'The Good Fight' Goes Meta in "Stoppable: Requiem for an Airdate"

Colin McGuire
Diane (Christine Baranski) is just one of the unstoppable forces in this week's episode.

The return on Elsbeth Tascioni marks the best The Good Fight episode yet, even if that means Maia might be getting played by her father.

The Good Fight

Airtime: Sundays
Cast: Christine Baranski, Rose Lesli, Cush Jumbo
Subtitle: Season 1, Episode 5 - "Stoppable: Requiem for an Airdate"
Network: CBS All Access
Air date: 2017-03-12
"When in trouble, hire Elsbeth."

-- Lucca, The Good Fight

There may be nothing clever or profound in the above quote, but damn if Lucca (Cush Jumbo) wasn't right in reciting the advice of Alicia (Julianna Margulies) regarding Elsbeth Tascioni (Carrie Preston). Perhaps the most beloved bit character to ever hit The Good Wife universe, our fingers were crossed when it came to the possibility of seeing the scatterbrained lawyer return to this setting, especially after it seemed like she wasn't given a proper goodbye on That Other Series.

Well, here's to crossing fingers, and here’s to meeting Mike Kresteva's (Matthew Perry) wife at Trader Joe's. The halfway point of The Good Fight's first (and hopefully not only; keep those fingers crossed) season, "Stoppable: Requiem for an Airdate" might just be the best this series has been thus far. All the checks are marked.

Self-referential? How's Lucca's friend working in the television industry on "one of those Chicago shows" work for you?

Ambiguous? How's Kresteva getting Henry (Paul Guilfoyle) out of jail on bail, thus putting into play the notion that maybe he sold his daughter Maia (Rose Leslie) out for freedom sound?

Sad? How about Kurt (Gary Cole) and Diane (Christine Baranski) reuniting, if only for a night, with Diane ultimately telling her estranged husband they can't live together, even though he so clearly wants to?

Feminist? How's Diane taking care of her own problems, devoid of her cheating man's help, rising up to become a name partner at our Law Firm Du Jour, feel?

Enough about all that. Let's dive into the week.

Taking the gold in the meta-Olympics, the client, Keith (Paulo Costanzo) wrote an episode of a television show based on allegations (Ryan Grim, Huffington Post, 2 November 2016) that Donald Trump raped a 13-year-old girl, which the network pulled because nobody actually thought that the guy would win the presidential election when the story was initially conceived. This plot so clearly resembles the furor over Law & Order: SVU's planned (and pulled) episode about a presidential candidate accused of sexual assault by several women -- from both episodes' titles (SVU: “Unstoppable”; The Good Fight: “Stoppable”) to Gary Cole as the assaulter-in-chief -- I was three-quarters expecting Mariska Hargitay to show up as a bailiff in this week's courtroom. Naturally, everyone at the network is afraid, and the hour of television must be banished forever.

Until the Internet intervenes, of course. Keith releases the full episode online, and now the network is suing the writer because that's what happens on "one of those Chicago shows". Adrian (Delroy Lindo), who sees this as an opportunity to get into entertainment law, teams up with Lucca and leaves it to a tweet from President Trump himself to save the day for the firm. Everything seems doomed until the Tweeter-In-Chief sends a derogatory message, thus allowing the episode in question to be protected under the First Amendment. This goes to show that whole directly-involved-with-the-government thing can really be a bitch these days.

In the meantime (and in between time), the firm hires Elsbeth (whom I’ve sorely missed) to investigate why Mike Kresteva is targeting it. Anyway, she stalks him at lunch before he makes somewhat of an ominous threat regarding coming after someone personally and professionally. In return, Elsbeth befriends Mike’s wife at a Trader Joe’s and when Mike returns home from work, there’s Elsbeth drinking wine with his wife! He threatens her again, this time as he walks her out, but she reveals that his initial threat was recorded on her cellphone, and game on, asshole.

Even so, his work thus far appears to be moving in the direction he fancies. Regarding "The Schtup List" from a couple weeks ago, Elsbeth asks Maia if there’s anyone on the list from the firm about which she knows. There isn't anyone, Maia responds, until Elsbeth states the obvious: by downloading the list and giving it to Henry, Maia's now implicated herself in the case. So, while there might not be a name on the list that provides any red flags for the law firm, Maia's involvement at this point might just be enough to open up the door for Kresteva to take everyone down.

The question now becomes this: if Kresteva takes the firm down, will he also be taking down Diane? Because if so? Man, that woman can't catch a break. That's because throughout all this, the pressure had been mounting for her to provide her capital contribution. Naturally, she doesn't have the money yet, but in a twist of good fortune, she runs into her old friend Neil Gross (John Benjamin Hickey), who has approximately $500 trillion and is looking for a new firm to which he can give his money. He's also looking for a firm that fights.

Gross signs on. The firm gets a mega payday. In turn, Diane wants the money from said mega payday to count as her capital contribution and she wants to be a name partner. Boom goes the dynamite.

Still, will all that money be for naught, if Kresteva is victorious in his crusade against this law firm? Only time will tell. In the meantime, though, we should just settle for being thankful that the arrival of Ms. Elsbeth "Trouble" Tascioni is here.

How Nice to Be Able to Talk in Metaphors

Clearly, The Good Fight people read PopMatters because it was only a handful of days ago that I listed Neil Gross as the most-missed The Good Wife character of the week. You're welcome, Chum Hum wiki page.

I'm still not sold on Lucca and Colin (Justin Bartha). I don't even know what it is at this point. Sure, it's kind of cute, but, kind of like Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) in The Good Wife, it feels like Lucca works best alone. Plus, that whole "I'm going to kiss you and then I'm going to save you" line fell about as flat out loud as it does when it's read online. Blah.

That said, when Colin notes, "I think we have a sarcasm problem here", it kind of makes me grin.

Along the same romantic lines, it's official: Diane and Kurt need to reunite for good. I wouldn't say this unless it felt as though Diane actually really wants that. This week, she makes him drink with her, she rewrites a speech of his, they spend a night together, and, most of all, he gives her a gun. Follow the heart, man. Forgiveness is imperative when it comes to the heart. Forgiveness is imperative.

All right. We get it, guys. You don’t have to force a "fuck you" into every episode now. Honestly.

How about that Tiananmen Square speech?

Don't even try to front like Cary (Matt Czuchry) wasn’t your friend, Lucca.

Boy, this series seems current. I get that The Good Wife always felt like it was trying to tackle up-to-the-minute social issues, but The Good Fight manages to up the ante on even its predecessor's work, with the Trump tweet really driving that point home this week. Do these guys even take days off? I don't know how you get that quick a turnaround in television production.

Maia’s dad is definitely playing her, right? Right.

The Most-Missed Good Wife Character of the Week: Without question, this is Alicia Florrick. Not once, not twice, but three times, she's referenced in this week's episode. Between Lucca's monologues on her lack of friends, to Alicia suggesting Elsbeth is always the attorney to hire, one has to wonder if we might get a life update on what she's up to (and, fingers crossed, maybe a visit?). After all, Lucca didn't say they weren't friends anymore.


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