Television Review – Suits 9.08 “Prisoner’s Dilemma” – a strong episode of victory & loss

I know I’m ridiculously late posting this review (so much so that 9.09 will follow not too far behind!). I blame a combination of a crazy period of work and my reluctance to acknowledge that we’re almost at the end of a series that is so very close to my heart.

After 9.07’s road trip, Prisoner’s Dilemma took us back to the familiar territory of Harvey Specter’s many enemies looking for payback and here it wasn’t just one, but the combined force of three such foes! It was an episode that reminded me how damn good Suits can be at the adversarial game-playing and even though you’re always 90% sure our Suits family will come out on top, watching the twists and turns is always so much fun. Yet, just as I was smiling along with Harvey at his latest victory, the worst possible news was around the corner, for him and the audience; news that I admit took the shine off the episode a little for me and took me quite a long time to get over.

We may as well start right there.

Another devastating loss for Harvey Specter that had me shouting at my television

Oh Harvey. Yes, he may have gloated to Faye Richardson at the start of the season that he’s the guy it always works out for, but these words seemed ominous to me then and just when I’d forgotten about them, the world turned upside down for Suits’s central character. As many know, I’m a great lover of angst and drama in storytelling, as the possibilities are so exciting, but I truly hated the choice to have Harvey lose his mother. It just seemed so unbearably cruel. They’d finally found peace and were starting to get to know each other again and there were all those moments we’d been hoping to see, in particular Lily meeting Donna. Sure, we had the phone call at the end of 9.04, but she met Paula (and inadvertently helped dismantle that disastrous relationship) and I’d been so looking forward to her possibly telling Donna about how Harvey had said how special she was.

Yet, it wasn’t to be. Seeing Donna’s face in the window (a beautiful shot from director Julian Holmes), my only question was, is it her parent or Lily? I still wish it had been one of Donna’s parents, as we could have still had the realisation for Darvey that life is short, but we’d have also seen Harvey support Donna emotionally for a change. Plus, I understood the parallels of Donna telling him of another death, but having Lily die in exactly the same way as his father and Donna telling him in almost the same way, felt a little lazy story-wise. Robbing Harvey (and also Donna) of years of being a family with his mother was a truly impactful gut punch at the end of 9.08, emphasising so tragically that even after the sweetest of victories, tragedy may not be far away. That all being said, Gabriel Macht is so superb in these moments of vulnerability and I was almost said the camera pulled away from his performance.

Not one, but three enemies from the past are determined to bring Harvey down!

This episode was also able to demonstrate just how strong a supporting cast Suits has built up over the years and had not one, but three of the shows best villains back in some way. Front and centre was Usman Ally as Andrew Malik. He’s already humiliated Donna in court, taken away Jessica’s license and tried to ruin Harvey and yet he was back to try once again. Personally I was thrilled to see him back, as he’s a character that truly stirs up trouble and tension in the best possible way and his scenes with Macht are always fizzing with animosity. Were Suits not ending, I’d have been certain we’d have seen him again in the future!

The same goes for Fortsman (played by Eric Roberts), whose history with Harvey is so deeply rooted that it’s fun to see what games he’s trying to play. Having these two team up, using the information from William Sutter (another member of the I Hate Harvey Specter club) made for such a fantastic storyline, especially when it meant that Neal McDonough’s Sean Cahill was also able to return. Another Suits favourite, he’s been involved in some of the shows most pivotal moments, especially surrounding Mike Ross’s release from prison and his and Harvey’s complex relationship was another dynamic on the screen in 9.08. Despite their differences, they can’t help but respect each other (even after Harvey punches Cahill in the face)!

In any other week, this would have been where the episode ended – Harvey dodging another bullet and now having someone waiting for him at home to celebrate with and although I couldn’t bear the decision to kill Lily, the juxtaposition between the fight to come out on top and the thrill of that success against the heartbreaking loss was very good drama.

Faye Richardson continues to become more and more detestable!

It’s funny, when she arrived at the start of the season I actually liked Faye. The way she marched in and shook the members of the firm by the scruff of their necks and let them know she wouldn’t take any crap was fun to watch and the undeniable truth was that she was totally in the right. Yet, despite that start, over the weeks, Faye has become very different, losing that veneer of fairness and in a way, like Malik, acting more as if she has a vendetta against our favourite work family. There was no reason to make Donna a secretary again and it was inappropriate and disrespectful to her professionally. Plus the way she seemed to take delight in publicly embarrassing people, or trying to undermine them. This week she seems on Team Malik, willingly taking action that could have cost Harvey his licence and seeing Donna’s confrontation with her in the bathroom was fantastic. I’m so intrigued to see how Faye exits the series. At one point I was sure it would be on a positive note, with her actually helping them, but that seems almost unimaginable now!

Suits bravely takes on one of the most important current events – the Me Too movement and succeeds

The lead plot in 9.08 was clearly Harvey’s run-in with Malik and co, but it wasn’t the only strong storyline in Prisoner’s Dilemma. While Donna and Alex were helping Harvey, Louis, Samantha and Katrina were helping Louis’s sister Esther finally get some form of justice against the former boss who assaulted her and was now seeking to take over the company she’d worked so hard to build up.

Everyone is aware of the Me Too movement and the determination to shine a light on the experiences so many women have had to endure during their lives; behaviour that until recently was seen by many to simply be a part of life. Times are indeed starting to change and I was thrilled to see Suits tackle this subject. Having met Esther before, we know how successful she is and having her need Louis’s help to protect her business meant we were able to see the impact of such an assault on a familiar character and also on Louis.

His reaction was totally understandable and Louis from seasons ago would have refused to even understand Esther’s reasons for not coming forward. Yet, Louis has grown over the years and was able to admit he’d made a mistake in how he’d handled the situation and then go on to fix it, with the help of Samantha and Katrina, which was a partnership I’d dearly love to have had more episodes to watch develop. I mean, that moment the two women confidently stride through those offices to take on such corrupt power was thrilling and had me smiling. No one messes with these women!! Well done Suits for taking this subject on and keeping it in the public consciousness. I hope more shows do the same.

Louis & Sheila – how many proposals is that now?!

Seriously, how many is it? Is it three? Or has there been more? I certainly feel as though there have been more, whether that’s true or not! Don’t get me wrong, I love Louis and I’ve always wanted to see him happy. Plus he went through such a tough time in season six (him sobbing in to Rachel’s arms broke my heart) and in to season seven, that he was due a change of fortune. My only grumble will be if the finale keeps the focus on Shouis – proposal, wedding, baby and we only get a few seconds of Harvey and Donna finding similar happiness. I guess we’ll find out next week how happy, or not, I am on this front!

No looking ahead this time!

Okay, as it’s taken me so long to post this review, I removed the looking ahead section, as you’ve no doubt all now seen 9.09. So instead, look out for my next review posting very shortly!!

Thanks as always for reading!

(All screenshots thanks to Suits USA / USA Network)

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