The Good Fight recap: 'Day 450'
I’ve said this before, but The Good Wife/Fight creators know that a theme is only as good as the plot in which it’s being explored. That means you can’t prioritize the former at the expense of the latter. On The Good Wife, if Robert and Michelle King wanted to talk about NSA surveillance, they found a damn good story that could support it and involved the characters in a believable way. The Kings showed off this skill — balancing their more intellectual and political impulses with the need to create entertaining television — once again in “Day 450” of The Good Fight. The episode followed the firm as it tried to come up with a strategy to impeach Donald Trump at the behest the DNC, which is auditioning 10 firms to handle Trump’s impeachment in order to win the midterm elections. The Good Fight has done a good job of not getting lost in politics this season, but I was still worried going into this episode because it’s such a treacherous premise. Clearly I was wrong to be concerned, because the show pulls it off here. “Day 450” is an entertaining hour that deals with this hot topic without losing sight of its characters.
Democratic political consultant Ruth Eastman (Margo Martindale), who handled Peter Florrick’s presidential bid in The Good Wife’s final season, sequesters Diane, Adrian, Liz, Julius, and a bunch of silent extras into a conference room and asks them to get to work on coming up with a strategy. Obviously, they can’t agree on one. Adrian wants to go after Trump for foreign emoluments; Diane, taking into account the precedents set by Clinton and Nixon’s impeachments, favors obstruction of justice; and Julius, the firm’s token Republican, opposes all this because he believers the voters should just wait until 2020 to change their minds. As I mentioned above, I was partially worried that this episode would turn into The West Wing, where the characters would stop being people and turn into walking political-science essays or mouthpieces. But the script never lets that happen. They never get too far into the weeds.
During this first meeting, Liz remains noticeably quiet until the end, when she presents her out-of-the-box strategy: going on the offensive. She thinks they should just throw accusations at Trump (whether they’re true or not), and if and when they’re challenged, quickly switch to another charge instead of defending the previous one. “It’s not about truth,” she says. “It’s about who’s backtracking and who’s attacking.” Her entire strategy is inspired by the fact that truth and logic aren’t the powerful weapons they used to be in this new world. Adrian is rather annoyed about Liz going off book like this, and the next day he tries to reign her in because he wants this client and believes the best way to get it is to present a united front.
When they meet with Ruth again, Adrian and Julius switch their support to Diane’s obstruction charge. But Diane calls an audible and lends her support to Liz because she’s tired of “When they go low, we go high” and the left being forced to be the adults in the situation while the right gets away with metaphorical murder. What’s amazing about her grand speech is how personal it feels even though she’s talking about Supreme Court nominations and gerrymandering. The writers have put so much effort into making it clear just how much the state of the world is affecting Diane, and her exhaustion is palpable, visceral, and relatable here — from the pained look on Christine Baranski’s face when she has to admit that lies might be more effective than the truth, to how her voice cracks and Diane’s stately composure completely disappears, to when she opens up about how our reality TV show-like reality has made her feel like she’s losing her mind. Diane Lockhart is a potent and moving avatar for Trump fatigue. (Next: Liz is Wonder Woman)
The DNC, which is observing the discussion via cameras in the conference room, is impressed with all the arguing, but Ruth has some constructive criticism to help the firm get the job. She suggests they emphasize just how passionate they are and show off their attitude — which, as Adrian and Liz point out, is thinly veiled code for “become more street.” Even though it’s annoying and degrading for them to play into stereotypes, they decide that Liz will be the angry black woman, Adrian will be Black Lives Matter, and Diane will be the firm’s white conscience trying in vain to calm her partners down. This is basically what happened to Adrian in last week’s episode, and it also reminded me of a moment on The Good Wife. Liz’s reasoning for playing these offensive roles is that it’s the only way they can get a seat at the table, which echoes what Diane told Alicia in season 4’s “The Seven Day Rule” when Will and Diane made Alicia a partner because they wanted to sow discord among the rebellious fourth-year associates: “When the door you’ve been knocking at finally swings open, you don’t ask why, you run through. That is the simple fact.”
So they head back into the conference room and put on quite the show for the DNC. My favorite part was when one of them yelled something about quoting Ta-Nehisi Coates, which was hilarious and a great detail to throw in. And it works, kind of. Even though Baranski is the one who stood out in tonight’s episode, Diane doesn’t win; Liz does. Ruth informs them that the DNC has decided to create an impeachment super-team, a legal squad comprising lawyers from five different firms, and that Liz has been selected for that group. This isn’t entirely surprising because it was a matter of time before the writers gave Audra McDonald a great storyline, and this is clearly it. One of the great things about this episode too is how it continued to reveal just how cunning Liz is. She spent the entire episode playing to win even though she was less showy about it, from dissenting from the partners’ opinion in the first meeting to suggesting Ruth remove Julius from the discussion midway through. I’m very interested in seeing where this goes.
You get the sense that this might not end well, though. As I mentioned, the DNC was watching their discussion via cameras in the conference room, and at the end of the episode, those cameras capture Maia hooking up with Ruth’s assistant Carin. The Kings are very wary of technology, and I wouldn’t be surprised if everything that happened in that conference room gets leaked later in the season.
Diane and the partners weren’t the only ones dealing with politics in “Day 450.” Lucca gets drawn in as well as Colin starts taking steps to run for Congress. When word gets out that she’s pregnant with his child, Lucca, who is far from pleased with all this, decides to be proactive and lays down several rules for Colin, his mother, and his campaign manager (played by Michael Ian Black) before they even ask her to do anything. She makes it clear they aren’t getting married and she won’t “stand by his side,” but she’ll make a few appearances on his behalf. Clearly, she learned a lot from being friends with Alicia Florrick.
- Elsewhere in this episode, Marissa finds a “Kill All Lawyers” deck of cards that includes several familiar faces: The Good Wife’s David Lee, Laura Hellinger, and Patti Nyholm. Adrian, Liz, and Diane are also in the deck. For some reason, the creators of this deck had the gall to make Diane the nine of hearts instead of one of the queens. Shame!
- “I’m everywhere.” Marissa, explaining how she found the deck on an alt-right gift website.
- “I’ve never been more all right.” Diane to Adrian, who asks if she’s all right after her big blowup in the conference room.
- I loved the moment when Lucca tells Francesca the baby was conceived in the courthouse’s family bathroom. Francesca’s face turns to stone as she realizes Lucca isn’t joking. It’s great!
- Another priceless moment: Liz rolling her eyes when Adrian says Julius was a true sign of the firm’s diversity.