Suits (S09E04) “Cairo”

Past, present, future.

Every episode of season 9 thus far has been a perfect mix of private and professional, the storylines at work becoming more and more about the inner conflicts and the deeper personal questions. This week’s installment ‘Cairo’ did not disappoint either. Creator and show runner Aaron Korsh revealed before the start of s9 that there will be an episode dedicated to each one of the main characters this last season, and if last week’s 9×03 was focused on Louis’ big questions, this one was Alex’s. But not only that, the episode also dived right into further exploring and deepening Harvey and Donna’s relationship, whether it be at work or outside of the firm. I saw this one last week, and let me say, staying quiet was… HARD… so I’m glad we are finally here to discuss it all: the past, the present and the future that 9×04 addressed.

The past

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Source: Courtesy of USA Network

Since Alex’s arrival to the SLWW (right?), we have learned all about his big past mistake. When at his previous firm, he was given Mastersons Constructions as a client, but as already revealed, instead of giving him huge billings, the client and the name partner made him a co-conspirator in a murder of a guard that figured out they had been extending prisoner sentences. Two crimes committed, and he was bound to protecting both of them. In this episode, an old co-worker Craig, who was supposed to get that client before Mastersons was handed to Alex, came back asking for a favor. He wanted Samantha to take a deal with his client, and the leverage he had was exactly that of Alex’s past mistake. Before, when Mike was on the other side of protecting his secret, the stakes were high, but he was still safe in the end because they were family. However, this time, the guy on the other side had no reason to back down. As we find out from the flashbacks throughout this episode, his career had taken a dive when Alex was assigned to this case and then proceeded to refuse sharing of the client when asked. While Alex had excluded Craig, not just to protect himself, but also to ensure no one gets dragged through the mud with him,  his ex-coworker was too determined to finally score a win out of this situation to ever acknowledge that. The question thus arose not only if Alex will be able to get Samantha to help him out, but what Rosalie will do when she finally finds out about the crime her husband had been covering all this time. If ending badly, Alex could thus not only lose his job, but also the family waiting for him at home.

And speaking of the past and families, two other important flashback episodes of the show are definitely 5×12 and 6×12 which respectfully dived into both Harvey and Donna’s complicated relationships with their parents. While both of their issues, Harvey’s with abandonment and Donna’s with the loss of stability and having to give up her passions had been very much present in the show long before those two episodes, those installments made them a key part of each other’s family world. Harvey had fought her father when Donna wanted to give up her money to help his business over a decade ago, which strained their relationship to a point where in the present day scenes of said episode, we could still sense tension between the two men. Contrarily, it was exactly Donna who helped Harvey reconcile with his mother, after years of struggling to fill the void her absence created with him. It was no more than one season after that episode, when this fact brought Harvey and his ex-therapist to end their relationship, as the weight of Donna’s presence in Harvey’s life truly became insurmountable for them upon meeting up with Lily herself. Now fast-forward to 9×04, much to my delight, this episode dived right into bits and pieces of both those episodes and the pair’s family storylines at large.

The present

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Source: Courtesy of USA Network

When Donna’s dad James called to schedule a breakfast during his time on business in NYC, Donna decided to share the news about her and Harvey’s relationship. However, the later was much less excited about making their relationship known to her dad…. because of reasons. Having a complicated relationship with James was one thing before, but now that the two are dating, Harvey knew that a shift in that dynamic was necessary. And he hadn’t been all that wrong to worry, considering that breakfast date… yikes. As a cherry on top, when Donna arrived to work, Faye had found out about them dating, and influenced in part by her own experience with mixing work and relationships set an ultimatum: one of the two had to give up their vote. The request itself was problematic enough, but then Faye went on to make a point in saying that Donna’s vote simply wasn’t as valued as Harvey’s and he would probably see It the same way.  A completely false statement in every way, except for the fact that Donna really sucks at letting other people in on her issues and as a result, completely shut Harvey out. Not only did she not tell him about Faye’s ultimatum when her interference failed to work twice, but she also projected that fear of having to give up something because she is dating him onto the situation with her dad.

Donna’s reaction sent Harvey (who was completely clueless about the Faye situation) into a spiral of trying to figure out how to make amends with her father and calm down her anxieties. As a result of her reminder about his still growing relationship with Lily, Harvey decided to call his mom and ask for advice. While I had already seen the actress’ name in the opening credits and had a premature freak out before even seeing this scene, the reality justified my excitement.  For one, I was happy to see the show hadn’t forgotten the entirety of season 7 and the insane lies Harvey had told Paula, including how she had been responsible for helping him reconcile with his mother. While as previously pointed out, that lie had already acted as a catalysis for their break up, but having it acknowledged once more point blank that it was indeed Donna who made that happen was satisfying to see. It also begged the question of whether the last season plans on addressing the rest of that relationship or how it had impacted both Harvey and Donna in the process.  Here’s hoping…

But not only that, in this scene Harvey ended up sharing with his mom that Donna was indeed THE ONE (I am crying). When in the aftermath of his s7 breakup, Mike suggested the same, Harvey was unable to wrap his head around the truth. Thus, to see him openly admit that to his mother of all people once again spoke volume to the emotional growth he has been prepared to undertake recently. Further deepening the significance of Donna in his life and in his relationship with the family, Lily then happily admitted to Harvey that her and Marcus had been rooting for him to end up with her for years. While it had been generally known that Gordon and Donna spoke on the phone frequently and that Marcus always turned to her when he needed Harvey’s help, the fact that Lily is a proud member of the Specters Donna fan club was new information.

However, while the conversation between Harvey and his mother went pretty much perfectly, the same truly cannot be said for the coffee Harvey shared with Jim the next day. In character? Yes. Successful? No. In order to appeal to James, he decided to make a gesture; Harvey had manged to get a deal for James that the man had been dying to close. Yet, the piece of paper was seen by Jim as a painful reminder of the other time Harvey meddled in his business and made a work decision for him (I was still team Harvey, always team Harvey). To make matters worse, Donna found out about it right after her last attempt at making Faye drop her ultimatum failed. She lashed out at Harvey, and he… finally saw her words for what they were: her fear of losing the vote she fought to have.

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Source: Courtesy of USA Network

What I loved most about how this ended up being resolved is that no one had to give up their vote. As Donna said, we all know Harvey would throw himself on the train tracks for her, and that is a (beautiful) story as old as time at this point. Not to mention that neither of them should have to give up their vote because of their personal situation in the first place. So, to see everyone come together, and fight for them, and what is rightfully Donna’s, was way more satisfying and fair than if this episode had ended with one of them giving that up for the other. They can have their cake and eat it too. Thank you to the writers for sending that message into the world (plus, that sequence of Louis, Alex, Samantha and Harvey walking down to Faye’s office: art, just art).

The future

In the end, despite the fact that Harvey had found out what was really upsetting Donna for the past few days, that didn’t mean he was going to give up on fixing his relationship with her dad. Ultimately, if anyone would understand forgives and second chances, it is Harvey. Thus, taking Donna’s advice to heart, Harvey invited Jim over to his apartment in order to show him respect and ensure they can move forward on good terms.  Though, as it turns out, showing respect had nothing to do with business, and everything to do with love and family. Harvey told James that his family, the wonderful daughter he raised and the marriage he has with Donna’s mother are all things to respect beyond the rest. An amazing admission coming from him and a very clear indication of his changing priories in life. In fact, the show went as far as to make a parallel between Donna and Harvey’s relationship and the prior’s parents’ marriage. Despite the turmoil and the sacrifices, the older couple has had to make along the way, they still ended up happy together and remain very much in love. Same finally goes for Harvey and Donna.

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Source: Courtesy of USA Network

After making it right with her father, Harvey then went to his girlfriend’s place (hehe), to make it right between them: their inability to share and communicate will have to stop. I loved that despite the fact that Harvey had been overjoyed and satisfied with having made peace with her dad, it was even more important to him to make sure they learn from their past mistakes and grow together in their relationship. And if Harvey’s admission that she is the one quite literally just a few weeks (at most) into their relationship was not enough for you, here comes the talk…. About being together forever, engagements and marriage, To put that scene into coherent words and review it is proving to be an impossible task for me. All I can really say is that I got myself a new favorite Harvey and Donna scene. It was so them, so well earned, hilarious and utterly touching. For two people who had never been able to commit to anyone, and “never considered marriage a part of” what they wanted in life, they had just made an incredibly huge step together, and so seemingly comfortably promised each other nothing less than a forever (*sobs*).

But if you were lying on the floor dead at this point, you are out of luck because it didn’t end there. As Lily called Harvey to ask about the situation with Donna’s dad, he ended up introducing the two. How do you even sum the weight of that with words? Harvey has struggled all his adult life with so many issues because of that relationship, most notably with his inability to see his feelings for Donna for what they were and gather the courage to show up and risk It. Thus, to see all those years accumulate in the two being introduced to each other; Lily, as Harvey’s mom that he is on good terms with and Donna, as Harvey’s forever person; that was everything. And just as all the rest is for the couple, the conversation ended up being completely natural. Donna stole the phone from Harvey to b*tch over him to his mom (we been knew these two will roast him together!!!) and Harvey ended up staring at her like she hung the moon. He may had known before that she was the one and they were a sure thing, but in that moment, he probably realized that however he is going to ask her, he is going to ask soon. They may have made each other speechless for a second in this scene, but the promises for the future the episode’s ending spoke to were there, loud and clear.

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Source: Courtesy of USA Network

However, the Darvey of it all wasn’t the only instance where the family spirit at this firm prevailed in the episode and ensured a happy ending. While Samantha and Alex’s bond and the space Alex and his wife created for her in their home (makes me so emotional!!) was already a big part of 9×03, this episode took it further, when both Alex and Rosalie approached Samantha for help.

Upon finding out about her husband’s past, Rosalie put her initials feeling of betrayal aside in order to “protect her own” (seriously, I love this badass character), but knowing her as well as he does, Alex asked Samantha to help him protect her instead. But, because of the way the pair had treated her and made her privy to the family life they have created together, Samantha jumped on the sword for the both of them. Not so much because she would be less personally involved in the situation, but because she was personally involved enough to care and want to protect them. Thus, she managed to find something really bad on Craig, and went on to exchange that for what he had on Alex, challenging him to a fair fight… but not before she also promised him she would win fair and square, not because her leverage was better but because she is a better lawyer. The complexity and the nuances of Samantha Wheeler never fail to surpass my expectations when it comes to her involvement in plots. In this episode alone, she thus not just managed to show the loyalty and badass attitude we have come to love about her, but also strip down another layer of care and vulnerability her past equipped her with. In the words of Rosalie herself, you are one hell of a woman Samantha Wheeler. She showed she cared and because these people truly are a family, her gesture was welcomed with open hands… and a game night at the Williams household.

Not only did this episode ensure Alex didn’t lose his job in the wake of Faye’s snooping eyes, as well as safeguarded his marriage from the threat of his secret… it also put a new family member in his corner. Because if this show has taught us anything, it is that family is the most important thing in life… and sometimes that means the people we choose for ourselves.

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Source: Courtesy of USA Network

Random thoughts:

  • “A handsome coffee for my handsome man” and a handsome death for me!
  • The parallel between “Well, he pretty much said that he was about to lay himself down on the train tracks for you, and he wanted me to help tie him down.” AND “Harvey would throw himself in front of a train for me” made me so emotional
  • “I’m gonna shove up this law suit so far up your ass you are gonna be the first lawyer in history to die with a law suits up her ass” – Louis Marlow Litt, 2019
  • Due to space constraints, I didn’t go in-depth about the Katrina Louis plot of this episode, but TRULY, and I continue to say this: Katrina for managing partner.
  • “We don’t just influence each other, we balance each other. We make each other consider opposing points of view and in the end, we do what we think will make the firm stronger.” We love a power couple!
  • Ok so now that it is safe to say Alex knows Darvey are together, I need a scene of him acknowledging it. My 8×16 hero. Thank you.
  • SO Donna will be the godmother to Louis’ baby!!! I am emotional.
  • Imagine thinking after that last Harvey and James scene that Harvey doesn’t want a family more than anything
  • SO glad the show explained James and Donna’s mom indeed separated but ended up together again, solves The godawful dinner party boyfriend mistery!
  • “I wouldn’t have taken you for the romantic type” “that’s because i have never showed you I was” *cries again*
  • Glad there was no need to ask for Donna’s hand in marriage because we aren’t sexist in this house, lol.
  • That scene between Faye and Gretchen was EVERYTHING!
  • “I saw what you had to lose… I never had that. I wanted to protect it.” “You are one hell of a woman Samantha wheeler” THIS DUO!!!!!!!
  • Rachel Zane, you pick up that goddamn phone.
  • We been knew the next time Harvey was gonna make Donna speechless is in a situation like this since literally s4.

Suits returns for 9×05 next Wednesday at 9/8c on USA Network in the States. In Africa, you can catch it starting August 8th at 20pm on TGE.