Thursday, April 10, 2014

REVIEW: 'Suits' - A U.S. Attorney Questions Mike While Harvey Scrambles to Get Him Released in 'No Way Out'

USA's Suits - Episode 3.16 No Way Out

Things are anything but business as usual when Harvey and Mike find themselves at odds with a tenacious U.S. Attorney. Scottie and Harvey can't seem to get on the same page and Mike and Rachel clash over plans for the future.

"No Way Out" is an episode of introspective self-realization. In a way, that's what this six-episode arc of the third season has been about. Harvey and Mike dealt with Edward Darby and Ava Hessington last summer and that case and the merger changed them and their dynamics at the firm. These episodes were a much closer examination of what their relationship to each other and to the firm has become. Both they and the firm have changed a lot since the start of the season. They've had to play with the ethics of the law much more so now than they ever did previously. With every person let in on Mike's big secret, the show is asking a new person to cross over that law of moral ambiguity.

Now, the events of "No Way Out" would play out much better if I could recall the exact details of how the Hessington story ended last year. Suits is simply better at character interactions than it is at plot-based details. I didn't immediately remember what was wrong with Harvey's mother either but that didn't lessen the impact of that moment.

But the finale is also very effective at making the walls close in for several characters. Mike is brought into the U.S. Attorney's office not because of his fraud of being a lawyer but in a ploy to get him to turn on Harvey. Harold returns and is caught up in the mess too. The most effective moment comes when the characters literally don't know what will happen. Mike doesn't know how long Harold can hold out. Harvey doesn't know if Louis can get Harold to cooperate. Jessica and Rachel are back at the offices together just waiting for news.

And yet, it's also a way to get Harvey and Mike together so that Harvey can deliver that angry speech about how far things have changed since Mike joined the firm. Mike should turn on Harvey for self-preservation if given the chance. Harvey hasn't been a good man for awhile. Many characters tell him that he is a good man throughout the finale but Harvey doesn't believe that anymore. He's done some bad things and tried justifying them for being for the greater good of the firm. In doing so, he's become the man he previously fought with last summer.

The firm has been crumbling now for awhile. It's gone through so much upheaval this season. The merger shook things up. Harvey and Jessica were divided and then came together to get rid of the bad British people. Now, they are trying to be better but without ever coming to terms with what they had become in the process. That's an interesting descent this season. It didn't always work but it was an intriguing journey to go on.

But the most important arc of these final 6 episodes has been Mike's attempts to stop being a fraud. That's been a really fun and precise story to follow this year. Every decision he made came from a defined part of his character. He was out then he was back in. And now, he's out again. That back-and-forth could be tedious and a way to fill story in several episodes. It was never that. His concerns always felt life-changing and a serious discussion worth having. He felt like he came to the ultimate choice last week by staying at the firm because he loves being a lawyer. And then, Zeljko Ivanek pops up and puts him in a holder cell to think. Being a lawyer is always going to be a hire-wire act for him. He's placing the people he loves in harm's way simply by being in this profession. Becoming an investment banker could solve all those problems weighing on his shoulders. It's a decision he doesn't take lightly. He's grateful for everything that Harvey has done for him. He's seen this mentor figure grow and change in front of his eyes - for better and poorer. Mike leaving the firm puts him back in control of his own life. He's still going to be around the firm but he's now their client. That's a shakeup that uproots the basic premise of the show without seeming like too far of a stretch to go. 

Some more thoughts:
  • "No Way Out" was written by Aaron Korsh & Daniel Arkin and directed by Michael Smith.
  • The 10-6 airing pattern is just so odd. It feels like we just started with the 2014 episodes and now it's done. The story didn't have the time to build as well as could have. It does allow things to get to the point and be precise but it's still just so odd.
  • One of the things to get shortchanged by the airing pattern was the Harvey-Scottie relationship which never seemed as important or vital to either character whenever it was addressed in these six episodes.
  • Also, Rachel didn't really go anything in these episodes.
  • For the first time ever, I hated Donna in last week's penultimate episode. The finale does much better by her but she also didn't have a clear story this year either.