Wednesday, January 25, 2017

REVIEW: 'Suits' - Harvey and Louis Struggle to Step Up in Jessica's Absence in 'She's Gone'

USA's Suits - Episode 6.11 "She's Gone"

Harvey, Louis and Donna plan for the future, after Jessica's departure. Mike discovers the perils of life as an ex-convict. Rachel considers her options for life after law school.

The future is uncertain for a number of characters on Suits at the moment. Yes, Mike is out of prison and the firm is financially stable again. Those are some major victories after a strong season of complications. But the end of the summer run of episodes also marked the end for Jessica's leadership at the firm. She decided to leave and follow Jeff to Chicago for a chance at something new and exciting. That move has created such an interesting power vacuum back at the firm. Harvey and Louis' friendship is one of near constant ups and downs. Jessica was often the voice of stability at the firm. Her efforts to keep the firm afloat after everyone abandoned ship earlier this season largely took place offscreen. Her main role on camera was helping Rachel with the death row case. But now, it is suddenly hitting both Harvey and Louis that things won't be the same as before. They have to step up and take on new responsibilities. A sense of introspection was really missing during the first part of this season. It felt like the show was trying to get Mike out of prison as quickly as possible even though he wanted to do penance for his fraud. And now, it's just suddenly hitting everyone that they'll have to grow and address things they don't want to do in order to continue on their paths in life.

The dynamic back at the firm with Harvey and Louis is perhaps the most interesting story of the episode. The two of them only share a couple of scenes together. But the episode wisely points out that neither of them is ready to step up and replace Jessica as managing partner of this firm. Financial stability gives them time to think things out. Louis immediately goes on the defense when Robert Zane shows up to offer a merger. He sees it as a threat. Louis acting irrationally has always been a part of the show. He has grown as a character a lot over the course of the series. And yet, he is still prone to massively misreading situations and creating a mess for the rest of the characters to clean up. Fortunately, his move to steal Robert's biggest client doesn't ultimately go anyway. Plus, Louis actually does accomplish something in getting ten new associates to work for the firm. He does more for the firm than Harvey does in this episode. And yet, it's still all building to that scene where Harvey has an epic confrontation with Louis about doing something wrong yet again.

At least, Louis is aware that he is not fit to be managing partner though. He came to that conclusion on his own and was ready to tell Harvey. Meanwhile, Harvey needs to have it pointed out to him. And even then, he's still not totally ready to accept it. Harvey has always been seen as the confident partner who is able to close cases. He has never had an active hand in the day-to-day management of the business. He comes up with bold solutions to problems. Solutions that could destroy everything at the firm. But solutions that more often than not work out to his benefit in the end. Now, he is being plagued by his fears of abandonment. This hour starts with Harvey and Donna in bed together after a night of sex. As a shipper of that couple, I certainly celebrated that finally happening. The final moment in the summer finale was the two of them holding hands which could have inferred something romantic about to happen between them. And yet, it wasn't real. It was a dream that forced Harvey's abandonment issues to come to the forefront once more. Jessica has left and Mike no longer wants to work for the firm. He still has Donna, Louis and Rachel ready to fight for the firm. But he fears they'll leave too. This hour proves that they are committed to staying. But those fears in Harvey are still apparent.

Of course, all of this is just building to that moment between Harvey and Donna where she spells out what his arc is going to be this season. She's the one who forces him to deal with these family issues. He has to reach out to his mother and fix their broken dynamic. The show has spent a lot of time on Harvey's family in the past. And yet, this hopefully signals something different. Harvey actually putting in the work to grow as a person and learn to be content with the life he already has. He's a broken and flawed character. As such, now really isn't a good time for him and Donna to start dating. Of course, the fear of him losing her still plagues his mind. And yet, she is going to be supportive no matter what. It's a little problematic that she is still just this all-knowing woman who is able to call out people on their problems no matter what. She's not really complicated and flawed in the same ways. But if all of this is building to a big romantic moment between Harvey and Donna, that would still be fine. The two of them have such an interesting and compelling dynamic. Right now, Harvey needs to work on himself. He needs to become a better family member and boss. He screams at Louis for failing to be a good managing partner but he's also yelling at himself as well.

All of the stuff with Harvey and Louis works really well throughout the episode. Things do get a little awkward and weird when the focus shifts to Mike though. It seems like the show wants to split Mike and Harvey up as quickly as possible this year. It was such a big and important reunion when Mike was released from prison. That happened because Harvey kept fighting for him. He counts on Mike. And yet, Mike has become a crutch for Harvey as well. He spends the whole day trying to find a way for Mike to continue helping people through the legal process. It's an effort that could actually hurt Mike because it makes an enemy out of Anita Gibbs once more. It's important that the show remembers the consequences of Mike going to jail for fraud. It would be so easy for him to enter society once more and have everything go back to normal. The rationalization for this fight between Mike and Harvey doesn't always make a lot of sense. They're close enough to be able to better articulate their feelings in this moment. Right now, the drama comes from their actions having unintended consequences. That could be interesting in the future. It's just a little too awkward in the moment here.

Some more thoughts:
  • "She's Gone" was written by Aaron Korsh & Rick Muirragui and directed by Patrick J. Adams.
  • Apparently, it's just that easy to get a teaching job! Mike goes to his priest looking for answers, gets a job instead and starts teaching a class the next day. It all just felt like it came from the plot of a movie that Mike and Harvey would love to reference instead of something Mike was actually doing.
  • And thankfully, Mike isn't a teacher for very long. That profession didn't suit him or the show's sensibilities well. It wouldn't have been that interesting to watch Mike try to inspire a group of young kids. But Mike still needs to find a new purpose. That journey should be interesting.
  • Of course, Mike's job search would have gotten back to Anita without the help of Harvey at all. Harvey seems like the person who gets Anita back on the warpath with Mike. And yet, the legal clinics he wanted to work at were calling her office as well.
  • Rachel is worried that if she doesn't take a job at her father's firm she'll never be able to pass the ethical portion of the bar. It's a conflict the show has brought up before. It largely just fits the themes of the hour though than anything that the audience should be worried about long-term.
  • Gretchen is the only person who knows about Rachel's other job offer as well. That's a good thing too because she helps Louis see what a valuable asset the firm has in Rachel. She deserves to be taken care of by this business - which he does follow through on.
  • It's always nice to get a pop-in from Katrina. She and Louis had such a good dynamic at the firm that was never utilized as much as it could have. Of course, she'll never make a full return to the show as long as Syfy's 12 Monkeys is still around.