Grading the Season Finales 2014: Suits

Suits s3 finale


Title No Way Out (3.16)

Written By Aaron Korsh and Daniel Arkin

What Happens? When Mike is taken in for questioning concerning the Hessington Oil settlement and the accusations of bribing witnesses, it becomes clear that U.S. Attorney Eric Woodall isn’t interested in Mike at all; he wants to bring down Harvey. Things get tricky for Mike and Harvey when it’s revealed that another attorney was also brought in for questioning: Harold Gunderson. When a meeting between Mike and Harold leads to their arrest, Harvey enlists Louis’s help to keep Harold from cracking under the pressure, while Harvey tells Mike to put all the blame on him.

It seems Harvey has been taking a look in the mirror, and he doesn’t like the man looking back at him. Despite the refrain of “You’re a good man, Harvey” that he keeps hearing, Harvey worries that he’s becoming the opposite of that, and Mike might pay the price for it. Jessica is also contemplating her role in the firm’s questionable practices and their affects on the family she’s built within Pearson Specter. Scottie’s role in that family changes dramatically when she voices her desire to leave. Harvey’s parting gift to her is to let her in on Mike’s secret, with a promise that he’s done lying to the people he loves.

Scottie isn’t the only one moving on from Pearson Specter. Mike is tired of lying and having other people lie to protect his secret. So he decides to take the investment banking job he was offered, making him a client of Pearson Specter and no longer an employee.

Game-Changing Moment I’m not sure it gets more quintessentially game-changing than Mike quitting Pearson Specter to take a job as their client instead. The entire premise of Suits was built around Mike’s secret and his relationships within Pearson Specter, especially his mentor/mentee relationship with Harvey. But it became clear that this premise couldn’t sustain a long-running series without turning the characters into unlikeable people and turning the plot into a predictable circle of people finding out, people almost finding out, and Mike still emerging unscathed. Something had to change. And something finally did. Mike’s exit was quietly powerful in the way it not only fundamentally altered the entire premise of the show but also in the way it highlighted something that doesn’t always happen on television: Actions have consequences. Mike’s secret took a huge emotional toll on him, and I thought Patrick J. Adams displayed that perfectly in this episode. It was time for him to do the right thing, and it was time for Harvey to give him permission to do the right thing. It’s not just the show’s plot that will change with Mike’s departure (although he’ll stay on as a client); Mike and Harvey’s relationship will be forever altered, too. I thought both Adams and Gabriel Macht gave that scene the emotional weight necessary to convey the impact of this decision on both Mike and Harvey. Will the show be able to sustain itself with Mike not being a lawyer anymore? I’m not sure. But it’s an interesting question to hold on to until we see how this all plays out next season.

Finale M.V.P. This was a huge episode for both Mike and Harvey in terms of character development, but the character I walked away from this episode loving more than ever was Jessica. Gina Torres was at her absolute best in “No Way Out.” Jessica is a woman who commands respect whenever she walks into a room, and Torres is a woman who commands respect every time she appears in a scene. As all of her firm’s morally questionable decisions came back to haunt Jessica in this episode, Torres made me believe that this woman genuinely wanted to be better than those morally questionable decisions. There was no overdramatic hand-wringing necessary, just a controlled sense of honest introspection, which led to an equally honest moment of voicing that she doesn’t want to be Edward Darby. Those weren’t just words; they meant something to Jessica, and I believed they did. Jessica is a woman who makes every word count, and that’s a perfect match for Torres’s acting style. When Jessica told Rachel that she was family, there was a genuine sense of kindness in her mannerisms and tone that conveyed the depth of this character; she’s not a one-dimensional, cold woman in a position of power. She’s caring and fiercely protective of her own. Jessica’s role as the quietly powerful matriarch of this dysfunctional family was a driving force in this episode, and I found myself completely captivated by the work Torres was doing every time she was onscreen.

Most Memorable Line “Harvey, you gave me permission to point the finger at you. Give me permission to go.” (Mike)

What Didn’t Work While “No Way Out” did an excellent job of developing Harvey’s character, it was far less successful at doing the same for arguably the two most important women in Harvey’s life: Scottie and Donna. I don’t shy away from expressing my true feelings when it comes to Scottie and Harvey’s relationship: It bores me. I feel like it’s always been a relationship that we’ve been told about more than we’ve been shown, so most emotional beats between them fall completely flat for me. That’s especially true with Harvey telling Scottie he loved her. There hadn’t been enough interaction between them in this half of the season for me to buy that Scottie would be the one person Harvey would admit to loving. It was a huge moment for his character, but it felt like he was saying it to the wrong person (because his love for her has never felt as strong as his love for Jessica, Donna, or Mike). And the fact that he told Scottie Mike’s secret made me angry. She hasn’t felt integrated enough into this group of characters to be trusted with this secret; it didn’t feel earned. It felt like a plot point rather than an emotional moment of real importance.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Donna. Her relationship with Harvey has been shown to us in detail, every beat between those two characters feels earned, and I feel like I understand her character in a way I never could with Scottie. However, this half of Season Three has done Donna (and Sarah Rafferty) few favors when compared with the first half of this season. She’s had little to do beyond helping Harvey with his relationship with Scottie, and the character deserves better. The first half of Season Three gave us some incredibly meaty Donna storylines, but she was relegated to Harvey’s support system and the show’s sassy comedic relief in this half.

By removing Scottie from the picture right before the most intimate Harvey/Donna scene in quite some time, it became clearer to me than ever that Scottie was simply a means to bring Harvey closer to being ready for a relationship with Donna. But that still feels like it’s too far away. Don’t get me wrong; I could watch Macht and Rafferty banter and have conversations with just their eyes all day. But to keep these characters apart much longer is going to start eating at the show. It’s already getting ridiculous to watch both of them deflect important conversations and speak in ambiguities over and over again (like this episode’s “I want you to be happy” scene), and it’s only going to get worse if they keep dragging it out for the sake of “not ruining the show” (aka the worst excuse in the world).

What Worked I was left dissatisfied by the way Donna and Scottie seemed to exist simply as vehicles for moving Harvey’s character development forward in this episode, but I was impressed by the continued development of Rachel and Jessica. In an episode that was heavily focused on the relationships between the men in this firm, it was the scene where Jessica visited Rachel to offer her companionship as she worried about Mike that warmed my heart the most. I’ve loved every scene between these two women this season; I think Rachel’s scenes with Jessica make her a more interesting character, and I think Meghan Markle’s work with Torres makes her a better actress.

I loved that the show allowed Jessica, Harvey, and Mike to take a good look at themselves and decide they don’t like who they’ve become. It was a painful road at times this season because we could see what the characters seemed to be choosing to ignore: They were all becoming people it was getting harder and harder to like. But this episode did something rare for a television show: It allowed characters to admit they’d been bad people without asking anyone to forgive them. It was amazing that so much growth could happen for so many characters in one episode while still feeling genuine, but I suppose that’s what happens when you have a cast this talented doing the heavy lifting.

Loyalty is a defining part of Harvey Specter’s character, and the repairing of his relationship with Jessica has been one of the most successful ways this season has dealt with that character trait. Torres and Macht work so well together, and this episode was no exception. Both characters need each other, but they need each other at their best. To see them both choosing to become better than they’ve been was a beautiful thing, and it emphasized a point made by Harvey joking with Jessica about co-parenting: They’re partners, and that partnership is something this firm (and this show) needs in order for it to work the way it should.

While Harvey and Jessica’s partnership is the backbone of Pearson Specter, Harvey and Mike’s partnership is the backbone of Suits. This relationship took center stage in “No Way Out,” and I think that’s part of the reason why the episode was so successful. Macht and Adams are so good at banter that it’s easy to forget how deep Mike and Harvey’s relationship really goes and how much they’ve invested in the other, but this episode never let you forget. Their scene in the holding cell highlighted the intense stakes brought about by their loyalty to each other, while their scene at the end of the episode highlighted the emotional depth and intimacy behind that same sense of loyalty. Macht and Adams did such an excellent job with both the heightened emotions in the holding cell scene and the subtlety needed for their last scene to be as powerful as it was.

By telling Mike to put the blame on him, Harvey was showing the sense of selfless loyalty he demands from the people he’s closest to, and it made Mike’s decision easy: show that same selfless loyalty to Harvey by allowing him to stop living a lie. The exhaustion brought about by keeping his secret was so evident in Adams’s body language in that last scene, and it made his decision all the more believable. And Macht did such a beautiful job of making it clear that Mike’s assessment of him as a “good man” was the only one he actually believed. It’s rare that a male friendship on television is given the kind of emotional depth and complexity as this one, and that’s just another example of the way Suits excels at making you care for all of these characters and invest in their relationships with one another.

Questions that Will Haunt Us Until June Is Mike really giving up being a lawyer for good? And even if he is, can his secret still come back to hurt him? And when will Harvey realize that the right woman for him is often literally sitting right in front of him?

Finale Grade A -. The heightened stakes of this episode’s plot allowed for the kind of character exploration I’ve been waiting for all season. While I feel both Scottie and Donna’s development didn’t progress as I would have liked, every other character was given resonant moments of growth. When you combine strong character development with top-notch performances, the result is a strong finale that makes me eager for the show to return in June.

2 thoughts on “Grading the Season Finales 2014: Suits

  1. What I really adored about this season is that it clearly was building towards this finale. The whole season was about Pearson Spector being a family. We saw it at the close of last season with the reconciliation of Jessica and Harvey. Their build to that fantastic moment about being the parents of this dysfunctional family was a perfect moments of why Macht and Torres scenes are often among my favorites. They are great scene partners playing a love and admiration that was joyous in the back end of the season. That family grew with Harvey and Louis. We watched these men become brothers in and honest complicated and less than smooth path making that final slow walk back into Pearson Spector not only triumphant but symbolic. Louis alongside and in stride with Harvey and Mike meant something and as a fan of the show it carried a lot of weight. As did the scenes in the car as they went to get Mike out of that jam. I have always worried about the corner this show’s premise had written them into especially concerning Mike. This was a good first step to pivoting out and I am eager to see how they navigate the new reality. I wholeheartedly agree with you about the mishandling of both Scottie and Donna. We’re invested in Donna and they crafted a character who couldn’t compete with that in Scottie. It resulted in a minimized Donna and an anticlimactic reveal of love. But in the end the episode like the season was about family the one Harvey and Jessica have created. The one they want protect through valor not secrecy and the one that I am ultimately most looking forward to next season.

    Because come on, don’t we all want to be a part of Jessica’s family?

    • “Because come on, don’t we all want to be a part of Jessica’s family?” I don’t know anyone who watches Suits who would answer “no” to that question. 😉

      You are so right about this entire season being about family. It’s what made all of the drama between Harvey and Jessica so frustrating and made their reunion this season so sweet. And the inclusion of Louis in this little family has been one of the most pleasant surprises to come out of this season. That shot of Louis, Mike, and Harvey walking back into Pearson Specter was perfect, and it highlighted just how far these three characters had come. As you said, it meant something. It felt earned, and those are my favorite moments to watch.

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