The Good Fight has come a long way from its first season. Season 2 was so remarkably different (funnier and zanier) from season 1 that it’s easy to forget that the characters used to actually say the show’s title almost once an episode. As far as I can remember, no one actually said “the good fight” in season 2. In today’s episode “The One Where Diane Joins the Resistance,” though, the phrase finally makes its return in the dialogue thanks to the great Diane Lockhart. It’s probably the best moment of the episode, which deals with the characters’ gradual moral corruption.
An anti-Trump women’s resistance group, which is led by a woman named Valerie, recruits Diane to join their cause. The group’s primary goal is to lower Trump’s approval rating from 42 percent to 33 percent in order to take back the White House in 2020. They decide to tackle Trump’s social media infrastructure, and one of the women discovers that there’s actually a fake news farm right down the street from their meeting place (which is a church basement, natch). So, their goal transforms into taking down the farm because that’s something tangible. Interestingly enough, a literal storm erupts right after they settle on this idea. The symbolism is on the nose (they’re the coming storm), but perfectly so because there’s a self-aware theatricality to it.
After the meeting, Diane returns to the firm and finds the vile Roland Blum squatting in her office as the storm rages outside the windows. Even though Diane has no interest in conversing with him, Blum decides to mansplain exactly why Trump is so successful. “Trump wins because he sees life as a battle, not a court. He uses your strength against you. Liberals never get that,” he says. Surprisingly, those parting words help Diane have an epiphany: They need to fight fire with fire.
So Diane and the rest of the group create fake news articles that accuse the farm of being involved in a pedophile ring and attribute the accusations to a high ranking Trump official named P-Anon. In other words, they just Pizzagated the troll farm. And it works! The news spreads like wildfire and concerned citizens riot outside of the building and the farm falls. Sure, they had resort to less than honorable means to win the fight, but does that actually matter?
But there’s a twist! Valerie disappears after their victory. Jay does some digging and discovers that Valerie was actually a con artist and was arrested when she returned to New York. With this information, Diane has two options: Tell the rest of the group the truth, or lie to keep the movement going. Surprise, Diane chooses door number two and reads a fake text from Valerie to the group that urges them to keep “fighting the good fight” in her absence. In season 1, the characters used the phrase in reference to both the noble social causes they were fighting for, like combatting police brutality, and the fact that they weren’t stooping to their enemies’ level. While there’s still a sense of righteousness when Diane says it here, her actions in the episode clearly show that it no longer matters how you fight. All that matter is that you win. The Roland Blum has jumped out.
Diane stepping to the bad side, though, isn’t surprising at all because it’s been a long time coming. Last season, Diane had a big blow up in the conference room where she boldly stated she was tired of “when they go low, we go high” politics, and in the finale, she crossed a line and lied on the stand to win. Now, she’s reached this next step in that evolution where she’s willing to use lies to win against Trump, too.
Furthermore, her decision to play dirty actually reminded me of Atlanta. A few weeks ago, I received The Good Fight’s press kit, which revealed that season 3’s unofficial subtitle is “Stormin’ Season.” Of course, my mind naturally went to Atlanta, which was officially subtitled “Robbin’ Season” and explored the many sad and absurd ways in which the characters (and black people) in general are robbed in life of their time, money, respect, and many other things. That season ended with Donald Glover’s character Earn, who spent the entire season losing, finally stepping up and doing whatever it took to win, (read: planting a gun on a rival as they went through airport security to avoid getting arrested himself), his conscience or soul be damned.
Similarly, The Good Fight’s first two seasons were very much about Diane and her fellow liberals dealing with this immense sense of loss in the wake of Trump’s victory. Here in season 3, though, it feels as though Diane is going through her own “Earn plants a gun” moment. She’s tired of losing and she’s ready to fight back, and she’ll do whatever it takes, including using the opposition’s methods against them. Unlike on Atlanta, though, we don’t have to wait too long to see the consequences of this strategy.
Diane’s completely unaware of this, but all of her telephone conversations with Valerie and the group have landed her right back on the NSA’s radar. Throughout the episode, the action cuts back to the NSA where two of our favorite analysts, Stephen (Michael Urie) and Dev (Maulik Pancholy) are busy listening in on her calls, which they treat like a spy drama they’re watching on TV. The Good Wife’s multi-season NSA storyline was one of the best things it ever did (“Parallel Construction, Bitches” is one of its finest hours) and I’m so glad that they’ve brought it back for this. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes and whether or not Jay being added to Diane’s three-hop warrant will cause problems.
Diane isn’t the only one who adopted the enemy’s tactics in the episode, though. Blum starts to rub off on Maia, too. In this episode, she seems more than fine with all of Blum’s theatrics and lies. She simply nods along in agreement as Blum lies to the judge about S.A. Spencer Zschau (Aaron Tveit) sending him an anti-semitic message instead of the discovery documents for the case. In fact, Maia goes a step further and makes a deal with Spencer for her client that throws Blum’s client under the bus, because as he explained in last week’s episode, winning is all that matters. Of course, Blum is furious. Not only does he throw a tantrum in the office, but he also tips the police off to the box of stolen narcotics in Maia’s car. As the episode ends — and as Blum sings “I’ll Be There,” reminding us that his effect on the world will last even after he’s left — the cops arrest Maia.
Although it doesn’t feel like the actual episode passes judgment on Diane or Maia’s actions in the episode, you do get the sense the show is at least wary of both of them taking pages out of Blum’s playbook. Everything that happened in this episode reminded me of a scene from last week’s episode where Liz, quoting Audra Lorde, said, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” I’m interested in seeing whether or not the show believes that statement or not as the season unfolds.
- Michael Sheen singing “I’ll Be There” against a cheesy karaoke green-screen backdrop is the best TV moment of the week, possibly the year. It’s absurd and kooky, which is how I like my Good Fight.
- Julius hires Maia as his consultant as he goes after the federal judge position.
- Liz hires Lucca to handle her divorce; however, this leads to Lucca finding out about the Reddick payoffs. She’s justifiably disgusted by it.
- Loved the Jonas Stern reference!
- The Good Fight recap: The one where Michael Sheen devours all of the scenery
- See what The Good Fight decided to blow up in this year’s explosive opening credits
- Michael Sheen previews his Good Fight character: ‘He’s an animal’