Some fans of “The Good Wife” may have been skeptical when CBS announced that the network planned to order a spinoff, “The Good Fight,” which would center on legendary attorney Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) and new associate Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) at a new law firm. Would there still be stories left to tell?
Turns out, there’s still plenty of places for these characters to go, as the show picks up a year after the events of “The Good Wife” finale. But, naturally, the shadow of the original show looms large over the premiere — in some subtle and not so subtle ways. Here’s how:
1. Diane still has some enemies at the firm.
As the premiere starts, Diane is about to retire. After decades as one of the top lawyers in Chicago, she’s had enough. She even finds a glorious villa in France before she announces her retirement to her fellow law partners. It seems that Diane’s firm merged with two others, making the name an unwieldy “Lockhart, Deckler, Gussman, Lee, Lyman, Gilbert, Lurie, Kagan, Tannenbaum & Associations.”
During a meeting, Diane informs her partners that she’s leaving the firm, just after she wraps up her last case. At the table is David Lee (Zach Grenier), frequently Diane’s frenemy during the original show.
“Well, congratulations Diane!” he says in a very phony way. Then, as he leaves the conference room and the door closes behind him, he secretly pumps his fist — just a reminder that he never really liked her. And of course, when Diane begs for her job back after she loses her retirement savings, he smugly refuses.
2. The cloud of Alicia hangs over everyone.
A reminder about “The Good Wife” series finale: Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Lucca threw Diane’s husband, Kurt, the ballistics expert (Gary Cole), under the bus in court to help their client — and even got him to admit to an affair with a student. Diane was furious with Alicia’s betrayal: thus, the slap.
So when Diane walks into a settlement conference about a police brutality case, she’s surprised to see Lucca working for a new firm; guess things with her and Alicia’s partnership didn’t work out. After Diane says a chilly hello, she asks whether Alicia joined the new firm as well. “No,” Lucca says. “Just me.”
3. The Alicia cloud, part two.
Even though she’s retiring, Diane wants to mentor Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie), a new junior associate in Diane’s original firm who also happens to be her goddaughter. When Maia questions whether the firm is on the right side of the police brutality case because they’re representing the officers, Diane tries to make it a teaching moment.
“People I thought with all my heart were guilty turned out to be innocent,” Diane says. “And people I thought were saints, they, um, they weren’t.”
Well, that’s quite the veiled dig at “Saint Alicia,” as she was known. Guess Diane still has some anger.
4. Will Gardner.
Did anyone else get a little emotional seeing a picture of Will Gardner (R.I.P.) and Diane, laughing and smiling, in that slide show during Diane’s retirement party?
5. Howard Lyman is still sexist.
Good old Howard Lyman (Jerry Adler) is still kicking around the law firm, even with his penchant of napping pantsless in the office and making inappropriate comments. True to form, when he sees Maia carrying a bouquet of flowers that her parents sent her on her first day of work, he assumes she’s in charge of the office flowers — because a young woman couldn’t possibly be a lawyer.
6. Diane and Kurt.
Here’s a lingering plotline from the finale: Diane is understandably still furious about the revelation that Kurt slept with his student. Apparently, she decided to leave him, though they have delayed their divorce.
When Diane finds out her retirement savings are gone because of a financial scam allegedly perpetrated by one of her close friends (and Maia’s father), her accountant tells her that she should make her divorce final, because otherwise Kurt’s finances could be affected as well. Even with that information, Kurt still doesn’t want to make the divorce official, because he’s hopeful Diane will change her mind and take him back. True love!
7. More about Alicia.
Eventually, Maia is fired from the law firm after Diane leaves; and if Diane is considered “poison” because of her close relationship with Maia’s father, then Maia is really in a bad spot, especially because she’s on the board of her father’s company. After a lawyer screams at Maia that his children lost their college fund because of her family, she runs to the bathroom and sobs.
All of a sudden, Lucca (even though she’s on the opposite side of the case) finds Maia in the bathroom and tries to comfort her. “I had a friend that went through the same thing,” Lucca says. “She said it was hell for a few months. Ignore what people say. Keep your head down and keep working. … It’s hard, but it ends.”
Everyone knows she’s talking about Alicia, who had to stand by her husband after he went through quite a few scandals. And given that Diane and Maia wind up joining Lucca’s law firm, there will be plenty more Alicia and “The Good Wife” references in future episodes, as well.