The Good Fight recap: The gang argues about reparations and searches for Memo 618
After taking a week off to catch up so post-production could catch up, The Good Fight is finally back with a strong and paranoid episode that spotlighted some inter-firm divisions and moved the Memo 618 conspiracy forward.
“The Gang Gets a Call From HR" begins with the Democratic National Committee re-entering the gang’s life, which is always a source of trouble in the Good-verse. DNC Chairman Frank Landau approaches Adrian and Liz because he wants them to help the DNC brainstorm ways to reengage the black vote ahead of the 2020 election. Thus, Adrian and Liz find themselves squished into a conference room with the rest of the historically black firm’s black employees to discuss the issues of the day, which I thought was a funny and relatable visual because it reminded me of the times when my opinion has been requested specifically because of I’m black or a minority. On the one hand, it’s nice when people recognize their potential blind-spots, but on the other hand, it’s hard to shake a feeling of tokenism and othering going on.
“What’s the biggest issue facing the African American community today?” Frank asks the room. Initially, he’s met with silence, but then Jay points out that the Democrats aren’t doing “jack s---” to combat racism. And that sentiment riles the room up a bit more. When Frank exits the room to take a call, Adrian tells them all to take it down a notch and stop bashing the Democrats. It’s the same thing he did when the DNC approached the firm about developing an impeachment plan in season 2. Ever the business pragmatist, Adrian is more concerned about not isolating the DNC and keeping their business than actually coming with new, radical ideas.
Eventually, Upstairs (a.k.a. STD STR Laurie) summons Adrian, Liz, and Diane, well, upstairs because they want to know if this DNC work is old or new business. If it’s the former, then RBL gets a larger share of the profit, but if it’s the latter, then STR does. The trio’s takeaway from this discussion is that someone is snitching to them since STR isn’t allowed to view their books for the first two years of the new arrangement. Suspicion immediately falls on Hugh Dancy’s Caleb, a charming and honest STR associate, but they quickly go away because Marissa ends up liking by him and, more importantly, Caleb finds out that Frank told Gavin about the work because they’re old friends.
Back in the conference room, Jay brings the discussion around to a hot button issue: reparations. That’s when the divisions in the room start showing themselves. While some are in favor of reparations, others are concerned about what would happen if reparations ever happened. “As soon as that check clears, white America washes their hands. And I’m telling you, the line will be, ‘Don’t you f---ers ever complain about racism ever again,’” says Leah. Furthermore, Leah believes white guilt is a pretty effective leverage. I like the fact that The Good Fight recognizes, once again, that black people aren’t a monolith.
All of this radical talk of reparations makes Frank uncomfortable, so he hilariously asks the partners to add some diversity to the room to calm things down (read: invite the white employees in). As the reparation discussion continues, Adrian shares an anecdote from Vernon Jordan about the former Georgia Gov. Eugene Talmadge openly saying he was against “n-----s” while campaigning in the 1940s. Adrian actually says the N-word because that’s how he heard the story, which opens up another can of worms at the firm.
HR calls Lucca, Jay, Roslyn, Leah, and several other black employees upstairs because they received a complaint about Adrian's use of the N-word, and STR has a zero-tolerance policy about offensive language. Everyone questioned about the “incident” can’t believe it because the idea of HR trying to control when a black man says the N-word seems ridiculous to them, especially when he’s quoting someone.
There are two things I love about this storyline. First, it’s indicative of The Good Fight’s puckish sensibility and visceral response to the news because it’s clearly inspired by a CBS All Access story. Last year, novelist Walter Mosley quit the Star Trek: Discovery writers room because, as he explained in a New York Times op-ed, HR told him he couldn’t say the N-word after he used it while quoting something a racist cop said to him years ago. It's similar to how the Kings' concerns about censorship during the Trump's presidency moved them to do an episode inspired by the decision to shelve Law & Order: SVU's Trump-inspired story. Second, it shows just how clever the writers are, too. The anecdote that Adrian shared wasn’t made up for this episode. It’s actually something Vernon Jordan said to him when he cameoed in season 3’s “The One with the Celebrity Divorce.” (The story itself actually comes a piece Jordan wrote for The New Yorker in 2017.)
In the wake of the HR investigation, everyone assumes one of the white employees reported Adrian to HR. So Jay brings it up the next time they gather in the conference room. To their surprise, though, Madeleine, one of the black equity partners, reveals she’s the one who reported Adrian because he broke STR Laurie’s rules. “Every black person should have the choice to not hear it in the workplace if they don’t want to,” she says, explaining she has no interest in grappling with black people’s traumatic past in between depositions at work, which is fair. Again, I like the way the show acknowledges that all black people don’t think the same way about every issue and that it doesn’t land on some easy answer in this case, either.
While all of this was going on, Diane was busy contending with the mysterious Memo 618 because Marta’s case has suddenly disappeared from the court system. There isn’t a record of Julius’ rulings, the injunctions, or anything. When Diane confronts Julius about this, he tells her to ask Adrian’s girlfriend. So, Diane asks Adrian what Julius means, and Adrian tells her all he knows is that Julius was worried about something called Memo 618.
So, Diane begins looking Memo 618, but her efforts are constantly thwarted. She posts a question about it on a lawyer message board, but her post disappears and her computer shuts down when she tries to find it at work. Then in court, Diane cleverly uses the disappearance of Marta’s case to simply sue again as if it never happened instead of going for an appeal. Alas, that plan fails because Judge Hazelwood receives a mysterious message during court and shuts down Diane while she’s questioning Marta on the stand. And in one final twist, Jay discovers that Diane’s computer keeps crashing when she searches Memo 618 because their corporate overlords have done something to the Wifi to prevent people searching for it. And so the conspiracy twists again.