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George Markov
George Markov

The Good Fight - Season 6

In truth, the show has already had its share of goodbyes. The expertly executed Covid episode, which saw cast members separated by oceans and safety protocols, bid adieu to main cast members Delroy Lindo and Cush Jumbo. That felt like a mini series finale, in a way. The season and a half since then have been marked by that same go-for-broke energy the show has always had, hypercharged by a giant reminder that in our world and the world of the show, life is short.

The Good Fight - Season 6

In the cheerfully unsettling sixth season (premiering today), people eventually just stop noticing all the explosions. Bangs keep echoing outside the windows of Reddick & Associates. It's from the protests, or maybe it's a car bomb, tear gas, gun shots, who knows? Attorneys conduct business, juggling office politics with legal tomfoolery. But threats are everywhere. So how nice to see the calm moment when multiple beloved characters ride down an elevator together. It's how a TV episode should wrap up, that giggle among coworkers, jobs well done till the same time next week. And then a grenade lands at their feet.

Safe to say, I think, that Good Fight is officially the weirdest normal show ever. Co-creators Robert and Michelle King never lost this spinoff's fundamental network-procedural DNA. Every episode embeds familiar signifiers: Clockwork courtroom scenes, guest-star judges, devastating cross-examinations. Stories are ongoing, yet not always serialized. Constant cast rotation suggests the opposite of a five-season plan. It's possible all the young Euphoriacs no longer carry any deep memory of regular weekly TV. But that feeling of old order lets The Good Fight dramatize genuine chaos better than almost any TV show of our chaotic era. You expect murder on a post-apocalyptic series. Here's a series full of people who have watched plenty of post-apocalypses and worry there's one happening, like, tomorrow. That constant feeling of rupture gave Good Fight its jolt, and made a lot of wannabe-deep recent shows seem intellectually bankrupt, even cowardly, by comparison. We're lousy with lame dystopias and historical miniseries scoring decades-later points. You went to Good Fight to watch headlines rip into flaming confetti.

The last couple years had brilliant standalones and centered the Diane-Liz relationship, giving more attention to McDonald's charismatic frustration, which can turn on a dime from hilarious to heartbreaking. (The McDonald eye-roll plus the Baranski laugh equals pure television.) Seasons 4 and 5 also edged deeper into outright absurdity, and could shed any pretense at character drama for scenes that sounded like directly-transcribed writers' room arguments. Was the show keeping up with reality's traffic? Looming doom gives the new season more of a compass, I think, despite some awkward early steps. Carmen's dalliance with crypto feels vague. You want a Good Fight case to become a dizzying 10-ring circus, where different arguments turn your own opinion sideways. Here, crypto just seems weird and monstrous: Accurate, maybe, and not very specific. Diane's return to psychedelia really does feel repetitive, even if the dialogue works hard to convince you "déjà vu" is a whole theme. Braugher's gleeful swagger is welcome anywhere, but Ri'Chard is such an all-caps CHARACTER that it takes a few episodes for everyone else to stop gawping at him.

I can't shake the feeling this season is leaving me with, though. It's never been more of a genuine thriller, even if the tension is mainly lingering. You fear any casual conversation could take a violent turn. Ever-confident Marissa finds herself shaken, worried that she's become targeted by an anti-semite militia. The streets of Chicago seem overpopulated with multiple shadow societies, some noble, some monstrous, all inscrutable. There are still occasional joys, even some ambient chat about the greatness of Below Deck Sailing Yacht. But some kind of end is near. "Feels like bad times," Carmen says at one point. It'll be worse when Good is gone. Grade: B+

EXCLUSIVE: The Good Fight is getting another high-profile cast addition. Emmy winner André Braugher, coming off an eight-season run on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, is set as a series regular in the upcoming sixth season of the Paramount+ legal drama. Now in production, The Good Fight is slated to return this summer on the streaming service.

Braugher, who just became available after his long run on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, joins The Good Fight a year after the show added another award-winning veteran actor to its ranks last season, Mandy Patinkin.

The Good Fight loves a grand reveal. Take the second episode of the show's sixth and final season, which premieres Sept. 8. The operatic opening credits don't arrive until the 14-minute mark. By then, a fan favorite from The Good Wife has returned, hysterical protests have overwhelmed the streets of Chicago, and Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) has ended a medically sanctioned ketamine trip with a verse from West Side Story's "Something's Coming." Will that something be as great as the song's lyrics promise? Knowing how The Good Fight has wrested its characters from their various plights in the past, the answer is yes.