Well, that was insanity.
However, unlike the season premiere, The Good Fight Season 5 Episode 2 was precisely the right blend of crazy and comical without going too far off the rails into Jeffrey Epstein’s frozen penis territory.
It’s good to be back.
So what pray tell is this absurdity, you ask? Well, it’s everything that goes on in Judge Wackner’s courtroom.
First off, I have no idea whether or not there’s any legitimacy to creating such a court, but it doesn’t matter upon further examination.
Diane: Start again. What?
Phoebe: There’s a court behind the court that’s adjudicating Hedger’s case.
Diane: I don’t understand. Is it a mediation court?
Phoebe: No, it’s a court someone invented.
Diane: Then why are we there?
Phoebe: Because the plaintiff’s there with an attorney.
Diane: Wait, if it has no power and it has no jurisdiction, what does it have?
Phoebe: A judge in a robe.
The show has always excelled at thought-provoking conversations, and 9¾ Circuit Court, whether plausible or not, is no different.
Yes, everything that happened in Judge Wackner’s courtroom was ludicrous, from the point system and good sportsmanship handshakes to completely ignoring some rules of law, but the fake judge’s motivations behind creating such a court were interesting.
People have increasingly believed that the justice system is broken, and to some extent, they’re not wrong.
The justice system perpetuates institutionalized racism and classism and fails to target the root cause of crime, such as mental illness, drug addiction, and collective community, intergenerational trauma.
There’s an inherent mistrust of the system, and for all the conversations about changing the system, there’s never been much thought given to what a complete overhaul of the courts could look like.
People always talk of change, but they usually spend hours debating these things, going in circles, and nothing ever gets accomplished.
Well, Judge Wackner apparently had enough, and when the courts closed during the pandemic, he took it upon himself to create a makeshift court behind a copy shop.
Is this completely crazy? Sure, but so was the rest of 2020.
Diane: I don’t understand. What is this?
Marissa: I have no idea.
Diane: Then why are you arguing here? Why are you arguing at all? You’re not a lawyer.
Marissa: If I didn’t argue, we were going to lose.
Diane: Lose what? This is not a courtroom in the back of a copy coop, and what is William Schultz doing there?
Marissa: He’s representing the plaintiff.
Diane: I’m losing my mind. Look, this is not legal. We’ve got to get out of here.
Toni: No, I don’t want to.
Diane: Toni, whatever happens here, it’s irrelevant. It doesn’t matter if we win or lose.
Toni: Look, those are some of the other parents suing me. They’re seeing how this case goes.
Diane: Which is why we don’t want to lose her.
Toni: So let’s not. Look, I like this judge. He’s better than the judges in real court.
Diane: That’s the point. It’s not real.
Toni: Diane, what is real? I have spent the last eight months going from one deposition to another, and nothing ever happens. It just keeps getting delayed and pushed, and I can’t get on with my life. This is reality to me. I want you to win the case here.
Besides, this show and its predecessor have explored all types of courts — military tribunals, private school honor boards, Catholic arbitration, bond court, and even the Court of Arbitration for Sports operating entirely under Swiss law.
So why would a make-believe court with no power nor jurisdiction be any different?
It truly is a brilliant storytelling direction for the series, and Mandy Patinkin is perfectly cast as affable Judge Hal Wackner.
The only possible problem I can foresee is how the series intends to weave Judge Wackner and his makeshift court into the rest of the season.
Having Diane and Marissa’s client appear in the 9¾ Circuit Court worked well for a one-off.
Still, it’d be too unbelievable if all of their cases suddenly happened to be in front of Judge Wackner, especially since he’s not a real judge.
No, the show now has to find a semi-believable way for Judge Wackner and the lawyers at Reddick Lockhart to keep crossing paths.
Hopefully, one of those “lawyers” is Marissa because otherwise, she doesn’t get to practice law, seeing as she’s still in law school.
Marissa: Defense counsel asks that the court grant a continuance until such time as we’ve been able to…
Wackner: You’re defense counsel. Why do you refer to yourself in the third-person?
Marissa: I’m not actually licensed to practice law.
Wackner: I’m not actually licensed to be a judge, so we’re in the same boat. Mr. Schultz, please call your first witness.
Attorney Schlutz: Ready, your honor.
Marissa: Wait, can I object?
Wackner: Overruled. Mr. Schultz, go ahead.
Marissa: Let me call the real lawyer. I’m not her lawyer.
Wackner: What’s your name?
Wackner: Marissa, you understand the issues in this case?
Wackner: You believe in your client?
Wackner: You have the summons?
Marissa: Yeah, here.
Wackner: What else you need? Let’s go.
Without a doubt, Marissa is one of the best characters on the show, and it’d be a shame if she were relegated to holding the clients’ hands all season.
When she passes the bar, she’ll be a killer lawyer, and the only way for her to be one now is in Judge Wackner’s courtroom, so please, find a way to make that happen, writers.
This episode also introduced us to a new associate named Carmen Moyo, played by Charmaine Bingwa.
It’s hard to get a read on this character, and unlike Judge Wackner, who’s fantastic, I don’t have that strong of an opinion about her.
She didn’t make that much of an impression, and the worst that can be said is that the series devoted too much screen time to this random newcomer.
What makes it hard to care about Carmen one way or another is that we know virtually nothing about her.
We have no idea about her past, life experiences, or what drives her.
Per the character description, Carmen is a “tough, unsentimental, young lawyer whose working-class background allows her to bond with the firm’s most infamous, difficult clients.”
Carmen [in Spanish]: Who are you?
Oscar [in Spanish]: Carmen Moyo.
Carmen [in Spanish]: And why are you helping me?
Oscar [in Spanish]: I’m your lawyer.
Carmen [in Spanish]: I’ve had a lot of lawyers, but I’m still behind bars.
Oscar [in Spanish]: I’m just out of law school.
Carmen [in Spanish]: So you haven’t become a bad lawyer yet?
Oscar [in Spanish]: I’m here for client maintenance.
Carmen [in Spanish]: Very interesting.
Oscar [in Spanish]: What do you need?
Carmen [in Spanish]: How much time do you have?
That’s not much to go on there, and this installment did little to develop Carmen as a character other than show she’s overly ambitious to the point where that initiative and drive could get her in a lot of trouble.
She’s already making waves within the firm, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Sure, Liz knows Carmen’s name and has offered to be her mentor, but Carmen is playing a dangerous game.
She’s like Icarus flying too close to the sun. She may be on the upswing now, but at some point, she may find herself tumbling out of the sky, falling into the sea, and drowning.
As Liz said, she’s more interested in the firm’s long-term reputation over short-term wins.
Carmen hasn’t been at the firm long enough to prove her value or develop enough goodwill for any slip-up to be overlooked, not like a fellow ex-employee who managed to get hired at Reddick Lockhart — albeit at a lower salary — after being incarcerated.
Yes, Trump pardoned Julius, but Diane and Liz rehiring the former federal judge was just a tad too unbelievable, even for this series.
However, since it’s Julius, it’s not too much of an ask to suspend our disbelief, and since the other candidate for Lucca’s replacement was Caleb, did we expect it to shake out any other way?
Liz: While I recognize that you just had a victory in court, the long-term reputation of this firm matters a whole lot more to me than short-term wins.
Carmen: That makes sense.
Liz: I’m not going to ask you any questions about what you may or may not have done. You’re a capable lawyer, clearly. That’s why you were hired. This is just a reminder that you are to conduct yourself in a manner of all times that does not put this firm at risk. This is the only reminder you’re going to get. Do you have any questions.
Carmen: I’m just listening.
Liz: You really don’t give a shit what people think about you, do you?
Carmen: I’m here to do a good job for my clients. I think I did that for Mr. Rivi, and since he wants me to be the only to represent him, I’ll focus on that.
Liz: OK, we’re done.
Carmen: Thank you.
For those who need a quick recap of The Good Fight Season 4, Liz and Caleb had a brief fling that never went anywhere.
Had the fourth season not been cut short because of the pandemic, we may have gotten more resolution on how things ended — or didn’t — between the pair.
Based on the short conversation, things ended rather abruptly for the duo, possibly because of the pandemic, and Caleb relocated to California to be with family.
As far as exits go, Caleb’s sendoff falls somewhere between Lucca’s and Adrian’s because while it may have been lackluster, it still made sense.
He might have a case for employment discrimination in the real world — as in him not being hired because he slept with Liz — but Caleb seemed pretty OK with whatever happened going forward.
His exit was probably one of the holdover plot points from the fourth season, and as we saw in the season premiere, the writers seem to be sweeping any remaining plot threads under the rug.
Caleb was a pretty compelling and likable character, and I wouldn’t have mind seeing more of him, but scheduling issues and Hugh Dancy’s other commitments probably dictated things from a storytelling perspective. So out of sight, out of mind, as they say.
Some stray thoughts:
Diane suggesting they fill Adrian’s name partnership with a Black lawyer was interesting. She wants to do the right thing and be an ally, but she also wants to keep her name partnership. I’m looking forward to the continuing storyline as it could be a great conversation on race in the workplace.
Jay is back at work and didn’t seem to have any long-term effects from COVID-19. What do we think? Did the writers decide to drop that storyline, or did it just take a backseat for the time being?
Wallace Shawn reprised his role as Charles Lester. Is it bad how much I love this character? He may be a
lawyerbusiness manager for some shady people, but he still screams giant teddy bear to me.
So what did you think, Good Fight Fanatics?
Am you as enthralled with Judge Wackner and the 9¾ Circuit Court subplot as I am?
What’s your take on Carmen?
Are you sad to see Caleb go?
Don’t forget to hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts.
Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.