Wednesday, September 7, 2016

REVIEW: 'Suits' - Mike's Early Release is Complicated by Frank Gallo in 'The Hand That Feeds You'

USA's Suits - Episode 6.09 "The Hand That Feeds You"

To protect Mike, Harvey considers putting Frank Gallo back on the streets. Jessica and Rachel get Bailey's case re-opened, but winning it is no slam dunk. Louis deals with his anxiety over Tara.

There sure is a whole lot of resolution to Mike's story in "The Hand That Feeds You." Last week everything fell into place for his deal to go through. He did his part to turn Kevin and Jill against Sutter. It's because of that effort that Sean Cahill is able to put Sutter behind bars. It's a major victory. And yet, Mike was still in prison and there were still two more episodes of the season. It seemed like a certainty that something would happen that would jeopardize Mike's release. Unsurprisingly, that's exactly what happens in this hour. His release is pushed back a couple of days due to a clerical error. Cahill still plans on honoring it. But Mike is spending even more time behind bars where word could easily spread that he informed on his roommate. Plus, there is still the dangling threat from Frank Gallo and what he is capable of doing to both Mike and Kevin on the inside as well as the outside. That's what provides this episode with its main story. It's perhaps a little too complicated like some of the early episodes of this story. But still finishes in a really strong place.

Frank Gallo and the whole prison community have been interestingly used this season. These episodes have been more about getting Mike out than him adjusting to the realities of living in prison. Nothing really ever happened with his counseling sessions with Julius. That seemed like a waste of Malcolm-Jamal Warner even though he's a big fan of the show. Meanwhile, Frank has been a character that the show has struggled maintaining. He started the season as a terrifying presence. Mike couldn't go anywhere without being in fear for his life. That would have been a difficult mood to maintain across an entire season though. So, it's okay that the show backed down from that regard. And yet, Frank largely just became a one-note character. He would pop up to threaten and complain to Mike and Harvey that they weren't doing enough to get him in front of the parole board. That was the plot construct that got him to back down in the first place. So, it was an important part of his story. Frank even teased that he could get to Harvey and Mike just as easily on the outside as well. He has vast resources and many friends willing to do anything for him. So, that had to be something the show addressed before it ended the prison arc. And thus, Frank takes over the focus a little bit in this penultimate episode.

It was always questionable just how legal it was for Harvey to represent Frank in front of the parole board. It could easily be seen as a conflict of interest since he was the prosecutor who sent him to jail in the first place. But again, the board isn't a court of law. They can make judgments over whether a prisoner can be released early. But they don't officially swear people in so that they have to tell the truth or face a perjury charge. The show suggests that because of that technicality Harvey can represent Frank with this endeavor. That personal connection means that things can become more messy and complicated. Frank only targeted Mike because of his close relationship to Harvey. He needed to get back at the man who sent him to prison all those years ago. Harvey decided to take Frank's case because it would help Mike stay safe in prison. But now, Mike is getting out. Before that happens though, Harvey has to wrestle with whether he can release a prisoner who he knows is violent and more than likely committed a murder. His former boss, Cameron Dennis, returns to remind him and the audience of just how twisted all of this is.

But again, the complications keep piling up that makes this overall episode very messy. Mike's deal is at risk of being pulled simply because he's threatening Cahill for seizing most of Jill and Kevin's assets. Mike has gotten so close to Kevin that now he wants to help him get released from prison as well. If Harvey stalls with his representation, Frank will take it out on Mike. And if Mike is released from prison but Frank and Kevin are not, then Frank will kill Kevin and he'll never be able to see his family again. So, there's a lot happening throughout this hour. And of course, Mike finds the solution that is able to give everyone exactly what they deserve. He reaches out to Cameron who is able to get Kevin out early. He does so in exchange for testifying against Frank at his parole hearing. That's a dangerous plan because it leaves Mike all alone in prison with Frank. But a conveniently placed camera and Frank not owning all of the guards is enough for him to expose Frank as the murderer he really is. Harvey returns offering him a deal: either go back to the maximum facility where everyone knows he's an informant or stay at Danbury and never mess with him or Mike ever again. It's an easy decision that wraps up this story nicely and without any further complications.

So, Mike ends "The Hand That Feeds You" as a free man. He walks out of prison with the same clothes he came in with. Much like that first day, Harvey is there to greet him at the front door. The two have seen a lot of each other as of late. Their partnership and trust in one another is what got this deal done. Mike is out after only nine episodes in prison because he and Harvey worked together to put away a more severe criminal. Conversely, Rachel hasn't gone to see Mike in prison. They've had plenty of interactions - mostly on the phone but also including that time Harvey was able to sneak him out. So, it's a huge moment when she's there waiting for him as well. It's a rush of emotions that is so powerful to watch. Everyone has been walking a precarious tightrope this season. It was a dream to get Mike released from prison early. But now, it's an actual reality. He is a free man. He's able to leave and not have to come back. All he has to do is promise never to practice law again. That creates an uncertain future for him. But it's hardly something he worries about now because he's free and able to be with the woman he loves once more.

And yet, where does the show go in next week's finale? The easy answer would be an intense focus on Leonard Bailey's new trial. That's the significant subplot of this hour. Rachel and Jessica are successful in presenting their case to the judge. A new trial has been ordered. The new prosecutor is more than willing to cut a deal. He'll remove the death penalty and Bailey can get out after serving five more years. It would not prove his innocence but it would keep him alive. So, the story becomes a choice between which of those qualities is worth fighting for. Is life more important than a clean reputation? What kind of life will be waiting for Bailey if everyone believes he's a convicted killer? If they fight and lose, how difficult will it be to Jessica and Rachel to watch him die in 60 days? It's apparently something Jessica has gone through already. She tried a death row case once and lost. That's why she wants to be more practical about this situation than Rachel. And yet, Rachel reignites that spark of passion again. This story can go any number of ways. It's Rachel's time to shine. Harvey and Mike will likely have a major presence in the story next week. But this case will be decided based on how well Jessica and Rachel present their case.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Hand That Feeds You" was written by Daniel Arkin and directed by Roger Kumble.
  • It's somewhat surprising that this is the first time Louis has taken Donna mudding with him. And yet, she always turns him down because she doesn't have the time for such a gross activity. However, she loves it and actually falls asleep on him.
  • Of course, Donna knows exactly what Louis is feeling right now even when she's asleep as he's ranting about his problems. She's a really good friend. But again, it's just a familiar plot of him complaining about his life and Donna having all the answers. It's gotten rather stale and boring.
  • Plus, it's just hard to care if Tara breaks up with her longtime boyfriend, Joshua, or not. Louis hopes that she does. But this romance is still fairly new and had a horrible beginning. So, it's hard to be invested. Tara turned down Joshua's proposal. But that hardly opens things up for her and Louis.
  • Jessica and Rachel are able to get Bailey's case re-opened by getting Georgina, his original lawyer, to admit that she made a mistake in not presenting his alibi witness to the jury. She's able to produce a written statement as testimony for what Maria would have said if she were still alive.
  • What are the odds that Kevin and Mike will remain friends once they are no longer sharing a cell. They both got out because of Mike. Kevin will be incredibly grateful for that. I'm just curious if this is the last we've seen of him.
  • Now that Mike is a free man, what do you think is next for him?