Wednesday, August 31, 2016

REVIEW: 'Suits' - Harvey and Mike Work Together to Deliver a Strong Case to Sean Cahill in 'Borrowed Time'

USA's Suits - Episode 6.08 "Borrowed Time"

Harvey counters Sean Cahill's star witness, while Mike tries to deliver one of his own. Jessica and Rachel fight to delay Leonard's imminent execution. Louis adjusts to life as "the other man."

Suits has certainly had a fair number of problems this season. As soon as Mike got to prison, the show was already starting the plot mechanics to get him out. It's a story that sees him skirting any punishment for his illegal action by punishing a completely new character who just happens to be a jackass. And yet, when it seems like the deal is finally going to go through, it's a very moving moment. It's surprising that it's happening so soon. This is only the eighth episode of the season. And yet, Mike has got Jill a deal to testify against her father on his insider trading while Harvey is able to screw Sutter over in order to help Mike. It's a deal that Sean Cahill gladly accepts. Of course, there's still the potential for all of this to go wrong. There are still two episodes left for this summer run. Some kind of drama needs to pop up to complicate all of these dynamics. But now, the show can say that it's provided the relief of Mike being able to get out of prison. It's another thing completely if he'll actually be set free.

It's a rewarding journey throughout "Borrowed Time" because everything is looking so hopeless for Mike and Harvey. Sean has produced another witness to testify against Sutter. His case is strong without any kind of assistance from Mike. So, his deal has been pulled. Sean says he isn't responsible. He seems genuine in that action. But he's still the public face of that action. And thus, Harvey and Mike turn against him despite the growing bonds of friendship they've had this season. On top of that, Mike has alienated Kevin by going to Jill behind his back offering a deal. Plus, Frank knows what Mike's up to and is planning on telling Kevin if Mike doesn't do something about his parole hearing. All of these complications really add up to make Harvey and Mike's lives so depressing and constrained. And yet, they use all of this as motivation to actually get things done. It's because their backs are against the wall that they find a way to get the deal and finish this case while making everyone except Sutter happy in the process.

It's a very risky move for Mike to tell Kevin that he has been informing on him. It is a cliche storytelling plot with any kind of prison story. It works because it inherently comes with a lot of tension. One inmate is trying to get another to do something he doesn't want to do. That raises the stakes while also being in a very dangerous environment. It's a cliche of the genre but it's still a device that works incredibly well. No one wants to be known as an informant. Harvey and Mike stumbling on that knowledge is what got Frank to back off. He knows about Mike's deal because he knows what to look for. It's a threat that raises the tension ever further. And then, Mike just tells Kevin. He figures it's the last option he has. Lying to his face hasn't gotten him anywhere. So perhaps, telling him the truth can save everyone involved because Jill has just been indicted. Again, it sounds like a stupid risk that could have grave consequences. At first, that's exactly what happens. Kevin starts beating Mike up and ends up going to solitary. But in the end, everything works out for Mike because he has a plan.

Mike is able to get a deal for Jill because he has formed a personal attachment with Kevin. That dynamic was difficult for him to deal with at the start of this story. He couldn't bear betraying the one person in prison who he could trust. It felt like something he couldn't possibly do. Of course, the narrative required him to do so in order to keep the tension high. It's something Mike has continued to struggle with. Kevin has opened up to him and Mike has overstepped. But now, Mike is being honest. It's a quality that looks good on him. He is a genuine and trustworthy person. Yes, he enjoys working in a professional that frequently requires manipulative actions. But he actually cares about people and how they may get hurt in any given situation. He did not want to hurt Kevin. Mike didn't want to make Kevin's life even worse. That's a serious concern because everything Kevin does is for his two children. But all it takes is Harvey playing a recording of Sutter to Jill and Kevin to get everyone to come to their senses and turn on this despicable man. Jill takes a deal for immunity which gets Mike back in Cahill's good graces.

Throughout this story though, it becomes clear to Sutter that everyone is working against him to see his conviction. Cahill was very worried about that at the start of this journey with Harvey and Mike. He didn't what to do anything that could be seen as collusion. Of course, he then sold his morals because getting Sutter behind bars is just too important to him. That personal motivation is key to so much of the story right now. Sutter isn't behind bars yet. Everything is in place for that to happen. Mike has come through and given Cahill everything that he needs to convict. Harvey gets Sutter the best deal he can possibly get. But Sutter is still on the outside. More importantly, Harvey isn't exactly hiding the fact that he was working against Sutter from the start. This case could ruin the firm's reputation even further. Harvey took this case largely to help Mike but also for landing new clients. If anything is perceived as a loss or an illegal action, the firm could actually go under. That's not something anyone wants. And now, Sutter may know just enough to make a lot of noise on his way down. It definitely sets up enough plot to really complicate things in the final two episodes of the year.

Jessica has worked so hard to rebuild the firm as well. Sure, most of her hard work has happened offscreen. But she has really started becoming a vital character once again over these last few episodes. A lot of that has been because of working with Rachel on the death row case. She views it as a way to change the conversation about the firm. She wants her business to be seen as a place for good and not a place of illegal criminals. That doesn't always mesh well with her personality. Everyone at the firm loves her for her hard stances and determination to make this firm succeed at all costs. But it can come off as cold and cruel to anyone not familiar with her. All of this has to have a point. If not, she may have just wasted all of her time on nothing. It would be so heartbreaking if she built this firm back up only for Mike and Harvey's actions to tear it down all over again. There's certainly the potential for that to happen. Mike getting out early could become a whole new scandal - especially since he hasn't done any meaningful soul searching during his time in prison. And now, he is getting out. So, Jessica and Rachel better act fast to ensure that the firm is seen in a more positive light.

Rachel may have found a way to re-open Leonard Bailey's case. She and Jessica have been on the defensive. They've just been trying to extend his execution date. They hit a wall last week when the alibi witness turned up dead. And now, a completely new plot device is introduced to stay his execution. It's actually pretty funny to see Jessica mention this stalling technique and it then perfectly being appealed to Bailey's situation. But it does stir up some interesting emotional drama for Rachel and Jessica. Their bonding has been a fantastic story this season. Jessica has really helped Rachel through the difficult details of this case. Rachel wants to fill the same role for Jessica after Bailey accuses her of being heartless and not actually caring about his case. Her motivation certainly is murky. She is much more concerned about her firm than this man's life. But it's also nice to see that emotional and personal side of Jessica again. Yes, it pops up only to be taken away again. Jessica gets to reconnect with Jeff. They are happy again and willing to take things slow. It's a relationship that Jessica needs in her life. And yet, she won't be able to have it because Jeff is moving back to Chicago. He largely returns to boost her confidence after it's shaken by Bailey. But it's something she really needed right now. Hopefully, it means she'll be more willing to fight for Bailey as Rachel has possibly found a way to save his life.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Borrowed Time" was written by Sharyn Rothstein and directed by Gabriel Macht.
  • It's not surprising at all that Louis struggles with Tara's arrangement with her long-distance boyfriend. He wants to be the only man in her life who she loves. And yet, that feeling goes out the window as soon as she wants to have sex with him.
  • Also, Louis and Tara have barely been going out. And yet, Louis is expecting her to breakup with her serious boyfriend of three years already. It's messy and weirdly structured. Again, it mostly plays as something for Louis to do that is completely disconnected from everyone else.
  • Donna revealed that she was in a relationship and ended things last week. It was shocking to hear that especially because her love life is always offscreen. And now, it's apparently something the show still wants to talk about. She broke things off because Mitch wanted to move in with her. That would be a meaningful action if it actually happened onscreen and wasn't just something Donna talked about.
  • Frank is able to just get things done in prison much like Donna is able to just get things done for Harvey and Mike. He gets Kevin out of solitary just because Mike asks and withholds his parole if he doesn't do it.
  • Bailey's aunt is the reason why Jessica and Rachel get to push back his execution date. They claim that she can't travel to see him die. And yet, it's more important that she believes he's guilty despite raising him during his formative years. She may just be a plot contrivance here but changing her mind will likely be a significant part of the story moving forward - even if Rachel and Jessica fail to get him off death row.