TV

'The Good Fight' "Henceforth Known As Property" Seeks Truth in Analogies

It only looks like a casual lunch.

When it comes to discovering truth, The Good Fight knows which questions to ask without helping anyone else find the answers.


The Good Fight

Airtime: Sundays
Subtitle: Season 1, Episode 4, "Henceforth Known As Property"
Network: CBS All Access
Air Date: 2017-03-05
Amazon

“At a certain point, analogy fails us.”

That comes from Judge Timothy Stanek (Peter Gerety) as he addresses the debate that lies at the center of this week’s case. The firm is representing Laura Salano (Prema Cruz), who's hoping to reacquire her very own lady eggs. I say “reacquire”, because even though she sold them a while ago, the people who bought them have run out of time to use them. Or, at least so says the agreement that was drafted between the egg supplier and the egg receiver. She wants a child now, and she wants her eggs back.

That would be fine, if the clinic storing them didn’t rebrand itself and the eggs were sent to a Place o’ Higher Learning, if you will. Luckily for Laura, despite a college using 11 of her eggs for stem-cell research, the 12th egg was given to a doctor, and that 12th egg is now getting the call up to the majors. And to court, we go.

At stake is possession of the egg. Laura wants it back; the couple who now has it wants to take it to England and combine it with a separate embryo for an experimental technique that isn’t even legal in the States. The European slant is relevant because the couple actually paid a boatload of money for it and that’s a no-no when it comes to Britain’s lawmakers. In the end, Stanek rules that Laura deserves to get her egg back. She endures a terse “Fuck you” from the couple who hoped to flee the country with it.

Stanek uses the above quote to push back against an analogy that both sides of the argument use in the context of the egg case. Yet in some ways, his words apply to the rest of this first season’s fourth episode, “Henceforth Known As Property”. How so? Follow me.

Truth. What is it? Especially in today’s uber-charged, divisive, angry and combustible political world, the notion of what’s real and what’s not is at life’s forefront more so now than it’s been in, perhaps, forever. "Fake news" is as buzzy a phrase as anything in popular culture and when Maia (Rose Leslie) is the victim, this week, of an ex-boyfriend looking to get his revenge by spreading stories laced with alternative facts around the Internet, it hits harder now than it would, say, seven years ago when The Good Wife had its fun with all the scandals of one, Mr. Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) via the same platform.

Another focal point this week is the return of Mike Kresteva (a gloriously scummy Matthew Perry), who does all he can to sell a falsity to Diane (Christine Baranski), who rightfully has her doubts regarding, well, everything about him. These days, he’s with the Department of Justice, and his job is to lower the rate of police brutality cases in Cook County, Illinois. He goes poking around the law firm because he says he wants advice on how to do fight the good fight.

After a morning of lies told not only to Diane, but also Adrian Boseman (Delroy Lindo) and others, he subpoenas them all to testify in front of a grand jury. In front of said grand jury, Kresteva goes for the jugular by putting Diane on the receiving end of outright bizarre and hard-to-watch falsehoods (at one point, he claims Diane said that “the people of Cook County hate African-Americans and treat black lives carelessly,” and man, it leaves a mark). As it goes, his attempt to lower police brutality cases isn’t necessarily to fix the rate of actual police brutality; instead, he wants to take down the law firm taking on the most police brutality cases in Cook County. Even worse is the fact that the grand jury appears to be siding/believing everything coming out of Chandler's, er, Mike’s mouth.

All of these developments are predicated on precisely how effective and how apropos reality is. Through all seven seasons of The Good Wife -- and now at least four episodes of The Good Fight -- the lines that blur themselves as facts surface become more and more imperative to try and decipher. Not just for the sake of a character, but also for the sake of a narrative. In a storytelling sense, it’s a fantastic tool to help create both intrigue and reflection. In a real life sense, however, those blurred lines make for a complicated and messy existence. How can one achieve truth if the definition of it can’t even adhere to either consistency or its own base meaning?

Perhaps this is where analogy failing us comes into play. At its core, analogy exposes a singular viewpoint by attempting to correlate said singular viewpoint with a presumptive similar viewpoint. But what if one viewpoint -0 either the originator of the analogy, or the second idiom involved in said equation 0- is rooted in mistruth. Such would ensure that the proposed likeness would not just be flawed, but also incorrect, sometimes in ways that perpetuate toxicity within logic. This leads to the notion that a logic is proven not with actual truth, but rather, with accepted truth.

Or, in other words, if proof of reality doesn’t pass as proof of reality in a universal sense, what value does traditionally accepted truth have? The answer, as The Good Fight suggests this week, is little to none.

Yet that’s what makes this series so irresistible from a consumer’s standpoint. More often than not, we don’t get clear-cut conclusions in our inevitably unending pursuit of truth. Try as we may, be it through analogy or alternative facts or outright lies, we will forever be flawed in resolution as long as we depend on other entities to define resolution. Maia wasn’t going to get it from her ex-boyfriend because his version of resolution involved harming her. Diane wasn’t going to get it from Mike Kresteva because his version of resolution was self-involved, a ploy to help him further his professional career.

And in this week’s case, Judge Stanek was enormously apprehensive to even attempt a shot at resolution, knowing the power of life was in his hands, knowing that his definition of perception would profoundly affect the lives of others.

It all adds up to the notion that even when analogy fails us, our hope is that truth can bail us out. Sometimes it does; other times, it can’t. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether the fight is good or the fight is bad.

How Nice to Be Able to Talk in Metaphors

Shout out to Diane for using Chum Hum! Boy, who else is wondering what Neil Gross (John Benjamin Hickey) is up to these days?

Here’s a true surprise to me: it’s looking like Diane might just be thinking about heading back to Kurt (Gary Cole). She nearly called him this week -- and this was after gushing over how much she’d like to see what type of father he would be! Combine that with the preview for next week, which has him in it, and … yeah. Really wasn’t expecting that. Weirdly, I kind of hope those young kids can work it out. She deserves happiness.

Man, Matthew Perry is so good in that role.

Now, Kresteva has a war room filled with people who have a sole purpose of taking this law firm down. Seems a bit much, does it not? Why, all of a sudden (unless if he’s just an unabashed explicit racist, I guess), would he make this is life’s passion, even when his boss tells him to essentially settle down? I understand that he’s supposed to be a bad guy, but is anyone really that bad of a guy? I’m hoping there’s more to this story.

“Sex is transient, but a Boston Shake… .” Oh, you dog, Colin Morello (Justin Bartha). You dog.

It’s interesting to note that the scandal revolving around the Rindell family was hardly even mentioned this week. Yes, we saw Maia go through all her fake news drama, but there was no uncle, mom or dad action. Nor was there even a follow up to the relevance of The Schtup List from last week. We have to think that will reassert itself next week, right? I mean, episode five will mark the midway point.

Keep the judges coming, guys.

I’m not sure about you, but I’m still digging the Marissa (Sarah Steele)/Maia relationship. There’s something pure about it.

Has anyone else noticed this? Episode one was called "Inauguration". Episode two was called "First Week". No. three was "The Schtup List". And this week? “Henceforth Known As Property”. The Kings used the same type of arc with episode names for The Good Wife. You can't tell me I'm the only one to notice this.Here's hoping for a five-word episode name next week.

The Most-Missed Good Wife Character of the Week: Seeing the Chum Hum search engine pop up on Diane’s computer is enough for me. Still, Neil Gross needs to find a way into this universe someway, somehow.

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In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

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The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Nonetheless, there are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. There are singers tackling deep, universal matters of the heart and mind. Artists continuing to mess around with a genre that can sometimes seem fixed, but never really is. Musicians and singers have been experimenting within the genre forever, and continue to. As Charlie Worsham sings, "let's try something new / for old time's sake." - Dave Heaton

10. Lillie Mae – Forever and Then Some (Third Man)

The first two songs on Lillie Mae's debut album are titled "Over the Hill and Through the Woods" and "Honky Tonks and Taverns". The music splits the difference between those settings, or rather bears the marks of both. Growing up in a musical family, playing fiddle in a sibling bluegrass act that once had a country radio hit, Lillie Mae roots her songs in musical traditions without relying on them as a gimmick or costume. The music feels both in touch with the past and very current. Her voice and perspective shine, carrying a singular sort of deep melancholy. This is sad, beautiful music that captures the points of view of people carrying weighty burdens and trying to find home. - Dave Heaton



9. Sunny Sweeney – Trophy (Aunt Daddy)

Sunny Sweeney is on her fourth album; each one has felt like it didn't get the attention it deserved. She's a careful singer and has a capacity for combining humor and likability with old-fashioned portrayal of deep sadness. Beginning in a bar and ending at a cemetery, Trophy projects deep sorrow more thoroughly than her past releases, as good as they were. In between, there are pills, bad ideas, heartbreak, and a clever, true-tearjerker ballad voicing a woman's longing to have children. -- Dave Heaton



8. Kip Moore – Slowheart (MCA Nashville)

The bro-country label never sat easy with Kip Moore. The man who gave us "Somethin' 'Bout a Truck" has spent the last few years trying to distance himself from the beer and tailgate crowd. Mission accomplished on the outstanding Slowheart, an album stuffed with perfectly produced hooks packaged in smoldering, synthy Risky Business guitars and a rugged vocal rasp that sheds most of the drawl from his delivery. Moore sounds determined to help redefine contemporary country music with hard nods toward both classic rock history and contemporary pop flavors. With its swirling guitar textures, meticulously catchy songcraft, and Moore's career-best performances (see the spare album-closing "Guitar Man"), Slowheart raises the bar for every would-be bro out there. -- Steve Leftridge



7. Chris Stapleton – From a Room: Volume 1 (Mercury Nashville)

If Chris Stapleton didn't really exist, we would have to invent him—a burly country singer with hair down to his nipples and a chainsaw of a soul-slinging voice who writes terrific throwback outlaw-indebted country songs and who wholesale rejects modern country trends. Stapleton's recent rise to festival headliner status is one of the biggest country music surprises in recent years, but his fans were relieved this year that his success didn't find him straying from his traditional wheelhouse. The first installment of From a Room once again finds Stapleton singing the hell out of his sturdy original songs. A Willie Nelson cover is not unwelcome either, as he unearths a semi-obscure one. The rest is made up of first-rate tales of commonality: Whether he's singing about hard-hurtin' breakups or resorting to smoking them stems, we've all been there. -- Steve Leftridge



6. Carly Pearce – Every Little Thing (Big Machine)

Many of the exciting young emerging artists in country music these days are women, yet the industry on the whole is still unwelcoming and unforgiving towards them. Look at who's getting the most radio play, for one. Carly Pearce had a radio hit with "Every Little Thing", a heartbreaking ballad about moments in time that in its pace itself tries to stop time. Every Little Thing the album is the sort of debut that deserves full attention. From start to finish it's a thoroughly riveting, rewarding work by a singer with presence and personality. There's a lot of humor, lust, blues, betrayal, beauty and sentimentality, in proper proportions. One of the best songs is a call for a lover to make her "feel something", even if it's anger or hatred. Indeed, the album doesn't shy away from a variety of emotions. Even when she treads into common tropes of mainstream country love songs, there's room for revelations and surprises. – Dave Heaton

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


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