Monday, February 20, 2017
Early in the first episode of "The Good Fight," Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie) asks Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), "Are we on the right side of this?" The two are defending Cook County in a lawsuit alleging police brutality against an African-American man. Rindell's career is just starting; Baranski's career is just ending. But when Rindell's hedge fund father is busted for facilitating a Ponzi scheme, both find themselves beginning anew at the African-American law firm they had just been fighting against. And, as the first episode makes clear, the question for both women is suggested by the series title: What does it mean to fight the good fight?
"The Good Fight" is a spinoff from "The Good Wife," which I rank as the best legal TV show of all time. In much of the show's last season, Lockhart, a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, found herself ostracizing many of her clients by litigating test cases for conservative billionaire client Reese Dipple. But that's nothing compared to the blackballing she receives in "The Good Fight" premiere when progressives lose millions of dollars after investing in the failed hedge fund at her suggestion.
Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart
Lockhart had also spent much of the last season of "The Good Wife" trying to create a female headed firm, a legacy she seeks to continue early in "The Good Fight" pilot by giving Rindell a portfolio belonging to Pearl M. Hart, the first female public defender in Chicago's Morals Court, who was often called "the 'Guardian Angel of Chicago's Gay Community' for her diligent fight against police harassment." Rindell is herself a lesbian, a fact that might either become important as the series progresses or be treated matter of factly, as was the case with Kalinda Sharma's bisexuality on "The Good Wife."
Rose Leslie as Maia Rindell
What's clearer is that Rindell will have to overcome the scorn of the masses due to her status as "the good daughter" to a Bernie Madoff-esque figure, placing her in a similar position to Alicia Florrick in "The Good Wife." This point is driven home in the pilot's best scene, with Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) telling Rindell to "never let them see you cry."
Quinn, who was briefly part of Lockhart's firm after bonding with Alicia Florrick in bond court,* is now an associate at the African-American law firm that takes in both Lockhart and Rindell after the now male-dominated remnant of Lockhart/Gardner cuts them loose. This new firm is headed by Delroy Lindo ("Crooklyn") and Erica Tazel ("Justified"), and creators Michelle and Robert King have promised that the show will focus on the unique benefits and burdens bestowed on majority African-American law firms.
Delroy Lindo and Erica Tazel head Reddick, Boseman and Kolstad
They promise an idealistic and cynical look at the machinations of the firm, which has always been the King m.o. Whether it be politics or religion, on both "The Good Wife" and "BrainDead," the Kings have always given both sides of the aisle a good deal of ridicule, but also a fair shake. I expect nothing different in this series.
Michelle and Robert King created "The Good Wife" & "The Good Fight"
I also came into "The Good Fight" expecting incisive writing, acting, and directing, and the pilot delivers all three in spades. But where the Kings really shine is in pacing and topicality, and, with a premiere that flies by and tackles issues of gender, race, and police brutality, it's clear we're in good hands.