5 is the new 3
In tonight’s mid-season finale, young Samantha can be seen saying that getting your name on the a wall is what every lawyer dreams of. And essentially, it’s exactly that ambition that has been the main motivation of most characters on this show… but the battle now went too far, not anymore being a two-people duel, but rather a full blown war between what essentially became two sides. Wheeler versus Williams. And the outcome? That’s exactly the question this episode answered. That, along with challenging values and endgames of those who already have their surnames gracing the wall of what will now be…
…You all still with me?
“We are surrounded by some badass people…”
To dive right in, the previous episode set the ground for Alex and Samantha to fight out what Robert and Harvey started. The conflict being the fact that they were both promised name partner from two different executives – and understandably so, both wanted it first. Because there was quite literally no way to settle this, other than to keep fighting and fighting and… you get it, Zane and Harvey made a deal to sign conflict of interest waivers and let their case settle this mess.
However, settling one mess with another usually doesn’t end with a clean slate, and indeed, this instance was no different. While Alex was determined to prove that Gavin – his client – hadn’t destroyed the painting its insurance company – Samantha’s client – was accusing him of destroying, Samantha was cutting corners to get ahead as well. Meaning that by the time trial came up, Alex had made sure it came earlier than the partner on the other side expected, and Samantha made sure to have gotten any and all dirt on Gavin she didn’t have yet… and much to Alex’s dismay, the trial being moved to a sooner date didn’t stop Samantha from destroying Gavin on the stand. She brought up the fact that he had done shady sh*t during his divorce from his wife… so who were they to believe that in this instance, the matter being way less personal – he hadn’t done the exact same thing to get even more? (And on that note, can I just say, seeing Samantha roasting people in court was just such a great experience, and I found it refreshing to have such a fierce woman on the ZSL side of a court case, which we were largely deprived of seeing since Jessica’s iconic courtroom appearances).
However, after this already presented a big setback for Alex… it was just the step one. Following that, Samantha found a man that Gavin had recently consulted regarding the painting in question. And of course, it came as no surprise that he had asked him to assess the amount of money he could get if… let’s say… the painting got ruined. Totally not suspicious? So since it totally wasn’t suspicious (hehe), Gavin freaked out and ended up asking Samantha to give him one more day to persuade his board to settle. This whole encounter was not expected already, but definitely even less so since Samantha ended up agreeing with his request to give him time. It might have looked naive or out of character, but she acted in good faith, because he had brought up his family – and as we all know, a reoccurring theme on this show was and always will be, family coming first.
Following her decision, Gavin of course went the opposite direction from what he had promised, and wrote down a list of all the ethical violations Samantha conducted for the time she served as his lawyer. But thankfully – Alex did the right thing in this case, and refused to use the material. Rather, both him and Samantha, turned to the name partners in their corners for help. Through doing so, we got to see the two fronts being tested – on the one hand, we had Alex asking Harvey for help and guidance, Harvey owing him for not honoring an agreement once before. And on the other hand, see the special tight knit bond Samantha and Robert share, the origins behind which were unveiled this week – through a few flashbacks. This also worked to explain why Samantha was fast to grant Gavin another day, since Robert too once asked her for a favor in the name of family.
It was back when she was just an associate, of what would later become Rand Caldor Zane, and Robert was one of the lawyers there that Samantha was approached by FBI and told to look into their financial transactions. What she soon found out though, is that Robert had supposedly been looking into it too. However, after he suggested they work together and split the investigation, Samantha realized that he had been in part responsible for the shady money transactions. When she confronted him about it, the family came into play. He spoke of how after he had originally found out about the name partners’ illegal actions, he was wired money as well, in order to be implicated just enough to never turn on them. The moral of the story was that he did let them play him because of Rachel – she wanted to be a lawyer and there was no way he was going to taint that for her by making her a daughter of a criminal and having to defend herself one day in front of the Bar if he were to come forward (don’t worry Robert, Mike made sure she’d still have to do it anyways hehe). And this is where we get to learn about Samantha’s past…
She hadn’t even known her parents, and her whole childhood, she was moved from one foster care home to another, growing up with no family relations whatsoever. Thus to see Robert being so deeply invested in his daughter’s future pulled on her heart strings and made her decide not to cooperate with FBI. Rather, she had Robert gather two other lawyers he trusted and had them force the existing criminals (sorry, name partners) out of the firm and take over. Also known as, the reason Rand Caldor Zane exists being Samantha Wheeler, as associate, and genius. Additionaly, known as her going from an orphan to a legal mastermind and a succesful career woman. WE LOVE.
Ultimately, despite the fact that yeah, everything on this show does revolve around family being the characters’ weak spot, it was interesting to see and start to understand Samantha’s motives – the way she spoke about her past in previous episodes, and furthermore understand her connection with Robert now. In the past, she had told him it wasn’t her time yet, to make partner, but in the present, he was standing next to her and trying to get her to become such.
That is why, when Harvey and Alex came up with a plan to win, it wasn’t going to end in Robert honoring his part of the deal and supporting Alex for name partner. The two lawyers had Katrina pretend to be Samantha and gain information from original insurance reports which showed that the painting’s damage investigation hasn’t been as truthful as Samantha’s client claimed, and the role Starboard airlines played in the process could thus be minimized. This ended up pointing a finger at the insurance company which held a grudge against Gavin already anyways, and making it quite literally impossible for Samantha to rebuild her case and continue trying to prove Gavin was guilty. However, one thing she could do is finally ask a favor back of Robert. After her years of loyalty and cooperation, it was this moment that she’d call in that chip she was granted when she had helped him escape prosecution all those years ago.
And Robert came through, informing Harvey that he wasn’t going to follow up on their deal, because he had a bigger one to honor. Because at the end of the day, one case couldn’t and shouldn’t determine who makes partner, and according to Robert’s words: “You (Harvey) are the past and Samantha is the future”. Once again, causing a divide, within a divide… within a divide, in the leadership of this firm. And then…. It was finally Donna, who decided to put the ultimate stop to this, and with that, change everything.
“Once that hit me, dealing with this seemed so easy.”
Which leads us to Louis. Just by simply reflecting on the character we were introduced to in the pilot of the show, and now following his journey through turmoil, loss, heartbreak, rejection… and countless hours of therapy, it has become increasingly clear through the past few seasons, that he has undergone some immense growth. But never has it been so clear, as in this episode, as far as business goes that Louis Litt is finally starting to recognize and internalize his worth. Now, as what will be: the new managing partner. But even so, going back a bit, this was hardly the most life changing and touching title he acquired in this mid-season finale.
Besides the continuous arc of personal growth we have been witnessing for Louis this season, him and Sheila had gone through quite a turmoil, in order to become parents. Coming from completely different stand points on the topic of children in general, it was a miracle (or like, a writing problem that i now officially have to live with forever) that they even found equal footing on the topic, but it wasn’t until this episode, that they could actually officially get excited about becoming parents. Suits baby number 1.
However, the timing was anything but perfect because… that is life? Not only was Sheila offered a promotion at work, she was offered THE promotion, making her the permanent dean of Colombia law school, were she to prove herself worthy during her period of replacement of the current dean. But, Louis had some thoughts about that which went beyond “Congratulations”. And QUESTIONABLY so, he pointed out that they had made the deal to both sacrifice and let go a little at work, her promotion thus being the exact opposite of what they had promised each other. And again – this storyline, from 7b and through the whole 8a has been my source of brain exercise, constantly triggering my this-is-so-problematic cells, marking this mid-season finale as no different. While women turning down promotions, often even BEFORE they actually get pregnant – because of the fear of having to cut back and be met with lack of understanding, is one of the prevailing issues of being a “career oriented” individual, I felt like this episode addressed the topic in a bit of an insensitive and ignorant way.
Surely, the plot more served as a way for Louis to assess his dedication to the firm, and through agreeing with Sheila on taking the promotion (and kudos to her for following through with it!), deciding to try cutting back a bit and trusting people to do the work, but still… it would have been nice to at least partially address the underlying issue and recognize how (unintentionally?) wrong it was to see Sheila being asked to give that up for herself.
Nonetheless, in the end, it turned out that neither of them would be giving up work any time soon, with Donna (the managing… god) determining he will be carrying out the managing partner duties for the foreseeable future. Because in the world of lawyers that like Samantha said, just want power, a man that has it all and finally sees there is more to life than just the title, may be exactly what the firm needs.
And who would have thought some years ago that this will come in the shape of… Louis Litt.
Thus, when Donna had informed Robert and Harvey, that voting for Louis was the only way out of this conflict, he had showed up with his first order of business: promoting Samantha and Alex at the same time, or letting them walk away. And to think, they could have done this in the first few episodes of this season and solve all their problems before they even began…… But anyways, Donna’s ultimatum prompted Harvey and Robert to agree, and be in charge of persuading the soon-to-be-name-partners to settle this fight by sharing the moment they have both been waiting for. Which in the end, was clearly not as hard to swallow, as it had been in previous episodes – largely due to the fact that there was literally no other way out. And bringing back the words form the start of this review – Robert told Samantha that it was about time they stop fighting the badass people in this place, and start fighting with them. Thus, foreshadowing the power house of a family these people could become, if they are finally able to put these differences aside, in what will now be a 5 name law firm.
However, in the end, the five names aside, we have to honor the one name that isn’t on the wall, but seems to be the leading force of all the major shifts and success these people share. Paulsen. Her growing role through the show has been undeniably important, but it truly peaked in this finale. She ended up making the final call, changing the course of history for this firm, resolving all the most pressing conflicts in one single decision, and most importantly – getting all parties to willingly agree. On top of that, as she told Harvey, practically maximizing the decision making power she already holds – through Louis. Thus, the wall may now finally say Zane Specter Litt Wheeler Williams, but the heart of the firm says Paulsen, loud and clear.
- Associate Samantha Wheeler’s fashion makes me want to drop to my knees, yas queen
- Robert talking about Rachel dreaming of being a lawyer, knowing that she reached that dream and everything beyond makes me very emotional.
- “Katrina if you are here to ask me if I want to go for a drink with you tonight the answer is a big fat.. Yes please” we love girlfriends!!
- Donna’s logics, a summary: “if Harvey wants you to do it… Why not do it”
- “I am right here by your side and I am not going anywhere.” sometimes Louis and Sheila are beautiful.
- “I think you are going to make a great managing partner and I know you are going to make an outstanding father” followed by Harvey voluntarily hugging Louis, this relationship progressed so much!
- Yet another half season ending with Harvey and Donna sharing a moment of honesty and trust, turning into shoulder bumping and flirting, turning into Harvey looking at her like she is the world, turning into Donna calling him “pretty”. They remain the heart of the show. Hopefully soon also by the measure of storyline.