[SPOILER heavy – proceed with caution]
Please, Suits, let us keep this truly wonderful Harvey Specter. Yes, there’s a story and case and all that, but let me reiterate that whatever Harvey went through during the tumultuous Darby battle, he came out a much, much better man. And I don’t mean lawyer, I mean man. As in human. This Harvey thinks before he speaks; knows when to weigh his options and not just start throwing his bravura and ego around a room; knows enough to take stock of people’s current state and react accordingly, instead of instinctively. He hasn’t lost his power or his edge, but he’s gained perspective which is very good for the top billed character of a show in its third year.
As far as story goes, there’s the typical A and B plot. But atypically, I actually enjoyed both with the same level of interest. Dana “Scottie” Scott is a new name partner at Pearson-Specter and she already volunteers for her first assignment in acquisitions, much to the ire of a tardy Louis Litt, the client’s prime legal counsel. Scottie spends a good deal of the episode using Louis’s own by-laws against him, and explains to Harvey that she’s doing it because she needs to prove herself to the board that she’s worthy of the position as a lawyer – not just as Harvey’s girlfriend. Normally, little jabs and clever tricks against Louis would amuse me, but instead of making me sympathize with her cause she actually comes off as mean and bitter (or that other “b” word, if I wasn’t being polite), and I can’t get behind the fun in that. Sure enough, Louis taps into his newly declared friendship with Harvey (which I predicted in last week’s review would happen soon) to request that Harvey ask Scottie to step down. In a finer moment again distilling his new, Zen-like mindset, Harvey evenly and non judgmentally asks Louis if he’s asking for Harvey’s help as a friend (implying it’s not what a friend would do) or if he’s calling in a chit. Louis sees that by making the choice, he’s forced to either back off and reaffirm the friendship, or push for the play letting Harvey know work is more important. He calls in his chit. I was really pleased that when Louis asked Harvey if he was mad, Harvey said – with much exasperation – that he was disappointed. I was right there along with him in that disappointment.
Now that Mike and Rachel Zane are moving in together (Rachel, sweetie, we want to see you actually working, not just playing “Mike’s girlfriend” like you have been now for three weeks) and Mike’s close call with Louis revealing the truth about his Harvard past is behind them, Mike wants to get Harvey the bestest gift he can: winning a case against Elliott Stemple, a smarmy, smug lawyer who beat Harvey three times many years ago. Seems Stemple has evaded any further chances for Harvey to make a comeback and that’s been eating at Harvey for years. They get their case and although Stemple does a good job of tipping Mike and Harvey off balance, there was really no doubt in this episode that our boys would win. Some cases on Suits are meant to take front stage and challenge the firm and our carousel of players as they set up new directions in plot or season arcs. This was not one of them. This was meant to be Harvey getting his long-desired win and Mike feeling his onus is completed in showing Harvey how much he appreciates having come so far in the firm, knowing that he puts everyone – especially himself and Harvey – at risk with his falsified history. This didn’t bother me at all, mind you, it’s just to say that sometimes on this show you have to know the case is there quite obviously as the framework to hang the character interactions on and as a vehicle of personal revelations: even though they made their win – which ended up being financial papers level big – it’s Mike who ultimately loses out when Jessica informs him that due to his risk factor he can’t be seen in the limelight. Not for this case, and likely never. This puts a damper on Mike’s elation, obviously, as he realizes that no matter what he does at Pearson-Spector, no matter how impressive his wins and skill, he will never be more than he is now, due to the risk of outside entities potentially digging deeper than even Louis did.
Can we talk for a moment about the theme of “either/or” that is clearly running through this episode? Harvey comes to Jessica for advice, and she asks him if he wants to settle the case or beat Stemple. Harvey challenges Louis if he’s asking as a friend or calling in a chit as a name partner. (And as Harvey says, Louis can’t have it both ways.) This is echoed still later, when Scottie questions Harvey if he’s asking her to let go of the transaction as a friend or as a name partner, also noting that he can’t have it both ways. His unhappy answer: a name partner. It was a good theme to weave throughout, but I would have preferred it a tad more subtle. I’m hoping there are cut scenes near the end, since writer Daniel Arkin likely didn’t intend for the Harvey/Louis and Scottie/Harvey scenes – so very alike in verbiage – to be almost back to back, conveying too much in-your-face scripting even for this show.
Finally, I’ll hand it to Rick Hoffman: his Louis Litt had all the best lines, looks and sashays this episode. And he owned each and every one of them.