The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (7/13 – 7/20)

This week in television began with a new episode of The Bachelorette on Monday, which left little doubt as to the identity of the next Bachelor (Chris) and the man Andi ultimately chooses (Josh). The week continued with an episode of So You Think You Can Dance that featured the return of some favorite contestants from Season Three (Pasha, Anya, and Lacey), as well as an episode of Suits that put conflicts on the shelf for a moment in favor of exploring the show’s complex characters and their relationships with one another. Finally, Thursday featured another highly entertaining episode of Hollywood Game Night.

I’m not sure there’s anything better on television this summer than what Suits has delivered in its last few episodes. Last week, it was Louis who took center stage, and he once again had some incredible moments in this episode. But the real star of “Pound of Flesh” was Donna, and it was wonderful to see a character who is so beloved but so mysterious in terms of her past given a real moment in the spotlight and true character development.

Of course, as an admitted Harvey/Donna “shipper” (I just want those two crazy kids to stop fighting their feelings already!), I loved the episode’s last scene. It always makes me smile to see just how easy it is for Harvey to be attentive and open with Donna when it’s so difficult for him to do that with anyone else. Donna has supported Harvey for so long, so I love little moments like that final scene, when we get to see Harvey be just as supportive of her and her goals.

Although I loved Harvey telling Donna he was a fan of hers, my favorite moment in the episode—and my favorite TV moment of the week—was one that didn’t focus on Donna and Harvey’s relationship; it focused on Donna’s growth as an individual character. When Donna told Louis about her decision to pursue her current career path instead of chasing her dream, it was her best moment in the whole series to that point. Suits is a show about a heightened world of designer clothing and million-dollar deals, but it’s at its best when it touches something real—something we can relate to. Sometimes we don’t chase our dreams—sometimes we make the tough decision to prioritize security and stability above the romantic idea that we could be the rare person who “makes it” in a creative profession. That’s a truth that’s been told before, but never with the quiet vulnerability that Sarah Rafferty gave to that scene. I felt her regret, but I also felt her fear that regret may be better than the reality that could come with chasing that dream again.

That’s the truth that doesn’t get told very often: Giving up on your dreams allows you to live with the idea that you could have been great instead of facing the reality that maybe you would have fallen on your face. In a weird way, giving up on your dreams still allows you to dream—to pretend that you could have been great had you decided to try. The honesty of that moment, delivered with such genuine sincerity and emotion by Rafferty, floored me. And it made Donna’s decision to act again feel like the courageous move that it really was. It takes bravery to try again at a dream we put aside for a long time, and I loved that her bravery was rewarded with success and with the support of two men who genuinely care about her—first Louis and then Harvey.

Each week, Suits keeps dishing out these little character moments that stun me in the best possible way. If they keep it up, it might make for the show’s strongest season yet.

2 thoughts on “The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (7/13 – 7/20)

  1. “Giving up on your dreams allows you to live with the idea that you could have been great instead of facing the reality that maybe you would have fallen on your face.” – nail meet head.

    I have to tell you I read this yesterday and had to walk away from it because it touched into every emotion I had about this episode, that moment and relating to Donna’s choices. You perfectly captured what made the episode stellar, what makes Rafferty special and the moment so brutally raw and vulnerable. It made me cry as I read it, that’s how accurate your assessment was of this character’s development. It’s an episode that cut very very close to me personally as someone who made that choice on more than one occasion. I love that you described and captured it better than I ever could so I can turn my focus to another moment.

    For as great as Suits was this week over on Monday, FOX pulled off the unimaginable. A stellar emotionally satisfying finale of a truncated reboot of 24. I have been a fan of 24 since the very beginning. I appreciated the show’s ability to navigate its high concept of ‘real time’ events/action while establishing character, intrigue and surprise that more often than not lived in the land of jaw dropping shock. Over 9 seasons the show had really great highs and some bad lows but there certainly hasn’t been anything as intensely driven on television before or since. The 12 episode, but 24 hour arc seemed implausible. But to watch it unfold the last three months gave viewers the very best that 24 has to offer as a show. Interesting terrorist threat, coupled with second guessing who is loyal and disloyal, a great villain in Michelle Fairley and well laid out group of new characters and old favorites. One of the great dynamics of 24 to surprisingly emerge is the odd couple relationship between Jack and Chloe. Her sardonic tech wiz efficiency plays conscience to Jack’s act first, atone later force of will. With all that happened in the 12 episodes it truly boiled down to these two characters and the finale gave us that.

    However what made it the best thing I saw this week was the final 10 minutes. As a long suffering 24 fan, I understand implicitly that Jack Bauer’s happiness will always be short lived, if it happens at all. This finale was no different. What was different however was how it was portrayed. Jack has lost loved ones throughout the series, none were more pivotal than in season 1. That is until last Monday. Again, as a fan of the show, there was little doubt that Audrey Raines wouldn’t make it out of the episode. However, what her death provided that 10 sustained, emotionally raw and profoundly powerful minutes of television. William Devane as president and father gave a monologue that was so deeply sad and remorseful that it took me a moment to realize I was holding my breath the entire time. It offered a great juxtaposition to Jack’s response. When Jack is told of Audrey’s death we see the very best that Kiefer Sutherland has to give. Sitting in a prolonged silence while all hell breaks loose around him we watch him process the costs of who he is on those he loves. We watch him move from devastation to reconciliation of his responsibility to the lives lost by his actions. It is the longest pause we’ve seen the show take in its history and Sutherland simply nails it. He is wrought with understanding for the cost and toll that his missions have caused, not just on those around him, but his individual soul. Sutherland achieves this entire realization in silence, it is all body posture and facial expression. I remember when the show was in its prime feeling that Sutherland’s performance was undervalued because of the show’s action and subject matter. That thought was once again reinforced in this terrific piece of television last week. After this extended moment of loss, remorse, sadness, hopelessness and regret we see Kiefer shift to anger. It’s like the phoenix rising from the ashes. The Jack that emerges isn’t hollow and vengeful (as we watched in season 9), this Jack is focused, angry and fighting to regain his own humanity. It is that fight that the episode sets up in its final moments. We watch Jack sacrifice himself in a hostage exchange for Chloe who has been taken in the hullabaloo of their fight against the enemy. The exchange between Jack and Chloe as he admits and declares her as his best friend is like the exhale of honest emotion that we have never seen from Jack Bauer. It is the moment he reclaims his humanity rather than simply a sacrifice for his friend who has remained loyal in his darkest moments. It was an unexpected scene delivered perfectly by Kiefer Sutherland and left any and all of us fans in tears as the episode, season (and possibly series) came to a close.

    • First of all, I could read your thoughts on TV shows I haven’t watched all day because you make me feel like I’m right there watching it with you. I don’t know much about 24 beyond the critical perception of it, but this just made the show and the character of Jack Bauer come alive for me in a very real way.

      If it’s any comfort to you, know that I cried while writing what I wrote about Donna, too. I was caught completely off-guard by the brutal but poignant honesty behind that scene. Every word of what she said resonated with me as I try to figure out if I should take certain leaps of faith with my writing. The message hit home in a very real way, and I just wanted to capture even just a little bit of how much it touched me here.

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