Wednesday, August 17, 2016

REVIEW: 'Suits' - Mike Learns More About Kevin and Sutter While Prepping Them for Depostions in 'Spain'

USA's Suits - Episode 6.06 "Spain"

Harvey defends Sutter from Cahill, as Mike's past threatens to derail his mission. Rachel and Jessica seek evidence to re-open Bailey's case. Louis woos Tara with a trip to the Hamptons.

A morally questionable and illegal decision started Suits. Harvey hired Mike fully knowing that he never went to law school. He did so because Mike had such a gifted mind and the natural ability to pretend to be a lawyer. The two of them prospered for many years until Mike finally got caught and sentenced to prison for fraud And now, a morally questionable and illegal decision is being made to get Mike out. It's that kind of narrative poetry that makes the story so compelling to watch. The show has a status quo to maintain. But it's also making sure that the consequences of these actions are playing out as well. The firm has been destroyed because of Mike's imprisonment. And now, Harvey is corrupting a good attorney in Sean Cahill just to get Mike out of prison. It's a personal main story for everyone involved. In the past few weeks, the story has been too complicated and focused on the actual plot mechanics. In "Spain," there's an attempt to highlight what all of this actually means for the characters involved.

Sure, not all of the main plot right now is great. The reveal that Kevin is in prison for hitting a man while drunk driving largely serves as a way to create tension between him and Mike. It brings up all of Mike's issues with his parents' deaths all over again. That piece of backstory has been more than adequately covered over the course of the series. And yet, here it is yet again getting in the way of Mike doing what he needs to do. When he steps into Julius' office to ask for real therapy, it's about this very issue. Mike needs to spend some part of his time in prison actually rehabilitating for his past mistakes. This season has never really been about that. Even here when it offers up the suggestion, it's just hitting the same plot beat for the millionth time. Now, there's just a little bit more tension to it because Mike is in prison. Kevin is his only real friend in the place and he's betraying him just to get back to this life on the outside. He shouldn't feel any guilt about wanting to take that deal. And yet, that seems to be all that Julius is trying to do right now.

Second guessing decisions is never all that interesting for storytelling purposes. Mike decided to cooperate with Harvey and Cahill to turn Kevin against Sutter because it would reunite him with Rachel on the outside. As the audience knows, that's the life he should be living. Yes, some therapy would actually do him some good. It would make him a better man. But the therapy is too entranced by Mike's decisions in prison. It's not breaking any sort of new ground with the character. When Harvey went to therapy, it was a great arc because it uncovered new facets of his character. Here, it's just an excuse to cause more tension in the main story. It does provide more backstory for Julius. He opens up to Mike in the hopes that he will do the same with him. But it's difficult to become too invested in this story because it feels like the show going through the motions without actually meaning any of it. It's relying on story ground that has worked in the past. It's not trying to do anything new with Mike. This prison arc is important for his overall journey on the show. It's him dealing with the consequences of his illegal action. But the actual story is just about him getting out and back to the firm and his friends as quickly as possible.

That is where the story is at its most entertaining too. Mike is at his best as a character throughout this hour whenever he is interacting with Harvey. Sure, that opening dream sequence is pretty laughable and too on-the-nose. But it's still thrilling to see Mike and Harvey together. That's a bond that the audience really cares about. It's great to see Mike actually practicing law again. Sure, the specifics are widely different than they were before. Mike and Harvey get Sutter and Kevin in a room together to prepare for their upcoming depositions. It's an important part of their trial strategy that can help get Mike released early. Harvey isn't doing whatever it takes to defend his client. He's doing whatever it takes to get Mike released from prison. He owes him that for taking all of the blame away from the firm. Jessica is fighting to rebuild their reputation while Harvey isn't just forgetting about all that Mike did for the firm. Harvey isn't just accepting the terms of Mike's imprisonment. He's fighting for him. This deal can still go wrong any number of ways. But it's still thrilling once Mike, Harvey, Kevin and Sutter are all in a room together. That forces all of these issues to the surface in a way that moves the plot forward without feeling too expositional and dragging the whole show down with it.

Of course, there still is a whole lot of exposition to the main story. It should come as no surprise that Sutter really is guilty of insider trading. He may have a wonderful mind when it comes to the stock market. But he's still a prick and a bully. That makes it easier for the audience to accept Harvey, Mike and Cahill colluding against him. If he was actually innocent of these crimes, it would force more of these moral quandaries to the surface. Would Mike and Harvey still be willing to move forward with this plan knowing fully well they'd be incarcerating an innocent man? But the show doesn't present them with that option. Kevin explodes at Sutter and then tells Mike everything about their illegal practices. Kevin's program was just a cover to keep anyone from being too suspicious about Sutter's insider trading. But more importantly, Kevin's wife was in on it the whole time. That's why they were fighting in the first place - which resulted in Kevin getting drunk and almost killing a man. Mike still has a long way to go in terms of actually turning Kevin against Sutter though. Because of this newfound personal connection to his wife, it makes it that much more difficult. Mike has all the information he needs. But he still has to follow through with the crucial step of manipulating Kevin and potentially ruining his life just so that he can get released.

Plus, it's meaningful to see how far Sean Cahill is willing to go just to get Sutter. Cahill isn't just some random prosecutor who presented this miraculous deal for Mike. He's a character who has been on the show many times before. He's a very good lawyer. Harvey even respects him. Cahill has teamed up with and against the firm on numerous occasions. He has such an admiration for the law. He has always been very critical of how Harvey, Mike and Jessica have wanted to bend it to their benefit. But now, he's their savior. They are to him as well it turns out. He passionately wants to convict Sutter for this crime. It needed to be personal for him to risk his career to the extent that he is with Harvey and Mike. He never wanted to do anything that may seem like colluding. But by the end of this episode, that's exactly what he is doing. He made this plan with Harvey, who has been more than accommodating. But the legal battle just isn't a winning one without the testimony that Mike may be able to provide. It's stalling right now. Harvey has grounds for a dismissal but can't act too quickly because it would ruin Mike's deal. He has the information Cahill needs to make his case. Cahill just has to be willing to accept it. He eventually does too. As he explains, this case is personal to him because his mother wasn't able to achieve her dream of seeing Spain because Sutter stole her money. That's a powerful explanation for his actions as of late. And things will probably get further complicated by his decision to embrace these illegal tactics just to win. It just seems like he'll face the full brunt of those consequences while Mike will be set free largely unharmed.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Spain" was written by Genevieve Sparling and directed by Silver Tree.
  • The Louis story continues to be horrendous. Yes, it's comical when he's unknowing talking in sexual innuendo about his wood. But that's only enjoyable for a brief amount of time. The rest is just annoying and predictable. Of course, his big lie would be uncovered. And yet, Tara doesn't care in the slightest. She remains the perfect obsession for Louis for no reason whatsoever.
  • Tara isn't a character. She's a sexual object who Louis lusts after. It's frustrating to see Donna encourage this behavior. It's even more weird when Tara sees his manipulations as "the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for her." Yeah, that doesn't build up appeal or dimension in that character at all.
  • Jessica agreed to help Rachel with her death row case for one hour each week. And yet, Rachel is somehow surprised when Jessica doesn't have the hour to give to her right away. Jessica is still rebuilding the firm. Something she's more successful at this week because of Sutter's business. But it also highlights how this hasn't been an especially busy or notable season for Jessica so far.
  • Plus, Rachel seems more than capable of handling the majority of the details about the death row case herself. Yes, she's still incredibly naive about a number of things. It's never an easy case for her. The public defender didn't mess up in a way that would have been so easy for the show to do. This is a complicated story for Rachel. And now, she's really feeling the pressure because the time table for the inmate's execution has just been moved up.
  • Julius' backstory includes him having an idealistic upbringing until it was unraveled by his father being arrested. That led to Julius getting into some major trouble that only therapy could pull him out from. It's a pretty cliche backstory for the character - especially as he tries connecting to Mike.