Who's At The Top Of 'The Schtup List' In The Good Fight's Third Episode?
Ranking the players as the show settles into itself.
If I sounded lukewarm about The Good Fight last week, it was only because I was skeptical about CBS All Access (which we'll get back to), and because its spin-off-ness really took the "new" out of "New Show Fact Sheet." But to be clear, I loved The Good Wife and I'm very happy to see it continuing here. Now that we're past the initial setup, Fight is shaping up to be every bit the ensemble drama its parent was, which means, no, it's not The Christine Baranski Show (unfortunately), but it's also not The Maia Rindell Ponzi Scheme Show (very fortunately).
Diane and Maia do both have significant arcs this week, but neither feels like the main event, and they're usefully connected by Marissa. We also meet two new characters, adding to the ensemble feel, and learn more about Julius in two scenes than we did in seven seasons of TGW.
Mostly, though, the episode belongs to Lucca, and I'm not mad about it. Let's rank our participants, shall we?
Lucca gets assigned to Diane as second chair against both of their wills because she's good in federal court and knows the AUSA they're going up against (it's not clear why Diane wouldn't know him too, but whatever). They disagree but of course Lucca kills it. She also mean-flirts with said AUSA and obviously they're going to wind up in bed together before the season is out, and the rom-com trope of "they hate each other, just kidding!" is so, so tired, but Lucca totally makes it work because she's so damn smart. It's not "I hate you but I really actually love you because you're so handsome please love me," it's "You're a dick but you're cute so I guess you'll do but I'm never going to let you forget that I'm better than you the whole time we're doing it." But somehow it doesn't seem smug? (Ahem, Kalinda...)
Lucca's prints are the new Alicia's jackets and I am here for it.
We meet Reddick/Boseman's investigator this week, and he's not too happy that Marissa stepped on his toes by doing her own investigating in the last episode. He protects his turf but he's so charming doing it that even correcting Marissa's grammar comes off as helpful advice. Marissa makes a point of coming to him later when she needs help, and then he asks her to return the favor when a client's mother won't talk to him because he's black. More of these two please!
Judge Suzanne Morris
The great Jane Alexander returns to her Good Wife role as a no-nonsense federal judge. As fun as the quirky judges can be (in my opinion), it's also nice to balance that with some who are totally straightforward and decent in how they interpret the law. The case involves a heart surgeon in Chicago who guides a dentist in Syria over Skype. He's accused of aiding a terrorist, but of course it's not that simple. First there's the question of whether he knew the patient was a terrorist -- or if he even is. Then it turns out the patient is a U.S. citizen, and he was in Syria to try to bring his brother -- who is a terrorist -- home. Is that aiding a terrorist? According to the Supreme Court, yes, whether Judge Morris likes it or not. But when the brother shows up and threatens to kill everyone if they don't continue treatment, the "balance of hardships" shifts, and Judge Morris rules that Dr. Pekoe may continue consulting in order to save more lives. It's complicated and moral and genuinely interesting. We're clearly meant to side with Diane, Lucca, and the doctor (and it seems the judge mostly does too), but the other side gets a solid airing.
This little shit is the new "top AUSA," and he's Diane and Lucca's rival in the case of the week. He's very good, if a bit slippery (he shifts from charging the doctor to charging the patient to charging the brother), very cocky, and a series regular so he's obviously going to wind up in bed with Lucca. He drops the case when it becomes clear that it's the morally right thing to do, and honors his bet with her to buy her a drink if he loses, dropping his smarm a bit, so he may turn out to be a nice guy underneath it all. We've seen versions of this character many times on TGW. I'm curious to see where this one goes, especially with Lucca as his foil instead of Alicia.
Robert continues to embody the dream boss. He's a perfect leader: practical, loyal, blunt, friendly -- but firm when needed. Delroy Lindo is such a warm presence onscreen, and you can see how he built this firm and makes it run. But there's real depth there too. After meeting with the clients they're in danger of losing and learning that it's because of "the new administration," the look on his face says everything. "I'm here and I'm still dealing with this shit?"
Is Marissa actually good at her job? Is she adorable or annoying? I've wondered this about her since she first appeared on TGW. I find Sarah Steele delightful always, which helps her lean towards adorable, but I also think we're not quite meant to know. She definitely seems to not fit in at this high-end law firm, but she also gets the job done. This week the "job" includes calling Maia's Uncle Jax to distract him while Maia breaks into his computer, and she manages to keep him on the phone with escalating preposterousness.
Diane's adjustment period and bad luck continue. First, a large retainer owed to the firm may mean the equity partners owe money we know she doesn't have. Then she gets assigned Lucca as her second chair in court and has to grapple with the fact that she's at the bottom of the totem pole (well, of equity partners) and has to take orders from Barbara. She gets through it, of course, gaining a new respect for Lucca along the way. Which is nice, but frankly not all that interesting.
Pekoe is Diane's client in a pending malpractice case, and he calls her when he's grabbed for this terrorist thing. He seems like a good guy, what with the saving lives and all. He doesn't care that his patient may be in ISIS, just that he's human and dying, and he returns for a post-op consult even though doing so means he'll be brought in again for sure. This seems like the kind of character who might recur the next time they need a medical consult or because he's done something else that's ethically correct but legally ambiguous.
We pick up right where we left off last week, with Maia having discovered her mother and her uncle post flagrante delicto and taking full advantage of CBS All Access's lack of a language filter. She visits her dad -- with both of their lawyers -- to tell him of her suspicions (that Jax and Bernadette Peters have set him up), and he tells her to check Jax's computer. She does so, with Marissa's help, finding a list of names that will supposedly help Henry. Which is all great, but when does she get to be a lawyer?
I liked Erica Tazel so much on Justified, so I'm excited for her to get the chance to do more here. Unfortunately, so far, doing more consists of providing exposition about the firm's finances and being mean to Diane and a counter to Robert. I'll take it for now, but let's hope we get to see her kick ass in court soon.
Reddick/Boseman risks losing a large client to a smaller firm run by an older African-American man who ran a Trump PAC. The client wants to cozy up to the new administration but still get the tax credits that come with hiring a minority-owned business. So Robert needs a partner who voted for Trump to pitch their business. Julius steps up. Well, he slinks up, claiming conservative politics over whatever other issues may have been at play, and insisting that his vote doesn't define him. Robert and Barbara promise him there will be no repercussions, and he wins the client back, but word gets out and he sees people giving him looks and whispering. The owner of the other firm, Andrew Hart, pays him a visit and warns that he's "in for a very lonely life." He leaves his card.
Well, he's in jail and his wife is fucking his brother, so things aren't going so great for him. But he does manage to read between the lines when Maia starts talking about Jax and Berandette Peters (not that she's that subtle) and cuts the conversation off, whispering instructions to her while hugging her goodbye. Of course, the lawyers were there in part so that their conversation would be protected by privilege, so I don't really understand why it wouldn't have been better to do that in front of them.
I'm sure her character has a name and I could look it up but I'm pretty sure I'm just going to keep calling her Bernadette Peters. She tells Maia she's fucking Jax to convince him to come clean (phrasing) and help Henry, which seems dubious at best. But if anyone has a way with a pout and a pleading eye it's Bernadette Peters (the actor), so she almost makes this believable.
First of all, what kind of name is Jax for a man of his age? Second of all, he's gross. Third of all, the incriminating file on his computer is titled "Schtup List." Subtle, dude. Sure, it's password-protected, but the guy you're schtupping over (and who's wife you're literally schtupping) knows your password, so...
No one looks good in the Trump storyline. And then it turns out the delays in the trial were a ploy (unbeknownst to Colin) to lure the brother to the hospital so that he could be killed...along with the innocent brother, the doctors, and whoever else happened to be in the way.
CBS All Access
I wasn't going to rag on the network again but on top of the numbers for Episode 2 being terrible, I was surprised to see so many people on our own forums outright angry at being asked to pay for this, or, arguably worse, who watched the pilot on Regular-Ass CBS without realizing they wouldn't be able to watch any more that way. My personal issue isn't the money (though I do acknowledge these things add up), it's having to get a whole other app for just one show. And lest this sound too get-off-my-lawn-ish, this is purely anecdotal, but my impression from talking to friends is that All Access isn't already popular with cord cutters, both because CBS's content skews older and because they've done a rotten job of marketing it (one young coworker is a huge Survivor fan and didn't know until I told her that she could stream live TV on the app). They made it hard to watch The Good Wife without cable (if you didn't have a signal or weren't home to watch live), and now they're making it hard for people who did to watch The Good Fight. I want everyone to make money and I think experimenting with new models is great. But I can't help harping on this because I love this show and if it dies because this fails, I'll be really mad.
That said, I watched this week's episode on my iPad, and I have to say this is one of the better network apps I've tried (we got press screeners last week so this was my first full experience with it). The website is a bit of a mess, and that's what I'd based my comments on last week -- including I guess a glitch that only turned up three shows under "Classics." There's actually a ton of old stuff there, including things that didn't air on CBS (I guess they're from their studio; that's always confusing), so I don't know, maybe it's worth a look?
The Chrysler Building
The crown jewel of New York's skyline was digitally painted out of last week's episode after I complained about it being in the press screeners, and all of this week's location shooting is appropriately ground-level and landmark-free. Good for fake Chicago, bad for nerdrage!