Suits (S08E05) “Good Mudding”

“I swear it took a piece of me Donna.” “Well you could look at it that way, or you could look at it like you chose to give a piece of yourself.”

 

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At one point or another in the past few reviews, the topic of family and how the show has been focusing on its worth within the firm has been mentioned. This episode though topped the previous ones by really digging deeper into the actual families of these characters, additionally to exploring such dynamic within the firm.

We met Alex’ daughter and get to know him as a dad. Louis continued to deal with challenges of exploring the journey to fatherhood with Sheila. And Harvey was tested by his brother and own ability to forgive.

 

Giving up

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Even though I had put a stop on discussing the Sheila-completely-changing-her-point-of-view-on-children-real-fast plot every single episode, the way it escalated in 8×05 makes it impossible for me to avoid it again. While we spent seasons on, after the second half of s3, where Sheila broke off her engagement to her “soulmate” because she didn’t want kids, in a mentality that they won’t be able to make it work unless he can give up having that, we are now following a storyline where Sheila has decided that she now wants a family and is starting to get really serious about it…

And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with such mentality, if anything, having children should be about commitment, “all in” and being serious, we are now just clearly going on with it and ignoring the way she went from “I don’t want it” to “You are great let’s pull the goalie” to “You are more than great let’s really start trying”. Ok, whatever.

So now, Sheila decided that given their age, they should be sure that they are healthy and still fertile, otherwise they could quickly start exploring other options. And that’s when issue one appeared: Louis thinking he won’t be able to “perform in a cup”, in a hospital environment.

And of course, because it is a Louis storyline, the plot started of more by serving as a comedic installment, prompting him to have a conversation with Harvey, where the said man made him believe he gets off on thinking about tomatoes (how good is Rick Hoffman’s and Gabriel Macht’s acting together tho?), until Louis left the room and Harvey was able to turn Donna’s light hearted joke about … Louis’ issue, into heavy flirting and letting her know his fantasy has nothing to do with tomatoes, but rather with strawberries and whipped cream and that time he had… her (just, no comment, he said that, written credits to all the fanfic authors out there that provided with this content in all the years until now).

But while this was a joke to the two, Louis continued on panicking, until he was actually at the hospital. After doing his part, the actual stress really began, having to wait for results. And while so far, his “issue” with the situation was in my opinion, in order to add some humor, largely misdirected on such a superficial level of “oh a man that can’t do it in a cup”, it was while he was waiting for the results, that the situation became more about the actual core of the issue: it isn’t about the process, it’s more about the results and the idea of not being able to have something you always wanted.

However, the plot turned… low-key jokey again, because while his results were thankfully okay, his doctor told him that if he gave up mudding, his performance could improve up to 80% – as far as the chances of conceiving go. About that… firstly, newsflash: don’t turn to the show for legal advice, and definitely don’t do so for medical advice either. Okay? okay. And secondly, I first rolled my eyes at the idea that this was going to be the second part of the struggle Louis was facing in this episode, and indeed the thing we have been wondering about – hearing that one character was going to give up something we wouldn’t expect him / her to give up. However, if you really try to rationalize this plot as you would any other Louis plot (including like, the first part of this episode for him), it makes sense because he isn’t a very rational or “typical” person as far as priorities go. And yes, he was being asked to give up something that he considers to be of huge importance to him, and has throughout the show been the go to way he tries to keep himself sane… which he needs… a lot.

Thus, while giving up mudding in order to receive “the greatest gift of all” – a child, doesn’t sound like a hell of a big sacrifice to most of the people, it wasn’t like that for Louis. But, it was Sheila who really made him understand how irrational that could seem, towards the end of the episode. Gretchen informed him that he was about to have a particularly busy and hectic day at work, which prompted him to get very stressed and… what does Louis do when everything goes wrong? Yeah, he goes mudding.

But, as it turned out, Sheila had made a deal with Gretchen to test Louis and see how he was going to react. And while I have had my difficulties with how this character has been written so far in this and much of the previous season, I did understand the point she was making, despite the weak attempt it was done through (because he is healthy, but mudding could help, so lets make him give that up, despite the fact that he is already…healthy? what is this writing). Anyways, her point was: He does want this child, but he clearly hasn’t rationalized his burning desire enough to realize that there are sacrifices he will have to make. And as she explained: “You are giving these things up to have a child. You know what I am giving up? Coffee and drinking, and cheese and my hair color. Not to mention the pain of pushing another being out of my body. So if you are not ready to make this on sacrifice, you aren’t ready to have a child.”

And somewhere in there is some truth. While Louis has never made us doubt that he truly wants to have a child, being ready to have one is a very different story that requires more than just a desire. But, upon Sheila’s input, Louis realized that he has indeed reacted wrongly, and while Donna referred to him agreeing to give mudding up because otherwise he’d be “tempted” (lol) as “the most romantic thing she has ever heard”, it simply seemed like common sense, in the world where giving that up maximizes their chances of conceiving 80% and thus gets him closer to becoming “The world’s greatest dad”. Which Donna got for him, written on a mug, filled with mud. Cries.

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Thus, he made yet another sacrifice, but hopefully one that will pay off. Because as it was said in this episode – “Family comes first. Always does, always will.” (or like, it comes out of nowhere 4 seasons after you said you don’t want one…but okay, I swear I will stop.)

 

Giving in

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And speaking of that, so much of the show has been about finding different ways to test Harvey’s character growth and explore his insecurities. The biggest part of it however, has always been connected to the issues stemming from his mother’s cheating, and more specifically – the fact that she had made him carry her own lie on his shoulders throughout his childhood. But, fast-forward to the past few seasons  – Harvey has gotten into a place with his family, where he is more open and forgiving, enabling more exploration of their dynamics.

However, in this episode, he stumbled upon another hiccup, when Marcus called him (and by him, I mean, that he called Harvey’s wife… sorry, pal… Donna, who then told Harvey what to do) and said that he was getting a divorce from his wife Katie because he had cheated. And as Donna said afterwards, first of all: “are you kidding me?” and second of all: this was triggering enough for Harvey and could obviously lead to him having to deal with his own traumas coming up again. Because of course, Harvey wasn’t just about to leave his brother high and dry, immediately making a trip to Boston.

But, as it turned out, the reason Katie and Marcus were getting a divorce was much more complicated than what Harvey’s brother told him (…also why did he think telling him he cheated was a good idea, how dumb can you be?). After he was blindsided in a negotiation where Katie wanted to fight for full custody of their children – on the grounds that Marcus was having gambling issues again, Harvey realized that his brother had indeed lied to him. Furthermore, Marcus then even told him that he had asked his daughter Haley to lie, had Katie asked what he was doing, when the little girl caught him playing poker. Now let’s go back to the fact that so much of Harvey’s traumas come from the fact that his mother asked him to lie.. yeah, it was a lot for him. And as he told Marcus, he might be a shitty husband, but not telling Harvey THAT, of all things, before asking him to fight for him and help him keep the kids, also makes him a shitty brother (preach).

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But… while Harvey was determined to return to the city and not help with the case anymore, Lily, their mom, had a different point of view to share. Now, while during the episode Marcus being portrayed as a grown man, continuously making mistakes despite having a clearly loyal and caring  family to look after, made it hard for me to feel much empathy towards him, it was Lily that attempted to explained another way to look at this situation (to Harvey and anyone that was really just not on Marcus’ side more than he was at that moment). She said that while Harvey was really strong, Marcus never was like that, and having modeled all that behavior for them – the lying, the betrayal, he just made some really bad choices.

And even more so, despite how Harvey might feel about him as a brother right now, he was also a father, and one that was about to lose the children he loves, over an addiction he is trying to fight and a mistake he regrets (according to Lily). And if that wasn’t enough already, she even pointed out that she speaks from experience when she says that losing a parent – child  contact, is the worst thing that could happen to both. And as Harvey pointed out – what could anyone really say to that? Especially if you have lived that life, as a child and, the person speaking to you, is the mother that has spent most of her life not having you around. Sobs. (again: imagine how much Lily Specter must love the “someone very special” to Harvey that “convinced him he needed to” forgive her? I am emo.).

Following that heartfelt conversation, Harvey attempted to make a plan which give Marcus shared custody, but would also twist some facts about what kind of a mother Katie is. And while that was a technique that sadly does work in court, in such cases, Marcus was considerate enough to put an end to it, and ask his brother to find a more fair and truthful way for their kids to remain in an environment with both parents around. And really, Harvey didn’t have to look for another legal trick to solve this problem. He simply returned back to his experience with Lily, and told Katie the truth – while Marcus had made some awful mistakes, he does love her and his remorse should be reason enough to reconsider her lawsuit, because: “When it comes to family, forgiveness is a hell of a lot better than anger”. Thank god.

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This ended up helping to pave the way for Marcus and Katie to resolve their issue. But even more so, it served as an inside look into how much Harvey has grown and opened up. While he wouldn’t even bat an eye to repress and cause a chaos had he gotten himself involved in this type of a situation a while back (…because his family is lowkey garbage), he was able to recognize that beyond what his own opinion might be – he has to try and appreciate his brother for all the good that he still is, and objectively understand that his feelings are not reason enough to make decisions for someone else’s kids’ future. But that wasn’t before he had let Marcus know, the contract will make him give up the kids if he ever gambles again… I support.

Thus, he ended up taking care of the situation in the best and most rational way possible, showing that even though such situation could have (and still might in the following episodes) “bring up a lot for sh*t” for him, like Donna warned, it could also make him grow further, in becoming an even better man, than he already is. A man that doesn’t lose pieces of himself in such situations, but rather “chose to give up a piece” of himself, because vulnerability and forgiveness are better than anger.

 

Which leads us to… Giving

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As opposed to Samantha and from the beginning also Alex, the audience has been watching this season with the knowledge that the two were (unknowingly) fighting in the same ring. However, instead of being on opposite side of the battle, this episode’s plot tried putting them on the same side.

Alex’ daughter Joy got in trouble at school and was spending some time at the firm. We have heard the fact that he is a “family guy” being addressed on the show but this was the first time we actually encountered one of the members of his family. It turned out that Joy has been acting up and Alex was struggling to communicate with her. Therefore, he decided that Samantha would be the perfect person for her to open up to, not through being a parental figure, but rather “the cool one” in his daughter’s eyes (I low-key wished it was Donna, just to see her with a kid, but okay, there would be no plot there because she would fix that child up in a second).

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Wanting to get on the right foot with Alex, Samantha agreed, thinking she was more than well equipped for the task since she had a hard experience being a teenage girl herself. However, Joy was one step ahead and already predicted her father would try to get her to open up and listen to someone else, which could have made this a lot harder for the new lawyer to handle, right? But no, Samantha is in fact a rule breaker, and she had no issue sharing that with the teenager and getting Joy on her side. Because she has gotten suspended, and that really just makes her sooo cooool…lol.

…Thus, her sharing worked with Joy and they ended up taking a “coffee break” together so Samantha could find dirt on a company she was suing. Because the opposing council and his client were having a break a few tables down, Joy was able to “accidentally” record their conversation, which gave Samantha the information she needed to strong arm them into admitting their product was simply a cheap knock off of the one the company she represents produced. Needless to say, her getting what she wants by doing something “questionable”, made Joy love her even more, and start to reconsider her own protest against staying at her father’s work place.

However, when she shared her enthusiasm with Alex, he didn’t see it quite like that. Because while Samantha shared some truths with his daughter about how this world work, he thought that parents’ role is to educate the child on how the world should be. And while that kind of thinking could be up to debate, Samantha realized that she might have approached the situation wrong after all. In her case, she did speak about the fact that she had a lack of authority and care in her childhood, forcing her to grow up to soon, and therefore, seeing Alex care for and protect his daughter was something she could appreciate beyond having to prove she was right. And while she did start this Alex – Samantha group effort by saying that “if you (Alex) don’t know by now, making people regret things is kind of what I do”, she ended up redeeming herself for her mistake.

This seems to be a an ongoing pattern for now, having introduced her as a sort of “inner enemy” within the firm, to showing us sides of her that are a lot more of a team player, and someone that can objectively recognize when she believes she did something wrong.

So she told Joy: “ as someone who didn’t have anyone telling me what to do when I could have really used it, you have no idea how lucky you are”, and with that, the show once again brought up the traumatizing childhood she had vocalized going through multiple times in this episode. And while it was stated in her introductory one that she makes up different stories about herself in order to achieve whatever she needs to be done, this scene – having a genuine moment with a troubled teenage girl she wanted to help, made it easier to believe that for once she was speaking the truth about herself. She even went as far as to say that while she could be the cool one, so could Alex (me: no.), resulting in Joy starting to change her mind about the way she saw her father’s involvement in her problems at school.

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Thus, in the end, not only did Samantha manage to change her point of view on Alex, but she also started to make Alex himself doubt how he perceived and treated her so far. He was able to acknowledge that her remorse and the chat she had with Joy in the end were both an act of kindness and that prompted him to admit to her he hasn’t been honest or kind towards her in exchange. Because she did tell him, before all this, that Robert was going to make her name partner… but he didn’t give her the same curtesy.

And while they ended 8×05 with the acknowledgement that they are simply just not going to stand together for real until one of them gets the title (And as Samantha said, “May the best woman win” Amen), it also served to put them on the same side more than they have ever even thought of being before through this half season. Because like Robert said…

…there is nothing more important than family. And even though these characters so very often get mixed up into work conflicts, messy cases and power plays, deep down, they all value and care for the idea of family in the same way. It makes us go above and beyond, and give pieces of ourselves, willingly.

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Random thoughts:

  • I just want to further talk about the fact that Donna came into Harvey’s office for some casual banter about Louis and Harvey went in with a raised eyebrow, closing much of the distance between them, to point out he jerks off on the memories of their night. Plus, knows more specifically when it happened. Donna was shook, so was I. A MAN IN LOVE. And two actors with insane chemistry. But what else is new?
  • Harvey being triggered by him and Louis sharing a dentist is hilarious because they wrote that knowing they are about to share a therapist LOL. Sometimes I love Aaron Korsh.
  • Marcus calls Donna whenever he has an emergency, also known as, feeding into all my fantasies of Marcus knowing Donna well and being a Darvey shipper.
  • Harvey holding Katie’s hand and then going to watch the kids playing on the field at the end of that scene, that was just so pure.
  • Joy saying “well I don’t need a scholarship, my dad is rich” made me laugh way too much.
  • Donna giving a “World’s greatest dad” cup to someone was my head canon, but that someone was definitely not Louis… in my head canon.
  • “Williams vs Williams, and I am losing big time” Look at Alex actually being funny
  • I have said it before and I will say it again: Give Gabriel Macht so many awards. For starters, give him one for the teary eyes and perfectly delivered “You are not just a shitty husband, you are a shitty brother and I am done here.” and every single other thing he did in this episode.
  • “He (Alex) was right about one thing this week (..) you are the cool one” Samantha really is the cool one
  • Harvey calling Donna “a mind reader” and “a philosopher” in the same phone conversation (which was the purest thing too), we love a man that’s still in awe of her
  • Speaking of that phone call, it was so perfectly edited and the shoots were so good. From Donna’s smile to their tones of voices, paralleling 6×12 perfectly. We love Valerie Weiss, the Darvey director.
  • “I haven’t done right by you” – everyone and Samantha, a summary
  • *continues waiting for Donna to have an actual storyline again*

 

Source: Courtesy of USA Network/SpoilerTV

Suits returns for 8×06 next Wednesday, at 9/8c on USA Network.