The Good Fight Meets SVU
Chung Chung! It's an episode ripped from the headlines about an episode ripped from the headlines!
It's not like The Good ______ has never done ripped-from-the-headlines before. The very founding premise of Wife was based, not subtly, on Eliot Spitzer with a splash (phrasing) of Anthony Weiner. You'd have to be headless not to know what the runner with the NSA nerds was about, or that "Tricky Thick" was referencing Glee. Still, it's a shock to see the latest episode open with this:
The backstory: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit had an episode in the can about a Trump-esque politician accused of the sorts of things that would land one in the Special Victims Unit, which they repeatedly delayed, most recently after the election. (Ice-T says it wasn't very good anyway.) On The Good Fight, it's "one of those Chicago shows," but come on, that title card, and anyway, NBC's "Chicago shows" are also produced by Dick Wolf and also air on NBC, so: same difference. The SVU episode was called "Unstoppable" and the TGF episode is called "Stoppable: Requiem For An Airdate." No one is even trying to be subtle here.
The thing is, while it's completely clear that the TGF team thinks NBC and the L&O team are spineless sycophants for pulling the episode, and clearly they and CBS have no qualms whatsoever about shit-talking the President, the legal case -- the network is suing because the writer of the episode put it online so it would be seen -- is interesting, and both sides are presented fairly. For most of the episode, it looks like our heroes might lose! (Spoiler: they don't.)
And this wouldn't be The Good Fight without the return of some more familiar faces. How does everyone rank?
Elsbeth shouldn't work. She's a relentless quirk machine whose ante has to be upped every time she returns to the show (this time she's renting office space from a pediatric dentist after spending some time -- possibly -- in a psychiatric institution, and has a fully impossible run-in with
AlexaAda), which should be incredibly annoying and distracting and implausible on what is, for the most part, a pretty realistic show. But she does work, and not just because she's played by the always-delightful Carrie Preston. I believe that Elsbeth is able to charm people. More importantly, I believe that she's able to kick ass. Her particular brand of off-kilter also makes her willing to do things other lawyers may not be willing to do.
Reddick/Boseman hires Elsbeth to represent them against Kresteva, so naturally she accosts him in a diner. When he threatens her, Elsbeth "accidentally" runs into Kresteva's wife (Broadway's Kelli O'Hara) at the grocery store, claims to be a work friend of Mike's, and spends the whole afternoon hanging out in their house (and snooping in his study). Sure, it's illegal, but she's got his threat on tape for mutually assured destruction. She's the best.
There are so many reasons to love Lucca. Let's start with this smooth move to Colin, who comes to watch her, adorably, and feigns shock when opposing counsel's objection is sustained.
It's Lucca who kills the network's case for theft, arguing both that the writer made no money by putting the episode online, and destroying the network president on the stand, showing that the episode had no value because the network never planned to air it. And Lucca introduces Elsbeth to the firm, thus likely saving everyone's bacon.
Lucca also finally goes on her milkshake date with Colin, which doesn't end up as innocent as it starts. She has a hard time opening up to him, and when he asks her about friends, she tells him, "I had a best friend. A coworker," clearly referring to Alicia. "I don't make friends easily," she says. "I don't like to get hurt." Colin asks if she's afraid he'll hurt her and she laughs: "I don't get hurt by boys." Lucca is the best.
Diane and Lucca are almost tied this week, but Diane loses a point for her mopey, possibly snobby perusal of real estate listings. I don't know anything about the Chicago real estate market, and it's actually quite possible that reasonable downsizing would cost Diane more than her current place if she's lived there long enough and owns it or has some kind of rent control, but no way would Diane be looking at grungy studios. And lose the bookmark for the place in France, lady: that ship has definitely sailed.
BUT it's Diane's idea to try a fair use argument in the L&O case (it doesn't work, but it gets the ball rolling), and when she runs into ChumHum's Neil Gross, she nabs him as a client (after getting Adrian and Lucca not to settle, because the firm's willingness to stand up to Trump is what Gross admires), saving her own financial ass -- and apartment -- and becoming a name partner in the process.
And speaking of ass, Diane happily helps Kurt with a speech he has to give, then happily shows up to support him, and happily (presumably) has sex with him. But still doesn't want to get back together with him or move in with him despite her (at this point in the episode unresolved) financial situation. You go,
girlpowerful and brilliant woman of a certain age!
Kurt is sassy enough to call Diane out for calling him and hanging up (it's called caller ID, Diane!), but not too proud to ask her for help and even to bring a gift (it's a gun, so: sassy again). His speech goes great, he gets to spend the night with Diane: it's a win all around for Kurt. And it's probably just a coincidence that they brought Gary Cole back for this episode and he played the Trump character on the real SVU episode, right?
These writers are really loving being on a streaming service.
He finally gets to sleep with Lucca and he has a really cute butt, so....
We haven't talked much about Maia's lawyer, but I'm starting to really like her, in large part because she seems to be too good for Maia. She stops just short of rolling her eyes at her client in a meeting this week, and flatly reminds Maia that staying out of prison might be more important than being loyal to daddy.
Is Adrian's habit of running roughshod over his partners going to bite him in the ass at some point? He insists on taking the TV case because he wants to get into entertainment law, and also because he wants to stick it to Trump and thinks they have a First Amendment case due to pressure over an FCC issue (they don't, but then they do when Trump tweets about the case, which constitutes a "government action," so he gets lucky). Later, he dismisses Barbara when she rightly notes that Diane's demands will have to be run by the rest of the partners. But...they do?
Amber is the network's attorney, and she's presented as a Hollywood satire entertainment lawyer -- peppy, always smiling, maybe a bit shallow. But don't let that fool you: she will cut a bitch, and she will not stand for writers who have the gall to think they own the studio's intellectual property just because they technically wrote it, or for Reddick/Boseman honing in on her territory. She'd rank higher if not for her epic loss in court.
I'm not sure how to feel about the writer of Not Law & Order. I certainly appreciate the "fight the power" idea behind releasing the episode online, but, both on the show and in real life, Trump won the election despite the mountain of evidence that he's a terrible human being, so it's not like a fictionalized version of him on a cop show is going to make a difference. (Which is actually an argument for airing the episode, because who cares?) A rebuttal witness (Von Yanko, which has to be an anagram, right? Who's intimately familiar with the Law & Order credits?) claims that Fisk actually posted the episode because he believed it was Emmy-worthy work and he simply wanted it seen for self-promotion. But most damningly: what did he think would happen? He knows damn well he doesn't own his work product, and it's illegal to post it online. Acting shocked now that this lawsuit may bankrupt him seems awfully disingenuous.
After talking around her in the first couple of episodes, Alicia is coming up in conversation more and more, to the point where her absence feels a little awkward. She's Lucca's best friend but she never sees or speaks to her? Lucca names her specifically when hiring Elsbeth: "Alicia gave me one piece of advice: When in trouble, hire Elsbeth."
"A real African-American law firm, I love it. Everywhere you look." Not a great look, dude. But the ChumHum CEO is there because "we could use a little fight in our legal department....I say we do to Trump the same thing the Republicans did to Obama: don't settle, don't negotiate, and don't back down." It's a worthy goal, and he's in the right place -- and it's a big get for Diane.
Marissa is just on the edge of inappropriate in front of Gross. Diane and Neil both seem amused by her, but I'm still not convinced she's any good at her job.
Marissa: Mrs. Kolstad wants to see you now, are we in trouble? Because I need this job.
Diane: Well I'll keep that in mind.
At least she's not stuck with Maia this week.
Judge Thomas Glatt
In theory, I'm glad the show isn't just going to the well of Good Wife quirky judges every week. In practice, Glatt doesn't make much of an impression.
Poor Barbara! She's constantly in the position of being the bad cop to Adrian's good cop. This week she questions whether they should be taking the TV case (a valid question), and has to confront Diane about her capital contribution (still held up by the firm formerly known as Lockhart/Gardner). And now Diane is going to become a name partner after a month, when even I have not once bothered to type out the full name of the firm to include Barbara's in it. Ouch.
Remember how Adrian said there'd be no repercussions for Julius revealing that he voted for Trump? Yeah, Adrian is definitely not going to let Julius off the hook for voting for Trump.
Kresetva arranges for Henry to be released on bail so that he can eventually turn over the names of people involved with his scam (or so he says). So things are going well for him, relatively speaking. He doesn't seem to think anything is odd about this, and is very chill about his wife and his brother possibly getting up to shenanigans while he was incarcerated. Oh and Elsbeth thinks there's a good chance Kresteva will turn him against Maia, if he's not already using her.
Did I mention WHO CAAAAAARES? Kresetva is using the fake news story to go after Maia, and digging for connections between her and her father's business so that he can use her to go after the firm. And we're reminded that she stupidly met with her dad without informing her attorney, and got the "schtup list" for him. At least Rose Leslie's American accent is getting better, so she's not bad at everything?
Maia's mom is still shady as fuck, plus she's dressed for a quiet afternoon at home as if she's Bernadette Peters about to perform a concert at Carnegie Hall. Which, granted, is how I imagine Bernadette Peters always dresses, so: fair.
The irony of Adrian arguing fiercely that they should take the case because of all the business they can get from Chicago's booming TV production scene, on a Chicago-set show that shoots in New York, was not lost on this Location Cop.