‘The Good Fight’ series finale: How the daring drama pulled off an exceptional finish

The Good Fight” saved its best and most audacious for last. In the exemplary series finale “The End of Everything,” which aired on Thursday, the lawyers at Reddick Ri’Chard signed off in a frenzy of gunfire, as white supremacists opened fire on the Black law firm at the heart of the show. The shocking climax served as a fitting and almost inevitable end to a six-season run that has chronicled the dismantling of civil discourse, judicial norms and the rise of violence in American society. The episode is also, paradoxically, a joyous end to one of the most original and daring series of the streaming era.

Before the supremely tense attack — which beautifully recreated the Paramount+ show’s main titles by having the gunfire explode the vases, televisions, law books and tumblers of the opening credits — the episode finds Christine Baranski’s Diane Lockhart at personal and professional crossroads. After having jettisoned her Republican husband Kurt (Gary Cole) in the penultimate episode, the liberal feminist lawyer feels so exhausted by the “downward spiral” of life that she contemplates throwing in the towel as a lawyer too. Her near-death experience changes everything, though, as she realizes her unflappable love for Kurt, despite their political divide, and reluctantly recommits to the “good fight.” Baranski gives one of her best performances of the show’s run in this hour as she gets tear-gassed, grapples with her disgust at the world and the law, navigates her conflicted emotions toward her husband, and bids farewell to her law partner and true better half, Audra McDonald‘s Liz.

SEE ‘The Good Fight’ final season reviews: ‘Must-watch,’ ‘most ambitious’ episodes ever

For longtime fans, “The End of Everything” works so well because it featured a plethora of satisfying callbacks. Although we didn’t see the return of original cast members like Delroy Lindo, the show did bring back John Cameron Mitchell as the provocateur Felix Staples, one of the series’ most colorful and long-running antagonists. Staples breezes into the law office to bring a phony sexual harassment suit against presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis, aiming to sink his chances and buoy Donald Trump. The brazen plot not only hints at a future political battle that the series unfortunately won’t be on the air to chronicle, but it also lets co-creators Michelle and Robert King revisit one of the series’ best episodes, “Day 450” from Season 2, in which the characters strategize how to impeach President Trump. In the span of those four years, Diane goes from embracing the power of lies to rebuffing them, something Liz highlights by reciting words from that episode verbatim about Diane being sick of acting like “the adult in the room” and the “compliant” one.

Elsewhere, the Kings also harkened back to the series premiere “Inauguration” with Diane tempted to buy the French villa in Provence that she couldn’t afford six years ago because of the Ponzi scheme that ruined her in the first season. We also got one more animated short from Head Gear Animation and Jonathan Coulton — the first one about high crimes and misdemeanors netted the series one of its only two Emmy Award nominations — that brands civil rights icons into superheroes. The jingle raised the specter of Carl Reddick’s (Louis Gossett Jr.) sexual assault allegations that came to light in the Season 3 premiere “The One About the Recent Troubles,” and gave McDonald a great emotional opportunity to wrap up Liz’s lingering resentments toward her father.

SEE Will surprise Golden Globe nominee Christine Baranski (‘The Good Fight’) hold onto her well-deserved slot this year?

And in the end, Diane’s lifelong dream of running an all-female law firm that began back in “The Good Wife” by partnering with Julianna Margulies’ Alicia Florrick finally came to fruition as the character will set off to Washington, D.C., with Marissa Gold (Sarah Steele) to champion women’s issues and claw back Roe v. Wade. To convince the dispirited Diane to take the gig, Liz mentions many of the clients Diane helped over the six-year run of “The Good Fight” in a touching montage. To fully close the loop, the series had to end with the unavoidable specter of Trump and Diane’s mouth agape once again, echoing the hilarious opening shot of the show as Diane and Liz look on aghast as the former president announces his 2024 bid.

Beyond these full circle moments, the final hour also shrewdly set up the next chapters for all of these characters. With Diane and Marissa set to leave for D.C., Liz will continue to partner with Andre Braugher’s Ri’Chard, a character so charismatic and a performance so electric from Braugher that we only wish the Kings had dreamed him up earlier. The series’ unsung hero, Jay DiPersia (Nyambi Nyambi), also exits stage right to join an underground activist group opposing white supremacy, while Charmaine Bingwa’s Carmen declines to join him so she can learn more from her mentor Liz. And after climbing 23 flights of stairs to see Diane just as the elevators begin working again — God love the Kings and their ongoing obsession with elevator choreography — John Slattery’s Dr. Lyle Bettencourt gets a gentle kiss-off to conclude his season-long arc.

SEE ‘The Good Fight’ series finale: 5 things we want to see before the audacious drama signs off for good

The final shot of the series is a black screen that reads simply, “This all happened.” Beyond an underappreciated and daringly original series with career-best performances from its cast, “The Good Fight” will go down as the preeminent cultural document of the inexplicably tumultuous past six years since Trump’s election. The Kings shot the pilot on election night 2016 when Diane’s dream candidate Hillary Clinton lost her presidential bid, so it is only fitting that the series concludes two days after the 2022 midterm elections in which Clinton’s opponent faced a shellacking of his handpicked candidates and the repudiation from his media allies. If this is the beginning of the end of the Trump saga, “The Good Fight” undeniably went out with a bang, not a whimper.

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