‘The Good Fight’: Nyambi Nyambi Says Jay’s ‘Trying to Find Himself’ After the Season 5 Premiere
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Good Fight Season 5 premiere, “Previously On…”]
The Good Fight tackles things we’ve dealt with in the past year in its Season 5 premiere, including COVID-19, George Floyd, and the election, and writes out two major characters, Adrian Boseman (Delroy Lindo) and Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo). Investigator Jay Dipersia (Nyambi Nyambi) gets hit hard from all sides, ending up hospitalized with COVID and having to say goodbye to two important people in his life.
“What was cool about this episode, it being sort of a ‘Previously On,’ is how they weaved everything together and how quickly everything was put together,” Nyambi tells TV Insider. “It was just an emotional roller coaster throughout, just going through what have these characters been going through for the last year and just sort of the great unknown. We lose these two great, great, great lawyers and actors, and it’s like, well, what’s next?”
Nyambi teases how his character handles all the change going forward.
You get the script and read one heavy scene after another — the phone call, the ambulance, the hospital, and the farewells. What’s your first reaction?
Nyambi Nyambi: Knowing this was going to be Delroy and Cush’s last episode, I was wondering how they were going to close out their storylines. And so I anticipated that, but I didn’t anticipate just how emotional I would feel about it because not only are they great friends offscreen but they’re very important to my character onscreen. So [it was] very emotional. And then of course you add on top of that, my character going through COVID and the hallucinations. And so my thought was mostly gut-wrenching. And then at the same time, oh my God, this is completely a left turn in terms of the character and in terms of what I’ve done on the show in an amazing way, in a weird way, that made me very excited.
I was just super excited about the opportunity to tackle something that would require me to go deeper than I’ve had to before. It required a lot of me, which I felt honored and at the same time, there was some fear there and as an actor just joy to be able to take this on. But in doing so, it was a lot emotionally because, with everything that’s happened with COVID, it’s been a tough year. Having lost family, friends, icons, people that I’ve looked up to, it was a challenge, to say the least.
Jay goes through quite a bit in this episode. First of all, the good news is he survives COVID, but he does mention to Adrian that he’s what they call a long-hauler. How much are we going to see that play out this season?
As you can see in the first episode, I start to hallucinate and those hallucinations stay with me throughout, and it’s just the question of why these specific hallucinations as historical figures visit me throughout. In the first episode, you see Jesus, Malcolm X, Karl Marx, and Frederick Douglass. Why these visions? And then of course the whole thing with the Soul Train commercial and all that stuff. It’s like, “What? Why?” You’ll see that unfold as the season goes on as to the deeper meaning of this journey and ultimately everything that happened to Jay when contracting the coronavirus.
What did Jay need out of that moment at that time for himself in that conversation at the hospital, considering everything that was going on — COVID, struggling with what to do after George Floyd…
Clarity, having been knocked out by this virus and then coming out of it and realizing the world has changed drastically, especially with the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and what it means to be a Black man in America, in terms of how does one go about protecting themselves, especially someone in my field as an investigator. I had the philosophy of someone who just never carried a gun, never felt the need to, but then it was the question of, what do I do? How do I protect myself?
It’s just trying to find the answers and figure out, in order to move forward and feel safe, what do I have to do? And metaphorically in terms of getting the gun and choosing to carry is not only how do I take on the full scope of racism, the full scope of the discriminations that Black men and women, people of color go through on a daily basis, but then also metaphorically, how do you take on something as giant as a pandemic?
You have all of these things happening all at once, and you’re trying to do anything to protect yourself. You can’t protect yourself from COVID-19, but, it’s like, well, what do I do? And it’s just all of these questions. I need the answers. That’s what these historical figures mean to Jay in terms of trying to help them find answers. But it only serves more confusion, to say the least.
How do Adrian and Lucca’s departures affect Jay going forward?
Lucca Quinn has been a great friend and ally to Jay Dipersia throughout our time together and the relationship has grown in terms of our friendship. So that was a huge loss in terms of an ally within the firm. And then Adrian Boseman was like a father figure to Jay and the reason why Jay’s there and to lose someone like that puts Jay in a place of trying to find himself: Who am I in this firm? Who am I in this life?
There are so many things with their losses — in terms of them moving on, in terms of my work life, in terms of sort of losing my idea of what it was to be a Black man in this country and trying to come to grips and understand how do I move through this world and feel safe with everything that happened, with the coronavirus in terms of him being a long hauler and not fully understanding the struggles that my character had gone through, which will come to pass as the season goes by. When you put all of those things together, losing my taste buds, losing my sense of smell, losing, losing, losing, it’s Jay trying to now find himself and try and find where he fits in all of this.
How much is changing at the firm this season?
The things that we’re now trying to answer the question because with Diane [Christine Baranski] and Liz [Audra McDonald] now being the heads of the firm, the question is, can Diane, a white woman, be the head of a historically Black firm, a firm that has made their bones, cut their teeth on the issues of African-Americans? Can the head of that be someone who’s white? And of course, there’s plenty of drama [and] questions around that between Liz and Diane. That’s a huge, huge part of our season. And then we have new characters that are coming in in terms of Mandy Patinkin playing Hal Wackner and Charmaine Bingwa playing Carmen Moyo.
And also another big change is the fact that Jay and Marissa [Sarah Steele] are no longer investigators together because as you see, Marissa has gone on to law school to get her law degree as quickly as she could and is working through that. She’s now learning what it is to be a lawyer. And she has a unique way of exploring that with Mandy Patinkin’s character, Hal Wackner, who’s just this regular guy who decides, “I’m going to start a court,” and he starts this court in the back of a coffee shop. So he’s litigating cases with no sort of law background or anything like that. He’s taking the local law into his own hands, so to speak.
Yeah, Marissa going to law school is just another thing Jay came back to that’s different.
Exactly. So then again, it’s very isolating. I feel like there’s this feeling like for Jay, at least, that, I’m on my own, again, trying to figure it all out. Who am I in this whole thing that has completely been flipped upside down? And I’ve been left to my own devices, so to speak.
Is that where the hallucinations continuing come in?
Yeah. They’ve become sort of a comfort. Where I’m alone, in the real world, in the hallucinatory world, they’re there in a way to keep me company, and bounce things off, some of these large, large, large questions that I have that people who haven’t been going through what I’m going through as a long hauler would not be able to help me with it, wouldn’t understand.
The Good Fight, Thursdays, Paramount+