The Good Fight has done a very solid job of borrowing plenty of elements from The Good Wife, including story ideas and recurring guest stars, while still managing to feel separate from it. Truthfully, Good Fight has never felt all that much like a retread of its predecessor up until this week. "Reddick v. Boseman" is probably the first episode in the season that felt like it belonged to a much lazier spin-off. While its case of the week was a drawn out game of back-and-forth that was too easily resolved, it's the law firm storyline that ended up taking too much from Good Wife without doing anything particularly fresh with it.
Unseen named partners are nothing new for this franchise. The Good Wife had Jonas Stern (Kevin Conway) as the top name on Stern, Lockhart & Gardner while The Good Fight has the Reddick in Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad. Well, Reddick is no longer a mystery partner with "Reddick v. Boseman" as Carl Reddick (Louis Gossett, Jr.) arrived at the firm none too happy about what Adrian (Delroy Lindo) and Barbara (Erica Tazel) had been up to recently.
Reddick and Stern, apart from the obvious differences, aren't all that different. Reddick's a civil rights hero active in the 1960s who apparently maintains an interest in the police brutality cases the firm is known for. Stern was famed civil rights attorney in the 1970s who garnered a reputation for, you guessed it, trying police brutality cases. Both men, despite being the top names in their respective firms, aren't around for the day-to-day, and the two lawyers who do keep the respective firms running — Diane (Christine Baranski) and Will (Josh Charles) in Stern's case and Adrian and Barbara in Reddick's case — aren't exactly thrilled when their top dogs return.
I won't go deeper into Stern's relationship with his firm here — you can watch "Threesome" and "Boom" from Good Wife's first season to see for yourself — but my overall point is that Good Fight lifted the overall character relationships more or less wholesale for the key players in Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad.
Reddick arrived, unannounced, to the firm, regaling it with inspirational tales of past glories, but mostly to take Adrian to task for the firm getting indicted — it wasn't, as Adrian pointed out — for signing Chumhum, a super-white company, and for neglecting old clients, despite them, as Adrian also pointed out, not generating any income for the firm for years. Frustrated with this and the overall sense of the firm that bears his name losing its track of its purpose, Reddick decided to try and oust Adrian.
This sense of a lost purpose and legacy is the big key difference between Stern and Reddick (Stern only cares about Stern; he could give a damn about firms), but it didn't do much to keep this ousting effort from feeling all that different. Some of this, I think, boils down to the fact that for all of Adrian's talk about loyalty and fighting good fights — things that I think he, ultimately, shares with Reddick — we haven't really seen the firm in action on those ideals beyond the police brutality in case in the premiere. Good Fight has, more or less, kept telling and not showing us these concepts.
This lent credence to Reddick's position that firm has become more about money than fighting good fights, but while I don't disagree with Reddick that the fights are the same, Barbara's opinion aside, but the fights are different in their tactics and their costs now, compared to how Reddick likely remembers them. This means that flexibility and pragmatism is required, not necessarily ideological purity tests. A back and forth about this, not unlike the one in "Social Media and Its Discontents" might've kept this from feeling too stale, but when it was tied up in an ousting attempt — something that seemed to happen every five episodes on Good Wife — I lost the forest for the trees. (I don't think the episode was all that interested in the forest this week anyway, honestly.)
If the case of the week was too neatly resolved, then the ousting was similarly neatly resolved through Barbara's purposeful abstaining to see where the votes fell and then declaring, "Ah, but I didn't vote! Now it's a tie, and Julius is gone soon. So, sorry, Carl!" A stalemate felt similarly Good Wife-y since it kept Reddick around for further antagonism, but the episode capped the plot with Adrian and Barbara toasting their success and framed from behind, not unlike how Will and Diane were framed during their joint celebrations on Good Wife.
So the end result was that everything swirling in the hallways and break rooms of the firm didn't feel all that unique to this show. It was a rare — but law of averages dictated — stumble for The Good Fight. Given what we've gotten prior to this episode, however, it's not even close to being one that has me worried about the show going forward.
The Good Fight streams new episodes on CBS All Access on Sundays.
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