Grading the (Mid)Season Finales 2013: Suits

I know this episode of Suits wasn’t technically a season finale, but it feels right to treat it as such since it aired before such a long hiatus. 

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What Happens? After Scottie agrees to help Harvey fight Ava Hessington’s lawsuit, both of them face depositions at the hands of Ava’s new attorney—Travis Tanner. Jessica warns Scottie that these depositions will get very dirty very quickly, which is proven when Tanner brings up Harvey and Scottie’s history, including Scottie cheating on her fiancé with Harvey. Tanner’s personal attacks against Scottie become too much for Harvey to take, and we begin to see that the part of him that cares for her is becoming more and more outspoken. However, Tanner doesn’t just attack Scottie’s character; he accuses her of knowing about Stephen Huntley’s murders, which Huntley attests to in a sworn statement.

There’s one factor Tanner and Huntley didn’t take into account when thinking of this plan, though, and that’s Donna and her dedication to helping Scottie because she knows how much Scottie means to Harvey. Taking Mike along with her, she gets Stephen to confess to lying about Scottie’s involvement, which is recorded by prison cameras. After that, Tanner’s partnership with Ava quickly begins to unravel, ending with the oil magnate dropping her lawsuit and Harvey emerging victorious over Tanner once again. Harvey and Scottie celebrate the victory with dinner and a proposal from Harvey for Scottie to join the firm. She declines because she wants more than to just work with Harvey. When she presses him to say more than his usual “I care about you,” Harvey’s cool exterior finally shows some signs of warmth, and he tells her that he wants more than just a working relationship; he wants her in his life.

Louis and Mike also find themselves with relationship struggles in this episode. Louis fails to recognize Sheila’s desire to be exclusive until it seems to be too late, and Mike is struggling with giving Rachel the space she needs to make her decision about Stanford and Columbia. That decision is made more difficult when Jessica discovers Mike and Rachel’s relationship and decides to act before anything could happen to cause Robert Zane’s daughter to reveal Mike’s secret. She gives Mike an affidavit to give to Rachel to sign, stating that she knows Mike is a fraud, which means her career would be destroyed too if anyone were to find out about Mike. The only other choice, Mike tells Rachel, is to go to Stanford.

It becomes clear, though, that Rachel doesn’t want to go to Stanford, so she’ll sign the affidavit—on one condition. She demands that Jessica drop the firm’s “Harvard-only” requirement for her because she knows she’s already better than most of the Harvard-trained associates they have. It appears Jessica agrees because Mike and Rachel’s storyline ends with the revelation that she’s going to Columbia and staying by Mike’s side.

As for Louis’s relationship, he finds Sheila in the Harvard Law records room and tells her that he wants an exclusive relationship with her. Elated, she leaves the room to call her mother, telling him not to touch any of the files. Of course, Louis can’t help himself, and he finds Harvey’s file. His search for Mike’s file is stopped short by a startling revelation: There is no “Mike Ross” in the Harvard Law system.

Game-Changing Moment There were plenty of moments that could be considered game-changers down the line: Rachel choosing Columbia and Mike over Stanford and a fresh start; Harvey opening up and pursuing a relationship with Scottie; Jessica dropping the Harvard-only rule for Rachel…But the biggest twist came when Louis discovered that Mike’s file isn’t in the Harvard Law system. It sets up a new conflict for the second half of this season, and it brings another person into the web of Mike’s secret. We all knew Louis had to find out eventually, but I like that it was done in a way that still made you feel the suspense even though you knew what was going to happen.

Finale M.V.P. Meghan Markle has been consistently killing it this season, and this episode was no exception. She really shines when Rachel is given more to do besides being Mike’s girlfriend, and this episode proved that. Her scene with Jessica was the highlight of the episode for me because it was about two strong, smart, confident women going toe-to-toe about something genuinely important in this show’s universe. From the moment Markle entered that scene, she captivated me, which is a hard thing to do when you’re sharing a scene with the great Gina Torres. But she projected so much intelligence and power that it was hard not to agree with everything she was saying about being better than most lawyers even without her law degree. Rachel has really proven herself this season to be a great character independent of Mike, and I really enjoyed seeing her get to show that to Jessica and to a lot of audience members who often write her off as just a love interest or one-dimensional character.

Most Memorable Line “I have been killing it here for the better part of a decade. I’m better than most of the associates in that bullpen, and I haven’t even gone to law school yet. So imagine what it will be like once I have.” (Rachel Zane)

What Didn’t Work I was kind of disappointed with the way the whole Hessington Oil plot ended. It definitely went out with a whimper instead of a bang, which was unfortunate given what a bang the revelation about Stephen Huntley was earlier this season. I thought there would be more interesting twists with complicated ramifications like that one, but even the twist of Ava suing the firm ended without any real ripple effect besides the stuff that happened with Scottie. For an arc that took up 10 episodes, this one felt strangely anticlimactic, but I suppose that’s better than it completely changing the show in a negative way.

Another thing that felt anticlimactic in this episode was the cliffhanger. In the moment, it was really exciting to watch Louis go through the files, but I really don’t feel like Mike’s in any real danger from Louis finding out his secret. Yes, it will make for some great scenes from Rick Hoffman next season, but the stakes don’t feel very high with this one.

And on a more personal note, I just don’t care about Scottie and Harvey’s relationship. I feel like we’ve been told so much more than we’ve been shown (a big writing no-no) about the history between these characters. We’re supposed to feel a deep bond and sense of a shared past, but I just can’t feel it, especially when compared with what we see between Harvey and Donna. I really like Scottie, and I want to like this relationship; I want to feel happy that Harvey is being emotionally open with a woman for a change. But I can’t help but feel it’s the wrong woman (I’d take Zoe/Harvey over Scottie/Harvey in a heartbeat). Harvey was so damaged by his mother’s infidelity, so it bothers me that he’d want to enter into his first real, adult relationship with a woman who cheated on her fiancé with him. It’s especially strange after hearing his father talk in “The Other Time” about the fact that if a person cheats once, they’ll probably do it again. Maybe this is Harvey’s way of trying to move on from all the distrust he carries with him, but I’m not sure either he or Scottie will ever be able to completely trust each other.

I’ll admit it; I’m biased when it comes to Harvey and his romantic possibilities. I want him to be with Donna (eventually), and I own up to that clouding my judgment. I just feel like we were given a lot of development between Harvey and Donna this season that seems to have only really served to open Harvey up to having a relationship with Scottie—at least at this point. I’m interested to see how Donna handles this change in Harvey’s life, especially because she was one of the only characters to end this episode without a “happy ending.” And after what she’s been through this season, if anyone deserves a little romance (with someone who’s not a murderer), it’s Donna.

What Worked While I didn’t like the outcome of Harvey opening up more in this episode, I liked most of what led up to it. I loved Mike being the one to force Harvey to confront his emotional deficiencies, and I loved that he did it without being mean. Mike has always been the emotionally open half of their duo, and it made sense to see him wanting to be more like Harvey when faced with something that caused him so much pain. I also loved the fact that Harvey was very honest about his lack of expertise about matters of the heart. He genuinely wanted to help Mike, but he honestly couldn’t. And that scene was such an important factor in the rest of the episode.

Although he didn’t have much to do in this episode in terms of the overall plot, I thought Patrick J. Adams was brilliant in the moments he was given to work with. I especially loved his last scene with Harvey. It was filled with such real desperation and vulnerability; you could feel Mike’s heartbreak, which made Harvey’s rare physical display of affection all the more meaningful and his apology all the more believable.

I’ve already talked about how excellent Markle was in this episode, but plenty of other supporting cast members turned in great work, too. Hoffman was once again a perfect mixture of odd, hilarious, and emotionally affecting. Torres was once again a figure who commands respect in every scene (and a figure who looks great in a suit with a deep-V down the back—my favorite Jessica outfit yet). And Sarah Rafferty made Donna’s scene with Stephen radiate with intensity and also a very real kind of disappointment. The cast on this show never fails to impress me at every turn.

There were a lot of smaller moments and details that really worked in this episode: the tension in each of the deposition scenes, the way Michelle Fairley said “Harvey” as if she were chiding a misbehaving son, the way Mike told Rachel he didn’t want to be like Harvey with tears in his eyes, the moment that showed once again Harvey and Donna’s ability to communicate with just a glance and a nod, and the true warmth I felt between Mike and Rachel at the episode’s conclusion—a happy ending that felt earned.

Final Grade B – . Even a mediocre episode of Suits is smarter and better-acted than most things on television. However, knowing how great and compelling this show can be, I was a little disappointed in this finale. I wanted to feel more of an impact from the case we’ve spent 10 episodes on. So much of the episode revolved around development in a relationship I don’t really care about. However, I did love the supporting characters and secondary storylines in this episode, especially Rachel’s scene with Jessica.


6 thoughts on “Grading the (Mid)Season Finales 2013: Suits

  1. I completely agree with the whimper after 10 episodes dedicated to the storyline. I felt like it was a disappointing final set of scenes for Michelle Fairley and that anything after the reveal of Huntley being behind it all. Frankly the only thing that could have made it work was if Scottie was in fact privy to the information. It was extremely anticlimactic. Speaking of which, I think the weakest aspect of the show is the unraveling of Mike’s secret. Aside from his reveal to Rachel, I think it is the elephant in the room that they don’t know how to write themselves out of and have been trying to do so since season 1. The problem with the end when Louis finds out is that you don’t care. You don’t care because like Donna, Jessica and Rachel before him there have been no consequences to this mammoth secret. It’s a Don Draper move without any residual impact. So who cares that Louis knows, what’s he going to do? It’s always been the weak plot point that hurts the show. I forgive it because I enjoy the ying yang of Mike and Harvey’s bromance.

    However clearly this episode belonged to the women in suits. Donna’s puppet mastering in full effect continued to be fun. As was Jessica triangulating Mike and Rachel regarding their relationship. The dynamic between the two women was palpable in their final scene and it was the best scene of the night. Although I have to confess, every time I see Meghan Markle I instantly think of her guest stint on Castle. She was the best part of Tuesday’s show though.

    I have a theory about Scottie and Harvey. She’s his stepping stone to Donna. Although there is a part of me that hopes he and Donna don’t get together, I think they are setting it up to head in that direction. By providing an avenue for Harvey to display vulnerability he’s going to discover he can only place that openness in a place that is trustworthy and that means Donna. I actually think the best part of Harvey’s progression was his roof top conversation with Jessica. Confessing his sins and realizing it isn’t the right path I hope makes for a united partnership moving forward for him and Jessica. You’re right though, it was an uneven midseason breakpoint, but Suits remains a keeper for my DVR.

    • “Frankly the only thing that could have made it work was if Scottie was in fact privy to the information.” – I am SO glad I’m not the only one who thought this. I was really hoping that Donna would find out that Stephen wasn’t lying—or that there would be a big dramatic scene where Scottie has to come clean to Harvey. This episode was missing the intensity that I felt the conclusion to this arc deserved, and I thought Scottie being aware of what Stephen had done would have been a good way to up the intensity and emotional stakes of what was happening.

      I also agree with your opinion of Mike’s secret. It feels like it was a cool concept for a pilot for a “different” kind of legal procedural, but it’s not a concept built to last for season after season.

      I agree with your theory about Scottie and Harvey 100%. I read an interview after this season’s flashback episode where Sarah Rafferty stated that Donna doesn’t believe (or at least didn’t as of 3.06) that Harvey is capable of being in the kind of relationship she would need from him if they were ever to rekindle their romantic spark. I think seeing him in a relationship with Scottie (or at least pursuing one) could open her eyes to the fact that he’s more ready for a relationship now than he’s ever been. I still don’t like the idea of Harvey pursuing a woman who cheated on her fiancé with him (it feels out of character after all the stuff with his mom), but I’ll take it if it means more character development for Harvey in the future.

  2. I agree with you about the disconnect between Harvey’s back story about his mom and his actions to commit to Scottie in some capacity. It for me goes into the category of writing choices that boxes them into a corner. But given what you said about Rafferty, I suspect it’s a gloss over point that while I find it annoying as a continuity obsessed TV watcher, most folks don’t care about – lol.

  3. Pingback: The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (8/17 – 8/24) | Nerdy Girl Notes

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