Wednesday, July 13, 2016

REVIEW: 'Suits' - Mike Adjusts to Prison While Harvey, Jessica & Louis Struggle to Save the Firm in 'To Trouble'

USA's Suits - Episode 6.01 "To Trouble"

Mike transitions to prison life while Harvey, Jessica, Louis, Donna and Rachel deal with the fallout of Mike's plea deal and try to prevent what's left of the firm from collapsing.

Everyone on Suits is still dealing with the emotional fallout of Mike taking a plea deal for pretending to be a real lawyer. He is now in jail while everyone else is scrambling to keep the firm afloat. It's notable that the show is picking up right where it ended last season. "To Trouble" covers the first night of Mike going to jail. It's an exciting and unknown time for all of the characters. There is an unpredictably throughout this premiere. It's not as intense as the episodes at the end of last season were. But it's still a solid opener for the season because it has such a strong focus on the characters and what they want from their lives moving forward. This story has the potential to radically change the entire show. Mike is the co-lead and he is completely isolated from everything. That's a huge change that could really affect how strong this season is overall. Everything being done right now needs to have purpose. There still needs to be a connection between Mike and the rest of the characters. But there has to be a desire to delve into the unknown and mysterious as well. That does seem evident in this first episode back but only time will tell if this story was a smart idea.

The isolation could be a really intriguing aspect of Mike's story as well. Other cable shows have sent their characters to prison for a season as a way to issue some kind of consequences for their actions. But those characters are typically supporting roles in service to the leads. Mike is the lead of the show. His time in prison will have a significant amount of screen time this season. He won't be able to rely on Harvey, Rachel and everyone else at the firm to deal with the problems in jail. He has to handle all of it on his own. That could really change him and force him to look inward in a way he has never done before. He made the honorable decision to take the plea deal in order to protect the firm and his friends. He didn't want anyone else to go down for his crimes. Of course, they are still dealing with the ramifications of his confession. But they are allowed to rebuild while Mike has to spend the next two years in prison. It's an environment very different than what he's comfortable in. He no longer has control over his own life. He has essentially become powerless in this place and unsure of what to do.

Mike has always been able to talk his way out of any situation. He believes that quality can still help him greatly in prison. And yet, the guards and counselors have seen all of that before. They are well aware that these criminals are smooth talkers who can charm their way out of anything. They were caught and sentenced for a reason. Now, they have to rehabilitate to make up for their failings of the past. The qualities that made them successful in the outside world can't help them in prison. It's a slow learning curve for Mike. He asks questions and demands to know what's happening all the time. But he is still being broken down because his whole life has changed. He is unable to be with the people he loves because of this crime. He postponed his wedding to Rachel and he has no idea how she's doing. It's very tempting when his cellmate, Frank, opens up to him and seems very trustworthy. Of course, he's not. That twist did feel inevitable. Mike was getting too close to him and Frank was baiting him for too much information. But it's also exciting to see Harvey's presence can still have an impact on Mike's life. Frank still holds so much resentment towards Harvey for getting him locked up in the first place. And now, he's going to take out all that frustration on Mike which should make for an intense story this season.

It's also much more interesting to see what the rest of the characters are up to back at the firm. Mike's story feels very introductory and setting up things that will be important later on this season. It's a whole new setting for the show and that takes time to develop. Meanwhile, it is completely fascinating to watch the three name partners grapple with the reality of their situation. Everyone has walked out on them. Only Harvey, Jessica, Louis, Donna and Rachel are left standing. If they don't act quickly, the entire firm will go under. No one wants that. They have fought so hard to protect this firm and ensure that it succeeds in this harsh business. They are all so passionate to see it succeed. And yet, all of that passion still ended with Mike in jail and the offices being completely empty. They have no reward for all the hard work they've done for this place. All they have is a lot of money. That's enough to ensure they have time to rebuild. But they also have many more pressing concerns. It's up to them to motivate each other to rise to the occasion once more and fight. Fight to protect this business and the family they all have become.

Emotions are high though. Everyone wants to play the blame game and not come up with any solid solutions to the situation they currently find themselves in. The firm is being sued because of all the cases Mike worked now being called into question. The partners have left and may be stealing clients as well. Plus, the infrastructure isn't there to ensure that all of the firm's personal information stays in house. It's a good thing Benjamin is still around as well. He lets the partners know that they are being hacked right now. Sure, that's a really silly moment that doesn't raise the stakes of the overall hour at all. It's just something the partners have to deal with after they come together. But first, they actually have to see eye-to-eye and want to fight to save the firm. Mike gave up everything so that the firm could survive. He needs them to keep pushing forward. But it's going to be such an uphill battle. They don't know if they can handle the amount of work needed to make the firm succeed again. They can't regain what they lost. Their reputation has been damaged because of this scandal. Now, they can only hope to build something new that can be just as good for all of them.

Of course, it takes awhile for Harvey, Jessica and Louis to stand together ready to face an uncertain future together. At first, it's just the typical yelling and bickering. That's an easy mode for the show to retreat to a lot of the time. But the premiere does something really inspired. It simply lets Harvey, Jessica and Louis get high together. It's a fun and silly time for all. It's a brief moment of levity in a show that can be so self-serious about a lot of things. They need to come up with a plan as quickly as possible in order to survive. But it's just great that they take the time to mellow out before making any big decisions about the future. They needed that time together in order to bond as a group and become reinvigorated again. It was such a simple and quick moment but very important to the overall relationship the three of them have as name partners. They were all spiraling and questioning whether or not they wanted to do this anymore. And now, they feel that call to action again. The family is united once more. They even have the peace of mind knowing that Mike is okay once he sends Rachel a text message with Frank's illegal cell phone. Of course, things aren't alright. There's danger lurking around every corner. But things are at peace at the firm right now. They all believe they can get through this mess and emerge even stronger than before.

Some more thoughts:
  • "To Trouble" was written by Aaron Korsh and directed by Silver Tree.
  • Of course, the tone of the show doesn't change too much. Harvey and Mike are quickly able to find new scene partners to make movie references with. Things have changed but that important detail remains - even though it's not quite as nice as it was when Mike and Harvey were doing it.
  • Rachel and Donna really do weave in and out of importance throughout the entire premiere. The story at the firm is largely about the name partners. So, Rachel and Donna are cast aside during a lot of that. They aren't even able to get high to cope with all of these emotions. But they are a part of the family in the end as well.
  • Though Rachel does get a scene where she calls a prison administrator to see how Mike is doing and is hit with the reality check that she probably won't be able to see him for a month. Not even Donna knows how to handle that situation.
  • Gretchen is sticking with the firm as well. She's just not here to help the name partners during this difficult time because she took the day off because of the wedding - and had an orthodontist appointment.
  • Apparently, Harvey has thousands of dollars hidden in his office at all times. That's an important plot detail here that helps re-establish friendship between him and Jessica. Though hopefully, it will be important in the future sometime as well.
  • The highlight of the name partners getting high together was definitely Harvey's confusion on Louis' awkward relationship with a subordinate at the office who he took mudding. That was just hilarious.