Credit: Patrick Harbron/CBS
S4 E1
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The Good Fight season 3 ended on a scary note: A S.W.A.T. team was preparing to barge into Diane and Kurt’s home because Diane’s Book Club swatted them out of revenge. Because of that frightening cliffhanger, we’ve spent the last year wondering if proud gun owner Kurt McVeigh would survive the incident, or if Michelle and Robert King were cold enough to kill off Diane’s husband right after she told him she was happy. And the season 4 premiere, titled “The Gang Deals with Alternate Reality,” is in no rush to resolve this dangling thread. Instead, the absurd “What If” episode thrusts Diane into a freaky reality where Hillary Clinton is the president of the United States, which somehow heightens the sense of dread surrounding Kurt’s fate.

Season 4 begins with Diane watching the 2017 president inauguration in her dark living room. This is where The Good Fight started three years ago, but something is different this time around because she’s not depressed and disgusted. She’s ecstatic because Hillary Clinton has just been inaugurated after winning the 2016 presidential election. What the what?! Diane’s joy transforms into confusion as she realizes something is amiss. This drastic change in the timeline also affects the show’s bombastic opening credits: Now all of the items actually reassemble themselves instead of exploding, which suggests that the pre-election order is still intact and that becomes concerning later in the episode.

What begins as a comforting fantasy eventually transforms into something darker. When Diane — who remembers our nightmarish reality where Trump is president — arrives at work, she starts learning more about this new timeline where Clinton won. First, the White House has hired Diane to argue a case about gerrymandering in Illinois before the Supreme Court, and Elizabeth Warren and Merrick Garland are now judges. Furthermore under Clinton’s presidency, the polar bear population has increased, the rainforest has been saved, and, most absurdly, America has found a cure to cancer. Of course, Diane is overjoyed by all of this and tells Adrian and Liz about her dream of a Trump presidency.

“Where were the Obamas during all of this?” Liz asks.

“They had an overall deal with Netflix,” says Diane defeatedly, which is a savage takedown of our current moment. I doubt Barack Obama will include The Good Fight on his list of “TV shows I considered as powerful as movies” at the end of the year after that burn.

If this reality seems too good to be true, it’s because it is, as Diane learns fairly quickly. During the partners’ meeting, she discovers that Harvey Weinstein is her newest client. In this reality, there wasn’t a Women’s March, Weinstein’s history of sexual assault never came out, and there was no #MeToo movement. Instead, Weinstein is still one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, has a close relationship with the administration, and now wants Diane's firm to help silence his accusers in court before their charges are publicized. Naturally, Diane is horrified by it all.

At this point, it becomes pretty obvious what the Kings are doing: They're critiquing a liberal fantasy that the world would automatically have been a better place if Clinton had been elected. Sure, some things may have been better (probably a lot), but there’s no guarantee all of our problems would’ve gone away. There’s a chance some may have remained buried. In some ways, it feels like the Kings are trying to keep their own liberal biases in check and resisting the urge to view things as black or white, good vs. evil. Watching this episode, I couldn’t help but be reminded of The Good Wife’s season 1 episode “Lifeguard." In that episode, Alicia Florrick discovered that a beloved liberal judge, played by Tony Goldwyn, had been delivering harsher sentences to black youths because he was receiving kickbacks from the prison.

Anyway, Diane protests defending Weinstein in court because of the accusations, but no one believes her. Adrian brushes her concerns off because they’re based on rumors with no evidence and, ever the pragmatic businessman, the firm is facing bankruptcy and needs Weinstein's money to stay afloat. Meanwhile, some of the women Diane meets at this Women United for Change event believe there’s never been a better time to be a woman because Clinton is president. “With the presidency, women can do everything they want,” says one of them, which reminded me of how some people said we were in a post-racial America after Barack Obama was elected. As we quickly learned and have definitely seen, that has not been the case.

Emboldened and angered, Diane tries to start the #MeToo movement on her own. While walking the carpet at the event, she gives a shoutout to Tarana Burke, who coined the term “Me Too” back in 2006, and invites women to share their stories about abuse. She also gets her own Twitter account so she can use the hashtag, which made me wish Christine Baranski had a Twitter account in real life. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen and Clinton’s press secretary scolds Diane for her comments. “You’re trying to suggest that women get angry about abuse, right? That’s not the message that helps us in 2020. Hillary only gets reelected if men don’t feel women are leading with their anger,” says Zoe.

But Diane stops listening because she suddenly realizes she hasn’t been home at all and doesn’t remember the last time she saw her husband. I'll admit that I was holding my breath for the entire episode as I waited for the next shoe to drop and I tightened up even more watching Diane's fervent search for Kurt. Eventually, she finds him seated at a table in the middle of the forest with his face shrouded in shadow. There’s an unsettling, mysterious, and Twin Peaks-y vibe to the whole scene that stressed me out even more because I was worried the show would reveal Kurt was dead. Diane sits down and tells Kurt that their relationship is all that matters to her, even amid all of this craziness, which feels like a natural continuation of her telling Adrian that love will see them through this when the law fails at the end of last season. Kurt responds by asking Diane to come back and helps her remember the swatting incident, which causes her to believe he died.

Then, Diane wakes up and finds Kurt alive — thank Beebo! — and kneeling beside her in their bedroom, which is filled with officers. Apparently, she hit her head and passed out during the swatting incident, but they're all okay. In other words, the alternate reality was all a dream, but a very interesting one that expanded what the show could pull off within the boundaries of your typical network procedural. Overall, this was a strong start to the season.

Grade: A- 

Case Notes: 

  • The timing of this episode couldn't be better. It's arriving at a time when many people are wishing our government had been competent in its handling of a pandemic.
  • Would it surprise you to learn that Julius Cain wishes Trump had won the election? Also, there's apparently a scandal around Clinton paying $500 for a haircut.
  • "Justice is an equation. Justice equals the law times the zeitgeist...The law on its own doesn't stand up. You need the mood of the times on your side," Diane says to Lucca after a judge votes in Weinstein's favor in court.
  • I don't even know what I'm supposed to make of Felix Staples' performance on Trump TV. It was weird, absurd, and hilarious.

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