Be careful what you wish for, Diane Lockhart. That’s the subtext of The Good Fight‘s revisionist history-themed Season 4 opener, which finds Christine Baranski’s liberal champion slipping into an alternate reality wherein Hillary Clinton prevailed over Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
The episode, penned by series co-creators Robert and Michelle King, finds Diane back in the same spot she was three years ago at the start of the pilot: Watching the inauguration at home. Only this time, it’s Clinton being sworn in, and Diane is ecstatic. Her celebration is cut short though when the picture on her TV goes out. It was too good to be true.
Or was it?
Diane shows up to work and quickly realizes that Clinton is the president — and has been for the past three years. Diane comes to the conclusion that it was Trump’s presidency that she dreamt. Diane is back to being elated. And when she is informed that the Supreme Court seat that she thought went to Brett Kavanaugh actually went to Elizabeth Warren. she’s practically beside herself with glee. And there’s more good news coming. Turns out, Clinton’s accomplishments as president also include finding a cure for cancer and reversing global warming.
“I have been weighted down for what feels like years, and it all suddenly just lifted,” she exclaims to her confused and concerned partners Liz and Adrian. “I have never been better!”
Her tune begins to change when she slowly comes to the realization that not all aspects of life have improved under a Clinton presidency. For starters, one of the byproducts of Trump losing the election was that women felt somewhat vindicated. He didn’t get away with his misogyny. And without that pervasive feeling of anger and injustice, the #MeToo movement never took hold. In fact, not only is Harvey Weinstein a free man, he’s Diane’s newest rock star client (not to mention a recent winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom).
“Justice is an equation,” Diane shrugs. “Justice equals the law times the zeitgeist. The law on its own doesn’t stand up. You need the mood of the times on your side. In my dream, women held a march and said, ‘No more.'”
Diane attempts to get #MeToo off the ground herself, but she’s met with resistance at every turn — from men and women. “You’re trying to suggest women get angry about abuse, right? That’s not a message that helps us in 2020,” Clinton’s press secretary explains to Diane. “Hillary only gets re-elected if men don’t feel women are leading with their anger.”
Things go from bad to worse when Diane tracks down her husband Kurt, only, in a world where Clinton is president, he’s dead. It’s not clear what exactly killed him. And it doesn’t much matter, because seconds later Diane is waking up on the floor of her bedroom. And just like that, we’re back where we left off at the end of Season 3, with a S.W.A.T. Team closing in on her as a (a very much alive and well) Kurt looks on.
I love when The Good Fight takes big swings like this, but this one didn’t quite land for me. For every inspired, wink-wink moment (Diane’s line about the Obamas being tied up with their overall deal at Netflix was particularly biting), there were long stretches of weightless indulgence (returning guest star John Cameron Mitchell’s extended bit as alt-right provocateur Felix Staples went on for what seemed like forever — and that’s before he reappeared post-credits.)
And the “rules” of the narrative device were not particularly well defined, giving the hour a scattershot vibe. If it was all supposed to be a dream, why did it only feel like a dream in the final five minutes? So much of the preceding hour was devoted to Diane reacting in shock at how different the world was under a Clinton presidency, as well as other characters reacting to her reactions. A more interesting, streamlined hour would’ve had Diane being guided through the alt-reality as an observer, It’s a Wonderful Life-style. It would’ve been fun to see how Diane would’ve operated in this alternate universe without being able to compare it to life under Trump.
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