The Good Fight
The play’s the thing in this week’s episode of The Good Fight, which features the bizarre spectacle of a former associate at Reddick, Boseman staging a kinky satire inspired by his time at the firm. It is not his intention to “catch the conscience of the king,” but he catches it anyway, with deeply uncomfortable barbs about the racial hypocrisy and corporate compromise that plagues the office, along with an undercurrent of sadomasochism that wasn’t as easy to see coming. The play, called C**ksucker in Chains, looks absolutely abysmal, but it’s getting standing ovations at whatever godforsaken independent theater space it’s occupying in Chicago. And that rattles the partners so much that they want to “shut this motherfucker down.”
There’s been so much absurdity on The Good Fight this season that the show could probably offer some evidence that Reddick, Boseman still functions as a law office. The only money anyone seems to be making during this episode is the $850 an hour that Lucca stands to get if she accepts a private-jet flight to Saint Lucia in order to be Bianca Skye’s friend, and she has to be talked into saying yes. Meanwhile, Diane continues to follow her quixotic pro-bono quest to get to the bottom of Memo 618, and Adrian is so enraged by the play that he ignores the best interests of a rich client in order to sue it out of existence. The bosses at STR Laurie have good reason to question whether they’ll get any return on their investment — or they would if they weren’t also a weird shenanigans factory.
The good news about the play is that it’s awful. One of the pitfalls of showing art onscreen, especially when it’s supposed to be brilliant, is that it’s often unintentionally bad. (I call it “Mr. Holland’s opus syndrome,” so named after the tacky musical composition Richard Dreyfuss’s supposedly gifted teacher unleashes at the end of Mr. Holland’s Opus.) C**ksucker in Chains has the courtesy to be flagrantly grating and unfunny yet sophisticated in the individual ways it irritates, inspires, and generally freaks out the targets of its satire. The broader criticism of Reddick, Boseman is that it sells out the principles it purports to have: Here’s a black-majority firm with an ostensibly strong interest in racial justice, but it’s sold its soul to corporate accounts.
Yet the play gets weirder and more specific. There’s an Adrian avatar who gets off on being submissive to a Diane avatar in black dominatrix gear. That horrifies Adrian, who leads the push to sue the production out of existence, but it becomes an unexpected stimulus for Diane and Kurt’s love life. And the kink gets broken down in great detail, too: Diane guesses wrong about what seems to be turning Kurt on, so she has to modify and improvise, landing on a combination of latex, an old-fashioned rifle, and a 10-gallon cowboy hat. For his part, Julius gets a surprisingly respectful treatment in the play, which stirs a sense of judicial righteousness and purpose that might have had an impact on how he handled the Memo 618 case. Where’s that Julius when you need him?
The case comes to the firm from a wealthy client who complains that embarrassing details from his divorce case have found their way into the script. The play’s author quickly acquiesces to a request to take the information out, which should end Reddick, Boseman’s involvement, but vanity keeps Adrian pressing forward anyway. The Good Fight has always been good about giving its characters’ flaws a full airing, but the suit against the playwright exposes the ugliness of the firm’s culture just as thoroughly as the play itself attempts to do. The gang doesn’t like being satirized because the satire hits the mark.
Elsewhere, Diane’s attempt to find out the truth about Memo 618 leads her to a hilarious alliance with Gabriel Kovac (Fisher Stevens), the slimy and inept attorney who occasionally pops up in the Good Fight/Good Wife universe. It turns out that Kovac is getting sued by a client for inadequately representing her in a wrongful-death suit involving a convict who died in the back of a prison transport van. The judge simply disappeared without giving a ruling, then the docket number disappeared, $895,000 in billable hours were issued without a client listed, and even the code citations are looped together and inaccessible online. Diane sees the case as her backdoor opportunity to bring the truth to the surface, but the powers that be are so spooked that they give Kovac’s client a massive settlement just to shut it down.
The Good Fight isn’t ready to spill the beans on the Memo 618 conspiracy just yet, probably because it’s more sinister as an extrajudicial threat that cannot be understood, much less stopped. The show seems to be working toward the idea that there is no equal justice under the law in America but a system for ordinary people and a system for the elites, which allows for lawlessness and a total lack of accountability. The possible involvement of Reddick, Boseman’s corporate bosses at STR Laurie has been reinforced by the set design, which has them literally working above the law (firm). Exposing the conspirators of Memo 618 will likely be the easy part. Stopping it is another matter entirely.
• “I want to Gawker these assholes off the stage.” Seeing Gawker Media go down to a sinister, Peter Thiel-backed lawsuit was a chilling loss for independent media, but its legacy lives on as a verb.
• Marissa’s flirting with Caleb enters a dad-joke-after-dark phase: “Man walks into a zoo. The only animal at the zoo is a dog. It’s a shitzu.”
• Every single time The Good Fight waits 15 minutes to get to the opening credits, I’m surprised and delighted when it turns up. This week, it was an especially delightful stinger after Adrian reports back from the play: “Luke, I need you in early tomorrow. We need to shut this motherfucker down.”
• Never stick around for Q&A sessions with an audience. Let this episode be a PSA for that.
• Diane stating the Memo 618 dilemma in a nutshell: “I’m sure you’ll agree that we should all be subject to the same system of justice. If I’m given a subpoena, I have to comply. I have to answer honestly, and if I don’t, I should be prosecuted. That is the only way the system works. If it doesn’t work that way, then the country breaks down. It’s over. We’re done.”