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The Good Fight - Social Media and Its Discontents - Review: "Don't Feed the Trolls."

1.06 - "Social Media and its Discontents"

This week, the Maia seeks Elsbeth's help in trying to determine her father's motives, While the partners of Reddick, Boseman, & Kolstad all get trolled by their new client and a slew of internet alt-right scabbit users. Lucca and Colin have dinner.

"Told you I'm Jewish!"

The case of the week was less of an actual legal case, and more of an examination of politics and censorship on the internet -- with the rise of what is broadly termed the "alt-right" and the "left's" reactionary behavior to the profane things that are spammed in public forums like reddit and twitter. (In Our case, this is represented by ChumHum's "Scabbit" and "ChummyFriends") It also dominated the episode, as Maia's and Lucca's side-plots filled in the gaps between the controversial case of the week's scenes.

Neil Gross, in his own sleazy way, manages to demean the entire firm he's just hired, as he patronizes everyone in the room by saying their black faces give him "hope." (I almost cringed as hard as the inset scabbit poster threats, which I suspect was the point) He has brought to his new firm a need for a systemic response for trolls posting problematic posts and threats using his social media platforms, and needs a terms of service update by the end of the day so he can roll out the change and keep advertisers on his sites.

They work with posts that have been printed out (lol), and try to sort the posts into various types of offensive material. I really couldn't tell if it was intentional for the firm to be taking such an outdated approach to something like this, and for the rest of the case, I had to suspend belief quite far away from reality...as they go on to set up an in-person review board for whoever contests their banning after the terms have been set.

The posts themselves, read by actors that definitely looked and sounded the part of an alt-right internet troll, ranged from terrifyingly glib, to obvious and silly. But, so do trolls in real life. I think the reading of these posts, and the reactions by characters were well done. I don't know that anything else that came of the "case" worked out quite as well, though.

The 1 user that took them up on their in-person appeals process to become "unbanned" was James Cameron Mitchell's -- Felix Staples -- an analogue for a certain well-known alt-right community leader.

Without getting any further into specifics, the aspects I liked about this case was that through Diane, Adrian, Maia, Lucca, and Barbara, we were able to examine a liberal's reaction to such hateful speech, (with their sometimes thoughtful, sometimes brash reactions) while through foil characters like Julius and Felix, it was brought up that on some level speech is still speech, no matter how inane or absolutely horrific it sounds. The entire point of the movement by the ones posting on scabbit were to get people to be upset. Banning users, setting up broad rules around posting, etc. often rattles the cage and doesn't solve the issue, especially when they can always just create more accounts, or move it elsewhere. However, Felix's use of expected liberal accounts calling him horrible things in response to the things he's posted was just a weak argument. You spew vitriol and outrage on the internet knowing what you'll get back. Partially, Diane's final tell-off to Felix covered that issue. He just wanted the attention, and when she and the others on the appeal panel stopped giving him the attention he craved, it worked to shut him down in a way.

Long story short: do not not feed the trolls. It took the entire episode for Diane to get the hint. Also, it didn't make any real sense for Neil Gross to throw that at the firm, as he was CEO of a multi-billion dollar social media platform, and he definitely knew on some level how to handle that type of content. After some fun investigative tactics courtesy of Marissa and Jae, they find out that Neil Gross was really trolling the firm as well, by leaking all the measures taken by the firm to censor the trolling users. So not only was he patronizing the firm, he was also using them as a possible scapegoat in a social media experiment. Nice guy.

"Family's... hard."

Early in this week's episode, Maia has a strained conversation with her uncle Jax, who begs her to keep away from her father. He claims Henry has made a deal to make bail and plans to use her through approaching her with questions while wearing a wire. She shrugs him off at first, but then remembers that her father has in fact contacted her, wanting to talk in private.

Unable to deal with the situation on her own, she approaches Elsbeth for advice. Elsbeth, of course gives her two options while dealing with her electronic sidekick Aida: Avoid her father entirely, or feed him false information about the case, while also secretly recording it.

Eventually, Maia realizes she won't be able to stay away from her father's calls for her, and she comes, ready to record any illegal conversations they might have. She's originally put off by an extravagant dinner party (a little early to be celebrating isn't it? He is out on bail, after all...), but later still finds herself in the uncomfortable position of being alone with her father, as he seemingly tries to pry confidential/illegal information from her about her firm. She gives in, and tells her father the made-up information about a client giving her partner a 'bonus' for doing illegal work on the side. In her pocket, her phone recording every word.

Rose Leslie once again said an awful lot without saying a word in her scenes this week. I will admit that at first I wasn't as pleased with her casting as I thought I'd be, but I think she's very nuanced in her scenes with her father as well as Elsbeth. There's both a little bit of strength/nerve to her, but also a real genuine and aching disappointment in her eyes as well.

Maia brings her recorded results to Elsbeth, who then shares the information with the partners and Lucca, stating that if that false information somehow surfaces in Mike Kresteva's case, it has the implication that Henry Rindell is actively working against the firm's -- and his daughter's -- interests, and that Kresteva is being untoward in his investigation of the firm.

"Dinner? Or Dinner-Dinner?"

Throughout the episode, Colin and Lucca played phone tag in their budding sexual relationship. Colin continues to be smug and kind of annoying, but this time Lucca got weirdly uptight, and tried to throw Colin off by having him run into her with her trainer at a restaurant. He doesn't fall for the bait, and the two end up having dinner on the side of the road in Colin's car. I buy that Lucca is a very sexually active and open person, I just don't know that I buy the relationship that much, and their scenes were kind of so-so, because it didn't really feel like they have anything to say for the relationship... (more on that in the notes)

This ongoing play of back-and-forth sexual dalliance is then thoughtfully used at the end of the episode, when Colin once again says he needs to see Lucca immediately. While we're expecting at this point for them to basically fornicate in her see-through-glass-window-paned office, instead he's come to say that he has been informed that Adrian Boseman has illegal dealings with a client, and she should keep her distance from the firm's financial information. She scans the background, locating Maia, with a knowing look as she realizes that Maia's father has betrayed her, and is working against the firm with Mike Kresteva.

NEXT WEEK: It's Elsbeth Tascioni v. Mike Kresteva in a slimey showdown. Who will emerge victorious?


- Wow, I think this might be the first CBS drama that's dropped every 4-letter word in the book. This week topped all previous episodes of Fight with  "c***" as well as a plethora of anti-semitic, rape-centered, and otherwise chauvinistic rhetoric.

- I typically use a line from the episode itself, but all of the good ones were too profane, so I put my summary of the thought of the episode in as the review subheading. Hope that's ok. (It's gonna mess with me and my ongoing formula for these things, but OH WELL)

- The "Damien!" scene was both overdone and still kind of funny, but only because Damien while waiting in the scene started taking out his chewing gum at some point. I laughed so hard at that, the rest of it was meh, but probably not far off from something that would be done by the actual individual Felix was emulating.

- The scabbit posts were very unsettling. I think they alone conveyed a strong part of the story that maybe the rest of the episode didn't quite get across as well.

- It literally took 1 episode for Neil Gross to show his ass and screw the firm over. I really hate that character, and hope this doesn't ruin Diane's place at the table. Also, Why did Barbara and Adrian go along with the whole situation after he basically played them? I guess money talks. But I don't buy that he's gonna stick around.

- Marissa + Jae are just so great together. Jae telling her to be a Product Analyst because "no one asks what that is" had me audibly laugh out loud. I intend on mentioning this to the Product Analysts I work with, for sure.

- This episode in places felt pretty forced/"edgy" to me. I really still enjoyed it, but it didn't quite feel worth it. I still definitely appreciate the extremely up-to-date story that this "case" brought us viewers. Really, the most forced aspect of the episode was Colin and Lucca's dinner date. I'm glad they're bonding, but that whole situation reeks of cliche' and usually The Kings handle romantic and even dirty/sexual sideplots better than this...

- Julius Cain has never been a fully-developed character in TGW or TGF, so his sudden departure doesn't really sting terribly, but he was making decent arguments/devil's advocate points during the initial conversations over the scabbit content.

- So, at the end it seems Diane's power grab from last episode has run its course. Her standing up to Neil Gross for using their firm ended up having him isolate himself from her and turn to Adrian and Barbara at the end. That has to sting. But she had to know what kind of spiteful, immature person he was.

Alright, now it's your turn. What did you think? Join the discussion in the comments section below.