Television

'The Good Fight' Offers Unexpected Portrayals of Difficult Topics in "Reddick v. Boseman"

Colin McGuire
Adrian (Delroy Lindo) isn't pleased with this week’s events.

A pastor, sexual abuse claims, a slimy lawyer and a botched suicide all paint a glorious picture as this first season winds down.


The Good Fight

Airtime: Sundays
Cast: Christine Baranski, Rose Leslie, Cush Jumbo
Subtitle: Season 1, Episode 8 - "Reddick v Boseman"
Network: CBS All Access
Air date: 2017-04-02
Amazon

"There but for the grace of god … "

One of the most intriguing things about The Good Wife was how curiously and fearlessly it tackled religion. With "Reddick v Boseman", the eighth episode of The Good Fight's first season manages to equal its predecessor with a story that focuses most on our own predispositions regarding stereotypical faith-based, headline-making tropes. It elucidates how cynical we’ve become, and how eager are we to judge those who judge for a living.

It's Diane (Christine Baranski) who utters the above quote before walking into the office of Gabriel Kovac (a deliciously slimy Fisher Stevens), who's representing Paul Johnson (Chris Myers). We get to Paul because Pastor Jeremiah Easton (Frankie Faison) came to Reddick, Boseman, and Kolstad in need of a favor. That favor? Evict a tenant from a halfway house Jeremiah helps run.

The problem is the fact that Paul says he’s been sexually abused by Jeremiah, and he's looking to take the claims, via the aforementioned slimy lawyer, to court. It's obvious that merely taking a case like this to court would undoubtedly ruin Jeremiah’s career and life forever, regardless of either verdict or truth, if only because of how predisposed the world is to believing sexual abuse claims against men of the cloth. Especially considering how The Good Fight loves to play in the cynical sandbox of life, I eagerly waited for the claims against Jeremiah to be proven correct.

I'm still waiting.

That's because proof never comes and we ultimately find out that slimy lawyer guy has a history of working for something called First Charter Choice, which is associated with the alt-right. This means a conflict of interest is fully in hand, considering how Reddick, Boseman and Kolstad is a predominantly African-American firm and the guy he's going after, Jeremiah, is an African-American pastor. Untoward intentions. Ulterior motives. Shitbag opportunist. You could pick any of those and you wouldn't be wrong. Publicly defaming a prominent leader in the city's African-American church community is like catnip for those people, and to think the alt-right is above such nonsense is both dangerous and irresponsible.

Apparently, however, Kovac's action is an offense worth of disbarment, and when Diane and company explain this to both Paul and his lawyer, they scurry home. Do we ever get a definitive answer on if Jeremiah sexually abused Paul? We don't. Then again, it's hard to believe The Good Fight would have it any other way. Such judging isn't something this series has ever been interested in doing for us. Instead, it loves to inspire our internal dialogue regarding our moral compass, our own ability to believe, our ability to trust, and our ability to forgive.

God bless it for that.

The more lasting effect of this week’s story, however, comes from how Jeremiah initially ended up at the law firm. When approached with this case, it’s clear that Adrian (Delroy Lindo) has his reservations about Reddick, Boseman, and Kolstad taking it on. The "Reddick" in that namesake, to this point, has yet to be established: think back to the days when it was Stern, Lockhart & Gardner on The Good Wife and Jonas Stern (Kevin Conway) showed up out of nowhere. No more, says Carl Reddick (Louis Gossett Jr.), who comes to retake ownership of the firm. To do this, he wants to vote on removing Adrian from the equation. Disaster is averted when, at the end of the episode, Barbara (Erica Tazel), who'd initially abstained from the vote, throws her support behind Adrian to deadlock the decision. The episode ends with the pair drinking wine, not unlike the way we used to see Diane and Will (Josh Charles) interact back when the latter was still alive.

While all this is going on, Maia (Rose Leslie) is approached by her father, Henry (Paul Guilfoyle), while leaving work with Diane and Jay (Nyambi Nyambi). He wants to talk to her. She won't have it. This ultimately leads to Henry writing a note, dressing up, and heading to the barn with a hose to try and kill himself. Ironically, as he attempts to reach his makeshift noose, he falls a few floors, botching the suicide attempt. Maia rushes to her father's house to try and stop him from harming himself, only to find him on the floor; in pain, but not dead.

From there, her mother, Lenore (Bernadette Peters), shows up at the hospital when hears her husband just tried to kill himself. Tastelessly, she brings Jax (Tom McGowan), Henry’s brother and her lover, with her. Still, in the suicide note Henry left, he apologized for not loving her the way she deserved, and it's this -- not the humongous Ponzi Scheme scandal in which the family is current embroiled -- that's is enough to for her to dump Jax once and for all.

Or, at least, so it seems. For now.

Either way, with a divided law firm, a family matriarch on suicide watch, an extramarital affair, a scumbag lawyer out to make a quick buck, a broke Diane Lockhart, and a pastor accused of sexually assaulting a teenager. There’s only one thing left that perfectly sums these characters up: there but for the grace of God go they.

How Nice to Be Able to Talk in Metaphors

Colin (Justin Bartha) and Lucca (Cush Jumbo) aren't done forever, right? Perhaps the series is setting up a Will/Alicia dynamic for the future. One where he feels slighted that she broke up with him and uses it to go after her professionally in some capacity. Either way, the interaction between Lucca and Colin’s family went from "this is exactly how this goes in real life", to "this is getting uncomfortable awfully quickly".

"Colin's 32 years old. Like Jesus. One year away from death." Personally, being a Colin myself, who's about to turn 33 in two weeks, the line reads a little more creepy than intended. Is The Good Fight trying to tell me something? Should I be worried?

Don't get me wrong. I’m happy for Marissa (Sarah Steele). I've always thought that she’s a fine-enough character, and she lends a certain amount of humor to the proceedings that I often find endearing. That being said, I don't know what the hell to make of what they’re doing with that character. I almost prefer her to be the wise-ass sidekick I-know-more-than-everyone-around-me person we’ve all grown to love through the years. Seeing her take a more serious turn as an investigator kind of makes that quality less affable in a way I can’t explain. How many times are we going to be forced to see everyone say: "Wow, you unexpectedly saved the day!" before the novelty wears off?

Here's a thought: Henry actually meant to stage exactly what happened to gain Maia's sympathy, and because she helped the scene look as though he didn't try to kill himself before paramedics could get to his house, she's now implicated herself in aiding and abetting a criminal. I think the way that went down could definitely come back to haunt her somewhere down the line.

Carl’s wise words: “That’s the problem with the world today: you think the fights are different, but you’re wrong. They’re exactly the same.”

Can we eventually get some more Gabriel Kovac, please? I can't recall another television series, outside of The Good Wife, that so accurately portrays sleazebags of various stripes.

The Most-Missed Good Wife Character of the Week: Seeing Carl feud with Adrian, it’s almost impossible to not draw the comparison with Jonas Stern. If there was ever a week when he could win this award, it's probably only going to be this one.

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