The Good Fight recap: The one where Michael Sheen devours all of the scenery
The Good Fight is a gloriously ridiculous and over-the-top show. That’s what makes it such a blast to watch, especially given its very timely subject matter. It approaches every pulled-from-the-headline storyline with palpable glee, infusing the proceedings with just the right amount of craziness and absurdity (see: the fake Trump headlines). With this latest episode, however, I think the show has gone a step too far.
Of course, I’m specifically talking about the introduction of Michael Sheen as the blusterous and ferocious Roland Blum, a “screw the facts”-type of lawyer who, as conveyed by the episode’s title, is inspired by Donald Trump’s attorney and mentor, the ruthless Roy Cohn. Sheen starts devouring the scenery from the moment the episode begins and doesn’t stop for its entire runtime. Some might find Sheen’s over-the-top performance fun, but I found it pretty exhausting and was grateful to the episode’s quieter and more grounded moments.
We first meet Blum in his best Winnie-the-Pooh outfit (read: just a shirt, no pants or underwear) as he’s injecting his face with something and being fellated in his bathroom. A few minutes later, he bursts into the courtroom like he’s a king or something and proceeds to steamroll over Maia, who was in the middle of her opening argument on a case involving the “kill all journalists” murder that ended the first season. It turns out that Blum is Maia’s co-counsel on this case as both of their clients are accused of plotting the murder of a journalist. Except, Blum is intent on just running the case his way — specifically through theatrics because in addition to being a Cohn acolyte, he apparently also spent time with League of Shadows.
As the episode unfolds, Blum does everything in his power to test Maia and make her feel as uncomfortable as possible. When they return to his office, Blum immediately removes his pants, offers her a fentanyl lollipop, and lectures her on his philosophy of law, which was inspired by Cohn: “As attorneys, we aren’t tellers of fact. We are tellers of story,” he says, adding that they base the evidence they use on the story they want to tell. It turns out the story he wants to tell the jury is that the state’s attorney, The Good Wife MVP Matan Brody, had the journalist killed because he’s tangled up with a pedophile ring. Is there any evidence of this? No, definitely not, but Blum presents this crazy story in court anyway because, as I said before, screw the facts!
At one point, Blum becomes temporarily blind because of all the drugs he’s taken, and it falls on Maia to drive him around. However, she doesn’t take him home. No, he makes her take him to a hospice facility where one of the workers slips him a box of narcotics for people who are terminally ill. And he administers one of the anal suppositories just right there in the front seat as Maia looks on. Then, he drags her to some party, where he meets a woman who ends up coming to court the next day and perjuring herself for Blum. Oh, and Blum throws Maia’s case notes out of a window, and God, he’s just a lot. It’s clear the show is trying to tell a story about how people like this — who will do literally anything to win — make it into places of power, but still, this feels like a lot. Thankfully, as I mentioned before, the episode has some calmer moments to balance out Blum bats—tery.
Back at the firm, the partners are busy trying to find a new head of matrimonial litigation. Julius brings a fellow black conservative lawyer named Jeffrey in to interview for the job; however, Jeffrey rubs Diane, Liz, and especially Lucca the wrong way. In fact, Liz urges Lucca to throw her hat in the ring for the job since she’s already been doing it and, more importantly, Liz is determined to change the firm in the wake Carl Reddick’s transgressions coming to light last week and wants more women at the top.
This actually leads to my favorite scene in the episode, which, surprisingly, wasn’t Diane going ax-throwing. After Liz’s push, Lucca goes homes, lays on her bed, and talks to her baby. It’s a quiet moment that counterbalances Roland Blum’s nonsense, and more importantly, her soliloquy gives us some useful insight into what’s she thinking about not only the job but being a mother. “Curse of the working mother…I feel like I’m missing out on something when I’m with you, and I feel physically ill when I’m away from you. But when I saw that lawyer today, I thought I could run motherf—ing rings around him,” she says. The baby’s reply? A fart. She takes that as a sign and calls Liz to say she’s interested in the job.
Lucca faces steep competition, though, from Jeffrey, who has quite the client list. So, she gets to work on beating him. First, she asks Marissa to dig up some dirt. Then, she asks Francesca to arrange a “sip and see” with the women in her book group, all of whom have divorce problems. By the time Lucca meets with the partners to discuss the job, she not only has $3 million in new client money, but she also has proof that Jeffrey was one of the lawyers that prepped Brett Kavanaugh for his hearing, which makes his application dead on arrival for everyone. Well, everyone except for Julius, duh, and Adrian, who wanted to hire Jeffrey to prepare the firm for the future (read: 2020). Nevertheless, Adrian joins everyone in voting in Lucca’s favor; however, he later calls Liz out for pulling strings to help Lucca win.
“So we answered the question: who are we?”
“Yep, welcome to the Thunderdome,” replies Liz.
Speaking of the thunder dome: Diane takes one more step into the ring in this episode. After some ax-throwing — which is her way of letting out her frustration about, well, everything, but especially the Trump children’s treatment of Kurt — she finds a poster for a resistance group. As the episode ends, Diane watches a video of the pornstar denying that Trump paid for abortion and whispers, “I’m sorry” before she pulls the poster out yet again.
The thing that ties all three of the stories together is the exploration of what people are willing to do to win. Blum is, of course, the extreme. The truth, rules, and ethics are merely obstacles to winning. As Adrian notes, Lucca also played dirty in this episode in order to get the matrimonial job, and Liz was fine with it if it meant putting more women in positions of power as a reaction to her father’s misdeeds. Now Diane, our favorite liberal, seems more than comfortable with watching someone’s life get turned upside by down media attention if it means causing trouble for Trump. The Kings warned that this season was about liberals breaking bad and we’re starting to see that here.
- David Howell (Ash Christian), one of the prosecution’s witnesses appeared in The Good Wife season 6 when Cary (Matt Czuchry) was arrested.
- Chris Butler’s Matan Brody was one of my favorite recurring characters on The Good Wife, so I’m glad the Kings found a way to bring him back. Now all we need is for Renée Elise Goldsberry reprise the role of Geneva Pine.
- There’s an interesting and loose connection between Roy Cohn and Diane Lockhart. Cohn was one of the McCarthyist prosecutors during the Second Red Scare. Coincidentally, The Good Wife did an episode where Diane learned that her father accused one of his colleagues of being a communist, and the man ended up losing his job and committing suicide.