'The Good Fight' Creators Say Season 5 'Won't Ignore' Coronavirus (Exclusive)

The Good Fight
Patrick Harbron/CBS

Warning: This story contains spoilers from the season 4 finale of The Good Fight.

When The Good Fight shut down production in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, they were midway through filming on season 4's eighth episode. As it became clear that filming wouldn't be able to resume, creators Robert and Michelle King fashioned together a makeshift season 4 finale that became "The Gang Discovers Who Killed Jeffrey Epstein," which focused on the death of Jeffrey Epstein. (Yeah, they really went there. Just look to the final NSFW shot of the episode.)

While Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) and Co. didn't actually find out the answer to the question the episode title suggests, the early closer planted seeds for what may have lied ahead for Reddick, Boseman & Lockhart in the three unproduced season 4 episodes. With company overlords, STR Laurie, not-so-politely requesting that the firm lay off 20 percent of its workforce, Diane, Adrian Boseman (Delroy Lindo) and Liz Reddick (Audra McDonald) came up with a lofty plan to buy themselves out of their share -- only the $20 million they thought was required ballooned to $80 million. Ouch.

Then, there's the whole matter of Adrian agreeing to run for president in 2024 for the Democratic National Committee, possibly creating an organic way out for outgoing cast member Lindo. And, of course, unanswered questions surrounding the mysterious Memo 618 that has become Diane's newest obsession.

With season 4 over earlier than anticipated, ET spoke with the Kings about how COVID-19 affected their original plans for the finale, how whether they plan to have Lindo and Hugh Dancy back in season 5 and why they won't be ignoring the pandemic on the show.

ET: How is quarantine life treating you? Has this been a bit of a transition for you?

Michelle King: It's been a transition. I feel like we're fortunate that we are able to work from home. So many people aren't.

Robert King: We have the writers' room for Evil started up and we've been at it for about six weeks now.

The Good Fight was one of the hundreds of productions forced to shut down because of coronavirus. How much tweaking did you have to do to the episode that ended up serving as the finale?

Robert King: We shot four days on episode eight, the one after [this episode], but it wasn't enough to complete that episode. What we did do was take three scenes from episode eight -- all the scenes involving Julius -- and put those in episode seven. The scenes where he and Diane meet with the inspector general, then the scene where Julius is arrested and then where Diane is at his arraignment in court. We were able to re-edit, based on knowing this was going to be the last episode. It's not the most appropriate to be the last episode, because it is a bit of a cliffhanger. But we think Epstein's death as a direct result of what we're calling Memo 618 is the sense of the powerful having greater freedom under the law to do what they want.

This kind of left you guys with three episodes unproduced. What were the original plans for those episodes, in terms of what you had kind of ironed out ahead of time before everything happened? Are you carrying elements of those episodes over to season 5?

Robert King: I think probably elements of it more than the whole plot, because you try to react what the news is throwing at you -- and we just won't know what is happening. When we start up the writers' room, it will be October, so we won't know what the world is. You can guess that Memo 618 is an evergreen thing, so that will probably still be in the show. But you want to be able to react in other ways. On the other hand, these three unproduced scripts had elements that took care of the upstairs bosses, the STR Laurie people and...

Michelle King: And also running for president for Adrian Boseman. But we're not going to plunk them down wholesale at the top of season 5. That would never be satisfying. We'll probably cherry pick elements from it and then craft new plots.

Do you want to share what your original finale plans were?

Robert King: The show often ends with a generic happy ending, but there's always some poison pill combined with it. We were thinking there would be that element where both Diane found a way to exploit Memo 618 to her own advantage, at the same time they get out through a lot of machinations from under John Larroquette's character upstairs. I think it's actually helpful for us to have a few more episodes to exploit it, because to speak honestly, I thought we maybe rushed some things in the last three episodes. So to have a little more room and a little more ability to look at what's going on in the news and have space to that.

This was supposed to be Delroy Lindo's last season. Have you talked with him about returning at the top of season 5 to wrap up his arc?

Michelle King: First of all, we love Delroy and we love Adrian Boseman. Nothing has been made certain contractually, but if we were able to work together at the top of the season, nothing would make us happier. But again, nothing has been decided.

Robert King: Most of that's coming down to being in the midst of a pandemic. I think everybody's trying to figure out what their plans are and what we can get. But we would love to try to get him.

And also, the same question for Hugh Dancy. I thought he was a fantastic addition to the cast this year. We only got a few episodes with him and I'm sure you had more planned for the character. Can you talk about bringing Caleb into the fold and Hugh's performance throughout the season? 

Michelle King: He was wonderful. He was fun to watch in court and terrific in those scenes with Liz and Marissa. So yes, nothing would make us happier than being able to see more of the character and the actor.

Robert King: What you're always looking for in an actor is someone who can play the comedy and the drama well. Some people actually do very well with court conversation, because it doesn't always have the most comfortable language and he was perfect on all three fronts. We shouldn't be saying this because it'll go right to his agent, but we would definitely want him back. What we were looking at doing between Caleb and Liz was the multiracial relationship has these small microaggressions that are part of the makeup of living in a racial society. Those things get in the way of love. I think we can still pursue that because it doesn't seem like a plot line that will be going away. And yet, I would be interested in seeing that relationship and both sides of the misunderstanding, but still see that microaggression affect a relationship.

One of my favorite episodes was the one inspired by Slave Play and it was the catalyst that brought Caleb and Liz together. Was their relationship something that you guys were interested in exploring on a deeper level?

Michelle King: That was part of the plan for the character from the beginning. We didn't stumble into Liz and Caleb coupling up. 

Robert King: The Slave Play episode was supposed to be very comic and fun and everything, and it starts with the relationship. And then when they have an encounter with a policeman in a later episode, you see the way the white policeman is kind of deferential to Hugh Dancy's character and isn't to Audra [McDonald]'s. It's all meant to be very subtle. That is really what life is like for a couple like this and that it's very hard on the relationship. It's hard when you feel that, "Wait, I'm in my house and yet the cop is deferential to the guy who's a visitor in the house, not to me." So we were just playing with a lot of those things, but hopefully in very subtle ways.

In this last episode, we find out there's the threat of downsizing by 20 percent and Diane, Adrian and Liz are trying to desperately figure out ways to buy themselves out of the situation. What kind of obstacles will face Reddick, Boseman & Lockhart in achieving this lofty goal they've set for themselves?

Robert King: We were having Delroy, Audra and Christine try to get out from under because they realized they can't reduce by 20 percent. A lot of this is a comment on what's going on now, which is companies arguing synergy, which is such a sweet-sounding word. Sounds almost like cinnamon. Synergy and cinnamon. But in fact, it's a really aggressive move to save the company money for its stockholders, but it never addresses the human damage of everybody that is fired. Our three main partners have always been controlling their own fate, so they realize they can't do it.

Part of next year will be how they get out from under this big monster firm, as opposed to living with it and firing people. But, again, that was based on what was happening now in the world. It may be a whole other world; in fact it will be a whole other world come November or December. Therefore, the ways they pull this sting operation on their bosses may change, based on whether it's a worse time, more cynical time or whether we feel there's greater advantage in making our firm an underdog for even longer.

Were you prepared to let go of one of the characters through the context of these layoffs?

Robert King: We were, up to a point. We were thinking back to our first season of The Good Wife. End of the season, there's a competition between the Julianna Margulies character and the Matt Czuchry character. And it was always supposed to be settled in a way that made everybody happy. One of the writers on the show said, "Well, no, there should be real repercussions. We shouldn't magically be able to triumph all the time." The firm fired the Matt Czuchry character and I thought that was a very interesting challenge. There is a chance we do the same thing here because it would be lovely to see these characters trying to mimic life and the way life is. And life never has pretty answers.

Michelle King: Yeah, and life does not have a six-year contract.

Going back to the Adrian storyline, it seemed like the seeds were planted for how Delroy may be written out of the show through the presidential campaign for 2024. Do you anticipate that changing? What is your gut telling you?

Michelle King: That one I would say, as much as any other, we're really going to have to see as we get closer to reconvening the writers' room. We'll see what can be produced and what storyline to do in the middle of the pandemic makes sense.

Robert King: It doesn't matter if Biden wins in November, because Biden has said recently that he wants to be a one-term president. So they may want an African American. It was all supposed to be the cynicism of the Democratic National Committee in wanting an African American on the debate stage. They don't believe Adrian Boseman has any future in this. In fact, we're going to find out in his narrative that they've been pursuing other people too. It was supposed to not really be about one of our characters running for president, as opposed to one of our characters dealing with the cynicism of a modern Democratic party.

How do you anticipate your approach to season 5 changing as a result of the pandemic? Do you think that the show will incorporate what's going on into the fabric of the show?

Michelle King: We will not ignore the pandemic. We're not going to live in a universe where we pretend that there was never a pandemic. It's unclear where we're going to pick up the story, in terms of when it is. How the characters are working in their offices, social distancing, all those things we're talking about right this second. It's unclear how we're going to approach that for the show, but we will not be living in some magical place where there was no pandemic, there was no economic fallout. 

Robert King: There recently was talk of this robot that wanders through your office and cleans it, and we know how these robots work, especially when they're in an office. They always malfunction and they're always going to do something stupid. So just to have a comic element. I mean, it's hard to talk about a pandemic that has any comic side, but to have a comic element where this robot is running out of control spraying everything. It seems like there are the below-the-fold elements of a pandemic that we probably would pursue on the show, just so we're not repeating everybody else.

Have you guys thought about an episode told through Zoom or video conferencing? 

Michelle King: We didn't really consider it, and given that All Rise did it, it felt like we were...

Robert King: The problem is that Zoom is visually kind of ugly, and it's difficult to get your head around it. And then that Apple show, Mythic Quest, just did such a great job with it. I don't think you could beat that. I think we wait to see what comes of post-pandemic life.

The Good Fight is streaming now on CBS All Access.

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