Five years ago, when Robert and Michelle King first debuted The Good Fight, their highly-anticipated spin-off of The Good Wife centered on Christine Baranski's Diane Lockhart, the world looked very different.
It was February 2017, and the United States was less than a month into the Trump presidency and still eight months ahead of #MeToo sweeping social media after horrendous sexual abuse and assault allegations would come out against famed Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, among others. In the early days of the show, which came after seven seasons of the flagship series, the focus was on Diane, who joined a new law firm (Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad) after losing her savings to a Ponzi scheme, alongside young lawyer Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie), whose father was responsible for that Ponzi scheme, and associate Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo). Always willing to lean into the social commentary and politics of the time, the Kings brought real-world events, including the Trump presidency (fake news and all) and #MeToo movement, into their new series from the start. As seasons went on, Diane became increasingly embroiled in (and troubled by) what was going on around her, leading her to find unique ways of coping that included microdosing.
The sixth and final season of the CBS All Access-turned-Paramount+ drama may be taking place during the post-Trump years, but Diane's world is still in upheaval.
Her law firm is undergoing another shift in leadership when outside lawyer Ri'Chard Lane (Andre Braugher) is brought in as a new name partner, and there are daily, escalating protests, complete with tear gas, happening on the streets around their office. Additionally, Diane has a creeping sense of déjà vu about events around her, from the threats lobbed at the lawyers (don't forget about Season 2's "Kill All the Lawyers" story arc), to the way birds fly directly into her new office window (remember Jane Lynch's Madeline Starkey?), to the specific wording of arguments used in court.
"The whole idea of déjà vu is about callbacks to all of the seasons of The Good Fight. The characters are reflecting on what they've done the last six seasons," co-creator and showrunner Robert King tells Metacritic.
And by extension, so, too, is the show.
One essential element is the Diane and Liz Reddick-Lawrence (Audra McDonald) relationship, which started out with the two as colleagues and has grown into a real friendship. The final season begins with a scene between just these two women (literally, the street around them is completely empty and quiet, in an eerie and almost surreal way) to exemplify the "vacuum that they're living in the world," Robert King explains. "That it's just the two of them."
"The two are such powerhouses, and you see them at crossroads, and what we wanted to see this year is, how does this friendship conclude?" he continues. "It felt like female friendship was maybe the core of The Good Fight, and their ability to come closer together might be the positive that the show needs. There's so many other relationships are truly f---ed up in the show, but this is one that might find some balance."
Around these two women is an exceptionally strong ensemble made up of actors including Sarah Steele, Charmaine Bingwa, Nyambi Nyambi, Michael Boatman, and Gary Cole, as well as important guest stars from Alan Cumming to Carrie Preston, both of whom plays characters the creators and showrunners felt were imperative to see return before the end of the run.
The show has lost some other players along the way, including Leslie, Jumbo, and most recently, Delroy Lindo. But those changing dynamics have allowed for the show to stay nimble. Robert King notes that an important piece of the story for the writers' room has been, "Can you define the year around a new character?" And even though the sixth season was going to be the last, they stayed true to recent form by taking that challenge head on with the entrance of Braugher's Ri'Chard.
"There's a lot of disruption externally in the world in this season, and Ri'Card makes it real in the law firm, as well. He's a totally disruptive force," Michelle King says.
But one thing Ri'Chard won't disrupt is that the firm is predominantly made up of Black lawyers, which has always provided a unique perspective for the genre — and in the final season, it will be one that comes with an added danger level.
Although the protests are somewhat faceless in the beginning of the final season, the Kings confirm race does play a part in them.
"We thought it would be a developing protest that started as one thing and then moved to another and then even moved to a third. It started almost as a truck convoy, as in Canada — so when we see the protests below, there'll be a lot of trucks and a lot of the truck horns, and that will bring in some element of how it deals with immigration and things like that. But then a Portland element comes in, and finally, there's a real excitement among the Patriot front and Proud Boys. So, it starts as probably conservative, moves, I would say, left, and then becomes radical right," Robert King explains. "So yes, it becomes very anti-Black, which is our law firm, and anti-Semitic, which is some of the characters we embrace in the law firm. [But] it's not just about the lawyers; it's about Blacks in positions of power. You'll find in some of the later episodes they're attacking Black colleges."
"We wanted it to be a growing thing because it felt like so many people are cheering for a civil war, looking for an inciting incident, and so, when they see a homegrown protest, it then becomes something that is like, can we make more of it?" he continues.
While the nature of those sentiments already make it personal for many of the characters, things take an even darker turn when they receive a direct threat within their building.
"It's our characters feeling vulnerable because of everything they see going on, literally, beneath their windows, and yet they have to get through their day and do their jobs, and so, it's the tension there," Michelle King says.
Everyone has a slightly different way of dealing with that tension and fear, with Diane's once again taking the spotlight — and once again, she is going to try psychedelic therapy (this time with an actual doctor, played by John Slattery) to cope and, perhaps, escape.
"I think this is a more responsible choice on her part, in acknowledging she's having mental health issues and and seeking help," Michelle King says. "The worry, frankly, is not that she might become addicted to the drug; the worry more is that she might become addicted to the doctor."
"Have you seen the movie [Another] Round?" Robert King asks. "You keep your life at a certain level of drunkenness — say one or two drinks a day — and you'll find this level that makes you a better person. It's a very interesting, radical movie. The question is, 'Can you do any medical version of it and have a doctor supervise it so you do have this piece that you reach and maybe you're even a better employee or a better idealist, but [don't] always fall over into grimness and despair?'"
It says a lot about the state of the world that this is Diane's best option, but in exploring that with the character, the show itself will have opportunities to take breaks from the darker subject matter and imagery and lean into its always witty sense of humor. Seeing the world through Diane's eyes while she is undergoing this potent psilocybin therapy allows for "more comic, more erotic" moments, as well as for some scenes to be physically "brighter" and more colorful, according to Robert King. But, across all stories and especially as the show gets ever closer to its series finale, it will also grow increasingly emotional.
"With The Good Wife, we were always like committed to what we thought that last bit was. Here, I think we were a little more open to everything. So, you'll find the last episode is just a little wild," Robert King says. "Not only is it six years of The Good Fight, it's seven years before that of The Good Wife, so it's hard to sum up that universe and that emotion. When we do Evil, we're not scared when we're doing it because it's monsters in plastic outfits, but then you see it with Fred Murphy's lighting and everything, yeah, this works. I have a feeling it's the same thing here: the emotion is something that you're pulling together from three or four directions, and it might seem like a person in a plastic outfit when you're doing it, but then when you see the emotion on screen, it hits."
"I do think sometimes was series finales, the creators almost actively don't care if people don't like it, and it's almost like, 'Here's some cold water, I'm pouring it over you.' That was not the intention here," Michelle King adds.
The Good Fight's final season streams Thursdays