TV

"The Schtup List" Is Full of Surprises and Suspense for 'The Good Fight'

Colin McGuire
Is US attorney Colin Morello (Justin Bartha) the new Will Gardner?

What we thought we knew? Perhaps we shouldn't have been so sure. Plus, terrorism and political donors in the Age of Trump.


The Good Fight

Airtime: Sundays
Cast: Christine Baranski, Cush Jumbo, Rose Leslie
Subtitle: Season 1, Episode 3 - "The Schtup List"
Network: CBS All Access
Air date: 2016-02-26
Amazon
"I don’t know."

-- Henry Rindell

We'll work backward this week as the final words of Henry Rindell (Paul Guilfoyle) echo into the air. Maia (Rose Leslie) wants to know if what he's suggesting/plotting/asking will hurt her mother, Lenore (Bernadette Peters), who may or may not be (she totally is) cheating on her husband with Jax (Tom McGowan), her husband’s brother. Maia is asking Henry this as she visits him in jail, just as the episode if winding down. Henry's aforementioned response is classic The Good Wife before -- surprise! -- the screen cuts to black.

There’s a lot happening in "The Schtup List", so we'll try to be as concise as possible. Instead of Maia being in court, this week we find Diane (Christine Baranski) and Lucca (Cush Jumbo) teaming up for the first time on a case involving a doctor, Randolph Picot (Zachary Knighton), who’s using Skype to coach a foreign doctor, located in Syria, through surgery. Picot is subsequently arrested for abetting a terrorist by ostensibly fake-operating on him, even though he's a billion miles away.

All seems well when Picot is released on bond, at least until the dude instantly picks up his laptop to try and help the Syrian doctor again! Like, really, man? You didn't learn your lesson the first time? Anyway, he's promptly arrested for the second time, and back to court we go. After claiming the patient only has four hours to live, the case gets a kick in the ass, and now we’re in the middle of a tick-tock thriller.

Oh, wait. It should also be noted that arguing against our dynamic duo is Colin Morrello (Justin Bartha), a hotshot assistant US attorney who, because of his clear flirtations with Lucca and an undeniable resemblance to Josh Charles (yeah, I said it, and yeah, we miss you, Will Gardner), will most likely be around for a good while. Not saying, but I'm just saying.

Anyway (again), Picot is ultimately absolved of blame/crime because someone could die, and that means in this case, his work is decriminalized, leaving Morrello to take it on the chin. But wait! In true The Good Wife fashion, we come to find that nobody wins because both sides of the case were being played by the US government, who bombs the medical facility soon after the patient's life is saved. Why? Because the patient was the brother of an actual terrorist, and the government knew if it could stall the case, said terrorist brother might just come to visit the dying patient. It turns out, the government was right, because Terrorist Brother did come, and boom went the dynamite.

Literally.

Speaking of dynamite, we still have the story at the focus of the series: Maia's father possibly (read: probably) being set up by her mother and uncle as the one blamed for a Ponzi scheme that swindled millions from unsuspecting victims. The episode title ("The Schtup List") refers to a file on Jax's computer that Henry believes would help prove his innocence. Maia is then tasked with somehow logging onto Jax's computer to download and/or take a picture of the list.

Naturally, this works itself out when Maia and Marissa (Sarah Steele) come up with a plan that involves Marissa fake-calling Jax on behalf of Diane and distracting him enough to leave Maia alone with his computer (although not without a fantastic delivery of the phrase "fuck you" from Maia to her uncle). The scene plays wonderfully, a mildly perfect blend of suspense that does all the heavy lifting in terms of drama. Can Marissa keep Jax on the phone long enough? Can Maia find the needed files? It's all cliche, but -- and especially knowing how happy endings and good results don't always play themselves out in the Kings' series -- it works with aplomb.

All of this leads us right back to where we started: Maia delivering the goods to her father in prison -- this time, devoid of attorneys -- and her father admitting that the information just may throw some blame on her mother in addition to the blame that's proposed to be bestowed upon his brother. He doesn't know the repercussions this information may bring, but it's clear he's had enough of this prison thing.

What does it all mean? Well, it’s tough. "First Week" suggested so many things in such an assured way. "The Schtup List", at the very least, allows doubt to creep into the mind while considering where we may or may not be headed. Could Jax really not be sleeping with Lenore? Could Lenore really be using her husband's brother to help vindicate her husband? Could said husband really be as guilty as the authorities think he is? Are things really not as cut-and-dry as some of us previously thought?

I don't know. Then again, something tells me Robert and Michelle King -- along with co-creator Phil Alden Robinson -- wouldn't have it any other way.

How Nice to Be Able to Talk in Metaphors

Come on, people. In the right light, Colin Morrello totally looks like Will Gardner. In fact, when I first saw trailers for the episode, I began wondering how they were going to manage to work Will back into a storyline, considering how he's, you know, dead and everything. I'm telling you: if you don't think this was done on purpose, you ain't paying attention.

Of course Julius (Michael Boatman) voted for Donald Trump. Of course.

Along those same lines, a lot has been made of the audibles The Good Fight had to make in light of Trump winning the presidency, and I'd give a finger to be a fly on the wall when the writers discussed how to approach what they gave us this week. The firm is in mega financial trouble. They need to pander to rich white men in order to save the day. They figure out how to do as much. Said day is saved. That seems like a lot of work to accomplish in the context of a television script in only -- what? -- three months since the election? Kudos for thinking on their toes.

I like Lucca and Diane together in court. Yeah. I said it, even though I'm not so sure I can get on board with Lucca and Colin, although the "oh-my-god, the-law-is-just-something-I-stumbled-into-shit-eating-grin" line was great.

"Here's the problem with power: you gotta take it from somebody to give it to somebody else." They really are giving Adrian Boseman (Delroy Lindo) a lot of good lines thus far. I'm falling in love with that character more each week.

Who else is digging the relationship between Marissa and the firm's investigator? Also worth noting: it's so nice to throw an investigator character into the fold! I've been waiting for this for three episodes. Those figures always seem to be interesting ones in the The Good Fight/Wife-world.

The whole "Kanye voted for Trump" thing wasn't nearly as funny as they wanted it to be.

The Most-Missed The Good Wife Character of the Week: I'm going with Cary (Matt Czuchry) because as far as I'm concerned, Cary and Lucca were meant to be together. Seeing her with another dude makes me sad.

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