Wednesday, February 3, 2016

REVIEW: 'Suits' - The Firm Learns Who Tipped Anita Off to Mike's Fraud as Donna's Family is Targeted in 'Live to Fight...'

USA's Suits - Episode 5.12 "Live to Fight..."

Mike and Louis must identify an anonymous tipster in order to diffuse a damning piece of evidence. Meanwhile, Gibbs isn't just after Mike, she's set her sights on Jessica and Harvey as well.

"Live to Fight..." is a little bit all over the place compared to last week's first episode back. There are a lot of various pieces happening in this episode that don't always add up to a whole lot of engaging drama. This is the hour that reveals who sold Mike out for being a fraud. But it's also an hour that's mostly filled with filler as everyone is scrambling to prepare for Mike's case to go to trial. Everyone adopts new strategies in order to get the upper hand. But it's still just a lot of talking back and forth that ultimately doesn't go anywhere. It showcases where the priorities are for all of the characters. This threat to the firm is unlike anything they've ever experienced. Everyone at the firm is risking it all just to protect Mike from this accusation. They have to otherwise they risk going to jail themselves. It's just a quality that doesn't always come together well throughout this episode.

In particular, all of the flashbacks to a deal that Donna's father wanted to do with Harvey seven years ago felt like mostly filler. The Donna story in this episode is important. It showcases the urgency with her in the case against Mike. She's unable to go unquestioned by Anita Gibbs. It shows just how foolish Louis was last week to believe that she wouldn't get caught up in this mess simply because she no longer worked for Harvey. The urgency is felt in the present-day story as Anita is using Donna's father to leverage Donna into turning on Harvey and Mike. The flashbacks feature the actions by Donna, her father and Harvey that lead to this possible wrongdoing. And yet, it is so unnecessary too. It's vital in showing that Donna's father hasn't always been the best when it has come to handling the family's finances. But the rest of the details of this story were being told in both the present-day and shown in the past. So, the show was telling the audience all of it twice. Seeing it actually play out didn't add a ton of value to the situation either. So, it ultimately just felt like a way to fill this hour up with dramatic material without advancing the story too quickly.

Again, the present-day stuff with Donna is great. This firm is a family. No one wants to turn on each other in this case just in order to protect themselves. They all care about each other for different reasons. But the pressure is starting to intensify. That starts when Anita Gibbs brings Donna's father in for questioning on his possible illegal actions in the past. It's something he doesn't feel bad about. He figures that since everyone does it that doesn't make it a crime. Unfortunately, it is. And now, he's in danger simply because Anita is looking for any angle to use against the firm and win her case. However, this also forces her to reveal some of the actual evidence that she has against Mike. She still has to prove that he is a fraud. The small detail she is able to provide is enough for the firm to figure out who tipped Anita off to Mike's crime. But it's also significant because Mike is willing to risk it all just in order to protect Donna. This is his crime. He doesn't want her to get caught up in this mess. So, he puts forth a big bluff which Anita fortunately takes because the judge is starting to grow tired of her tactics in court. Harvey and Mike have to drop their motion for a dismissal though. Even though this is a victory for Donna, it's still just the beginning of a war - which grows substantially after Anita gets a subpoena for every document at the firm.

But all of this also leads to the revelation that Sheila was the person who tipped Anita off to Mike being a fraud. Mike and Harvey learn that it was someone from Harvard who sent an anonymous email to the prosecution. Louis is immediately able to recognize that it's Sheila simply from the way that the email is worded. That's such a personal and emotion reminder of the past for him. He was in love with her. And now, she's the one responsible for putting the firm through this entire mess. However, she was planning on staying anonymous. She only sent that email because she has too much respect for her job and the school. That's totally in line with the character. That's what ultimately broke Louis and Sheila up. She couldn't leave Harvard. It was devastating to Louis. But it's even more devastating now that his actions force her to come forward with her actual claims. It's a way to make Louis a much bigger part of this main story. Because he tries to convince her to recant her story, she becomes aware that he knew about Mike being a fraud and did nothing. The man who stands before her is nothing like the man she used to be in love with. She has too much respect for the law to just stay anonymous. She knows that this firm has been covering this up and wants to make sure that they pay for that deceit. That's a compelling setup for the remainder of this story as its heads into trial.

However, this hour also features Jessica and Rachel preparing for the future as well. And frankly, both of their struggles are kinda bland in this episode. It is meaningful that now Jessica can be open with Jeff about the lies she was forced to keep from him at the firm. That leads to the strong scene between Jeff and Mike where Mike learns just how much Jessica has lost because she had to keep his secret. But it was also clunky bringing Jeff back only to have him leave again. It sets up a future of potential happiness for Jessica should she decide to turn on everyone and safe herself. Jeff won't be her lawyer but he will be open to a relationship again should she survive this trial. That's much more interesting than Rachel's insistance that Mike should at least consider turning on Harvey just in order to get out of this mess. She is fueled by love. She doesn't have the same kind of relationship with Harvey that everyone else does - even though she's technically his associate. It's a thought that no one else is willing to consider or even talk out loud about. Rachel's willingness to do so alienates her. But it's difficult to see what's the point in having her be of this opinion. It creates a meaningful discussion. But it's largely just lip service to what may happen down the road. Mike might have to choose between himself and Harvey at some point. That will be a fantastic development. But talking about it too much will completely ruin the moment - if it happens.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Live to Fight..." was written by Sharyn Rothstein and directed by Rob Seidenglanz.
  • Sheila only looked into Mike as a student because she read an article about his rise to partner at the firm. An article that Gretchen commissioned in order to surprise Harvey. She's sorry that she's the one who started this whole mess. But hey, she's committed to the firm and will protect their secret. That would be more meaningful if Gretchen was actually a multi-dimensional character.
  • Professor Gerard also pops up again in this hour because Mike and Harvey first believe that he was the one to expose the big secret. Mike even tries blackmailing him to sign an affidavit that they can use against Anita. It's all a tad too complicated to be all that entertaining.
  • But again, it's so great to see all of these familiar faces popping up again simply because this trial is forcing them to. It's a way to honor all that has happened on the show throughout its five seasons.
  • Donna doesn't really hold a lot of anger towards Harvey because he hired Mike in the first place. It's just the easiest thing to blame him for once things aren't looking so good in her father's case.