The Good Fight
“And the firm had two partners…”
Photo: Patrick Harbron/CBS
Jay is an excellent investigator. In fact, he’s such an excellent investigator that The Good Fight has decided that Reddick Lockhart does not need two investigators, so they’ve given Marissa an unlikely crash course in lawyering, just to provide her character with another lane. And yet a crucial chunk of “And the firm had two partners …” is basically a cheat, relying not merely on Jay’s astounding memory and observational skills, but on his having been able to retain those qualities while in a coma at the hospital with Covid-19. On any other show, such narrative conveniences would be totally unforgivable, were it not for the fact that in this case Jay is also conferring with the hallucinated likes of Frederick Douglass, Karl Marx, and Black Jesus. The lesson here is: If you’re going to cheat, cheat weird.
This won’t likely be the last time The Good Fight wrestles with the pandemic, but Jay’s odyssey in “The Pit,” a hospital break room converted into a space for no-hope Covid cases, evokes its darkest moments, when medical professionals were scrambling to deal with overflowing ICUs while figuring out the best way to manage care. At best, Jay’s hallucinations have the feel of Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead, in which an EMT, low on sleep and high on adrenaline, starts seeing the ghosts of the patients he couldn’t save. For Jay, who seems to be a Covid long-hauler, reality still blurs around the edges on occasion, which would be more affecting were it not so useful for the writers to get themselves out of corners.
Newly released from prison, the drug kingpin Oscar Rivi wants Carmen to pursue a lawsuit against Harbor Hospital for its negligence in caring for his estranged daughter, who died of Covid. The hospital seems confident of its chances until Jay finds a video on TikTok by a doctor who claims a disparity between the quality of care for white patients and patients of color, which of course would include Rivi’s Latinx child. And somewhere in the foggy bog of his own memory, Jay can recall his own questionable exile to the Pit, as well as some shifty details about the reclassification of Covid deaths as pneumonia or heart failure, perhaps to cover up that same discrimination. That rattles the hospital’s faith in the strength of its case and leads them to bring out one very big gun in “Racehorse” Diaz, a lawyer who never loses. Even Oscar, prompted by his lip-reading wife, starts to understand that Carmen, a first-year associate, cannot go it alone.
The always plugged-in show uses the opportunity to examine a phenomenon that surfaced early and often during the height of the pandemic, when overtaxed doctors and nurses would use social media to plead for supplies, bare their souls, or otherwise blow off steam. This episode imagines such a doctor as both a passionate advocate for her neglected and suffering patients and someone who, in her worst moments, got caught up in trying to exploit her job for social media clout. It’s a nice piece of brushwork for a character whose only practical purpose in the episode is to give legitimacy to Rivi’s case.
There are a few other twists and turns that ultimately break against Rivi, who bows out gracefully by assaulting Diaz in front of the deposition camera, but The Good Fight mostly uses this plotline to express compassion for those on the front lines of the pandemic. Though Jay may owe his survival to the intervention of David, a rich white guy with pull at the hospital, the existence of the Pit itself is revealed to be a product not so much of institutional neglect as of necessity. When faced with more Covid cases than hospital resources could handle, wrenching decisions had to be made about which patients had better odds to survive on the available ventilators. There’s a symbolic value, too, to the break room’s being converted into a space for more bodies: The doctors and nurses were too busy to use it anyway.
The other major subplot in this episode wraps up the FBI’s case against Kurt, who landed in legal hot water for refusing to name names over the 1/6 insurrectionist who was part of his gun-training group. The fact that Diane identified the insurrectionist behind Kurt’s back doesn’t turn out to be as unforgivable a breach of trust as it seemed in the last episode. While Kurt certainly keeps his emotions close to the bulletproof vest, he seems to have been coolheaded enough to realize that his wife shouldn’t also be his lawyer, which leads to some awkward scenes where Diane presses his new attorney, Julius, for information. (“I’m a good lawyer, Diane,” he says. “But I’m a lousy couples therapist.”)
The process of wriggling Kurt out of trouble showcases more of Diane’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering on his behalf, culminating in a scene where she hops into a minivan and coerces a gun-toting soccer mom into doing the right thing. But the show has yet to really contend with how Kurt and Diane’s marriage can continue to function in a post-Trump world. The two seem to be on the same page in believing the insurrection was real and bad and not some antifa false-flag operation, and Kurt’s refusal to turn in his student is framed as a matter of principle for him. But there’s no avoiding the fact that Kurt is a Trump appointee in the VA and that he has trained at least one insurrectionist and one other student who has written a violent anti-government manifesto. His students are not using those shells and zip-ties to shoot deer or blow off steam at the gun club. They have darker applications in mind.
Perhaps, at heart, The Good Fight believes that love can transcend politics, even at a time when the conflict in values seems unresolvable. For now, Kurt and Diane have the luxury to change the topic.
• Jay imagining himself as the only person without a mask in the middle of a frantic Covid ward is the front-of-the-class-with-no-clothes-on panic dream of 2020.
• Ever plugged into the headlines, the show suggests a plan is afoot to kidnap five top Illinois general assembly members and put them on trial, which surely references the real foiled Michigan militia scheme to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
• What’s the story with Carmen and that deposition camera? Given that the footage incriminates her big client, and given the audacity she’s already shown on multiple occasions, perhaps she has a play in mind. I’m not sure I completely believe her humble submission to Liz’s tutelage.
• Fine legal exchange during the hospital deposition: “Objection!” “Oh what grounds?” “General assholery.”