Amy Watch: The Good Fight S1E9: Self Condemned
Oh man you guys. Remember last week when I was lamenting a lack of Maia-Amy anything? Buckle up. Things have changed this week. And not necessarily all for the better. There's a lot to unpack.
It's 9:03am when we open on Maia and Lucca sitting side by side in a bare waiting room looking stressed. They're in some kind of FBI office as client and attorney, apparently (what happened to Maia's other attorney we saw once? Sharise?); Maia is there for a voluntary interview about her family's Ponzi scheme with a federal agent under a proffer agreement, meaning as long as she answers questions truthfully, the things she says can't be held against her in court. It's the "truthfully" part that is the operative word here, since we know Maia harbors a kind of unreasonable need to protect/believe her parents. It's frustrating that she allows herself to be taken advantage of by them. Her family loyalty after all of the lies and trauma they have put her through is baffling, except for the glimpses we get of her veneered childhood in which she was loved and, perhaps as a result, believed her parents always had her best interests at heart. This episode uses flashbacks to show both the warm and tender memories of Maia's adolescence and the ugly cracks in the veneer she was, and to an extent still is, willing to ignore. And who can blame her; who wouldn't want their parents to maintain the elevated status of comforting, trustworthy and more or less flawless people they saw them as in childhood? People aren't really the most rational, especially when relationships are involved.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Guess who's interrogating, I mean interviewing, Maia? It's Jane Lynch! Oh Jane, I do love you. Here, Jane is Madeline Starkey, and she brings her signature charming-but-cunning-and-pretty-ruthless traits to this character, too. Maia and Lucca have to walk through a very intense interrogation room in order to get to Madeline's cramped office because the hall is being painted, which is a weird plot detail. Madeline has to pull out a folding chair for Maia to sit in, and about 10,000 birds constantly fly into Madeline's window and die throughout this entire episode. (Something about how the light hits the window in just the right way so that all the birds just love flying into it. Maybe this is a metaphor for how much Maia keeps flying into her parents' gleaming light, despite hurting herself time and again. Sigh, poor Maia).
The first thing Madeline asks Maia is how her parents' Ponzi scheme started. Lucca's red flags practically shoot out of her ears as she responds, "My client doesn't know how the Ponzi scheme began." So Madeline laughs and says just to think of it as remembrance of Ponzi schemes past, and tells Maia just to tell her everything she remembers about her parents and her uncle while Madeline just "takes it all in." Maia is silent and another bird dies.
Meanwhile, Adrian is headed into Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad and he is excited. (The Reddick plotline has evaportated). He steps out of the elevator practically yelling for Diane. Adrian "pays $300" to someone at County to give him a heads up on police brutality cases, and guess what? Andrew Thoreau, the dirty cop who beat up the Black motorist in the first episode and was the subject of the case that basically brought Diane and Adrian together, is at it again. Thoreau brought another one of his victims into County, and if Adrian and Diane prosecute and win the case, they can get him kicked off the force for good. Yay!
Except this time, the victim isn't what either of them expect. It's not a Black person being racially profiled. It's Colin Sweeney, a very rich white dude who embodies all of the gross rich white dude stereotypes. He compares himself to Rodney King, saying they have a lot in common and can't we all just (you guessed it) get along? Diane says it best: "He's the devil." But Adrian sees this devil as a blessing, because the way it works in America, rich white dude privilege extends to the law, so the chances of getting Thoreau kicked off the force for this particular incident is higher, which results in a good overall outcome. Fuck you, white supremacist America.
The rest of the episode swings between this case and Maia's interview, and honestly the former storyline isn't very important or interesting, except to say that after a lot of rigamarole and a scene in which a disabled judge takes a long time getting his wheelchair up to the bench (excuse me wtf is this scene?), Sweeney ends up dropping the case because he wants to be ambassador to the Vatican. Yeah, it really is that weird/horrible. But what's really important here is Maia, so let's focus on her.
Maia isn't sure how to start this "spilling of the beans." Madeline tells her the first accounting crime her parents committed took place on September 15, 2008, the day Lehman Brothers went bankrupt. Where was Maia that day? She was 17, she must have been in school. Pieces of memory float back to her; young Maia (complete with more Lenore-like red curls and Catholic school uniform) is doing homework at the dining room table, and sees her father watching a news report about the stock market and basically losing it. Henry and Lenore fighting. Lenore calling Jax.
Madeline mentions someone named Michael Hannigan, an investor in the Rindell fund. A memory of a man in a suit at the door, crying. Jax telling the man that it's temporary, that if he pulls his money out now, he'll be out $8 million. Maia relays this to Madeline, who asks what time Jax came and how long he was there. 4pm; 2 hours. Gone before dinner. (These details become important).
Problem: According to Lenore's computer calendar from the time, Maia was at a gynecologist appointment, how could she have been home at 4? Lucca is irritated. This happened nine years ago. Maia was basically a child. Madeline says she knows memory can be faulty, and man is that the theme of this episode. The current memory in Maia's mind is a blurred image of Lenore and Jax kissing in the gyno's waiting room. Did that happen?
Maia says she was at the doctor's office that day; maybe she saw Jax and Hannigan later? But there was no way the distance and traffic between the Rindell house and the doctor and Jax's house would allow everyone to be at the Rindell house before their 5:30 dinner. Madeline's "minions" have done a lot of homework, and it's messing with Maia's perception of reality. Madeline lays out that the only reason Maia went to doctors appointments every month at 4pm was because that was when Lenore was having an affair with Jax. Maia's "health" was a cover for her mom and her uncle hooking up. Yikes.
Lucca takes Maia outside and tells her that unless she has a specific memory, not to talk about Jax being with Hannigan or anything else for that matter. Lucca makes clear that Maia should not protect her parents, because in so doing she is condemning herself. The Rindell fund was gifted to Maia on her 18th birthday; she was a figurehead, her signature on documents, a place on the board. This doesn't make things look good for her. Madeline is not her friend, and she can see Maia is trying to protect her parents. But Maia is holding onto some guilt/loyalty combo when it comes to her parents, and even if she says she's not protecting them, she definitely is. Side note, Lucca is simultaneously being such a compassionate friend and badass lawyer; it makes me happy to see the alliance between her and Maia, plus I'm just in love with Lucca and happy she's not with Colin (at least not right now) and that Colin wasn't in this episode at all.
They return to Madeline's office, where she offers them a chocolate from a box her husband gave her, saying he always picks out the good ones and leaves her the coconut. Lucca, who googled Madeline over lunch, jumps to point out that Madeline is not married (except to herself! There's a Glee reference for ya) and just straight-up calls her out for lying. Lucca has thus, hopefully, made clear to Maia that this fed is weasel-y and that maybe Maia can just trust herself to not have false memories or else say she doesn't know. And to not let Jane Lynch's gay charm overcome her.
Anyway. The interview carries on like this, with snippets of memory, some contradicting themselves, floating in and out. The Rindell fund was apparently set up with Maia in mind, to send money to Africa for anti-malaria efforts. Yes, rich innocent teenage Maia read that a huge percentage of malaria deaths in Africa could be prevented with mosquito netting and decided she wanted to save an entire continent's children from malaria. And her parents, instead of explaining that Africa is a vast continent made up of 54 countries and that she could learn about them and target some efforts and channel those good intentions into specific philanthropical actions rather than blanket statements that reduce the continent to one big Place That Needs Saving, they took Maia's bleeding heart and built a Ponzi scheme around it and then lied to their daughter and everyone else around them.
Memory: Maia cooking with Henry, asking about how much money exactly the Rindell fund is sending "to Africa." Henry being dodgy and clearly lying that he'll get her the numbers; that it's a lot and not to worry about it. But Maia's not stupid, so she must know something is wrong. And there's the rub.
Eventually in the memory cloud we get to Maia's 18th birthday party. Guess who's there? Beautiful Amy. Apparently Jax introduced them, which, ok. Maia's boyfriend is also there somewhere but all we see is Amy smiling, Amy kissing her neck, the two of them making out outside. It's lovely. Maia is lost in this memory, as are the rest of us.
And then something bubbles up. Maia signed the fund papers on the night of her birthday, but she didn't actually turn 18 until a few days later. She was only 17 when she actually signed them, so those signatures aren't valid! Poof! Exonerated!
But no. There's a major snag. When Maia and Amy were in law school, and living together (and wearing shirts with bad slogans, apparently), Amy's parents wanted to invest in the Rindell fund but didn't have the $200,000 minimum investment. Amy asked Maia to ask her parents to make an exception for them. While they're lying in bed, Maia promises that she asked them and they just refused, but it's less than convincing, and that's not good. She must have known something was up, and didn't want Amy's parents involved. But did she know? Did she just not want to mix their parents' finances? And the birds are crashing all around.
Madeline asks Maia point blank: Why didn't you ask your parents if they would make an exception for Amy's parents in the fund? Maia responds that the truth is, she didn't want to mix finances and family.
Remember back in the beginning of the season when Maia and Lucca went to that seminar that was ostensibly for cops but actually for sleazy corporate businessmen about how to tell if someone is lying? Well apparently Madeline has had similar training, because her response is, "In my experience, when someone starts out with 'the truth is,' it's usually a lie." And lies aren't covered under the proffer agreement, so she's going to recommend that the U.S. Attorney General's office prosecute. Uh oh.
Next week is the season finale, so something big is bound to happen, hopefully involving more lesbians. The show was renewed for a second season almost immediately after its first two episodes, so we'll see where Maia ends up. It's either going to be federal prison, or Amy's bed. Let's hope for the latter.
Overall episode rating: 4.5/5 exploding flower vases
Amy sitings: So many! All in flashbacks.
Excellent Elsbeth moments: none!!
Marissa sleuthing factor: 0 exploding laptops
See you next week, when Amy's fairy godmother Elsbeth appears to save Maia and sends the lovebirds home to do love things; Lucca finally gets to go for a run; and Marissa and Jay take on the Russia scandal at the 45th's White House.