Photo: Elizabeth Fisher/Paramount+
Back in 1996, a few years before HBO The sopranos it would mark the beginning of a television antihero boom and long before the major networks followed Fox. profit, a darkly funny noir-tinged series that only ran for five episodes but was sure to be remembered by anyone who watched it. Adrian Pasdar, playing a character who would have felt at home in American Psycho – which profit also preceded by a few years—brought his slicked-back hair and chiseled jawline to the role of Jim Profit, a ruthless businessman plotting his way up the corporate ladder. At the end of the pilot, we see him coming home from work to a darkened high-rise apartment. He curls up to sleep, naked, inside a cardboard box with a peephole. We will find out later why he sleeps in a cardboard box, but it is clear that material comforts are not the reason for his betrayal.
There’s no evidence that Carmen Moyo sleeps in a box (although there’s no evidence to the contrary, either), but her spartan apartment has the same vibe. When Charles Lester shows up unannounced, Carmen is working out on the bare floor in front of her flat-screen TV in a living room with no sofa and a newly purchased gun that’s still in the package. She may not have moved all her furniture yet, but it seems like a window into who she is nonetheless and how, much like Jim Profit, the nasty transactions she makes at work are a defining obsession. She’s not happy that Lester got past security and seen into his private life, but she’s perfectly happy to be in business with him and the assassins she serves.
In another strong episode focusing on the corrupt values of the firm, the main story lines involve lawyers serving two masters at once and having to choose which one to represent properly. As it happens, Lester showed up to take Carmen to a “Crypto Prom”: “Everything old is new when you put ‘crypto’ on it,” he jokes, and a meeting with Ben-Baruch, the crime boss who’s on the go lately. he’s been writing some big checks. But not long after Carmen identifies one of the partygoers as an undercover cop, the police burst in and arrest Lester for murder, which shocks him, because for once it’s a crime he didn’t actually commit. .
The situation puts Carmen in a terrible situation: Lester wants her to represent him, but she feels that her work relationship with Ben-Baruch puts her in a conflict of interest, so he advises her to find another lawyer. The problem is that Lester and Ben-Baruch insist that they represent Lester in court, but they have opposite purposes, because Ben-Baruch wants Lester to take the blame and orders Carmen to dismiss the case. Now, I haven’t been to law school, but that sounds like an ethical no-no. However, the prosecution’s case against Lester is reasonably strong due to the surveillance video they have of him leaving the crime scene. The good/bad news for Carmen is that Jay discovers that it is a deeply false farce, probably orchestrated by Ben-Baruch. Carmen could get Lester’s case dismissed easily enough, but she would be murdered for doing so. All in one day’s work for a criminal lawyer.
In another courtroom, Ri’Chard and Liz are handling a case they’ll live through, but they’re also at cross purposes. The pair portray a black football coach in a discriminating suit who is a Trojan horse for the wealthy man who finances his efforts. The case mirrors the real-life lawsuit brought by Brian Flores against the NFL and three teams for racially discriminatory hiring practices, starting with the New York Giants, whom he accused of choosing to hire a white coach before conducting mandatory candidate interviews. of minorities. Here, the Chicago Crows football team is accused of the same practice, a charge supported by a whiteboard image listing the “Rooney Rule” (a 2003 rule that requires teams to interview at least two women and/or or people of color to fill prominent positions) and a bullet point simply stating who the club intended to hire.
But discovering that finding justice for Ri’Chard and Liz’s client isn’t exactly the point. As they begin to investigate the seemingly unrelated problem of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), the brain damage that plagued many players post-retirement and led to more stringent (albeit still dubious) concussion protocols, they discover that the Ravens not only have a league- The worst CTE case record, but also a racially unbalanced concussion protocol. The relevance of the CTE data to the coach vs. team case is a bit slim, but the money man likes the angle because his real motive is to undervalue the team and buy it. He doesn’t even intend to hire the coach, who is only tangentially involved in his own lawsuit, aside from a case he couldn’t be on the sidelines.
the good fight runs through the two subplots in sharp juxtaposition, reaching difficult conclusions about how justice serves the highest bidder. (Judge Wackner was right about that last season, but he’s not incorruptible himself.) Ironically, Lester ends up being the better served client of the two, despite the mortal threat hanging over Carmen for giving him a good defense. In her state of chemical ecstasy, Diane swoops in to present the deeply false evidence in court, thinking that Carmen might play the bad advocacy necessary to bring Lester to the stand. When that doesn’t work, Carmen calls in a second criminal connection, Oscar Rivi, to talk Ben-Baruch out of killing her. It is becoming clear that Carmen is not only morally flexible enough to represent the murderous capos, but that she also thinks like a capo. We’ll see how well she continues to fit in with a legitimate law firm, or if she’ll eventually have to make the partners an offer they can’t refuse.
• Lester’s prophetic speech to Carmen at the Crypto Prom: “You’re just like me. I walk down the street and I know who the real people are, the ones who can kill me. They are not the biggest. They are not the loudest. They are people like you and me, easily disposable, but who can kill people in the blink of an eye. Carmen is the one he calls now.
• It’s hilarious that Marissa takes it upon herself to keep Diane from doomscrolling (or paying attention to the news) for 72 hours as a way to adjust her mindset. For the extremely online, the habit is compulsive and corrosive, and yet what responsible person can disconnect from everything that is beyond their immediate control?
• The judge in the football case is yet another in a long line of robed fools who the good fight has ushered in post-Trump, as a wave of young federalists have filled judicial vacancies. His politics is unknown, but his type is familiar.
• She may be on the wrong side of the law, but kudos to Carmen for having the last laugh at her cocky former law professor. “This is going to be a lot harder than you think,” she says. And she is right.
• I’m going to say that an office-shaking explosion from a mental relaxation practice is a bad omen.