Oh hi there. How have you been? Good, good. Hey, let’s start this thing off with some horrendous misogynistic and homophobic harassment, shall we? Fun times, fun times. Poor Maia is listening to a barrage of hate left on her voicemail. Her face quivers with disgust, humiliation, anger, fear. See, now, this is why I never listen to my voicemails.
It’s truly awful. I won’t repeat it. But, you know, visit the mentions on any feminist and/or lesbian and/or queer and/or trans activist on Twitter and you’ll get the gist.
It’s Maia’s first day at her new law firm. I whisper my new mantra to myself: Please, please don’t let this show be the wacky adventures of two white ladies at a predominantly black law firm, please, please.
Diane is still having mucho money problems. Her old partners at Lockhart & Seventy-Thousand Other Names are refusing to give her back her capital contribution, even though Lockhart is the first of those 70,000 other names. You see, this is where it helps to have never had any money in the first place. You’ve got nothing to lose. At least that’s what I tell myself as I sprinkle a few basil leaves over my Top Ramen to make it “fancy.”
Lucca meanwhile has been unceremoniously bumped down the hall to make way for Diane. Her new office is a door’s slam away from the men’s room. How the righteous must suffer. Speaking of suffering, Diane and her liberal guilt are awkwardly meeting with Barbara, one of the other named partners at the firm. It’s like watching progressive ladies squirm when black women remind them that 53 percent of white women voted for Trump.
Diane arrives at her desk to find Marissa Gold plugging in her computer. As a non-The Good Wife watcher, I have no point of reference here other than knowing she is Alan Cumming’s TV daughter which makes me inclined to like her. I feel my instincts are probably right about this.
Diane’s old partners have sent Marissa over with her boxes. They’ve packed one full of African masks as a joke because racism is just hilarious. Oh well, at least Diane still has her photo with Hillary Clinton to cling to. (Cue jukebox to Tiffany’s “Could’ve Been” and let’s just sway together gently for the next 1,348 days.)
So Lucca and Maia get tasked with staffing the firm’s pro bono meeting with the Sales Associate, Warehouse & Shopping Mall Union. The firm represents them and offers members quick, surface legal advice once a month.
The longest line forms for Maia, the only non-black lawyer at the event. Um, is that because of racism? Yeah, I’m going to go with racism. Still, because we know this show has a do-gooder heart – I mean, it’s in the damn title – Maia gets sucked into a case about a shoe store worker who says he is unfairly having his wages garnished for stealing. He swears he was pressured into confessing to a crime he did not commit.
Before signing off for Maia to handle his arbitration, Lucca checks in with her to see how she is doing because not all heroes wear capes – just cute pixie haircuts. Maia says she finally is, because nothing takes the edges off of rape threats like hard work – right, ladies?
Back in the office the partners are meeting with the “litigation financiers.” Um, I did not know that was a thing. People really can invest in lawsuits? Hm, I dunno, maybe this is one of the reasons why our legal system is so massively fucked up? Anyway, these financiers have an entitled tech bros feel to them, complete with an algorithm for deciding which cases to back, so obviously we hates them. We hates them forever.
Diane gets called out of the tech bro summit because Linore Rindell (a.k.a. Bernadette freaking Peters) is there to see her. Diane is, naturally, conflicted. Sure, she’s married to your oldest friend, but then there’s the thing where he also stole all your money. (Again, not having money makes this kind of conflict very rare.) Linore claims her husband’s innocence and her curls are so delightful you want to believe her. You really do.
So now it is arbitration time and it’s actually kind of cute because this is Maia’s first “case” and it’s happening in a shitty, cramped office stacked to the ceiling with boxes. She is clearly nervous, but is using the sisterhood power of Pearl’s portfolio to guide her through.
TV Nerd Aside: The arbitrator is Robert Picardo, who you may remember most from Star Trek: Voyager, but I recall fondly from China Beach. So that makes this episode a mini China Beach reunion because Michael Boatman, who was also on China Beach, is a series regular. Now please just cast Dana Delany and I’ll bust out singing “Reflections” by Diana Ross & the Supremes. Yeah, if you thought mentioning Cybill was a deep cut, just you wait. I contain multitudes. (And am old, I am really old.)
OK, back to the arbitration. Lucca comes in to observe and continue to be awesome. My greatest wish is for Maia and Lucca to become BFFs. OK, my actual greatest wish is for them to become more than BFFs. But Maia has what appears to be a very nice and smart girlfriend and I’m not about breaking up happy relationships – fictional or otherwise.
They lose the arbitration. But the case – and particularly the manager’s use of some shady sounding “Friedman Method” to get the confession – peaks Lucca’s lawyer Spidey senses. This is about more than just one dude and sneakers. This is about systematic corporate horribleness/unfair labor practices. Class action suit says whaaaat?
Diane goes to visit Henry in jail. He swears he didn’t do it and his brother Jax is really behind it all. So the options here are: 1) he is really innocent, or 2) this is biting your own arm to make teeth marks and blaming it on your sibling to your parents taken to the nth degree. Along the way he also drops a guilt bomb on Maia (by way of Diane) by telling her Lenore’s breast cancer has returned.
Maia and Lucca are now full scheming to get this potential class action case off the ground. Operation Make Them Legal Besties is a rousing success so far. Plus I’m going to have to start some sort of running counter for the meaningful, “Girl, please, did you see that?” looks these two give each other. Maia finds out, thanks to her very nice and very smart girlfriend, that the Friedman Method is an interrogation technique used by cops and now co-opted by corporations.
She goes to a seminar and listens to the dude who thinks he is Tom Cruise in Magnolia profess the virtues of having middle managers coax fake confessions out of unsuspecting employees. You guys, if corporations weren’t people, I’d totally say that they were the absolute worst. But since they are (thanks, Supreme Court), and I believe bullying people is wrong, I’ll just say they can suck it.
Thanks to Diane’s new assistant, Marissa (we will get into the racial politics of Diane surrounding herself with an all-white team later – I promise), the team is able to move forward on the class action. But first firm partner Robert Boseman uses Maia as a prop to get a new judge on the case to please the tech bros’ algorithm. Also, I still can’t get over the fact that people can invest in lawsuits.
So now it’s court time. Oh, look, it’s Christine Lahti. Oh, look, it’s Denis O’Hare. The guest star budget on this show must be crazy. Maybe they got some tech bros with a guest star algorithm to finance them.
Legal wrangles wrangle on. Lucca is great. Maia is pretty great, too. Lahti’s Tesla-driving attorney Andrea is not so great, and filled with condescending compliments and faux feminism to boot. And everybody loves wacky Judge Abernathy and his aviators.
Maia finally relents and sees her mom (again, she’s Bernadette freaking Peters, how can you not?) Turns out she used the cancer scare as an excuse to meet. Over red wine Maia tries to Friedman the truth out of her mom. But that sort of pseudo-psychology enhanced interrogation is bunk and we all know it. So who the hell knows what the truth is here.
In bed, Maia muses on truth and lies and family while Amy plays with her hair. If at least once each episode The Good Fight puts Maia and Amy in a totally casual yet entirely intimate setting together like this I will be a very, very happy gay lady.
Right, so remember when I put a pin in the whole racial politics of hiring Marissa? Now seems as good a time as any to take it out. Barbara comes into Diane’s office inquiring why she didn’t like any of her (all African-American) assistant candidates. Diane says she knows Marissa and she’s “on the ball.” Now, the latter may indeed be true. And, no doubt, holdovers from The Good Wife are pleased to see her on the spinoff. Heck, I think she’s likeable and spunky.
But what exactly is the show trying to accomplish by bringing in not one, not two but three white ladies into this predominantly black law firm? Is this some strange reverse Affirmative Action? All I know is that if you are going to intentionally use a black setting, you’d better also use those characters as more than window dressing. Yes, the focus on Lucca is wonderful. Just please never stop centering the people of color on this show. Thus endeth my diversity sermon.
Now we may return to lawyer land. Andrea offers up a $500,000 settlement to the shoe guy. But, if they take it, the class action goes poof. Lucca tells her to stick it where the Tesla don’t shine – metaphorically. But then – sad trombone – their plaintiff’s past being accused of stealing at another job gets uncovered. And poof, the class action goes away anyway.
So now mentor and mentee have another heart-to-heart about lies and the lying liars who tell them, but in a nice way. Maia decides to go see her mom again. But when she gets there Mama Lenore has stolen Amy’s lacy satin nightie look. I assume that’s just what rich folk wear around the house. But Maia knows better. Her mom is flushed and trying to rush her out of the house because – oh, look, it’s Uncle Jax with his shirt all unbuttoned. I’m all for having a tight family, but, you know – ew.