Season 4 of “The Good Fight” opens with the tough-as-nails yet malleable Diane Lockhart emerging from a coma to find out Donald Trump was never elected and Hillary Clinton is president. Questions of whether she’s micro-dosing (again) arise, which she can’t exactly deny. It’s a relentlessly delightful episode that sets the tone for the season, centering Diane squarely in the middle of what promises to be an even more urgently political maelstrom, for a series whose political sense has been its trademark from day one.
“I said to the Kings [creators Robert and Michelle] when I read it, that I have worked with them for 10 years now, and this is my favorite episode that I will ever have the pleasure of doing,” Baranski said — which is high praise from the veteran actress with three SAG Awards, two Tonys, and one Emmy to her credit. “What’s so cool about it is how funny it is — I think it’s so remarkably clever.”
She teased even more opportunities to find the comedy within the turmoil of the Trump era, and she’s thrilled to once again use a muscle that she rarely gets to in playing one of the most satisfying characters on television.
“Diane is always the sort of serious attorney, always capable and rarely ruffled, so I don’t get many opportunities to play funny, or use my comedy chops, so this was so much fun to do, and I look forward to doing more of that,” she said.
At the end of Season 3, Diane was seemingly content with life, after a second season that saw her almost lose her grip on reality as she tried to cope with the surreality of life under Trump. She and Kurt (Gary Cole) were living together as husband and wife for the first time, and she channeled her anti-Trump energy into joining a dubious organized resistance movement that saw her begin to question her own moral code.
The new season pits Diane against John Larroquette’s Gavin Firth, chief of STR Laurie, the powerful firm that purchased Reddick, Boseman & Lockhart. CBS All Access describes him as “warm, generous, sophisticated, and potentially deadly.” Given the ominous turn that the series has taken, it’s likely safe to assume that “potentially” will become “definitely” by the season finale.
Firth places Diane in charge of running the firm’s pro bono department, and suspicions arise when judges assigned to her cases mysteriously vanish, after being handed the unexplained “Memo 618” — a blank sheet of paper with only the title on it, that inexplicably engenders considerable fear in all who receive it. It allows rich and powerful men to operate above the law, seemingly ripped from real-life impeachment proceedings and Supreme Court hearings.
“The international law firm, that is the umbrella firm take that took us over, there’s something weird going on there that’s complicit, and, you’ll see more and more horror, as you start to discover who these people really are,” Baranski said. “But I’m really looking forward to it because John is such a perfect addition to the cast, and he and I have many razor-sharp exchanges.”
She was expectedly mum on what exactly “Memo 618” is, other than to say that it’s an investigation that will likely consume her character for much of the season, with potentially dire consequences.
“I can’t spoil it, but she’s really not going to be safe, because it’s one thing to go after Trump, as she did last season, but when you go after the really powerful, whoever they are, which is something we explore this season, there’s no law protecting you anymore, and it gets deeper, darker, and scarier for her,” Baranski said.
What she did promise is that the series will not lose any of its political sense, continuing to be unapologetically current, addressing Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, and of course Trump, by asking tough questions about the nature of power.
“To be doing this show, it’s such a source of pride to me, and it would make me uncomfortable in the middle of a pandemic to be promoting a show that didn’t have something to do with the world,” she said. “Our show has always just gone into the belly of the beast in terms of what we are living through, and these are characters living in as much of the real time as possible.”
The season will also explicitly tackle racial tensions at the firm in ways it hasn’t done previously. Baranski teased an episode in which the controversial “Slave Play” — which tackles race, sex, power relations, trauma, and interracial relationships — is caricatured.
“It’s funny and it’s dangerous, and God knows it’ll probably be offensive to some, but we’re just reexamining, to our astonishment, how intolerant we really are, even those of us who call ourselves liberals, and how entrenched it is in our culture,” she said. “I think generally, we are at a moment when we are looking inward, in trying to make sense of the world, and we want to reflect that in the show.”
And with an important presidential election looming, Baranski believes that this season would’ve certainly tackled it in some manner, in latter episodes, but given that production on the series was shut down due to COVID-19, the likelihood of that happening has been greatly diminished.
Ultimately, she hopes fans of the series approach this season with a keen eye toward understanding how power works in this country; who gets to wield it and why, especially against the backdrop of unnervingly unpredictable and unstable times.
“I think it’s a chilling season that really calls into question, why historically, men have gotten powerful, and because of that power, are able to get away with operating above the law, as much as they have,” she said. “And it’s more than just Donald Trump. It’s looking at an entire system, starting with that first episode where it zeroes in on the Me Too movement, and Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer and asks, who’s been protecting these men and why? And these corporate CEOs, who often aren’t held accountable, which is where ‘Memo 618’ comes in. With income and power inequality in this country, it will be a very interesting season for people to watch. Definitely.”
“The Good Fight” Season 4 premiered April 9 on CBS All Access, and the second episode will be available April 16. After Episode 2, the series will go on a one-week hiatus, returning April 30 with additional episodes.