The Good Fight isn’t just one of the best legal dramas around, but one of the best dramas full stop. Robert King, Michelle King, and Phil Alden Robinson’s series wowed with its first 10 episodes, which managed to tie together personal drama, legal casework and topical issues with whip-smart plotting and witty dialogue.
All that was written before Trump had even taken office, and Season 2 – naturally, written after months of Donald in the White House – only gets more and more pertinent, as Reddick, Boseman, & Lockhart finds its business once again in jeopardy as a result of the changing political tide, and a couple of poorly-timed tweets.
And so our favourite Chicago lawyers not only have to bid farewell to loved ones at funerals but also to possibly their company’s future, unless a ballsy play can secure a key player for their side – enter Liz (Audra McDonald), former US attorney and former wife of Adrian.
All of this is acted out brilliantly by Christine Baranski’s wonderfully flinty Diane Lockhart, Cush Jumbo’s wily firm veteran Lucca, and Delroy Lindo’s absolutely magnetic boss, Adrian Boseman. But it’s testament to how good the writing is that the season still finds time for Rose Leslie’s wide-eyed Maia to find fresh scandal in her parents’ ongoing mess of dodgy dealings, even making room for an emotional flashback to a formative time in her youth.
But Trump is undoubtedly the fire and fury fuelling this season and that crystallises over the course of these 13 chapters into something thrillingly up-to-date – The Good Fight is rivalled only by Homeland for contemporary storylines that could be torn from tomorrow’s headlines. In one episode, Liz and Maia represent a photographer suing a model for alleging that he mistreated her, which brings them into conflict with a website listing men accused of abuse and assault. In another, Reddick, Boseman & Lockhart represent a young woman who was assaulted while appearing on a reality dating series.
One of the most thrilling instalments sees Maia and Lucca sign up for separate ride-alongs with the Chicago Police Department, as they attempt to crack down on abuse of authority and racial discrimination – a campaign that pits them head-to-head against a wily DoJ lawyer played with gusto by Matthew Perry. But it’s telling that a lot of the firm’s newest cases stem from the world of the media, as Adrian steers the company into waters a world away from their traditional, scrappy backyard – mostly in a move to earn the firm more revenue from better paying gigs and larger clients. And so they find themselves tackling such issues as an actor trying to stop a network broadcasting a potentially controversial story that might impact his career.
The result frames the drama within the realm of the news, an arena where fact and fiction now repeatedly clash – Adrian’s speech about them defending the truth at the end of Season 1 directly feeds into this season, in a way that makes this feel like the natural climax the writers have always been building towards. A major turning point halfway through brings that into astonishing clarity, as a political consultant approaches them with a case linked to the President himself – a chance to take a shot at the White House that has the partners practically frothing at the mouth. Well, except for Julius, whose Trump-voting record continues to give Michael Boatman some superb material to sink his teeth into, sparking some of the series’ most nuanced character moments and most heated discussions (doing both simultaneously is no easy feat).
By the time a Russian student approaches the company with a potentially scandalous tape, and someone else is getting tipped off by a porn star in a car park, things have tipped into near-wish-fulfilment territory, something that the characters are all too aware of. But they’re also tired of playing by the rules and not winning, in a society where those rules are rapidly being pulled apart or just ignored altogether. And so this season becomes a fascinating study in how the law can remain relevant in a country where its Commander-in-Chief has no respect for it.
Diane, hilariously, turns to microdosing mushrooms to manage the descent of intelligent civilisation – and yet still manages to remain sharp enough to put Judge Trig Mullaney (a Trump appointee, played with dimwitted deadpan by Rob McClure) in his place, cracking out latin phrases every 10 seconds just to confuse him. Lucca finds her relationship with Colin (potential Democratic nominee for the Cook County Senate) jumps a gear from flirting to something more weighty, and not just because of his political connections. The introduction of the ever-brilliant Alan Alda as Solomon Waltzer, meanwhile, explicitly positions Reddick, Boseman, & Lockhart as a rare diverse organisation in a sea of old, white, male partnerships – and Waltzer knows it only too well.
He rears his head around the same time that a subplot about a Kill All Lawyers movement – responsible for a string of killings around the city – comes to a nail-biting halt, and Delroy Lindo, in particular, relishes the chance to stand up to such intimidation and fear campaigns with resilience and impeccable humour. If it’s comic timing you want, though, no one can really top Sarah Steele’s winning turn as Marissa, Diane’s assistant who is more determined than ever to become an investigator. When chief investigator Jay (the superbly ambiguous Nyambi Nyambi) finds himself caught up in an immigration farce, she gamely steps up to help him out, and it’s through her that we really see the extent to which the good guys will bend the law to get the right outcome. She discovers early on in the season that an enemy is using fake news sites and micro-targeted social media ads to influence a jury, and the firm unofficially starts using such tactics themselves – a thrilling demonstration of the tables being turned against the world powers manipulating social media and private data for more sinister purposes.
The result is constantly surprising, jaw-droppingly brazen and unapologetically entertaining drama that dazzles in its complexity, shines with its wit and grins in its cheeky bursts of outrageous, and outrageously topical, plot twists. Effortlessly combining case-of-the-week fun with a wider, pointed commentary on the current state of America, The Good Wife is faultless television – it’s so clear in its conviction, and so confident in its style, that it’s hard to believe it began as a spin-off from anything else. Quick, catty and unafraid of diving into tricky waters, this sophomore outing is bigger, bolder and bigly greater. Devour it immediately, with no objections.
Episodes 10 to 13 of The Good Wife Season 2 are available on All 4 until 16th June 2018. The whole box set is available to buy and download on pay-per-view VOD.
Where can I watch The Good Fight Season 2 on pay-per-view VOD?