The Good Fight Recap: Let’s Face It, Folks

The Good Fight

The End of Democracy
Season 6 Episode 9
Editor’s Rating 5 stars

The Good Fight

The End of Democracy
Season 6 Episode 9
Editor’s Rating 5 stars
Photo: Elizabeth Fisher/Paramount+

Just so we can all get our heads straight up front, here’s an abridged list of the many crazy things that happen in the bugnuts penultimate episode of The Good Fight:

• Marissa marries her Israeli Krav Maga instructor after a three-week courtship. His name is Zef. Or Zeb. I’m not going to look it up. (Okay, fine, I looked it up. His name is Zev, and he’s played by Shahar Isaac.)

• After getting his one phone call from the extralegal warehouse detention facility, the Michigan militiaman who intended to blow up a local HBCU tries to call his lawyer but is intercepted by his keepers, who send in Carmen to act as his fake attorney for his fake bond hearing in order to extract information from him. Later, he and the man who shot Frank Landau are literally sent to Antarctica. (“Every day, they can look out on white,” quips Phylicia Rashad’s Renetta Clark.)

• ChumHum head Neil Gross is sitting on $680 billion that he doesn’t want to use to buy Twitter or shoot himself into space. Instead, he wants to purchase the Democratic Party and hire Diane to run it. And he’s going to peel off some bills to buy Fox News and nudge it ever so gradually to the left.

• The current head of the DNC, Johnny Elfman (Steven Pasquale), meets Neil’s intended choice to lead the new Democratic Party to glory — Mr. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The Rock doesn’t get out of his Escalade, but the meeting goes so well that Elfman, who’d been hobbling around on crutches and in a boot, walks away fully healed.

One possible read on “The End of Democracy” is that The Good Fight has many more seasons of ideas on its virtual whiteboard, so it’s squeezing all of them into the last two hours of the show — like Game of Thrones, which followed seven seasons of patient world-building with a frenzied six episodes that wrapped everything up in a hurry. But that’s not what The Good Fight is doing, because the pacing has always been frenzied and its ideas restlessly provocative. Moving a spin-off of The Good Wife — which itself was no wallflower, especially for a network courtroom drama — to Paramount+ (né CBS All Access) wasn’t just about adding curse words but having the freedom to operate seemingly without supervision. There’s no doubt that the show is heading into its final episode with the accelerator jammed to the floorboard, but it has always been doing donuts in the parking lot of U.S. civic discourse.

The episode opens with all the major players at the firm, along with politicians and other Democratic power brokers, attending a memorial service for Frank Landau that, of course, doubles as an opportunity for schmoozing and influence-peddling. Ben-Baruch doesn’t strike anyone there as a champion of progressive causes, but he’s got $300 million in dark money (via an Israeli crypto account) that he’s ready to dump in a Democratic PAC — provided the party pays to excavate a hard drive from the city landfill. He makes the request in roughly those words, skipping the schmoozing part altogether. He’s refreshingly frank in his sinister intentions.

But the most inciting incident of the entire episode arrives during the memorial itself, when Diane slips away for a drink and learns that the Supreme Court has ended gay marriage. The news breaks the same way the end of Roe v. Wade did in real life: with the leak of a draft opinion by a conservative justice — in this case, Clarence Thomas. For Diane, a woman with deep connections to the Democratic Party and a #resistance spirit, it’s the moment that finally breaks her. Slated to give the final speech honoring Landau, she scuttles her prepared remarks and offers the following instead:

“Well, hello. Here we all are. Every Democrat that tried to do something. We came to bury Frank Landau, not to praise him. And it looks like we’re going to bury the Democratic Party instead. Because let’s face it, folks: We’re fucked.”

To watch The Good Fight evolve over six seasons, the bulk of which took place during the Trump administration, is to watch the disillusionment of establishment Democrats like Diane happen in close to real time. The show stayed close to Diane as she saw every imaginable progressive initiative get dismantled over the Trump years, but her despair has only increased in the time since — to the point that she’s therapeutically drugging herself to escape it. (The fact that Roe v. Wade was overturned at a time when Democrats controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress could perhaps be rationalized — they do not control the branch that matters, in this case — but it’s nonetheless a “How did we get here?” moment. The Court has not overturned Obergefell — yet — but there’s a reason I didn’t list it among the crazy things that happened in this episode. It’s the most plausible event in the entire hour.)

The solution, for ChumHum honcho Neil Gross, is ChumHum honcho Neil Gross. Putting the future of democracy in the hands of a volatile Silicon Valley gazillionaire doesn’t seem like the best idea, and Elfman, to his credit, isn’t initially impressed. “You think running the Democratic Party is easy, because once upon a time you created some computer software that helps a person figure out who the fuck played Captain Marvel?” he asks Neil. “You know ones and zeroes, and voters don’t speak math. We’re not for sale.” But Neil’s idea to buy Fox News, the propaganda arm of the opposing party, quickly turns Elfman around. The Democrats need their own Rupert Murdoch, the thinking goes, along with their own Federalist Society, their own groomed judges, and an end to the Electoral College and the filibuster.

There’s a degree to which this entire scenario smacks of fantasy — like the shower dream in Dallas or the season opener of The Good Fight, when Diane imagines a world where Hillary Clinton won the election. But such fantasy is chased by a certain amount of darkness. Neil may have the money and means to remake a major political party, but he’s a dilettante and meddling creep who may not be able to pull off a teardown and rebuild of U.S. politics as if it were a dated condo building. And while Diane is tired of Democrats bringing a butter knife to a gunfight, the steps she is considering (and has already made) to better the country may be corrosive and legally dodgy.

All of this ties back to Renetta’s secret operation, which now includes Carmen along with Jay. The authorities have no good answer for violent white supremacy — and, as demonstrated last week by the cop who shrugged off the bullet in Diane’s office, may be riddled with sympathizers — so this seems like the only effective pathway to racial justice. The Good Fight has made it abundantly clear that our institutions are failing us, but using unlawful and nondemocratic means to bring back democracy is a risky project to say the least. At this point, though, Diane is willing to restore her faith in the U.S. — including ending her marriage to the NRA mouthpiece who loves her. In 2022, Diane says that even love “feels so inconsequential next to everything that’s going on.”


• A real bond has developed between Liz and Ri’Chard, making room for Diane to exit stage right and the firm to be run more unambiguously by its Black partners. The pair has a nice rapport. “Do you find swearing helps?” asks Ri’Chard after Liz goes on a tirade. “All the fucking time,” she answers.

• The succession of speeches at the memorial service in which Democrats talk more about themselves than Frank Landau is a funny commentary on political self-aggrandizement, but the best one is by the guy who brags about being considered “one of the 30 most eligible bachelors over 40.”

• “I have not bought rockets or Twitter or Mars or Lanai. I’m looking around for how I can help the world with my money.” Damn, Neil’s out there taking shots at Elon Musk (and Larry Ellison) during his big week.

• “I don’t want to dig a tunnel under L.A. I want democracy to work.” Direct hit at Musk again!

• If Ben-Baruch ever finds his hard drive in the city dump, how much could being the “Crypto King of Tel Aviv” be worth these days?

• Excellent reference to Homan Square, the off-site interrogation site used by Chicago police to “disappear” thousands. (Journalist Spencer Ackerman broke the story in 2015.)

• Assigning Carmen as the white supremacist’s attorney is more of a masterstroke than anyone seems to have known or intended given her moral flexibility. “I’d defend the devil for money,” she says, referring to guys like Oscar Rivi and Ben-Baruch. “I have defended the devil for money.”

• Rest assured that The Rock will prioritize the presidency over Scorpion King 6, but “he wants to do both.”

The Good Fight Recap: Let’s Face It, Folks