‘The Good Fight’ Recap 1×05: ‘Stoppable: Requiem for an Airdate’

Carrie Preston as Elsbeth and Matthew Perry as Mike Kresteva. Patrick Harbron/CBS

If you’ve spent this first season of The Good Fight so far wishing that the show would go just a scootch more meta, even with its many topical references to our political climate, then this is the week for you. The episode begins with a show-within-a-show — do not adjust your set, this is not a scene from Law and Order. It’s just made to look that way, because Reddick, Boseman, and Kolstad’s client this week is a Chicago writer who wrote a ripped-from-the-headlines episode about Donald Trump’s rape and molestation charges, only to find his network reluctant to air the episode after Trump won the presidency. With the airdate delayed indefinitely, the writer, a Mr. Fisk, took matters into his own hands and published the episode online, and is now facing a theft lawsuit from the network to the tune of $12 million. Oops. The lawyers start spitballing defense ideas, deciding whether the firm should take the case, but Adrian Boseman’s mind is already made up. He wants to use this case to expand into entertainment law; even though he expects to lose it, it’s an invaluable opportunity to “audition” in front of the network’s representatives.

For her part, Barbara Kolstad is like, “I’m glad you’ve found something you’re excited about, Adrian, but I’m still looking for that capital contribution from Diane, so let’s make that happen.” And he’s like, “Absolutely, I would love if you made that happen, feel free to talk to her at your earliest convenience,” and Kolstad is like, “expressionless face emoji”.

Elsewhere in the office, Mike Kresteva rolls in, harbinger of drama and destruction that he is, and starts confronting Maia about basically anything he can get a foothold with, which, no surprise, turns out to be Maia’s unsupervised visits with her father. It turns out that it’s not a good idea to provide valuable case information to your incarcerated family member, particularly without your attorney present, so Maia’s lawyer Yesha is understandably pretty pissed. By providing her dad with the Schtup List, Maia has tangled herself up in the very crimes that her dad is imprisoned for, which is just generally a pretty bad idea, but particularly when you’re an attorney yourself.

Back in the big girl storyline, where we know how to comport ourselves, Kolstad sits Diane down and lays down the law — if the firm doesn’t get her capital contribution within a week, they need to bump her down to “of counsel” status, which sounds like lawyer purgatory. Diane reluctantly agrees, and recommends that the firm retain its own lawyer, given the fact that she caught Kresteva making brazen use of the RBK offices to interview one its lawyers in, looking for evidence of wrongdoing. Seems like we should maybe get a secretary or something, to stop any old person from wandering in here, no?

But maybe rules just don’t apply to Kresteva, because we have a short scene slotted in here with him meeting with Henry Rindell at the prison. Maybe he has Alex Mack abilities and can goo-slide under doors.

Lest we forget that Diane is having money troubles, we’re treated to a scene of her scrolling through apartments for $2,000 per month or less — disgusting, can you imagine?? — when Kurt shows up, with a present and a favor to ask. The favor is for Diane to read over a speech he’s going to make to the ballistics union, and the gift is a gun. And um guys, did I miss something? Why is he giving her a gun? Is your one-year breakup anniversary Gun Anniversary? Anyway, he gives her a gun.

In court, we meet the judge, Mr. Thomas Glatt, who has absolutely no patience for the proceedings in front of him, and the network’s lawyer, Amber Wood-Lutz, who is deceptively good at her job. When the RBK lawyers argue that Mr. Fisk’s publishing of the episode is covered under Fair Use, which was Diane’s idea, she points out that it would need to be an excerpt of the entire work for those laws to apply; when they claim it’s a political statement rather than an economic one, she has a rebuttal witness who says Mr. Fisk published the episode because he thinks it’s his best work and was hoping it might net him an Emmy, and the two start screaming at each other in the courtroom. The judge labels it a “loser case,” and Boseman gets ready to double down — it’s audition time.

Speaking of auditions, we still need to find a lawyer for the firm to defend against Kresteva, and after interviewing an intensely tone-deaf white lawyer slash white rapper (??), Lucca decides it’s time to go with the unorthodox choice: Elsbeth Mothereffing Tascioni. For some reason we meet up with her in a doctor’s exam room, and Boseman isn’t immediately convinced by her demeanor, but that’s the Elsbeth we all know and love. She asks for a day to figure out what information is missing from the Kresteva situation that’s causing him to come after the firm so hard. Also, at the same interview restaurant from before, Diane runs into Neil Gross (John Benjamin Hickey) of ChumHum and ridiculous amounts of money fame, who indicates that he’s not happy witih his current representation and is looking around.

Meanwhile, Mr. Rindell has suddenly and mysteriously been granted bail, and professional lawyer Maia still hasn’t learned her very simple lesson, and comes over to the house without her lawyer to greet him. It’s a real weird vibe, both with him — it seems like he maybe knows his wife hooked up with his brother? — and with Lenore.

In her office, Diane interrupts her sad apartment search to help Kurt with his speech, helping him demystify his language over some very large glasses of wine and heaping bowls of sexual tension (not pictured).

Thinking she’s won, the network lawyer is willing to cut their ask to $6 million and a public apology, but Boseman turns them down, with the argument that they’re asking for damages on an episode that they never intended to air. Back in court, the RBK lawyers call network executive Maurice Weintraub, who was initially on the prosecutor’s list of witnesse. They ask him when he was planning to air the episode, and after some back-and-forth, prove that the network had already ordered an extra episode for the season on November 18th, ten days after the election, but before Fisk put the episode online, suggesting that their decision not to air the episode was connected to the election result and not Fisk’s publishing of it, as they’d initially claimed.

Meanwhile, Elsbeth is already hard at workgetting some evidence and stealing the show, creeping up on Kresteva at a diner, where she overhears him on the phone suggesting that he is responsible for Rindell making bail, and then sits down across from him, because she fears no man and wants him to know whom he’s facing off with. He brags about having sway at the Department of Justice, and threatens her with the line, “You go after me professionally, i’ll go after you personally. And I tend to win.” Neat.

After making really infuriating, jokey/cocky eye contact with Morello, who snuck into the courtroom during her cross-examination, Lucca meets him in the hallway for some verbal sparring. Standing way too close to each other’s faces, Morello stops flirting for long enough to tell Lucca that he spoke to the Assistant Attorney General on the firm’s behalf, and that Kresteva should be backing off. And Lucca’s like, “Yeah cool thanks, now he’s coming after us about the Rindell Fund.” And if you think that Morello will have a more intelligent, two-dimensional response then, “Well now I’m pissed,” then I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this is a ten-episode season, and there are only so many characters we can flesh out.

In another portion of the hallway, Amber Wood-Lutz is onto why Boseman is pursuing the case, and warns him that it’s not a good idea to upset people like Mr. Weintraub if you want to continue working in this industry. Cut to the office, and he’s ready to start wrapping things up and thinking about making a deal, so it seems like her pseudo-threat worked.

Or did it? Neil Gross finally comes in to check out the firm, and he tells Diane that part of the reason he’s excited about RBK is because of cases like Mr. Fisk’s, and that the firm doesn’t back down in the face of pressure. He wants representation that doesn’t mind wading into the fray and putting up a fight, and Diane is like, “Cough cough cough excuse me, I must mysteriously go into the other room and reverse the plot, nothing to see here, don’t worry about it.”

Elsewhere in the office, someone is finally speaking to Maia like an adult, and it’s Elsbeth, who wants to know why Mr. Rindell is out on bail, and what names he could’ve given up in exchange for his freedom. Maia tells her about the Schtup List, and confidently states that no clients or lawyers from RBK were connected to the List, and Elsbeth is like, “Yeah mmmkay baby girl, but what about you?” She warns Maia that if her father recorded their conversation, she’s implicated as well, and that he might be turning on her to lighten his sentence. So just, y’know, be aware, I guess?

Diane shows up to support Kurt during his speech at Ballistics World; when it goes well, he kisses her full on the mouth. And apparently does more than that, because later on, relaxing in Diane’s apartment, he notices boxes and gets out of her that she’s moving. He invites her to move in with him, saying he really wants to help her, but she declines.

In another Chicago home, Kresteva is getting home from work, only to find Elsbeth already there, drinking with his wife Deirdre after staging a run-in at Trader Joe’s by pretending to be Kresteva’s coworker. Elsbeth helped Kresteva’s wife address thank you notes for their anniversary, which would give her information about their closest friends, and Elsbeth also pretty casually drops the knowledge that she’s been in Kresteva’s study. #powermove. He excuses himself to go frantically paw through the room in search of something, and finds Elsbeth’s business card tucked under his keyboard. I love her. Welcome back, Carrie Preston.

Kresteva is less of a fan, and as he walks Elsbeth out to her car, he threatens to bring her before a disbarment committee. She reminds him of his statement from before about going after her personally, and he tries to deny it, but she has it on tape. And it’s not an illegal recording if she uses it to debunk a lie, so you better sleep with one eye open, baby boy!

Fresh off their pep talk with Neil Gross’ wallet, the RBK lawyers are back in the courtroom with renewed vigor, ready to fight again. They compare their client to the man standing in front of the tanks in Tianamen Square, and just as the judge is about to rule, a gift drops into their lap: Trump tweeted about this specific court cate, which is a prima facie government action that automatically triggers a First Amendment defense. They didn’t have a case, but now they do, and Amber Wood-Lutz is ready to call it even after a public apology, but now the RBK lawyers are thinking about damages themselves.

Meanwhile, Lucca and Morello are having their milkshake date, and it’s just as awkward as you always feared! He calls her out on not revealing anything about herself, and she waves a red flag right in his face with the bomb, “I don’t have a friend.” But isntead of turning tail and running for the hills, Morello kisses her against a car with its alarm going off, and the two of them make sex, after which she admits that she did have one best friend once, a coworker. She doesn’t turn straight to camera and mouth, “A-L-I-C-I-A,” but we get the idea.

Hot off their victory against the network, RBK is about to successfully sign Neil Gross, when Diane sees an opportunity and says she won’t bring him if she’s bumped down to “of counsel,” and demands A. that her capital contribution come from the ChumHum retainer, and B. to become a name partner. The firm nominally gives her a yes, but Barbara Kolstad is not about this life. Tune in next week to see her get talked over her male peers again! ‘The Good Fight’ Recap 1×05: ‘Stoppable: Requiem for an Airdate’