out of business. Basically, this is yet another storyline about the way technology is changing our lives and the world. While it’s an interesting concept, there was something missing about the case itself to make 100 percent compelling.
Adrian catches wind of the case and decides to intervene, offering to buy the site from Dominic. At first, this seems like a good thing because if the site is owned by the firm, that’ll protect Dominic from being prosecuted ever again. However, Adrian quickly reveals that he plans to shut the site down because he too is low-key worried about it. Dominic decides to take the money because he can use it to create something new, which gives us yet another bittersweet ending.
Lucca’s reunion with her brother actually leads to a surprising revelation: Lucca is pregnant with Colin’s baby. Dominic asks if she’s going to tell him, but Lucca says she doesn’t want him involved. The fact that Dominic was able to figure out his sister was pregnant brings them even closer, and by the end of the episode Lucca asks him to be the baby’s godfather, which is pretty sweet.
Obviously, one of the best things about Lucca’s case is that it also led to the return of Carrie Preston’s eccentric lawyer, who livens up every scene she’s in. Furthermore, Preston is responsible for the episode’s standout scene: At the firm’s under-attended party, she and Diane have an incredible heart-to-heart about how Diane is still struggling to deal with the present reality, and how her current “F— it” attitude was inspired by a homeless man she passed on the street who screaming about Donald Trump. Sure, this is hitting similar beats as previous episodes, but Christine Baranski does such a fantastic job of making you feel Diane’s exhaustion.
Alas, her “I don’t care” attitude ends up having some consequences in this episode. Diane ends up having a one-night stand with the bartender, played by Tim Matheson, and the next morning, she wakes up to discover that Kurt returned from a work trip to surprise her. Obviously, she feels really guilty about it. To make matter worse, Kurt tells her he’s done with the separation and wants to move in together. Awkward!