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The Good Fight’s grand jury prioritizes the fight over the fighters

Illustration for article titled The Good Fight’s grand jury prioritizes the fight over the fighters

The Good Fight’s first season has been building to a showdown between the city of Chicago and Reddick, Boseman, & Kolstad. Mike Kresteva has made it his mission to bring down the firm for costing the city and state money with their police brutality cases, and by bringing Henry Rindell onboard, all of the series’ central conflicts have collided. “Not So Grand Jury” is a tedious, plot heavy episode masquerading as something much more exciting. It manages to be fun and twisty in certain moments, but overall, it’s a contrived and tidy resolution to all of the series’ ongoing storylines, which is especially worrisome since there are still a few more episodes left in the season with little momentum to build off of.

Right away, this episode establishes fast pacing that carries through for the entirety of the back-and-forth dance between the law firm and Kresteva. That pacing makes it feel like the episode is extremely high stakes throughout, but after the first act, it becomes clear that “Not So Grand Jury” is too meticulously plotted for its own good. Everything wraps up way too neatly. One of the biggest revelations in the episode relies on Marissa Gold recalling a number from her tax form for the previous year. It’s just so convenient that it crosses the line into unbelievable territory. The show’s strongest moments have been its most grounded, and even though it’s often heavy-handed with its themes, it’s usually more convincing with its twists and turns than this episode is.

When Kresteva slams the firm with a slew of subpoenas, Elsbeth Tascioni strikes back with a tortious interference suit. While Kresteva is carrying out his grand jury against the firm, she uses her lawsuit to undermine him and figure out exactly what he’s going after. It’s a fun setup, and it’s especially rewarding to see Elsbeth outmatch Kresteva at every turn, but the interplay between the two court cases starts to feel too cyclical. In both courtrooms, characters tediously spell out plot developments. It’s not overcomplicated, but it does feel like the episode is biting off more than it can chew—something Kresteva explicitly accuses Elsbeth of doing when she first files her suit.

That being said, it’s easy to get swept up in the events of the episode, which plays to some of the strengths of the ensemble cast but just can’t quite make all the pieces line up. The first act is its strongest. Even just the sequence of everyone being served is effective and telling. We get a peek at the personal lives of Adrian, Barbara, and Lucca, and it’s especially revealing for the first two since we haven’t really seen either of them outside of the office. Adrian is in the middle of a cooking class, and Barbara is on a date with an old acquaintance from college when they’re both served with subpoenas. Lucca is getting ready for her run. In all three scenarios, we get to see these characters’ lives outside of the office, revealing new sides to them. It’s well executed character development, and it’s one of the only times that “Not So Grand Jury” feels effortless. Everything else is so meticulously plotted and aimed at resolving some of the season’s main conflicts that it’s hard to be totally immersed in the story.

If there’s anyone keeping the courtroom proceedings afloat, it’s Colin and Lucca. Colin’s boss pressures him to break up with her after asking him to defend Kresteva in Elsbeth’s countersuit, but Colin ignores the request and keeps seeing her. Lucca uses her relationship with him to her advantage in court, throwing him off with subtle flirtations. Both add an extra layer of scorn to their testimonies, making for delicious proceedings. They have a genuine and rich connection that adds to the emotional parts of the show’s narrative but also informs the plot. But other than that, both the grand jury and the tortious interference case are very mechanic, restating plot developments without making the stakes feel high. “Not So Grand Jury” is the first instance where it seems like The Good Fight has too many players in the game. It moves the story forward much more capably than last episode, but it moves it toward rather anticlimactic resolution.

Though very different, the chemistry between Carrie Preston and Matthew Perry similarly fuels some of the more invigorating parts of the episode. Lucca and Colin are thrilling love interests, and Elsbeth and Kresteva are thrilling rivals. Their tension comes to a head, and Elsbeth is especially incisive in her attacks. Elsbeth occasionally veers into farcical territory, but not here. She’s as quirky and fun as ever, but she’s much more than comedic relief. Reddick, Boseman, & Kolstad needs her, and The Good Fight does, too. Elsbeth acts as connective tissue between the series’ main storylines. She’s more than just fun to watch; she’s essential to the narrative. And watching Preston go toe-to-toe with Perry makes for captivating drama.


“Not So Grand Jury” rather succinctly comes up with resolutions for Kresteva’s war on the law firm and the Rindell scandal. Maia and her father finally admit to one another that they’ve been playing each other. They take out their recording devices and finally speak freely. Henry admits to working with Kresteva to bring down the law firm in exchange for a lighter sentence. He admits to turning in Diane Lockhart, who turns out to be one of Kresteva’s main targets. When she leaked information to Adrian, she opened herself up to investigation. The Schtup List—a log of VIP clients that Rindell’s fund went the extra (A.K.A. illegal) mile for—turns out to contain plenty of employees of Diane’s old firm (again, the way this is discovered is through Marissa Gold’s impossibly good memory). This all leads to a very good scene between Adrian and Diane that touches on some of the show’s central themes. Delroy Lindo, in particular, gives a great performance in this episode. But “Not So Grand Jury” ultimately slows the series’ momentum by solving all the problems in one fell swoop. The only attempt at keeping the momentum alive comes in the form of Kresteva’s ominous words to Elsbeth near the end. According to him, it isn’t over. And yet, “Not So Grand Jury” feels largely conclusive. With the grand jury hearing over, Kresteva no longer reigns as the series’ Big Bad.

“Not So Grand Jury” isn’t preachy and overwrought in the way that the last episode of The Good Fight was. In fact, it plays out like an exciting legal thriller. But in trying to accomplish too much from a plot perspective, the show loses sight of its characters. To promote this episode, CBS All Access posted an article titled “Marissa Schools Kresteva On White Privilege” with an accompanying clip from the episode. In that moment from the episode, Marissa doesn’t so much school Kresteva about white privilege as say the words “white privilege” in his presence. Now, I don’t think shows should be judged based on their promotional campaigns, but it did make me think about how The Good Fight sometimes positions itself as something that it’s not. It has adopted the vocabulary of current social justice issues, but it doesn’t go much further than the language. Elsbeth figures out that the key to stopping the grand jury is to bring out its racial implications. The assistant attorney general is already worried that the case is coming off as racist, so if the firm plays to that, they might be able to get it dismissed. When Barbara’s asked if she can help make it seem like the indictment is about race, she astutely replies that it is about race. No matter how Kresteva or his bosses spin it, the case against Reddick, Boseman, & Kolstad is not about saving the city money. It’s about squashing police brutality casses, and police brutality cases are inextricable from race. Adrian, Barbara, and Marissa all manage to bring everything back to race in their grand jury testimonies, but “Not So Grand Jury” fails to really engage with the racial politics at play.


Marissa throws around the phrase “white privilege,” but the episode hardly touches on what white privilege means in the context of this case. While it’s a thrilling and complex episode on the surface, “Not So Grand Jury” falls short on really saying anything about the issues it raises. I often compared The Good Wife to a ballet, and this episode of The Good Fight evokes that same energy. But it lacks dynamics. With the exception of Maia’s fraught interactions with her father and Lucca’s sexy interactions with Colin, the episode is so fixated on gunning for a tight conclusion that it’s not engaging enough. “Not So Grand Jury” is more about the fight than the fighters. It’s tough to see where The Good Fight will go from here, and since it’s a short streaming season, the show has to keep the momentum alive more than its network predecessor had to.

Stray observations

  • The Good Callback: Obviously, there’s the familiar Good Wife process server who serves everyone all episode. Other than that, just the grand jury proceedings alone feel very familiar to any fan of The Good Wife. Alicia Florrick once invoked the ol’ fable that a Chicago grand jury will indict a ham sandwich, and that sentiment is alive and well here. Elsbeth explains that the only way to beat the grand jury is to squash it entirely.
  • The Good Fashion: Lucca Quinn looks fabulous throughout, but Maia’s dress from the final meeting with her father is the best look of the episode.
  • I was starting to get annoyed with the jokes about Elsbeth’s Amazon Echo-like device, but I was happy to see that “Ada” ended up having more significance to the story: Kresteva seized the device from Elsbeth, which led to his discovery that Maia fed her father false information. The look on Elsbeth’s face when she’s reunited with Ada is priceless.
  • On that note, Carrie Preston is especially good in this episode. Elsbeth is as sharp as ever, sinking her teeth into Kresteva and reveling in her victory.