Wednesday, February 1, 2017

REVIEW: 'Suits' - Harvey Sees His Mother Again While Mike Gets a New Job in 'The Painting'

USA's Suits - Episode 6.12 "The Painting"

Harvey tries to repair a broken relationship - leaving Louis, Donna and Rachel to manage the firm in is absence. Mike gets a helping hand from an unexpected place.

A lot has been made about Harvey's troubled family history over the years. A lot has also been made about the people at Pearson Spector Litt being a surrogate family for one another. They are there to comfort and support each other both professionally and personally. But now, that family unit has been broken. Jessica left and Mike is working elsewhere. That break shows that the firm isn't actually a family. The people still there obviously love it and will do anything to see it succeed. And yet, the characters need to find a new way to fill the family void in their lives. That story becomes so important for Harvey because he's the one with the lingering issues. He's lashing out because of his own abandonment issues. So, he'll never be able to be a good boss at the firm until he has all of that figured out. It's something that has been a long time coming. Back when he was in therapy, it was easy to connect his problems with his mother to the problems he was having with Donna. He was able to fix things with Donna. She is back as his secretary and personal support system. But he never chose to fix things with his mother and family. And now, it is clearly holding him back. So, it's something he has to do.

Harvey understands all of this. Donna was the one who gave him the push - just like she always does. Plus, this hour does a good job of reminding the audience of why things are so tense between Harvey and his mother. The flashbacks to his father's funeral weren't all that necessary. They show that Harvey has tried to make peace with his mother, Lily, before. It failed because he was immature and angry. It mostly just restates the history between the two of them. Harvey idolized his father and then caught his mother cheating on him. She asked him to keep it a secret. The affair is what drove them to divorce. And ever since, Harvey has blamed Lily for destroying their happy family. His father's funeral was the last time he saw her. It happened seven years ago. So, it was just before the series actually started. He goes to honor his father but not to make up with his mother. And yet, her eulogy really gets to him. He's almost ready to mend things between them. And then, he sees the man who she cheated with. She's still in a relationship with him. Harvey just sees his presence as a massive betrayal to his father. So he leaves in a fit of anger. All of this makes sense and helps inform the audience of the history once more. Sure, it cuts into the time of other stories. But it mostly works too.

So, things ultimately do look optimistic that things won't go the same way when Harvey visits Lily once more. He's the one making the first move. He has to because he's the one filled with so much rage. He knows this is something he has to do to help deal with the various issues in his life right now. He has to find new ways to cope. That starts with forgiving Lily. Of course, their dinner doesn't really go well. Harvey doesn't want to admit that he's played a role in tearing this family apart as well. He doesn't believe he did anything wrong. And yet, him holding onto all of this has really ruined this family. Everyone else is able to function happily. His brother, Marcus, has a good relationship with Lily and her new husband. In fact, he purposefully kept a cancer relapse from Harvey because he didn't want to stir up trouble once more. That's how big this divide really is. Harvey is equal parts to blame for that. He may have his reasons for being angry with Lily. But it has gone on for too long. They both have reasons to be sorry. They both made mistakes. And now, Harvey can't just storm off upset like he always does. He needs to face his reality and find a new way forward.

This episode is mostly about Harvey trying to mend fences with his mother. It really is a significant and moving story as well. It gets into some strong emotional territory. After being built up for so long, it's powerful to see the two of them finally forgive one another and agree to try to make things better. Harvey hasn't been there in the past for his family. It's a rare sighting when he's in town. He's too focused on the firm to be with them. Hopefully, that will now change in the future. He needs family right now. Marcus and Lily are what he's got. Plus, it's a really strong moment when Harvey realizes just how important the painting from his mother was in his office. He lost it a little bit ago over a feud with another lawyer. It's significance comes from it being the one thing he actually cherished from his mother. So, it's a big deal that he hangs a new one in his office once he returns to the firm. He returns as a new man with renewed perspective. He knows this was an important step for him. He also knows he needs to apologize to Louis as well. Plus, the two of them come up with the solution of being co-managing partners. That may not ultimately work. But it's at least a plan they can agree on right now.

Meanwhile, Mike finds a job that is probably going to stick much longer than his teaching position. That's good too because he wasn't that interesting as a teacher. Now, he has found a way back to the law by working as a supervisor at a legal clinic. It's not surprising at all. He did bond with that other lawyer, Oliver, when he first applied for the job. But he mostly gets the position because the guy in charge wanted someone from a high-power firm for the position but for very little money. Mike fits that description. He has plenty of legal expertise to give to these cases. Plus, he'll be doing something that will ultimately help ordinary people. That's why he wanted to be a lawyer in the first place. His story is simply him getting his bearings at this new job and helping a woman stay in her apartment. But it's much more significant that he has to come out as an ex-convict. These people didn't know his story. They just saw a man who couldn't hack it as a corporate lawyer. Him telling them the truth is what ultimately builds respect amongst them. At least, that's the case with the law student working this eviction case. It's a simple story but it focuses on Mike finding his passion once more. It should just be interesting to see if he is able to keep this job for very long. Anita Gibbs did threaten him if he ever became involved with the legal profession again. Will she take action for him taking this job?

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Painting" was written by Sharyn Rothstein & Sandra Silverstein and directed by Gregor Jordan.
  • The last time Mike left the firm to take a job elsewhere it wasn't all that interesting from a storytelling perspective. And yet, the clinic seems like it'll have better success than his time as an investment banker. It should just be interesting to see how the show will keep Mike in the rest of the characters' orbits.
  • Also, Mike didn't tell Rachel about being fired as a teacher. He didn't want to interrupt her happiness from the job offer Louis gave her at the firm. But he doesn't hide the truth either. She just finds out the next morning when he's still at the apartment.
  • Of course, the legal clinic will be a pay reduction for Mike. He may no longer be able to afford the apartment he and Rachel are currently in. Plus, he gives away his own money to help the woman in the eviction case. If he keeps doing that, he'll run out of money very quickly.
  • Apparently, there's a crisis happening with one of Harvey's clients while he is out of town. It's up to Louis and Rachel to handle the situation. And yet, it's mostly a story that happens offscreen and doesn't lead to any memorable material for anyone.
  • The first thing Harvey and Louis do as co-managing partners is decide that the name of the firm should stay exactly the same. They do so as a way to honor Jessica while also leaving the door open for her to one day return.