“We’re here, fighting the good fight.”
Finally, this episode brought Carl Reddick (Louis Gossett Jr.) back to the firm he started, and introduced us to a proud, accomplished, and ambitious lawyer, who is unimpressed with the direction his firm has gone in his absence. His introduction, a speech in front of the entire firm in a meeting room about the importance of being a worthy adversary to those who oppose you, is symbolic of the time he was of — and a stark contrast to Adrian Boseman’s to-the-point entrepreneurial side. Forming the 3rd angle of the named partners is Barbara Kolstad, who represents the more pragmatic perspective. So, when Carl comes in looking to completely remove Adrian from his place as a name partner of the firm, it both felt unlikely it would happen, but also worrying. Throughout the episode we’re treated to moments of Adrian and Carl attempting to sway partners one way or the other over a vote to change the leadership makeup of RB&K, with quick takes on different sides of a conflict: “We have to keep the doors open” versus “We have to keep our fight going, to stand for something in this firm.”
In the end, it comes to a stalemate, as Barbara casts her vote to keep the act from going forward, and possibly allowing Carl to destabilize the firm by planning to completely oust Adrian from the firm. It mirrored the conflict between Stern, Lockhart, and Gardner in the first season of TGW, for better or for worse. (There are countless mirroring moments between this first season and earlier events of TGW, and while I appreciate that, one of the weaknesses of the later seasons of that show was how repetitious it became with the power plays in the firm… Can we try for new ground with this new firm in this new series, possibly?)
“Are you on eHarmony?…”
The case of the week was a bit of a mixed bag for me. While embroiled in a civil war of sorts with Reddick and Boseman vying for control of the firm, Pastor Jeremiah Easton (Frankie Faison) stops by to speak with Carl Reddick to ask a personal favor to help him evict a youth from the halfway house he sponsors. However, when Diane, Jay, and Maia go to serve the eviction notice, Paul Johnson, the evictee claims he’s been sexually victimized by Pastor Jeremiah, and he’s got plans to bring the pastor to court.
His lawyer, Gabe Kovak, does barely more than almost implicate himself in blackmail in his initial pitch to Diane for the suit against Pastor Jeremiah. From the beginning, this crass and creepy as hell “lawyer” barely seems ahead of the curve to keep Diane, and the investigative duo of Marissa and Jay at bay while he threatens Pastor Jeremiah with even more outrage if the case goes public. Adrian and Diane seemingly don’t know for certain if they believe Jeremiah is innocent, and Jeremiah’s “dignity” is increasingly at stake as they assert more and more damning “facts” about the pastor’s alleged relationship with Paul, claiming both that Paul could identify the pastor’s genitals, and also that they have video evidence of the pastor going to Paul’s room late at night for sexual misconduct.
Pastor Jeremiah refutes the claims, but doesn’t do anything to prove his innocence. In the original series, he’s a very politically-driven pastor, who knows how to get money from his position, and is not exactly a straightforward individual, say, compared to his more idealistic son, Isaiah. However, sexual molestation would be an extreme affront to his established character. The reveal near the end of the episode is mostly satisfying, but also abrupt and confusing in a way.
Marissa and Jay realize that Pastor Jeremiah and Paul both wear fitbits as a part of the halfway house’s health initiative of sorts. They compare the data from the fitbits to the footage that Kovak claims to have the pastor making a move on Paul, but it doesn’t add up. Both of them experience “low heart rates” at the time of the meeting, which would not signify a sexual encounter at all. The big break in the case, however, is when they look into Kovak’s history, and find that he’s a member of the alt-right who takes cases to destabilize leftist public personas in order to further the narrative of his movement.
This is an interesting turn of events, but it isn’t exactly spelled out how a young black man in a halfway house is suddenly working with an alt-right trolling lawyer… I expect that he met with Paul at first to try to get him to turn against the pastor in an effort to gain money or notoriety, but didn’t expose the “alt-right” aspect of it. Either way, the case just sort of disappears after that, and I didn’t get a sense of closure at all on whether there was any credibility that the young man was lying or if he was just manipulated by his lawyer.
After failing to get Maia’s attention, Henry orchestrates a suicide attempt. First, he writes a note for Lenore and Maia, then he dresses in his best suit. He leaves his watch, and goes to the barn to hang the noose. Amy gets Maia to check up on him, as she’s fearing the worst after getting his message. In a classic twist on a dramatic situation, he fails to get the noose deployed and accidentally falls over the railing in the barn, landing on his back.
Amy and Maia show up in time to hide the evidence of his suicide attempt, and later, this later fuels a proper emotional moment between Maia and Lenore at the hospital, as she reads his letter he originally left for them. He writes very eloquently that his wife and his daughter both deserved better from him. I was actually expecting more of an inquiry into the whole situation, but perhaps that will be saved for next week’s episode. This was one of the shorter parts of a busy episode, but probably the most effective for me.
“Did you hear what Trump did!?”
Colin and Lucca continue in their romantic side plot by saying gross things in public and threatening to have sex in a public bathroom. I’m not entirely annoyed by this, because they do have chemistry, and I laugh when people catch Colin saying lewd things on the phone while at work. I also like the awkward family introduction as well, as it brought back a familiar feeling that I’ve not felt since Alicia’s departure in the original series. At this point though, it feels a lot like they’re relying on old tricks without expanding on them too much, and the forced attempt at cable-like drama is reminding me of some of the dumber sexual interactions of TGW. But, this is just the beginning of the series, and there’s still interesting things that can happen in the political world of Chicago. I’m hoping this shapes up, narratively speaking, because Cush Jumbo kills each scene she’s in, even if the content is not really that fantastic yet.
Lucca’s exposure to the well-off Morello family’s liberal views entwined with indirect racist undertones (using her ethnicity to give validity to their opinions of President Trump/political situations that will not affect their posh lifestyle) unearthed a couple of threads: Colin’s being groomed to become a senator by the wealthy family and their friends, and Lucca does “get hurt by boys.” She reacts to the news of prospectively being racially-diverse arm candy for a budding politician by abruptly breaking up with Colin. Afterwards, she immediately breaks down in her car. Clearly, this isn’t going to be the end of that couple, and there’s still a rushed feeling to the whole thing, but it was still an effective emotional shot.
NEXT WEEK (really more like tomorrow, because I’m writing this on Saturday): Jane Lynch joins the cast as a tricky FBI agent who probes Maia’s memories, and Colin Sweeney will make an appearance. (I love Dylan Baker’s creepy portrayal of Mr. Sweeney, but that was a squarely-Alicia-facing side plot, so I don’t know how well this will work for me…)
– Wilson’s running excuse for a late review?: This week we had severe storms/tornadoes roll through during an otherwise already busy week and I lost internet connectivity at home for a while. Now, I’m currently down at the beach on a short vacation for the weekend. I’m also writing this review a week after watching the episode only once, so it’s thinner on the details than usual. Apologies, folks!
– They said the thing… They’ve used the word “fight” a lot this season, but Barbara actually was the one that said “the good fight” in this episode. The Kings have no problem with being on the nose with their dialogue.
– That Kovak dude, I really hope he never shows up again. He made my skin crawl…
– Marissa + Jay are a great duo. I wish Jay wasn’t just Marissa’s mentor character, though. (There was more autonomy this time where he got to be Adrian’s eyes and ears during the infighting at the firm, but… more please!)
Alright, now it’s your turn. What did you think? Join the discussion in the comments section below.