“Are people getting nervous up here?”
“No. That’s what’s so weird. We’re all getting used to it.”
This exchange between Jay and Liz, as much as any moment in the series finale, defines what made The Good Fight special. In the scene, the two are huddling together with other decision-makers in the firm to talk about their current predicament. There are riots happening in the plaza below, an escalation of the far-right protests that have been the white noise of the entire season. The elevators are out, the emergency lights are on, and they’re trying to figure out what the best and safest course of action might be. It would be a tense, once-in-a-lifetime moment in any drama, but this is the year 2022. This is every day now.
The Good Fight has been about many things — ethics, justice, political tumult, LOLZ, etc. — but it has been most valuable in simply engaging with the times that we live in. That shouldn’t be rare, but it is. If you look at mainstream movies and television, most of the time you’re looking at work that is either referencing the times indirectly or, more often, denying anything consequential about them at all. For a show like The Good Fight to identify a specific feeling like our numbness to extraordinarily tumultuous events — like, say, the attempted assassination of the Speaker of the House in late October or the deadliest hurricane to strike the state of Florida since 1935, which happened the month before — is highly unusual and valuable. When someone in the future wonders what it was like to be alive right now, The Good Fight has to be one of the first pieces of entertainment you’d show them.
As it happens, people should be getting nervous up there, because the firm has been targeted by white-supremacist terrorists. There’s a threat amassing on the ground, with the police fighting back (and, in at least one case, encouraging) rioters pressing at the barricades. Though The Good Fight doesn’t press the comparison too hard, the events of November 10 on the show echo the chaos of January 6, 2021, enough to suggest that January 6 had the effect of emboldening insurrectionists. Amid the chaos, however, everyone keeps showing up at work, even though Diane needs to summon Jay as her emergency escort just to get in the building. There may be something special about November 10, as the fake grenades have prophesied, but this circus atmosphere has become the white noise of everyday life. Alarming, maybe, but the new normal.
“The End of Everything” brings John Cameron Mitchell back as Felix Staples, the gay alt-right provocateur modeled after Milo Yiannopoulos, though Mitchell can’t help but make him seem like a harmless scamp by comparison. Felix has come to the firm with a bombshell allegation against Ron DeSantis, who he says sexually assaulted him in a Texas hotel room. Felix claims he’d been interning for DeSantis — much as Yiannopoulos interned recently for Marjorie Taylor Greene — when the two went to a CPAC conference and the Florida governor forced Felix to fellate him. Diane listens to his story and comes to the obvious conclusion: “This is some bullshit Project Veritas trick,” she says, expecting some hidden video to capture a Black firm eagerly jumping on a nonsense lawsuit.
It turns out she’s only half-right. Felix is doing a bullshit trick, but it’s not for Project Veritas. He simply wants to take down DeSantis because the governor currently represents the biggest threat to his preferred 2024 presidential candidate, Donald Trump. He even confesses, after his story wilts under scrutiny, that he’s making it up for that very reason. After last week’s episode where Diane was seriously pitched into heading up a new, more aggressive Democratic Party, the show is revisiting questions it has raised frequently: Is it worth playing dirty politics for Democrats to get what they want? Does the party need its own Roger Stone types to keep from getting outplayed like the Washington Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters?
The Good Fight lets those questions hang in the air, because the bullets start flying before they can be answered. It turns out that the shots at Diane’s window were a throat-clearing for a much more devastating attack, which means that Jay and Marissa’s sleuthing saved scores of lives in the firm. Between the camera Jay planted in the empty office space in an adjacent building and the chair blockade that Kurt and Dr. Bettencourt discover as they trudge up the stairs to see Diane, the gang gets warned of the shooting early enough to drop to the floor and take cover. (This isn’t the first time recently that lawyers have had to pick the glass from shattered windows out of their hair.) The reaction to the shooting isn’t exactly trauma — perhaps that will come later — but it does seem to be this inflection point where everyone decides where their future lies. Even Felix is shaken and shamed enough to take the first elevator down.
Liz and Ri’Chard are moving forward with the firm, having overcome their initial hostility and distrust enough to realize that they’re an excellent team that has the power to grow on their own, away from STR Laurie’s influence. Jay has been energized by his time in the Black underground and intends to join Renetta’s team, but he can’t persuade Carmen to come along with him, which is an interesting turn. Carmen has been a major player at the firm because she offers her services to monied lowlifes like Ben-Baruch and Oscar Rivi, but the show hasn’t signaled any great willingness to change on her part. We can only imagine how things will turn out for her.
Finally, the series puts Diane back at its center, after she’s been fiddling around in the margins all season, stoning out to alternative therapies, eyeing her doctor, and burning out on a career in the law. As she’s on the brink of total disillusionment, Liz tells her about a small D.C. firm that was under the STR Laurie umbrella and that had the potential to be an all-woman operation led by Diane, who’d be able to engage in many post-Roe legal battles in the city. Her decision is tied to her romantic future, too: Does she space out with Dr. Bettencourt or continue her marriage to Kurt, who has left his post in the NRA to check on her safety after the riot?
The choice is whether to continue the good fight, however compromised and unwinnable it seems at times, or retreat to a rustic but modern home in the French countryside (shades of the Italian villa she intended to buy before Henry Rindell scammed all her retirement money away). In a beautifully wry final scene with Liz in the same empty plaza where the season opened, Diane wonders why she should bother continuing when the results are often so disappointing. “Things can always get much shittier,” Liz replies.
With The Good Fight no longer around, that’s already true.
• Having the big 11/10 countdown clock lead to Donald Trump’s announcement that he’s running for president again is a funny full-circle moment for the show, and an easy bet for a linkup with reality. Last weekend, Trump was already workshopping insults for Ron DeSantis, though “Ron DeSanctimonious” suggests that he may be washed.
• How have I gone this long without mentioning the yelp I let out when the office shooting turns into the de facto opening-credits sequence? I never would have imagined any of those detonations being made literal on the show itself. What a payoff!
• Odd little subplot involving the branding of “The Big Six,” a group of civil-rights leaders whose legacies are being marketed to children in an accessible way. (Kill a Klansman in a video game and you get sent to an informative Wikipedia page.) There’s a key moment here with Liz’s son, who discovers that his grandfather had a more troubled legacy than he’d imagined. Ri’Chard tries to explain: “Legends get old. They lose their fight, their passion. They miss the attention that comes from the fights. They do bad things because it fills up the emptiness inside. But your granddaddy did more to encourage Black lawyers than any man on earth.”
• Anyone else a little disappointed that Diane chose to go back to Kurt in the end? He certainly bends in her direction by leaving the NRA to check on her safety, but what she says earlier in the episode rings true: “Politics is also about how we view the world. You keep talking about love, but love has to be about trust. And I just don’t trust that what you believe in is good for the world.” It would seem difficult for partners with such misaligned values to make it work. Then again, what hope is there for the country of misaligned values if they can’t stay together?