The Good Fight recap: The gang learns about the OLC
Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, what was supposed to be The Good Fight’s fourth to last episode is now its penultimate outing because the season is ending with episode 7. Thank Diane Lockhart’s brooch collection that CBS All Access renewed this criminally undervalued gem for a fifth season. Actually, we can thank Diane’s elegant accessories again because we won’t end the season without some meaningful movement on the Memo 618 front and an exceptional showcase for Delroy Lindo, both of which Thursday’s episode “The Gang Offends Everyone” gave us.
Whenever I think about Lindo’s remarkable performance as Adrian Boseman on the show, my mind immediately jumps to something my colleague/fellow Good Fight worshipper Darren Franich wrote in his season 3 review: “I love Delroy Lindo’s savvy realism, the way he makes Adrian a kind of idealist for moderation and a patriarch embarrassed about his own patriarchy.” In that sentence, Darren captured the tricky position Adrian holds at this firm: He’s constantly being torn between his desire to be progressive and his pursuit of money and power. This is a struggle he’s faced since the show premiered (Remember, Carl Reddick threatened to take back the firm from him in season 1?), and it reaches a sort of apex in this episode. Even though money and power win out, Lindo still manages to make you love Adrian nevertheless.
“The Gang Offends Everyone” opens with the Frank Landau telling Adrian that the DNC wants to mold him into a potential candidate for the 2024 election. Of course, the DNC doesn’t care if he wins; they just want a black candidate that can make it past Iowa (I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about what the show is suggesting about the real DNC). This excites Adrian, and it immediately starts affecting his job. See, he’s currently representing Melanie, a black swimmer suing U.S. Olympic Swimming because she lost her place on the 2020 team to Sadie, a transwoman. After meeting with the DNC, Adrian switches his in-court strategy to race and argues the U.S. Olympic Committee changed the eligibility rules so Melanie couldn't compete because it didn't want to risk her engaging in political protest during the games, which is actually prohibited by the International Olympic Committee.
Unfortunately, exasperated Judge Josh Bricker (Rob Reiner) doesn’t completely buy the race argument, forcing Adrian to do the thing he wanted to avoid doing: Arguing that Sadie shouldn't be allowed to compete because of her testosterone levels and thus questioning her womanhood. Adrian knows the optics aren’t good, but he pushes ahead and ignores the firm’s younger associates’ pleas to drop the case because he’s determined to win. A classic values vs. power and money situation, which is part of The Good Fight/Wife's greatest hits. Plus, he pulls Liz in on the case to make it look better, and she’s pretty much disgusted by it all. At one point, Liz just stops questioning Sadie in court because she can’t stomach making a transphobic argument.
Somewhat thankfully, Judge Brickner ends up ruling Sadie’s favor, which brings an end to these proceedings. Well, that is until Jay finds new evidence at the last minute. So, Adrian heads back to court and argues that another girl on the team, whose testosterone levels are way above the limit set by the Olympics because she’s intersex, should be disqualified. Ultimately, Judge Bricker rules in Melanie’s favor because this girl technically breaks the rules set by the Olympics.
Throughout the entire case, Adrian maintained he was doing it because the Olympics have rules and those rules need to be followed, no matter if they end up being unjust. Of course, Adrian only cares about the rules when it benefits him. Because the DNC approached him about running, he finally confronts Charlotte about her ethical transgressions as a judge and she lists everything he does. Sure, he’s not happy with her being corrupt, but he basically tells the DNC it won’t be a problem. I love The Good Fight’s willingness to put Adrian in this tricky moral corner and not take the easy way out.
Furthermore, Adrian’s willingness to ignore the rules when it suits him ties into the episode’s other storylines thematically. Diane and Julius finally confront Mysterious Visitor Man. “I don’t represent the angry,” he says. “[I represent] people who like order and control.” Except in this case, order is less about following the law than it is maintaining an unjust system that allows the rich and powerful to do whatever they want. To people like this, the rules only matter if they work toward their benefit, and if they don’t, well then they can fall back on Memo 618 to get their way.
Diane and Julius’ confrontation with Mysterious Visitor Man helps Diane find an ally in their fight against Memo 618: Linda (Rachel Dratch), a paranoid court stenographer who has kept paper records of every court case she’s worked on (plus all of the ones at the courthouse) because cases keep disappearing. She tells Diane that Memo 618 can be traced to the Office of Legal Counsel — which cues up Jonathon Coulton’s first musical animated explainer of the season. In the Schoolhouse Rock-style sequence, Coulton explains that the OLC is “the hidden hand that holds the tail that’s wagging the dog.” In other words, the OLC drafts “secret laws” that give the executive branch legal cover for things like Japanese internment during WWII, the Torture Memos, or declaring the president is immune from indictment.
According to Linda, Memo 618 is basically there for cases “when the presidency or department of justice knows they need a law, but it hasn’t been drafted yet.” She shows Diane a bunch of evidence: A zoomed-in photo that shows FDR signing something that says Memo 618, and audio-less videos of Donald Rumsfeld and President Trump referencing Memo 618, at least according to a lip reader Linda hired. What I found interesting is that episode, at least to me, purposefully makes it clear to the viewer that this isn’t real because it seems like the show just pulled random archival footage and didn’t alter anything; however, the idea that there is a secret memo that has protected the rich and powerful doesn’t feel that farfetched.
- This is the first time The Good Fight has felt dated since the Olympics definitely aren’t happening this year.
- In the episode C-plot: Lucca buys a Birkin bag before she receives her poker winnings, but David Lee points out that was stupid because the rich people aren’t going to pay her because they know she won’t call them out on it. Anyway, David lets slip to Bianca that Lucca hadn’t been paid and Bianca makes sure she is. In the end, Lucca and Bianca have a frank conversation about wealth being the great divider, but they resolve to work through it since they’re friends.
- “Liz, I’ve won awards from organizations covering every one of the letters covering LGBTQ” “And that is the transgender equivalent of, ‘I got a black friend.’”