Grading the Season Finales 2014: Suits

Suits s3 finale

Source: usanetwork.com

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.

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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. 

Title Stay

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.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/8 – 9/15)

Sorry for the delay with this week’s post. How dare “real” work get in the way of talking about TV! 

Last week got off to a fun start with the return of the NFL, making all of our Sundays either a little more exciting or a little more heartbreaking every week. The fun kept coming with the finale of So You Think You Can Dance, and, while my favorite dancers (Aaron and Jasmine) lost the title of “America’s Favorite Dancers” to Fik-Shun and Amy, I’m still very happy that two deserving dancers won. Suits featured the return of Scottie, new drama for Mike and Rachel, and plenty of Litt-tastic moments. And even the reruns aired were enjoyable, especially Justin Timberlake’s fantastic Saturday Night Live episode.

Keeping with the theme of recent weeks, Suits was where I found my favorite TV moment of the week. This time, it wasn’t one particular moment; instead it was a series of scenes showing a more human, kind, and genuine Harvey Specter.

I initially disliked the idea of Scottie showing up at Harvey’s apartment to basically beg him to help her. However, I liked seeing Harvey agree to help because Scottie is on that very short list of people Harvey genuinely cares for. It might not have ended well, but seeing Harvey trust Scottie was a pleasant surprise and showed real growth for his character—until it all went to hell by the end of the episode.

In the “things that didn’t go to hell by the end of the episode” department, we have Harvey’s relationship with the one constant in his life, Donna. I loved the fact that this week’s episode opened with confirmation that Harvey wanted to celebrate with Donna at the end of “Endgame.” I also loved that his idea of celebrating involved doing things that would make Donna happy, like buying new handbags. Harvey was so thoughtful, warm, and downright sweet in this scene; I kept waiting for an ulterior motive to reveal itself, but it was nice to see that he really was acting purely from a desire to celebrate with Donna and make her happy.

Although Harvey’s interactions with Donna were fantastic in “Endgame,” the best part of the episode came when he finally admitted to Louis that he respects his abilities as a lawyer. To see Louis finally recognized for his skill by the man he thought would always belittle him was a true joy to watch. Rick Hoffman played Louis’s reactions to perfection, and I couldn’t help but get a little choked up myself during this scene.

The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/1 – 9/8)

This week in television gave us a fast-paced (for better or worse) performance finale of So You Think You Can Dance, an episode of Suits that brought Jessica and Harvey back together and saw the end of the “British Invasion” that took over the firm, and the triumphant return of the NFL (featuring a record-breaking performance from Peyton Manning on Thursday night). 

Although it was a lot of fun watching Manning (my fantasy football quarterback) throw for seven touchdowns, nothing I saw on TV this week got my heart rate going and my rooting interests kicked into high gear like the ending of Suits.

I loved watching Mike and Harvey joke about celebrating together after winning the case, but what I loved even more was the way everything we’ve learned this season about Harvey and Donna’s past made his question to Mike feel like something much bigger than just a way to tease him about Rachel:

Am I really the person you want to celebrate this big murder trial victory with?

As soon as Harvey asked Mike that question, I knew where he was going to end up when he got out of the elevator—or at least who he was going to end up with—and it made my heartbeat speed up with the best kind of hope. The way the scene was shot—with Harvey’s question coming right before we watch him walk with purpose out of the building and towards where Donna is waiting—left no question in my mind about who Harvey wanted to celebrate with…if only it was that simple.

But of course, because it’s Harvey and Donna, I knew their interaction was never going to be simple or straightforward (no matter how much I wanted him to just walk right up to her and kiss her). However, the scene between them was worth the giddy anticipation of the seconds before. It said so much without ever directly addressing their relationship, but it showed us that maybe there is hope for these two; maybe we’re not crazy for thinking they both wish they were in a place where they could just go back to her apartment and break out the whipped cream again.

Gabriel Macht and Sarah Rafferty’s chemistry in this scene was off the charts. There was so much longing between them, but it wasn’t full of angst. They were softer than usual, and you could feel the genuine affection that runs deeper than either character wants to admit. So it makes sense when Harvey offers her the car and chooses not to get in with her. When she thanks him, it hits him too close to his heart. It’s like he realizes in that moment just how much his actions during these last few episodes were taken—however subconsciously—because of what he feels for her. And that still scares him. So he chooses to walk away, but her smile as he does so says it all: She knows they both wish they could ride away together, but he’s never going to ask her to break her rule—especially not after what happened with Stephen. And that’s okay. All she wanted back in Season Two was to know that Harvey would fight for her, and he proved that over and over again during this case.

And as Harvey walks away, we can see how conflicted (and how lonely) he is. He’s happy to make Donna happy. But he’s worried, too, because this case made him realize just how much of a sway she holds over his emotions. He can try to walk it off and push it away, but this scene showed both of them—and the audience—that there’s always going to be something between these two characters that exists on a level much deeper (and filled with a lot more sexual tension) than just friendship. This scene made me feel hopeful as a fan of these characters and their relationship. It may lead to something big happening between them; it may lead nowhere. But the mere fact that these actors could make me feel so strongly and think so deeply about their characters is enough to make me a very happy viewer.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (8/25 – 9/1)

My apologies for the delay with this post; I took some time to enjoy the unofficial end of summer this past weekend, and I hope all of you did, too. A belated Happy Labor Day to everyone! 

As the summer TV season starts to wrap up and our thoughts begin to turn to the upcoming fall season of pilots and premieres, there are still some shows that I can count on to keep me glued to my TV even when it’s not traditionally “TV-watching season.” So You Think You Can Dance had a weaker showing in the aftermath of the All Star choreographers’ inspiring outing last week, but it was still exciting to see the Top Six perform solos in their genres (which means we got to see Aaron tap!). And the end of the episode gave us a Top Four to be reckoned with, as Amy, Fik-Shun, Jasmine, and Aaron were chosen to move on to the finale.

Although I adored watching Aaron’s solo and loved seeing reunions from both Aaron and Jasmine and Fik-Shun and Amy, there was nothing on TV this week that could hold a candle to the shocking and powerful ending to the latest episode of Suits.

I pride myself on being able to see most plot twists coming (thanks to years as a fan of both Alias and Lost), but even I didn’t see this twist coming. The best thing about the revelation concerning Stephen Huntley was that it had real emotional resonance for the characters. I immediately went from being excited about the direction the show would be taking in the coming weeks to being heartbroken for Donna. And, just as suddenly, my heartbreak was gone, only to be replaced by intense love for Harvey Specter.

Harvey punching Stephen in the face (and then throwing him into a mirror) wasn’t just the best thing I saw on TV this week; it was the best thing I’ve seen on TV in a long time. Because seriously, is there anything more attractive than a well-dressed man fighting for the people he loves?

I know there was a heck of a lot more to Harvey’s rage than just what Stephen did to Donna, but you can’t deny that it was seeing her tears and hearing her apologize that set him off. That kind of fierce protective instinct is something we’ve always known to be a part of Harvey’s character, but it was incredible to see it in action. Both Gabriel Macht and Sarah Rafferty were able to communicate so much emotion in a fraction of a moment, and Macht was especially effective in showing Harvey’s breaking point in just the slightest change in his expression.

This scene was the perfect marriage of storytelling, acting, and direction—and it set the stage for what’s sure to be an adrenaline-fueled run of episodes before the midseason finale.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

10 Reasons Why You Should Be Watching Suits

For years, I thought of the summer television landscape as the realm of reality TV and reruns. And then I discovered Suits. Don’t let its home on USA or its schedule (half of a season in the summer, half beginning in the winter) fool you: This is one of the best shows on television no matter where or when it’s airing. Suits is smart, stylish, sexy, and sophisticated—and it’s a show everyone should be watching.

With only three episodes left before its midseason finale, here are 10 reasons you should be turning the channel to USA on Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. for an hour with the most entertaining law firm on television.

10. It’ll help you through your Game of Thrones withdrawal.

Suits - Michelle Fairley

Last season, GoT’s Varys (Conleth Hill) joined the cast of Suits as Edward Darby, a British attorney who merged his law firm with Jessica Pearson’s (Gina Torres), adding new tension to a show already full of interesting dynamics. This season, you can get your Catelyn Stark fix after the horrors of the Red Wedding by tuning in to watch Michelle Fairley play an oil magnate accused of murder with her trademark sense of controlled emotional power. And it’s not just the cast that will remind you of Westeros. Suits is a show full of enough backstabbing, power plays, and manipulation (from both the male and female characters) to make Littlefinger proud.

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Daily Dose of Feelings #23

I apologize for not exactly keeping up with the “daily” part of these posts. I have some great choices lined up for the next bunch of these, though, so I hope they prove to be worth the wait!

Today is a big day for Suits fans! We’re only a few hours away from a flashback episode that promises to reveal some great stuff about Donna and Harvey’s past—and hopefully their present, too. In honor of this flashback episode, I want to take some time today to talk about last season’s fantastic flashback episode, “Rewind,” and one of my favorite moments between Donna and Harvey.

Harvey Specter hates vulnerability. It’s weakness, and the one thing he never wants to be seen as is weak. But when his father dies, he’s vulnerable in a way we’ve never seen him be before—and it’s not a coincidence that the person in the room with him in that moment is Donna. He never kicks her out of the room; he never asks her to give him privacy. He simply turns his back to give himself time to process the horrible news she just told him as she stands with him, never prying or trying to push him to talk. At the end of that scene, as Donna turns to the camera while Harvey remains hidden in his grief, you can see her taking on her role as his protector. She’ll face the world while he gathers his emotions because she knows that’s what he needs. There are so many complicated emotions that flicker across Sarah Rafferty’s face in that one moment, and they’re all beautiful.

And speaking of emotions flickering across an actor’s face…This scene would not be anywhere near as powerful as it is without the talent of Gabriel Macht. When I talk about the emotional power of watching someone try not to cry, this is what I mean. Harvey always wants to appear strong, but sometimes you simply can’t be strong. Watching that internal struggle as his eyes fill with tears and his jaw muscles tremble is astounding. It’s some of the best nonverbal acting I’ve ever seen; it makes you ache for this character because you can see how much he’s hurting but trying to fight that pain.

The way Macht mouths “Oh my God” near the end of this scene is like an emotional sucker punch. For two seasons, we watched Harvey be nothing but in-control and confident. But here, he’s lost. He has no idea what to do, and that’s such a profoundly strange feeling for both the character and the audience.

And through it all, Donna is there. She’s the only person Harvey would ever allow himself to be this vulnerable in front of. She’s the only one he would want to deliver that news and to stand in that room with him while he processes it. This is such a pivotal moment for them and for their relationship. Harvey has such a pathological fear of vulnerability that it hurts nearly every relationship he’s ever had. But Donna is different. She was there for one of the most vulnerable moments of his life, and he didn’t run away from her after that. Instead, she became the person he trusts the most.

This scene is so tense, so heavy, and so brutally honest in how it treats the way we are so often blindsided by tragedy. But it’s also such a beautiful testament to the people who are with us through those tragedies, letting us grieve in our own ways and facing the world for us when we’re not quite ready to turn back around.

The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (7/21 – 7/28)

This week in the world of television, there was plenty of drama during the “Men Tell All” episode of The Bachelorette. So You Think You Can Dance had its weakest episode in a long time. Harvey and Mike reunited on Suits. I fell more in love with Amy Poehler than ever thanks to her appearance on Hollywood Game Night. And a huge fight led to some huge steps forward on The Real Housewives of New Jersey.

While this wasn’t the most exciting week of television I’ve watched this summer, it did have its share of fun moments. The best of those came from this week’s episode of Suits, where Louis made each of his scenes memorable. In honor of my father’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Dad!), it feels right to single out one of his favorite characters on TV right now—and Louis deserves the recognition. His Dead Poets Society speech to the associates he was leaving behind was perfect (I actually started clapping), and his Jerry Maguire impressions were hilarious.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?