Television Review – A jam-packed episode of solid storylines for all, with added Darvey gold, in Suits 8.14 “Peas In a Pod”

It’s Valentine’s Day and tonight I had a date with the Suits gang (what more do you need? Well, besides wine!) and I have to say, what a fantastic night it’s been, as season 8B continues to pick up steam, as the strong episodes keep on coming! One of the signs of a great episode of television for me is when it feels longer than the run time and 8.14 certainly packed so much in to its 45 minutes, that it felt much longer!

This week was called “Peas in a Pod” and as is often the case with Suits, it’s a title that described more than one dynamic on the screen, not to mention plenty of other strong storylines included too. There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s get straight to it!

Louis Litt rescues Dr Lipschitz for a change!

For years before we ever met him in person, Dr Stan Lipschitz had been saving Louis Litt, helping him navigate the stresses of life, all of which has helped make him the calmer, happier man he is now and it’s because of this, that watching Louis do everything he could to help his friend, while also managing to respect his wishes, was pretty damn satisfying. Sure, for a moment I was excited at the thought that Donna was going to help by going to see him (which, let’s face it, would have been spectacular), but that aside, this was a strong storyline, which in other episodes would have been the highlight. Ray Proscia always plays our favourite therapist (well, it’s hardly a tough choice, is it…!) with such compassion and class and his bond on screen with Rick Hoffman only gets better  with every scene. Hurry back Stan! I think Harvey might need to talk!

Alex Williams gets a satisfying storyline at last! 

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Finally! I’m a big fan of Dule Hill and I have always liked Alex Williams, but I’ve just never really been that invested in his stories and then there was the tedious fight over named partner. So, the fact that this episode gave us so much great content AND a decent storyline for Alex was an unexpected, but very welcome bonus. We were able to see just how decent a person he is. Yes, he’s become embroiled in shady deals for dodgy people in the past, but it’s never been by design and this week saw him trying to do right by his client, while also helping show compassion and understanding to a grieving husband. Plus, we were also treated to more Alex / Gretchen interaction and after her mistake not too long ago, it was lovely to see the two of them back on good terms. She supported him through a difficult case and in return he’s setting her up with his father-in-law! Now, that’s truly fabulous!

Katrina was kicking ass (and no Brian in sight, thank god)!

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Although, overall, I’ve loved 8B so far, the path they’ve taken Katrina down recently has not been enjoyable for me. Ironically, the week where she’s having to help Samantha, who has called in her favour and which could have been fraught with drama, proves to be the most enjoyable, as we were able to see Katrina not only demonstrating she’s a great lawyer, but that she’s grown in confidence and strength, now able to hold her own with Samantha, while being treated like a professional equal by Harvey, who trusted her judgement when he needed to understand the intricacies of Samantha’s fight with Scottie. Bravo, Katrina! Leave Brian in the bullpen. You don’t need him! Seriously….you really don’t need him…..

Samantha vs. Scottie was pretty great television!

Alright, before I talk about all the positives, I have to start with the negative, because it was so damn distracting. Corsets? White corsets? What is it with these two women and white corsets? They even included the scene with Scottie wearing a near identical (and ridiculous) outfit in the “previously on Suits” bit. Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. No more crazy fashion statements please, Suits!

Anyway, back to the important things – pitting Scottie against Samantha was certainly fun to watch and I fully admit that I was Team Samantha all the way. I don’t dislike Scottie (and Abigail Spencer is fantastic), but she’s always annoyed me over the years, mainly because she was predominantly written to be running after Harvey and never seemed satisfied that he was trying hard enough. So, seeing her back and it not being for a repeat of her and Harvey’s previous tussles was fun. As Harvey said himself to Donna about his previous dynamic with Scottie – things change. Yes, yes they do, don’t they Mr Specter…..(I’m getting to it, I promise).

Instead, we were able to see two successful, driven, intelligent women go head to head. Peas in a pod? Not quite and was there any doubt that Samantha would win? Not in my opinion, but that didn’t make this any less fun to watch.

It was also a clever way of showing just how much Harvey has changed over the years. In the past he’d have waded in, possibly made it worse and still ended up pissing everyone off. Instead, 8.14 had him trying to be the peacemaker. He cares for Scottie and he admires Samantha and those two emotions motivated him to help resolve this without fireworks…..well, after Donna gave him some more hard truths and motivated him to take action, that is.

I do have one question though – was Samantha a Marine? I’m guessing that wasn’t a literal statement about messing with the wrong Marine, but then again, we learnt in 8.10 that she’s served her country in the past…….Ms Wheeler’s backstory continues to intrigue me!

……..and then of course, there was THE BIG ONE…….

The Darvey emotional pot is starting to boil over!

Well, well, well, this week was certainly interesting from a Darvey perspective! So much was thrown at the audience in just a few scenes. There was subtext as usual, but the key difference this week was that Harvey and Donna’s feelings for each other were not only implied in certain scenes, but also directly addressed in others, all of which culminated in that gloriously angsty elevator moment.

I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s go back to the beginning – right from the “Previously on Suits” we were on notice that Darvey was on the episode’s radar. I mean, that 7.15 Scottie scene was so loaded, it had to come back around, right?! Yet, what I loved most about the Donna / Harvey element of this week’s episode, was that even though I was expecting something, what was delivered was so much more interesting.

I was convinced Scottie coming back was going to be significant from a Darvey perspective and knowing she paid Donna a visit at home had me anticipating a talk in that scene. Yet, while that was just a repeat of their previous interactions (when they talk about Donna’s feelings without actually taking about them), the scenes her presence triggered were so damn good. First, there was Harvey’s “Things change.” Sure, he was talking about his and Scottie’s work dynamic, but his feelings towards her have changed too, which made this comment fun to hear.

Then we had the scene in Harvey’s office, with so much unresolved sexual tension, I could barely concentrate on the dialogue! What were you going to say Harvey? That Donna was always jealous of Scottie? Why would that be? The fact he almost voiced that and the fact she practically dared him to was the content I’ve been waiting for! So much angst in so few seconds. She wanted you to say it Harvey! She needs you to take a risk for her and her frustration at his cowardice was great. I’ve thought Donna was still pissed off with him on some level and seeing that reach the surface for a change was exciting. Plus, surely this moment shows that they’re both aware of their feelings on some level. It’s funny that Donna described Scottie and Harvey as peas in a pod, when it’s really them who are like twins now, both letting fear hold them back now?

Then there was THAT phonemail, which was spectacular! Bravo Scottie for picking up where Mike Ross left off! Their love (yes, that’s right, love) for Harvey has always been what these two women had in common (is that another example of peas in a pod?!) and it was fun to see them have such an honest conversation. We all hope Harvey sees what EVERYONE else sees too. And Donna’s face! Gold. That’s right Donna, everyone knows – literally everyone – well, maybe not your boyfriend, not yet anyway…….

Yet, just when I didn’t think the Darvey content could get any better, we had that final elevator scene. I was ready for seeing Harvey caught off balance by the appearance of Thomas Kessler; of seeing him hurt and confused by his reaction to Donna being with a great guy. Yet, the scene wasn’t about that at all – it was almost THE moment. He almost…..almost……opened up and all thanks to Scottie! Am I frustrated that we didn’t see her call to Harvey, especially when we’d seen the still photo of him on the phone, suggesting maybe…maybe, it was filmed? Damn right I am, but I’m hoping that by keeping this scene from us, they’re saving the moment we get to see Harvey’s feelings for Donna on full display, for a scene in which he voices them to her. Well, that and I hold on to hope of a DVD deleted scene!

Fair play to Gabriel Macht and Sarah Rafferty, whose on-screen chemistry has always been one of the finest aspects of this series. They played this moment so well; so subtle and full of glorious angsty subtext. Harvey’s slightly nervous voice, him shifting on his feet and fidgeting, dipping his head, so clearly awkward and nervous by what he was about to raise. Then there was Donna’s curiosity, turning in to hopeful anticipation. You could feel her hopes rising, thinking that maybe he was actually about to take an emotional step towards her. Damn you Thomas! I think you’re great, but that was the worst timing ever. Donna’s lingering look towards Harvey, as she stood as far from Thomas in that elevator as possible and Harvey’s look of confused pain were the episode highlights for me.

The only minor grumble – the moment Louis asked Donna if she’d told Harvey about Thomas. I know it was mirroring him asking Harvey the same question when he was with Paula (which really made no narrative sense) and it’s true Louis is in the know about her kissing Harvey, but it still felt unnecessary to me.

Has the time come? Are we finally about to step over the Darvey finish line? Dear god, I hope so. I cannot take another 7.16 Darvey Dodge!

…….which leads us to next week……

Looking ahead – that promo is Litt Up!

There are only two episodes left in season eight and there are still some big questions left. The obvious one following the promo for 8.15 “Stalking Horse” is what choice does Donna make? She clearly chooses Thomas, or his interests/her relationship over Harvey (oh, sorry, I meant the firm…..honest). That promo is so reminiscent of 4.15’s “Intent” that I’m already far too excited. We also know Daniel Hardman returns to play some more games before the season ends, so I’m assuming he’s back next week, setting up for whatever finale fireworks they have in store. Can I just have the episodes now? Please?!

Ahh well, only a week to wait. See you then!

Suits continues next week with 8.15 “Stalking Horse” on Wednesday night on USA Network in the US and on Thursday via Netflix in the UK. You can see the promo here: https://youtu.be/qu3O2_8IYtU

(Photos via: Suits USA)

 

 

 

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Television Review – Past choices came home to roost for everyone in Suits 8.13 “The Greater Good”

It’s Thursday night, so it’s time for Suits and I have to say, season 8B is just getting better and better for me, with this week’s latest episode continuing the run of strong stories, both the ones that are only here for one week, or the long-simmering ones, that just keep building and building (yes, we all know what the obvious one is, I’ll get to it)!

With the title, The Greater Good, the overarching theme was past choices and actions and how they continue to affect your life, no matter how long it’s been, whether a night, a day, a year, or 13 years……..Almost all of the gang were affected by their pasts in 8.13 and it was a lot of fun to watch.

Let’s dig in to this week’s detail and start at the top of the tree with the Managing Partner……

Louis realised that choosing to step up is not the path to an easy life!

Ahh Louis Litt. Just when he no longer cared about it, he found himself sitting on the throne and this week saw him truly understanding how tough a job it is (which only makes me love Jessica more, seeing as she made it look easy)! It was fun to watch him navigating the waters of his new role, flying off the handle like old Louis with Katrina and Robert, before remembering that’s not who he is anymore and reminding me just why I thought he’d be the best man for this job. His lovely interaction with Katrina was a real highlight. Between you or Brian, Louis, I’d choose you hands down!

Katrina’s choice to have Brian as her associate has consequences

The low-point of last week’s episode for me was the Katrina/Brian thread and I was dreading where it would go next (well, it couldn’t get any worse at least). This week Katrina had to find a way through the emotional wreckage, that would leave both of them unscathed, which was absolutely correct. She is the one in the position of seniority and it’s interesting to see the genders flipped for a change. She technically put him, as her subordinate, in a difficult position (even though, professional lives aside, they were both at fault and his behaviour is just horrible), so tarnishing his reputation was out of the question. I loved her conversation with Donna, which was also nicely used to bring up her “complicated” relationship with someone she works with…….hmm….I not sure I know who that is…..I’m not quite sure the solution is ideal though – they have to keep working together – for a YEAR? I can’t see this ending well……Tread carefully Katrina and Brian, how about you put a photo of your wife on your desk alongside your baby? Remember her? You better!

Samantha’s past turns up at her door, with an insight in to the childhood choices, that have helped shaped her in to the woman she’s become

In 8.10 we learnt about Samantha’s past in foster care and this week we were given a greater glimpse in to that early life through the arrival of her foster mother, who she clearly cares deeply about. This stand-alone story was a lovely thread of 8.13, as we watched Samantha come to terms with the truth of her foster mother’s choice not to fight to keep her (that had to be hard to hear) and with the help of her surrogate father, Robert Zane, she was able to move forward and forgive her, while at the same time use her own past as a way to help save the potential future of another young kid in need. I like you more and more every week Ms Wheeler.

Stu faced the harsh reality of doing favours for PSL/ZSL/ZSLWW (or whatever name it has this week)

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I love Stu. If they’d ruined Stu, I would have exploded! There would have been angry tweets and possibly angry letters and no one wants that, so thank goodness, Stu lives to fight another day as the greatest gunslinger. I thought he was mad to manipulate that stock, but he knew the risks, whether he wanted to admit it or not. Having said that, I did feel sorry for him, being another person getting caught up in the shady world our favourite law firm tends to keep slipping in to, especially when it looked as though Harvey really wasn’t going to be able to fix it. The whole “I’m Harvey Specter. Don’t mess with me” line really isn’t working as well as it used to these days. Thankfully, Donna came up with the way to save the day – the “We’re all guilty here, let’s just pretend it didn’t happen” solution! It certainly covered Harvey, Donna, Stu, Sean Cahill, the annoying trader whose name I’ve already forgotten, not to mention capturing Katrina and Brian too! My one sadness is that this may very well spell the end of his flirty friendship with Donna, which would certainly be a loss. Will we ever see Stu again? If not, it was fun while it lasted! It was also lovely to see Sean Cahill back, as his relationship with Harvey in early season six was one of the best aspects of that time in the show and it was a reminder of just how many great guest actors this series has had. Heck, it was even nice to see Joe Miler pop up and be doing well.

……and then there was the BIG one……the story thread that’s been fuelled by so many past choices and mistakes that it could power Manhattan…….

All those Darvey choices from the past continuing to dictate both Donna and Harvey’s current behaviour

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been introduced to the new man in Donna’s life and I have to say, I think he’s pretty great (and fantastically played by Sasha Roiz). A man in his early 40s, with seemingly little baggage, who’s kind, thoughtful, successful (and not arrogant), witty, charming and rather sexy. They don’t exist in the real world do they? Also, crucially in my opinion, the focus was on him and Donna; their flirting (as inappropriate as I thought it may have been to call a client stupid) and their first date, culminating in that fabulous last scene, where Donna had a man in front of her being direct about how incredible she is and how much he wanted to be with her. I don’t think I even wrote the word “Darvey” in my last review, as the foundations were being laid.

This week………could there have been more Darvey subtext? Personally, I feel sorry for Thomas. He seems too decent to deserve the inevitable heartbreak that’s coming his way at some point and in any other world, he’d absolutely be the man for Donna Paulsen, but let’s face it, we all know the truth (sorry Thomas).

First things first, I’m thrilled Donna has moved on. That may be a controversial statement for some, but honestly, I’d have been more frustrated had she not. Yes, she’s clearly harbouring unresolved feelings for Harvey and yes she did lie about not feeling anything when she kissed him, BUT she did make a move (as questionable as the timing was). She then wanted to talk about it. He closed that down. He wanted a promise of no repeats and when she then raised their blurry lines, it was Harvey, thanks to his own fear at his emotions, who said it didn’t mean he wanted more – to the woman who not that long ago told him she wanted more of something *insert long sigh here.* What’s a woman to do? Sit and wait and see if things change? Ultimately the choice was Donna’s and she’s chosen to see if she can find happiness with someone else. Life is short and none of them are getting any younger. Ultimately it’s her life and her choice and she isn’t trying to hurt Harvey. He’s hurting himself.

On to this week – how was the morning after the night before? Well, on the surface, it’s all going swimmingly. Early morning banter and kisses, supportive phone calls and three nights together in a row? All very promising, except that this week Donna’s new relationship seemed to be used at every opportunity to remind us of one thing and one thing only – HE ISN’T HARVEY! There’s the morning coffee (which won’t have vanilla), the dramatic pause before she admitted to him she “overslept” as though she wanted him to know, but chickened out of spelling it out, and the conversation with Katrina (who can be added to the list of people who clearly know about the the Darvey tension), which both raised the topic of Harvey and also highlighted that Donna is doing everything she can to ignore that mess. As she said herself, it’s about falling for someone who has nothing to do with that firm. She’s papering over her Harvey feelings, the same way he buried his by dating Paula and seeing her so keen to see Thomas again, to forget about her life and her feelings, felt very true to life. Sometimes we all need to run away from things for a while.

And while Donna is trying to move forward, Harvey is growing more and more aware of his choices, whether he’s ready to acknowledge them or not. We’ve seen him in therapy talking about being alone and this week made that very clear. The two closest people in his life were unable to take his call. They were both out, living their lives, because unlike Mr Specter, they know that life isn’t long. Gabriel Macht is always fantastic in this role and he is a master when it comes to the scenes where the story is all in his face and that final scene was beautifully played by him. The balance of the light, jokey message to Donna and the pleasure at wanting to tell Mike about his day, sinking in to a much sadder place, as he admitted he missed his friend, before gazing off in to space in his empty apartment. Oh, Harvey, I still love you and my heart did break a little for you, but this is an existence of your own making. You could be spending the night with someone you care about if you’d just been brave.

What’s exciting about this though is that he still has time! And as I’ve thought for quite a while now, the final push he needs is to see Donna with another man; one who realistically could make her happy. It’s the only thing left that has the potential to shake him out of this pattern. And once he’s awake to the truth of his feelings……? Well, then it’s all going to get very interesting indeed!

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So, all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed The Greater Good. The story strands threaded together well, the writing was strong and it served as a reminder of just how strong this cast is, both old and new, regular and recurring. It’s episodes like this that make me sad to think that there’s not much longer left. All we can hope for is that the remaining episodes will be this satisfying.

Looking Ahead – time for the angsty fun to really begin!

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So, what’s coming next week. From the promo and the photos, it seems we’ll see Harvey meeting Thomas. Oh, that’s going to interesting. Scottie is also back and it seems winding up Harvey, making social calls to Donna’s apartment and going head to head with Samantha. I’m already excited!

 

See you next week, same day, same place!

Suits season 8 continues next week with 8.14 “Peas in a Pod” on Wednesday on USA Network in the US and on Thursday in the UK thanks to Netflix. You can watch the promo here: https://youtu.be/uisdLHPIoCc

(Photos from: Suits USA/USA Network)

 

 

 

 

 

Television Review – Dates, Mistakes, Prunies & a Whole Lot of Gambling in Suits 8.12 “Whale Hunt”

It’s Thursday, which here in the UK is Suits night for me (thanks as always Netflix UK!) and after a solid start to 8B last week, I was looking forward to seeing what came next. Before we get in to the detail, one of the big themes across 8.12 was gambling, whether it was Katrina and Brian with their emotions (just no, but I’ll get to that!), Donna with her heart, or Louis and Harvey at the poker table. Some of those gambles paid off and some did not, but overall, this was a strong episode of Suits, which only served to remind me how, although no show can get everything right, I’ll truly miss this one once it comes to an end.

Right, enough of the negativity (well, until I get to THAT Katrina plot line). We have 14 episodes left after all. For the moment, let’s get in to the positives and this week, for me anyway, there were quite a few of them.

Valerie Weiss really knows how to shoot a great looking scene!

If I see that the director of an episode of this show is Valerie Weiss, I start to get excited and that’s simply because her visual taste is just so damn good. Remember that closing shot of Donna and Harvey so near, yet so far? Or the lovely Donna, Louis and a mug of mud moment? Of course you do and this week the tone was set from the very first shot, starting on Donna’s gorgeous shoes and soaring from there, through to the lovely shot of Harvey and Louis sharing that drink, to Donna’s glow throughout. Hurry back Valerie! You’re welcome any time!

Donna takes a risk on love and I am thrilled! 

We knew this was coming for months, but tonight we finally got to see the blossoming of a new romance on the show and I know this statement won’t be popular but, I loved it. I don’t think we’ve ever seen Donna look as excited as we did this week, once she’d realised that Gretchen was right – there was nothing stopping her from dating this great guy, who wanted to take her out. She doesn’t work for him (sure, the firm does, but it works for countless clients), she’s not breaching any ethics (can you hear me, Paula??!) and it’s about damn time we saw her smile like that. Sure, I would have liked Donna and Harvey together long ago (well, more specifically in 7.16), but they aren’t and for the moment, I’m all in for Donna taking us along for the ride as she has some fun!

And let’s face it, Thomas Kessler is a GREAT guy! He’s clearly smart, successful, charming without being sleazy, funny and already seems to have worked out who Donna is and what she needs. The moment he showed he was two steps ahead (like she usually is), having made reservations was a lovely touch – it wasn’t “Hey, I knew you were in to me, so I obviously made plans.” Instead it was “I was hoping you’d change your mind and I think it’s time someone put in the effort for you for a change.” Not only was it pretty sexy, it was also exactly what Donna needed and the tone of her voice as she answered that he was right said it all. This is a woman who’s realising that life is not long (no matter what Harvey thinks), that she’s not getting any younger and that it’s time to put in the effort in to herself and her life. After watching Donna taking care of everyone else’s lives for years, it was about time!

Plus, it can’t be denied that it seemed to be a damn lovely date. I’ve been on some crappy ones and the good ones stand out; where the conversation is easy, where you have things in common and can joke with each other without fear of offending, or being too familiar. Thomas seemed to have done his homework on Donna too and she seemed somehow younger and a little shy, or perhaps thrown by her feelings. A man who knows about theatre – now there’s a keeper (well, for the moment. We have an endgame to get to don’t forget).

Is it moving pretty damn fast? Yes, but they aren’t in their 20s, or even 30s, where perhaps playing the game is part of the fun for some people. They are older and know what they want and I loved Thomas’s direct approach about wanting to lay his cards on the table about his feelings (take note, Harvey) and that last scene truly made me smile. Is he being set up as too perfect? The perfect juxtaposition to a certain poker player with so many complicated flaws? I’d still go all in and say yes, but for now, I’m going to enjoy this storyline. It’s something new and it’s giving us a chance to see Donna in a new situation and that’s fine by me.

Harvey & Louis work out their issues over poker & prunies!

First it was couples therapy and now Harvey is enjoying a nice cold (caffeine free?!) prunie with Louis?! What on earth is happening?! Harvey  and Louis’s complex relationship has always been a highlight of Suits for me, but I’ve always enjoyed them most when they are on the same team, as friends and colleagues. It’s a genuinely lovely dynamic and 8.12 showcased it perfectly.

We started off seeing Louis call a truce after the strains of last week and offering the olive branch to Harvey in the best way possible – by giving him permission to do what Harvey does best (well…..until he messes it up….). We then had the inevitable rivalry, leading to the clashing of egos, followed by them making up. Honestly, as Dr Lipschitz pointed out, this is a relationship and like any other, it needs to be worked on! The poker scenes were great fun, especially once Harvey decided he really didn’t give a toss about landing the client (he seemed a bit dull anyway) and gave beating Louis his full attention.

Was he a douchebag to Louis (or as Louis put it “an equal opportunity asshole”)? Was it reminiscent of the Harvey of early years, bullying him to boost his own ego? Yes on both counts, but what was different and highlights just how much they’ve both changed was that, after a kick up the ass (I’ll get to Queen Gretchen), they could move forward. Harvey actually apologised (I’m still waiting for him to do the same to Donna, but I’ll take what I can) and so did Louis and hearing them each acknowledge what a brilliant lawyer the other was, was a genuinely lovely moment. And over a prunie no less. Last week popcorn with Robert, this week prunies with Louis. What’s next Harvey? Going with Gretchen to her weekly mahjong game (actually, that would be hilarious)?! You know you could have been going home with Donna by now…..right?! In the meantime, I hope this brotherly relationship continues.

All hail Queen Gretchen! 

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I love Gretchen! I loved her from the minute Aloma Wright appeared in season five. You just knew she was going to be fantastic and Whale Hunt was one of my favourite episodes for her so far. Not only did she encourage Donna to put herself first for a change and leave the children to fight, while she got her freak on, but she kicked Harvey’s ass! It’s true, she’s a better match for Louis when it comes to who she works for, but I admit I’ve missed her interactions with Harvey from season five and seeing her hand him his ass in his own office, while also managing to drop in to conversation that Donna was off enjoying herself (I wonder why they did that……*cough* Darvey endgame *cough*), was glorious! Who didn’t love the visual of adult Louis and Harvey in bunk beds?! Don’t you dare retire any time soon, Gretchen!

Alex & Samantha are actually getting along and it’s a surprisingly enjoyable! 

I’ve made no secret of the fact that the “Whose name is going up on the wall” rivalry plot line drove me mad and so finally seeing Alex and Samantha getting along was rather refreshing. Will I ever care about them the same way as I care about Donna, Harvey and Louis? No, but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in them and this week made a change from the shouting and aggression of 8A. It was also fun to see Alex caught in the middle between two confident, successful career women! His trepidation about getting caught in the cross fire made me like him more. He knows how good they both are, respects their ambition and wants to get the hell out of the way! No thinking he’s better than them, no presumption that he can resolve their issues for them because he’s a man. He respected them enough to let them get on with it! Bravo Alex!

Gambling with Katrina’s character is NOT good entertainment

……..Then we come to the storyline negatives and they all revolve around one horrible gamble, which ended in total disaster and that’s Katrina taking a chance on being able to work with Brian without complications. You should have cashed in your chips and gone home before it was too late Katrina………

I really really don’t like this storyline.

It was one of the points on my fears list for 8B before the series returned. Katrina is a wonderful character and Amanda Schull has always played her brilliantly, right from the start when she was the bitchy associate putting down the mighty Rachel Zane! So far season 8 was doing some if its best work when it came to Katrina – seeing her struggle with the pressure of being a woman wanting to climb the ladder in what remains a man’s arena, hearing her painfully voice her confusion about the aspects of her life that may still be lacking and seeing her navigate new ground by actually making a friend. There is so much they could be exploring with her, but what do they choose? Another storyline around potential cheating and infidelity! Come on! Enough already. We get it. Everyone in this show has to have a cheating story, but NOT Katrina and Brian. Plus, just when I didn’t think my stomach could turn more after the perfume sniffing scene, we then had the almost kiss while he’s holding the baby he’s recently had with another woman?! NO NO NO!! To be honest, it’s just as offensive as the therapist dating her patient story decision.

I’m not sure what the point of this is, but enough already. You’re ruining two lovely characters. Stop it!

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So, that’s it for another week. What’s on the horizon in 8.13, entitled “The Greater Good”? It seems Stu is in trouble with the SEC following the questionable actions he did to help Harvey / the firm in season 7 and Sean Cahill is either going to turn a blind eye, or bring even more trouble. Oh and then I’m guessing we’ll have Donna arriving late for work after her night and Harvey’s life will get a whole lot more painful! One thing about Suits – it’s never dull! You can watch the promo here: https://youtu.be/lsaoTvTfiZw

See you next week!

Suits season 8 continues next week on Wednesday night on USA Network in the US and on Thursday in the UK via Netflix.

(Photos: USA Network/Suits USA)

 

Television Review – The gang is back! Suits 8.11 “Rocky 8”

Welcome back to the crazy world of Suits folks! When season 8 arrived last year, I wondered whether the show would adapt to the changes that would inevitably be needed, following the departures of Mike and Rachel and I was pleasantly surprised that, overall, 8A was quite a decent run. So, where did we leave things last September? Robert Zane had been considering that life was short, Harvey seemed to think life was long, Donna & Harvey’s relationship went from one extreme to the other and Louis became Managing Partner!

And so begins the reign of Louis Litt and what a fun start it was! Overall, I found 8.11 (despite its rather ridiculous title) to be a fun, light, promising start to these back six episodes of season 8. With the news that season 9 will sadly be the last (and a shortened ten-episode season too), it was bittersweet to sit down and enjoy the start to this run, knowing there’s not long left. I’ll miss this show when it’s gone.

Anyway, back to the present!

Louis takes the reigns of the firm and of Harvey…….!

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Ahhh Louis, I do love you! Rick Hoffman deserves a lot of credit for this fabulous character, who we’ve seen experience every possible emotion and to see him dancing his way around the newly-named (enough with the name changes, guys) Zane, Specter, Litt, Wheeler, Williams was a lot of fun. Yes, it’s bonkers and totally unrealistic (I’ve certainly never seen any law firm partners behaving this way!), but the early days of Suits always had a balance of silly and serious and I’ve felt that’s been lost in recent years. No, Jessica wouldn’t act that way, but Louis isn’t Jessica. He’s always been simply himself and it was an entertaining start and just when I thought I wouldn’t laugh more, there was the scene between Louis and Harvey! I needed a good laugh and that interaction certainly delivered! Gabriel Macht doesn’t have many opportunities in this role to showcase his comedic side and scenes like this one are a refreshing change to Harvey’s usual deadpan mood. I’m astonished he was able to keep a straight face (oh to see the outtakes)!

It wasn’t all fun and frolics though, as we also saw the difficulties that come with being at the top, difficulties that Harvey never enjoyed when he was in the hot seat. Caught between being in charge and not wanting to rock the boat, Louis tries to dodge his responsibilities as leader, leaving everyone to their own devices. It’s understandable, but couldn’t last and it’s Donna who has to act, this time as a sledgehammer instead of velvet glove when letting Louis know he’s doing a poor job. I may not have liked her approach (more on Donna later), but the message was accurate. Sometimes you can’t lead and be everyone’s best friend. It’ll be interesting to see how Louis fares for the rest of 8B. Personally, I hope he shines. He’s earned it!

Has Harvey finally found his place again?

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You couldn’t help but notice in 8A that Harvey Specter had lost his mojo. He seemed adrift in the place he’s been most at home for years. The loss of Mike, on top of Jessica’s earlier departure, the end of his attempt at a relationship (wrong woman Harvey) and the destabilising effect of his brother’s marital breakdown all combined to see Harvey lost and unhappy. I didn’t really like it at all and one of the highlights of 8.11 for me was seeing Harvey getting back in the ring (literally too, which should really happen weekly). Having  the case be about boxing, one of his passions, was a smart move as it allowed him to truly have fun while also trying to bring Andrew Malik down, as payback for him ruining Jessica’s reputation (although, PSL’s press release didn’t help with that either, Harvey….). Without Mike by his side, it was time for him to team up with Robert Zane and their bromance continues to flourish. First burgers, then drinks, now popcorn and a movie at Harvey’s place? Surely, there’s someone else you’d rather be spending this much personal time with Harvey???? Come on now! Talk some sense in to the man, Robert, I beg you!

Katrina stops letting people push her around! 

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I knew that Katrina helping Alex defeat Samantha in 8.10 would come back to bite her! Thankfully though, it seems a persistent feud between two women is off the table, with Katrina standing up to Samantha’s bullying tactics, with a little help from Donna. Not every lawyer wants to walk the thin line between legal and illegal, Samantha! It wasn’t only Ms Wheeler who met the new Katrina either, as she also made clear to Alex that she would never be put in that position again. Well done, Katrina. She continues to grow in this show and I love it.

It’s ladies night (can I come?!)

 

I had been a little worried that 8.11 would see bitchy women in the workplace, but thankfully the conflicts between Samantha and Katrina were resolved by the end of the hour and just in time for cocktail hour for the ladies of the firm. I’m just sorry we couldn’t watch them out on the town!

Alex and Samantha’s annoying rivalry is over (well, for now at least)

Thank God! The “whose name is going on the wall” plot line is at an end! That really did drag on, didn’t it? This opener marked a new start for the firm’s two newest named partners and their first scene of 8B was one of the episode’s highlights for me. Their competitiveness was still there, but in a fun way, while at the same time, it highlighted the difficulties both women and those from a minority background face when trying to rise in to positions of power. More of these two working together please!

Welcome to the madness, Thomas Kessler!

 

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We’ve known for quite a while that 8B would also see the introduction of a new love interest for Donna and 8.11 saw the introduction of the man himself, one of Louis’s oldest clients, Thomas Kessler and the inclusion of this man has certainly caused much fiery debate in the Suits fandom. My first thoughts? I think he’s great! Confident, without being arrogant (it’s not attractive, guys, trust me), witty, charming and seemingly a decent man too! Should he have backed off as soon as she turned him down? Not necessarily. It was immediately obvious she found him attractive (you couldn’t miss her expression when she first saw him) and she readily admitted that she would have said yes to a date if there was no connection to the firm, so his advances weren’t unwelcome (far from it), just unworkable for her (for now anyway – we’ll have to see what changes her mind). Plus, I liked that he was clear about feelings – he’s interested and he’d like her to reconsider, but won’t push again if she still says no. That’s fair. He should give Harvey and Donna lessons in expressing themselves!

 

Do I wish Donna and Harvey had danced off in to their future in the season seven finale, rather than the writers opting for the most obvious Darvey dodge? Of course, but I’ve moved past it for the sake of my sanity! I’ve already set out my thoughts on Darvey separately for anyone interested, but the short version – I believe we’ll get there by the end and this new relationship for Donna might be exactly what they both need to finally come together. In the meantime, I’m all for Donna having some fun with a decent guy. They’re both adults. She isn’t his lawyer, so she isn’t working for him (sure, she’s COO of the firm, but she’s not the one who’ll be providing him the services he’s paying the firm to deliver), so why not? Maybe it’ll make Harvey think twice about focussing all his energy on convincing Robert Zane to come round to Netflix and chill!

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It would be impossible to not have some grumbles when watching any hour of television (well, unless it’s season 2 of The West Wing perhaps) and 8.11 did throw up some areas that I didn’t particularly like and as much as I hate to say it, they all related to Donna and Darvey……

Enough of the out of character Darvey & Donna moments!

Let’s start with the obvious – I love the character of Donna Paulsen and Sarah Rafferty’s performance is always fantastic. However, the aspects of 8.11 that I found myself grumbling about all revolved around our favourite redhead.

First, we had her waiting for Harvey at reception. For two hours? Really? How does that work? She brought him coffee, found he wasn’t in, so waited by the entrance for him to arrive, or does she have security in the lobby call her when he’s in the elevators and she comes hurrying out to meet him? Either way, it just seemed strange to see her waiting there, with cold coffee. Then him asking her to help him by reheating his coffee?! What on earth was that about? That’s not Darvey. That was never Darvey! Their relationship was all over the place in 8A and this scene just added to the strangeness. Perhaps this was to juxtapose her interaction with Harvey, with her flirty banter with Mr Kessler? This week it’s cold coffee, Harvey, soon it’ll be an emotional bucket of ice when you see her with Mr Smooth……

As for her banter with Thomas, as I’ve already said, I like him and I liked the freshness he’s bringing to the show. I could focus on being disappointed about Darvey, but the truth is, for me the scenes between Donna and Kessler had a freshness to them that was very welcome. We’ve hardly ever seen Donna flirty with anyone else and now she’s feeling more confident in her new role, it was fun to watch her showcase how great she is at it, while also allowing herself to flirt with a man who she knows immediately is attracted to her. Donna has always known she’s a desirable woman and I’m all for her enjoying that. My one complaint in all of this – calling a client “stupid” was just, well, stupid. Sure they were exchanging banter in his office and he was clearly enjoying it, but answering the phone to him later with “Hello stupid” was unprofessional and out of character for Donna. It was more a line to say to your husband. She knows he isn’t Harvey, right?

Finally there were her harsh words to Louis. Yes, he was doing a bad job and yes he needed to be told, but I think the Donna from a few years ago would have handled that much better. I see what they’re doing, throwing in that obvious parallel to Harvey’s crass comment to her in 8A about putting her in her job and I did like that she had enough self awareness to recognise she crossed a line in her approach with Louis, apologising to him in the way I’m guessing she’d like Harvey to apologise to her, but it did make me worry a little about the Donna we’re going to see for the next five weeks. Successful women don’t need to be hard, Suits writers. Let’s not reinforce that misconception through one of my favourite characters.

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So, all in all, I thought this was a strong start to this all too short run. With so many familiar faces returning over the next few weeks, there’s clearly going to be a bumpy road ahead and what will Donna’s love life do to Harvey. Everything? Nothing at all? Who knows at this point with these two idiots, but I’m excited to find out!

Suits continues next week, with episode 8.12 “Whale Hunt” on Wednesday night on USA Network in the US and on Thursday via Netflix in the UK. You can watch the promo here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmpQ1to9qY8

(Photos via: Suits / USA Network)

Theatre to See in 2019 (in London & Beyond)!

Having looked back on my favourite theatre productions of 2018 and a little later than I planned (sorry about that!), I’m taking a look at some of the exciting theatre already announced for 2019. It’s worth bearing in mind that at this time of year, we still don’t know what shows will be arriving in many theatres in the back half of the year, but there are already a number of productions on the horizon that should be on your radar. I also admit that my list is always weighted towards London, as it’s my base, but I’m always keeping an eye on regional theatres and have included some I’m planning to see within this list (as well as a few NYC highlights).

So, here’s my snapshot of 19 shows I’m excited to see in theatreland in 2019!

1. All About Eve (Noel Coward Theatre, 2nd Feb – 27th April)

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Top of the list for 2019 for me is All About Eve, which moves in to the Noel Coward Theatre next month. There are a number of reasons I’ve been looking forward to this production. First and foremost, I’m a huge Gillian Anderson fan and having seen her in A Doll’s House and A Streetcar Named Desire (both here and in NYC), it’ll be thrilling to see her on stage once again. Throw in to the mix the director, Ivo van Hove, whose work I always find thrilling and I’m counting the days until my first visit.

2. Death of a Salesman (Young Vic, 1st May – 29th June)

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Arthur Miller seems to be the trendy choice in London theatres this year, with a couple on this list as well, but I’m probably most excited about the Young Vic’s new production of Death of a Salesman, an Arthur Miller classic that I confess I’ve never seen. Director Marianne Elliott’s work is always superb (from Curious Incident, to Angels in America and rewriting Sondheim for the new production of Company), plus the cast includes Wendell Pierce (which is exciting for me as a Suits fan) and Sharon D. Clarke (who is certainly having a busy theatre year; more from her later). The Young Vic is producing such brilliant work at the moment, that I’m sure this will be another hit.

3. All My Sons (Old Vic, 15th April – 8th June)

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The Arthur Miller continues just down the road at the Old Vic, which has assembled an impressive cast for London’s latest production of All My Sons, which includes Sally Field, Bill Pullman, Colin Morgan and Jenna Coleman. I always enjoy this play (the David Suchet one from 2010 my current favourite), so it’ll be fun to see how this one compares. If you’re hoping to pick up a cheaper ticket for this, then register for emails about the PwC previews, which will go on sale five weeks before the show starts, offering £12 tickets for the first few previews.

4. Three Sisters (Almeida, 8th April – 1st June)

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The Almeida is another one of my favourite theatres right now and I’m incredibly excited that the dream team of director Rebecca Frecknall and actress Patsy Ferran are back together again for their new production of Chekhov’s play, following the superb Summer & Smoke (which finishes on Saturday, so you still have a couple of days to see it).

5. Grief Is The Thing With Feathers (Barbican, 25th March – 13th April)

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There’s always something I was intending to book and then forget, only to find myself hoping for returns, or day seats later and on this list that award goes to Grief is The Thing With Feathers. I’d been tempted to try and go and see this in Dublin last year, so I’m kicking myself that, for the moment, this is sold out for its Barbican run. Cillian Murphy is a fabulous actor and I’d suggest that, like me, you keep your eyes peeled for tickets for this.

6. Betrayal (Harold Pinter Theatre, 5th March – 1st June)

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I admit, I’m not a huge lover of Pinter, but I actually rather enjoy Betrayal and having enjoyed his performance in Coriolanus at the Donmar, I’m looking forward to seeing Tom Hiddleston back on stage again (no, I don’t count the RADA Hamlet that was near impossible to get tickets for!) and directed by Jamie Llloyd. This will hopefully be a strong end to the current Pinter at the Pinter season.

7. Dear Evan Hansen (Noel Coward Theatre, TBC)

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Dear Evan Hansen was one musical I’d heard so much about and in 2016 I was fortunate to see it twice in NYC. It’s an emotional story, with a powerful message that no matter how low you feel, you’re never truly alone, if you reach out for support and I’m thrilled it’s finally making its way across the Atlantic. I’m sure the British cast will be fantastic and the musical’s message is universal, but I admit, as someone who saw Ben Platt in the lead role, I find it difficult to picture anyone else in the role of Evan.

8. Emilia (Garrick Theatre, 8th March – 15th June)

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Emilia was another production that I missed during its first run at Shakespeare’s Globe which, thanks to a West End transfer, I now get to enjoy. Everyone I know who saw this story about Elizabethan poet, Emilia Bassano, (who I confess I knew very little about before this play arrived in 2018), loved it. Bassano wrote the first published work of poetry by an Englishwoman and is rumoured to be the Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets, yet her life is just as fascinating and worthy of exploration and attention. I certainly won’t be missing out on this show again!

9. Blues In The Night (Kiln, 18th July – 7th September)

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Currently wowing audiences at the Playhouse in Caroline Or Change, Sharon D. Clarke is heading back to North West London (having opened Caroline Or Change at the Hampstead Theatre last spring), to the Kiln (formerly Tricycle) Theatre later in the year, to star in this revival of Sheldon Epps’ musical, which was last seen in London 30 years ago. This is after she’s stopped by the Young Vic for a previous entry on this list, so she’s certainly keeping busy! She has an incredible voice and the Kiln continues to be a wonderful venue following completion of its transformation work, so this should be a treat for the summer.

10. When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other (National Theatre – Dorfman, 16th January – 2nd March)

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I have mixed feelings about this entry. It’s absolutely one of the most talked about productions of 2019, which caused a great amount of grumbling when tickets were only available by ballot. The combination of Martin Crimp, Katie Mitchell and Cate Blanchett is intriguing though and having been lucky in the ballot, I’ll be seeing what all the fuss is about next week. A limited number of day seats are available from the National each day.

11. Dear Elizabeth (Gate Theatre, 17th January – 9th February)

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This new play by US playwright Sarah Ruhl, whose In the Next Room (or “The Vibrator Play”) I saw a few years ago, has just started its run at Notting Hill’s Gate Theatre. The play will tell the story of poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, who exchanged regular letters for decades. The production is also choosing to switch its cast, with two different actors taking on the play each performance. The list includes some brilliant talent including Alex Jennings, Jonjo O’Neil and Tamsin Greig.

12. A Very Expensive Poison (Old Vic, TBC)

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No clear dates yet, but this forthcoming new play already sounds very promising and is certainly addressing current global tensions. It’s written by Lucy Prebble, whose wonderful work includes The Effect and ENRON and is set to tackle the story of the death of Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko. This is certainly one to keep an eye on for further details.

13. Come From Away (Phoenix Theatre, from 30th January)

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Another Broadway musical opening shortly in London is Come From Away, which I thoroughly enjoyed a couple of years ago in NYC. Through just 90 minutes, it tells the heartwarming story of the community of Gander in Newfoundland, Canada which, on 11th September 2001, found itself the temporary home of thousands of stranded airline passengers. The link to 9/11 may make you think twice about booking, but it’s a lovely show, that reminds us of the goodness we are capable of, which is these crazy times, is something everyone needs to be reminded about.

14. Mother Courage and Her Children (Manchester Royal Exchange, 8th February – 2nd March)

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Manchester’s Royal Exchange is collaborating with the theatre company Headlong for this new adaptation of Brecht’s work, which will see Julie Hesmondhalgh taking on the role of Courage. The website suggests that this production will bring the story “bang up to date” and I’m intrigued to see exactly what they have in mind.

15. Standing At The Sky’s Edge (Crucible, Sheffield, 15th March – 6th April)

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I’m a huge fan of Sheffield Theatres, which continues to produce some fantastic shows and the one I’m most looking forward to from its upcoming season is Standing At The Sky’s Edge, which is a new musical about Sheffield itself, telling the story of the residents of Park Hill flats over 50 years (Doctor Who fans will recognise the buildings from the latest season too). Having grown up in the city, it’ll be fun to see a musical all about the lives of people in Sheffield!

16. Peter Gynt (National Theatre – Olivier, 27th June – 8th October)

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Further details of this production have been released today, but this is a show that I’ve been looking forward to for a while. No, I haven’t seen Peer Gynt before, but I have seen James McCardle on stage a number of times and he’s such a superb actor that I’ll see him in anything and this will see him take on one of Ibsen’s most famous characters in a new “radical” adaptation by David Hare. I imagine I’ll be seeing this one more than once!

17. Barber Shop Chronicles (Tour – multiple venues, 12th March – 25th August)

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The Barber Shop Chronicles is another show that I was stupid enough to miss during both its runs at the National Theatre (I know, I know, I’m rubbish), but this regional tour will mean others, as well as me, will be able to see this story about a group of African men, gathering and exchanging stories in barber shops in six different cities across the world. The tour will visit Manchester, Leicester, Bristol, Sheffield and London’s Roundhouse.

18. Richard III (Tour – multiple venues, 1st March – 25th May)

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Theatre company Headlong will be bringing their new production of Shakespeare’s Richard III to multiple venues this year. I’m a big fan of the work of Headlong, as they tend to find original ways of telling classic stories. In addition, this production is also stopping at the newly restored theatre at Alexandra Palace, which is a venue I’ve been waiting to be finished. It’ll be thrilling to step foot in the space, now it’s been restored to its former Victorian glory. The play will visit Bristol, Northampton, Cambridge, Manchester, Oxford and will finish at Alexandra Palace.

19. The Color Purple (Curve Theatre, Leicester, 28th June – 13th July & Birmingham Hippodrome, 16th July – 20th July)

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Having missed the original run of the Menier Chocolate Factory’s musical production of Alice Walker’s novel in 2013, I managed to catch it, including that superb performance by Cynthia Erivo, on Broadway and I loved it. I’ve always been surprised that a West End run didn’t happen and so it’s fantastic to see this musical will be making a return to the UK stage in Leicester and Birmingham in July.

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That’s already a promising list, with many more I could have included.

.…….And I haven’t even mentioned New York, although the first ones that spring to mind across the pond are:

(1) To Kill A Mockingbird, adapted for stage by Aaron “The West Wing” Sorkin, which continues its successful run until November;

(2) Ben Whishaw & Renee Fleming in Norma Jeane Baker of Troy, at new arts venue The Shed;

(3) Oklahoma at The Circle in the Square, which I’ve only heard good things about, following its run last year at Brooklyn’s St Ann’s Warehouse; and

(4) Hilary and Clinton, in which Laurie Metcalf and Nigel Lithgow, explore the dynamics of a certain political couple during 2008’s Presidential Primaries.

There’s also of course the transfer of the Almeida’s superb Ink, which I loved and of course, surely it’s only a matter of time before the incredible The Inheritance makes it way across to NYC?! If it does, I’ll certainly be following it (queue for day seats this Saturday for its final day in London if you can. You won’t regret it!).

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Excited yet? Hopefully there’s plenty on the stage this year to appeal to everyone. I’ll be getting back to reviewing more theatre in 2019, so keep an eye on the blog for my latest reviews!

 

Suits – The Challenge of Darvey

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I have been wanting to write more substantially on the subject of Donna and Harvey for a while now and as we wait for the show’s return later this month, it seemed to be the ideal time to reflect on the complicated, yet fascinating relationship of Donna Paulsen and Harvey Specter. No one can deny that the actors, especially together have strong chemistry. I’ll go as far as to say theirs is some of the best I’ve watched on TV. It’s one of the reasons I was pulled in to this show and the superb work Sarah Rafferty and Gabriel Macht bring to the screen together as these characters, continues to be one of the most fascinating aspects of Suits for me as a viewer and over the years, the question that has continued to be asked by fans is whether Harvey and Donna will ever become more than friends.

Where do we currently stand? After eight and a half seasons, it’s still the same Darvey question. To quote Donna’s much-loved Shakespeare – is it “To be or not to be”? It’s the question that also divides fans of the show.

Before I get in to the nitty gritty, I’ll be honest – I am a big supporter of Darvey. It’s the endgame I am hoping for and I will feel very disappointed were the show to end without them together.

That disclaimer aside, I’m also someone who, despite wanting them together, wants the circumstances in which that happens to be true to their characters and the narrative of their journey (apologies, I hate the word journey, but for once it seems a valid word to use on this occasion).

So, as we await the final six episodes of season 8, I wanted to take the opportunity to dig a little deeper in to the craziness of Darvey! I have no further insight in terms of the content of 8B. I don’t have access to screeners, writing my reviews after the show airs, so this post (as with all my Suits ramblings) is based purely on my personal opinions and speculation.

So…….let’s start at the beginning…………

The Story So Far & Why We’re Still Waiting

We’ve come a long way haven’t we, Darvey fans? Some days it feels like an eternity with very little progress, but looking back, there has been movement in the right direction and all signs still point to the answer to this will they / won’t they being yes. Let’s face it, the signs have always been there. Had they not been, we’d have all focussed on the show’s other couple, Mike and Rachel and saved ourselves the pain!

So, let’s think about what progress was essential in order for Darvey to happen, which does explain the need for a slow burn, well, up to a point anyway. For me, this falls in to two significant story points and I’ll take each one in turn.

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1. Harvey Wasn’t Ready

The first key element was the emotional development of Harvey Specter. Let’s face it, he’s the focal point of Suits. Yes, it was about him hiring a fraud and their bromance, but I always felt (and continue to think) that Harvey is at the show’s centre.

When we first met him he was confident professionally, but he was also emotionally closed off to most of the world, hurt and angry about his mother’s betrayals, resulting in him trusting very few people. Not all of that has changed. He’s still not going to trust everyone he meets after five minutes and we won’t be seeing him dancing along the corridors of the firm, without a worry in the world, but he has grown emotionally and he had to in order for Darvey to ever happen.

I remember an interview with Gabriel in which he recalled the creative team having to pull him back from changing Harvey too quickly, due to him having become used to working in film and when I watch Harvey now, I imagine this is who Gabriel was hoping he’d become.

Yes, he already had Donna in his life when season one began and this had no doubt been a key step in shaping him, together with Jessica’s arrival in his life, but as Donna admitted to Jessica early on, having to look out for Mike gave him someone else to care about, reforming the family bonds he’d let go of along the way. It opened him up and the more open to that brotherhood he was, the better a person he became. True, a lot of his “I don’t care about people” attitude early on was a front to some extent, but along the way, the front was seen less and less. Caring, it seemed, didn’t make him weak after all.

Harvey’s need to become more emotionally open was vital in order for him to ever be able to hold down any relationship, especially one with Donna. Look at his attempt to open up in 4.15 (one of the best episodes of this show) – he started off so well, but ended up making things so much more complicated through his inability to process his feelings and his fear of losing someone so important to him.

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Mike & Harvey’s friendship was so important to Harvey’s growth

As this episode and the cracks it caused in Donna and Harvey’s relationship highlighted, Mike’s arrival alone couldn’t solve all of Harvey’s emotional problems. It became clear to viewers, as well as those close to Harvey, that the scars and resentments he had carried through adulthood continued to affect his psyche and the only resolution was one that involved his mother. Healing that rift, or at the very least, letting go of his anger, was essential to the growth of Harvey Specter.

Do I wish they’d addressed this sooner than season 6? Absolutely yes, but at least when they did, it was written in a way that made sense. Harvey was floundering. His longstanding constant support system had shifted due to the loss of Jessica. Without a mother, or close family connections, she had become family and having her looking out for him gave him professional freedom, but also personal security too. She was there when he needed her. It therefore made perfect sense that her departure in 6.10 caused him to lose himself and lash out (poor Louis, always in the line of fire).

However, timing is everything and had he not already become a more emotionally open man through his relationships with Mike and Donna, this could simply have been another one of those angry Harvey phases, after which nothing changed and perhaps things may have got worse.

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The reconciliation that was a long time coming

I suppose I should also take a moment to acknowledge the role of therapy in his development. Harvey seeking therapy in season five was clearly a contributing factor in his progress, as this too opened up his hard shell and arguably without it, he may not have had the self-awareness to understand that Donna was right in saying it was time to deal with his mother. Let’s face it, in earlier seasons, any attempt to bring up his mother were shut down pretty swiftly. What is deeply frustrating, is that instead of building on what was a strong, important storyline in season five, which had been handled very well, the writers felt the best way to bring back his therapist would be as his love interest. I’ll never agree with that choice, but to the Paula Agard of season 5, I say thanks!

So, by the time we saw Harvey hugging his mother in 6.12, I cheered. Take season one Harvey and thanks to the effect of Jessica, Donna and Mike in particular and a dash of therapy, what we saw by the end of season 6 was a man who’d grown up. He was more emotionally aware, less angry and was not as terrified of being seen to care. For me, at this point, he was finally ready to give a real, mature and stable relationship a try.

Yet, although I would have loved Darvey to happen right then and it may be unpopular for me to say, the time still wasn’t right, which brings me to point number two…….

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2. Donna Wasn’t Ready

Sure, Harvey may have been finally written in to a place in his life where a romance wouldn’t have seemed out of character, but the truth is, Donna wasn’t ready for a relationship with him at that moment.

When we were first introduced to Donna she stood out, despite her small amount of screen time, due to the talent of Sarah Rafferty. She made the audience want to see more of Donna. It reminded me a lot of the increased role given to another Donna, played by Janel Moloney, in The West Wing and thankfully the Suits creator saw what we all saw.

I still love those early days of Donna and Harvey. They had only known each other a short time and they were more free with their affection. Their (then unknown, but hinted at, to the audience) past didn’t seem to weigh them down as it did later. He’d make a suggestive joke, she’d straighten his hair and clothes and they had fun together as a team. Mike entering their lives was as if a couple was testing the waters with a puppy before starting a family!

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The early Darvey days!

Crucially, Donna seemed happy with her place at the firm back then. She was working for the best closer in the city, had a stable job she excelled at and probably the best salary of any legal assistant too. Everyone knew Harvey, so everyone knew Donna and her skills and abilities supporting him from her place outside his office were never in doubt.

Yet, it made sense that this couldn’t go on forever and ironically, I’m again drawn back to a moment in The West Wing where that Donna’s position as an assistant (to a character most fans were hoping she’d end up with) is questioned by a colleague and friend who points out she’s outgrown it and is really only still there because of her boss, not the job. We all love Donna for many reasons and one is her ambition. She wants to be the best at what she does and ultimately, by season 4’s end we all knew she was (I’m overlooking the committing a crime for now).

I’ve also always disliked the cliche story of the boss dating the secretary. It is, for me, outdated and not the message that should be celebrated in the 21st century. Therefore, despite desperately wanting Darvey to happen, Harvey and Donna romantically involved while she continued to sit outside his office and answer his phone did not appeal to me at all and it limited what the writers could do with Donna in the show. Therefore, having her leave to work for Louis was fantastic! It gave them space professionally. With Harvey now in therapy too, the pieces could slowly start to come together. Perhaps the end was in sight……………

Then came Mike’s arrest and the focus, understandably, story-wise moved elsewhere. I get it, I do, despite my annoyance at the time and at least Donna’s awareness of her need to progress in her career was returned to once Mike was out of trouble. Yes, “The Donna” was a bit cheesy (although I wouldn’t say no to its return), but it served a narrative purpose. The itchy feet she’d felt and put on ice, that had only been fuelled by Harvey’s inability back then to express himself emotionally to her, were back and she could see that her current role was no longer enough. I strongly agreed with this narrative choice. Someone as ambitious and driven as Donna would absolutely be looking to spread her wings. Plus, if she wasn’t working for Harvey anymore, well then that was one less obstacle in the way of a romance!

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Donna searching for more in 6.16

The end of season six left the Darvey question wide open. What was her “more”? Would they face their feelings (don’t forget we’d already seen Harvey’s dream of their blissful morning not too long ago by now)? What was Harvey thinking in that moment of honesty and vulnerability from Donna, especially this new more emotionally open Harvey and not the one from years gone by?

Season seven had the potential to bring the final pieces together; Donna to find a role that gave her the same satisfaction and fulfilment she’d had in earlier years and become an equal to Harvey professionally and Harvey to finally allow himself to love and be loved by the woman he’d even described to his mother as being someone very special to him and not run from it.

And this ladies and gentleman, is where I get frustrated!

The Season 7 Cruelty! 

Up to this point in Suits, I’d been able to appreciate the Darvey story arcs and rationalise why the slow burn torture was continuing. I was a hard-core X-Files fan after all, this is not my first time dealing with this nightmare and I could at least see reasons why it made sense that it had taken this long to get these two characters to this point! I won’t linger too much on season seven, mainly as it’ll make me want to throw my notepad across the room, but I couldn’t delve in to the challenge of Darvey without addressing the season where I lost faith (for a while) in the Darvey narrative.

By my own reasoning, Donna still wasn’t ready for a relationship with Harvey when we started this season; she had other aspects of her life to focus on, so opening 7.01 with them in bed would have felt a bit odd story-wise. Yet, as I’ve already said, Harvey, thanks to his new-found family ties, seemed ready to build a relationship, so I was open to him exploring that in the meantime. The problems for me were the timing and the choice of Paula Agard as that someone (no not his someone special, that position is filled remember)!

I still honestly cannot believe 7.01 happened and I shudder at the very memory of those ridiculous lines of dialogue, whereby Harvey recounts all his emotional progress and that Paula was the first person he thought of to share his life with! Come on now. I know the man is a bit slow in the emotional uptake, but that was just insane! All that progress and at the first sign of Donna leaving him, or wanting more in some way still unclear to him and he ran LITERALLY OVERNIGHT to his therapist FOR A DATE?! The horror of it!

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Donna & Harvey summed up in one shot

Looking back now, I can see what the writers were trying to achieve – have Harvey get serious with someone and watch the effect on Donna and their relationship. My problem (besides the ethical choice of his therapist, former or not, in his bed) was that he was arguably in the right place to start that with anyone. The need for her to be someone he’d already opened up to just seemed lazy to me and the same goal could have been achieved through the introduction of a former flame we’d never met.

Unless of course, it had to be with a character with whom a relationship was destined to fail, due to how ludicrous it was…………Surely there’s only one reason why that would be crucial………But I see what I want to see apparently……

Overlooking the identity of the woman and the fact it happened the very next day after 6.16 and the storyline did make sense for Darvey log term. They both weren’t ready at that time, so why not let Harvey show Donna that he’s now a man who isn’t running from a serious commitment (well perhaps with her, but not with someone else)? The fact Donna gained a new role out from the shadow of his desk by early season 7 also meant that having her finally start to, perhaps unwillingly, acknowledge her feelings for Harvey made sense too.

I could spend hours discussing my dislike of how quickly Donna’s career change was  dealt with (which, in my view, diminished the logic and satisfaction of the change) and how I still think there were more suitable and indeed credible roles for her (Head of Personnel, or even working somewhere else), but I’ll move on.

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It was inevitable

Despite, the narrative veering off of course in 7.01 and 7.02, by the time we reached that kiss at the end of 7.10, it felt like the natural next step. Harvey was actually giving love a serious shot. That’s great, except him being oblivious to the fact he was dating the nearest copy he could find to Donna (in terms of her connection to him, that is).

Donna meanwhile was setting out on a new career path, giving her a renewed sense of purpose. With that ticked off, all there was for her to focus on was what was still missing – love, and seeing Harvey seemingly finding it with Paula was understandably confusing for her, especially when the reappearance of Mark perhaps raised truths about her feelings for Harvey that she’d buried years ago. No, I don’t think she’s been pining for him for over a decade, but I do think there’s been that niggle of hope buried deep down, which every so often has scratched the surface of her heart. After all, she admitted to Rachel that she’d wanted to try all those years ago, so she’d clearly developed feelings for him while at the DA’s office and we didn’t imagine her comment to Louis about losing the love of your life twice in 7.08! Hmmm, that’s Mark and……..I wonder who else?

They’re not young and carefree anymore either and although NOT ideal to kiss someone seeing another woman, Donna’s spur of the moment action made perfect sense for her character in that moment. After all that she’d been thinking about, to then have Mike and Louis mess with her mind too, well, it was inevitable. The question then was would this be it, the moment we’d all been waiting for, or would the writers chicken out?

We sadly all know the answer………

The Darvey Delaying Tactics Really Begin

It’s talked about quite a lot amongst fans that the writers keep finding excuses not to put Donna and Harvey together romantically. I agree that this is true, but my problem with it is that up until recently I thought it could be justified by the narrative, due to the points I’ve mentioned. There was a point, however, when the writers’ reluctance to go down this path seemed frustratingly clear and that point for me was the end of season seven.

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7B gave us some superb angst!

Personally, I loved 7.11 – 7.15. This run of 7B contained two of the strongest episodes of the series in general for me (7.11 and 7.13) and the added Darvey factor was a bonus added to already strong episodes. Yet, what makes this period of the show so frustrating for fans hoping for a Darvey ending is that even cynical fans like me, who’ve suffered through such shipping hells before, started to think this was it. The final countdown!

What was in their way?! Harvey was a better man, Donna was now his professional equal in the eyes of the wider world, there was no Mike drama to distract them and the show’s only couple was leaving. Add to that Harvey giving up his relationship for Donna, before even knowing if she’d come back, the reminder of his “someone special” chat with his mother and it all felt right, not just from a potentially biased fan’s perspective, but from a narrative one too! Hell, we even had Scottie pointlessly brought back to effectively hit Harvey over the head with the fact that he’ll never make a relationship work because of his feelings for Donna! We may all “see what we want to see” but there’s no other way to see that scene!

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The Season seven finale had so much potential

Yet, despite gazing across the aisle at each other, after walking down it arm in arm and dancing cheek to cheek, season seven ended with no real progress. Sure, the arguments that they are just friends are diminishing (who dances that close with their friend?!), but fans still saw nothing significant happen! I admit that I was very disappointed. I felt tricked. I’d moved from my cynical stance to an optimistic one and been stood up! The fact Mike and Rachel’s swan song also didn’t give them the goodbye they deserved was just the bitter icing on the already disappointing cake.

It was the right time for Darvey to be explored, alongside the other changes about to happen at the firm and not having the courage to let that storyline finally flourish will always seem a mistake to me.

…….which brings us to……….

Season 8 so far – Did the Darvey narrative lose its way?

I’m a realist most of the time and having seen the Darvey dodge so clearly at the end of 7B and with season eight, particularly the first half, effectively being a reset for the show, I’d begrudgingly accepted that Donna and Harvey becoming a couple was about as likely in 8A as Louis and Robert Zane hooking up!

I told myself that would be acceptable, provided the narrative path already walked by these characters held. No repeat of the horrors of 7.01 please! Images of the series starting with Harvey in bed with Esther had crossed my mind, but it seemed nuts. The Agard hell had served a purpose. His next relationship had to be with Donna. The end.

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Business as usual to start 8A

I know many dislike 8A and feel there wasn’t enough Darvey content after 7B’s promise. However, when it didn’t happen then, I wasn’t expecting miracles from 8A and I still enjoy watching Suits for multiple characters. An episode isn’t terrible for me just because Donna and Harvey don’t have scenes together. The new dynamics were fun, Samantha was a great addition and we were able to see how Mike’s absence truly affected Harvey, now he has a more well-rounded personality. Harvey caring about the cleaning staff? Season one Harvey would be shocked!

Therefore, for me, 8A started surprisingly well. As for Donna and Harvey? They were working together at times, but also separately and Donna was able to grow in confidence in her new role, while interestingly, Harvey struggled to deal with the new world order and his place. As he seemed to struggle, Donna seemed to thrive, which was an interesting shift to watch. They also seemed to be in a good place again and arguably they were both in the right place for a relationship with each other. At long last. Plus they were both single!

By 8.05, the flirting had even returned. We’d had jokes about pulling pigtails, stealing food, but then Harvey raised the stakes. Friends don’t think of each other when they’re alone like that, Harvey……..Actually friends don’t have kinky sexual histories to think about in the first place! Had I been wrong on the no Darvey development in 8A?! Had I reverted to being too cynical?!

And then came to the next glaring Darvey dodge by the writers…… Harvey’s brother’s marital breakdown.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved it as content. Domestic Harvey is a huge draw for me and Gabriel really nails those scenes. The episode even ended with Harvey acknowledging a weakness to Donna, but being okay about it. Hello character development! It was so satisfying to see and was a highlight of 8A in my opinion.

……and here comes the But!

However, what followed for the rest of the season from a Donna and Harvey perspective, for me anyway, was nothing more than a slamming on of the brakes, when the train had barely started to pick up speed.

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From one emotional extreme to the other in 8A

We went from the flirting and the sort of talk a married couple would have, to…….Harvey being a total douchebag. Yes, I’m talking about the moment when he threw in Donna’s face the she was only in her role because he put her there.

This was where the rush-job on Donna’s ascendency at the firm came back to bite the writers, as I suppose he was right – technically she is only COO because he agreed to it. It wasn’t a natural progression, as it would be from junior associate to partner, or senior partner to managing partner. It wasn’t a role she’d have likely been given elsewhere either, but the fact also remains that Harvey wouldn’t have given the COO role to her had she not asked for it! Had she not demanded more recognition for her contribution to the firm, he’d have never thought to move her from outside his office! That’s what made my blood start to boil at his words. He’s lucky she didn’t slap him and although COO is still the wrong choice in my view, Donna had earned a career step up. Plus, there was nowhere else to really take her character if she stayed where she was and as Sarah Rafferty has said herself, in the world we’re in, we must be championing women in positions of power and value their contributions.

For all of those reasons, I was infuriated by the way the writers now seemed to be writing Harvey. He’d come so far and this comment felt more like season 3 / 4 Harvey than the man he’d seemed to become since then and the whole story strand felt shoe-horned in to find a way to push them back apart. With no real obstacles int he way of Darvey, having him act in a way that, at this point in the narrative, felt so out of character, screamed cowardice to me. Sure, he’s frustrated at all the change and feeling unsure of his place, but disrespecting Donna in that way? That’s not the Harvey we’d seen after 6.13 and it infuriated me!

Now I’m all for angst. I love angst, so I’m not against that at all. Had the writing team chosen to pursue this storyline choice in earnest for the rest of 8A, having Darvey griping at each other, building to fireworks, or setting the scene for an emotional showdown in 8B, I’d have been thrilled! I thought that was what they were doing. We saw a shift from the flirting and innuendo, to Harvey lashing out due to his own struggles to deal with his place in the new firm and Donna carrying anger and resentment as a result, perhaps added to the pain she had already recently suffered when he asked Stu to offer her that job. Sure, he ultimately chose her, but I bet that action still cut deep down. That had to be what they were thinking……..

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A confusing way to end 8A

Yet, what really drove me mad was that this tension seemed to be dropped by the mid-season finale. Donna’s anger wasn’t addressed and we didn’t see much interaction between them after that argument. That makes sense if you’re giving space to let those resentments (and the confused feelings never properly dealt with by these two EVER) build up to something.

Yet, how did 8.10 end? Donna and Harvey arm in arm, off for drinks, while she calls him pretty?! Really?! Had 8.05 been the mid-season closer then sure, but it wasn’t! Since then Darvey had not been in a buddy buddy place at all and that whole last scene felt tacked on as a carrot to Darvey fans. It was totally wrong based on the narrative we’d been watching develop over 8A.

…….which leaves me to the future………

8B – Will they? Won’t they? This needs to be the time to move this storyline forward

I’ve already posted my hopes (and fears) for season 8B in a separate post, but when it comes to Darvey, it’s hard to know what will happen.

We know Donna’s going to start a new relationship with Thomas Kessler. Absurdly, having dodged the two biggest natural points to put Harvey and Donna together so far, this storyline isn’t a strange choice. In fact I’m rather pleased about it.

Am I crazy? Maybe, but although I do think Harvey is emotionally ready for a relationship with Donna (even if he doesn’t realise it yet), having missed the 7.16 boat and after Harvey’s crass, disrespectful comments about her career, he’s now got work to do to make it up to Donna. Say sorry and mean it, Harvey. You are the man who can do that now.

Also, let’s not forget, Donna did make a move. She kissed him! She then went to his office to discuss that moment. He shut it down, made her promise it wouldn’t happen again AND said he didn’t want more! Sure, she said she felt nothing, but anyone would say that to save face in that situation! So, combine that with his latest insult and of course she should be looking elsewhere for love!

If Donna were my best friend and I’d watched her go through all of this over 13 years with a man as emotionally unreliable as Harvey, then of course I’d encourage her to find someone lovely to date! From her perspective, Harvey has made clear he is not a romantic option, so it’s right she takes a chance to find happiness when it presents itself. Not to mention the fact that we’ve never seen her in a proper relationship on screen. All we’ve had is the brief dalliance with Stephen (that she thought was short term, even before his shady side was revealed) and a flashback to better times with Mark (no, I don’t count his “be my mistress” offer as a love interest plot line). Hell, we never even met Mitchell! So, I’m excited for the arrival of Mr Kessler and seeing a new side of Donna’s life outside the office and how that affects her at work too.

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Time for Harvey to step up in 8B

Oh and of course, we had the “Harvey’s moving on, what will Donna do?” plot, so I’m hardly surprised that they are now going for a role reversal scenario. It’s predictable, but I’m all for Harvey getting a taste of Donna settling down with another man. Not a criminal lying to her, or a man who doesn’t respect her enough to leave his wife before making a move, but a man who I hope is decent, respectable, successful and who is proud to show the world how special she is. Now THAT’s a real threat to Harvey! That’s someone who should make him sweat!

So, are we heading to another season finale where all the set up will be in place ready for an endgame, as we seemed to be in season seven? If Harvey properly apologises for his mistakes then all he needs to do is make a move. Let her know how you feel, you idiot. Take a risk. The ball’s firmly in your court and if 8B is truly mirroring 7A, then will we see Harvey taking the same action as Donna did in 7.10? Is it time he has to know too? For me, it has to be, if there’s any justice, or indeed any logic to the show’s narrative. If it isn’t, I fear that the writers are at risk of writing these characters in to a corner that will be impossible to write them out of! They risk them seeming so ridiculous that we all give up!

Yet, this is Suits after all. We have Scottie back in 8B, even though I think 7.15 was an ideal ending for her. Is she back to reinforce her last message to him, or is she going to be back running after Harvey? If the show has longer to run and they are looking for more Darvey dodges, then maybe. Do I think 8B and its season finale need to build to Darvey and kick start a new phase of their relationship at long last? YES! OF COURSE! Especially if season nine is to be the last season. In my view, 8B is vital.

Will it happen? All I can say for sure is that, with Suits and Darvey, literally (and scarily for fans), anything could happen. This isn’t made any easier by Aaron Korsh’s continual comments about how he has no plan for their endgame either way. I find that hard to believe. We’re eight seasons in now and the show doesn’t seem likely to run and run, so surely he has some idea of where all of this is heading. Not to mention the fact that, when you step back on really look at the way the show has been written, there are so much that points to them being together. We’ve had direct parallels between them and Mike and Rachel’s relationship, we’ve had practically every other character allude to them being more than friends, we’ve had declarations of love, or to people being the love of their life and we’ve had so much jealousy. But it doesn’t mean……..YES. YES IT DOES!

All we fans can do, is continue to believe that they’ll get there in the end. That has to be the plan, just one no one will ever admit to. It’s the only narrative ending that makes sense after all of this. Just please writers, please give us more than a resolution in the last five minutes of the series finale. That would just be mean! Buckle up, Darvey fans. On 23rd January the rollercoaster continues!

Blimey, that took longer than I expected! Is anyone still there?! If you are, thanks for reading! I’ll be back with my Suits reviews once it’s back on our screens.

Suits season 8 retunes on Wednesday 23rd January in the US and Canada and on Thursday 24th January via Netflix in the UK. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review – We Are Displaced by Malala Yousafzai (& the incredible girls she’s met around the world)

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In 2015, there was one film I had to see at that year’s London Film Festival and that was the documentary film, He Named Me Malala, which tells the incredible story of Malala Yousafzai and her family. It was a stunning film (read more on that here) and afterwards Malala herself joined us by live feed to talk about her life and her passionate campaigning for education for all girls. Hearing her speak was a privilege and I hoped one day that I’d have the chance to see her at an event in person.

Last night I had that opportunity, as Malala was to give a talk at London’s Barbican Centre to coincide with the release of her new book. I arrived an hour early and immediately started reading. By the time the conversation with Malala began, I’d already read half of it and by the time I went to bed last night, I’d finished all 212 pages and immediately felt the need to write about it.

Malala’s story is well known in 2019; her courageous campaigning for the education of girls, while still a child herself, when the Taliban declared it was un-Islamic for girls to go to school, the horrifying attack that left her fighting for her life and her recovery in Birmingham, England, the city she and her family have made their home since 2012. Yet, what makes Malala such an inspirational young woman is the fact that everything she has been through has only made her stronger and more determined to fight for the causes she passionately believes in and this book is only the latest contribution she has made to such important global issues.

 

We Are Displaced is a book about the realities of life as a refugee, or displaced girl, in the 21st century. As Malala explained at the talk last night, as of 2017, there are 68.5 million people who were forcibly displaced worldwide, 25.4 million of which are considered refugees (many are displaced within their own countries, rather than seeking refuge in another one) and that was why she choice this title; so that it encompasses all of these stories.

Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, co-founder of the Malala Fund and student at Oxford University, Malala is already busier than most 21 year-olds, so why did she write this book? She was quite clear – she found it impossible not to, in light of the realities of the world we are living in. We all may hear a lot about the numbers of refugees, whether those trying to cross in to the UK, or those at the Mexican border, Trump’s wall, or those fleeing war zones around the world, such as Syria. What we don’t hear enough about are their stories, that they are ordinary people. Where have they come from? What have they suffered? What are their hopes for their future? Through this book, Malala brings a handful of these stories in to our lives and our hearts.

The book is split in to two parts; in part one she sets out her own story, first of displacement within Pakistan, when her family had to flee the Swat Valley to other areas of their country to survive the fighting between the Taliban and the army. She talks powerfully about that experience, of having to leave so much behind, the fear of being killed and the sense of not belonging, as they moved from relative to relative during those few months. She then moves on to her family’s move to England following her attack and the conflicted emotions she has felt in the UK, talking about the relief and gratitude she feels towards her new city, but also the powerful sense of yearning for her home, for the place she never wanted to leave.

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Malala Yousafzai talking about We Are Displaced last night in London

Through her incredible work, championing the importance of education for every girl in the world, Malala is a woman who people have heard of everywhere and by travelling to meet other girls displaced from their homes across the globe, she has been able to hear many other stories and in part two of We Are Displaced she shares some of those with us. Each story begins with an introduction from Malala about how she came to meet this particular girl and then the story itself is written by that girl (with the help of translators where necessary).

They are stories of girls from Yemen, Syria, Iraq, The Congo, Myanmar and South America, who have each endured traumas I can’t even comprehend. Yet, what shines through their words is a sense of their bravery and strength and a determination to secure a better life for themselves. What’s also clear is just how important education is to them. Those of us in countries where it’s a given that girls go to school, take it for granted, but these young women talk about finding a sense of freedom and a future through learning. The phrase knowledge is power has never seemed so appropriate.

It’s also the knowledge this book gives to the reader that is so important. Yes, these girls have needed to seek help from somewhere that is not their home, but they put all of the images and talk of immigration and refugees that we hear on the news and social media in to perspective, in a very real and human way. They are just like us and they deserve our compassion and our help.

You cannot fail to be moved by their stories as you read their words. You read about young sisters, Zaynab and Sabreen, separated and starting on different paths; of a young Syrian girl in a camp in Jordan, who went tent to tent to try and get girls to go to school; of Marie Claire, who after fleeing The Congo with her family, watched her mother be murdered in Zambia by those against refugees coming to their country, who now attends university in the USA and many more, including a glimpse in to what it’s actually like to cross the Mediterranean in a small boat, or to reach the Mexican border when trying to join relatives already in the USA.

In addition, to give other perspectives of what it’s like for refugees, Malala has included two stories from those involved in helping them. One is the CEO of the Malala Fund, Farah, who herself was a refugee, but was very young when her family moved to Canada from Uganda. She has a fascinating insight in to growing up in a country that feels like home, yet still having to deal with the perceptions of others around you. The other contributor is Jennifer, who helped settle Marie Claire and her family in America. Her perspective, as a Westerner, is incredibly powerful in reminding us how lucky we are and also emphasises the difference any help we can give makes to people trying to start a new life in unfamiliar surroundings.

Listening to Malala speak so eloquently, intelligently and passionately about these girls and her goal to see every girl complete 12 years of free, safe and quality education was a privilege and utterly inspiring. She makes you want to make a difference and reading this book is just one way we can all start to do that, by spreading a greater level of understanding about the realities of the lives of refugees and displaced persons, as well as contributing money to causes that are providing vital help (the proceeds of this book will be used to support Malala Fund’s work, so buying a copy really will help). I can’t emphasise enough how important this book is. Every world leader, politician and citizen should read it.

I’ll leave the last words to Malala:

“Do what you can. Know that empathy is key. And that acts of generosity both big and small make a difference and help the world heal from its wounds.”

We Are Displaced is published by Orion Books and is available now from all book stockists. For more information on Malala Fund, visit the website: https://www.malala.org