Television Review – Suits 8.15 “Stalking Horse” – This week was all about emotional trauma – past, present and future ones to come…

Welcome to another Thursday night Suits fans! I have to say, I’ve been anticipating watching this episode all day, all too aware that it was very likely going to be an emotional roller coaster. So, with a glass of wine, I settled in for the penultimate episode of season 8. One word probably sums up the content of this week and that word is traumatic. Every plot line on offer in “Stalking Horse” involved dealing with emotional traumas, some old, some new and some that the event’s of this episode will very likely lead to in next week’s finale.

Diving straight in……..

Louis (and Samantha?) confronts a very emotional past trauma

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Starting with the past, Louis’s mugging was a superb early plot line of season 8 and one which affected Louis very deeply. I thought it was odd how it was never referenced again and so bringing it back in 8.15 was a great choice. It allowed us to see Rick Hoffman shining in yet more heart-wrenching scenes, as poor Louis had to relive such a traumatic experience. Was it bonkers that they’d actually allow a witness to testify before revealing that the case was invalid? Of course. I can’t imagine that would ever happen, but this is a TV show and the fact it opened the door to those great scenes between Louis and Samantha bringing his mugger to justice means I’ll allow it.

Talking of Samantha, this storyline also gave us more hints in to her history, both what she went through and whatever she did with Robert all those years ago. They certainly have a few skeletons in their closet! Seeing Robert so protective of her is lovely and it reminds me of when Rachel was around. He’s desperate for Samantha to stay on the right side of the law. Mind you, I found his last comment to her rather odd. Is he worried in general that she’ll continue to be reckless? OR was it a neat way of flagging how interfering in things you shouldn’t has consequences (can you hear me, Donna??).

Brian & Katrina deal with a horribly current emotional trauma (as does the audience after those perfume and baby scenes from 8.12)!

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Oh Brian and Katrina. I really liked their bond. It was sweet and could have been such a fun, satisfying friendship. And yet…….it’s all fallen apart and all because, unlike another pairing in this show, these two aren’t capable of brushing their growing feelings under the carpet. I suspected the “We’ll work together for a year” solution Katrina came up with was doomed and sure enough, this week saw the end of the road. Am I sorry to see Brian go? In a way, yes, as I liked him, but the whole flirting over his child with another woman ruined it for me and the longer this dragged on, the more I was starting to dislike Katrina. The ironic thing about this whole storyline – if Donna and Harvey had admitted this same truth years ago – that it’s impossible to work with someone you care for, but can’t be with, without admitting those feelings – maybe they’d be in a totally different place right now. All the best Brian. Make sure your new desk has that family photo on it to stop this mess happening again and don’t worry Katrina, you’re fabulous without him!

Quick round of applause to Louis too. Yet again he demonstrated why he’s the best man to be managing partner, acknowledging Brian’s contribution to the firm, his worth as a lawyer and his respect for someone putting family first. Classy Louis, very classy.

And so we come to the storyline with past and present emotional traumas, which this week laid the concrete on a whole skycraper full of new ones……lucky lucky us………..

Donna & Harvey make some very stupid, but very human, mistakes

Well…. it wasn’t an easy night for Donna and Harvey was it? It was painful and tense and deliciously angst-ridden! I have mixed views on some of the content, but what I did love about this week was that both Donna and Harvey made some incredibly stupid mistakes, but these highlighted that they are as flawed as each other and aren’t the superheroes they are sometimes shown to be. They are human and they make mistakes.

Before I get in to those errors in judgment, I will say that some elements really irritated me this week. I don’t tend to agree that the show is badly written, as when there’s so much to analyse, for me that’s a testament to how much is woven in. However, when it comes to Darvey the narrative tends to take occasional leaps off the cliff. We had 7.01 (shudder), then we had the confused up/down path of 8A and this week again seemed to forget what had gone before. Last week ended with a monumental moment – Donna reminded of her feelings by Scottie and then Harvey trying to start a conversation about them relationship! That was HUGE. And yet, the very next day, we’re back to sports jokes and “I’m happy for you” – unlike when Donna said it to him about Paula (and it was clear she was lying), he actually seemed fine with it.

Really Harvey?! Come on. Be brave. Writing of scenes like that actually make me start to think maybe I’ve imagined it all and he really doesn’t love her. In fact that whole conversation between them was weird and felt very clunky and knowing they cut Donna’s “You sure” line (seen in the promo) is just infuriating! Was she meant to challenge his declaration of happiness for her and have him pretend? That would certainly make her more determined to hold on to Thomas. I guess we’ll never know, but the scene seemed unfinished either way. Then there was Donna’s “I’m so excited Harvey, I want to take him out to celebrate” – again, it felt odd, but perhaps this too would have made sense if we’d seen her challenge how he felt and have him lie. I admit, the scenes made me start to get irritated with Donna, but that doesn’t mean I blame her for the disaster that followed (well, not entirely).

Personally, I think they share the blame this week for the disastrous situation they were left in at the end of the hour and I’ll tell you why.

In defence of Donna Paulsen:

As blame goes, Donna isn’t solely responsible for what happened. She was totally in the wrong to put Harvey in the awkward position of telling her information he shouldn’t. Really, had she just swanned off and told Thomas she smelled a rat like she threatened to, that would have solved everyone’s problems! No breaking of privilege and everyone’s happy! She was also in the wrong to then moan to him about putting her in a shitty situation – nope, that’s all on you Red. Own your choice.

BUT – her decision to tell Thomas was very human and believable in my view. She cares about Thomas, she sees what a decent man he is and how much his business means to him. Staying quiet and potentially watching him lose that success would have eaten away at her; their relationship wouldn’t have lasted, as the lie and her guilt would have got in the way and where she is right now, she sees Thomas as her chance at a future, or using the flashback analogy, he’s her Paris trip. Harvey is still too much of a risk. They had that moment at the elevator last week, but then he’s joking about sports? I found her reference to the clock striking midnight also fascinating as, to some extent, I think she sees this relationship as her chance at a form of fairytale, of having a future with someone.

For me, it wasn’t about playing games with Harvey, or trying to push him in to opening up. I saw it as, for once, the mighty Donna Paulsen didn’t think three steps ahead. She acted on impulse and didn’t think about the possible consequences. Thomas could lose his company’s future and she could lose him; all Harvey was losing was a client. He’d survive that and she wouldn’t have to lie and risk her relationship. In that moment, I don’t think she thought about the danger it could put him in, or how important her faith in him is to Harvey and her sorrowful declaration that she does have faith in him proved that to me. The conversation with her mother was also interesting. It seemed to suggest that she’d choose to have faith in Harvey, yet at the eleventh hour she chose the her version of the Paris trip. She chose Thomas. And yet, as soon as Harvey confessed how hurt he was, you could see her mother’s words about why she’d supported her father rushing in to her mind. She knew she’d screwed up, even before Hardman came slithering in to the office.

In defence of Harvey Specter: 

I admit, Harvey frustrates the hell out of me a lot of the time and yet I still root for him. He’s always been the heart of Suits for me and I have always wanted him to find happiness in the end. He’s done plenty of stupid things recently when it comes to Donna – the petulant interview in 7.11, the trying to find her another job in 7.13 and his arrogant declaration of putting her in her job earlier this season being the latest ones, but ultimately we know he loves her (well, I think we do), so it’s easier for us to let them go. Donna doesn’t have that information though, not yet anyway and this week saw Harvey making some more stupid mistakes concerning our favourite redhead. He should not have told Donna the truth about Thomas’s deal, no matter how much she pressured him and I feel for him that the idea of her breaking their trust is so alien to him, I imagine he never thought she’d do what she did. Yet, he shouldn’t have told her. It was a breach of ethics, unprofessional and dumb.

BUT – his decision to tell her was perfectly realistic. She’s his weakness and he tells her everything, even when he shouldn’t. He also did do everything he could to try and fix it and knowing his history, the chances were he’d have been successful and he did all of that, not for Thomas, but for Donna, because of his feelings for her. If only he’d actually tell her those feelings instead, we’d be in a very different position! He also has every right to be angry at Donna and his reaction at the end was perfectly understandable and very human. He was hurt, with the personal and professional elements of their relationship so tangled together that I don’t think either of them has been able to separate them for years, which is all part of their problem. And what’s all the more heartbreaking about all of this, is that at the time he needs to be at the top of his game, for the fight of his life, he’ll be at his weakest, full of doubt and pain. Poor Harvey. Hang in there, buddy.

And so……….looking ahead, to perhaps one of the most exciting (and terrifying) episodes when it comes to potential…….

Next week is all about Harvey! 

Hell, the episode is even called “Harvey”! The promo gives little away. All we know is that Daniel Hardman is determined to bring him down. He wants him out of the firm for good and it seems that he is putting Harvey on the stand in some form of hearing. Is it an ethics hearing? A deposition? A trial? We’ll see next week, but it looks as though, just as Donna was in the hot seat in 7.10’s “Donna”, it’ll be Mr Specter taking up that same seat in 8.16’s “Harvey” – this show loves parallels after all right! Plus we know his old mentor Cameron Dennis is back too. Is he going to try and stick the knife in as well??

Possible theories for what could happen when it comes to Darvey? Well, we have a shortened ten episode season 9 left. I still believe Darvey are endgame, but the question for them is, will they cross that line now, or in the series finale? What’s exciting (and terrifying) about 8.16 is that it could take this in either direction. Plus we also know that the creator changed the way this finale would go quite late on. Was it from one direction to the other??

The predicament Harvey is now in could bring them together, through emotional apologies, admitting of mistakes and acknowledgment of feelings. Will Donna beg Thomas to lie and breach his moral code to save Harvey (Hardman has no proof after all)? That would likely spell the end of their romance, as he’d hate her putting him in that position and also likely see her love for someone else. We know Harvey ends up at some point at her apartment. Could it be time for the emotional floodgates to open? Maybe. Or maybe Donna’s choice will push them apart, with him unable to forgive the hurt she’s caused, at least not until nearer the end of season 9? Either route is possible right now and this time next week we’ll know……I admit, I’m a little terrified!

See you all her next week to unpack the finale!

Suits continues next week with the season 8 finale, 8.16 “Harvey” on Wednesday night on USA Network in the USA and on Thursday in the UK via Netflix. Watch the promo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXRdEITNzZA

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