Suits (S07E10) "Donna"



Suits has its ups and downs, but their (mid-season) finale episodes are known for delivering developments in important storylines and (albeit debatable) clever writing. The expectations are there, every year when we approach the 10ths and 16ths, even more so this year, when the second to last episode opened up two new plots that awaited resolution (… and the promo for mentioned installation circled around the social media constantly for a whole week).
Besides the minor Alex plot and Louis bits with dr. Lipschitz (“Louis, you know I would do anything I could to help you” – so I guess they can write therapists who do their job adequately?), the two main storylines in this episode were the Zane power team and Malik’s memo threat (which also incorporated Donna’s ongoing personal storyline).
Robert and Rachel’s relationship has been full of turmoil and conflict, mostly coming from the fact that, as a daughter of an incredibly successful name partner at a big law firm, Rachel never felt like she was good enough of a child to him (and to be fair, he let her believe so for a long time). But this episode, not only explored their past in connection to the case (and showed us a child Rachel being fierce and described as someone who “doesn’t let boys tell her what to do”, gold, thank you.), but also perfectly illustrated the way their relationship has strengthened over the years.
After Rachel got her father to admit he is personally implicated in the case as the bank CEO, Arthur Kittredge ruined her aunt’s life, she decided to take over, in fear that his emotions would get the best of him. The man’s company consists of mostly male executives (important, sad and too real) which in addition to his sickening behavior, led them to come to a conclusion that this must be a pattern. If he harassed and discriminated a woman once, he probably did it again.
And they were right, resulting in getting the deposition they were fighting for – with the monster himself. Arthur proved himself to be everything you would expect him to be, firstly he denied any wrong doings, and then supported his claim by saying that he is not racist or sexist, since he prefers women of color, or as he called them “exotic women” (*throws up*). He said “it took him time” to remember the situation with Jasmine (Robert’s sister) but he did remember and poured gas on fire, as he went onto literally harassing Rachel with making suggestive comments. At that point, Robert lost it (and very understandably so) which resulted in him slipping up and saying he will get back at him no matter what.
Even though Rachel remained professional and on point, ready to fight and defeat the man, her dad’s comment was cause to weaken their case. Still, she did not give in and continued to be the voice of strong, powerful, educated women everywhere.
And if after that, anyone thought all was lost for the Zane team, Rachel was about to prove them all wrong. She told her father that she doesn’t think they should settle for anything other than a win. “If running it up the middle isn’t working, then do us all a goddamn favor and call an end-round”, she recalled him yelling at the TV on Sunday nights and they weren’t going to give up without a fight either.
Remember the mostly male executives board? Rachel walked into that room in their following scenes (that were so great at cutting from one to another) and reminded all those men that with their CEO’s continuous sickening behavior, there is no way at least some of them didn’t know and since no one tried to stop him… they can expect consequences in the future too. While she had them sign a settlement, and remove Kittredge from his position, Robert had a satisfying one on one conversation with the man himself. Zane and Zane 1000, sexist racist misogynists 0.
Towards the end of the last episode, there were two crucial conclusions being made: one, Malik is putting Donna on the stand to testify regarding a memo Harvey supposedly destroyed and she needed to be prepared. And two, Donna’s “I think maybe I regret putting Harvey over myself.” This episode held onto its promise and dealt with the aftermath of both.
The mock trial which happened now over 4 seasons ago, brought onto the surface a lot of buried complicated feelings the “slowest of slow burns” Harvey and Donna have had for each other and still do. So, the question of what happens now, when there is even more added to the pile of “We feel this, but it doesn’t mean… Exactly” pretty much followed us from the first second of the episode on.
While still thinking that Donna will have to go through mock trial with Louis, Harvey opened the episode with nervously trying to follow his morning routine. His not-therapist Paula reassured him that he can tell her what is bothering him (while saying things like “I always admired xy about you” and “I have never known you to be one to be nervous before trial”, teach me your ways of carefully selecting just the things you want to remember and know… but then again, the only few times Harvey was nervous before  a trail were Donna situations and I guess she has a filter for that relationship in her head anyways…). Then she went onto reassuring him that she doesn’t feel threatened by him having other women in his life he cares about.
After this conversation and showing Harvey worrying about the case, he (following Donna) was told that since she worked as his secretary at the time the whole Cameron Dennis memo debacle happened, she technically cannot testify, work information being privileged. However, when the court hearing came, Malik surprised them by demanding Donna testifies nonetheless, as the memo he was referring to was the Costal motors one from season 2, that was planted by Hardman, and Donna destroyed at the time to protect Harvey.
The hearing became… brutal, and the ruined document was the least of it. He made a case out of Donna only getting to the position she has now, by sleeping with Harvey. “I have been at the firm longer than anyone… I know how it works…” and she also pretty much holds the place and everyone in it together. But of course, none of that matters. Malik is determined to get back at them and ends up painting a picture to the world, where a smart, talented, insightful and deserving woman supposedly only has her title because she slept her way up the ladder.
Thanks to Donna’s insightfulness, Mike and Harvey gather information to prove that Andy, as Attorney General, manufactured evidence (the article), by finding the source who turned out to be Holly Cromwell. As Harvey put it, Malik can regret the day he met Donna, because in the end, he was forced to give up the case he was so eager to win, in order to obtain his title and whatever dignity he supposedly has.
However, that wasn’t the end for them. Malik kept digging to make Harvey’s life a living hell, and found that Jessica had in fact not been disbarred after taking one for Mike, who was a fraudulent attorney under her eye. Long story short, just as Harvey is about to start fighting back, he walks into his apartment to Jessica already being there and ready to face the consequences (with grace and style and elegance and… she is so very much missed). She tells him they cannot fight a situation like that back and he has to figure out his next move. “In Chicago, no one will care”, it changes nothing for the new life she is leading, but big change is about to hit the firm, as it has to say goodbye to “Pearson” of the PSL.
Amid all big changes and fast paced storylines, the majority of the focus stayed on the whole world trying to have one half of that “will they, won’t they” (they should) figure out how she feels. Following Paula calling Mike to ask for gift ideas (and Rachel pointing out that “the person who knows Harvey best is the one person she will never call”… so much for not feeling “threatened”), Donna’s best friend opened up to her fiancé about the storm of emotion that has overcome Donna, and her doubts about the regrets the redhead really has.
Even though Mike was all too well aware of the fact that Harvey is seeing someone else, he knew that Donna making her feelings known to him could change everything. So, he confronted her, with the purest intentions, saying that “if you think there is even the smallest chance that you might ever want to be together”, she needs to tell him. He doesn’t want them to be robbed of the kind of happiness him and Rachel share. Of course, in the true Darvey style Donna remains in denial and reassures Mike that neither her or Harvey want to be together. (Additional bonus points to Mike for still asking Harvey if Donna had come to talk to him and looking frustrated when Harvey said no and remained as clueless as ever, so relatable).
But the world continued to push through. Towards the end of the episode, when Donna was already completely overwhelmed, by all the chaos she went through in the past few days (…and months, really) Louis came to apologize once again for not going through with the mock trial and explain himself. Of course, it was not because there was a way to go around it, it was because of his feelings for Sheila, and empathy for Donna and Harvey’s situation with each other. As she gracefully accepted his apology, Louis, completely unknowingly said just the exact thing she needed to her in that moment.
He wishes he could tell Sheila that the man she was supposed to be with is standing right in front of her. He wishes he wouldn’t have to live the rest of his life knowing his soulmate is with someone else. He wishes he had done more to keep her close.
… And Donna collapses (figuratively, and quite literally too, having to lean back for support, as Louis exists the office). The words, mixed up with the weight already hanging on her shoulders, result in the shot zooming out on her standing there, shook and completely torn. Until Harvey walks in (at least for once he did this one thing right… showing up there just at that moment) to discuss the Jessica information with her and Louis.
It takes only seeing him there, after everyone having told her to consider her feelings, for her to make a decision to do just so. By kissing him. No matter what relationship you (have wanted to) come to fruition, no one can deny that this has been long time coming. She circles her arms around him and at first, Harvey is taken aback but then starts to lean in, his face relaxing… and that is when she pulls away.
“I am sorry, Harvey. I just had to know.” Drops mic.
The show has remained consistently frustrating with the way this pairing has been written. So much of what they do and say, must be as ambiguous as it gets, for them to have the courage to put it out there, into a world that in majority roots for them. But this kiss was 12 years in the making. No matter the complications it is going to bring forth or the fact that it might have not spoken clear to us… it sure did speak loud.
Suits comes back for the second half of season 7 in January 2018. What will changes in the name of the firm mean? And what will the aftermath of Harvey and Donna finally closing the space between them for that magical moment be?