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The Good Fight - Self Condemned - Review: "Queen for a day"

1.09 - "Self Condemned"

This week, Maia faces a quirky FBI Investigator in a proffer to see what Maia knew about the Ponzi scheme while growing up in the Rindell household. Diane and Adrian finally get a chance to get a repeat-offending officer off the force for good, in a police brutality case that involves...Colin Sweeney.



"Well, here's the problem..."

In some off-screen moment, apparently the FBI and Maia agreed to a "proffer" to speak with her about what she knew about the Ponzi scheme in the years leading up to her father's arrest. Anything they could get from Maia would not necessarily be used against her or even Henry, it was just supposedly, as they say a "queen for a day" agreement. However, that didn't mean she could lie or change things to make it look better for her parents.

I struggled with the brisk opening of having Maia already sitting and waiting for the proffer interview to take place, because it assumes a lot of things, including that Maia has any way of actually helping herself or her parents in the first place.

As the interview begins, and is punctuated with birds flying into the windows occasionally, as well as a "folksy" persona put on by Madeline Starkey (Jane Lynch), Maia's FBI interviewer, it becomes clear that Maia's been brought in simply to see if she will lie about facts they have already dug up. By the end of the day, through many memories and fact-checking conversations, we see where Maia's head was in multiple situations during the years from 2008 until 2017, when her father was arrested. She could have mentioned how she saw her parents react to the Lehman Bros. fallout, but she instead tried to point the narrative at her uncle Jackson, as he was the one who supposedly comforted an investor that day, who showed up at their house in tears.

She could have mentioned that just because she remembered trips to the doctor back in those years, that they might not have been the ones marked on the calendar. She could have brought up the fact that Henry and Lenore both spoke about Bernie Madoff at the time of Maia's 18th birthday party, that she overheard them specifically freak out over an SEC audit, or that she outright avoided telling her father that Amy's parents wanted to invest with the Rindell fund. She could have stated that she could never get a straight answer out of her parents regarding the money in the Rindell Foundation. But, she never really said anything, until it came to Amy's parents. She stated, after some grooming by Lucca, that she just didn't feel like it was the right idea to have Amy's parents get involved with the Rindell fund. But, at that point, she'd already completely come across as ingenuine, and while I don't know how that translates outright to perjury, Madeline Starkey asserts finally that she knows Maia is lying, and that she's committed a felony in trying to shield her parents from their involvement in the scheme.

Maia shows here how naive she truly is, as she just can't muster the will to turn on her parents after clearly realizing through the years that she knew something was wrong. Her Mother, father, and her uncle all had to be complicit in the fraud, but the only one she'd flip on was her uncle. Lucca's advice was very bad at the end as well. At this point it had to be obvious that the FBI had more on the Rindells than they were letting on, and that Maia should have just cut it short.

The scenes themselves, however, were tense, and thrilling in their own way. Lucca cutting through Starkey's bullshit facade by catching her in a lie (which is perfectly fine, but a young woman's remembrance of past events that happened while she was a teenager is totally grounds for a felony) and later Maia catching her in a mix-up of events regarding when she was turning 18 were all well-played. Jane Lynch was fantastically cast in an almost anti-Elsbeth Tascioni role, and she's now my favorite antagonist character we've seen since The Good Wife. She had everything figured out from the beginning and just used Maia's worry and Lucca's aggressive stance against them to weedle what she could from Maia's testimony. It seemed like she knew she would lie about something, eventually and just waited for the right moment to catch her. This will surely be used against the Rindell family in some form, and could ruin Maia's career. 


"Shut up, Mr. Sweeney!"

In the case of the week, the "White billionaire wife-killer....allegedly" Colin Sweeney made his Good Fight re-introduction. As per usual, he spoke up at the worst times, saying the most god-awful things, and totally came across as the kinky, creepy, murderous, entitled moron that he is. Which is to say, he was great. Another day, another dark-haired fetish-indulging girlfriend that takes the stand against Colin Sweeney. This time, Sweeney was the best chance the firm had to finally nail the crooked cop Andrew Throeau -- the same officer who was the subject of the last police brutality case in 1.01.

According to Throeau, Sweeney punched him in the face as he was pulled over on suspicion of having drugs, but Sweeney was the one claiming to be a victim of brutality, as he was kicked in the head for no reason. In a series of entertaining, if familiar back-and-forth moments in the courtroom, it comes down to his current Hebrew-speaking girlfriend's testimony that could end up landing him in jail. Jay, in his first solo case of investigating this season, finds a man named Richard Hess was a witness to the cop pulling Sweeney over, and could verify the events of the night. He's a dead end for use in court however, because Sweeney refuses to allow them to put him on the stand.

During a late night meeting with Diane, Adrian comes to his senses and realizes they completely missed a proper witness in Todd Newsom, the other man that was brought in with Sweeney by Throeau the same night. However, this witness's testimony was rather strangely helpful without being obvious -- how did they know he was brought in on trumped up charges? He was brought in for possession of heroin, but was found to be innocent, as Throeau had apparently planted the evidence on him. This was completely out of left field, however. We didn't hear enough from this guy earlier in the episode for me to simply buy that someone else on that same night was screwed over by the same cop, and that there was nothing done about the cop's planting drugs on an arrestee. Either way, the corrupt cop was finally found out, and Colin Sweeney was proven innocent again, but for once he actually didn't do anything.



IN THE FINALE: Mr. Stack (Jason Biggs), a.k.a. "Mr. Bitcoin" and alt-right online troll Felix Staples both make an appearance, while the tables turn as the Rindell case seemingly comes to a close. The finale goes live at midnight on Sunday, April 16th. 

Notes:

- I can't tell if I'm more frustrated with the characters or with the writing being really hard to grasp lately... There's a lot of things that are vaguely apparent to characters that doesn't translate to me very well. But I could just be slow to get where things are going at times.

- What was the actual point of a proffer? I don't understand what in the world Maia could have gained by facing Madeline Starkey... All she did was garner a charge of felony perjury. And this will come back to bite her in the ass. I suppose if she actually mentioned the things she was remembering, it would have helped her, but she didn't mention anything that could be useful.

- Colin Sweeney was an Alicia-centered character. It feels weird that he's there and she's not. At least he mentioned "A-le-cia" or something like that at some point.. (lol)

- I've been so caught up in the craziness that I almost lost sight of Yesha Mancini. Now, Lucca is representing Maia... WHAT HAPPENED?? Where is my Yesha Mancini!? Please, don't let this be the first Fight character to randomly disappear, like so many Wife characters before.

- Todd Newsom and Colin Sweeney were in the same holding cell that they had Jeffrey Grant held up in during season 5 of The Good Wife. (For those that don't recall, Kalinda at some point showed up there to offer him a way to kill himself with his own belt in exchange for insight into why he killed Will Gardner)

- Oh look, Jay got his own episode to show out and not be at the mercy of Marissa's story arc. I'm pleased.

- I want to be annoyed at the use of familiar tactics like having random shit happen in a tense scene, (cue the birds) but it's part of the charm of the show at this point, and the straightforward physical comedy of birds crashing into windows to their deaths while the main characters get serious in the office works as well as it still feels weirdly cheap.

- Jay mentioning that Richard Hess was vetting a possible "ambassador" in Colin Sweeney went right over my head that first time I watched it. Whoosh.

- Judge Linden was not exceptionally eccentric, but given that it's Colin Sweeney episode, it's likely that an eccentric judge like Judge Lessner or Judge Cuesta would be too much at once for this episode. The last time we saw Mark Linn-Baker's Judge Linden was The Good Wife's "The Dream Team," which was the finale of season 3.


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

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