The Good Fight
Season 1, Episode 9 - "Self-Condemned"
Christine Baranski, Rose Leslie, Cush Jumbo
Regular airtime: Sundays
(CBS All Access)
US: 9 Apr 2017
“Life has a way of reminding you of who you are.”—Diane Lockhart
Try as she may, Diane’s life has constantly reminded her of, among other things, that she’s a lawyer, she has a career-oriented mind, and she’s a forgiving soul, no matter how hard she tries to claim otherwise. We are who we are, despite how often we blur the edges, despite how badly we wish we could change. It’s not a bad thing. It’s not a good thing. It’s a life thing.
This concept is at the core of The Good Fight‘s ninth episode, “Self-Condemned”. It’s an episode that features the return of Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker), who’s reminded, time and again, of his unfortunate life practices. Or Maia (Rose Leslie), who only now realizes that she might have more of her mother and father in her than she’d prefer, this week’s Ponzi scheme revelations fully in mind. It’s a narrative that exposes Officer Andrew Throeau (Scott Aiello) exposed as the unjust civilian-beating corrupt cop that he is.
They are who they are, and life offers no apologies for providing the memories of as much.
But let’s back up for a second. This week, we are introduced to Madeline Starkey (Jane Lynch), a predictably wacky FBI agent who’s looking into the Henry’s Ponzi scheme. She invites Maia into her office, along with Maia’s lawyer, Lucca (Cush Jumbo), for, as she explains, a “queen for a day” day, where Maia can spill her guts knowing that nothing she says can be used against her in a court of law. It’s called a “proffer”, as is explained about 30,726 times throughout the episode.
The scenario serves as the axis on which the narrative runs. Madeline prods Maia for information while insisting that all she cares about is honesty. To ensure honesty, the investigator goes through a series of events about which she knows the truth, asking Maia to confirm said occurrences. Maia responds to the best of her ability, only to find out that Madeline lied to her in the first place to see if Maia is, indeed, being honest. This goes in a circle, repeating itself until Lucca—along with me as a viewer, on some level at least—quickly becomes fed up with the games and snarls “Get to the point!”-esque barbs at Madeline.
It’s interesting because it forces Maia to internally dissect her memories in ways that are so revealing, they fill in a host of holes that had previously been left open to interpretation. Among those holes: how long Jax (Tom McGowan) and Lenore (Bernadette Peters) have been having an affair (forever), how much Maia actually knew about her parents’ Ponzi scheme plans prior to her father’s arrest (a lot), and how her relationship with her girlfriend, Amy (Heléne Yorke), came to be (a make-out session at a birthday party).
Turns out, that middle thing is probably more important than Maia wishes it was because as she jogs her memory, she realizes that she once advised Amy’s family to stay away from investing in her parents’ fund because she knew it wasn’t safe. Another explosive revelation: whether or not she remembered (or wanted to remember) all this time, she was in the know about what was going on far before the cops showed up at her parents’ house. Because of this revelation (for either us as viewers, Maia as a forgetful mind, or both), Madeline says Maia is a liar and she’s going to recommend prosecution for Maia in lieu of said lying.
Speaking of lying, Colin Sweeney, the poster child for dishonesty, hires Reddick, Boseman, and Kolstad because a police officer beat him up; after all, this is a law firm that has a thing or two to say about a thing or two regarding police beating people up. Diane, speaking for what has to be the entire The Good Fight universe, lets out an exasperated, “Oh, dear God” upon seeing Sweeney on the other side of jail bars, bruised face and squirmy smile in tow.
Conveniently (and I say that under the best lights possible), the police officer that beat Colin up is also the police officer that the law firm tried to take down during the series premiere and, it should be noted, spawned the first case that Diane and Adrian (Delroy Lindo) worked on together. What this means is that even though the firm couldn’t take this guy down the first time, they’ll now have to, ironically, rely on the help of Sweeney to bring justice to the creep once and for all.
The best part is that it works. By the end of the episode, Andrew is removed from the force and Sweeney is asked by Diane to help testify in a suit the firm must be thinking about bringing against Cook County. Sweeney, in his obsequious way, notes that he’ll not help because he’s in the running for an ambassadorship to the Vatican and he doesn’t want to deal with anything that may compromise his chances. It’s a perfect response.
Still, and with only one episode left, one wonders how this season ends. To my knowledge, a second season was only guaranteed after the first half of this season ended. What’s that mean? Well, the guess is that everyone involved in writing the series wrote the end of the first season with a finalé in mind. And if that’s the case, how the hell did this thing wrap up neatly next week? Does Maia go to jail? Does Diane somehow get her money back to go live in her dream home? Or—and especially after that throwaway comment about Diane and Adrian grabbing dinner sometime—does Diane head out to start yet another practice with only Adrian as a partner? Please deliver us from that, writers; The Good Wife played enough of that carousel game to satisfy five different television series in its time.
If life has a way of reminding us who we are, then Diane, of all people, should know that the love of her life isn’t a person, it’s her career. Actually, more accurately, it’s the law. Much like the truest romances, life does all it can to keep those most prescient memories at the top of the brain, no matter how many obstacles might stand in their way, no matter how many times clouds do their best to blur the facts.
How Nice to Be Able to Talk in Metaphors
You know what I would like to see? Let’s say that all The Good Fight set out to accomplish in its first season—because, as I said, it’s hard to think they wrote the finalé after discovering they would have a second season to play with—was condemning excessive police brutality, which has become a very serious problem in and of itself throughout the United States. With this episode, one can most likely assume that the “good fight” for this season has been won by the good guys. They were able to get the bad cop off the force. If that’s the case, it’d be interesting to see season two centered around an entirely different issue: immigration enforcement reform or big banks. For the four of us who watched BrainDead last summer, this was reportedly supposed to be its structure: each season tackled a different issue. Why not do that with The Good Fight?
I loved the birds-always-flying-into-the-window gag they got so much mileage out of. So many metaphors involved in that.
“The mind has an odd way of turning wishful thinking into actual memories.” Madeline Starkey has to be back someday, right?
Luke Kirby, who appears in this episode, which gives me a good reason to recommend Take This Waltz. Sarah Polley is a top-five movie director for me.
“The white billionaire wife-killer. Allegedly.” Next to Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston), Colin Sweeney is easily my favorite The Good Wife bit character transplant thus far. So many of these actors are goldmines.
This was the first time we really see Jay (Nyambi Nyambi) work without Marissa (Sarah Steele), which I found interesting. I want to know more about that character, beyond his role as “guy helping Marissa become an investigator”.
I’ll say it again: the way Madeline approached Maia quickly grew irritating. Still, there’s a lot they could do with that character, and Lynch could carry it off well.
The Most-Missed Good Wife Character of the Week: Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry). With Colin (Justin Bartha) out of the mix, who’s to say we don’t end the first season with a return to the potential romance between Cary and Lucca?