Wednesday, July 20, 2016

REVIEW: 'Suits' - Mike Learns How Dangerous Frank Really Is While Harvey Swallows His Pride in 'Accounts Payable'

USA's Suits - Episode 6.02 "Accounts Payable"

Louis, Jessica and Harvey fend off a class action lawsuit from the firm's former clients. Meanwhile, Mike runs afoul of a fellow prisoner due to reasons beyond his own control.

Suits has always had a certain level of criminal stakes to it. Mike has been committing fraud ever since he joined the firm in the pilot. The name partners have been just as guilty as soon as they learned the truth about him. And now, they are all facing punishment for that crime. It's just in violently different ways. Mike is actually in prison. He's adjusting to a completely new life where he no longer has the same freedoms he has had for fives season. He's in a world filled with violent criminals. Harvey made sure he could survive on the inside. But it's proving to be much more difficult than anyone would have imagined. Meanwhile, the firm is struggling to survive because everyone knows the name partners are guilty of hiring a fraud. They are still able to work. But they have to deal with the consequences of their reputation being tarnished which is creating new and interesting stakes for them this season as well. This season has embraced change to its storytelling structure. Of course, it's still committed to a lot of legal battles where characters storm into rooms with information that can rip the case wide open. But there's a new level of depth added to the proceedings as well.

Frank Gallo represents a new type of villain or antagonist for the series as well. The show has enjoyed a courtroom opposition for its characters to deal with. The firm has been at risk of falling apart many times because of the legal tactics of other lawyers who want to hurt Jessica or Harvey. The show has a long list of those types of characters - Daniel Hardman, Sean Cahill, Charles Forstman, etc. They all stand in the way of what the main characters want from a business prospective. Everyone does shady things in order to get what they want. But it has always been a careful and deliberate manipulation of the law to influence a decision. Some of these types of characters are criminals and have been sent to jail because of it. But it's for white-collar crimes that highlight the intelligence of these people. Mike was a fraud. He was able to get away with it for many years. But now, he's in a prison filled with criminals with many different backgrounds and histories. Frank is first presented as a man sentenced for racketeering and is remorseful for his crime and the cost it has had on his family. And yet, he's really a violent individual who was actually involved in a murder and has his sights set on Mike.

Sure, it's weird that the show escalates tension with Mike's story by revealing that Harvey had a case for murder against Frank but a key piece of evidence ruined it. It says that the only way this individual could be violent and a true threat to Mike's safety is if he was a violent criminal before his incarceration. He just as easily could have become violent during his time in the system. He is essentially running the place. He has access to a phone. He can order several of the guards around. He has a crew ready to protect him at all times. Mike is out of his depth when it comes to dealing with Frank. He doesn't know the whole story. He doesn't know how violent Frank is capable of being. He's just focused on Rachel and how she may be in danger just because Frank now has her number. All of it shows that Mike is very naive when it comes to understanding the prison system. He thinks he can just make a call because of his personal emergence. He seems smart about the guards one minute and then completely clueless the next. Seriously, why did he think the guards would protect him during the final confrontation with Frank? He's been talking about how corrupt they are. He's smart. So, why is he so foolish? It happens just so he can have a bonding moment with his new roommate, Kevin. That's fine but is a real disservice to the character and his arc throughout the episode.

Harvey learns about what's going on with Mike in prison as well. The lines of communication and connection need to remain open between the characters in order for this plot to work. Harvey and the rest of the characters from the firm have to remain a part of Mike's life. Mike has to be important to them as well. He has to be the reason why they are willing to fight to grow their firm once again. And right now, Harvey is juggling a lot. He's trying to fix Mike's problems for him while also dealing with his own at the firm. He's the reason why all of this is happening right now. He hired Mike in the first place. They accomplished a ton of good together. But now, they have to deal with the consequences of their actions. Harvey needs to protect Mike because he pulled him into this whole mess. He would never forgive himself if anything happened to Mike in prison. So, he wants to insert himself into Mike's problems. But Harvey is incapable of keeping to his word and not interacting with Frank. He loses his cool when Frank is waiting for him out in the field. That's enough to motivate him to finding a new solution to Mike's problem with Frank. But it's mostly setup for future plot. Harvey goes to Sean Cahill to see what he can go. He agrees but Harvey now owes him a favor. Something he'll probably cash in before the season is over with.

Moreover, the name partners using the money from the partners' buy-in to pay off the class action lawsuit is becoming really complicated. It's an issue because it essentially bankrupts the firm. Plus, it makes the former partners angry that they have lost that money. It's a story that does get a lost a little bit in the details of Jack and Jessica's dynamic. Jack has become a personal face for the partners from the firm. He's the only recognizable partner from the firm who jumped ship. So, it's no surprise that he's the one leading the effect to get the money back. But the motivation just seems slapped on to create tension. He needs the money in order to afford to move to Robert Zane's firm. Jessica can't give it to him without needing to pay off the rest of the partners. It's a weird story that's essentially building to Jessica realizing she wants more friends than enemies right now. It didn't feel natural. Similarly, the big personal moment with Harvey in the end indicates that his mother is still going to be an important issue for him despite the therapy sessions last season. Has that duck painting in his office ever been important before? And now, it's had importance in the first two episodes of the season. Harvey has to hand it over to his old law school rival in order to officially bring the class action suit to an end. That moves show him as a defeated man. He has lost everything. And now, he is forced to rebuild as a more humble man. But he still has many problems that he'll have to deal with over the course of this season.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Accounts Payable" was written by Ethan Drogin and directed by Michael Smith.
  • Frank is still in prison with Mike too. Harvey's move to get him transferred back to his old prison hasn't happened yet. Sean hasn't followed through on his promise. So that could go wrong any number of ways. It would be weird for the show to introduce this new villain only to quickly send him away.
  • It's understandable why Mike is so reluctant to interact with his new roommate. Frank really took advantage of him. But it did feel like that story was building to the inevitable conclusion of Kevin actually being a good guy for Mike.
  • How can Rachel not tell that it isn't Mike texting her? I know it's probably difficult. But how reasonable a job can Frank really be doing in impersonating Mike? He doesn't know him that well. Or is Rachel too blinded by love to notice that he may be talking differently or asking something he normally wouldn't?
  • Rachel not being able to see or talk to Mike was an important plot beat in the season premiere. But here, those concerns are washed away because of the magical abilities of Donna. That's a lame explanation. And Rachel still isn't going to see Mike in prison for a little while! So it was completely unnecessary too.
  • The brief moment where Gretchen is annoyed by Donna because she says she is black on the inside is very weird. This show should not get into racial politics. It never does them well. Plus, the resolution to that story was just weird. It happened solely to give Donna something to do. 
  • Would Louis really be foolish enough to hire movie extras to fill the office with people before the big meeting with the class action lawsuit lawyer? It happened solely to introduce the plot thread in the end of the firm needing to sublet some office space.