Skin In The Game (…or no game?)
Flashing back to the second half of season 6, 6×11 started with a dream scene and the reaction of many people afterwards was in the lines of “Damn I wish that was real”. Following the live feed of tonight’s season 7 premiere, every other tweet on my timeline went something as followed “I hope this is just a nightmare”. Times they are changing. Suits definitely has its highs, and tonight’s episode reminded us it also has many lows.
Speaking of lows, after his break up with “one of the loves of his life” (as the showrunner Aaron Korsh called Tara) Louis is a complete mess. We would expect him to lash out on everyone and pass his own anger and frustration onto others, and of course, that is exactly what we get. Long story short – firstly he yells at the associates because one of them is leading a life Louis desperately wants, which is one where he has a family there for him when he gets home, then he offends Donna who is trying to help and last but not least he also yells at Rachel who is willing to take the associates under her wing for as long as Louis needs to recover. Ultimately, Donna is successful at getting him to see the light (and we would expect nothing less) but the power struggle he is facing (what he said to Donna about him “being here” and her “being there” – DELETE.) with everyone around him, especially Harvey who is becoming the managing partner Louis once wanted to be, remains present.
On the other hand, Rachel and Mike seem to really be stepping up and finding their places in the firm now more than ever. Rachel, as previously mentioned takes over the associates to help Louis, which was in many ways such a typical Suits thing to do. Instead of developing a storyline in a way where we get to follow her getting the important task, it served the male character, more than it did her’s. Hopefully, in the future we will get to see some interesting dynamics form for her as she passes her knowledge onto a group of people of similar age. Another name partner needing some guidance in this episode was for sure Harvey, and in many ways that is where Mike stepped in. It was refreshing to again see the tables turn, as we have spent over a season watching Harvey make sure his protégé’s life wasn’t collapsing. Mike dealt with Harvey not stepping up to be the managing partner when necessary, consequences of leaving the legal clinic and the clients at the firm. Ultimately, he got his reward which was as promised – Harvey’s office. And what Donna said holds – little did we know we would get here one day.
A plot in this episode that had some complaining is the way they choose for Donna to get herself “more” (but speaking of legitimacy, please guys, if Mike became a lawyer out of nowhere then Donna deserves this too and yes, it doesn’t make sense, but it isn’t any less believable than that). The promotion for the new season largely consisted of her trying to figure out what she wants out of life, but in the way this episode set it up she somehow managed to do that overnight and decided she wants to buy into the firm and become a partner. If I was willing to believe that, because she has complete dedication to her work family and has invested so much blood, sweat and tears into this place, she was able to come to that conclusion so fast, the huge disappointment still remains over how the writers decided to take her from that point A to point B (her new office). The fact that Harvey gave into her idea was very shallow, rushed and poorly written, in my opinion. It is one thing to rush one aspect of this storyline –her soul searching, but another to completely lay out this whole storyline in one episode.
Donna is a character that has been undervalued for everything that she does in the firm since the beginning, and now it somehow seems as though the writers are undervaluing the popularity and interest people have in this character’s storyline too. It has been mentioned by the show runner that in the following episodes, this new development will get more depth and aspects added to it, but I wonder how much one can really trust the promises the promotion of this show makes at this point.
Speaking of new developments, Harvey. During the start of this episode, as he approached his therapist from season 5A (last seen in 5×10) and asked her out on a date (claiming he could not stop thinking about her, after it seemed as though the show’s writers stopped thinking about her over a year ago with no further mention or indication of her character ever coming back or having any romantic value to the show’s main character), I joked about Harvey’s evil twin being the one doing all the talking. Later on, as the episode progressed, and the writers that are taking over 6 seasons and 12 fictional years to develop a loved, popular, “one of the best slow burns on tv” (Hollywood reporter’s words, not mine… but also mine) relationship and constantly claiming they have not deserved that last step yet, somehow managed to make this new romance happen in one episode. And then I was not up for jokes anymore. As a loyal fan of this show who roots for Harvey and Donna and considers their storyline as well as Harvey’s character development to be the most consistent and best written part of the show, of course I have hard feelings about this, but, above being in favor of another possible romance, I am very confused as a fan of this show in general.
Firstly, Harvey claimed he has been thinking about her and even went as far as to check about the ethical problems of their relationship (which, oh boy, that could make for a whole separate review) meanwhile, the show has not, as mentioned above, made a single indication of her character and her importance to Harvey, above the obvious fact that she helped him a lot when dealing with his issues, in over a season. In 5×15 when Donna asked him why he went to his therapist to talk about leaving the firm but he did not go to Agard to talk about his dilemma of turning himself in, he even said to her “Because that was about business and this is personal.” Hmm… We are talking about a character that has since the beginning had important part of his storyline be about finding love, opening his heart, getting over his mommy issues and trusting another woman. He did all that in previous episodes, the only problem is, the “someone very special to him” (literally his own words 5 episodes ago) was Donna, but apparently that has changed during the hiatus…
Secondly, Agard was being cast as a woman between 35 and 65 (an important fact brought up in today’s Suits Aftershow by CammienRay and guests Mae and Shana, which you can watch on her Facebook), meaning she was supposed to portray a mature, professional, one of best in her field, who has had enough years behind her to educate herself properly and will help Harvey deal with his panic attacks. Season 5a helped many people who suffer with any of the many mental disorders like having panic attacks or suffer from anxiety and so on (including myself) relate to Harvey and his development as a character and was generally very highly appreciated because it shed light on an important issue. By making his therapist into a woman who was having sexual fantasies about him (as she said herself in this episode) while being a witness to just how damaged he is in regards to personal relationships in his life is absolutely disappointing and devaluates the journey he took with her in season 5. They did not just play with a valued, very loved relationship on a show that Harvey already has with another woman, but also put a huge negative mark on the journey their main character took in the past few seasons.
Of course one can hope this is one last impulsive decision he has to make, as a man who masters denial even better than law, before he realizes to whom his heart really belongs. However, that does not change the fact that this development, in its aftermath, leaves behind so much distruction.
As a lover of this show, that considered it to have (besides incredible performances – an applause for Sarah and Rick in this episode. Amazing.) quite decent writing and even more importantly – consistency where consistency most matters, I have to give this belief up after the season premiere. There were some great friendship moments and some much missed banter between the show’s leads, but that aside, everything felt rushed and things seemed to have popped up out of nowhere just to serve the impulsive and inconsistent choices the writers are now making.
I have no idea how they are going to get out of this mess, but one thing for sure, it is about time this show starts owning its content and projecting that into the promotion and interviews they give out. I believe this review and much of the other harsh feedback the show is getting (and there is many) could have a different undertone if they presented us with facts in advance, not have us hear what they want us to her, only to deliver the exact opposite.
Suits comes back next Wednesday on USA Network at 9/8c, with a new character and one of show’s favorites returning.