How do power and privilege affect today's society?
That appears to be one of this season's emerging themes as The Good Fight Season 4 Episode 3 continues to tackle this issue.
And this installment did a much better job than The Good Fight Season 4 Episode 2, as it highlighted just how much a disparity there is in several different scenarios.
The first was the use of the n-word.
Most of us would agree that a white person using the n-word in any context, even if it's quoting a literary passage or singing along to a song, is wrong.
Adrian: HR called Vernon Jordan investigating me for the capital crime of using the n-word.
Firth: Well, unfortunately, I can’t stand in the way of an HR investigation.
Adrian: Oh, this is a bullshit investigation.
Firth: It’s not a bullshit investigation. It is our standard to thoroughly explore any legitimate employee complaint.
Adrian: This is not legitimate. Now, I understand you need to cover your ass, but you and I both know this is far from legitimate.
Firth: Well, what I know is you are aware of the rules. You didn’t sign your contract that long away. STR Laurie and all its divisions has a zero tolerance policy for offensive language and harassment at work.
Adrian: Harassment, wow, wow, it’s growing now.
Firth: I got into it with Human Resources, and they think that the best course of action now is for everyone at Reddick Boseman to take a class on sensitivity in the workplace, and we’d prefer if you didn’t use that word again at the office.
Adrian: You prefer?
Firth: Adrian, considering the charged nature of that word, it would be best.
Adrian: You don’t dictate what words I get to use or when.
It's not a word Caucasians have a claim to, and using it only reinforces hundreds of years of racism.
It's just not something we're allowed to say, and that's all.
As someone who is white, I'd remiss if I tried to explain why black people or African-Americans are allowed that right.
Besides the obvious political incorrectness, there's no way I could ever understand all the emotion and complexities -- whether it be slavery or the continued institutionalized racial discrimination -- that are wrapped up in such a word.
Instead, it's best just to use the show's own words, spoken by Jay, as a way of explanation:
"Yes, it’s a violent word with a violent history, but black people reckon with it every day. It’s our word. If we use it, if we don’t use it, when we use it, where we use it, you don’t get to have an opinion. Autonomy over that word is our reparation."
And on paper, Jay is right.
However, things can become more complicated in the workplace, where political correctness and propriety supersede anything else.
Edie: You didn’t raise your hand. We need everyone to participate.
Jay: I don’t know Marcus. Maybe he really likes watermelon. Maybe Tim was correct in his commentary.
Edie: Marcus does not eat watermelon.
Jay: Then Tim is a racist.
What makes this an interesting case study, though, is how it was used and who said it.
If, for example, a white lawyer had called a black attorney the n-word, then that could be a firable offense, and a definite reason for HR to get involved, as that sort of language should never be tolerated.
Yet, in Adrian's case, he was simply quoting something a politician had said.
It was used by a man who had a claim to the word, and it was not directed at anyone in particular nor used offensively.
All Adrian was doing was using a historical reference to make his point, but he was still penalized for it.
Someone informed HR of the "incident," so HR decided the best course of action was sensitivity training, which is eerily similar to companies implementing sexual harassment training when an employee comes forward to report some sort of sexual misconduct.
These responses never seem to address the underlying problem or incident.
Instead, they're a way for the higher-ups to protect themselves, so if anything like this ever happens in the future, the companies can then point to these seminars as proof that the issue has been addressed before.
Lucca: They need you upstairs in the conference room?
Marissa: Us, why?
It's essentially a way for companies to say, "We have zero tolerance for this sort of action, and here is all the evidence you need."
It's a way to "handle" the problem without actually making strides to resolve it.
Then there's also the added layer of the word coming from the boss.
If a subordinate had made the same historical reference and used the n-word in that context, that employee could have found himself or herself being let go from the company.
However, Adrian, as a name partner, is held to different standards.
What may be a firable offense for an associate may not apply in equal measure for equity or name partner.
No one would blink an eye if some low-level employee was fired, but firing a name partner would have wide-reaching consequences.
Diane: I went to Julius about the missing Tecates injunction, and he told me if I wanted to know where it went to ask Adrian’s girlfriend.
Diane: He said ask your girlfriend. So let me ask, ‘Who is your girlfriend, and why does she know about my disappearing case?’
Adrian: Julius. He’s probably saying something to pass the buck.
Diane: What buck? What is going on? Why do I feel like I’m hearing passwords in a secret society?
Adrian: There’s no secret society, Diane. I’m in a relationship with a judge. Now, it is not improper, and there is certainly no ex parte conversations. I just don’t like my private life being made public. And you know information is power, and you lose information to other people, and you give them all the power over you.
Therefore, the superiors would have to consider the fallout versus the offense.
Carl Reddick's repeated sexual assaults of women, which came to light on The Good Fight Season 3, would have qualified in this instance had the former name partner not been dead, as there's no way the higher ups could have overlooked such a matter.
However, firing a name black partner for using the n-word in a quote doesn't rise to that level.
There's really no good way to spin that, especially when Reddick, Boseman, & Lockhart was acquired by STR Laurie for its diversity.
In the end, it all comes down to what's most beneficial to those in charge.
And in this instance, it's keeping Adrian in his position as name partner while seemingly condemning such behavior.
Elsewhere, the mystery of Memo 618 continued as Diane learned more about the deep-seated conspiracy.
Not only do those behind Memo 618 have the ability to coerce judges into ruling in their favor, but they also have the ability to make entire court cases disappear and stall attorneys' efforts to further investigate the matter.
Diane: What is Memo 618?
Canning: Objection, Your Honor.
Charlotte: Counsellor, you are done.
Diane: Why? I’m just asking what Memo 618 is. That’s all.
Charlotte: It is not relevant to this case.
Diane: Well, the last time a judge was faced with Memo 618, my case disappeared, and I see you were just handed a document with Memo 618 on it, and that’s why it’s relevant.
Charlotte: Counsellor you are in contempt.
Diane: Why? If Memo 618 means nothing, why should I be held in contempt?
Charlotte: Court is adjourned.
Diane: Until when?
Charlotte: Until I fucking decide.
It seems like those in power in the judicial system and at top-tier law firms have forged some sort of collective cabal to protect the privileged.
She's witnessed firsthand how much power those behind Memo 618 yield, and as good as she is at gaming the system, the mysterious "they" are better.
This group has more clout than anticipated, which will make it all the more difficult for Diane in her search for answers.
However, Diane is never one to give up a fight, and she won't rest until justice prevails.
That perseverance and dedication is why viewers love her, but she also needs to remember what happened last time she dove headfirst into a cause.
She was pretty banged up after the swatting incident on The Good Fight Season 4 Episode 1, and that incident required her to take a nine-month sabbatical from work per doctor's orders.
And who's ever behind Memo 618 has more power and resources at their disposal than her "book club" ever did.
Diane: Julius, are you fucking serious?
Julius: Don’t swear in my chambers.
Diane: You know what, I never used to swear, ever, but now I find it useful. People look at me and think I would never swear, so when I say, ‘This is fucking nuts,’ it has added meaning, and this is motherfucking nuts.
If they can pressure judges into ruling their way, there's no telling what they can or will do to an attorney trying to stop them.
Those fears of the possible repercussions shouldn't exactly dissuade her in searching for answers, but she should keep that in mind as she goes forward.
Some stray thoughts:
What is it with Firth and those cryptic philosophical monologues? Is he just really into ancient philosophical proverbs, or is he trying to get at something else without explicitly saying it? Maybe, he just likes driving people crazy. Who knows?
Even though Caleb was just introduced, I like him a lot as a character. Besides being played by Hugh Dancy, he just has a likable charm and quality to him. Of course, it could all be a ploy to gain everyone's trust, but let's not think that way.
Marissa going on off DNC Chairman Frank Landau was everything I needed. She is such a gem.
So what did you think The Good Fight Fanatics?
Did HR overreact to the "incident"?
What is your viewpoint on the matter?
Should Diane be more worried about herself than the pursuit of the truth?
Hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you happened to miss the latest episode, remember you can watch The Good Fight online at TV Fanatic.
Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.