'The Good Fight' Creators on Finale Twist and How Trump Will Influence Season 2

Showrunners Robert and Michelle King also talk to THR about that Will Gardner callback and the 'Good Wife' favorite they're most hoping to bring back.
Courtesy of CBS
'The Good Fight'

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Sunday's season finale of The Good Fight, "Chaos."]

The Good Fight began with Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie) officially becoming a lawyer, and the season ended with the potential end of her legal career — and her life as a free woman.

In the final moments of the first-season finale of the CBS All Access original scripted drama, Maia was arrested after her father Henry (Paul Guilfoyle) fled town rather than take a 35-year plea deal that would have also given Maia immunity.

Not only was Maia then arrested for her parents' Ponzi scheme that also claimed the life savings of her godmother and mentor Diane (Christine Baranski), but the finale brought new revelations that the scandal was much bigger than it was originally thought, with Henry admitting that others had been paid off to keep it under wraps.

And that wasn't all. After Kurt (Gary Cole) was involved in a daring and dangerous act of heroism that landed him in the hospital, he and Diane took the first steps towards a reconciliation after he promised not to cheat on her again.

A similar reconciliation was not in the cards for Lucca (Cush Jumbo) and Colin (Justin Bartha), the former who was officially put on the partner track and the latter who was offered a promotion at work, but hesitated to take it.

Professionally, things also seemed to be in flux at Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad when Barbara (Erica Tazel) was seen eavesdropping on a conversation between Adrian (Delroy Lindo) and Diane.

All this, and the continued real-life drama of a Donald Trump administration? It's safe to say The Good Fight will have plenty of avenues to explore when the legal drama returns in 2018 for season two.

With the book officially closed on season one, co-creators and showrunners Robert and Michelle King jumped on the phone with The Hollywood Reporter to talk about that Maia twist, how the Trump administration will influence season two and that Will Gardner finale callback.

At what point did you figure out that the first season would end with Maia's arrest? Why did you feel that was the right note to end the season on?

Michelle King: We talked about it from the very beginning, but it remained a possibility until moments before we turned in the script.

Robert King: We went back and forth a lot. The other option was that Henry sacrifice himself and go to jail for 35 years, but it felt like that was inconsistent with theme.

Michelle: And inconsistent with how we knew how him to be.

How much does this change what the show looks like in season two now that one of the central characters has been arrested? Will we see Maia in jail?

Robert: We always thought of it as a three-hander, that it's about Diane and Lucca and Maia. I think the bottom line is since Lucca and Diane are so tied to Maia, Lucca especially now as her lawyer, I don't know how much of it will be jail time, but we'll definitely see the difficulties of a lawyer trying to start out who gets arrested, how difficult that can be.

How soon after the events of the finale will season two pick up?

Robert: We're thinking about picking up a minute later. The Good Wife tended to follow the seasons of the year, so we were always trying to catch up over the summer with real time, but you always knew that if you were December in the Good Wife world, you were December in the real world and vice-versa. Because we're only doing 10 episodes each year, we're not going to stick to that. It's trying to stay consistent, more in a Breaking Bad way. All of Breaking Bad, all the seasons took place over like six months.

Will the show immediately jump into a trial in season two? What can you say?

Robert: We actually don't know. Our writers' room is getting together into August. We really want to bring Jane Lynch because she did such a good job as the FBI investigator. We think there's a lot more cat and mouse there because we just love that character.

How does this all change Maia now that she's being placed under arrest and given that her dad basically walked away from a deal for her?

Robert: The theme of the year was remaking family and I think part of that is realizing that, in her mind, she thought her family was good and the marriage was good and the ties were strong. She began to realize all that is not true, so it's about remaking your family with those who love you, and she's finding that that's more the case with her work mates. It's a case of maturing and growing older. She's still in theory a 25- or 26-year-old, so it's about her realizing that her family doesn't stand up.

What do you see as the balance between the Maia storyline/case and the case-of-the-weeks going into season two? What percentage of the story do you see being dedicated to the Maia story?

Michelle: We certainly want to address it, but the way we like to work is one storyline can naturally morph into others, so it's hard to put a percentage on it. We just know that Maia as well as Lucca and Diane are going to be at the forefront.

Will Maia still be able to practice the law next season after she's been arrested?

Michelle: That is one of the questions we'll be asking ourselves.

Another big part of the finale was the Kurt-Diane reconciliation. Why did you want to bring them back together in this way in the finale?

Michelle: It's a little bit sentimental because we love them and we love their relationship. We just wanted to see how people that have been living in their own bubbles, having a difficult time, have to deal with coming back together.

Robert: It might be a reaction to the current events of today, and what we really thought Kurt McVeigh gives us is heroism. One of the side effects of the battles and chaos going on in the world right now is people being heroic, and that's what seemed to be his greatest aspect. This would be something that would find Diane when he was having a little bit of a dark night of the soul. The whole episode ends in a dark night, in a way. She finds light in McVeigh and his being heroic and treating it as if it's nothing. There are a lot of people who do heroic things who are the first ones to pat themselves on the back and trumpet it to the skies. What I think is attractive about McVeigh to Diane is how he doesn’t do that, he just treats it as if it was nothing — in fact, he's embarrassed by it.

What obstacles will they face in season two now that they've reunited to an extent?

Michelle: The biggest obstacle they're going to face is Veep [on which Cole stars]. (Laughs.)

Robert: The second biggest obstacle is Diane hasn't found out whether he voted for Trump or not, and I do think that's a deal-breaker for a lot of liberals. Politics still enters that relationship. Can you love someone and yet still disrespect their politics? And I do think in the very partisan world we're in, that issue becomes a bigger and bigger thing.

When Diane goes to the hospital, there's a quick shot of a hospital patient in the corner with one shoe on and one shoe off. Was that an intentional callback to Will Gardner's death? If so, why did you want to include that?

Michelle: Yes, it was absolutely a deliberate callback. Diane is having what could have been the worst or second worst day of her life, and it just made sense to us that she was going to see something that threw her back again.

Robert: She's obviously more alarmed about the hospital call than maybe she should be, and that goes back to the last time she was in a hospital, which was with Will. We wanted that threat to be in the audience's mind when they come around the corner because that's obviously not what happened at all with McVeigh.

Speaking of Will, the finale seemed to hint at some similar partner conflict when Barbara was seen eavesdropping on Diane and Adrian. What made you want to explore that again?

Michelle: We like the idea of there being echoes at this new firm of things we've seen at the old firm. And in terms of moving forward, that's definitely something that's the writers room is going to be talking about.

Robert: The only thing to add on top of that tension is race. Barbara Kolstad doesn't want to say it but believes it: The worry about bringing Diane onboard is the culture of the firm completely changes. That means she brings in Marissa, suddenly they brought one of the biggest discriminatory hires in Silicon Valley in Chumhum. Suddenly, is your firm's idealism undercut by having that kind of cultural change?

In the finale, Colin was offered a big promotion, but he didn't immediately take it. Why? What can you say about him and Lucca going into season two?

Robert: Justin Bartha is coming back next year. We want to see the tensions of that relationship because we very much love their chemistry. I would say Colin will be still at the Department of Justice. His hesitation is he doesn't respect his boss. He thinks his boss is kind of scummy for using his relationship to kind of arm-twist Lucca into giving up a name.

Michelle: He's right, by the way. He was scummy.

Robert: That's the difficulty there: Do you take a job even though you don't respect his boss?

What other character arcs are you particularly excited to explore in season two?

Robert: We love the McVeigh-Diane element. I think Diane, how close is she going to get to Boseman is a question. Boseman kind of respects Maia more and more, so does he treat her as mentee? Does he become her mentor? There's a lot of fun stuff to mine. The only reason we wouldn't go further in talking about it is the writers room hasn't assembled yet and we don't know what the world is going to serve up in another four months.

What would you say is the theme going into season two?

Robert: The show reacts to what's going on in the culture. If Trump is still our president, my guess is one of the things we're going to be pursuing is changes in the law. What do you do when law tends towards chaos? If you want a liberal decision, you can go to a liberal judge or if a conservative lawyer wants a conservative decision, they go to a conservative judge. What happens when there are disagreements between layers of the law? One of the things we're seeing in the culture right now and the zeitgeist is what happens when the institutions we depend on start to crumble. My guess is that will be one of the themes, but something very big could happen in the world between now and the start of our show again.

What do you see as the biggest difference now that you're going into season two versus going into the first season?

Robert: The first season is always trying to find out what you're about. The Good Fight, I think, knows more of what it's about than The Good Wife, inherently because of the way the new administration is coming in and the expectations of the new administration. The sense that the world is taking a chaotic turn in the road. So I think one of the things we want to explore with next year is the idea of the law as an ideal, which is very odd for The Good Fight to be dealing with because it's usually about the law as a hindrance, as something you need to find the loopholes in. But what do you do when all these other institutions seem like they're really either crumbling or becoming a little confused? As Boseman says in the last lines with Diane, "Our only constant is the law." I think that might be the guiding post for next season.

After a whole season of tackling Trump and the administration at large and other bigger political issues, how has your perspective and outlook changed about what's going on in our country? How has it impacted you personally?

Michelle: I don't know that we've changed our point of view about issues. Going back to The Good Wife, we've always tried to present the most intelligent argument for any side. It's become increasingly difficult, but that said, we continue to try and show characters who have different points of view but still like each other and respect each other.

Robert: [There's a quote that says,] "The happiest man is the one who's writing about despair." (Laughs.) We're probably the cheeriest people in our apartment building because it's an outlet to write about this stuff and you do research about it and that makes you hum as you're walking.

You had a lot of great recurring characters from the original show return: Carrie Preston, Dylan Baker. Who's at the top of your season-two wish list?

Robert: Alan Cumming. (Laughs.) We'd love to have Eli Gold back and we know he's on another CBS show and that could be a good thing or it could be a hard thing because I know it's a full season, like 22 episodes [if it's picked up to series]. We love him and we'd love to see how Marissa deals with him these days now that she's got a full-time job.


The Good Fight will return for season two in 2018. What did you think of the first-season finale?